Saturday, March 21, 2009

Worcestershire, Tasmania and the land of Notschool: "Curiouser and curiouser," said Alice.

At the Worcestershire Home Ed group meeting on Thursday, Graham Badman apparently discussed the imposition of something called the Tasmanian model of monitoring home education. A quick look at the Tasmanian Home Education Advisory Council (THEAC) site elicits this quote:

Once your Application for Home Education has been accepted by THEAC, a monitoring visit will be arranged with you. As approval of your program will be based on the information and detail presented at the monitoring visit, it is essential that dated samples of work and/or detailed information on the program and what has been completed/achieved since you commenced home education is shown.

- which isn't all that different from my own Local Authority's approach of old:

I will be visiting you on xxxx date at xxxx time. I would like to see samples of work and discuss future plans.

- except for the bit about an 'application being accepted'.

Is this seriously what he's got in mind for us all? Has he listened to what any of us have told him about the negative effects of monitoring on our children's learning? If his priority really is our children's education, and/or if he has a shadow of a conscience, he can't recommend the Tasmanian model for home education here.

We are told that Mr Badman invited further written submissions, on one side of A4 paper to be sent to him via his assistant at the following address: He has said he will read anything that's sent in this way. I think I might send something: will be thinking about how to word it while I'm digging out the new house foundations.

Onto Stephen Heppell and his Notschool thing. I mentioned on Wednesday that my younger son Ali (18) was going to have a look at the project and note down his thoughts on it. He's done that now, and you can see them here. Carlotta has written something else about Notschool too. Perhaps we'll manage to ward it off yet.

I'm still not happy about Professor Heppell's so-called 'expert in EHE' status though. In discussions with a home educator on this issue, he talked a lot about his experience with and knowledge of non-electively home educated children, but this is obviously a completely different issue. As far as I can tell, and I hope to be corrected, Professor Heppell has no experience of Elective Home Education, and nor has anyone else on the panel.

Julie Bunker reported [thanks Julie] that: "[Mr Badman] said that maintaining the status quo is out of the question. Then he said something like in the light of the current climate of concerns over child safety, things will not remain as they have been up till now."

So it seems, as people have commented on various lists, that the outcome of this 'review' was settled before it even began. It makes me wonder why they bothered with the whole pantomime in the first place. Why not just legislate for the change and have done with it? Answers, as ever, welcome in the comments box.


Blogger these boots said...

This is getting bizarre, isn't it? It struck me the other day that Mr Badman's recent visits have shown this latest consultation in a whole new light. Badman's own personal interest does not seem to be on preventing potential abuse ... it's clearly focused on bringing in new regulating and monitoring of our educational provision. How much more obvious could they make it that the NSPCC fiasco was simply an excuse to put us under the spotlight?

4:59 pm, March 21, 2009  
Anonymous Sam said...

Yes, nice one Gill, maybe Professor Heppell will answer your question, eh?

5:02 pm, March 21, 2009  
Anonymous Sam said...

Wow, have just seen the sidebar !! I hope the review panel see it too.

6:56 pm, March 21, 2009  
Blogger Raquel said...

Gill, I wish I could write anything half as eloquent as your son. I am astonished that Notschool get that much money per pupil. :O My daughter wants to do her IGCSE maths and spent today on a free website just doing maths quizzes. I didn't know she was doing this until she called down the stairs and asked me a question. And all for NOTANYMONEY!

8:49 pm, March 21, 2009  
Anonymous Firebird said...

I'm also wondering why they're bothering with the review. Surely some fast smearing with the NSPCC on board and they could have kicked straight into a full consultation.

Maybe the review is meant to rob us of the will to fight? I'm already seeing people on HE lists rolling over and playing dead, talking about the 'least bad' model and change being inevitable. Of course they might be DCSF plants rather than real HEers but it's still worrying.

8:50 pm, March 21, 2009  
Blogger Raquel said...

and the sidebar is so well put together, it almost makes me cry. Maybe you should get the contents of the sidebar published somewhere? It would change minds.

8:51 pm, March 21, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

Wonderful piece by your son, totally agree.

9:36 pm, March 21, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ometimes for me exploring those things on list doesn't make me roll over and give up but enables me to hear the arguments why we shouldn't be going for those least bad models and strengthens my views and positions even though posing those questions and suggestions may cause others to think that is what I/ or others are actually advocating. I think that it is important that these things are put forward to be scrutinised and challenged. If no-one mentioned them they would still be thought but left unchallenged.
At least those people haven't rolled over an lost interest.

11:05 pm, March 21, 2009  
Anonymous Renegade Parent said...

these boots says: "Badman's own personal interest does not seem to be on preventing potential abuse ... it's clearly focused on bringing in new regulating and monitoring of our educational provision."

and this is spot on - I was explaining the (supposed) child welfare background of the consultation to my parents this evening, and talking about the possible outcomes in terms of monitoring and regulation (and the impact on autonomous learning for our family). Even they said "but how are the two things related?" which gives me some hope (they are Daily Mail readers :-))

@Gill, I love what your son wrote! Whilst structured online learning will work for certain people, for me and many others the creation of such an environment, even a Notschool, is a very poor imitation of the two best places of learning one could ever hope to have access to - the real world and the internet.

Both of these options also encourage the learner to figure out *how* to learn, which is arguably more important to an individual than *what* he or she chooses to learn at any given point in time.

11:19 pm, March 21, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

The Tasmanian model uses a 'independent' body to do the monitoring.
This government uses charities as*independent* bodies i.e. BECTA is a charity.
The Third Sector
tell third sector *charities* about pipeline opportunities.
The ***** may well think that whipping up some public support for monitoring could land them a lucrative contract
They may not be the only charity chasing the contract a.n.other may consider themselves better placed.
This is all total hogwash from me of course because the review is still underway and is independent

12:01 am, March 22, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Lucy, it absolutely is. I've just blogged about your comment, actually, amongst other things.

Sam, sorry, I was distracted by a flying pig there. And LOL, how could you miss the sidebar unless you were too?! ;-)

Raquel, it is astonishing, isn't it? Perhaps its the basis for all of these questions about why we don't 'go for our share of the tax money': the rationale being that if Stephen Heppell does, so should we. But on the subject of pigs, we haven't all got our snouts in the trough, have we?

Firebird, good point. I also wonder if the review is meant to make the case that "maintaining the status quo is out of the question" just to pave the way for a legislative change. But yes, the NSPCC could have done that by themselves, couldn't they? Still, we have to have fair competition I suppose, hence the wheeling in of Professor Heppell etc.

Raquel, well it's published here. Yes, I'd like to publish it elsewhere. Anyone up for The Book of The Review? A slice of UK home educating history. We're all writing it.

Maire, thanks.

Jo, I'm guessing this relates to your comments on this Facebook thread.

Thanks Lisa :-) "Both of these options also encourage the learner to figure out *how* to learn, which is arguably more important to an individual than *what* he or she chooses to learn at any given point in time."

That's an extremely good point, IMO.

Elaine, yep, you're thinking what I'm thinking. I think.

8:34 am, March 22, 2009  
Blogger mamacrow said...

Amazing piece by Ali. Well thought out, properly and logically argued and backed up - fab.

And in itself, written by a homeschooled person, a powerful argument for the fact that homeschooling as it is, is effective.

9:12 pm, March 22, 2009  
Blogger Carlotta said...

Wow, just have to join in the general plaudits: Al's piece is brilliantly argued.

Was also wondering if he would send it to Mr B courtesy of Liz Green?

7:44 am, March 23, 2009  
Blogger Jemmo said...

Love Ali's piece. The point about NotSchool being made redundant by the Internet is very well made. Perhaps he could compile a list of resources - I've not heard of Freenode, so I'm certain he has a bunch of other stuff he has found useful.

The cost per child of NotSchool is less than the cost of traditional schools. However, the Internet is 'free' as he says. NotSchool would have to prove that it is providing something that the Internet is not.

I wonder, given his enthusiasm about the learning potential of the Internet, whether he supports the issue of computers and free internet access to families without such that is being started by Becta? It's a given that such free computers should be issued without strings attached - we'll only give you one if you use this program or log on to that website X times a week. As far as I know they have thus far not had any conditions. To the extent that certain enterprising families are reported to have sold theirs on eBay...

3:49 pm, March 24, 2009  
Blogger Jemmo said...

Carlotta said: "Was also wondering if he would send it to Mr B courtesy of Liz Green?"

I don't think that as it is it would be considered relevant and would probably be dismissed out of hand. It's been said several times that NotSchool is not suggested for EHE children as its purpose is different. Ali's general arguments hold true for all paid-for learning technologies though: issues of superfluousness, cost and efficiency. Does any such technology provide anything other than a way to see that children are engaging with something educational in a quantifiable way (which Badman seems to find important), and jobs for people running the scheme.

If the piece were tweaked to analyse third party learning technology generally (as opposed to the free stuff), that would be extremely useful.

3:59 pm, March 24, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Mamacrow. Yes, he's a good advert for the system!

Thanks Carlotta :-)

Jem, I'll pass your comments onto him. I'm not sure if he reads here. I'm guessing that he would approve of free computers being handed out, as long as they really were without strings. It doesn't surprise me that they've been sold on ebay, but then again, how does Becta know which families already have computers? It shouldn't jump to the conclusion that poor families can't afford them: we build ours out of scrap parts, for the most part! There's always a way.

I'll mention your idea about tweaking the piece to make it more appropriate. Personally I don't think Al would have got as far as he has if he hadn't been free to find his own way, so perhaps (if he agrees, which I think he does) that could form the basis for another such essay.

6:31 am, March 25, 2009  

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