Things that don't really add up.
- The much quoted recommendation 4, from the Education Select Committee inquiry into Support for Home Education:
"The development of a more formalised professional association of, and/or annual conference for, home education officers, driven by those in the profession themselves, could be a welcome step in terms of sharing best practice nationally, and in turn might consider issues such as accreditation and improved training for local authority officers." [My emphasis]
- That infamous note, buried amongst the others in the Notes from the All Party Parliamentary Group Home Education Event, October 22nd 2013:
"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.
"This was widely welcomed and the next APPG meeting in February will take this forward." [My emphasis]
- The comment from a home educator who was present at the above meeting:
"It hasn't been mentioned since until Graham Stuart raised it as topic for next APPG when he closed the last one - there was no opportunity for any discussion." [My emphasis]
- And finally, the Tweet from Graham Stuart:
"There's been a bit of speculation lately about the Home Education APPG. The most recent group meeting, and the next one in Feb, will be invitation only. This is to help bring together home education experts from local authorities to set up a group to exchange info and expertise." [My emphasis]
Some of those selected phrases again:
"driven by those in the profession themselves,"
"offered to assist with"
"help bring together"
Are Local Authority officers themselves really driving the formulation of this new professional association? If so, I'm very puzzled as to why they seem to need so much help and assistance in so doing from Graham Stuart and the APPG.
Lisa set out her concerns about the process and organisation of the APPG very well last Wednesday (including a link to this worrying post) and indeed I have wondered about its purpose ever since it was set up.
This is stated as follows:
"To raise awareness of the subject of home education in Parliament and to provide a platform for a full range of views about policy on home education."
And yet in the case of this supposedly industry-driven new professional association:
"there was no opportunity for any discussion."
Even though, according to the notes, there *was* opportunity for it to be..
And now the meetings are no longer open, while this professional association the local authority officers are supposedly driving is being set up. Where was the discussion, incorporating the "full range of views" for this incentive? Why is it suddenly a fait accompli, whether we like it or not? Why does it need to be dragged into existence by Graham Stuart, this new body which could so easily be turned against us?
I really hope I'm wrong, but I keep imagining a certain conversation between Michael Gove and Graham Stuart, in which the latter explains: "We don't need to regulate the home educators: we'll just organise the Local Authorities to do it for us."
It does fly in the face of what we thought we knew of him, but then he is the man who planned to "be upfront and have a high profile, not only within the constituency but nationally". And it could be said that championing the cause of home education has helped him to achieve this. Are his children home educated, if he is such a fan?
And if that imagined conversation does fall wide of the mark, then why else is this national body for elective home education professionals working within local authorities being formed? Mr Stuart is not a stupid man. I'm sure he realises what it could do to us in the next parliament, if not this one.