Lord Lucas speaks, and the one political dividing line between home educators
Well, I was very pleased to watch Lord Lucas's speech on Clause 26 (Schedule 1) on Thursday. You can watch it here if you like, at 5:08:30.
("Why are the chairs red in this one, and green in the one we were watching last week?" asked Lyddie. This led to an autonomous, impromptu lesson [see, we do have them!] in British politics, the like of which your average seven year-old school child isn't likely to see and I'd have never been able to plan in advance.)
Here's a taste of his speech:
This part of the Bill is ill thought-out and unjustified, and I hope very much that we will delete it. In its current form it is a skeleton exposing home educators and their children to the unknown because so much will depend on how the regulations are written. Nothing in it secures their rights as home educators to look after their children in the way they see best. There is an unfortunate conflation of education and welfare which makes the business of improving or looking after the education of these children much harder.
I found "I hope very much that we will delete it" most reassuring, after his very real suggestions of compromise from last month, although "In its current form.." worried me a bit. Like, there's another form we'd rather have? No, just the status quo please, which works quite well from our perspective and perhaps just needs a bit more guidance and training for the LAs to fully understand their part in it. Let's have reviews and inquiries to work out how to change the ECM framework [opens pdf] to fit with what we do, not to work out how to change the people to fit the new laws, please, if holding reviews and inquiries is what people want to do. Seems bizarre to me, but I suppose they must do something for a living.
There is no recognition in the Bill of the curricula and forms of education which are commonly used in home education, particularly in autonomous education. Instead, the impact assessment refers to the exemplar curricula which will be produced by the QCDA. In other words, everyone is to be corralled into state education and not allowed to go their own way. There is no reference to the training of local authority staff, which is recognised to be one of the major deficiencies in the current arrangements. There is no proper arrangement for independent appeal when a local authority decides that a person may not home educate.
He's right, and there are also some more outstanding issues regarding the impact assessment, about which more from me in a future post, I hope.
But, as a fully paid-up [ - not, 'cos it's free] member of the People's Front of Judea, I am, of course, a bit concerned about Lord Lucas's recent and ongoing fraternisation with the Judean People's Front.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, the allegory was Twittered by Graham Stuart MP, can be seen here:
- and still makes me laugh!
But there is a serious, real reason and a simple explanation (for the bewildered, with whom I have much sympathy) for the various splits and factions in the home ed community. You can basically draw a line down the middle of us: those on one side want to compromise with the powers-that-be, and those on the other side do not. Both of those links are worth following and reading for some real understanding into the situation. The second is AHEd's recently published open letter to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education.
Trying to compromise when you're being robbed of your freedoms is not wise. If someone's threatening to kill you, you don't ask if they wouldn't rather just maim you a lot instead? You fight or you run, or you die honourably. You don't invite them to chop off all of your appendages and then praise them for letting you off so lightly. And if you're shoving yourself into the powerful position of negotiating other people's freedom away, you have to tread very, very carefully, and be open and transparent about what you're doing. And, yes, open to criticism. This does not seem to be what's happening. There are secret groups forming and secret discussions taking place, excluding all but the compliant. It's extremely worrying to the rest of us, because it's our children and their freedoms they're talking about so glibly, arrogantly, powerfully and confidentially. These people do not speak for me - not least because I don't know what they're saying! But if I did, I suspect they still wouldn't.
So yes, the Monty Python references are all very funny and trite and I did appreciate the light relief... but, dear politicians who want to help us, please try to understand the origins of the problem before you get lured into accidentally conspiring to make them any worse!
One of the most distressing angles of all this for me is witnessing the best of the 'new talent' that's come to home ed politics with fresh enthusiasm and surging ideas, being nimbly co-opted by the compromisers, who are obviously more politically on-the-ball than the rest of us ( - which is worrying in itself). Some of them seem to have been advised not to work with some of us, or even to talk to us. Of course, this deepens the divide and I'm not sure if these new people are fully aware of what's going on. Suffice to say, I can understand the temptation of pragmatism, but I think it's a fool's game.
Enough, from me for today. Future posts in the pipeline include more about that impact assessment as well as something about the Ofsted agenda, but for now I'm going to leave the last word to Loubeeloo, Baz Kirby and the invincible Firebird, who says what she thinks about the government reply given to Lord Lucas in that debate - and doesn't pull any punches.