Saturday, October 10, 2009

DCSF coughs, papers fly everywhere..

Jax wonders where to start with the plethora of stuff that emanated from DCSF yesterday, presumably in a bit of frantic last-minute scene setting for this coming week's Select Committee Inquiry, which starts taking oral evidence on Monday. I know our politicians and civil servants are just human beings and all, but I still can't help expecting better from them than these kind of messy and transparently Machiavellian tactics and being disappointed when this is all we get.

Never mind. Jax's post makes a good start at hole-picking in the gaping fishing net that is Graham Badman's latest missive, but personally, I think I'm going to begin in one of my favourite places: Renegade Parent - where Lisa takes my breath away yet again with another of her brilliant summaries. I'm inclined to agree with her when she says:

We could pull the DCSF up for not thinking through the legal implications of this direction of travel.

BUT. I strongly suspect that thinking through the legal implications of their actions is exactly what they have done.

( - which is not to say that I don't appreciate the truth and clarity in Carlotta's post too, because I do.)

So. What's going on? Jax is right. It's difficult to see.

We've had a review (with its heavily biased fanfare), predictably finding (without any basis whatsoever) that we need more government controls and incursions into our family life. Then the backlash from home educators (and one wonders which aspects of this are officially monitored - this process of events logically dictates that some must be) - and then the Select Committee Inquiry, the results of which must be intended to convince us that the Badman report [opens pdf] is sound. (Except in my opinion, it's still not, no matter how many inquiries into it are held.)

In his letter to Barry Sheerman (Chair of the Select Committee) [opens pdf] Mr Badman says:

I thought it would be helpful to write to you about some further evidence I have collected to support my recommendations. In my report I said that the number of children known to children's social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of the home education population. The basis for this statement is sound and supported by information provided to me by a number of local authorities both through data collection and through discussions with front line local authority officers and others in organisations with relevant experience.

But it's still not sound. Home educating statisticians have been through the new figures and they still don't support his arguments - nowhere near. (Although I like the fact that he felt it necessary to try.) And according to my graphologist friend, this:

is a signature to be a bit worried about. He's very down on himself, even visibly crossing himself out. I suppose it's quite a stressful position to be in - but not quite as stressful that of a parent contemplating the end of her children's freedom to learn without a plan, according to their specific, unique and ever changing ages, abilities and aptitudes and suddenly having her family subjected to an unwelcome, unnecessary and damaging programme of local authority monitoring. It's not nice, we don't deserve it and our children certainly don't.

Oh, back to the sequence of events. So, we've had the review and we're just about to get the inquiry into the review. Still with me? Concurrently (and bizarrely not linked from the most recent DCSF page we've got the still open public consultation into the review, which closes for submissions next Monday (19th).

DCSF's 'full response' to the review [opens pdf] (also first published yesterday - has it been in someone's in tray all this time?!) refers to this as follows:

The Secretary of State's initial response warmly welcomed the report and announced that we were launching a consultation on the proposals for registering and monitoring. The consultation closes on 19 October and by 30 September we had received 655 responses, from home educators, LAs and a range of voluntary organisations.

[Yes, they really did put that comma there!]

We will consider these responses carefully before proceeding with legislation because they will help us make arrangements that support parents to provide good quality home education, while allowing LAs to take action where arrangements have serious shortcomings.

So, proceeding with legislation is a given, then, regardless of the inquiry report, the consultation results and - oh yes, the new review into what constitutes 'suitable' and 'efficient'. Presumably they'll be holding the schools to the eventual new definitions as well as home educators.

Whatever legislative plan is in process, this consultation/consultation/review/consultation/inquiry/review [etc] programme seems slick, scheduled, and anything but democratic. We dutifully respond, over again in our thousands, and our responses are consistently ignored. (It's not only us: yet another recent survey found that 58% of its respondents wants a referendum on the Europe. Chances..?)

This is not democracy. What it is, as someone's MP recently described it, is an elected dictatorship not-so-cunningly disguised as democracy. I really hope the Select Committee proves otherwise, but I wouldn't want to put money on it. Meanwhile, what to do? Well it doesn't seem like much, but speaking for myself I'm just going to carry on saying NO to the DCSF - just in case they think we're not paying attention. We might be getting bored, but I don't think we'll go away.


Blogger Tech said...

It's not even an elected dictatorship though, is it?

7:21 pm, October 10, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

We are certainly not going away!

8:31 pm, October 10, 2009  
Anonymous Renegade Parent said...

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz - here to stay like an annoying and persistent fly :-)

I went through these douments today and they reminded me of 1984 crossed with Bleak House.

I *am* still reading everything, and I think it's important to challenge everything contained within the documentation as it is made public - but those challenges are more to keep us all sane and focused than to convince the ptb who have already made their minds up.

I might try and think of a new way to target the local Tory faction here in Staffs. Bizarre to even consider it but I am not sure there is much point doing anything else other than that, apart from saying NO.


8:54 pm, October 10, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

No I am not going away. I intend to make a complete nusiance of myself and nope I do not remember electing Gordan Brown.

10:25 pm, October 10, 2009  
Blogger Barry said...

Insanely frustrating though, isn't it? Endlessly repeating the same questions, introducing bits here and there in new legislation in the hope noone will notice and they can say oh it's too late now, hiding their own documents, refusing FOI requests, saying there will be changes before they even begin... But you're right Gill, much as these is all clearly planned out and they're still not getting HE, their Machiavellian machinations are flimsily clear. Makes it clear as well that in any formation of society, if people are working for us (as they apparently are) there has to be a point where we can say to them 'Stop - you're now hindering rather than helping us, you have to go away now'.

11:18 pm, October 10, 2009  

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