Archive for February, 2010

Khyra Ishaq case shows why CSF Bill is a BAD idea

I’ve just read through the Judgement on the Khyra Ishaq case by Mrs Justice King. It was hard going but not only does it make it clear that the measures in the CSF Bill would NOT have saved her, it demonstrates how they would make such cases more likely!

Birmingham City already acted as if they had to authorise home education and the children where not removed from the school roll until the “Educating Otherwise advisor” had approved the educational provision. Despite SEN statements, he did so based on a 1 hour home visit in a room described as “a “rudimentary” classroom having been set up with a display board with writing on it on the wall although, he said, there were no chairs or other items that were what he referred to as “resources” for teaching. Mr I described there being some basic readers and one or two books around.” and no further information.

# Mr H was vague in his evidence as to what, if anything occurred between February and April. He said in oral evidence that he had not got the plan from mother and had written back to her. That then that would seem to indicate that he was not in a position to tell social services, or indeed anyone else, that he was satisfied as to the educational provision to be provided for these statemented children.

# The documentary evidence covering this period of time is incomplete and mainly in the form of emails. Such email evidence as is available seems to suggest that Mr H did in fact give approval indicating that he was satisfied with the proposed educational provision despite the fact that mother had failed to provide any educational plan. The names of the children were accordingly moved from the school roll. This meant that the children were longer be categorised as unauthorised absentees and so another possible route of monitoring the children was lost. |It was for that very reason that the school had up until then resolutely refused to take the children off their roll.

# In the emails it shows that on 28th February Mr H spoke to a Laura Cartwright who was the reviewing officer at SENAS. Mr H confirmed that he had conducted the home visit and it is recorded that he had reported that the parents were able to supply adequate information about their plans for educating the children and that he was satisfied that they were sufficiently set up for home teaching.

Meanwhile “The Initial Assessment was abandoned on the basis that Education Otherwise in the form of Mr. H was now to be involved.”

Tell me how that won’t happen again. Overworked EHE inspector just ticks boxes because s/he is snowed under having to inspect every single HE family at least once a year. Overworked social worker decides that since EHE inspector is involved there’s no need to do an assessment even when serious welfare concerns have been reported. Result, abuse undetected and sooner or later another death.

DCSF launch media blitz against home education

It looks like DCSF staff have been busy working on a multi-faceted media attack on home educators. Not just the spin on the Khyra Ishaq case which while deeply offensive was also sadly very predictable. No, they have also roped in the TES (hardly an unbiased publication to begin with) to publish lies about the quality of education “First official figures reveal failings of home education”

I think what’s clear is that they’ve known for a while that they were facing a rough ride on Clauses 26 and 27 and so have orchestrated as much negative press as they could timed to coincide with the Khyra Ishaq case. They must have hoped that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat front benches would be undecided and susceptible to ‘public opinion’ although what we’re seeing is of course NOT public opinion but a cynical attempt to influence it.

Blogdial makes a good point about PR although how he imagines we can afford a “professional full time PR firm” I don’t know! Unlike tax payer funded Birmingham City Council I doubt we’ll be able to find £800-a-day. No, I think we’ll have to do what we usually do and learn the business and do it ourselves.

BBC = Balls Broadcasting Corp

If you thought that the web site article from earlier was bad, hold on to your hat because the lead item on the BBC News at 6 this evening was WORSE. If you were to believe them you would think that Khyra Ishaq died because she was home educated and the measures in the CSF Bill would have saved her. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Yes, it IS a big fat LIE.

Yes, the BBC must know that.

They have access to exactly the same information as we do, maybe even more. Despite that they have followed the DCSF spin so slavishly that you’d think that one of Ed Balls’ few literate minions wrote the whole thing for them.

I have complained as I did for the earlier web site slander, this time following Hecate’s advice as the TV item so clearly broke the Broadcasting Code with relation to “Matters of major political or industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy”. The CSF Bill has just gone over to the Lords for goodness sake!

5.12 In dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes. Views and facts must not be misrepresented.

Am I angry? I’ll tell you how angry. I just joined the Conservatives. Oh yes indeedy, THAT angry.

Ed Balls dishonours dead child for political gain

What can you say about Ed Balls that hasn’t been said before and that doesn’t involve the kind of language that I wouldn’t want my daughter to read … not that she’s old enough to understand the words I want to use about him right now, but you gentle reader would … well maybe not ALL of them, but I wouldn’t want you looking up the more obscure ones either.

He is a LIAR.

A soulless, twisted man who has no compunction about using a dead child to further his anti-family, anti-home education agenda. I had thought it was impossible to loath him more than I already did, but you know what, I was wrong!

Do not read the following if you suffer from high blood pressure, a weak heart, are near to anything breakable or within hearing of anyone who doesn’t need to be learning to swear just yet.

Secretary of State’s response to verdicts in the Khyra Ishaq case

If you missed the debate about Serious Case Reviews in the Commons on Tuesday it might be worth a read because in it you will find how utterly WORTHLESS an “executive summary” of a SCR is. Balls uses the words “full and detailed” to describe a SUMMARY which will be NEITHER.

On a cheerier note I bet he’s a bit disappointed that only the BBC seems interested in playing his tune on this one today.

Khyra Ishaq Media Watch

I’m going to track some of the media output on the Khyra Ishaq case today to see who is a DCSF lapdog. Lapdogs get a FAIL, reporting the facts without comment from Badman or the like gets a PASS. Feel free to put any you find in the comments or Tweet me and I’ll add them.

FAIL

PASS

There was GOOD news today

Today Michael Gove did a live Q&A on the TimesOnline site.

Naomi:
Home educators have no faith in government , after being treated so badly by Labour. How can that be rectified?

Michael Gove:
Dear Naomi

I think home educators do a wonderful job - they give up time and sacrifice so much for their children - Government should support them and we won’t allow the current Government’s plans to stigmatise home educators to get through

Naomi:
Thank you ,but can you promise us that clause 26/27 of csf bill will never be
law?

Michael Gove:
Dear Naomi

yes

One little word. Three lowercase letters. Lovely aren’t they? “can you promise us that clause 26/27 of csf bill will never be law?” “yes”.

The DCSF will no doubt use every dirty trick at their disposal, including lying about poor little Khyra, to try to make him break this promise, so the battle isn’t over, but let’s allow ourselves to seriously consider that we will make it to Polling Day without compulsory licensing on the books.

We will NOT be your scapegoat!

Let’s get something straight. See this picture?

This is ‘The Scapegoat’ by William Holman Hunt. It is NOT a home educator.

Khyra Ishaq was NOT home educated.

The people finding themselves being blamed for this child’s tragic death are DESPERATE to shift the focus. They always are. Forget ‘lessons will be learnt’, they’re not interested in that. They’re interested in convincing the public that it was somebody else’s fault, that they don’t have the necessary powers and THEY are not to blame.

Well they can just sod right off because Khyra Ishaq was NOT home educated. Her mother stopped her going to school and so technically she was truanting. The systems and individuals who should have stepped in when her school raised concerns about her did not. They did not use the powers that they have. Saying that registering home educators would have made any difference is not just a LIE it is blatant SCAPEGOATING. It is an insult to a dead child and shows a shocking lack of concern for other children who may even now be suffering abuse because social services and the police aren’t doing their jobs.

You can judge the loyalties and agendas of every newspaper and other media outlet on how they spin the Khyra Ishaq story once the murder trial is over. If you see Home Education being blamed you know whose pocket they are in.

Last minute entry for the February Home Baked Challenge

Well, I’d made them and they fit the theme of Love

Cupcakes

Audrey made cupcakes today to enter into English Mum’s Great Valentine’s Day Cupcake Challenge.

Comparing HE and school outcomes

For someone to do a decent job* there are an awful lot of things to consider. It’s NOT going to be simple!

You can’t just take all the families known to a Local Authority and do a straight average of GCSE results to compare with average school outcomes. For a start families known to their LA are heavily slanted towards those whose children went to school and were deregistered for some reason, usually a serious problem. Families which have home educated from the start are much more likely to be ‘unknown’.

It would hardly be fair for example to compare a boy with severe SEN who was withdrawn from school age 13 after years of unresolved bullying with the national average for all children and try to claim a poor outcome for HE. You would have to compare him with a similar boy who remained in school, a like for like comparison to see what difference those few years of HE vs school made. Even for children HE from the start you’d need to compare them with the same socio-economic group in the same area to get a fair comparison.

The other big problem is, how do you measure outcomes? Not a trivial question as a combination of freedom from the requirement to do GCSEs and parents having to fund them means that HE children very often just don’t take them. You might compare UCCA scores at 16 or maybe 18? That at least would count in A Levels taken early, IGCSEs, music grade exams etc. That does perpetuate the idea that it’s all about exams of course but it would paint part of the picture. Maybe look at what they’re doing at 18, actually look rather than rely on NEET figures which, as we’ve seen, are a bit rubbish.

Then I suppose you probably ought to figure in the social outcomes, levels of crime, drug use, teen pregnancies, all the stuff that politicians get worked up about. Again taking care to adjust for time spent in school and what problems, if any, started there. For example you can hardly pin a teen pregnancy on HE if the girl in question only became HE after she got that way!

No, it really is NOT going to be simple.

* hands up everyone who thinks that the DCSF have no desire to fund anyone doing a decent job