Sunday, April 26, 2009

Looking at the panel (8)

The eighth member of the review panel is Sue Berelowitz, chief executive of something called 11 Million. The list says that Ms Berelowitz is on the panel to represent children's rights.

According to this interview:

She also acts as deputy children's commissioner for England.

Oh, I see: 11 Million is "the office of England's children's commissioner" and, the article continues, Ms Berelowitz took the job there because:

"there is potential to build on the significant improvements for children and young people, and make Every Child Matters a reality".

Another ECM expert proponent. That's good: she can help the others to work out how home educated children can possibly comply with the 'Enjoy and achieve' outcome, when it's all about attending school. Or, even more usefully, she's perhaps in a position to get those associated aims reworded, because

  • Ready for school;
  • Attend and enjoy school;
  • Achieve stretching national educational standards at primary school; and
  • Achieve stretching national educational standards at secondary school.

aren't all that compatible with elective home education, to say the least. Or just, to cover all the other problems we have with the ECM regime, she could assist the review in arranging to have the word 'child' replaced with 'pupil' throughout the ECM framework [opens pdf] and associated documents.

Because if she's representing children's rights, then electively home educated children surely have a right to a solution to this legally anomalous position.

Here's the '11 Million' website. Oh look! It's got a [creepy?] treehouse. The organisation is apparently all about:

Mak[ing] sure that adults in charge, including the Government, listen to the views of children and young people.

I'm pleased about that too. I would hate to think of a child being home educated - or schooled - against their will.

And I think I prefer this version of the five outcomes [opens Powerpoint] to the ECM [opens pdf] one, as long as it's not accompanied by a raft of Public Service Agreements which say something significantly different.

Ms Berelowitz is quoted in this BBC news item about Baby P, as follows:

Deputy children's commissioner Sue Berelowitz told the Observer newspaper it was "received wisdom" to keep families together wherever possible, based on the assumption that children did not thrive in care homes. But, she added, it was time to consider whether taking children away earlier, before they were damaged by years of neglect, might be more beneficial.

Though I don't think this attitude could affect electively home educating families - could it? I haven't really processed what I think about the Baby P case, but one thing I have noticed in looking at the '11 Million' website is an absence of children saying something like: "I wish I hadn't been taken into care." But surely such cases exist, alongside all of the others who are appealing for more and earlier intervention?

Incidentally, Ms Berelowitz explains to Francis Maude MP in this letter [opens Word.doc] that the 11 Million brand (What, it's a pair of trainers??) cost £93,000 to develop, and its 'website development and content' costs have added up to £189,405 since 2006. Blimey. As my sons would say: "I'd have done a better job of it in three days for £50." (They would anyway: I probably wouldn't.) It brings to mind the various estimated costs of our car repairs, after our recent hit and run incident. The insurer's garage quoted something in the region of £530 in the end, and my own regular garage said they could try to suck the dent out with their suction cup thing if I liked, for free. Same outcome: five hundred times the cost.

I'm digressing, mainly because I'm struggling to find anything in all of this about Ms Berelowitz's actual personal opinions and again, the sun is shining and I have another vegetable patch to dig over and plant up. Has anyone else got any relevant insights to offer?


Anonymous Sam said...

Hi Gill, no I haven't got anything insightful, just feeling more and more downhearted about the whole thing.
Seems to me the government, Brown and Balls are just wrapping things up and tying up loose ends, our children are amongst the 11 million and will be drawn in.
Have you seen this before, it's a few years old?
We're off to enjoy the sunshine too :)

11:45 am, April 26, 2009  
Blogger Carlotta said...

Thanks so much for all the analyses on the panel members, Gill.

I mean to right to Susan Berelowitz and call her on her remit to listen to children in light of the fact that most HEKs say that they don't want their families messed about with by the authorities.

12:17 pm, April 26, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard not to get downhearted.

Then I think about all the things the government hasn't been able to deliver, and some things it is backing away from, and the fact that the Labour Party are likely to lose the next election (so that our voices will have more power in the next fourteen months). And I cheer up.

3:15 pm, April 26, 2009  
Blogger Dani said...

I thought my kids might like to write to Sue Berelowitz and let her know what they think about the HE review. L said he would, but I couldn't see a way to contact her (other than by creating a shape on the 11 million website, which doesn't seem direct enough). Anyone know how to get in touch with her?

5:35 pm, April 26, 2009  
Anonymous suzyg said...

There’s a biography of Sue B here;

and she has reservations about security measures such as using biometric data to stamp out violence, abuse and bullying - and there was me thinking it was to make the school library more efficient.

and there’s an interview about Baby P here;

9:35 pm, April 26, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

At the end of the day they started this damned review on lies and they are just perpetuating them.
Maybe Gill you could help people understand by explaining (as only you can) that children are not 'safe in school' because abuse is picked up .
Schools, teachers, dinner ladies, heads, governors none of them is under and legal obligation to report suspected abuse and lets face it they aint gonna take on that duty .

10:12 pm, April 26, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

better explained here

10:52 pm, April 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks for that, Sam. I didn't realise other people were talking about the nationalisation of childhood! I'm planning to take a good look at what Jill Kirby has to say about it when I've finished this series.

PS Your link worked for me!

Ah Elaine and I have just exchanged comments about that in the next post, Diane. Do you think they might be trying to rush some legislation in about us before they go?

Dani, I'd probably just send it to and variations of that to see if anything got through. I didn't see an email address for her in my reading for this post, other than her old one at Sussex council, no.

Thanks for those, Suzy.

Elaine, I've got those highlighted to look at when this series about the panel is finished, thanks. Though I'm also overdue with a post about Becta and Capita etc! But incidentally, do you think the PTB cares if they take on the duty or not? It seems to me that their agenda is different to the one they're claiming.

6:19 am, April 28, 2009  

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