Home education, single parenthood and availability for work.
The government is trying to assert that I am, because it has put funding into extended schooling and childcare places in Children's Centres.
But Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states:
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable -to his age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
and I don't know of a school that will provide my children with an education that is either full-time, efficient or suitable to their ages, aptitudes or abilities. The education I provide them with complies perfectly with Section 7. If I was to put my children in school I would be in breach of Section 7.
The DWP consultation "In Work, Better Off" makes the following completely false assumptions:
- The only kind of work that has any value, or is even worthy of the word 'work' is the paid variety. This is not true: having some people stay at home and caring for their family is equally, if not more valuable and necessary to the health and wellbeing of our nation.
- Children are just as happy with any old adult as with their parent. And even that they thrive better away from their parents. Absolute tosh. Children gain essential emotional nourishment and security from being with 'good enough' parents which they don't gain from spending time with other people.
- Working for 16 hours a week and claiming WFTC makes single parents better off. This is not true in many cases. Actually, the financial difference is usually negligible and quickly spent on facilitating the work - e.g., paying for travel, or clothing, or compensatory treats.
- Economies can and should be made to constantly grow and never allowed to decline. I disagree: this is an unrealistic and potentially disastrous stance. Even if we do ever achieve the brutally unrealistic goal of full employment there will come a time when people have simply bought enough stuff and no more superfluous jobs or goods can be created or sold. What happens then?
- Parents can and should be held responsible for their children's behaviour even though they are obliged to go out to work all day and put their children in school all day. Not true: you can't have it both ways. Either hold parents responsible and enable them to actually raise, monitor and influence their offspring or stop trying to hold parents responsible - at which point our society will be so chaotic and insane that people won't want to live in it.
- Neglecting to consult properly on this is OK and nobody will notice or mind. It's not ok. My DWP single parent advisor last week denied the existence of this consultation and told me the change had been decided and was happening, come what may. I know of other single parents who have been told the same thing. DWP staff should be giving all single parents full information about this consultation, including response forms. As far as I know, there are no actual response forms or even clear methods for responding. Complaints are (thankfully) being made to BRE about this, as far as I know.
- Forcing this and other similar changes through will generate predictable and desirable results for governments and economies. I strongly disagree. This is an incursion too far.