Friday, October 16, 2009

Notes on the transcripts (2) - Badman continues

The transcript of Wednesday's hearing is now available (thanks again Maire) which is very good to have, but in addition to the one from Monday, it makes for a lot of points to blog. Carrying on from my first post on this, then:

(Please note that the quoted sections below are excerpts from an an uncorrected transcript and therefore neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record.)

To backtrack a few sentences, Badman said:

But in turning now, to safeguarding, I recognise that this was the most controversial element of the report.

- deliberately, I'm now thinking, because of Badman and the DCSF's determined defence of the statistics in this hearing. They did protest too much, giving the impression that the strength of their whole argument hung on those [extremely shaky] figures, when if there was a real educational issue to answer, they wouldn't do.

He continued:

In regard to safeguarding I simply ask two questions about well-being and safety. They are on page 28, paragraph 8.2. Basically, my two questions were, "Are the concerns for child protection over-represented within the elective home educators community; and if so, what could have been done through better regulation to ameliorate those effects?"

I think it's clear from the statistics that there is no higher incidence of child protection cases in home educating families than in schooling ones.

Finally, with regard to education itself I recommended further work to be done, to determine, in the context of what constitutes not 21st-century schooling, but the 21st- century education system that is required, what is suitable and efficient, now.

I think this might be an oblique reference to this: 21st Century Schools: A World-Class Education for Every Child, a Children's Plan 'vision' document, which includes such ideas as: "Schools will take responsibility for improving outcomes for children and young people in the wider community as well as those on their own roll."

The definitions that we have got are only defined by case law. They are not legal, and they are pretty woolly.

But case law is legal, isn't it? And I don't think the current definitions of 'suitable' and 'efficient', as set out in the 2007 Guidance, paragraph 2.3:

The responsibility for a child’s education rests with his or her parents. An “efficient” and “suitable” education is not defined in the Education Act 1996 but “efficient” has been broadly described in case law as an education that “achieves that which it sets out to achieve”, and a “suitable” education is one that “primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so”.

- are 'woolly' at all, although apparently we're to be consulted yet again on that.

I recommended that we explore more about autonomous education. We don't know enough; we don't know enough in terms of research, particularly on what are the outcomes for young people as a consequence of that.

Well, my children have all learned autonomously and none of them is, or ever will be NEET, because autonomous home education leads naturally onto successful self-employment - but not necessarily via official qualifications, these not being necessary in order to employ oneself. So I'd like to know, what's the definition of 'outcomes', please?

I began by saying that I'd written this report in seeking to balance the rights of children with the rights of their parents. I hope that, if implemented, it gives children a voice.

I'm more than happy for children to be asked if they want to be home educated. All children, that is - not just the home educated ones. Every child matters, right?

I know that in itself is contentious.

It wouldn't be, if every child was asked. Or, wait, perhaps it would. Contentious to whom?

I believe that the EHE community has much to offer in developing our understanding of the effectiveness or otherwise of the schooling system.

Yes it has. Don't make attendance compulsory, or anything else. Get rid of classrooms and desks. Allow whole family attendance as and when people want to, in the same way as public libraries do. Re-employ teachers as 'specialist consultants' and 'star lecturers'. (You could do a lot with learning vouchers in this respect.) Read the 4th hexagram of the I Ching, which states: "It is not I who seeks the young fool; the young fool seeks me," - meaning: for proper learning to take place, the student must freely and voluntarily seek out the teacher. This is something the Chinese have known for 5000 years, though I digress slightly.

It holds a mirror up to the schooling system, and to that end, I have to say, Chairman, I have been somewhat surprised by the reaction of a vociferous minority-and I do think it is a vociferous minority; I can actually count the number of people who have done it.

Oh, really! You're very good at counting, then, because this is a minority of thousands. Just check the numbers of consultation responses. And are you really surprised that we would be so outraged by your recommendation to give local authorities so much power over us? I doubt it very much. If you are, you had your ears and eyes tightly shut throughout that whole review period. It's too late for you to try and play the victim now.

I have found the remarks of some of them offensive, but I draw comfort from an academic friend of mine who says that often personal attacks are made when logic has been defeated.

Presumably he's referring to his own logic there, not ours.

I don't regard those people as a majority.

So how many home educators are in favour of the recommendations, compared to those who are not? Presumably the current consultation [closing date: this Monday (19th Oct)] responses will demonstrate this.

I think that I have benefited enormously from learning of their experiences, but I actually think that the change in regulation and greater scrutiny is essential for the children.

- regardless of how much damage it does to them, their confidence, their family life and their learning process? Evidently so.

Chairman: Thank you Graham. We are aware that there are great passions on this subject. This Committee, indeed, decided earlier this afternoon that we would make a particular effort to meet a whole group of home educators, and that will be part of our inquiry.

Hurray! That includes Raquel, Ruth and Tech, and it's taking place this Monday. If they can't ensure that decent common sense prevails, no-one can.

Chairman: Penny, would you like to say something?
Penny Jones [Independent Schools and School Organisation, DCSF]: No.



Blogger Baz said...

From reading the transcript, I felt that Badman and Johnson were flapping somewhat. They were trying to worm around the majority of questions and couldn't quite decide if the review was concerned with safeguarding welfare or the standard of education.

I was glad that the 0.2% vs. 0.4% argument was picked to pieces. Surely, without this, the 'safeguarding' argument is no longer a valid one.

Also, shame on Badman for alternating between 80K and 20K HE children to suit his argument! That can't look too good for his argument, if put to scrutiny.

12:16 pm, October 17, 2009  
Anonymous Renegade Parent said...

And Graham "case law is woolly" Badman then USES it (selectively) to defend his attempts to discredit autonomous learning:

"Going back to "Elective Home Education", I cite at the end the court judgment in the Harrison case. What was said at that time-forgive me while I find the right page-was this: "in our judgment 'education' demands at least an element of supervision; merely to allow a child to follow its own devices in the hope that it will acquire knowledge by imitation, experiment or experience in its own way and in its own good time is neither systematic nor instructive...such a course would not be education but, at best, childminding." That was the court's judgment in the case of Harrison and Harrison."

The man appears obsessed with box ticking and the "golden thread" of performance management that likely runs all the way up to the EU.

It seems he cannot accept that the current legislation allows for a great deal of human interpretation precisely because one cannot objectively measure and quantify people - and the freedom to accommodate the diversity of human beings deserves protection.

Baz is correct - in using the headline-grabbing child protection concerns to push forward with his curriculum education/Becta advancing agenda, Graham may well have shot himself in the foot.

3:10 pm, October 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the moment I have flu and I would gladly shoot Badman and not in the foot. This is, of course, just because I have a high temperature and am not well.


7:57 pm, October 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I know is this...Because of this report and the absolutely incredible inaptitude of Badman / Balls in their fields. Labour has lost my vote forever, and when all said and done, that's where it hurts them most.

5:03 pm, October 28, 2009  

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