AHEd press release: PERSECUTION OF MINORITY GROUP IS "ABUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS"
PERSECUTION OF MINORITY GROUP IS "ABUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS"
Outraged families and support organisations flood the DCFS with 2000+ consultation responses to the elective home education review
The government's review of elective home education (1), which was announced in January in a blaze of scurrilous spin stating that home education could be used by parents as a cover for abuse and forced marriage, has provoked an unparalleled reaction from home educating families and support organisations, including home education action group AHEd (2) and the home educators' network Home Education Forums. (3) Both AHEd and Home Education Forums have strongly rebutted the government's allegations as "vile and unsubstantiated" in their respective robust responses to the DCSF consultation. (4) and (5)
By the close of the unusually short online consultation last Friday, over 2000 individual and organisational responses had been sent in by 'stakeholders' who have in recent weeks demonstrated their collective outrage at the "irresponsible scaremongering" perpetrated by government minister Delyth Morgan and Vijay Patel of the NSPCC, who was forced to admit on national radio (6) that no evidence exists to support the suggestion that home educated children may be more likely than schooled children to suffer abuse or be coerced into marriage or domestic servitude.
AHEd supporter Clare Murton commented: "Apart from the clear incitement to hatred of home educators that Delyth Morgan's announcement provoked, this review by Graham Badman must represent the straw that breaks the camel's back. Home educators are trying to get on with the important work of bringing up their children, but over the past few years have been repeatedly distracted from that task by unwarranted and vicious attempts to usurp their parental rights.
"Multiple government consultations have concluded that home education is safe, efficient and in no need of tighter legal control and that local authorities need legal guidance. It is astounding, therefore, that they now give credence to slander such as Morgan's. This luckily has not defeated home educators and there will be no 'death by consultation' in our neck of the woods. Instead it has determined the home education community to put a stop to this unprecedented witch hunt.
"No other section of UK community has ever been so impassioned in its response to a DCSF consultation and I am proud to be part of a network of people who really do think that every single child matters."
While there is absolutely no evidence of any link between home education and child abuse, domestic servitude or forced marriage, there is plenty of evidence of the offence caused and anger unleashed within the home education community itself and among non home educating families who perceive the threat to home education as the "thin end of the wedge".
A Downing Street petition submitted by Roxane Featherstone on behalf of AHEd (7) has attracted more than 2000 signatures in a fortnight, while the Stop the Government Stigmatising Home Educators group (8) on the social networking site Facebook has more than 1500 members whose comments demonstrate a deep sense of collective outrage. Home education blogs, including the popular Sometimes It's Peaceful (9), have highlighted what appears to be a state sponsored campaign to persecute a minority group exercising a lawful choice and have strongly criticised some members of the team led by Graham Badman (10) who are to participate in the inquiry as "partial" and "lacking in knowledge or experience of elective home education".
Alison Preuss, spokesperson for Home Education Forums, said: "I have only once witnessed such a mass reaction by the home education community and that was when the former Scottish Executive mounted a similar attack on home educating families north of the border. Overnight, they alienated every home educator across the land - and lost! This latest assault on educational freedom by people for whom child abuse represents a 'nice little earner' has provoked nothing short of fury among law abiding citizens who have in many cases had to remove their children from an unsafe and abusive school environment.
"While the economy tanks, our elderly folk are having to choose between eating and heating and vulnerable children are being left unprotected due to lack of competence in social services, as demonstrated in the case of Victoria Climbie and the children abused by Eunice Spry (who was a Gloucestershire Council approved foster carer), we have to wonder why public funds are being diverted from frontline services into an unnecessary analysis by bureaucrats of 2000+ consultation responses and an equally unnecessary investigation of a non existent issue. In our view, this whole exercise represents an abuse of public funds."
For more information contact AHEd firstname.lastname@example.org or Home Education Forums email@example.com
NOTES FOR EDITORS
(1) Elective home education review http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2009_0013
(2) Action for Home Education http://www.ahed.org.uk
(3) Home Education Forums http://www.home-education.biz/forum
(4) AHEd reponse http://ahed.pbwiki.com/HomeEducation-YourViewsReview2009AHEdResponse
(5) Home Education Forums response http://www.home-education.biz/forum/home-education-law-policy/155-hef-response-dcsf-home-ed-review-part-1-a.html
(6) Vijay Patel on BBC Radio http://sometimesitspeaceful.blogspot.com/2009/01/transcript-of-radio-2-jeremy-vine-show.html
(7) Downing Street petition http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Homeedreview/
(8) Stop the Government Stigmatising Home Educators http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=45453211491&ref=ts
(9) Sometimes It's Peaceful blog http://sometimesitspeaceful.blogspot.com/
(10)Graham Badman http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/search/?asset=document&id=129480