Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hit and run job - oh and the new panel, official line-up

We were the victims of a hit and run in our car yesterday, so spent the afternoon in the police station (queued up for an hour to find out that nobody had time to take my statement: got to go back today) and on the phone to garages and insurers, etc. It's such a sleek operation now, isn't it? Report the accident, they want to come straight away to get your car from your driveway, leave you with a hire car.. I said: hold on a minute. The other driver will be denying liability, hence him being a hit and run merchant. Is it wise for me to get my car fixed straight away? Five conversations later, it transpires that this wouldn't be wise, that I'll be losing my no-claims bonus and that I'll probably be better off getting quotes and just paying for the repair myself without claiming on the insurance.

Is this a sign of the times? Or just human nature to do whatever you can get away with, regardless of the impact on other people? For some reason this incident reminds me of the new panel line-up. OK, so we asked for rationale, and there is at least some attempt to provide one now:

It is imperative that the process is supported by a range of experts to ensure recommendations are rigorous and firmly rooted in evidence.

Hmmm. What evidence will it be firmly rooted in? I hope it's set out, because it will be scrutinised.

It will be used to cross check the interpretation of evidence and gain expert insight into key issues, such as the operation of current processes and practice within LAs; child development and the outcomes of home educated children; and child protection for example. It will also act as a sounding board for emerging findings and recommendations, ensuring they are based on firm evidence, are workable and will actively improve outcomes for children.

Good. First job, please: get every aspect of ECM, including all relevant PSAs, rewritten to iron out all the various problems they're going to cause for us. Next job: Do something to correct the imminent two-tier system, brought about by the new welfare reform bill, which will prevent people below a certain level of income from home educating. And yes, looking at prejudiced, ultra vires and damaging treatment of home educators by certain local authorities with a view to correcting these might be very helpful.

Meanwhile on our part, I suppose the panel members' histories and interests need to be Googled by us, to try to work out what their contribution might be, and whether we agree with their involvement.

We were chatting about it again at our home ed meeting today, in which we agreed that there's more to do on ECM and on demonstrating outcomes. I'd love to know, for example, what percentage of electively home educated young people genuinely do go on to become NEET (not just UTC: Unknown To Connexions) and how this compares with the average for schooled children. That would be a potentially powerful piece of information. Surely there's a way of finding out? (FOI requests to all the Benefits Offices?)

There's a lot we could still do: many more hours we could spend on justifying our position and our decisions, but I'm getting the same feeling about it that I got when I was waiting in the police station today: a waste of time. (Though I'll probably do some of it anyway.)

Meanwhile I'll leave you with a few other links and quotes from this week so far:

From Firebird: UK Government v the family:

In England, they came first for the single parents on Income Support, And I didn’t speak up because my husband works;

And then they came for the Home Educators, And I didn’t speak up because I send my older children to school;

And then they came for the Independent Midwives, And I didn’t speak up because my children were born in hospital;

And then . . . they came for me, because I have a child under 5 at home . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

A powerful article.

Then, from Renegade Parent: The Baroness and the Badman - a fairy tale:

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Once upon a time, there was a Baroness. When surveying her kingdom of schools and teachers, she came across a small community of parents who had legally opted to retain their independence. ...

I love it.

I love the fact that we have such creative, determined, profoundly intelligent people on our side who are managing to home educate their children and keep the pressure on about this review. It pushes us to the limits, but there's no other choice, particularly when we look at what's happened in some places:

The bill would require homeschoolers to undergo the same assessment testing as public-schooled children (currently grades 4, 8, and 11, though as of 2005 there will be language arts and math tests in grades 3 through 8 to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act). The bill would also require homeschooling families to present their district with evidence of a medical exam annually for each homeschooled child. In addition, the bill would require the State Board of Education to draft administrative code to enforce the two previous clauses.

Shirl has written more about this in her post: The Same Thing Happened in America in 2003:

Many thanks to Ami for this info, which reads exactly like what we are now going through here in the UK...

And finally: Listening To "Experts" Inhibits Decision Making:

When thinking for themselves, students showed activity in these critical thinking brain regions, but when given advice from an expert, activity in those regions "flat lined." Interestingly, students in the study "tended to follow [the expert's] advice regardless of the situation, especially when it was bad"

Thanks to Kajsa for sending those last three links, and to Shirl for hers.


Blogger Mrs Boho said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:52 am, April 16, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Shirl! Yes, we're all ok: it was just a rear-end shunt. Tricky to explain to a pedantic 6 year-old why a grown man couldn't stop and account for his actions though!

Ah, K said she got the US link from your blog, now that I inspect her email more closely! My omission: I should have attributed it to you. I see you've written a very interesting post about it.

Will alter mine accordingly xx

8:03 am, April 16, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

Glad to hear you are Ok, I agree about the advice, companies do try to get away with what they can, I have been quite shocked in the last couple of years. You have to watch your back in all situations. It is a sad state of afairs.

8:13 am, April 16, 2009  
Blogger Mrs Boho said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:34 am, April 16, 2009  
Anonymous Jax said...

re the hit and run - human nature, I've been party to two in the last 10 years, one where the guy bounced off our car, we got his number and the police did nothing, and one where I drove into someone (rear end shunt) and he drove off and I couldn't catch him to give details. Police said in that situation he was probably uninsured, and again, did nothing. I confess to protecting my no claims bonus for precisely this sort of reason.

8:43 am, April 16, 2009  
Blogger Dani said...

Glad you are all OK after the accident - car insurance issues go right over my head, I'm afraid. I don't really understand how it can be called insurance if it's no good to you when you need your car fixed after an accident...

Anyway, my theory about the announcement of the panel is that it is a reminder to us that we are being correctly and properly done over here, and we mustn't get the impression that there's anything we can do about it.

I think the review, panel and all, is just window dressing for the recommendations that somebody has already put in a very precise order for.

In that kind of situation, the traditional thing to do is gather a group of respectable people who will nod sagely when the required recommendations are made, so that nobody (except the people being shafted) notices that the whole process is a farce.

10:11 am, April 16, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

Hit and run does seem to reflect the tendency of people not to take their responsibilities, doesn't it? Your six year old's reaction says it all!

What I cannot find in the job description of the panel members is how much time they're supposed to spend on their contributions. It only says something vague about a few short meetings.

We must give Professor Heppell his due *ducks*, at least he made an effort to communicate with some home educators...

I think the questions you asked SH should be answered by all panel members: What knowledge do you have of Elective Home Education and the pertaining legislation and guidance, and Why do you think your field of expertise qualifies you to sit in judgment of people who elected to home educate their children?
And until I see some credible answers, I don't think I can take anything they say, or any recommendation this review comes up with, seriously.

10:41 am, April 16, 2009  
Anonymous Renegade Parent said...

"Is this a sign of the times? Or just human nature to do whatever you can get away with, regardless of the impact on other people?"

Maybe it's because the government has not yet produced a factsheet entitled "Don't hit other people's cars and drive off because it's wrong" or tried to introduce it in PSHE lessons?!

Horrible people. Glad you're OK :-)

3:35 pm, April 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your accident, Gill. Glad everyone is OK, although you might feel a little shaky today and tomorrow. The shock can hit later.
Our car was parked in a public carpark, and a driver bounced off another car and hit ours and the next one.
The insurance insisted that we have ours taken away to an approved garage. This was Dec. 6th after the car was hit on December 3rd.
On Dec. 23rd, we got a call to say that our car had been written off. Nice Christmas present.
After loads of phone calls to various companies, and emails sending details of similar cars, we were offered a lot less than the car was worth. Our mechanic advised us to take it - he couldn't be sure that the chassis wasn't bent.
We were told that the car was going for scrap.
A couple of weeks ago I received a note through the post asking for the log book and second key to the car which was 'running well.' Someone had bought the car that had been deemed uneconomical to repair.
I am definitely contacting Watchdog about this scam. And I still have no car, and have been walking around on a twisted ankle for months.
To say I'm angry doesn't really cover it.


5:29 pm, April 16, 2009  
Blogger HelenHaricot said...

sorry about the hit and run. my mum had one outside her house, and someone in the bakery gave the reg number and agreed to be a witness. the car owner denied it to the police and went to the courts, got 3 points on her license and a 30 fine. but actually never paid for the scratch.

10:35 pm, April 17, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Maire, yes - good advice!

Shirl - it's no trouble, and I like to try to be correct!

Jax, sorry to hear about your bad luck. I went to the Police station, as requested, to make a statement expecting only to get a crime number for the insurers - and was amaed to be told they'll be contacting him to inform him that they intend to prosecute! They want witness statements from my passengers etc. Wow - I'm almost embarrassed. It's only a dent!

Dani, I am insured to get my car fixed, but if I use it then I'll pay more for my premiums next year, so I need to work out whether getting it fixed myself will be cheaper than the extra I'd have to pay next year in premiums. Funny, though: the insurer's garage says my little dent will cost £530 to fix, whereas the garage I normally use said they might be able to do it for free, if their little suction machine works. Sometimes the car will find its own shape again when pulled out apparently, and it only takes a few seconds to find out. It's a pity our culprit didn't stop and wait, because I'd have been quite willing to try it that way if he had, which wouldn't have cost him anything. I still will, if needs be.

I'm inclined to agree with your comments about the review panel. Can we report people to the police who call us potential child abusers without any evidence whatsoever? Argh! Who am I, and what did I do with the old Gill?!

Mieke, I bet we wouldn't find anything anywhere about the time they're supposed to input. I think there's an unwritten equation between level of remuneration and precise stipulation of hours spent, isn't there? I'm planning to do some more work on the panel this weekend. Oh, but the grass needs mowing, and the carrot patch needs digging, etc!

Lisa, ROFL! I love it :-)

Diane, that's terrible! I'm so sorry to hear it. I hope your ankle recovers soon and that you get some kind of resolution.

Thanks Helen. Well, our man apparently is insured, so if (BIG if) he ever admits liability, or is ever officially found to be liable for our bump, then presumably his policy will cover the amazing cost of fixing it. Meanwhile, I've still got that little suction cup at the other garage in mind, just in case that doesn't happen!

8:37 am, April 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you're all okay from the hit'n'run, and pleasantly surprised the police are acting on it!

On the review: 'cult of expert' springs to mind. It's what has undermined parents abilities for a long time-since that eejit Spock. Have you ever read his stuff. I laughed out loud-but it isn't funny because it began the 'only-do-it-if-a-Phd-says-so' parenting approach.
Most (but not all) EHE families don't buy into that stuff. All this thinking for ourselves, using common sense malarky needs stamping on.
There are no full time parents on this panal and no EHE parents because we aren't 'experts'. Those of us with training and professional experience are now "just mums" and therefore unworthy.
I'm turing into a bitter old hag. *sigh*

9:00 am, April 18, 2009  
Blogger mamacrow said...

gosh, glad you're all ok! Good luck with sorting it all out...

11:41 pm, April 18, 2009  

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