Thursday, January 29, 2009

When schools fail

A good friend of mine, from further oop North than we are, has been telling me about this story for days now, ever since it all started in Carlisle:

Carlisle School

I kept saying I'd blog about it, but the review got in the way, as it has regarding so many other matters.

Last Friday, she told me: "Anyway, this fourteen year old Carlisle student started what was meant as a peaceful protest on Bebo. He felt the standard of education and the attitude of both teachers and students of the newly formed Carlisle Central Academy was not as it should be, so he raised his concerns on Bebo. As soon as teachers found out he was doing this they locked him up in a classroom and threatened to expel him. Things apparently got so out of hand that the local MP got involved and the next day the Schools Minister Jim Knight came for an emergency visit. Today the school was closed, after a march of students, which - unfortunately but not surprisingly - got slightly out of hand. A lot of parents have kept their (younger) children at home, because they fear for their safety. And also because they are shocked by what's come out about how this school deals with freedom of speech." - and referred me to local news stories about it here and here.

Duncan Moran has beaten me to the blog post, by making the point that, under Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act:

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 therefore parents continuing to send their children to that school and failing to make other arrangements are in breach of it, and should face prosecution.

I wouldn't go that far myself, preferring not to wish bad things on people, but it's a fair point: some home educating parents have faced prosecution - and indeed, been prosecuted - under Section 7. I've never heard of it happening to the parent of a schoolchild, however bad the school, which is blatant prejudice, when you think about it.

What I want to know is: is the Richard Rose Central Academy in Carlisle a complete one-off? Or are other schools around the country suffering from the same kinds of problems, which are being kept quiet? This piece of Norweigan research tells us that home education is increasing on a global scale and it looks into some of the reasons why, posing the question: "Is the school institution as it has developed up until today at the end of its historical role?" Our weekly home education meetings are certainly busier now than they've ever been. We've had a sudden influx of at least a dozen new home educating families: mostly people who have attachment-parented their children from birth, have looked at the school system and decided against it, or decided against it without even looking.

The government released a new document yesterday: Ending Child Poverty: Making It Happen, in which it cheerfully told us: "The Government believes that every parent who could work, should do so." Did you spot the subliminal message? Parenting is not valid work.

But they're rolling out a programme anyway, over the next few years, starting with legislation this year, to enable them to prise their way into our personal lives even more, and ensure that we're all sufficiently aspirational, out of the house all day and keeping well away from our other family members, especially children. if you claim Child Tax Credits, you're a victim subject of this programme. You could possibly get around it by setting up a home-based family business whilst home educating, though: that's our plan here. Suffice to say: the home education review and likely ensuing inquiry, leading to legislation, is just a piece of the jigsaw.

I've kept wondering when the money will run out for these Orwellian schemes. Aren't we suffering from a global financial meltdown? Surely that will stop the merciless steamroller in its tracks, before normal healthy family life is well and truly flattened? But no: the economic crisis should be treated as "the difficult birth-pangs of a new global order", with new rules introduced on trade, Gordon Brown said on Monday.

"The difficult birth-pangs of a new global order" ... I couldn't decide whether the financial problems were deliberately engineered or not, but I think I can see where it's going now. Working to the usual problem-reaction-solution format, the eventual 'answer' to the 'problem' of global financial meltdown is going to be one world government, isn't it? Like the EU, but ten times worse.

The timing is crucial though, don't you think? Because I think people are starting to wake up, en masse, to what's really happening.

Hats off to that fourteen year old student in Carlisle.


Blogger cosmic seed said...

so are they saying that our choice to have one parent at home and one out at work is no longer our choice to make???

12:16 am, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

mp had this to say
Katy Clark (Ayrshire North & Arran, Labour) Link to this | Hansard source | Watch this

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that there is great deal of concern, particularly about people with young children who simply may not be able to carry out the kind of work-related activity proposed in the Bill? Will he confirm that everybody's personal circumstances will be taken into account because, in some families, it is in the interest of neither the parent nor the children to go down this path? Will the particular circumstances override the simple view that work is the most important thing?

12:41 am, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes Tech, it states that any family receiving less than 60% of the national average income, or receiving "state support" (presumably CTC) is to be part of the programme. I assume the threat will be to remove CTC unless both parents agree to be available for work, or working.

'Available for work' means attending the Job Centre whenever they tell you - weekly, ATM but can be more frequently depending on individuals - and jumping through whatever hoops they set up, by way of courses, job applications, attending interviews etc. If you decline job offers, you are seen as having made yourself 'unavailable for work' and your payments stopped accordingly. So it's no picnic!

But they still, AFAIK, can't stop us from growing vegetables, keeping chickens, harnessing wind power, collecting water from roofs, etc., though there are issues with many of those things from the planning departments ("The planning regime for installing wind turbines is complex and evolving.") and Defra. No doubt regulations will be tightened up as people increasingly turn towards those alternatives.

Elaine, Katy Clark didn't ask such a good question, did she? It means we'll all have to beg for individual leniency within what is increasingly referred to as 'the regime' - which is all part of the plan, as far as I can tell, because those individual decisions will be made by the private contractors who will be running the show by then, so they're not going to go our way.

7:24 am, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

.. And of course, the next thing will be that if you insist on deliberately keeping your family in poverty by not working, your children will be removed and given to a nice, compliant foster family. :-(

Full of the joys of nearly-spring I am today! Sheesh.

7:37 am, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

You are right Gill but we must be grateful that some MP's have the gall to say anything :( the risk of a police raid revealing the spare undies in your office drawer plus all your confidential papers )
Anyway my dear I was alooking for the research NSPCC did (remember they say apart from Spry/London safeguarding they also talked to children ?
Well surprise surprise no research but did get the latest paper they published

How convenient to publish a paper exposing widespread bullying in schools and start a hoo ha over home ed to keep it quiet :)

7:39 am, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

You can check on this page the actual amounts involved. In my case, discounting the older three children who will presumably be paying for themselves by then, I'd need to be bringing in £189 per week plus income tax, council tax and housing costs. There's no way we need that amount of money but I will have to contrive to gather it, to keep my children safe.

They can change that figure whenever they like, of course, and tweak the council tax and income tax rates to affect it. So the goal posts will be forever moving.

7:43 am, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks for that, Elaine. Yes, it's been much less widely discussed than the home ed review, hasn't it?

7:46 am, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Have included that link in my latest post.

9:44 am, January 30, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

Well they can bloody well *naff orf* as Princess Anne would say!

10:57 am, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes, it's not going to happen without a fight, is it? But in the case of taking children, they've got the whip hand unfortunately. They can take them by force and then deny parents access. Even discussing the case can result in a jail sentence for parents.

11:02 am, January 30, 2009  

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