Monday, November 04, 2013

A national body for elective home education professionals working within local authorities. What could possibly go wrong?

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education met last month, notes here. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky there are some notes available from these meetings and that they are open for any and all home educators to attend, in stark contrast with some previous conversations between certain home educators and government on the subject. To date they seem to have been discussing access to exams and so on, but the notes from the October 22nd meeting also include this sentence:

"At the end of the meeting Graham Stuart MP offered to assist with the launch of a national body for elective home education professionals working within local authorities to network and share models of good practice as recommended by the Education Committee."

I gather that this idea is one that Mr Stuart has been pushing for some time, but I am puzzled about his possible reasons for it. To be seen to be doing *something* in an attempt to head off another Badman-type inquiry after 2015, perhaps? And sharing good practice does sound like a good idea. But would it stop there, realistically? How long before the members of this national body collectively start to identify 'problems' in staying within their legal remit in liaising with us? We already know, from their responses to the various consultations and reviews over the years that many individual officers would seek to extend their legal responsibilities over us if possible.

We also know from the Badman report the extra emphasis given to professional bodies in the collection of evidence and opinions for decision-making. So I'm just wondering why some home educators seem to be attending the APPG meetings but perhaps not arguing against the setting up of such a national body for elective home education professionals working within local authorities, which would almost definitely become an effective, professional lobbying group *against* our current freedoms.

I am trying to keep an open mind and can see why the apparently worsening postcode lottery for local authority treatment of home educators might make such a national body look like a good idea. But I am worried about the medium and longer term outcomes from it for us and would love to better understand the thinking behind it.

6 Comments:

Blogger Abbie Green said...

I had to read the report twice because at first I thought he was suggesting was a national body for those home educators who work with LAs, then I realised it is for the LA officers themselves. And this already goes on anyway, with a group of LA officers having annual meetings in the midlands. The head of EHE in my county is part of that group and we have a good LA. I also know that there are LA officers from good LAs meeting up with other not so good LAs in order to spread good practice. So on balance, I think this is a good idea, as it is just formalising what has been going on informally.

2:02 pm, November 04, 2013  
Blogger Gill said...

Hi Abbie. Are you not worried about its potential capacity as a lobbying group at all?

2:32 pm, November 04, 2013  
Blogger Gill said...

Barbara Stark has asked me to post the following comment from her:

" 'How long before the members of this national body collectively start to identify 'problems' in staying within their legal remit in liaising with us?'

How many minutes will it take for them to understand that many of us, in fact, do not want to liaise with them? That would be a problem..."

2:33 pm, November 04, 2013  
Blogger Dave H said...

I'm in two minds about it. In one respect, if they were unified, we wouldn't have to keep re-educating individual LAs as staff moved on because they'd all be operating to a national standard. If we got to mostly define that standard then this would be great, but if they decided to go off and do their own thing it would be bad. The trick is to get in first and show them how well it works and how much easier it makes their life, rather than let them do their thing and show them how it leads to conflict.

However, one thing that worries me more is that we are not making any progress towards a better place. Yes, it involves some risk, but come 2015, if we get a change of government, we'll be starting exactly where we left off in 2010, having not improved anything, and we only won that time because of the election.

4:36 pm, November 04, 2013  
Blogger Gill said...

I'd agree in a perfect world, in which no local authority officer involved with home ed liaison ever wanted any conflict with us. But we know that's really not the case. Many of them agree with Graham Badman, that we need to be brought into line.

And as your second point shows, we don't even really stand to gain much from this risk..?

4:50 pm, November 04, 2013  
Blogger Gill said...

Lisa Amphlett's excellent and far more considered post on the subject.

2:02 pm, November 09, 2013  

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