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.