Thursday, May 10, 2007

So, what do we think is really going on?

This week...

  • We've had some startlingly HE-friendly draft guidelines from DfES for local authorities;

  • This was immediately followed yesterday by a startlingly correct and pro-HE write up on the BBC news website;

  • And today we've seen examples of the kind of tripe we're more accustomed to in The Telegraph and The Guardian.

  • I'm wondering what home educators think might be behind these developments. I've been thinking it might be one or more of the following:

    1. Staff and/or politicians at DfES are feeling so punch drunk/ relieved/ jubilant about the imminent change of PM that they decided to share this benevolence with we poor, embattled home educators..? ;-)

    2. They deliberately produced 'generous' guidelines as an opening shot in an attempt to provoke a strong response from LAs and some more difficult (for us) end results?

    3. They deliberately produced 'generous' guidelines as an opening shot in an attempt to lull home educators into a false sense of security to minimise our consultation responses?

    4. They deliberately produced 'generous' guidelines and orchestrated the resulting news stories in an attempt to provoke anti-HE sentiment/outrage in the general public?

    5. They deliberately produced 'generous' guidelines because they're running out of of funding for education and would actually quite like to increase the numbers of HErs because we save the country a fortune?

    6. They deliberately produced 'generous' guidelines because they're running out of ideas for containing the growing discipline problems in schools?

    7. They deliberately produced 'generous' guidelines because they know full well such guidelines are not enforceable and therefore not really all that useful against really awkward LAs?

    8. They deliberately produced 'generous' guidelines because they're actually very nice people and they wish us well/ might want to home educate, themselves?

    9. They accidentally produced 'generous' guidelines because they absolutely couldn't care less whether people home educate or not and what they do or don't do, if they do.

    Suggested answers on a postcard please or, better still, in the comments box. Cast your vote(s) or spoil your ballot paper, and score extra if you even managed to understand number 9, let alone decided whether you agree or not.


    Blogger Sarah said...

    I'd like to say (8) or (9) but the cynic in me says it's a combination of (3) and (4). Hope I typed the right numbers in there!

    7:56 pm, May 10, 2007  
    Blogger Tim said...

    I would go for (5). It is about money. They are running out and know that there are going to have to be spending cuts. If they can shed a load of annoying HEers, AND, quite possibly sack all the HE inspectors (because it is all nothing to do with them, they only have to bother about HEers if they KNOW they aren't doing a good job and it will cost money if they do) AND bully a load of unwashed, nasty truants and all those horrid travellers into deregging too, they can save money and "improve" their stats at the same time.

    8:15 pm, May 10, 2007  
    Blogger Ruth said...

    I think 7 is the most likely. After all any real change has to go through parliamentary process and that is not what this is about. I know for a fact my LA won't give a monkies what the consultation produces unless it is something that benefits them and makes our lives more difficult. Anything working in our favour will be ignored or "open to interpretation" ( their quote not mine)

    10:18 pm, May 10, 2007  
    Anonymous elaine said...

    number 5. I was musing over the guidelines last night and decided that schools are just going to be defunct in their original form within the next 10 yrs, technology has wrong footed the factory farm mentality, and the educational establishment know that children stimulated by the internet, tv, phones, games consoles etc are no longer able to sit and absorb information, imparted by an adult, whilst sitting with 30 other children in a clinically dead room setting .
    It's also the case that having regulated education to the nth degree they will be looking at hefty law suit's in years to come as the system fails, and a defence of 'the parents had the choice' will save them millions

    11:32 pm, May 10, 2007  
    Anonymous jax said...

    aw, you've pinched my post! I've got the first couple of paragraphs of a startlingly similar write up in draft on my blog... ;)

    11:34 pm, May 10, 2007  
    Blogger Tim said...

    Elaine, you could be right....

    Plan A - blame the parents
    Plan B - blame the parents

    11:36 pm, May 10, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    I really hope it's about the money, but it just seems like too easy a solution for us, doesn't it? Maybe I've read too much Gatto!

    Ruth, your blooming LA needs putting on a ferry and sending elsewhere, and that's putting it mildly! But these guidelines are fairly difficult even for them to misinterpret? In their present form. IF they stay that way..

    Jax, I should have held on - you'd have made a much better job of it! I re-read my post just now and it's not the best way I could have put it, but I was tired... and the TV was on... *wanders away muttering excuses..*

    8:29 am, May 11, 2007  
    Blogger Allie said...

    I have no doubt it is about money - but more about avoiding the costs involved in change than encouraging more people to HE. I also think it is about avoiding work, in general. Basically I think that the DFES staff have decided that the legal framework should not be changed because any proposal for change would involve them in work that they are too busy to do. If they take a line that has no cost implications (like, no change!) then that is popular with their bosses too.

    I base my theory on experience in a large public sector organisation. "Let's just leave it as it is..." always goes down well!

    The newspaper stories could all be down to a single person with good media contacts.

    10:02 am, May 11, 2007  
    Anonymous jax said...

    no Gill, this is a much better way of putting it than I was wombling about with...but I'll still be posting something - I think this discussion needs as much exposure as possible!

    10:04 am, May 11, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    Allie, you think the newspaper pieces could be just down to Tony Mooney? I see from the lists he might be going head to head with Fiona Nicholson on Sunday morning on Radio 5 Live. I really, really hope this takes place. Someone needs to tackle him publicly and it seems like she'd be a very good person for the job.

    Jax, good! I'll look forward to reading it and the debate that ensues. We definitely need to pool ideas as much as possible IMO.

    10:18 am, May 11, 2007  
    Anonymous Clare said...

    Wouldn't it be lovely if it was 10) They actually have actually, really, genuinely read the theory and the research and listened to it and paid attentino and they really do actually, genuinely, truthfully believe that HE is GOOD FOR CHILDREN and therefore GOOD FOR SOCIETY?

    Although I think it's actually 5 - they did the same with home birth. It's cheaper so they start spouting about how more women should do it which also caused a heap of anti-homebirthers to rant about homebirth and how dangerous it is.

    10:49 am, May 11, 2007  
    Blogger Louise said...

    Hmmm 2,3 and 4 for me. I love a conspiracy theory ;o)

    10:50 am, May 11, 2007  
    Blogger Pete said...

    I say 9, do I get a cookie?

    Never underestimate the power of ignorance and exasperation in driving policy.

    It's partly about the money: the impact study showed that. But it's mostly that we're not enough of a problem to justify the cost of legislation, either in the framing or enforcement.

    11:05 am, May 11, 2007  
    Blogger Allie said...

    I do think that Tony Mooney must be well connected - a front page piece in the TES, based on *nothing* in the way of a hard news story, followed by this sour grapes piece in the Guardian, and the slack bit in the Telegraph that clearly draws on the TES article. He needs dealing with - I do hope Fiona gets a shot.

    11:27 am, May 11, 2007  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    clare - i think it might have been some maverick junior who slipped through number 10 too...

    11:31 am, May 11, 2007  
    Blogger IndigoShirl said...

    Well, I'm going for 5 and 7.

    I, too, would cherish listening to Fiona Nicholson take on Mooney. It all depends on whether his ego would outstrip his need for self-preservation lol!

    12:03 pm, May 11, 2007  
    Anonymous jax said...


    12:24 pm, May 11, 2007  
    Blogger Tech said...

    Well I'm going for no 12 ;-)

    DfES got told off by BRE after AHEd complained that they weren't following the code of conduct for consultations, and they got scared after the recent greenpeace victory over flawed consultation practice!

    Can be the only logical conclusion because the outcome is exactly what AHEd demanded in our complaint.

    Plus I think they fancied a break from all the grief they've been getting from us rowdy bunchy of bolshy HEers, and will probably come back in another few years and try again.

    2:53 pm, May 12, 2007  
    Blogger Carlotta said...

    Have been trying to sleep on this question for last few days, all to no avail really, not simply because I haven't actually slept much!

    Have speculated that it could any of the following 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, along with Tech's one about BRE and the fact that the DfES are fed up with all the hassle they get from HEors. I also thought that the DfES perhaps doesn't fancy the possible legal consequences of doing things like making a statutory duty to monitor HEors, because they could then be screwed when they don't do it, plus I still think that their lawyers may have advised them that if the state is seen to dictate the curriculum and content of education, then parents cannot rightfully be deemed responsible for educating children according to their age, ability and aptitude.

    I think it could be any combination of these reasons, where they are not mutually exclusive, iyswim.

    Given the ambiguity about motive, it is difficult to know how to respond, though I definitely think we should so in order that we do not allow the LAs to highjack and rewrite the draft. I suppose we should just respond to the consult with the usual arguments, in order to refine the draft as necessary.

    Of course, the DfES have no plans to enforce these guidelines, so our experience may well match the Scottish one where there are nominally fairly good guidelines which LAs choose to ignore. At which point, of course, we might have to call on Ofsted, which could be interesting.

    Are you planning to put up a draft response, Gill?

    And am just off to see what you have been up to, Jax, Pete, Ruth.

    4:27 pm, May 13, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    Let's do a quick vote count then:

    No.1 (new PM): 0 votes
    No.2 (LA response): 2 votes
    No.3 (lull HErs): 3 votes
    No.4 (general public): 3 votes
    No.5 (money): 6 votes
    No.6 (schools): 1 vote
    No.7 (not enforceable): 2 votes
    No.8 (nice people): 1 vote
    No.9 (they don't care): 1 vote, and a cookie for Pete ;-)

    Looks like most of us think it's about money.

    "Are you planning to put up a draft response, Gill?"

    Yes, good plan Carlotta, I will :-)

    6:21 pm, May 13, 2007  

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