Saturday, February 07, 2009

"Make a positive contribution" and the "Path to success"

My mission here today is to try to pin down a reliable definition of that mysterious 4th item in the worryingly dictatorial list of five outcomes with which our children are apparently supposed to be complying. They're all vague, but the fourth one is perhaps the vaguest of the lot, so I thought we'd start with that. Hopefully it will get easier as we go along. (The fifth one, unfortunately, is getting clearer to understand by the month [opens pdf], and I'm planning to blog more about that over there later on. Update: here it is.)

So I'm guessing that 'Make a positive contribution' probably amounts to a bit more that donating a weekly part of your spending money towards a programme that seeks to deprive some African children of their health and liberty. It will, knowing our quaintly aspiring One World Government, have something to do with criteria and tick-boxes, and the pointless consumption of time. There will, no doubt, be some stick and carrot involved and it might be even worse than that: let's see.

My question is: make a positive contribution to what? The answer will no doubt be: "Society," - whatever that is, nowadays. How can a child make a positive contribution to society? By smiling at passing old people, maybe? Skipping around and generally spreading happiness? Is that what the government had in mind? Hmmm. What do you think?

Wish me luck. I am about to dive into the deep and murky realms of gov.uk and associated areas to try and find out more. I may never return.

Well, here is a pdf chart about all five outcomes, though I can't read it without finding a zoom button. Oh, how neat! Each five outcome also has five aims! So it builds up like a little pyramid. What a surprise. The five aims of "Make a positive contribution" are:

  • Engage in decision making and support the community and environment

  • Engage in law-abiding and positive behaviour in and out of school

  • Develop positive relationships and choose not to bully and discriminate

  • Develop self confidence and successfully deal with significant life changes and challenges

  • Develop enterprising behaviour

Right. Well, my children have cleared some snow from our road this week and we have never refused the loan of a cup of sugar to a neighbour, when asked. Does that sufficiently 'support the community'? I'm guessing not really, but I don't know for sure yet.

What's 'positive behaviour'? Another definition to track down. Ditto 'positive relationships'. And yes, of course they choose not to bully or discriminate. They also choose not to try and impose convoluted laws onto other people that transform brains into spaghetti - does that count for anything?

Number 4, check. Number five, check - they're starting their own business this month. But it can't be that easy, can it? If so, it was hardly worth bothering with legislation for.

Let's dig deeper.

The next level down the pyramid takes us into the brave new world of some things called PSAs and DSOs. National Public Service Agreements and DCSF Departmental Strategic Objectives, and the ones relating to "Make a positive contribution" are apparently as follows:

  • PSA 14 – Increase the number of children and young people on the path to success;

  • PSA 9 – Halve the number of children in poverty by 2010-11, on the way to eradicating child poverty by 2020

  • PSA 20 – Increase long term housing supply and affordability

  • PSA 21 – Build more cohesive, empowered and active communities

  • PSA 26 – Reduce the risk to the UK and its interests overseas from international terrorism

"Supported by:"

  • DCSF’s Departmental Strategic Objectives to ensure young people are participating and achieving their potential to 18 and beyond (DSO 5); and

  • keep children and young people on the path to success (DSO 6)

"Path to success" looks a bit ominous, doesn't it? It comes in for several mentions, so it must be something important. We'll find out exactly what it means soon, but the other question that springs to my mind is this: at least half of those subsections relate to action by Local Authorities, not children at all. So why are children being made to comply with them? Something doesn't quite add up, which is probably a clue to something else.

It looks like I'm going to have to read some of these PSAs and DSOs if I want to find out more.

But wait: we haven't got to the bottom levels of the pyramid yet. Here they are:

National Indicators [relating to "Make a positive achievement"]:

"Quality of life indicators":

  • NI 79 (PSA 10 / DSO 5) Achievement of a Level 2 qualification by the age of 19 – L

  • NI 80 (PSA 10 / DSO 5) Achievement of a Level 3 qualification by the age of 19 – L

  • NI 85 (PSA 4 / DSO 5) Post-16 participation in physical sciences (A Level
    Physics, Chemistry and maths) – L

  • NI 90 (DSO 5) Take up of 14–19 learning diplomas – L

  • NI 91 (DSO 5) Participation of 17 year-olds in education or training – L

  • NI 110 (PSA 14 / DSO 6) More participation in Positive Activities – L

  • NI 15 (PSA 23) Serious violent crime rate

  • NI 28 Serious knife crime rate

  • NI 29 (PSA 23) Gun Crime Rate

  • NI 174 Skills gap in the current workforce reported by employers; and

"Quality of service measures":

  • NI 19 (PSA 23 / DSO 6) Rate of proven reoffending by young offenders

  • NI 21 (PSA 23) Dealing with local concerns about anti-social behaviour by the local council police

  • NI 24 Satisfaction with the way police and local council deal with anti-social behaviour

  • NI 25 Satisfaction of different groups about the way the police and local council dealt with antisocial behaviour

  • NI 27 Understanding of local concerns about anti-social behaviour and crime by the local council and police

  • NI 35 (PSA 26) Building resilience to violent extremism

  • NI 43 (DSO 6) Young people within the youth justice system receiving a conviction in court are sentenced to custody

  • NI 44 (DSO 6) Ethnic composition of offenders in Youth Justice System disposals

  • NI 45 (DSO 6) Young offenders engaged in suitable education, training or employment

  • NI 46 (DSO 6) Young offenders’ access to suitable accommodation

  • NI 149 (PSA 16) Adults in contact with secondary mental health services in settled accommodation

  • NI 150 (PSA 16) Adults in contact with secondary mental health services in employment

The sheer quantity is completely off-putting, isn't it? And some of the points look quite reasonable: I can especially see why, for example, people might be concerned about anti-social behaviour by the local council and police ;-)

On the other hand, some of it looks worrying from a home educator's point of view. I don't even know what "level 2 and 3 qualifications" are. Do you?

We must not be disheartened though, and stay focused on our objectives, the first of which is to find out what is officially meant here by 'Path to success', and that, I fear, will require the reading of a PSA, or a DSO. Which do you fancy?

PSA 14 looks like a juicy one: "Increase the number of children and young people on the path to success". I'll have to Google to find it. Here it is. [Opens pdf] At first glance, it reads like the signposts in a labour ward: Vision; Measurement; Delivery Strategy; Measurement annex; and Delivery annex.

But come on, what exactly is the "path to success"? It's quite exciting to think that we might find out in a minute, don't you think?

Introduction: Five outcomes... Children's Plan (Urgh, I'd better read that too).. blah blah..

1.3 This document sets out the delivery strategy for increasing the number of children and young people on the path to success. Most young people are already on that path. They do well at school make a successful transition to adult life and go on to build successful careers and families.

Yes, but what is it?

They're not allowed to be NEET, yes, we knew that.. Oh blimey, it looks like there are "eight key priorities" coming up. These people love their little sets and bullet points, don't they?

The 'Vision' bit doesn't really say much. Lots of words: no real information. Onto 'Measurement':

The PSA measures progress in increasing successful transitions to adulthood in terms of increased participation and resilience, and tackling negative outcomes

Indicator 1: reducing NEETs.. indicator 2.. oh, here we are.

More Participation in Positive Activities

AAaaargh! Look at this!

Participating in high quality structured activities is a key element in improving the prospects of all young people

Then it goes on about extended schools etc...

This will give children and young people opportunities to
participate in diversionary activities which are both developmental and fun.

Diversionary activities..?

The Children’s Plan established a new goal that by 2020 all young people will be participating in positive activities.

All young people.

The next bit's about drugs, booze, under-age pregnancy, and breaking the law. None of which are - strangely - usually a problem in home educating families. But force all of our 'children and young people' into "high quality structured activities" and that might change.

I'm fast running out of staying power, but "Delivery Strategies" is next. It contains the word 'incentivizing', which is enough in itself to make me crave huge bars of dark chocolate with cherries in it.

Anyway, here are the "8 priority actions":

1. integrating and simplifying governance, accountability and performance management for the PSA at every level – central, regional and local;
2. tackling problems associated with individual service thresholds by, where appropriate, re-allocating available resources across service boundaries and pooling budgets which target similar groups of young people;
3. incentivising effective programmes and interventions – including those in the third sector – where there is strong evidence of impact, and supporting commissioners and the frontline to apply them more widely;
4. ensuring there is a strategy in place to invest in the development of the workforce to support young people and to deliver the ambitions of this PSA;
5. embedding and building on strategies to empower and secure the active participation of young people and their families in the commissioning, design and delivery of services – actively seeking the engagement of all groups, including the most vulnerable;
6. ensuring that the role of schools, colleges, work-based learning providers and youth support services in delivering this PSA is widely understood and acted upon;
7. ensuring that the contribution that other key public services should make to this PSA is widely understood and acted upon; and
8. ensuring there are robust systems in place for the identification of, and interventions for, young people who do not attend school.

I'm stopping there. I can't go on - not today, anyway. The sun is shining, the children are waking, the snow is beckoning, breakfast is cooking.. blue skies.. those things that make us feel alive and free and sane.










But to sum up, Mr Badman hasn't been asked to review Home Education to find out whether our children can achieve those airy fairy vague five outcomes like smiling at passing old people. Of course he hasn't. His remit (and his substantial grounding in the programme of events as set out for our society for the next twelve years) is to be employed in ascertaining to what extent we can be made to fit in with the above intrinsically complicated set of criteria.

Number 8 of the last list is one that should perhaps be of particular concern to us.

28 Comments:

Blogger Mieke said...

The deeper you dig the less subtle it gets. I'll have to read through this post again to try and get a clear picture of the impact it can have on us. As I read it here, it seems to be in conflict with the law, doesn't it?

10:23 am, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Well done for ploughing through it all, Mieke!

But no, sadly, this is the law. :-(

10:30 am, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

But still, it's not quite as bad as the risk of losing your child if your gross annual earned income is less than £29,000 and both parents aren't in full-time employment.

I just want to shout this from the rooftops. We can't let it go through, but how can we even begin to stop it?

3:11 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Grit said...

oh my god i'm going to have to steady my nerves with a large glass of brandy after that. i am staggered by the research (and the bullet points). our taxes actually pay people to come up with this stuff, right? i want a refund. and as for stopping it all ... make that two glasses ...

3:47 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Grit, I only touched the surface of it here. Multiply that by at least 100, and you'd come close to the size of the ECM Five Outcomes regime - and regime it is. Kept it all quiet, didn't they?

Brandy sounds like a good idea to me too, and I don't even drink.

3:51 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

PS: it's too late to stop the ECM steamroller I think: all that stuff above is already classed as legislation as far as I can tell.

It's the anti-poverty programme that's still in consultation, though I don't fancy anyone's chances of stopping that either TBH.

5:01 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

I a m losing the will to live here. Blimey. (level 3 and 3 quals are GCSE's and A levels)I actually think they have lost the plot. Some megolamaniac dreamt all this up surely? The poverty criteria is worrying. They seem to have lost sight of the fact children are not always happy in richer families and money is not the answer to everything.

5:36 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

I don't think they care, Ruth. Children's happiness - or anyone else's, for that matter - was never their goal IMO. (Notice how the word isn't mentioned anywhere in the five outcomes?)

5:38 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

.. or anywhere in the anti-poverty rhetoric, come to think of it.

5:40 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

So... shouldnt' that be a direction for us to take, then? And with 'us' I mean not only home ed parents, but caring and conscious parents in general? Shouldn't we all get together and ask the govt: What about happiness?
In the previous post you mentioned working together with other groups. Maybe we should gather people around that question. I don't for one minute think that the govt cares about happiness, but I would say a large majority of parents do. I'm sure if parents were more aware of this omission of happiness from the govt programmes they would want to know.
Or am I being too optimistic, again?

5:52 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

I don't know Mieke, it might be worth a try. At this point, I think anything is worth a try!

Certainly it would be good to raise awareness of some of these issues in non-HEing parents. The anti-poverty thing will catch a lot of them out too.

5:56 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

This post about 'Path to success' is well worth a look.

6:35 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Raquel said...

their control freakery knows no bounds! Thanks Gill for delving into all of this. I have seen that word *robust* before, in the letter from the department fobbing off us home educators:

"We are committed to ensuring that systems for keeping children safe, and ensuring that they receive a suitable education, are as robust as possible. We have been progressively strengthening the systems and it is good practice to ensure that they are operating as intended. An independent review of home education is part of this continuing commitment to strengthening the system and* to ensure all children achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes."


I never really considered leaving the UK..often joked about it, kinda dreamed about it. Now seriously considering it :(

8:43 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

Come on, guys! Don't abandon ship! I thought you British were made of sterner stuff!
I came to this country *because* I can home educate here, because it is still a legal possibility. As opposed to the Netherlands, by many seen as the land of drugs and sex and rock and roll and freedom...
I just cannot imagine that the British people will let their freedom and rights be taken away from them. I just cannot imagine that the British people cannot be woken up to what is happening now.
There must be a way of breaking through the confusion screen of economic crisis (which seems to work even better than the one of terrorist threats) and expose this well hidden agenda, this script for the Brave New World...
There must be a way to appeal to the mentality that made Britain Great.

9:09 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Raquel said...

One would hope Mieke, but it seems that GB is seemingly apathetic about much of this stuff, mind you it has all crept in by stealth so many of course know nothing about it, so maybe there is hope. :)
I'm a dual national so it's probably easier for me to think of moving out. But I want to stay! Born here, grew up here. It is my home.

Back to the review: So when they ask the question whether home educated children can achieve the ECM outcomes do they mean:

Can home educated children achieve being caught by the robust systems in place for the identification of, and interventions of said children?

erm that answer would probably be yes seeing as they have their databases, CCTV, ID cards on the agenda etc..

so YES our children can acheive the ECM outcomes! Hooray!

9:49 pm, February 07, 2009  
Blogger lotusbirther said...

I am feeling more positive about this. I am taking that ECM document to mean that we are supported to
promote healthy choices
provide safe homes and stability
support learning
promote positive behaviour
and are supported to be economically active
Assuming that the last statement doesn't mean active in a minimal way ;-) I don't like either connotation of course.

1:47 am, February 08, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

I think their children's happiness is important to many parents but not all. Many see some awful things and being miserable as a means to an end ( crying inconsolably when left with childminders, bullying in school as norm e.t.c)and hasn't it jsut been said that thing that parents are the most selfish ever?
I am not abandoning ship Mieke but lately I have had the what if we move to...with dh cos my psssimistic side thinks things are going to ge a lot worse before they get any better.

12:43 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

I think their children's happiness is important to many parents but not all. Many see some awful things and being miserable as a means to an end ( crying inconsolably when left with childminders, bullying in school as norm e.t.c)and hasn't it jsut been said that thing that parents are the most selfish ever?
I am not abandoning ship Mieke but lately I have had the what if we move to...with dh cos my psssimistic side thinks things are going to ge a lot worse before they get any better.

12:43 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

Me and DH were talking about the jumping ship thing yesterday. Part of me wants to, but then part of me thinks we have a beautiful country and no bastard politician has the right to make me feel that I have no option but to leave my country. He was saying that there is a young lass at work (17) who is only staying because she likes her job, if that goes she's off without a second thought as there is nothing for her in this country. He said it must be bad if even the very young are thinking like that :(

1:15 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

I think it's as bad everywhere, or soon will be. This is a 'globalised' process.

1:16 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

aye that was my main reasoning for staying! I thought that if we left and where ever we went to was as bad and we wanted to come home, it wouldn't surprise me if we were refused re-entry :(

1:18 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

I'm just wondering what we can do about it.

Does the impetus for the ECM framework come from Europe? It seems our country has no power to influence anything there, let alone us.

I seem to think our government doesn't have the power to repeal all this stuff, even if it wanted to.

1:24 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

Have you seen the treason video that I posted a few days ago on facebook?

1:30 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

No actually - will go check your profile and have a look.

1:32 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

shout if you can't find it.

1:34 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

*Shout..!*

1:40 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

lol okies going to look now

1:43 pm, February 08, 2009  
Blogger zaza said...

http://bmwpaydayloans.com

4:05 pm, February 18, 2013  

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