Archive for September, 2009

Farewell 2007 Guidelines for Local Authorities on Elective Home Education

If any more evidence were needed that the current “Home Education - registration and monitoring proposals” consultation is a sham, with the results totally predetermined we now have the disappearance of the 2007 Guidelines for Local Authorities on Elective Home Education from the DCSF web site. Clearly Ed Balls’ minions don’t see any need to leave ‘outdated’ guidelines online where they might cause confusion.

You can download the file if you need it here.

How far will it have to go before British parents wake up?

You know when we said that the attack on home educators wasn’t just about us and we were called paranoid by parents who don’t home educate?

I wonder, how many of them remembered us when the vetting and barring scheme hit the headlines?

How many will think of us when they find they have to register with Ofsted to babysit each other’s kids?

What will it take to cause a mass revolt? Making Health Visitors compulsory for the under 5s? How about requiring parents to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage with HVs checking up on them and compulsory ‘interventions’ if junior isn’t meeting his age appropriate targets? They’re already floating the idea of taking babies from their mothers at birth, putting pregnant women ‘into care’ and we’ve already seen one being told that she’s not allowed to get married because social workers claim she’s not intelligent enough.

Vexatious consultations

We’re reasonable people aren’t we? We’ve responded to consultation after consultation. Answered Graham Badman’s stupid, loaded questions. Submitted evidence to a select committee. Right now there’s a consultation on licensing and monitoring which we will reply to, despite knowing full well that everything we say will be totally ignored.

But this. This is TAKING THE PISS!

Education Otherwise has just learned from DCSF that the long-awaited consultation on the definition of “full-time education” will be launched “in 2010″.

What is the point? They can’t possibly come up with one number, LAs certainly don’t want a definition which will force them to pay for x hours tutoring per week for ill and excluded children. They’d have to define what constitutes ‘education’ in the first place and that can only end in tears.

Maybe they don’t really intend to hold this consultation and are simply ‘leaking’ the idea to get back at all the home educators who just made submissions to the Children, Schools and Families Committee inquiry into Badman’s report. Maybe this is just the DCSF giving us the finger and saying “You think that stupid committee is going to stop us? Nobody can stop us! We’ll run consultation after consultation until you’re begging for mercy!”

Press Release from AHEd

For immediate release, Friday 18 September 2009

DCSF GRANTS BADMAN EXTRA TIME TO JUSTIFY FLAWED FINDINGS - HOME EDUCATORS
CRY “FOUL”

Home educators today reacted angrily to the news that the DCSF has granted
Graham Badman extra time (1) to gather ‘evidence’ for the Select Committee
Inquiry (2) into his report on Elective Home Education in England (3), in
which he controversially claimed that home educated children are at greater
risk of abuse than schooled children. Formal submissions have been requested
by 22 September, but Mr Badman’s personal “good will” deadline has been
extended until 1 October.

Barbara Stark, chair of the home education action group AHEd (4), expressed
incredulity at the development, commenting:

“Our members and supporters have been working hard to ensure their
submissions to the Select Committee meet the given deadline, only to find
the goalposts being moved for the benefit of Graham Badman and his chums in
the local authorities. It is a sign of utter desperation that the author of
a report whose draconian recommendations have already been accepted by the
DCSF without question is now pleading with local authorities to provide some
actual evidence to back up his claims.

“Mr Badman should perhaps have asked AHEd since we have already done the
work of canvassing every local authority in England using the Freedom of
Information Act and have produced an analysis which has been scrutinised by
a professional statistician.(5) Our data demonstrates that school going
children are more likely to suffer child abuse and neglect than electively
home educated children, which directly contradicts Mr Badman’s alleged
findings. We will obviously be interested in the returns he receives from
these same local authorities since he has chosen to duplicate, at great
public expense, our own voluntary efforts to establish the true situation.”

According to home educators, Badman’s letter is tantamount to an admission
of guilt. It is widely believed that his report and recommendations were
based on personal prejudice rather than robust research; that the
consultation was a sham, and the conclusions had been predetermined by the
DCSF as a means of regulating elective home education out of existence. AHEd
member Pete Darby commented, “That the DCSF are forwarding this appeal on
behalf of Mr Badman demonstrates that the repeated claims of his
independence are a sham. He is, was and always has been a tool of the
minister to implement a pre-determined policy.”

Ms Stark concluded:

“Since home educators highlighted the fact that such a small sample (25 out
of 150 local authorities) bothered to respond to Graham Badman’s original
call for evidence, he is now appealing for additional information in a vain
attempt to gain some credibility for his seriously flawed report.

“The DCSF is aiding and abetting this exercise by allowing him special
privileges while dragging its heels in responding to outstanding FOI
requests from home educators and defending the indefensible. We will be
watching closely.”

(1) Elective Home Education (EHE) review - Request for Supplementary Data
(2) Select Committee Inquiry
(3) Review of Elective Home Education in England
(4) AHEd is the democratic action group for home educators in England, Wales
and Northern Ireland. It is a sister organisation to Schoolhouse in
Scotland.
(5) comparative abuse statistics and comment

DCSF looking for evidence to justify Badman recommendations

Elective Home Education (EHE) Review - Request for Supplementary Data

In as big an admission as you could ask for that the so called evidence underpinning Graham Badman’s not at all Independent Home Education Review is tissue thin, slanted, manipulated and all around utterly rubbish the DCSF are actually going to the LAs and asking for “Supplementary Data”.

That’s right, the “evidence … which led to Graham Badman making 28 recommendations” isn’t good enough to stand up to Select Committee scrutiny and the DCSF are asking the LAs to bail them out.

They aren’t even pretending any more! They’re desperately and publicly scrabbling for anything they can to justify the policies that they have already decided on. As Pete Darby points out, we did already know that was what was going on, but at least there was some pretence that they were basing policy on evidence. We knew it was a lie but they at least granted us the small dignity of being worth lying to. Now it’s right out there in the open!

If you go down to the park today

You’re sure of a big surprise. OK, not a very big surprise but if it was Stoke Park in Guildford on Wednesday this week you might have seen 24+ home educating families having a picnic and blowing bubbles.

Blowing bubbles

All this was part of the national Not Back to School Picnic to mark Freedom in Education Day and to protest against the recommendations of the Badman report.

Earlier that morning EHE was the the lead story on Surrey Breakfast with Nick Wallis (BBC Radio Surrey - Listen again here).

Picnic banner