Archive for November, 2009

Surrey Petitions Press Release

This, or something similar, is being sent out to the media in Surrey.

Surrey MPs petitioned on Home Education

All eleven Surrey MPs will receive a parliamentary petition (see below) this week from their constituents opposing the controversial Badman Report into elective home education. The petition also calls for the withdrawal of a new legislative measure based upon it. In early December over 300 MPs from around the country will submit the same petition to parliament. This will be by far the largest number of constituencies in history to present a single parliamentary petition.

The new legislation recommends a compulsory registration scheme that will cost an estimated £10.3m to £59.6m to implement. Home educating parents would, in effect, have to apply annually for a licence to teach their own children. One element causing great concern to parents is that the proposed legislation gives local education authorities the right to interview children alone without their parents being present. These and other regulations are being proposed despite all available evidence showing that home educated children are at less risk of abuse or inadequate education than the general population. As Lord Lucas of Crudwell & Dingwall pointed out in the House of Lords this week

“There is no evidence that this part of the Bill is needed; in fact, the reverse is very much the truth. We have just had the chief inspector saying that one-third of state schooling is unsatisfactory, while the true figures on home education say that maybe 1 per cent of home education is unsatisfactory. The phrase involving beams, motes and eyes comes to mind.”

The Badman report and its recommendations were the subject of an investigation by the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Select Committee which has yet to publish its report. However the written evidence submitted to it was overwhelmingly critical, highlighting incorrect and misleading statistics, selective and distorted use of quotes and unjustified discounting of legitimate research and expert opinion

“In my 30 odd years of professional life in education I have rarely encountered a process, the entirety of which was so slap dash, panic driven, and nakedly and naively populist.” Prof. James C Conroy

The results of a recent consultation on ‘registration’, monitoring and inspection which received over 5,000 responses are also unpublished, even though ministers assured home educators that it would be taken into account. Government ignoring of evidence which conflicts with its plans is not new, but rarely has it been so blatant.

This is not a matter of concern only for home educators as Schedule 1 takes away from ALL parents the fundamental right to decide how their children should be educated and places it in the hands of local government officials. Any parent wishing to home educate would be required annually to ask the LA for permission, allow council officers into their homes, let their children be interviewed alone and submit and adhere to detailed ‘education plans’ which the LA would have to approve. Clause 26 of the Bill conveniently gives this or any future government the power to issue guidance to local authorities about what they may demand of parents as part of this new regime. Home educators are naturally concerned that this constitutes a move to introduce the National Curriculum and full state control by the back door.

In addition to the obvious human rights issues involved, the proposed new legislation will mean that many children will live in constant fear of the subjective judgment of a complete stranger who will have the power to send them back to school against their own and their parents’ wishes. Some of these children have previously experienced profound problems in school, such as bullying, and may now face the constant fear of having to return.

Anyone wishing to support home educators in their opposition to this bill can still sign an online petition on the #10 site.

The wording of the petition:

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of persons resident in the parliamentary constituency.

Declares that they are concerned about the recommendations of the Badman Report, which suggests closer monitoring of home educators, including a compulsory annual registration scheme and right of access to people’s homes for local authority officials; further declares that the petitioners believe the recommendations are based on a review that was extremely rushed, failed to give due consideration to the evidence, failed to ensure that the data it collected were sufficiently robust, and failed to take proper account of the existing legislative framework.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families either not to bring forward, or to withdraw, proposed legislative measures providing for tighter registration and monitoring of children educated at home in the absence of a thorough independent inquiry into the condition and future of elective home education in England; but instead to take the steps necessary to ensure that the existing Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities are properly implemented, learning from current best practice, in all local authorities in England.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

Response to Lord Lucas

Here we have the government response to Lord Lucas today in the Lords.

Clearly the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, does not like the part of the Bill relating to home education.

Him and a few thousand home educators.

However, the Government are committed to supporting its
continuation as a choice for parents.

The choice being “our way or the high way”?

Registration and monitoring will give local authorities the tools that they need to tackle the small number of cases where the education provided is not good enough.

How tired am I of having to point out that they have powers already?

It will also ensure that in future there is a clearer picture on home-educated children.

Oh well that’s alright then.

Home-educating families are doing a fine job and are co-operating with reasonable requests from their local authority;

“Reasonable” requests, what are these “reasonable” requests then?

they will find little difference in their lives.

Should we laugh? The only way this can’t be a LIE is if Baroness Royall is almost unbelievably stupid.

New #10 petition

On the every little helps principle there’s a new #10 petition on Home Education.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to uphold that parents have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their child, to not undermine parents legitimately fulfilling their fundamental duties, and to assume that the best interests of their child is the basic concern of parents unless there is specific evidence to the contrary.

In particular, the government should ensure :- • No right of access to the family home without evidence of a crime • No right to interview a child alone without evidence of risk of serious harm • No CRB checks or registration for parents to look after their own children, or to informally look after those of their friends, family etc • No licensing / registration / assessment / monitoring of methods by which parents fulfil their duties without evidence that they are failing to do so, and with specific recognition that education “otherwise” than at school is a perfectly legal option to fulfil their duty regarding education • No undermining of parents as being in the best position to determine how to meet their child’s needs, according to their age, ability, aptitude, and any special needs they may have • Greater focus on applying existing resources and procedures to cases of children known to be at risk, rather than dilution of these resources by routinely monitoring whole sections of the community • Compliance with the fundamental presumption of innocence unless there is specific evidence to the contrary

Home Educators becoming one issue voters

We’re a minority so maybe Labour don’t care, but then again we’re not the first
or only minority they’ve outraged into the arms of the Tories or whoever can get
a sitting Labour MP out at the next election. Not only that but it’s not just
wavering, ’soft’ vote, middle of the road mummies they’re loosing, read the
following and weep Gordon:

I used to be a trendy left wing teacher but I’m voting Tory at the general
election. (I still find it hard to put that into writing.) Just off to put
`tweed suit and blue rinse’ onto my Christmas wish list… - Lil

Former treasurer of the young socialists and 1980 - 1998 card-carrying
old-Labour member here. If it takes a tweed suit and a blue rinse to stop Balls
and his stupid cronies playing bull***t bingo with my child’s education, then
it’s time for me to book into the local granny salon pronto. - Jude

…another lifelong but now x-lab voter here. This isn’t democracy, it’s
dictatorship. - Tina

Same here, I won’t vote for them again. I even joined their party a few year
back, never again. I will just vote tory now as even the lib dems have let me
down. - Janet

And another one here - former member of the Young Socialists, with parents who
were stalwarts of the local labout party for over 40 years, brought up
canvassing and electioneering for the labour party - I used to play with David
Blunketts dog in party meetings. My mum will be turning in her grave, and my
dad will consider me a class traitor, and I hardly can form the words “I will
vote Tory” without shuddering, but if that is what it takes to keep home ed
free, then so be it. - Janet

never thought the thought of voting tory would cross my mind, but threaten my
child and I will do what it takes - Maire

I was brought up canvassing … on election day our flat was the campaign
headquarters - I used to love it! My parents campaigned, worked for various MPs
as researchers. I did my work experience for a labour peer and a labour think
tank - I even appeared in a campaign brochure thing on education - bright young
thing with hopes for the future! I told my mum I was a single issue voter and
she was horrified! - Sarah

I used to be a branch secretary and trod the streets canvassing and leafletting.
I even, to my great shame, voted for Tony Blair as leader. I cut up my
membership card the day they scrapped clause 4. I’d never ever vote for them
again. As a socialist I couldn’t countenance it. - Lizxx

My mum says, “I can’t believe you’re getting into bed with the tories!” Never
thought I’d see the day, either. - Rosemary

I won’t be voting Labour for the foreseeable future. I stopped voting
Labour in the run up to the Iraq war. I could not vote for a party that
sends our soldiers to kill people elsewhere. But what else: Afghanistan,
ID cards, contact point database, Foundation hospitals, poor regulation
of the banking system, eliminating the 10% tax band, increasing
inequality, increased paper work for social workers, academy schools,
piece-meal privatisation of the health service, Trident, no
renationalisation of the train companies, SOCPA, detention without
trial, rendition flights, Margaret Hodges cow-towing to the BNP in
Barking, Public-Private partnerships, Working Time opt-out, the ejection
of 82 year old Walter Wolfgang from conference on terrorist charges, and
now telling me how I can or cannot educate my children!
I could go on, but my life is too short, and New Labour’s charge sheet
is long. What baffles me is how come the Labour Party has any supporters left.
Are there any self-respecting Socialists left within the Labour Party,
and if so, why? - Imran

Does this remind you of anyone?

Hopper: You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up! Those puny little ants outnumber us a hundred to one and if they ever figure that out there goes our way of life! It’s not about food, it’s about keeping those ants in line. That’s why we’re going back! Does anybody else wanna stay?

The built in fail rate of compulsory licensing

Another thing to add to the long list of problems with compulsory licensing. It will disadvantage the poor, the disabled, single parents and anyone else in the least bit vulnerable. Why? Because if you employ a bunch of people to monitor and judge they WILL fail some families to justify their own continued employment. It doesn’t matter if those people deserve to be failed or not, it’s the nature of the system, some will be sacrificed so LA staff can keep their jobs. Naturally the staff involved won’t want to go head to head with the kind of parents with the money, contacts and education to make things difficult. No, they’ll pick off the low hanging fruit. So much for removing barriers to social mobility!

So called impact assessment

If your blood pressure can take it it’s available to download from the bottom of this page.

Scroll down to page 83 and you’ll quickly notice that they list NOTHING under Other key non-monetised costs by ‘main affected groups’. Right, so the damage done to our children, the stress, the loss of our privacy and civil rights and the massive waste of our time aren’t worth mentioning then?

Registration will come into effect from April 2011

{shudders}

LAs estimate that 8% of ‘home educated’ children are receiving no education at all and 20% are not receiving a suitable education (including the 8%)

IF you believe these numbers, which I don’t, that’s between 8 and 20% of known cases where the LAs are FAILING to use existing powers.

Evidence Base [sic] (for summary sheets)
Local authorities currently have records which identify home educated children when they are deregistered from a school. Through this 20,000 children are already known to LAs. Modelling suggests that 80% of all those who begin elective home education become known to the LA when the parents deregister the child from school or when they voluntarily approach the local authority. However, there could be as many as 40,000 and there is a very remote possibility that the number could be as high as 80,000 (or 1% of the total school age children in England). The current system, or the post Contact-Point arrangements, will not identify these children efficiently.

Hang on, did they just ADMIT in print that Contact-Point isn’t going to be able to identify all EHE children? It is in fact not going to work? They did just admit that! Ha! All the negatives and they know it’s not even going to work!

LAs tell us that they estimate that 8% of home educated children known to them receive no education and that overall, 20% of home educated children already known to them do not receive a suitable education. They have no idea about the standard of education experienced by home educated children not known to them.

In other words, we don’t know what we don’t know but we’re going to assume the worst anyway and demand draconian legislation on that basis.

First year of registration
Children in the first year will all receive 2 * 4 hour meetings with LA officer (includes planning, travel time etc)

50% of children in the first year will receive an additional 2 * 4 hour sessions. This is an estimate about what % of initial assessments will require further action. There is little data, because the scheme has not yet been implemented, but we are as confident as we can be that this is a high end estimation.

I think the phrase I’m looking for here is OVER MY DEAD BODY.

Monitoring visits
All children receive 1 x 8 hour visit at the end of the year. 50% will receive an additional 1 x 8 hour visit.

EIGHT HOURS?! OK, even assuming they knock off a couple for “planning, travel time etc” that’s a outrageous!

Opportunity costs to parents
The opportunity costs to parents of meeting with local authority officers have been factored into the costing. However, we have not included a cost for the preparation of an education plan on the basis that:
• Even though parents and carers may not give it that name, it is a core part of planning ahead to deliver home education for their children. Any change will not represent additional time invested, but instead mean that parents and carers are using some of the time they devote to home education differently.
• Curricula are available for immediate download from QCA and DCSF websites, and are adequate for the purposes of education planning.

WRONG. They really don’t get it do they? I don’t have an education plan by any name and I don’t want or need one!

The consequences of receiving a poor or inadequate education in later life are that the young people denied an adequate education are unlikely to achieve recognised qualifications and more likely to turn to crime or substance abuse.

And their evidence for EHE children turning to drugs or crime is … oh, I forgot, they don’t HAVE any! They then go on about how not having 5 good GCSEs destroys your life. I seriously don’t want people this STUPID having anything to do with my child’s education!

Yeah whatever, the answer is STILL NO

I could torture myself and you by going through this piece of authoritarian drivel but 1) I don’t think it will make it into law and 2) if it does they can just FUCK OFF because I won’t be co-operating.

OK, now we’ve got that clear I’ll go back to laughing at Michael Gove’s jokes at Ed Balls’ expense during today’s Commons debate. He really has got some great writers and I’m enjoying the current animal theme.

Queen’s Speech - Children, Schools and Families Bill

Queen’s Speech - Children, Schools and Families Bill

Read this bit:

• Safeguarding the vulnerable - strengthening the powers of local authorities and others with regards to registration, inspection and intervention will mean effective systems are in place to protect those that most need it. The Bill will introduce a new home educators’ registration system and take new powers for Secretaries of State to intervene in youth offending teams that are failing and potentially putting young people and their communities at risk.

and tell me if you feel more physically sick than furious, or vice versa .

Ed Balls and his minions are the lowest form of human life. Our children are NOT ‘vulnerable’ except perhaps to government interference, and putting them in the same sentence as young offenders is flat out offensive.

The bill formerly know as “Improving schools and safeguarding children”

I’m seriously beginning to doubt that Labour have any expectation, or even any desire to see their new education bill survive. Home Educators are currently fighting to have licensing (registration in DCSF-speak) removed from the bill but looking at the other elements it’s hard to see that any of it will survive. They’ve weighed it down with policies that have teachers, schools and LAs up in arms. It’s all looking more and more like a desperate and pathetically transparent effort to win back some middle class voters, promising them all sorts of powers over their child’s school including the right to sue if they don’t get what they want.