Thursday, 24 December 2009

We Wish You A Snowy Christmas

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Balls Recommends Licensing as a Result of Incestuous Amplification

Synchronicity is a funny thing. You can be happily reading a book about one of the greatest medical cons of our time, when BANG, a phrase hits you right between the eyes, and you suddenly have a diagnosis for all the troubles of the past year.

Incestuous Amplification.

This is a military term, which is in itself interesting, considering it feels as though we have been fighting in a dirty battle since January 19th.

In psychological circles it is known as *group polarisation*, but I prefer the military term myself, it fits far better with our government's propensity for the *sexing up* of documents, don't you think?

"In a nutshell: Like-minded people, talking only with one another, usually end up believing a more extreme version of what they thought before they started to talk."

—Cass R. Sunstein, "The Power of Dissent," Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2003

It certainly seems to have worked in the most incredibly powerful way as this tale of a Home Educator and her young child who were doorstepped only this week, shows: they were left shaken and distressed after suffering various threats, and were told (presumably as justification for such appalling treatment) that:

"Home Educators are more likely to abuse their children."

We have the stats that totally disprove this, but if a BAD MAN repeats the lie often enough, and to groups of people who really want to believe it to be true, then the lie becomes a truth - in the eyes of those who have been guilty of incestuous amplification at least.

Remember, incestuous amplification means: The observer sees what he wants to see rather than what is. When this happens, the Decisions and Actions flowing from that Orientation become progressively disconnected from reality.

Wishing you all a New Year free from Balls, Bad Men and Incestuous Amplification.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Dreams and beliefs

Once upon a time there was a little English girl who grew up believing that those people who worked in the big palace in London, and all the people who worked for the councils, were something called Civil Servants.

She had this notion that a servant was a person who worked for another person; a person who did the bidding of the person who employed them in return for monetary reward.

The little girl continued to believe that this was true until she had almost reached her forties, when she was brutally disabused of this foolish, childish notion.

The same little girl grew up believing that her parents were the people who were there to take care of her, and who were the ones who chose if, when and where to delegate her care. The same little girl grew up believing that her parents were seen as responsible adults by those people who worked for them, and as such were quite able to make the decisions that needed to be made for her, until such time as she was able to make them herself.

The little girl continued to believe that this was true until she had almost reached her forties (and was a parent to four children of her own), when she was brutally disabused of this foolish, childish notion.

The little girl spent some of her teenage years living within a walled city, surrounded by a country who believed its citizens were not able to make decisions for themselves or their children; who believed they must be protected from the horrors of the west and those beyond the wall; who believed it was acceptable and right to keep detailed files on its citizens; who believed it was acceptable and right that children should report on their parents, that neighbours should report on neighbours, that family and friends should report on each other; who believed it was right to control education and religion, freedom of thought and association; who believed it was acceptable to shoot and kill those who could not live under such conditions and who tried to escape to freedom.

The little girl watched students being gunned down in a square in the east for daring to voice their opinions.

The little girl believed that one day these things would stop, and that everyone would be free to live a life like hers. A life where she was free to think what she wanted; free to associate with whosoever she chose; free to protest against injustice; free to take care of herself and her future children in the way she felt best; free to live free of interference; free to be trusted to do the right thing unless she showed otherwise by breaking the law; free to question; free to take photographs without being considered a terrorist; free.

One day the little girl's dream came true, or so it seemed.

She was brutally disabused of this dream when she had almost reached her forties and realised that the country she had always thought was a beacon of freedom; a place where difference or eccentricity was a cherished part of the fabric of society, was actually moving ever faster towards the country the walled city had sat in during her teenage years, and she cried for the loss of her innocent, childhood dream, and for the loss of her children's freedom, but she dared to dream a new dream of the old dream, all the same.

ETA this link which is well worth reading.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Money Money Money

Here we go, the dreaded bill hasn't been passed, but already people see the opportunities for a nice little earner.

On the agenda:

1. The case for a compulsory registration system for children educated at home.
2. Balancing the rights of the parents and the rights of the child
3. What is a ‘suitable’ and ‘efficient’ education in the 21st Century?
4. More tailored support for home educated children with special educational needs.
5. Financial support for home educators and implications for local authorities.
6. The educational attainments of children educated at home.
7. Improved access to facilities in schools and colleges, including libraries, sport & music.
8. Should local authority staff have the right to speak to home educated children alone?
9. How should local authority staff be trained to monitor home education?
10. Is there a role for Ofsted in respect of children educated at home?
11. What is the role of the proposed Consultative Forum on home education?

1. This made me laugh out loud. First thing the delegates will do at the session is register. I wonder, will they see the difference between the type of registering they will be doing and the LICENSING that they are proposing for us?

2. There is NO balancing of rights in the proposed bill, because the only people who will have any rights are the local authorities.

3. I have to wonder about the timing of this as the government will have just, or will be about to, publish a consultation into this very matter. So is the idea to get all the LAs singing from the same song sheet?

Suitable and efficient for the 21st century, should, as my friend Su pointed out a few days ago, have been sorted out before we were nearly 10 years into the 21st century.

Suitable and efficient in the 21st century is the same as it was in the last century - that is it achieves that which is sets out to achieve. What that is differs from person to person, and a one size fits all system is the absolute antithesis of what 21st, or any other century, education ought to look like.

4. Oh don't make me laugh! I know plenty of home educators who have children with SEN, and they are home educated because they couldn't get that tailored support in school. I have it on good authority that LAs are not even starting the statementing process on school children, preferring to shift the money into other areas such as *safeguarding*. So how are these same LAs going to suddenly find all this extra cash, and the extra staff, to support these HE children when they can't, or won't, support the SEN children who are already in their clutches? Do these people have money trees growing in their local parks? Well at over £200 per delegate attending this course, which will come out of the LA budgets, I reckon they must have.

5. I don't want any of your dirty cash thank you very much. If you have so much money to throw around supporting people like me, who have been getting along JUST FINE these past 14 years, does this mean that my children and potential grand children won't be worked into the ground to pay for all the excesses of this government? Thought not. Doesn't it all sound so friendly and *supportive* though? Does it heck as like, it's an aspartame coating on arsenic pill.

6. Is this the bit where they suggest yearly SATs tests for HE children? Or is this the bit where they want to come round and interrogate the children for several hours at a time? People who have trained for years, who have gained a PhD and practise as Clinical Psychologists, ie those much lauded professionals this government so loves, think this is not wise practise, so which nasty, vindictive, unqualified idiot in the DCSF came up with that corker? Why do they so despise our children that they want them to be treated worse than young offenders?

7. All very laudable, but this could already be done if the LAs wanted to. My LA has given HEers access to the schools library service, without any legislation or arm twisting, just because they thought it was something that could easily be offered to us.

8. I can't believe they even need to ask this question. NO. Why should the LA staff member have a RIGHT to talk to my child alone, when me and my child won't have the RIGHT to continue to choose the form of education my child receives? This is what I mean about their being no balancing of rights of parent and child, the scales are all tipped towards the rights of the LA. The LA is not a person. It has no RIGHTS. How can it be right that a government can remove what are considered to be human rights from humans and hand them to an official body? Do these people who come up with these ideas have no humanity? No conscience? Clearly not.

9. They shouldn't be monitoring home education. It is not their role. There, just saved the LAs a whole heap of money!

10. Ahhhhhh now this one is no surprise given the interest HEers have been getting from Ofsted of late. The simple answer is No. Ofsted have no place in Home Education, they have done enough damage to schools, they will not damage our homes. Perhaps this little graphic might get the message across in a succinct manner:

11. At last, a good question, and one that I'm sure many of us would like to know the answer to. Having been involved in *bridge building* meetings with my LA, I can say that if the *Consultative Forum* is going to work on similar lines, it will be nothing but a talking shop, oh and a box ticking exercise, of course. No substance, no benefit, just a waste of time and.. yes, money.

Education is big business, and this is a prime example. They say that Home Educators are welcome to take part in this course, but they charge exorbitant fees knowing full well that we can't get a chit signed for the cost of attending, and so we are priced out of the market. This is just a modern take on the age old feudal system - those in positions of power deciding how the little people's lives will be run. These people don't care about the children, they care about protecting their mortgages, and pensions, and pretty little arses. Well my children are NOT their pension fund.

ETA: Oh look, it seems that the dear old DCSF have been told to rein in their spending. Funnily enough, I know exactly where they can start!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A Lawyer's POV

Following on from the monopoly post, here is how a lawyer breaks down the proposed CSF Bill:

Summary of the Bill’s Violations of the Right to Home Educate and Human Rights, and Sheer Illogic and Inequity

The right of parents to
home educate their children is established under Section 7 of EA 1996. In fact, Section 7 puts the
responsibility to provide education to children upon the parent, notthe

The parent of every child
of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time
education suitable to
(a) his age, ability and
aptitude, and
(b) to any special
educational needs he may have,
either by regular
attendance at school or otherwise.

The parenthas the
obligation to secure the child’s education, and the right to provide that
education at home. The parent can
choose to delegatethe provision of their child’s education to a
school. The Bill treats the law
as the opposite, as if it were the authority’s right to choose whether a
parent can provide their child’s education otherwise than at school

Bill imposes no direct duty upon parents to register their home educated
children with the authority. It
gives the authority a duty to maintain a register of EHE children. Nonetheless the Bill provides that,
ultimately, parents will be held criminally liable if their child is not shown
on the register and they continue to home educate.

Use of the term
“registration” in the Bill is a misnomer and inaccurate terminology. The term to “register” implies a
ministerial task of making an entry in a register; “to record automatically”
according to Merriam-Webster online. “Registration” as set forth in the Bill is in fact a
requirement that parents receive permissionfrom their authority in
order to exercise their Section 7 right to home educate.

While the parent has no
obligation to register, as soon as the authority learns of an unregistered EHE
child, it can serve a school attendance order (SAO) with respect to that child.
The authority has no obligation to try to get a child registered, or to make
any inquiries about the child’s education, before serving the SAO.

An application to register
does not automatically ensure a place on the register. The authority has
discretion to refuse or revoke registration for many reasons that have nothing
to do with whether or not the education is suitable.

The Bill empowers authorities to refuse
· if the authority thinks the
parents violated specific requirements for providing information to the
authority, to include an educational plan for the forthcoming year;
· if the
authority thinks the parents made it too difficult for the authority to monitor;
· if the
parents provided wholly accurate and adequate information but circumstances
changed; or
· if the
parents did not adhere to an education plan they projected for the forthcoming
year, even if the education they provided was as good as or better than the
plan proposed.

An authority can therefore refuse to
register an EHE child, then serve an SAO because the child is not registered.

An authority can issue an
SAO because a child is not registered. And it can deny registration because there is an outstanding SAO.

Once an authority has
refused a parent’s application to register, the authority has the power to
refuse anyor all further
applications from that parent, just because they were refused in the past.

Regulations will prohibit
parents from filing another application to register within a certain time period, with
the same or any other authority, unless the authority decides circumstances
have changed sufficiently.

The Bill not only gives
the authority substantial leeway to prevent parents from home educating, it
also removes all prospect of judicial review with respect to whether elective
home education provided by parents is suitable-- whether the home
education is in accordance with the legal standard that assures the right to
home educate.

The only thing a court can
consider with respect to an EHE child is whether or not the child is listed on
the authority’s register of home educated children. The court may notconsider anything about the
child’s actual education in an enforcement proceeding upon an SAO issued by an
authority. If the child is not
registered, or was refused registration by the authority, an SAO will be
enforced, and if a parent refuses to comply with to the order, the parent will
be guilty of a criminal offence.

Each year, the authority
must meet at least once with every home educated child, with the parent, and
with any other adult who may have primary responsibility for the
education, giving two weeks' notice. The authority must make at least one
visit to "the place (or at least one of the places)" where education
is provided. The bill does not specify the home, but nor does it specify
who decides where a visit takes place. If a parent suggests meeting
outside the home, the authority might also demand a home visit. If the
parent refuses a home visit, the authority may revoke registration, because it
has power to revoke registration if the parent "fails to co-operate with
the authority in [monitoring] arrangements made by them."

Huge controversy arose
from the suggestion in the Badman Report that authorities be granted the power
to question children apart from their parent or carer. Nonetheless the Bill suggests that
authorities interview children without the parent or carer present. The Bill includes a token gesture of
protection, providing that such meetings should not take place if the parent or
child objects. Yet the Bill
empowers the authority to use the very fact that an objection was made to
revoke the registration of the child, and thereafter enter an SAO, if the
authority thinks that without the interview it is difficult to ascertain the
child’s feelings on the home education or the child’s educational achievements.
This position would be almost impossible to disprove, especially given the
evident bias in the Bill and in the Badman Report against trusting the parent,
and prioritising the government’s view over the parent’s.

With huge thanks to Betsy for sharing.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Anyone for Monopoly?

I used to love playing monopoly, and spent many happy (and not so happy when I was losing!) hours playing. I used to find the *go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect £200* part of it rather irritating, but the chances of landing that one were fairly small so it wasn't a big deal.

Imagine for a minute if every other space was a *straight to jail* one. I don't think many people would have bothered playing, and the game would never have become the world wide success it is today. It's quite amazing the number of different monopoly boards out there on the market now - Star Wars to Simpsons with many international cities having their very own boards. Would you believe you can even get a *make your own* board for real personalisation.

I never in my wildest flights of imagination thought that I would ever compare Home Education to monopoly, but this is what I am doing.

The latest government proposals regarding Home Education equate to the *straight to jail* space on every other square of the board.

If anything deviates from your plan -- SAO
If your circumstances change -- SAO
If your child doesn't want to meet, his/her opinion doesn't count -- SAO
If you don't make the meeting because you are away for more than 2 weeks and miss the notification -- SAO
If you are educating brilliantly, your child has 99 GCSES but you are unregistered -- SAO (they must not consider your provision)
If you have been refused registration once you can always be refused-- SAO

What is this SAO? It is a School Attendance Order, which basically means that you must send your child to the school named by the local authority otherwise you are breaking the law. SAOs can be used already, but local authorities rarely bother, partly, I think, because they are expensive and ineffective. Why? Well as the law stands, if a parent is issued with a School Attendance Order, they can take their case to court and it is up to the judge to decide if, on the balance of probabilities, an education suitable to the child's age, aptitude and ability is being provided by the parent. If the Judge decides it is, the SAO does not stand.

What this government proposes doing beggars belief. They are suggesting that what should happen is that if a School Attendance Order is issued, the court CANNOT look at the parent's provision.

Damned every which way.

For many years government and local authorities have wittered on about the *loop hole* that is Home Education. Of course Home Education is nothing of the sort, it is the default position, all others are imposters. Clearly though government wishes to shut off every possible *loop hole*, and yet, it says that it supports a parent's right to home educate?

This is not benign legislation, anyone who thinks it is is quite frankly deluded.

Thanks to Karen for the bullet points.

Monday, 30 November 2009


Lately I can't help but chuckle at the irony of the words of our *esteemed leaders* (or do I mean *running out of steam*?)

Take for instance this quote from the Telegraph:

"If we bandy around accusations regardless of the facts, and take action regardless of the evidence, we will just end up alienating the very communities we need to help us tackle extremism."

Oh, right, so we can safely assume then that this level headed person would never over see the eradication of a community based on flawed evidence? Ah, no, silly me, of course not, because this is the same person who supported the Badman review in its entirety, and who has now commissioned the most shocking piece of anti parent and anti child legislation that this country has ever seen.

It's ok though, because Ed also says:

"We all have a duty to stand up for the values that underpin our society.

That does mean challenging those who actively seek to undermine them and influence others to do the same - on the streets, on the Internet or behind closed doors."

Which is exactly what we're doing Ed, so perhaps you might have a word in the shell like of your laccies over at DCSF central and get them to stop issuing nasty letters to people who are just *doing what you told us to*.

Saturday, 28 November 2009


It's been a while since I've felt compelled to blog anything much, but this morning I woke up with a seed of an idea in my head. The morning and family life seem to have sent it off into the four winds though, so I shall scrabble about trying to catch that pesky seed and see if I can help it grow! I suspect it won't turn out to be quite what I thought it would be this morning, but isn't that just like life?

It's been a bit of a bumpy ride around here the past couple of weeks. We've have had the most horrendously stressful year, thanks to the government and a certain Bad Man. Whilst we have generally been hopeful of a positive outcome, the truly shocking news of just what is planned for home ed, should that wretched children, schools and families bill become law, really knocked us for six - one blogger really summed it up when she called it vindictive legislation and Kelly sums up the abusiveness to a T.

We have had long conversations about our options. We have had tears; we have had anger and raging fury; we have had shock, dismay and disgust and we have had a feeling of total impotence in the face of forces stronger than us.

Thankfully, as we have plumbed the depths of despair, other home educating friends have been feeling their strength and power; their joy and sense of wonder; their dogged determination and that has lifted us once more. It's a constant ebb and flow, up and down existence that we are living right now, but living it we are - an organic experience if ever there was one!

A friend of mine wrote this as her facebook status this morning:

"She will reach higher than the mire they spread :) Have a great day !!"

I didn't manage to catch hold of that seed from this morning, but I seem to have found a different one, one that seems more fitting for us right now. I am going to plant it, and I hope to watch it grow into something strong and beautiful, something that will inspire us to look around and find all the joy and beauty that DOES still exist in our world, if we would only see it and nurture it through the dying days of the strangling, ugly weeds that would see us shrink and shrivel with them into the mire.

ETA this wonderful poem, found over here:


To laugh is to risk appearing the fool,
To weep is to risk being called sentimental.
To reach out to another is to riskinvolvement.
To expose feelings is to risk showing your true self.
To place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd is to
risk being called naive.

To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure

But risks must be taken, because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love.
Chained by his certitude, he is a slave; he has forfeited his

Only the person who risks is truly free.

Often attributed to the poet and thinker, Leo Buscaglia, the real author of this inspirational verse is Janet Rand.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Notice to Parliament

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter, the rain may enter -- but the King of England cannot enter; all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!” William Pitt the elder

"Following the Queen's speech this notice is rapidly making the rounds. I have cross-posted it here as it is something that everyone can use to register their protest directly with parliament. A refusal to co-operate means anything from, saying no to demands, to time wasting, to absolute refusal to obey their law."

This is a Declaration to Parliament.


Notice of refusal to co-operate

This is urgent, and requires active participation by all Home Educators. Please read and forward to all Home Educators and Home Ed lists that you belong to.

This act is not in competition with or an attack against any Home educated person or Home Education organisation. Now is not the time for an Home Education civil war. We need to deal with the real threat first, then try to resolve conflict within the Home Ed community later. OUR STRENGTH IS NOT ONLY IN OUR CONVICTIONS IT IS ALSO IN OUR NUMBERS.

The Badman recommendations have generated a great deal of fear within the Home Education community; but the threat is an illusion. If we ALL refuse to cooperate nothing will happen - they will NOT come for you and your children. Their power over us is based on our own fear.

This is a declaration to parliament, putting them on notice that they should not add the recommendations of the Graham Badman Report into new law, and that we will not co-operate with any such law should they dare to enact it.

If you agree with what it says, select all the text between the dividers, copy the text to a new document, print it, sign it or otherwise make your mark on it, and then send it to your MP. Then forward this entire message to any Home Educators and parents that you know and urge them to do the same. You may disseminate this public notice to anyone and any place you think will help it gain momentum.

Whether you are involved in the petition or any other initiative makes no odds. Use this to deluge your MPs and show them once and for all that we are united!

To find your MP's address use this site:

Notice of Refusal to Co-operate


WHEREAS the recommendations of the GRAHAM BADMAN REVIEW OF ELECTIVE HOME EDUCATION have been accepted in full by the Secretary of State.

AND that these grossly disproportionate recommendations hold serious implications for the civil liberties of parents, children and families in this country.

AND that these recommendations place primary responsibility for assessing the suitability of education and the welfare of the child on the state, rather than the parent - with no prior evidence that either is unsatisfactory prior to this grossly intrusive intervention.

AND that the recommendations of the review assumes that the home is an inherently unsafe or unhealthy place for the child to be.

AND that these recommendations undermine the role of the parent and trample over family freedoms in its haste to set parent and child up against each other, bestowing additional and selective "rights" on home educated children that only the government can adequately minister to.

AND that these recommendations destroy the very possibility of true autonomy in learning.

AND that these recommendations operate from a position of requiring proof of parental innocence rather than reasonable suspicion of guilt.

AND that these recommendations discriminatorily use the coercive and interventionist tools of parental licensing, warrantless entry to the home, inspection according to arbitrary external standards, and an unconscionable new power to interrogate the child without the parents present.

AND that the outcome of these recommendations will be horribly discriminatory to a minority community, the measures eventually having to apply to anyone who has their child at home with them: parents with under 5s, those whose children attend private school, and also those with school-aged children who are at home in the evenings, over the weekends, and throughout the summer holidays.

AND that the outcome of these inspections will be based on the very human whim and prejudices of a local authority officer, who will have the power to destroy the life and education that that parent has conceived for his or her child.

AND that if the government is to avoid further discrimination it also stands to reason that each child who attends school must be given the same "rights" as home educated children - to "have their voices heard" regarding whether or not they are happy to be educated in school, whether they are satisfied with their teachers and whether they feel safe in such an environment.

WE ACCEPT that it is right that appropriate and proportionate action, as currently outlined in the law, may be taken to rectify a situation if there are serious concerns about a child's welfare, observing that a child being at home with its parents is not, and never has been, in and of itself a child welfare issue.

AND HEREBY RESOLVE that any such utterly disproportionate legislation if passed will fundamentally alter the relationship between citizen and state, and would constitute a fundamental violation of our rights,

AND that any such legislation is illegitimate on its face.

NOW UNDERSTAND that by this declaration, Parliament is PUT ON NOTICE that I and others will not co-operate with any such legislation, and strongly caution you not to consider, debate, or enact any such legislation.

Signed _______________________________

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

HE and Diversity Survey

Results of a recent survey relating to home education and religious diversity. Families were asked to tick all religions/life philosophies that applied to their particular families, hence the % figures totalling more than 100.

The question asking if families taught their children about other religions/life philosophies wasn't terribly well worded, and most of the families who answered *unsure* explained in the comments box how their particular families covered other religions/life philosophies, and whilst they did not *teach* in the traditional sense, they did cover these issues by the use of discussion etc.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

No Retreat No Surrender

Gill with a good summary of the situation.

Well, we bursted out of class
Had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a 3-minute record, baby
Than we ever learned in school
Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound
I can feel my heart begin to pound
You say you're tired and you just want to close your eyes
And follow your dreams down

Well, we made a promise we swore we'd always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender
Like soldiers in the winter's night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby, no surrender

Well, now young faces grow sad and old
And hearts of fire grow cold
We swore blood brothers against the wind
Now I'm ready to grow young again
And hear your sister's voice calling us home
Across the open yards
Well maybe we'll cut someplace of own
With these drums and these guitars

'Cause we made a promise we swore we'd always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender
Blood brothers in the stormy night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby, no surrender

Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim
The walls of my room are closing in
There's a war outside still raging
You say it ain't ours anymore to win
I want to sleep beneath
Peaceful skies in my lover's bed
With a wide open country in my eyes
And these romantic dreams in my head

Once we made a promise we swore we'd always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender
Blood brothers in a stormy night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby, no surrender

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Only One Way

When you're looking at life on the brim
And trying to figure out if you remember how to swim
You only find out if you jump right in
That there's only one way, only one way

When the writing on the road says slow
And the people in the back seat ask which way to go
The truth is they already know
That there's only one way, only one way

We have to break all the rules they make
And take all the risks they say we won't take
We have to make all the trouble we can
Only one way

Only one way

And when every single sound you hear makes no sense
And your arse is sore with sitting on the fence
And the scale of the problem is larger than immense
There's only one way

And when a genocidal maniac talks about grief
And you kinda get the feeling that there's nothing underneath
But you can't believe a man would lie through such nice teeth
Only one way

And when you're thinking that there's nothing you can do
But eat what they feed you like a monkey in the zoo
Just remember that they want you to believe that's true
And there's only one way, only one way


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

No! Non! Nein!

And if those 3 aren't enough, here are 520 more ways of saying NO!

Lisa has written one of the best blog posts I think I have ever read, there is no way I could ever hope to emulate it, so I will quote a small section right from the end and urge you to bob over and read it all, let it soak in, let it rouse you, then make a stand.

"Brown, Balls, Badman, Morgan, Atkinson and every single other one of you - you have a serious fight on your hands. We are not just a vociferous minority - we are everyperson, everywhere."

Jem has also written an excellent blog on the submissions to the Select Committee - read the two blog posts pointed to here in conjunction with each other if you can't understand exactly why it is that we are all so pissed off.

Then wander over to The Ministry and be horrified at just what is happening before our very eyes to this once great country. This once strong, defiant country, the country that took on the might of the fascists so that our children and our children's children might know freedom. Not the kind of freedom that Brown nauseatingly waxed lyrical about in front of the Brandenburg Gate last night though, real, true freedom.

"Let me first say to the people of Berlin, you tore down the wall and you changed the world - the wall that for a third of a century imprisoned half a city, half a country, half a continent, half a world and because of your courage two Berlins are one, two Germanies are one, and now two Europes are one. And no one can ever again imprison a people who know what it is to be free.

This wall was torn down not by the demands of political leaders, not by dictat from on high, not by the force of military might but by the greatest force of all — the unbreakable spirit of the men and women of Berlin. You dared to dream in the darkness. You know that while force has temporary power to dominate, it can never ultimately decide. You proved that there is nothing that cannot be achieved by people inspired by the power of common purpose.

And let me thank you, the people of Berlin, for sending a message to every continent that no abuse, no crime, no injury need endure for ever.

Let me thank you, the people of Berlin for demonstrating that injustice is not "the final word on the human condition."

Dave Cameron made an interesting comment yesterday too:

"It is to their courage and their determination that we pay tribute today - not least as we remember all those who still struggle for their freedom and their rights in so many parts of the world."

Are they serious? Hypocrites the pair of them. Well, at least we can stand and say that we have the countenance of our Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader as we stand and say NO! Even MPs are starting to stand up and make a noise about the loss of our freedoms, so it's clearly not just a vociferous minority.

To end I will point back to yesterday's post about Home Educators being *secretive*. In the comments section Su made this point:

"A significant number of home educators are vociferous bloggers, eloquent writers and spirited supporters of freedom and liberty. No hiding there! We're risking our families, not just hiding behind a title, job or role. We're actually giving of ourselves, the real us.

Home educators are crawling all over the media, responding to consultations and reviews, turning up at the Houses of Parliament, writing to MPs, DCSF officials, the press, each other... and we're secretive?"

She is quite right. *They* know where I live - I respond to consultations, I submit evidence to the Select Committee, I lobby my MP via letter and in person, I travel to London to talk to the Select Committee, I appear in national and local newspapers, I blog, I twitter, I facebook, I boycott my LA in protest against the Badman Review. My name is unusual, I am all over the internet. I am not secretive, far from it. Others might be too scared to stand up and be counted, perhaps I should be too, but I cannot stand by and say and do nothing when my children's freedom is at stake. I sincerely hope others will decide that the risks of speaking out are worth taking too.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Are Home Educators *Secretive*?

Apparently this is one of our *problems*, we are too secretive.

What does *secretive* mean?

one definition says: "inclined to secrecy or reticence about divulging information"

Why would many home educators be reticent about divulging information I wonder?

Apart from the fact that we are just getting on with our lives; happily and lawfully, and the minutiae of people's everyday lives is really nothing to do with anyone else, there are a multitude of reasons for being reticent about divulging information.

I'll blog some of my thoughts, but would be grateful if others would add theirs in the comments box.

The old postcode lottery cliché. Yes this is definitely in play across the country. Some LAs are understanding and even respectful, but many are anything but. They can and do make people's lives a never ending battle over the course of many years, and so quite understandably people who live in such an LA would be quite sensible to avoid contact. I have heard some really horrible tales over the years from families who are horribly bullied by LA officials, many of these families have fled to other counties to get away from the stress they are put under by officious officials. What is so frustrating is that these cases aren't rare, and if the Badman recommendations become law, these same officious LA folk will be in seventh heaven with the legal right to lord it over families who are doing nothing wrong.

The problem is that many people who take on the HE *inspector* roles come from school backgrounds. Often they are former headteachers - just like Mr Badman. I don't know what the headteachers were like when you were at school, but the ones I knew were mainly very authoritarian, and brooked no dissent. The problem with people like this is that they take this attitude into all other areas of their work, and many treat HEing parents as recalcitrant children who must be broken to fit their mold.

As their only experience of education is the school model, they simply cannot (and often will not) understand that there are other models of education that are equally (I might say more) successful and far more sustainable than the school one. Many see it as a personal affront to a lifetime's professional position to find that unqualified parents can and do as good (or better) a job than they ever did for all their years of chasing academic qualifications.

Then there are the *inspectors* who allow personal prejudices to influence the treatment of individual families. Some don't like religious families, some don't like single parent or same sex families, some don't like coloured families, some don't like those who live in council houses, some don't like those who don't use computers, some don't like those who paint their toe nails pink. Ok, the last one was me being flippant, but you get my point. They make personal value judgements about families that can have far reaching effects. This happens even in *good* authorities, and is more likely to happen when the family loses control of the information they provide - for instance by allowing home visits.

Now that last sentence might bring out the *if you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear* brigade, but just stop and think before trotting that one out. Do you have a disapproving mother in law who will find fault and criticise every little thing about your home? (Thankfully mine isn't like that, in case she's reading!) If you do then take the thought of how that feels and give it the power of a local authority employee who can bring the threat of social services to your door. Then you might be some of the way to understanding why we wouldn't want someone coming into our homes making judgements about us and the way we as a family live.

Right now i need to go and enjoy the sunshine with my children, so I will stop there and hope that others will put forward their reasoning in the comments box.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Geezer's Got Previous Mate

No we haven't turned into a bad episode of the Sweeney.

An interesting little exchange occurs:

"Graham Badman: When you have a strong partnership between schools, authorities should not be afraid to use their powers of direction. We can direct admissions where there are special educational needs or looked-after children, and I do. That applies to Academies as well.

Q179 Paul Holmes: Surely you cannot direct admissions to Academies. You can ask them to take the children; you cannot direct them.

Graham Badman: Under the new code, they would find it very hard to refuse the admission of a looked-after child, for example.

Q180 Paul Holmes: None the less, even under the new code, you cannot direct Academies. You can ask but not direct, whereas you can direct mainstream schools.

Graham Badman: Well, please do not tell them in that case."

February 2008 - giving evidence to the Select Committee

Fast forward to October 2009 and we find Mr Badman writing to the Select Committee to apologise for providing them with incorrect information.

Hmm, is it just me, or is this providing of incorrect information becoming something of a habit? Rather like his habit of creating expensive and unnecessary schemes.

Incidentally, I wonder when Home Educators can expect their apology for all the slanderous and misleading statistics and comments Mr Badman has made. My feeling is that it will be a very snowy day in hell, but I'm happy to be mistaken.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Clutching at Straws

From an old proverb: *Drowning men will grasp at straws"

Definition: "depend on something that is useless; to make a futile attempt at something."

That's what this sorry shower have been doing don't you think? Shall we count some of the ways?

1. Call people you don't like rude names[1] in the press and before the select committee and hope that some of the mud sticks[2].

2. Fall back on tried and tested[3] methods from your past[4], and accuse people you don't like of being mentally ill[5].

3. Tell children[6] that they have to do something because you are from the government and you say so.

1. "However, there are concerns that some children are not receiving the education they need. And in some extreme cases, home education could be used as a cover for abuse. We cannot allow this to happen and are committed to doing all we can to help ensure children are safe, wherever they are educated."

2. 'Khyra Ishaq was electively home educated and withdrawn from the roll of her school in Birmingham, and within 10 weeks she had starved to death. ''

3. "While in Buckinghamshire there were only 540 initial assessments, in Kent the number was 12,510. Even allowing for differences in their populations, parents in Kent were 10 times more likely to be investigated over child protection issues. The report argues this discrepancy may be explained by some areas disregarding the MSBP hypothesis, “whereas in others it is taken as gospel and applied with zeal”"

4. Graham Badman was until recently Managing Director of the Children, Families and Education Directorate for Kent County Council.

5."At our first interview Mr Badman was interested in what I had to say. His opening question was to ask me if home educating mothers suffered from Munchhausen's by Proxy. I thought this to be a curious starting point - that of questioning whether home education is a symptom of mental illness. I am not medically qualified, but I was able to inform Mr Badman that there is no research evidence available that I am aware of, which makes this link."

6. JONATHAN PRIOR: I want to read you a section of annex C: “The review will look in particular at if and how far home educated children have access to the five Every Child Matters outcomes.”

PENNY JONES: Ahh, I see, okay.
GARETT ROSS: I don’t want them.
PENNY JONES: Well, want or not, I am a government official, and these five outcomes are government policy."

Some great blogs about covering these issues: