Friday, October 16, 2009

Haha, a transcript (1)

Although it's an uncorrected version and its terms of use indicate that I should "make clear that neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record", which is an interesting protocol in itself.

Before I go on, I'd like to post a link here to Right To Reply, A Response to Graham Badman‟s Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England. It's all we really need (though it won't stop me blethering on here!) and also to Allie's post: Honouring our children, which makes an excellent and timely point.

Anyway let the nitpicking commence, before I do my consultation response (closing date: Monday). Please note that I am quoting excerpts only from the transcript, not the whole thing.

Barry Sheerman (Chair) said:

Graham, we have chosen this topic for a short inquiry because there is great public interest in it, in terms of wanting to make sure both that every child in our country has the full possibility of a good education, and that they are protected during their childhood. On the other hand, there is a strong movement towards home education, and a significant proportion of our school-age children benefit from home education.

Carefully chosen words: "wanting to make sure both that every child in our country has the full possibility of a good education, and that they are protected during their childhood." Look to the schools first, please: put your own house in order. In my transcript he actually made a Freudian slip and said "a significant proportion of our school-age children benefit from school education"! This was corrected by the committee transcriber. Interesting protocols, again - I would have thought the moral duty of a transcriber was to remain completely faithful to what was actually said.

Barry Sheerman finished his intro by saying:

We hope that we can help at this juncture, before legislation is introduced.

- which raises the key point about the timing of this whole process. We've had the publication of the report, immediately followed by DCSF's 'welcoming' of it and the launching of a full public consultation (closing date: Monday. Did I mention..?) with which this Select Committee inquiry is running concurrently. It's a bizarre order of work which defies logic, but perhaps the most shocking element of this was the mention, in the Draft Legislative Programme 2009/10, (published months ago) in the Improving schools and safeguarding children Bill of "improving monitoring arrangements for children educated at home". This, more than anything else, gives the impression of a foregone conclusion. So I hope the Select Committee can help, but it seems that it will have its work cut out.

Diana Johnson, the Under-Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, said:

We acknowledge that views on home education are polarised, with home educators feeling that local authorities do not understand the range of approaches that they can take, and home educators unwilling to accept that in a minority of cases home education may not be up to scratch.

Again, carefully chosen words. This is the scripted part. "Home educators unwilling to accept that in a minority of cases home education may not be up to scratch," being a thoroughly misleading and untrue statement, in my opinion.

She went on to say:

In 2007, the Government published non-statutory guidance on monitoring home education which set out the legal requirements, and the approaches that we expected local authorities and home educators to take in working together to ensure that home-educated children receive a good education. However, it became clear during 2008 that neither home educators nor local authorities felt that the guidance was working, and that is the reason for the review.

The guidelines would have worked if local authority officers had applied them. Many refused to do so, and having spent one and a half hours talking to our local officers last month on the subject I still fail to see why they did. The best remedy, therefore, would have been to solve this problem rather than holding expensive reviews, consultations and inquiries to look at changing the guidelines/legislation etc.

Home educators have repeatedly asked for additional support, and I am pleased to say that we have listened to them.

Where are these home educators who repeatedly ask for additional support? I don't know any.

Before January, we will clarify our advice to local authorities on claiming pupil funding to make it clear that they may claim funding for children with special educational needs educated at home in receipt of significant services from a local authority, or those attending college. From 2011, funding will be available for other home-educated children who use local authority services, which might be examination centres, brokering work experience or using the county music service.

The AWPU, if drawn down for home educators, should go to the place of education and the people doing the educating, as it does for school pupils. There is no reason for this not to happen - or if there is, I haven't seen anyone explain it.

Finally, if and when the recommendations of Graham's review are fully implemented, home educators will still have a considerable degree of freedom.

Oh, so kind! You're only removing some of our freedoms.

They will not be operating outside the law, as is the case in the Netherlands and Germany where home education is illegal.

- because their grandparents fought and won WWII, and therefore the Nazis never legislated here. Those same grandparents are turning in their graves right now.

England will still be one of the most liberal countries in the developed world in its approach to home education, reflecting the careful balance we have to strike between a child's right to education and a parent's right to educate their child in conformity with their beliefs and philosophies.

- the leverage point, into which a crowbar can be inserted. They've had to struggle to find it.

Graham Badman next:

.. if all the recommendations are implemented, there is nothing to stop home educators, many of whom I have met who do a thoroughly good job for their children, continuing. They would be subject to registration and to what I regard as light touch monitoring ..

But submitting a year's plan in advance, then being made to prove that the previous year's plan has been adhered to before being allowed to continue home educating is not 'light touch monitoring', by any stretch of the imagination!

I stated in my report that it seems perverse for any Government to express concerns about this group of people, yet not offer any resources to them.

- the bribe. No sticks without carrots for the donkeys.

If I were before you, Chairman, as a Director of Children's Services and you asked me, "What do you know about the 80,000 children in your care?" and I replied, "I'm awfully sorry, but I can't tell you very much about them," I suspect that I would not remain in the post for very long. That, frankly, is the situation in relation to elective home education.

No, it's not. Home educated children are in the care of their parents, not the Director of Children's Services. That the above statement could be made in front of a room full of intelligent people without challenge is a clear indictment of the dire state we're now in.

It seems timely on the 20th anniversary of the UN convention that we seek to examine whether or not this sector of the community actually honours children as expressed in the UN convention.

See Allie's response to that.

All that being said, if anything, the report is most critical of local authorities. If implemented, it will hold them to account through an audit regime for their systems of monitoring elective home education. I think it raises real questions about the support they have given and should give to statemented pupils; about their training, or the absence of it, of staff; and it crucially requires them to determine and analyse why those children left school in the first place. Ask that question: why did they leave, if indeed they ever attended?

All that needed to be asked was: why don't they adhere to the 2007 guidance? Simple question; simple answer; simple resolution.

I tried very hard to represent the views of the countless elective home educators..

No, you did not.

They had concerns about the understanding of local authority officers who did not appreciate the aims of elective home education. Elective home educators often viewed elective home education as a place of last resort where their children could escape bullying.

There's absolutely no connection between these two sentences, though he implies that there is.

Added to that, there was a whole group of parents who had a philosophical belief in educating at home. There was a clear conviction on the part of many of them that they could do it better, and I respect that belief.

He forgets the clear conviction (and free choice) that we simply don't want to delegate our children's upbringing to the state or other people. That probably makes us look far too reasonable and decent though rather than arrogant and deluded, as his version suggests.

Many parents felt that the initial press coverage of the review found them guilty, and they had to prove their innocence. I regret that, because I don't think that is true ..

What's not true? That the initial press coverage of the review found them guilty? That many parents believed it did? That they were guilty? Or that they had to prove their innocence? How much money does Graham Badman get paid to speak about us so influentially, and with such a startling lack of clarity?

More from me about this later: I've got to do other things now for a few hours.


Blogger Gill said...

Ah, I've just seen Blogdial's version of this. He stuck at it longer than I did!

11:29 am, October 16, 2009  
Anonymous Jax said...

You both lasted longer than me! I got stuck about 4 paragraphs in to Badder's first speech!

11:55 am, October 16, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes, it's hard going isn't it? Feels good to do though - just very time consuming.

12:12 pm, October 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good work well done

1:42 pm, October 16, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

3:41 pm, October 16, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Maire - excellent.

7:22 pm, October 16, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

Thanks Gill :) you put it all so clearly

4:22 am, October 17, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

Hey Gill, great work, and as usual you're a lot faster than me. I stared fisking the transcript and also picked up on the comparison DJ made with other European countries.

My comment was:
" Actually, I can't believe she dared to go there. Comparing GB to other European countries when it comes to education as a whole would make it immediately clear WHY so many people choose to home educate! Isn't the UK at the bottom of many of the UN lists about education and young people? Quality of education? Happiness and welfare of young people?"

I haven't yet found the exact figures there, but I'm quite sure they're well known within the DCSF and elsewhere, and I would imagine also to members of the SC.

10:15 am, October 17, 2009  
Blogger these boots said...

I thought Badman's comment here was confusing
"On the basis of the new data-the new data include issues of concern such as whether a child is in education, training or employment and whether the family is co-operating-the national figure is about 0.2%. The figure among elective home educators is 0.4%."

So wouldn't that seem to suggest that he's including all 16+ HE kids in that (do the LAs officially accept HEd 16+ years olds as being in full time ed?) ... and also those whose parents aren't 'co-operating'. It would be useful to see some absolute definition of that. Those whose parents aren't accepting home visits?

8:40 pm, October 17, 2009  

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