It's a bit like asking a fox to review the chickens, isn't it? "Yum."
It would be funny if it wasn't tragic, but as someone on the lists pointed out, the following quote appears in a prominent position on the Becta site:
'The System' takes my breath away with its blatant audacity sometimes: removing our children into full-time daycare at an ever earlier age, smearing elective home educators as potential child abusers just because we resist that process, ever-lengthening the school day and the number of years pupils must spend there - then campaigning for parental involvement in education! It's a joke, isn't it?
So, what's Becta up to exactly? It describes itself as the government agency leading the national drive to ensure the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning, and my experience as a home educator is that the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning is a helpful (though not essential) thing, but I can't help being suspicious about the government's obvious determination to press this agenda. Because surely, schools and parents aren't currently prevented from using technology to help with learning. Those who see its benefits are free to make use of it - so why does it need to be pushed so hard? What's the - to use parliamentary parlance - direction of travel, here?
In Bedford there is a Local Authority-funded and managed "home education programme", to which home educators can sign up to receive free access to organised activities in exchange for (we hear) logging onto the programme at home every day, sort of like Notschool, which is run by Graham Badman's 'good friend' Stephen Heppell, who also happens to be on the elective home education review's panel of 'experts'. Quite a few Bedford home educators have yielded to the temptation, which actually involves registering the children as pupils at one of the local schools, I gather. The worry is that the families who choose not to opt in to The Programme will soon be seen as depriving their children of their rightful benefits, or something. It could potentially be quite a powerful assimilation tool: about which I don't think we're all that concerned at the moment, but definitely one to watch from a frog-boiling point of view.
And now the new chairman of Becta is in charge of reviewing elective home education on a national basis. I wonder if - and how - he'll manage to justify the inclusion of some kind of an ICT-based 'solution' in his recommendations. It won't be easy, because there are some highly conscientious and efficient home educators in the UK who hold absolutely determined philosophical objections to the use of ICT and I don't see how such people can be forced into using computers as part of their provision.
Anyway... Nineteen Eighty-Four, anyone? They're just running about quarter of a century behind schedule.
Firebird has also blogged about this. I like her succinct version: "Do they even care how this looks?" though I think the answer is obviously "No."