Thursday, April 09, 2009

More about the review panel

Following on from my Vultures are circling post, I'd like to say a little more about the review panel.

Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnados who also chairs the End Child Poverty Commission has now left the panel and I understand that, following pressure from Autism in Mind, someone from the National Autistic Society is being asked to join.

We haven't yet heard that anyone with direct experience of elective home education is being asked to join, let alone one of each of the various methods. I would have thought that if we're having experts in early years structure, qualifications and curriculum and early intervention programmes, we could also have at least one expert in elective home education on the panel of the, erm.. elective home education review. It's not complicated, is it?

I am also very worried that the person running the review doesn't seem to understand the concept of autonomous learning. When Ann Newstead said to him at the Bromsgrove meeting that "Autonomous learning is like Schrödinger's Cat: the act of observing it changes its state," his only reply was: "I don't agree."

As Dani said here yesterday: "I think that is probably the heart of the issue here. If he 'doesn't agree', then he just doesn't understand. It would be astonishing if he did - it takes many home educating families years to get it, and he has not spent time making that journey."

And nobody else on the panel seems to have a clue what it is that we do, so they don't even know exactly what they're supposed to be reviewing, in my opinion. This means that the review will (we assume, since the "Status quo cannot remain" comments - bewildering though they have been because they were attributed to child protection concerns by Graham Badman, which were then dismissed as a red herring by Stephen Heppell this week on this Dare To Know thread) be recommending legal changes pertaining to elective home education, without knowing how these will affect home educated children.

And I think the conflict of interests issue is a pertinent one. If you have a salaried position on the board of a charity which might benefit from certain legal changes, it would be unethical not to state this possible conflict of interests when asked to join a review panel which would give you a strong position of influence over such changes - especially when these might impact on the lives of a different section of society. And when the conflict of interests is blatant, it would be unethical to be asked to join such a panel.

In its present structure, the panel has no credibility with elective home educators. And given the shambolic confusion about its very reasons for existing, the review itself doesn't either. I cannot imagine even one tiny section of the 'home education community' (such as it is) recognising its findings when they're published in June, unless these are to recommend positive changes, such as the ones outlined in my What can the review do for you? and Blue skies thinking posts.

The mind boggles on trying to imagine how it's going to look in the press.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Renegade Parent said...

With the evidence that has aggregated thus far, I find it sad that there is not more accountability to the process. But not surprising.

But actually, the review actually has very little to do with EHE, doesn't it?

It's far more to do with government PR in relation to their staggering failures in fundamental child protection and control of what appears to be a significant number people (?) who claim to be EHE but aren't. Which is a product of a faulty school/legal system.

Claims of NIMBYism/"one rule for us and one for them" are great soundbites but this issue is actually about a total lack of accountability from start to finish - something that public services excel in, for obvious reasons.

Fingers crossed for adequate representation on the panel.

Lisa

9:04 am, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Barry said...

You're quite right. Even if everyone on the panel has the best intentions at heart, they all seem too invested in other issues that differ from, or are opposed to, elective home education (perhaps especially of the atonomous variety). Charities who deal with child abuse seeing 'hidden' children, people in the school system who see children not receiving 'lessons', producers of online learning platforms who see children outside playing unproductively...

With the make-up of the panel, they will probably consider home education to be more acceptable the more closely it resembles a school model. I'd suspect they'll view autonomous kids as 'not doing anything' while their peers are, of course, learning loads at school.

It seems hard to imagine any good coming out of this review!

9:09 am, April 09, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have started to see Stephen Heppell as a rescuer who appears to be on a crusade to rescue children who persistently truant and for whom the system doesn't work and for whom ehe might not work either.It seems like he wants to be able to identify and save them.Maybe not through Notschool but in other ways.
Very worthy but still biased as he seems to think our children are fortunate and thus not as in need as these children he cares about.
However the review is about ehe as a whole and he doesn't appear to have concerns about any response being proportionate.
I have used the words seems and appears a lot as I would not presume to know these things as fact but just my own impressions :-)
Jo

10:02 am, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks for your comments Lisa, Barry and Jo.

I've written something here also today, about one of our recent, tangible, spendable (!) results of a decade of autonomous learning. It's an extremely cost-effective (probably the most cost effective) education method, which really works and which therefore must not be sidelined, or legislated out of existence.

I'd like to know where these people are who claim to be EHE but aren't, and exactly - statistically - what the outcomes are for them. I seem to think there's something being developed on the AHEd wiki along those lines.

Barry yes, you sum up the problem very well there IMO.

I've had thoughts along those lines too Jo. Crusader would seem to be an appropriate term. But I've noticed very little highlighting of the kinds of situation in which a 'no-hope' family's whole prospects and situation was turned around by deregistration, even - perhaps especially - when that deregistration might have been suggested by the school. Reclaiming their rightful responsibility for their children's learning can be a positive life-changing experience for some parents, so it's very important that we keep the legal right of complete deregistration on demand. I think we can produce (and have produced) case studies to demonstrate that point.

And I also find myself adding those qualifying words a lot, Jo! Perhaps because the reaction to our worried speculations has been so offensive and extreme.

10:27 am, April 09, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder, well actually believe, that some "no hope" families are alienated from the system and from showing an interest in their child education by being failed by it and being made to believe they could have nothing at all to contribute except forcing school attendance. Wouldn't it be great if early o they could be mde aware of other ways of their child getting an education that they as parents were more than capable of providing.
Wouldn't it be good if schools instead of being self serving really did recognise their limitations and offered families full information about alternatives that might benefit their children.
I think many teachers do recognise this but have to toe the party line and then when a family reach the ehe conclusion themselves do breathe a sigh of relief not purely cos of getting them off their books but for benefit of the child.
But this is something we could feed into a review of these situations but are not part of a review of ehe.
Jo

10:48 am, April 09, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also wonder why there is no-one on the panel capable of explaining the rationale behind the law as it stands and the implications of any changes they might consider making.I sincerely hope they are taking good advice on this if they don't have someone actually on the panel.
jo

11:55 am, April 09, 2009  
OpenID mum6kids said...

I'm still confused about WHY these particular people were invited. I have posted on this just now. I am wondering why no one expert in fields that at least home edders might use like Steiner, montessori PNEU etc have not been invited.

Prof Heppell said the child abuse allegation was a 'red herring' but he happily lumped EHE families in with families where chaos at home and poor support at school had led to a break from all education. NotSchool is probably a great tool for those youngsters- but EHE families are different; damn it, we're even different from each other!
Although Prof Heppell didn't seem to want to answer questions, I did see that the more he said the more obvious it was that schools, social serivices and child protection was the real problem and that we are just a soft target.
I'm afraid I didn't learn to trust the good professor.

3:05 pm, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Shirl said...

Looking at the backgrounds of the review panel, I think they believe that somehow we are all in need of "support" and "inclusion".

Fundamentally, it seems to me that elective home education is being mixed up with those on home tuition (ie, phobic, ill, excluded) which is usually paid for by LAs. Maybe this is why there is no understanding on their part of why we do not want money or support???

I think the whole Review is a shambles and when, and if, the report comes out, the press will have a field day when they find out that there were no actual experts on elective home education on the panel.

3:26 pm, April 09, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also feel that we will have a lot more power, ammunition and support once the reviews findings and recommendations are out. At the moment we are only fighting shadows and guessing what the recommendations might be.Whilst we want to influence the review others may not be ready to fight our cause until they know what we are fighting and why? For all others know they might recommend no change.
Jo

3:39 pm, April 09, 2009  
Anonymous Firebird said...

There certainly seems to be a real failure to understand families who really ELECT to HE. Yes, some who sent their children to school are 'forced' into it and not all of them will turn into happy AEers, but I don't think that Stephen Heppell really 'gets' those of us who have totally rejected the school model and chosen HE as a positive and proactive choice. I do think that he IS trying but it's just not an easy thing to grok and so far I don't think he does.

5:12 pm, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Raquel said...

On AEUK, it was mentioned that Badman hasn't finalised his panel. I have emailed the DCSF to ask when we will know who is going to be on the panel and how we are to find out...etc Still awaiting reply..got an out of office reply due to Easter.

5:17 pm, April 09, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badman hasn't finalised his panel yet and his 'report' is due out in June?

Seems a great way of torturing home educators to me. No doubt the agents of government think that they'll wear us down so that we start eating each other from the stress.

It seems monumentally stupid to me to have a review of home education (and why?) without a single home educator represented on this 'panel'. It would be laughable if the consequences weren't to us home educating families so potentially serious.

Diane

7:42 pm, April 09, 2009  
OpenID mum6kids said...

Diane, the fact that the report is due in June and they haven't even got the team together yet gives more weight to the 'done deal' view IMO.

And I am awaiting the divide and rule action; either putting AE against anything structured or non-curriculum against curriculum or Faith based against secular-or a nasty combination of the lot.
We need to stand together no matter who gets attacked first.

11:33 am, April 10, 2009  
Anonymous no_shoes said...

From what Graham Badman said, and maybe I misunderstood, the panel is there for him to discuss his preliminary findings with. The final report/recommendations will be his still, not there's.

I don't think it is a formal panel formed by the DCSF, rather people bought in by GB himself.


But maybe I have got the wrong end of the stick............

2:19 pm, April 10, 2009  
Anonymous SharonBugs said...

In view of "autism and homeschooling" expert on the board, do we have anyone in mind? Can we recommend anyone to be place on the board?

The doc who diagnosed DS was very suportive of us homeschooling him, and infact said it's the best thing and that school would be the worse place for any asd kid. He is the chief pediatrician there.

10:48 pm, April 12, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Jo, it would be great indeed. I included it on my sheet of A4 to Mr Badman recently, though I think there is probably counter-pressure from the Notschool group of interests, for parents not to be made aware of their options by schools.

Re: your second comment, I think this is what worries me more than anything else, too. Though there's a lot of competition for that spot!

Mum6kids, I agree with everything you said there.

Shirl, I think the press will have a field day about that too! All the home ed orgs in their responding press releases will certainly be mentioning it. I think the people involved, like so many others in the education industry, are unwilling and unable to properly consider the issue of parental responsibility. I think they want to cite it when it suits them, i.e. for truancy cases, or in those stupid 'parent/school contracts', but when a parent properly exercises their full responsibility over their children's education, it seems to completely flummox the relevant public sector employees, doesn't it?

Jo, agreed, though I don't find much consolation in it!

Firebird, yes this is a major point isn't it? I suppose if SH only sees the kind of parent who doesn't have the confidence or the grounding to take on full responsibility, then it's to be expected that he paints us all with the same brush, to some extent. I worry for the parents he comes across who might never have the chance of reaching that level of confidence because of his involvement, but that's none of my business. I only wish he saw us as being none of his!

Raquel, good luck with that! It's a very fluid thing, this panel, isn't it? I'll look forward to hearing how they reply, when/if they ever do!

Diane, yep, you hit the nail on the head as usual.

Mum6kids, again, I completely agree.

Julie, I hope you're right, but this lack of clarity isn't helping anyone to feel better, is it?

Sharon - no idea! Your doctor sounds good.

8:55 am, April 14, 2009  

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