Thursday, April 23, 2009

Looking at the panel (5)

Carlotta has written a very good précis of what we see as the current position with regard to the review. People (usually at home ed meetings) keep asking me for an update: in the next couple of weeks I will just point them at that post instead of trying to explain! It also ties in nicely with what I briefly touched on yesterday about the damage that monitoring and inspection does to children. I think a lot more work needs to be done on this issue, because it's one - possibly the main one - of the very good reasons why many elective home educators are resisting calls (like this recent one from the National Association of Social Workers in Education, at whose conference Graham Badman is scheduled to speak about the review on 7th May) for the statutory monitoring and inspection of home educating families.

We think such a development would be abusive to our children's sense of security and wellbeing, and yes, some of us do home educate partly to protect our children from that kind of a regime which is so prevalent throughout the school system. We don't think it's good for children or families, or people in general, to have to live with so much stress and pressure. It certainly - as many home educators who have had it both ways will attest - detracts from the quality and uptake of educational provision.

Meanwhile, Mum6kids has been writing about the Freedom of Information requests we have underway, as we try to establish a degree of discernment on the issue of what exactly constitutes a 'welfare concern' because - as many home educating families know to their cost - this can originate from nothing more than a confused or vindictive neighbour or family member.

If you know of any other recent posts about the review that I haven't linked to, please let me know either in the comments here or by email.

The fifth member of the panel is Jean Humphreys (HMI, Ofsted) who, the chart says, is there to represent the area of special educational needs. But I'm finding her as difficult to 'google-analyse' (Googleyse?!) as Steve Hart, the other 'Ofsted, HMI' panel member at whom we looked yesterday, if not more so. I'm wondering whether there's a different variation on her name, or an alternative way of spelling it that I might be missing, or perhaps 'Ofsted, HMI' people habitually keep a low profile online.

I did find the following excerpt from this Word document about the 'Impact of ITT [Initial Teacher Training] on the School Environment' (Lee & Wilkes, 1999):

Ofsted in School ?

We have the following advice from Jean Humphreys HMI as follows;

“Schools should carry on as normal when they are alerted to the fact that they are going to have an inspection. Schools should make mention of significant partners in their self evaluation form. The inspection framework covers such relationships in two sections. (1) When judging the school’s overall effectiveness (the effectiveness of links with other organisations to promote the well-being of learners) and (2) in the leadership and management section (how effective are the links made with other providers, services, employers and other organisations to promote the integration of care, education and any extended services to enhance learning and to promote well-being). Inspectors will be interested to know how the ITT partnership has an impact on the school, particularly learners.“

She's also listed as one of the authors of a 2005 Ofsted pdf about some new school inspection arrangements.

I find it interesting to read from this that apparently "Short notice of inspection has been welcomed by schools." The things people will say when their salary depends on it! Can you imagine being genuinely pleased about the short notice of inspection - about anything? Is nobody allowed to admit any more that the process of being inspected, evaluated and assessed is a deeply unpleasant one? Does everyone have to pretend: "Oh no, it's great to be monitored! We love it! Please, come and monitor is more often!" Or as Renegade Parent puts it: Infantilise me some more!

And the thing NASWE is proposing for home educators is the regular inspection of people's homes and family lives, without prior cause for concern, just to see whether the parents in question are deemed fit to home educate. Surely it's only a short step from there to the position of extending this legalised state invasion of family homes across the board, to the whole population, as a matter of routine. And this relentless march towards full surveillance represents nothing other than the nationalisation of children and of family life.

Jean Humphreys is mentioned in this month's edition of the Children's Webmag, produced by a consortium led by The Centre for Children and Youth which is 'based at the University of Northampton, [and] has built up a national and international reputation for its multidisciplinary research and consultancy work', in an article called "Keeping Parliament Informed: The Children’s Workforce-Inspectors", as follows:

Juliet Winstanley and Jean Humphries (Ofsted) emphasised the importance of interagency working for their inspections of other children’s services, particularly Youth Offending Teams, the secure training centres and secure children’s homes, boarding schools, specialist colleges, palliative care and children’s centres.

Jean said that they have started to look at areas where inspection could be brought together - so, in bringing together education and social care inspections of, for example, residential homes, they not only have brought together the two methodologies and best practice, but also can now pay that institution one visit instead of two, which is far less disruptive. Where their inspections overlap with others - such as boarding schools or palliative care - they work to bring in relevant experts and hold inspections at the same time to share information and reduce disruption.

Juliet said that the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda is key to their work and at the heart of the process, and it is important for them to know what the services are like for the children and young people. They are focusing on vulnerable children by targeting their investigations at the provision for those with specific needs. Jean said that their regulatory remit - to ensure compliance with and the meeting of certain regulations - can be difficult to bring in line with the ECM aims without missing important details around compliance.

I don't know about you, but the mere mention of the word 'compliance' in relation to anything to do with children makes me shudder.

I'm finding more about Ms Humphreys when I just search for her name with 'Ofsted'. It seems that she is, or was, the Deputy Director for Children there. I'm yet to find evidence of her particular interest in special educational needs though - which is not, of course, to say that she doesn't have one. I've just had a look around the main Ofsted site though, and happened to read through the draft minutes of their February 2009 board meeting [opens Word.doc] which are a revelation in themselves. A significant proportion of the content is about protecting and promoting the organisation's image and trying to control how it's perceived generally. Maintaining 'good relations' with schools and unions is seen to be important, and the threat of a judicial review is apparently something for them to worry about. And there we were, just thinking they wanted to help children to improve their learning experience.

I could ramble on about this for ages and won't, but I will say something about the field of education admin in general, which came to mind when I was chatting with someone at our home ed meeting yesterday. We meet in the old gymnasium of an ex-grammar school, now converted into the LA education admin centre. When we started meeting there, 6½ years ago, the centre was always half-empty and there was no problem with parking or anything. Within three months we'd been barred from using the canteen and we were subsequently asked not to meet during the lunchtime period, because the noise of children playing overhead apparently distracted the diners - educational administrators - from their food. When we take our children into the main building to use the toilets or the vending machines, we're often viewed with alarm - not by the centre management who are nice, child-friendly people, but by - you guessed it - educational administration people. It seems, just from viewing the development of the field through the focused prism of our experiences at that centre, that it has both mushroomed in recent years and become increasingly detached from.. well, children.

I've run a search for Ms Humphreys on the Ofsted site and it came back blank. Let me know, please, if you have more luck. I also wanted to find out whether she had anything to do with the dreaded "labyrinth that is the network between The London Regional Partnership, The London Schools Safeguarding Leads Network, The London Safeguarding Children Board, The London Child Protection Committee, London Allegations Management Advisors, London Councils, The Association of London Directors of Children’s Services, Care Services Improvement Partnership and others" as mentioned in AHEd's letter to Ed Balls, but I've run out of time now today and would appreciate some help with that.


Anonymous Jeremy said...

"Humphrys", "Humphries" and "Humphreys" all turn up some results. For

"Jean Humphrys is Deputy Director of Children's Directorate in Ofsted. She has been with Ofsted since 1997. Jean has held several posts in Ofsted covering a wide range of work related to the development of inspection, inspection policy and guidance. Over her time in Ofsted Jean has helped to manage major changes in the way Ofsted inspects schools and early years provision. When New Ofsted was created she helped to bring together inspectors of early years, Cafcass and social care for children. Jean is continuing to oversee aspects of policy in the early years and has maintained her strong interest in the inspection and regulation of social care provision.Prior to taking up her post as an HMI, Jean was a local authority adviser. She has extensive teaching experience and was headteacher of two schools. Jean has always been interested in finding ways to help children to succeed in life, particularly those who are disadvantaged and did extensive research into parental involvement in children's education. "

1:28 pm, April 23, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Blimey. Thanks for that Jeremy. One could almost begin to get suspicious about this alternative spelling phenomena!

1:30 pm, April 23, 2009  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

The title of Humphrys' talk next week is

"Just how do we achieve early identification of risks of child abuse and learn from the experience of Baby P and other tragedies?"

1:31 pm, April 23, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

sorry not related, but just been pointed at this thought it might be of interest to you after you critique of ECM

2:18 pm, April 23, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

I am really struggling to find any rhyme or reason for this line up. I think you mentioned a few days ago the possibility of a 'list' being in circulation ? I believe you may be right.
For example Jean Humphry
Her zoom entries show a person whose name appears on so many diverse articles

4:35 pm, April 23, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

Reet I have sat and thought.
You may not understand this but I will try.
A panel of experts in various subjects has been gathered together.
One subject they are not experts on is home education.
Have they spent a year at college/uni studying the subject in order to be deemed fit to pass judgement on it?.NO
Will their judgement be deemed informed? YES
Because they will be assumed to have self educated themselves on the subject matter they are being asked to investigate.
Ain't that autonomous education????????????
If so can it be assumed that they will conclude that by dent of the fact they can expect others to trust them to follow their instincts and study the subject that the findings will be that autonomous home education works and that it cannot be monitored or are they going to have a question and answer session where home educators can 'test' them ?.

9:02 pm, April 23, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Jeremy, I dread to think exactly what they've got in mind when they talk about early intervention. It's all very pre-war Germany, isn't it? Terrifying.

Ah Cosmic, I critiqued that critique a couple of months ago. Pay attention at the back there! ;-) (But please keep sending links - I don't really expect you to read every single thing I write!)

Elaine, thanks for that. Blimey, a woman of many hats! It reminds me of those favoured politicians - you know, the ones trying to cling on near the top of the greasy pole, by standing on so many other people lower down, who are expected to be sudden experts in running the economy, or the education department, or agriculture, etc.

Re: your other comment - LOL! A very good point.

6:11 am, April 24, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

ROFL do you know, I sat here afterwards and thought, I'm sure I've seen that on here before. Information overload!

I was thinking earlier about this panel, about the excessive number of safeguarding bods, and it suddenly dawned on me that actually this would, to a large extent make sense if you consider that the review is supposed to be about whether HE could be used as a cover for abuse in all it's many guises. So, what I thought was that, once the review is out, if it focuses on the educational side rather than the abuse myth, that we have them nicely tied up as their panel includes not a single expert in home education, or indeed educational theory. I might be trying to find the positive where there is none, but everything that we can use seems worth following, no?

10:28 am, April 24, 2009  

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