Archive for October, 2009

My consultation response

I toyed with the idea of several pages of creative swearing to make up for most people removing such words from their submissions but decide in the end to submit something that would take a while for them to read. Process this consultation is a month will you? Ha!

1 Do you agree that these proposals strike the right balance between the rights of parents to home educate and the rights of children to receive a suitable education?

Disagree

First and foremost parents have a DUTY in law to ensure their children receive a suitable. It is only a right in so far as it is the natural right of parents to raise their children as they see fit. Children do not in fact have the right to a suitable education in English law for the entirely pragmatic reason that it would leave the state open to legal action from every child who does not receive a suitable education in a state school! By own own standards (5 good GCSEs including English and Maths) you are currently failing over half of the children for whom your are providing an education.

This question attempts to create a totally artificial conflict between parents and their children. Even if such rights existed these recommendations would not strike any sort of balance.

This is all a pretty clear cut case of unwarranted state intrusion into the private lives of citizens. We have committed no crime, we are not even suspected of committing a crime and yet these proposals will treat us all as suspects who must prove their innocence, on an annual basis no less!

This is not only a fundamental violation of the most basic tenants of English law, it also violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which was made binding by the Human Rights Act of 1998.

You can’t even make the excuse that on average home educated children are at greater risk of not receiving a suitable education. Every shred of research on the subject shows the outcomes of home educated children to be superior to those sent to school Graham Badman’s NEET stats are laughable. 74 self-selected local authorities provided figures having been very clearly asked to help prop up Mr Badman’s case. Not only that, Badman asked only for the figures for what we can call ‘year 12′ when many home educated young people are STILL being home educated but under no obligation to tell Connexions what they are doing. Is anybody going to dare suggest that this was not a cynical and deliberate choice, designed to generate the worst possible figures? If that weren’t enough he then compared the EHE figures for these 74 LAs with the national figure despite having specifically asked for “the comparative information for all young people in this cohort”. I’m sure when the figures do become public we will find that the national figure was used because it was lower and provided a much more satisfyingly ’stark’ contrast. All this doesn’t even get into wether NEET figures are even a useful measure of outcomes. A young person taking a gap year and doing voluntary work is classified as NEET.

2 Do you agree that a register should be kept?

Disagree

A list of names serves no purpose at all unless it is going to be used and it is the uses which you propose that are the problem. What other legal activities will we be asked to register for next? We do not exist for the convenience of public employees, to be recorded and measured just because they want to know what we’re doing at any given moment. If there is no overriding need for government to collect this information then it simply is none of your business.

3 Do you agree with the information to be provided for registration?

Disagree

I do not agree that there should be a register so the details are rather beside the point aren’t they? But since I’m here I’ll explain why the “initial statement of educational intent” is such a monumentally bad idea. The only educational intent that I have any intention of giving you or anyone is that I intend to fullfil my legal duties as specified in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996. I will do what is legally required of me, not I might add because it is legally required but because I am a parent and that is parent of my job.

I largely follow my child’s interests as well as taking advantage of what comes along and that makes any sort of 12 month plan rather pointless. I certainly couldn’t have told you that my daughter would have watched and been fascinated by Victorian Farm this year and that we would have followed up on this interest covering historic farming techniques, visiting a rural life centre, learning how to bottle fruit, spin wool, and a host of other activities. 12 months ago I didn’t even know that television program would be aired.

I will not set targets that my daughter might not want to meet. If she doesn’t want to do any maths for the next year that is not a problem, she’s a year ahead of school standards already, but I doubt a local authority inspector would see it that way. While we’re on the subject, since she’s only 5 there’s the recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review. The government have rejected it’s conclusions out of hand but maybe I and other parents don’t. Maybe we agree that formal learning before the age of 6 is counter-productive so our statements of educational intent would say, no formal learning this year. No, the whole idea is madness, and with no evidence at all that we are not doing a good job it is all ridiculous to even ask.

4 Do you agree that home educating parents should be required to keep the register up to date?

Disagree

The design of this consultation doesn’t take into account the possibility that people might disagree with you. No, we should not be required to keep up to date information that is none of your business in the first place!

5 Do you agree that it should be a criminal offence to fail to register or to provide inadequate or false information?

Disagree

1984 was written as a warning, not an instruction manual.

6 a) Do you agree that home educated children should stay on the roll of their former school for 20 days after parents notify that they intend to home educate?

Disagree

To what purpose? If local authorities are to offer mediation services between schools and parents (not a bad idea) these should be provided to all when requested and should not require parents to threaten to home educate before anyone does anything. Too little too late.

6 b) Do you agree that the school should provide the local authority with achievement and future attainment data? 

Disagree

No, no, no. Schools LIE. This already happens. I know of a child who having been tested and found to be at year 1-2 level in maths while in school magically jumped up to year 4 level in the report produced after she’d been removed from school all of 6 weeks later! Schools will lie to make themselves look better, to cover their own failings and some will lie out of malice.

The past and future achievements of home educated children are the business of those children and their parents NOT the local authority.

7 Do you agree that DCSF should take powers to issue statutory guidance in relation to the registration and monitoring of home education?

Disagree

The DCSF has already taken far too much power to itself. Our children do not belong to the DCSF and we do not need registering or monitoring to raise them. Local authorities already have sufficient powers to investigate and intervene if they have cause to believe that parents are failing in their section 7 duties. Sure, some complain that the job isn’t easy, well cry me a river! Who said that their jobs have to be easy? The jobs of social workers and the police aren’t easy but they are expected to deal with that because there has to be a balance between their powers and the rights of citizens to live their lives free of disproportionate interference.

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

8 Do you agree that children about whom there are substantial safeguarding concerns should not be home educated?

Disagree

If they are safe enough to be left with their parents out of school hours they are safe enough to be home educated. You can’t have it both ways. Imagine that you did refuse a family the right to home educate and then something happened to the child. You would have demonstrated that you knew there was a problem but didn’t do anything useful about it. If there are substantial safeguarding concerns you DO something about them, you do not just send the child to school and assume that school staff will magically solve the underlying problem. This kind of power would punish children who yes, might have a difficult home situation, but who are suffering dreadfully at school.

Article 5 of the UNCRC: “States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents…to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention. ”

9 Do you agree that the local authority should visit the premises where home education is taking place provided 2 weeks notice is given?

Disagree

Article 16 of the UNCRC (which you are are so fond of attempting to use for your own purposes) states that “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation. The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

Article 3 of the UNCRC “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

You are suggesting violating all of these and the age old idea that our homes are private, because that is what we are talking about, not a place of education, our HOMES.

10 Do you agree that the local authority should have the power to interview the child, alone if this is judged appropriate, or if not in the presence of a trusted person who is not the parent/carer?

Disagree

No. If there is a safeguarding concern about any child existing procedures should be followed and the matter should be handed over to fully trained social workers. There is no need for additional powers.

Article 9: “States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child’s place of residence.”

There is NO justification for interviewing a child alone on educational grounds.

Article 15: . “States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these rights other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

We’ve already heard from Mr Badman (oral evidence to the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee) that local authority staff are to be trusted to decide if a child who refuses to be interviewed is doing so of their own free will or under parental influence. How exactly he imagines they will do this without forcing the child to speak to them thus violating their rights is a mystery.

11 Do you agree that the local authority should visit the premises and interview the child within four weeks of home education starting, after 6 months has elapsed, at the anniversary of home education starting, and thereafter at least on an annual basis?  This would not preclude more frequent monitoring if the local authority thought that was necessary. 

Disagree

I don’t agree with compulsory visits and interrogating of children against their will PERIOD. There is no point getting into a detailed discussion about how often you should get to do something that you should NOT be doing.

A minimum of three visits in the first year and you want everyone to believe that this will cost no more than £21m in the first year and £9.7m thereafter? On what planet?! We have yet to see an impact assessment to explain this unrealistically tiny figure and no wonder! Let’s just take the conservative figure of 30,000 additional children that local authorities don’t know about who would have to be processed in the first year. That’s 90,000 home visits with travel time and expenses. How many additional staff do you think will need to be hired? Oh, and let’s not forget the logistics, de-registration tends to come in spurts, September in particular will be a busy, busy month! You simply haven’t thought this through have you? Amazing, these recommendations manage to be immoral, unworkable and stupid all at the same time!

Local MP visits

This week local MP Jeremy Hunt (South West Surrey) visited the Godalming Group to meet local home educators and hear concerns about the Badman Report and current DCSF attempts to license and control how we educate our children.


We had a good turnout, including representation from HEYC who Jeremy has offered to visit in their own right. He and his assistant Laura left with a nice fat file for reference including a copy of the wonderful Right to Reply document (a report produced by home educators for the Mass Lobby of Parliament on October 13th) and promised to talk to Michael Gove and the Conservative education team for us.

While some of the parents talked to Jeremy the children made Hama Bead pictures, made good use of the toy collection and played outside in the garden as usual.

Many thanks to Julie, Titis, Sandra and Sarah for the cakes and cookies, all very tasty and not a crumb left at the end, to Tracy for the photos, to those who shared their experiences and opinions and to everyone who came just for being there.

Tweets from the Wednesday a.m. session

Here are my tweets done live during the session, missed some names again but here it is!

Members introducing themselves. Lady from Chard first. Says their relationship with LA good, balance of power even
Jane from HEAS. Fiona from EO. Carol from Autism in Mind. Simon has a 16 year old.
Chairman asked about parents who aren’t articulate. Jane says such parents are really known to LAs and aren’t really HEers
Fiona answering saying anecdotal evidence not good idea. Chard lady saying less vocal parents not out of the loop
Carol saying parents of SEN children too busy to be vocal.
Chairman asking if more research needed. Says stats in Badman report don’t stand up to scrutiny
Fiona agrees with chairman that not knowing number of EHE children wrong
Female MP asks if benefit of finding tiny number of at risk great enough to demand registration of all EHE children
Fiona points out that there is statutory guidance on CME
MP asks if simple registration without Badman strings would be OK?
Simon no (with added rubbish) - [missed bit because of a phone call]
Fiona points out fear that registration would lead to more. Chairman says let’s forget Badman. Fiona thought inevitable
Jane No, can see why you’d want it. Carol head count on the face of it OK, but doesn’t think it would achieve aim
MP how many of panel members registered Simon, Fiona Carol yes others no
MP general lack of confidence in LAs. How can LA establish basics without sucking you into National Curriculum
Carol saying LAs not good at understanding needs of SEN children. Parents often have totally broken relationship with LA
Simon - against overly proscriptive, shouldn’t be formal testing but should be easy to spot failure to educate at all
Fiona suggests more research into why relationship doesn’t work.
Jane saying parents and LAs contact her regularly because LA staff just don’t understand HE
Chard EHE was under equality and diversity dept and so was treated as a cultural minority so has worked much better
Chairman - statement of learning. Simon thinks there should have some idea of what you hope them to be doing
MP points out Simon writing in TES and not typical
Fiona wants to know what would be involved. Doesn’t think 2 sides of A4 sounds likely. Fears it will be uneven
articulate parents would probably find it easier. LAs have been known to turn down 30 pages
Fiona bringing up progress assessment and testing
Chard lady explaining how it won’t work for AE. Jane suicidal and damaged children in no state to be expected to do this
MP Q about AE. Jane children who are AE achieve amazingly. Points out Alan Thomas.
MP quoting from Simon’s paper :-( Fiona pointing out ed doesn’t stop at 16, life long learning, exams can be taken later
subjects evolve, works best with autistic children because they feel they own their learning
MP (former teacher) great range of reasons and styles. What about other parents. Simon says science easy at home
Simon attacking AE, says more research needed
Fiona says again more research needed. Some parents need support. HE support organisations do what they can
Fiona sceptical of support offered by Badman report. Support offered by LAs good in theory
Jane if registration is necessary for support why not make it voluntary.
MP talking about Essex money from LA case. Asking if funding and oversight could be tied together.
Fiona says that was really a small school. Some HE parents might want to go that way but it wouldn’t really be HE
Carol doesn’t believe the money would be there when it wasn’t for SEN children in school. Simon doesn’t believe it either
MP saying why object to registration if your education is ok
Jane LAs already don’t leave people alone. Parents dealing with fallout from school withdrawal
STUPID question comparing doctors to teachers! Carol explaining about her son when he came out of school
Fiona points out that it’s just “if you’ve go nothing to hide …” MP David something pushing on assessment
Fiona talking about good practice. need to look at WHY people don’t make contact.
Zena duty is hers and SHE knows that they are progressing. Not for the state to take over that roll.
Simon sticks the knife in. Rights of the child. End of the session.

Questions Badman and the DCSF could have asked but didn’t

What are post Year 11 but not NEET children doing? Wouldn’t comparing EHE and school children provide at least some sort of ‘evidence of outcomes’ which they claim not to have at all?

How many Child Protection Plans on school attending children result from initial concerns raised by school staff? They want us to believe that school is a ’safety net’ but we haven’t been provided with any proof.

Where did the Child Protection Plans on EHE children originate?

Live comments on Select Committee pt 2

Annette (someone) reading out the e-mail that’s been on the lists from the LA saying the data was from ALL children ever. Badman denies it point blank. Badman claiming his .4% right. Hope she goes off and checks and finds out he’s wrong.

Chairman saying that this should be about education.

Johnson admits that it’s really about standard of education. Trying to blame media for focus on welfare! Ha!

Johnson worried about not having a full dataset! OMG the horror the horror!

Registration. Woman on panel in favour of registration, asking about right of appeal (which DCSF haven’t mentioned). Is an appeals procedure in the current consultation because she says she can’t answer because it’s ongoing.

Moving on to SEN and how parents feel about being monitored. Badman avoiding the question and blabbing on about money for support of SEN children and ignoring the stress caused by monitoring and approval.

Chairman saying relationship should be positive, helping rather than inspection. Johnson agreeing despite her drive for inspection. Woman goes back to parents of SEN children who don’t fit into a round hole. Badman seems to be suggesting that SEN children should be treated differently from other EHE children. Maybe they’ll get let off the HENC curriculum?

MP suggests dropping registration. Johnson says LAs need to know numbers to be able to plan services. Will there be a sanction? Johnson refuses to answer because the consultation is still open. Yeah right! Badman claims that annual registration is not such a big deal. Badman says that we are performing a ‘public function’! Back to rights of children, bla bla bla, sorry Graham we know exactly what that means!

Female MP right of entry to home and interviewing children alone and LAs not making use of current powers. Badman quoting an LA is NOT answering the question! Children do not NEED to meet ECM outcomes! Badman claims that the quote represents almost ALL LAs! How that is possible when so many didn’t answer at all is a mystery.

What if the child doesn’t want to meet you? Badman admits he was dreading this question. Ah, we’re to trust LA officials to decide if that’s REALLY the opinion of the child! How convenient!

Badman claiming that nothing in his report will stop us home educating. Oh this is FUNNY. We should trust to the good sense of the people working in EHE licensing. In a pig’s eye! When you’ve got someone like we have I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him!

Woman asks about training and the resources required. Could it be a bottomless pit. DCSF claim training is part of full response costing.

MP asks about learning outcomes. Ah NOW it’s outcomes they’re admitting that they have incomplete stats. Admitting research shows good outcomes but dismissing it because they don’t know how representative it is. Funny how that doesn’t matter for LAs isn’t it?

Badman going back to NEET data and calling it ’stark’.

They really do hate not knowing.

Q about statement of intended learning. 2 sides of A4 Johnson says. Admits that AE will be an issue and there is ‘work to do’. “suitable” and “efficient” again.

Badman “21st century society” and back to the UNCRC. He can’t conceive of a middleschool age child who doesn’t know about the history china or carbon sequestration. Quotes Harrison case. MP points out it seems statement will require some required areas of knowledge.

Badman claims he’s independent (watching Home Educators roar with derisive laughter) and it’s beyond his brief. BUT he thinks it there should be a curriculum.

Chairman brings up socialisation. Badman … no, he’s not going to try using the CoE quote?! ah, backs off from that. Chairman MP cracks joke about weird private school graduates.

MP asks if it’s the thin end of the wedge. Good man! Regulation vs freedom. Points out that National Curriculum started ‘broad brush’ and ended up narrowly proscriptive. Danger of same happening to HE. Badman denies that’s what he meant. Johnson says nothing.

Badman admits that there are as many types of home ed as there are home educators. If he realises that why is he suggesting what he is?

Dark-haired MP asks about example of registration but minimal intervention. Badman brings up Tasmania, admitting HEers hate the idea. Points out that EO is not representative.

LOST FEED looks like the video automatically cuts off when the meeting is meant to have ended. Very irritating!

Live comments on Select Committee pt 1

Don’t promise that this will make sense. Just bashing down my thoughts as I listen.

Diana R. Johnson
No, Ms Johnson, the only reason the EHE Guidelines don’t work is because some LAs ignore them!

Oh, so our contributions will be carefully taken into account will they? So no one month turn around then?

If AND WHEN Graham’s recommendations are implemented. No predetermined outcomes then.

Graham Badman
“LIGHT TOUCH” Grrrr

Our children are NOT in the government’s CARE!

Do we honor the rights of children? US? F***ING CHEEK!

He’s really trying to pretend that he’s sympathetic and on our side. Loathsome little TOAD!

No Graham the DUTY of parents. And when have you EVER listened to children?

Oh he’s surprised at the response to his report from a ‘vociferous minority’ which he can COUNT, we’re such a small minority! He can seriously believe that can he?

MP drawing attention to “known to social care” numbers. Go on then Graham, answer the question … ah, now we’re onto the new figures which haven’t been ripped apart yet … and he’s claiming that his original figures are right and EHE kids are at double the risk!

MP asking about disparities between LAs. Graham can’t answer. Fudging like mad.

Repeating the double lie and saying that means Child Protection Plans!

Trying to imply that SCRs asking for more regulation of HE without actually SAYING that. He really is a slippery little weasel.

Denying that false reporting accounts for higher figures

MP (sorry missed names) asking about public access to Badman’s September data. Asking why they don’t just put up all the data to save people having to do FOI requests. Feeble excuse.

Badman claims that .2% of general population have CPPs and EHE is .4%. And then admits that’s from at most less than half of the true national population. MP caught him on it!! Ha! You star!

Give it up Graham, he’s caught you!

Starting on NEETS but then a bell started ringing, something called a division which the MPs have to go and vote on.

Sound is off so I can’t hear Badman, Diana Johnson and their team scheming. See them looking around to check if any home educators are listening in.

Here comes the National Curriculum

But it’s all for our own good. Who do we think we are to decide what our children should study, or worse still leave it up to them?!

‘Suitable’ home education review

Have I mentioned recently how much I truly DESPISE these people?

Here, have some trinkets … now hand over your children

I’m glad we had a nice, proper HE day yesterday and that I didn’t come across the pile of steaming excrement below before dinner.

They don’t listen. They don’t WANT to listen. They want our children in school and if they can’t force that they want them jumping through their moronic National Curriculum hoops and meeting their meaningless targets at home.

Blogdial is right you know. And I will NOT OBEY! This goes to the very core of what it is to be a parent and as David Cameron said only yesterday “there’s nothing, absolutely nothing — you wouldn’t do to protect [your children]” Well Mr Balls I will protect my child I will NOT allow you or anyone else to destroy her education with your targets and tick boxes and random list of things that children ’should’ know. I will REFUSE. If all else fails, if this country becomes a place where parents have their natural role subverted by a rabid, power-crazed state, then I will leave! My child was born a free person, an individual with rights that the UK government did not grant and cannot take away.

So you can take your licensing and your pathetic attempt to bribe me and firmly shove them where the sun don’t shine!

Diana Johnson announces new support package for home educating families

09 October 2009

Schools Minister Diana Johnson has today announced better access to qualifications and more support for home educated children with special educational needs (SEN), signalling the start of a new relationship between local authorities and families who choose to educate at home.

The commitment comes as Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls today sent the Government’s full response to Graham Badman’s Review of Elective Home Education to the Chair of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee.

The response sets out a new support package for home educated children, which includes better access to GCSEs, vocational qualifications and further education. The proposed changes to monitoring arrangements will also make sure that the right checks and balances are in place so all children receive a suitable education, in a safe environment.

Key features of the new support package include:

* more flexible access to public examinations and exam centres for home educated children, so their parents no longer have to rely on ad hoc arrangements with schools or colleges that can be a long way from home
* more tailored support for home educated children with special educational needs
* better support for home educated young people who want to go to college
* improved access to music lessons, school libraries, work experience, sports and other specialist facilities in schools and colleges
* a commitment from the Government to look at arrangements for flexi-schooling, so that home educated children can have the option to attend school on a part-time basis.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools Diana Johnson said:

The vast majority of home educating parents offer their children a good education, and the support we have outlined today will help them and their children. It is right that home educated children should have access to things like school libraries, sports facilities and music lessons and also have more tailored support for special educational needs.

We’ve always been clear that parents have the right to educate their children at home. There are no plans to change this, and we understand parents choose to home educate for a number of different reasons.

But we know there are a small number of cases where local authorities have concerns for the safety of home educated children. The Government has a responsibility to make sure that the safety – and rights – of vulnerable children are protected, which is why we are looking at how we can put in place better checks and balances, so we can be confident every child is safe and learning.

Today’s response reiterates the Government’s support for statutory arrangements for the registration and monitoring of home education, so that all children are kept safe and receive a good education. The proposals are currently the subject of a public consultation, which closes on 19 October.

Graham Badman has today also written to the Select Committee setting out the results from a snapshot survey of local authorities, which received 74 responses.

Graham Badman said:

I am pleased that the Secretary of State has accepted my review in full and will provide the resources needed to support home educators to do their job in the best possible way.

The package as a whole will give home educated children far greater access to FE colleges, exam centres, school facilities and wider educational opportunities, while ensuring that they are prepared for life in the wider community as adults.

Local authorities say that most home education is good, but they need stronger powers to deal with cases where it is poor and to step in if they have concerns for a child’s safety. I am glad that the Government is consulting on arrangements to make sure that all home educated children have access to a good and safe education.

The response also outlines that more work will be done to clarify what is ‘suitable and effective’ home education to support new guidance to local authorities on supporting and monitoring home educators. This will emphasise how local authorities can work with home educating parents to make sure that the needs of all children, including those with special educational needs, can be met in the home environment where appropriate. The guidance will take account of findings from the Lamb Inquiry, to be published later this year.

This effluent plus links to further offensive drivel here

Rural Life Centre

As a break from following all the political goings on and the joys of being doorstepped yesterday by a **** from the local council, today we followed up on the Victorian Farm theme and went to the Rural Life Centre at Tilford

The sun shone and we had the place almost totally to ourselves, not even one school group, it was lovely! Audrey got to spend as long as she wanted on the various hands on activities (bet you always wanted to know what the parts of a harness are called).

Although I did have to finally call time on the period costume dress up

and trying out all the toys in the school house.

AND they had a seed fiddle!

Press Release - Mass Lobby of Parliament

Mass Lobby of Parliament on Tuesday 13 October 2009

PARENTS and their children will be attending a mass lobby of Parliament next week to protest about planned changes to the law on home education that will strip them of their rights and intrude into family life.

Nearly 200 adult supporters have confirmed with the organisers that they will be attending the rally on Tuesday 13 October, bringing with them 190 children. Many of them have firm appointments to see their MPs.

The mass lobby has been organised in the wake of a Government review into home education.

Graham Badman, former Director of Education at Kent County Council, who carried out the study, recommended that local councils should have the right to enter family homes and question children alone.

He also said that parents who home educate should be forced to register every year and gave local authorities carte blanche to refuse registration.

The Review of Elective Home Education in England was accepted in full by the Government, which wants to change the law as soon as possible.

It intends to use its Improving Schools and Safeguarding Bill to introduce home education registration and monitoring legislation as early as next month.

The Badman report and the Government’s eagerness to accept it has brought an angry response from home educators.

Mass lobby organiser Claire Blades, 45, from Aylesbury, said: “No longer are parents being trusted to make decisions about their own children.

“First we had the news that 11.3 million people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - close to one in four of the adult population – would have to have Criminal Record Bureau checks.

“Then we had the case of the two policewomen who were accused of illegal childminding because they took care of each other’s children on their days off.

“Now parents who home educate are to be forced to undergo intrusive monitoring in their own homes because they are not trusted with their own children.

“By ignoring the onward march of legislation that intrudes into family life, we are allowing ourselves to sleepwalk into a nightmare. It is time to wake up and call a halt to the ever-growing band of officials who think they know what is best for our children and our families.”

Home educators claim that the Badman report, published in June, is inaccurate and shows little understanding of the home educating community.

So many home educators complained that the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee ordered a short inquiry into the report.

There were more than 200 written submissions to that inquiry and home educators are awaiting notification of when the Select Committee hearing will be.

Mrs Blades said: “Mr Badman claimed that the ratio of home-educated children who were “known to social care” was twice that of the population at large.

“It turns out that that vague statistic came from a small sample of 25 local authorities.

“The group, Action for Home Education, has carried out its own research using Freedom of Information requests to all local education authorities in England and the picture painted is quite the reverse.

“Interestingly, even Mr Badman has come to realise that his statistics are flawed.

“On 17 September 2009, he wrote to all local authority Directors of Children’s Services to say: ‘I would like to strengthen my statistical evidence in advance of the Select Committee hearing so that it is more extensive and statistically robust.’

“He practically begged the Directors of Children’s Services to help him ‘make the strongest possible case to the Select Committee’.”

“The picture painted of home education in the Badman report is unrecognisable to the thousands of families in this country who exercise their legal right to educate their children without sending them to school.

“It is unrecognisable to the thousands of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who share the lives of home educated children. It is unrecognisable to the children themselves.

“The mass lobby is an opportunity for us to show our MPs what home education is really about and to bring important issues like inaccuracies and bias in the Badman report to their attention.”