Saturday, May 09, 2009

It's a bit like asking a fox to review the chickens, isn't it? "Yum."

Our government-commissioned reviewer-in-chief, Graham Badman, has just been made chair of Becta, on whose board he has been sitting for quite some time now.

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:

Becta quote

'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."


Anonymous Renegade Parent said...

"I wonder if - and how - he'll manage to justify the inclusion of some kind of an ICT-based 'solution' in his recommendations."

Oh yes. That's what I am anticipating, probably delivered in conjunction with a helpful third party for "peer support" (Stephen did say, without a trace of irony, something along the lines of "have you ever considered peer support?)

All very 21st century, all very inclusive. Whether you want to be included or not. Lisa

10:17 am, May 09, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

A load of..........

9:20 pm, May 09, 2009  
Blogger Dani said...


Your link to gives Page Not Found.

I thought the Bedford scheme's web page was, but I see that is "down for maintenance".

Where did the other link come from? I've tried it with and without a .uk

7:28 pm, May 11, 2009  
Blogger Gina xx said...

Sorry but my kids don't use the internet in our house. I managed without it for 26 years and learnt from..gosh...BOOKS.

Stuff 'em!

8:34 pm, May 11, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Lisa - indeed :-(

Elaine - indeed!

Dani, it works for me. I actually spotted it on Facebook here after I'd published the post, and included the link afterwards. (Thanks Imogen.)

Gina, LOL. Gosh indeed! ;-)

6:32 am, May 14, 2009  

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