I think this question is key
Barry Sheerman: As I understand it, the hon. Gentleman has supported Every Child Matters and the five outcomes for children. Does he really believe, as he implied in response to an earlier intervention, that the five outcomes should apply to 99 per cent. of schoolchildren but not to the home educated? [link]
- because we don't and can't comply with the detail of those outcomes, as they're currently set out. [opens pdf]
I watched the whole televised debate yesterday and I agree with Carlotta and others that Graham Stuart is indeed our home ed hero.
Here he is, delivering this excellent question, if anyone's short of a pin-up:
He's said in his Tweets that we remind him of these people:
- which I think is a valid point! Watching that clip gave me a much-needed giggle of recognition yesterday.
Graham Stuart said much more in a later exchange yesterday, which has proven to be a hit with home educators, including:
As for parents who reject the Secretary of State's school system entirely and sacrifice their time and career to bring up and educate their children themselves, they are stigmatised as more likely to be child abusers than normal people. It is an absolute affront to those in the home education community, and it is baseless. The scheme is all about getting home educators in a headlock and forcing their children back into the Balls fold.
I was also cheered up by his latest Tweet, saying:
With formal Conservative opposition its chances of becoming law are slight so no need to be overly depressed.
- which, added to his previous:
I have confirmed with Michael Gove that the Conservatives will oppose compulsory registration of home educated children in the Bill.
is an encouraging thought, although I think David Laws' response to him on the issue in yesterday's debate should be noted:
I am not sure that I fully agree with the extreme position that he takes on the Badman review..
Extreme position..? Thanks, mate!
So, what will these changes, if they go through in their entirety, really mean to us? I was chatting to the father of my school-aged child earlier today, who said: "Surely it won't be too much of a problem for you? You can make the work fun, she's an intelligent girl, you've got all the resources there and she's not that far from school standards already?"
And I explained to him: "That's true, but it's not the point. These regulations would change the nature of my whole relationship with her. Instead of being her facilitator as she developed her own interests and skills in her own time, I'd have to become her educator. Every morning when we got up, we'd have to do about two hours' worth of school work. I'd have to assess her progress every few weeks and make sure she wasn't going to give any 'cause for concern', and when she'd had enough and she wanted to leave the table and do something else, I'd have to threaten her with school attendance to make her persevere until we've finished. Like her older siblings did at school, she'd gradually start seeing learning as a chore and lose all interest in it - something to be avoided whenever she could.
"It's just not what I want for her. We'd be dancing to the government's tune instead of our own. I'd never be able to deschool her and so she'd be denied even that, which was the saving of the older three. It'd be just nose to the grindstone, all the way through and my relationship with her would be strained through having to coerce her like that. She wouldn't grow up feeling like I was on her side, as the other three have, so she probably wouldn't avoid all that teenage rebellion, like they did. It would such bad news, with such profound effects, that I'm lamenting the threatened loss of my kind of parenthood, which I know from the older three works so well."
He probably wished he'd never asked, but there's her younger sister too. I ask you, how can I tame this free spirit:
and force her to the National Curriculum or anything like it? I can't and I won't. You can call that an extreme position if you like: I prefer it to Ed Balls' bawdy, spluttered "essential for a strong economy". Our children weren't born just to serve the economy! I actually cried yesterday, properly, for the first time in years.
There has to be another way.