Archive for July, 2009

Chicken news

Big news this week is that Naughty, the chick who we had our doubts about, finally proved that he is indeed very much a boy, by trying to crow … at 4:30am.

Luckily there’s an easy way to reduce the problem, you shut the hen house door after they’ve gone to bed and don’t open it in the morning until a more civilised hour when the neighbours can be expected to already be awake.

That said there’s no way we could keep him so I put a post on Freecycle to find him a home. Friday we took some last photos, put him in a cardboard box and drove him off to his new life.

The run is a good deal quieter now but Audrey took the loss with good grace and at least he’s out there alive and strutting his stuff with a new group of hens rather than waiting out a last couple of weeks before death.

Now now Graham, how many times do we have to tell you it’s wicked to tell lies?

What is it? Yes, it’s wicked.

You’ve been telling people a very naughty lie about there being lots of home educated children on at-risk registers, 40% of them you’ve claimed and that’s a lie isn’t it? Yes, it is.

Now, tell all the boys and girls how sorry you are and that you will never do it again.

I blame the parents you know. Graham’s mummy and daddy clearly didn’t teach him the difference between right and wrong. Or maybe it wasn’t them and he fell in with a bad crowd, that boy Edward, well you can just see what a bad influence he is, rotten to the core that one.

In conclusion ..

I’m working on a full critique of the Badman report but that’s going to take a long time so here’s a little rant at his conclusions.

11.1 International comparison suggests that of all countries with highly developed education systems, England is the most liberal in its approach to elective home education.

I can’t help feeling that ‘liberal’ is being used like a dirty word here, that being liberal is in Badman’s world something to be stamped out.

Legislation from the 1930s banning elective home education still persists in Germany

Because good old Adolf had a point didn’t he? Are you sure you meant to say that out loud? People might get ideas.

and most European countries require registration, whereas New Zealand demands that the “person will be taught at least as regularly and as well as in registered school.”24 The majority of other countries also have processes for registration and the systematic monitoring of elective home education and require evidence of progress, often specifically in mathematics and reading.

No mention of the USA or Canada I see, or of Australia?

11.2 The recommendations in this review do not go that far.

As far as what? An outright ban? The Hilter Youth?

I have sought to strike a balance between the rights of parents and the rights of the child,

NO YOU HAVEN’T you lying sack of excrement! You have ignored the rights of the child and seek to override the duties of parents and replaced both with the absolute power of the state.

and offer, through registration and other recommendations, some assurance on the greater safety of a number of children.

What does that mean? Greater than what? What number? Meaningless drivel!

11.3 I recognise that much of what is proposed can be implemented and achieved through advice and changes in guidance in due course.

So anything remotely useful can be left to advice and guidance which local authorities will be at liberty to ignore and what you want written into law before this government gets kicked out of office is:

However I believe certain recommendations require immediate action. To that end, I urge the DCSF to respond to recommendations 1, 7, 23 and 24 as summarised in the next chapter, at the next available opportunity.

Compulsory ‘registration’ for which we should perhaps substitute ‘licensing’, to be renewed annually, compulsory home visits (not just compulsory that parents and children accept them but compulsory that local authorities carry them out), compulsory production of an educational philosophy and annual plan with outcomes and get this, schools as well as local authorities are to ‘advise’ on these plans. A right of access to our homes for the purpose of monitoring educational provision, a right to interview our children alone for the purpose of checking for abuse. That our children be ‘allowed’ to prove they’ve met the targets set out in the annual plan, one has to wonder what will happen if they decline the opportunity? That LAs be given the power to refuse PERMISSION to home educate on any grounds they like at any time.

After writing this I read the following blog Down With Skool and I think Counting Cats has hit the nail on the head. Balls and his ilk want to make Autonomous Education illegal because it produces free thinkers.

That risk of abuse question

In his report Badman said

To return to the two questions posed earlier [First, if there is abuse of children within the home education community, is it disproportionally high, relative to the general population? Secondly where abuse does exist, would a change of regulation with regard to elective home education have either prevented or ameliorated such abuse?]. First, on the basis of local authority evidence and case studies presented, even acknowledging the variation between authorities, the number of children known to children’s social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high
relative to the size of their home educating population.

“Known to children’s social care” as many people have pointed out, is NOT the same as being abused, or even at risk of abuse and Badman KNOWNS this. He also knows that the number of children known to any LA is not the number in the local HE population so any percentage he cares to quote is distorted. This twisting of words and comparing apples and oranges is not a mistake it is designed to mislead. Of course, with a predetermined outcome there’s not much else he could do as the figures which he got, far from supporting his argument, show that HE children are less at risk not more.

The more I read the more I wonder how Graham Badman can sleep at night. The only explanation I’ve come up with so far, other than serious mental illness, is that he is so utterly invested in the system, so closed off to any alternative that he has convinced himself that the ends justify the means. It’s OK to lie, to twist and deceive, to slander and be ten kinds of slimy little weasel if he’s ’saving’ children from home education.

Declaration of Independence


Having spent the day making decorations for US Independence Day it seems very appropriate to post this section of the declaration itself. I’m sure everyone has heard the first sentence, it’s often quoted but read on, it feels very topical.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. source

So is it proportional?

It thought I’d put aside the human rights and destruction of the family points for this post and look at the bottom line from the political and budget POV. There are two categories, abuse and education and in both the questions are the same …

HE and the risk of abuse

1) Is there any evidence of a problem? Just how many cases have there been of people using home education to cover abuse? N.B. you are not allowed to include cases where authorities knew about the problem and simply FAILED to use existing laws.

2) Is the suggested solution proportional? If the answer to #1 is zero, as appears to be the case, obviously any new measures are not necessary PERIOD. If the answer to #1 greater than zero then we have to look at:

2.1) The damage that the suggested solution will do to children who are NOT being abused.
2.2) The cost to the tax payer.
2.3) In light of 2.1 and 2.2 is there a better solution which causes less collateral damage and isn’t as expensive?

HE and the risk of ‘poor educational standards’

1) Is there any evidence of a problem? Graham Badman dismissed out of hand all existing academic research into the effectiveness of home education presumably because he didn’t like the conclusions reached. In their place he presented biased personal opinions as fact. Not a good basis for recommending anything other than the commissioning of more research.

2) Is the suggested solution proportional? Without any evidence that there is a problem at all it’s really very hard to argue what is proportional but again the theoretical benefits have to be balanced against:

2.1) The damage that the suggested solution will do to children who are being caused to receive a suitable education.
2.2) The cost to the tax payer.
2.3) In light of 2.1 and 2.2 is there a better solution which causes less collateral damage and isn’t as expensive?

In both cases the lack of evidence of a problem, the unavoidable damage that Badman’s recommendations will do and the CONSIDERABLE cost to the tax payer (a big issue with the major parties having to admit that cuts are coming) mean that any sensible person would have to conclude that the answer to 2.3 is to leave things the way they are. Current statutes and regulations are fit for purpose as long as staff are adequately trained and in the case of social workers enough of them are employed.