Monday, February 02, 2009

Facebook group press release

Here is today's press release from the Facebook group:


HE PARENTS WELCOME CHILDREN'S SOCIETY REPORT

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Main points:

* Children's Society "Good Childhood Inquiry" states many factors of a happy childhood that home education is shown to provide.

* DCSF review of home education infers that parents will abuse or neglect their children if they are not supervised. DCSF appears to be family-hostile.

* Government attitude seems to be that childhood should be managed by the State at any cost. This is of concern to all parents, however they educate their children.

* DCSF review violates UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and may actually be illegal under equality laws.

* Over-stretched social workers are targeted for added duties.

* NSPCC admits there is no evidence for concern.

* Home educators organise opposition.

The Good Childhood Inquiry by the Children's Society will release the results of its study this week. Home educators have welcomed the review which reports that the children of Britain need more parental attention, more freedom to play, more access to the outdoors, and are harmed by junk food, peer pressure leading to consumerism and experimentation with alcohol and drugs, and the stresses of bullying, academic competition and exam anxiety.

These stresses and strains are some of the reasons why so many parents make the decision to home educate their children. Home educated children have greater familial contact and much less exposure to the negative social and academic pressures endemic in schools. They also have far more access to play and to the outdoors and are free of the rigours of constant testing and standardisation. Recent studies also show that most watch far less television than their schooled peers, and become more self-aware and community minded. [1] All of these are exactly what the Children's Society recommends for a happy, healthy childhood and by extension, a happy, healthy society.

"When I went to school I was bullied and I didn't get any help from the teachers. Now I'm doing home schooling, I get help if I need it and I don't get bullied." - H, aged 12.

"I am loved and cared for and have great fun everyday, exploring, exercising, laughing and talking!" - A, aged 11.


A 'slanderous' review

Home educators were angered on 19th January by the announcement by the Department for Children, Schools and Families of an Independent Review of Home Education [2], the fourth such consultation since 2005. The review was especially surprising as guidelines to Local Authorities on home education have only recently been issued as a result of previous consultations.[3] This review targets home educators as potential abusers, but has nothing to say about the well documented abuse of children within the schools system. Home education organisations have repeatedly asked for statistical evidence to back up these claims, but according to Vijay Patel of the NSPCC there is no such evidence [4] and requests continue to be ignored.

The DCSF is ignoring the problems with their over-worked, under-funded and under-trained social care workers [5] and instead is looking into adding to their workload with the monitoring of a home educating minority, justifying their stance with unsubstantiated rumour, hearsay and little else.


Criticism for the DCSF

The DCSF has been criticised for its methods from the start of this review. Home educating parents in their hundreds have decided to use FaceBook as a tool to organise their protests, contesting the rights of the DCSF to interfere with their freedom to educate at home unmolested by bodies who have a history of hostility towards them and little apparent understanding of them. Several conclusions have been reached:

The branding of home educators by this review as potential child abusers is discriminatory and incites prejudice which actively harms children and their families.

There are concerns that issuing press statements that home education may be a cover for abuse may violate Article 17 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. [6]

Article 17 says that the Government must not allow the mass media to publish things which harm children, but "the media, with Government backing, has inferred that many children are being abused by dint of the fact they are home educated," says Techla, a home educating mother from North Yorkshire. "My children are hurt and angry at the suggestion, and at the thought that their non-HE friends will think this is the case." Other children have also expressed their feelings that inciting suspicion against mum and dad is causing them distress.

Also, by not considering disabled children or those with Special Educational Needs the review's consultation of Local Authorities may actually be illegal. [7]

In-house Social Services and Local Authority publications have carried letters and articles criticising home education, and reports are that memos have been circulated advising on how the Local Authorities consultation should be answered. This will have undue influence over the results of that consultation.

Many children were removed from school because of bullying, abuse, neglect, or the lack of provision of a suitable education. In many cases the Local Authorities were at best apathetic, at worst openly hostile to the needs of the child. To suggest that these children and their parents should be investigated by the very agencies that failed them is insulting and dangerous.


Home education provides a good childhood

Independent research has shown home education provides many of the qualities that the Good Childhood Inquiry finds essential to a happy, healthy childhood, and therefore to a happy, healthy society. Home educators then ask why the Government is apparently intent on the regulation of HE in the face of yet another indictment of their failing schools system. The DCSF's attitude seems to be that childhood should be managed by the State at any cost. The conclusion seems to be that parents will necessarily abuse or neglect their children if they are not supervised. With their placing of the rights of Local Authorities above those of parents and children, as advocated in this Review of Home Education, it looks like the Children's Society report will fall on deaf ears.

As home educators and parents we support the findings of the Inquiry as outlined above and feel we demonstrate the positive nature of many of their recommendations. Home education should be seen as evidence of a supportive, loving and nurturing home, not as a potential cover for malefactors.


Issued by the Home Educators of FaceBook
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=45453211491 - "Stop the UK Government Stigmatising Home Educators!"


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Notes for Editors:

[1] "How Children Learn at Home" by Alan Thomas, 2007.

[2] http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/ete/homeeducation/

[3] Elective Home Education: Guidelines for Local Authorities, October 2007. http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/localauthorities/_documents/content/7373-DCSF-Elective%20Home%20Education.pdf

[4] Jeremy Vine show, Radio 2, 20th January 2009:
JEREMY VINE: "Vijay, have you got any statistical base at all?"
VIJAY PATEL (NSPCC Child Protection Policy Advisor): "We... the inf... We don't have the evidence there statistically, no."

[5] UNISON report "Still Slipping Through The Net?" See http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=8347

[6] http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm

[7] The LA questionnaire asks about children who are statemented for SEN. This ignores children with other disabilities and those which have SEN but are not statemented (parents of many home educated children with SEN prefer that they not be statemented). Government has a legal duty to consider disabled/SEN children (statemented or not) in all its documentation. http://www.dotheduty.org/

8 Comments:

Blogger Mieke said...

I'm happy with the Good Childhood Inquiry, although I can just picture some of the sponsors pointing their finger - at broken families and single parents. That to me is as over-simplified as accusations against home edders about abuse etc.

7:53 am, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

I agree with you Mieke, and I keep thinking of mounting some kind of a defence to it, but I feel to be doing enough fire-fighting as it is, with the attacks on home ed.

I dunno, maybe I'll get the energy to do it later today. They certainly know how to keep us busy, don't they? :-(

It reminds me of a game of tennis, in which one player more or less stands still, and has the other running busily around the court trying to return his shots.

Hmmm. Which one is usually on the winning side? :-(

Maybe we should start serving a few aces..

8:07 am, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

The thing to bear in mind, though, is that when you point the finger at someone there are at least three fingers pointing back at yourself.
Both in the attacks on home ed people and here again at single parents and broken families I can see how that's the case.
Nobody is helped by passing the buck and wildly accusing others. Child abuse and neglect are certainly not limited to one particular socio-economic layer of society. It happens everywhere and in all different forms.
When people are scared / uncertain / insecure / anxious / desperate, they tend to either withdraw or lash out at weaker ones. Unfortunately in both cases children suffer.
The way forward must lie in identifying the root of the problem and facing it. Together. By supporting and helping each other, sharing information. By addressing fear and insecurity. By making it possible for people to seek support and help, without taking their independence and self-esteem away.
If people are scared to be accused of abuse when they take their child to hospital after a fall, if any form of non-mainstream behaviour is blamed on bad parenting, how can you expect anyone to openly seek support and advise to improve the welfare of their child?

9:31 am, February 03, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

I was watching the news last night and noticed how they'd spun it to be the fault of mothers going to work. Now, from my POV, and the angle that the PR was coimng from, the problem is with society, not individuals. But obviously their is too much at stake for it to be looked at sensibly, so it does look as though it will be twisted and spun to bring it down on the heads of parents.

10:12 am, February 03, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

argh *there*

10:12 am, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Hopefully, there will be a backlash to the whole corrupt agenda, similar to the wildcat strikes that are happening this week.

Parents can't go on strike, but there will be something we can collectively do, I'm sure.

11:36 am, February 03, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

im not sure stikes are the way to go - video for you to watch:

http://cpexposed.com/archive/videos.php

2:02 pm, February 03, 2009  
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1:29 pm, February 27, 2009  

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