Saturday, 25 September 2010

Machinations and Networking

This dropped into my inbox a short while ago:

"We are having a meeting at the Department of Education at their request with significant civil servants next week on the subject of home education.
If you have reports from your local education authority advisers or inspectors which you would be willing to make available to us to give to the Department of Education if they ask us could you send us copies? Scanned versions and email might be the only way we could do this at this stage. (Our meeting is on Wednesday 29th, next week.) But if you are able to help we would be grateful to receive."

It is apparently a communication from Teach, sent to those who use their ACE programme.

I suppose this meeting could be a good thing. Perhaps the new department is planning on pulling all those misbehaving LAs into line. LAs like Lancashire who were very disappointed not to see Badman implemented:

"In June 2009, Badman's report on the Review of Elective Home Education in
England was published. An overview of the Badman report was included at
Appendix B to the report now presented. Twenty Eight recommendations had
been made and accepted by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and
Families. Many of the recommendations in the task group's report were mirrored
in the Badman report. The Badman recommendations were far reaching for local
authorities and strengthened the right of local authority officers to have "right of
access to the home" and "speak to the child alone if appropriate.

"The Children, Schools and Families Bill, had been progressing through
parliamentary procedures and it had been expected to become law in the ‘washup’
period (the last few days of a Parliament, after the election had been
announced but before dissolution). However, it was now reported to the
committee that not everything in the Bill had been enacted as expected and that
the elective home education element had been dropped."

"Mike Hart, Director of Children's Strategy and Resources came to the table and
explained that whilst the passage of the Bill in its entirety would have provided a
clear legislative basis to progress the recommendations of the EHE Task Group,
it was important to now look at the issues raised by the task group within the
existing framework.

"It was emphasised that the county council had a legal responsibility to safeguard
children and that it would do all that it could within the current framework to fulfil
that responsibility. One member urged that the county council should press the
next government to ensure that Badman's recommendations were enacted as
soon as possible

"It was suggested that a further report be brought to the Children and Young
People Overview and Scrutiny Committee in the summer to set out how the
recommendations of the EHE Task Group would be addressed in light of the
EHE elements of the Children, Schools and Families Bill not being passed into

Lancashire LA already run CRB checks on all the adults in a HE household:

"TM asked if there are any checks made on the family and home circumstances. AR advised that there were, home visit are made within the first month and parents are engaged to work through any difficulties. A CRB check is also made as well as a check of agency records with regard to any adults in the home; this information is covered in a parent's questionnaire."

I've been told that the EHE advisor is quite vehement that parents fill in and sign these questionnaires on the spot. One can only presume that they are using these forms as de facto permission to carry out the CRB check, without informing the parents that this is what is going to happen. Naughty.

Quite clearly these people are not going to let it lie just because a little thing like the law isn't currently on their side.

Going back to the email about the up and coming meeting, the bit about *significant civil servants* concerns me. I made some enquiries last week to see if Penny Jones was still *in charge* of HE over at the new department, and I was sent confirmation back that it is indeed part of her portfolio. I find this somewhat of a worry not least because PJ has been in this role for the past several years with the pinnacle of her career being her role as Badman's right hand woman during the review last year. Information released under the FOI Act show that much of what the CSF Bill wanted to implement was already in the pipeline for us as far back as 2006, with Badman just being the latest in a long line of attempts to bring in the extra powers that many LAs have sought for years. Will the civil servants who have plotted and schemed for all these years suddenly have had a moment of enlightenment with the change of government I wonder? I find this rather unlikely, especially when their colleagues on the ground are pushing for more power. Old habits die hard, and people with power who are defeated often become all the more determined to win.

So we have a situation, once again, where our children's futures are being discussed without their knowledge or ours. Unless you're a member of Teach that is, an organisation who have at least had the decency to inform their members what is going on, albeit with rather limited information. What other HE orgs will be present at this meeting? Have they informed their members? If so, why is this not general knowledge? Why is this meeting and the implications not being widely discussed? Something stinks.

Thank goodness the HE networks that proved so successful at disseminating information during the Badman review are still alive and kicking. Is it time to roll out the Just Say No campaign again?

ETA: I've been reminded about the HEYC meeting with Penny Jones back in 2009, which they've helpfully transcribed here after being refused permission to share the video of the meeting. I know it's naughty to take just one line out of a whole conversation but I'm going to do it anyway because I think this one line says all we need to know ;)

PENNY JONES: Well, want or not, I am a government official, and these five outcomes are government policy. [loud crosstalk from all sides]

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Child Abusers, Again.

A link to this article from community care was left on Kelly's blog. If you scroll to the bottom of the page there is ever such an attractive check list of *risk factors*. Highlighted in red in the victims section is *home educated*.

Looks like those made up statistics of Mr Badman's have been doing the rounds then. Whosoever is behind this lovely little chart is clearly suffering from a particularly bad case of FSBP (flawed statistic based policy).

ETA: Ali has posted an excellent piece about this on the HE Forums here.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Happy Freedom In Education Day!

I can't believe that this nearly passed me by, after all, I set this blog up just over a year ago specifically to celebrate freedom in education day.

So spurred on by this rather glowing blog post from my friend Kelly here is just a brief post to mark the day.

Today we didn't really do much to celebrate we just got on with the business of living, but this year we were able to do that without the deep seated fear that we were in the final days of the freedom that we have taken for granted over the past 10 years.

I don't think we will ever feel as carefree as we did in the preceding years, because the last year and a bit has made us realise just how much we need to protect freedom. It's not something that can or should ever be taken for granted.

Tomorrow we are meeting some HE friends for a picnic, mini sports day, bubble blowing, circus skills, messing around and enjoying life kind of day. The irony of this is that we will be doing all of these things in a playground that was largely funded by the DCSF. It feels like a final bit of defiance in the face of that blasted rainbow that caused us all so much heartache last year.

And because I'm currently listening to it whilst I cook tea here is my personal life anthem for your delectation and delight :D

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

James Overton

I don't know who you are, but I think I love you!