Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"They can't do this. It's in contravention of article 16 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:

"...which states that:

No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.

- it'd result in the 50,000 home educated children in the UK being thought of as potential 'abuse victims' and their parents as 'abusers': guilty by association,"
said Elaine (K, not G-H or any other Elaine!) on the phone to me last night.

She was talking about the apparent decision (citation, anyone?) to delay publication of the review's findings - first scheduled for May - until June, which just happens to coincide with the recently announced Khyra Ishaq trial date.

The thing is, the home educating community is already aware of at least one case of a child being bullied as a result of the completely spurious link made by Minister Delyth Morgan ("And in some extreme cases, home education could be used as a cover for abuse,") and then repeatedly supplied with the oxygen of publicity by the NSPCC, despite its Child Protection Policy Advisor, Vijay Patel, admitting that they had no statistical evidence on which to do so. And so I think Elaine has a very good point about the timing of these two events, which must not be allowed to coincide.

Page 19 of UNICEF's handbook: The Media and Children's Rights [opens pdf] relates directly to this article when it sets out the requirement to consider "the impact of controversy on the lives of the children concerned" and whether a story is "likely to encourage discrimination or incite hatred".

I've got Elaine's permission to quote her from our conversation when she said: "How can they [DCSF] justify holding a review into unfounded allegations of abuse - then publish the apparent findings in the throes of a media storm? Surely the blanket stigmatising of 20,000 families is abusive in itself!"

Personally, I'm not completely convinced that it's a deliberate ploy per se, but as Elaine said: if they're not aware of the problems the timing of this could cause for our children, we should make them aware of it and then there's absolutely no excuse for their wellbeing to be risked in this way. So I'll be including it in my side of A4 to Mr Badman.

Thanks, Elaine.


Blogger Elaine said...

Thanks Gill the way you have written it up convinces me that we are right it just is so wrong that our children should be exposed to this .

9:13 am, April 01, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

Didn't know they had delayed it and i agree this is probably incompetence but it definately should not be allowed to happen.

9:48 am, April 01, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

I'm not really sure why we think this is incompetence.The DCSF have said from the word go that there is a case in the pipeline. Trial date moves to June 3rd, review coming out gets brought forward to June - maths isn't my strongest subject but it adds up to two perfectly easily for me.

10:26 am, April 01, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

Looking at the United Nations Human Rights we have this
Article 12.

* No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

10:48 am, April 01, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

Sorry I am monopolising comments here but as with my previous comment I have bben looking at the rights of parents.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 26
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children

10:57 am, April 01, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

Doesn't really matter if it is incompetence or design, we need to stop it from happening.Any ideas?

11:49 am, April 01, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

I heard the review findings were was being moved to June as well but I have no idea where I saw it. Does anyone have a link? You have a very good points Gill. I have noticed a lack of tolerance towards us HE from neighbours who were previously indifferent since all this started and I know the kids are being watched when they are outside. Scary times tbh.

1:21 pm, April 01, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

Roxy said it in her report of their meeting with badman.

1:34 pm, April 01, 2009  
Blogger moley said...

It was in answer to a question at the Blackwell Court meeting, that Badman claimed that the report would most likely be published in early June, since the government would be preoccupied by European elections (I think) for 3 weeks in May, so nothing else would get done then.

1:36 pm, April 01, 2009  
Blogger lotusbirther said...

The European Elections aren't in May, they are in June. OK, campaigning will no doubt be taking place in May, but will also be in June (4th-9th)
Sounds like a lame excuse to me and as it is second/thrird hand information the actual details become even unclearer. It certainly appears to me that we are being misled on reasons though.

2:03 pm, April 01, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

Thanks folks:)

4:03 pm, April 01, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there someway we could do our own 'review' of home education and write it up and send it out to papers and media outlets at the end of May-beginning of June?

6:12 pm, April 01, 2009  
Blogger Raquel said...

the attacks on our honour and reputation have already happened. It's amazing that they have got away with it!
If you want a home edders might as well take the EHE guidelines and make them even better and publish them in a reader friendly a way that nobody could possbly see anything wrong with them.

8:20 pm, April 01, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has always bee my thought that they would need extremely strong reasons to override these rights and that must be subject to great scrutiny which should surely be beyond the scope of the review which is stated as an info gathering exercise.
In my view it needs as much scrutiny as trying to keep people in custody without charge for prolonged periods of time.
However,I think they are covering all bases; if they can say we need educational monitoring then they get to see our children without having to go through the justifications about welfare and if they can say we need welfare visits they can combine it easily with educational monitoring.
Cloud both issues with emotive language about using home ed as a cover for abuse etc then people outside home ed community are less likely to challenge what is going on.

8:23 pm, April 01, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

As Raquel says they have already contravened Human and Childrens Rights and as they did so at the outset this needs further exploration.

8:31 pm, April 01, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can we FOI to find out just what info in terms of concerns and evidence for those concerns they had in deciding to start the review.Surely they must have documents drawing these things together in setting out the need for a review.These must be above and beyond the public statement made in announcing the review.
Then maybe we could challenge the statements that were made in light of these rights.

8:36 pm, April 01, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

I think that is an excellent idea can you start the ball rolling :)

8:41 pm, April 01, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am willing to do so but not sure where to start.
I will do some asking around and give it a whirl.

8:56 pm, April 01, 2009  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

I made a FOI request on 12th February for information about the "claims" in the press release, including

copies of [...] communication in which these claims were made, copies of any responses to the claims by the DCSF, and copies of internal DCSF communication [...] in which the claims were discussed.

The DCSF sent an automated reply to the request, and have since ignored it, despite the fact that they were legally obliged to respond by 12th March. It seems that the DCSF is (illegally) ignoring all FOI requests related to the review: see this request from Andrew Montford and this request from H Dewet, for example.

I've complained to the Information Commissioner. Perhaps if enough people complain then something will be done.

9:43 pm, April 01, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

Jeremy I am gobsmacked for want of a better word!!
So are we to understand that they stigmatised our families publicly in the media in contravention of the Human rights of ourselves and more importantly our children and yet are unable to produce any 'evidence' to support the allegations.
Can people complain directly to the info comm in respect of the FOI's submitted by yourself and others ? or do they have to have their own FOI's ignored ?

10:29 pm, April 01, 2009  
Anonymous Imogen said...

Oh wow. I'm quite shocked by what Jeremy has said about the FOI requests. I read the Andrew Montford one and thought that the delay looked like bad practice, maybe deliberate... but to ignore three sounds systematic and sinister!

I am really honestly a little bit scared wondering what's underlying this. I will definitely complain but I am losing faith that there is anything left uncorrupted at the top that might deal with such complaints properly.

12:25 am, April 02, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Elaine, all I did was try to write what you said. The praise is all yours.

Tech, hmmmm... we don't necessarily know the whole story. I'd like to hear Badman's reasons for delaying publication before I said for sure that it was a deliberate ploy to make it coincide with the Khyra case reaching court. The thing is, whether it's deliberate or accidental is irrelevent, isn't it? If we bring the problem to their notice and they go ahead and cause it anyway then we'll know that was deliberate.

Maire, just pointing it out to them? Not that it will stop them, but then we can point out in our response to their publication of the review findings that the timing was deliberate because we told them about the clash of dates. We can also point out that it contravenes the UNCRC, as Elaine said. Doesn't make them look good (though it seems like they might be getting to the point where they're past caring about that - thanks Tech for that link.)

Ruth, they're Elaine's points - I just wrote what she said at her request! (And because I agreed it needed saying.) I've noticed a slight difference in people's reactions to us too.

Tech, thanks for that too.

Moley, if this is an *independent report*, then why would govt/EU elections affect its publication? LOL, what a sham, isn't it?!

Raquel, yes that's the obvious thing to do if they really want to help us - which, as they made clear at the outset, they don't.

Jo, something still doesn't add up for me somehow though. We're missing a piece of the jigsaw - or we've got all the pieces and we're not putting them together properly. The thing is, Contactpoint will find us all and get us all registered with the LAs, and then the LAs can force sight of our children if they have concerns, and can go through the informal request-to-SAO procedure if they're not satisfied about our educational provision. There's no need for the review, so why have one? Well, it makes us all look somehow dodgy to the general public, which might help stem the dereg tide, but also, look at who they've asked to run the review: Graham Badman, who's going to Becta, advised by Stephen Heppell, who runs Notschool. I'm by no means the first person to say this, but it seems like a plan to get some sort of ICT-based (daily?) monitoring system into our lives, though if that's what the recommendations end up being all about, it'll be interesting to see how they square it with the welfare angle, won't it?

Elaine, agreed.

I'm equally shocked by Jeremy's comments about FOI. Yes, let's bombard the Information Commissioner with complaints. What's the email addy? Can we get a template out on AHEd? And who monitors the Information Commissioner? Where do we go to complain if he doesn't take action?

8:00 am, April 02, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

that is the inf commissioner addy

Also people could add a note to the pages on which the requests are made e.g. go to it
scroll to

Things to do with this request

Add an annotation (to help the requester or others)
and ask why there has been no response. If you are reading this it will only take you 2 mins to go and do that.

9:10 am, April 02, 2009  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

Gill, if the Information Commissioner doesn't handle a case satisfactorily then you can take it to the Information Tribunal. However, failure to act may be down to a lack of resources at the ICO. WhatDoTheyKnow says

A warning. There is a backlog of work at the Information Commissioner, and it can take literally years to get resolution from them. If you reach this point, you should accept that you won't get the information quickly by this means.

9:16 am, April 02, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Jeremy and Elaine.

6:56 am, April 03, 2009  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

I've now heard from the ICO, who have written and spoken to the DCSF. The DCSF "confirmed that it was their intention to issue a formal response in the next week."

2:41 pm, April 03, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

Thankyoufortheupdate Jeremy I look forward to hearing what they give you

11:35 pm, April 03, 2009  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

Here's another FoI request for information about the review which the DCSF has ignored.

12:10 pm, April 07, 2009  

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