Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Freedom keeps us busy

- which is not really surprising, if its price is constant vigilance.

Anyway, I'm pleased to see that we made it onto Liberal Conspiracy after all, without any effort from me. (Someone suggested I send something a few weeks ago, but I never got around to it.) Well done, Elizabeth! Though some of the comments and spin-off articles amused me greatly. "Those who provide education in schools are in a position to examine the education provided by home educators." *Splutter* - why? Where's the liberty in that?! We don't come examining your provision, do we? So stay away from ours! Anyway, the inimitable Bishop Hill sorted him out with aplomb, so I won't waste my typing fingers doing the same. His is well worth the read, unless you're particularly sensitive to certain choice expletives.

Other encouraging news: Mr Badman is planning to meet with some home educating families and will be (or has been) invited to attend some informal EHE meetings and gatherings. Jolly good. Perhaps when he's spent a bit of time chatting with our children and seen them freely engaging in a healthy, face-to-face, real life environment, he won't be able to help making comparisons with their less fortunate NotSchool.net cousins and realising that the same 'solution' cannot be applied to both. Indeed, EHE needs no solution, because the only problem is of the government's invention.

I am psyching myself up this week to go back to the ECM programme, to try to work out which elements are now legal requirements (Statutory Instruments) and which are still only rhetoric, to try to ascertain how far along the track the giant steamroller has progressed. But we've got our own home education meeting tomorrow, I'm needing to spend some time on our much-neglected off-grid project, and Tom, now 20 (Twenty! My oldest child is in his twenties! It's still a shock..) has just set up his own business, for which I'm doing the driving at the moment, so I'm feeling a bit thinly spread just now. Perhaps I'll manage to dive into the murky, shark-infested ECM waters again on Thursday or Friday if there's time.


Blogger Gill said...

More good news: Martin Narey has backed out of the review panel, as reported by Jeremy on my 'Vultures' post yesterday.

Now we only have to wonder what an expert in early years structured education, a member of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, someone whose background is listed as including healthy schools, asylum seekers, children in 'care' and early intervention programmes, and Stephen Heppell are doing there.

8:28 am, February 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My only concern with Mr Badman visiting some ehe groups is that we will end up with attendance at such groups being a tick box somewhere when there are clearly a lot of children/ families for who it is clearly inappropriate.
Not all ehe groups will be as well resourced or as well attended as one of the groups that he is probably going to visit. Will our groups be expected to meet targets once he sees how great they are?
Also wonder how many hoops we should jump through in persuading him how great we are :-)
I do think its positive but I think we need to remain aware and focussed - will the children who don't attend such groups be considered more at risk?

8:52 am, February 24, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes, that's a valid point Jo. I've been reading list mails expressing similar concerns also.

We should perhaps be focusing more on questioning the ligitimacy of the review in general than in jumping through hoops set up by Mr Badman. I don't know: I can see it both ways.

I certainly wouldn't invite him to our group: not because he wouldn't be impressed - he probably would - but because of the reasons you've just stated.

9:05 am, February 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see it both ways too:perhaps questioning its legitimacy and "jumping through hoops" are not mutually exclusive.
I think we also need to show that families who don't attend groups etc still have equally valid ways if going about ehe in terms of being appropriate to a,a, and a!
My DS age 5 would probably talk to him till the cows came home and his eyes glazed over but I wouldn't want him to.
I have enough issues with not wanting to justify to some friends and family, although they probably have a more legitimate interest in my children's wellbeing.
I can just hear "well you are all obviously the ones we don't need to be worrying about".
I don't think there is any "right way" to be going about this except to always keep in mind that any of our views and ways may be quite representative of a lot of families but not all.

9:17 am, February 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do a LOT of work Gill-thank you!
I am interested in WHY Martin Narey has backed out? I would like to believe it is because he can see EHE has nothing to do with children in poverty or 'looked after'-but my charitable thinking is loosing out to my paranoia at this point.

And like Jo I too wonder what will happen to those of us running small home ed groups. Mine is run from my home. I think it works well-but what would 'They' think I wonder.

9:21 am, February 24, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

I also thought oh no when I heard Mr B was visiting a HE group. I dunno, it just seems to me we are trying to justify ourselves and we do not have too. No one would believe the law is actually on the side of HE the way things are at the moment. I am fed up of collectively jumping through hoops to prove something we do not have to prove. What about those of us who do not attend HE groups - will that become a "requirement" ?What happens if he hates what he sees and it makes everything worse or loves it and decides HE groups can become mini schools is the answer with ofsted inspections and regulations and a curriculum? Nightmare.

10:21 am, February 24, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

Is it only a month since they levelled accusations suggesting home ed was a cover for a number of forms of abuse?
Why , when they have not justified that accusation, are we now at the point that Badman and his entourage are invited to observe our children? he has shown his ignorance of home ed , would a sane person invite their grandmother to pass judgement on their drawer full of gstrings? NO because it would be viewed as a frivolous , wanton garment unsuited to it's intended purpose and yet gstrings are practical, healthy garments that give the wearer self confidence and 'feel good' factor.
Can you understand what I am saying

11:02 am, February 24, 2009  
Blogger HelenHaricot said...

i'm hijacking your blog as so many people read it, but wondered if you thought this might be useful - i emailed the primary review team, see below...

Thank you for your enquiry about the Cambridge Primary Review. The final
report is currently in preparation and will include a short section on
home education. The main focus of the report is on education in school
and while it does not include a comparative analysis with home
educating, we do look at alternative educational settings including the

If you would like to make a submission to the review about your
experiences of home educating we would be delighted to hear your views.

Best wishes

Dissemination Co-ordinator
Cambridge Primary Review
Faculty of Education
University of Cambridge

11:11 am, February 24, 2009  
Blogger HelenHaricot said...

and also not comfortable entirely with opening up the home ed circle. i think we are tangentally responding to a consultation that hasn't yet happened, which might be seen as condoning the future consultation. ie saying we agree that the law as it stands isn't good enough, we agree you need more proof, come and see us...
he is not allegedly sitting in judgement of HE yet, it just seems like it - and any minute now he will be.
HE groups can backfire. i took my doubting mum to the most organised and obviously fantastic one, and it was v noisy, children didn't listen etc etc. ie she saw in it what she expected to see in it.

11:16 am, February 24, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

Hope he's got a current CRB...

11:54 am, February 24, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL yes, home educator misspells 'legitimacy'.. groan! Let's hope nobody judgmental is reading today.

Mum6kids, you've got one more kid than I have, so I'm sure you work harder! ;-) Yes I'd like to know why he backed out too, but I don't think we'd ever be told the real answer. Our HE group is quite small too - maybe ten or twelve families. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I don't think they can be much busier unless you live in a city or similar, can they?

Ruth, "I am fed up of collectively jumping through hoops to prove something we do not have to prove." Ditto, actually. Yes, I definitely see what you mean. We are too much on the defensive, perhaps, though it's hard not to be in the current climate.

Elaine, yes I understand what you're saying. It's a very good point. You're making the assumption that there is no hope of us ever convincing him that what we do is good and that there is therefore no hope in anyone trying, which is perhaps a sound assumption to make. We can only wait and see about that though, can't we? I keep saying "I want to know if Mr Badman is a man of integrity," because he still might be. We don't know for sure that he's not.

Helen, that looks very interesting - thanks!

Tech, just LOL!

12:09 pm, February 24, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

How many families can you think of, off the top of your head, who have been investigated for child abuse as a result of peoples misunderstanding of home ed?
When I got my child's records there were 2 separate instances of officials entering OUR home with it's IT , books, chemistry sets, craft paraphernalia, writing materials, evidence of socialisation through photo's and examples of educational visit's and workshops those people went away and wrote there was no evidence of an education taking place.
The old adage 'is the glass half full or half empty ' would adapt...

12:43 pm, February 24, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

And the gov are concerned about the Rights of The Child?
I think not

''In many respects, their appeal will be handled in a way which parents are familiar with. However, if it believes that it is of benefit to the child, the Tribunal can ask for a child to be made available for assessment. ''

it looks like they will be able to adapt whatever sneaky bit of leg brought this about to cover anything they want it to

4:02 pm, February 24, 2009  
Blogger Gina xx said...

"How many families can you think of, off the top of your head, who have been investigated for child abuse as a result of peoples misunderstanding of home ed?"

We did.

10:18 pm, February 24, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

"Why , when they have not justified that accusation, are we now at the point that Badman and his entourage are invited to observe our children?"

I so agree with that, Elaine!
Especially if it is presented as 'look how WE home educators do it'. I certainly wouldn't want my children on display. What other people do is absolutely up to them, and I trust they make it very clear they're only representing themselves.

Up to now I personally see no legitimate reason for anybody to scrutinize me or 'us home educators' in a way that goes beyond the law.
On the other hand, I can see how it is useful to 'educate' Mr Badman about EHE. But I wonder if he does actually get an accurate picture of how groups work, considering the pressure involved. If he has any integrity he will take that into account.

10:24 pm, February 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think inviting Badman to a HE meeting is an appalling idea, almost as ridiculous as the idea that EO represents its own members never mind the rest of us. It will be the same old trotting out of nice home educators and their 'von Trapp' children who will be described as 'delightful' or some such crap by Badman but that won't stop the witch hunt against HE parents who don't have their children's interests at heart and who they 'just know' exist. This move by HErs is naive in the extreme IMO as the best that can be hoped for is a ride in first class on the Titanic, rather than steerage, to the same predetermined 'iceberg' of total surveillance.

11:04 am, February 25, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last comment should obviously have an "allegedly" in it, i.e. "parents who 'allegedly' don't have their children's interests at heart". Anger affected typing!

11:08 am, February 25, 2009  
Blogger Heidi said...

The home ed community has - well, I have, anyway - been scathing about the complete absence of any knowledge of HE among GB himself and his so-called Expert Group. If he chooses to try and educate himself a little, I think it's unfair to turn around and deny him access to the people who *do* know what they're talking about.

But I'm still wondering how long it'll take him from arrival till he starts trying to "assess" children. I give him about 20 minutes...

11:13 am, February 25, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have my word, that I have already told GB that I only represent my self and my family. I will spell that out again when I see him.

I have already told him that EO does not represent all home educators and that there are other groups he should consult such as AHEd etc.
I have also said that many home educators do not belong to any group.

He seemed to be well aware of this.

My big concern is that GB WILL see home educating families, the only question is how he will reach them.

There are LAs falling over themselves to introduce him to families. Now do you think those families will be autonomously educating? Families who refuse visits? Families whose children do not wish to share work?
Families who do not wish for 'support' from the LA? Families who refuse to discuss targets or progress?

I think not.

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with any of having a home visits etc, it may be right for some families. Just not for mine.

I may be naive, but the very large majority of families GB will be meeting are all of those things and more.
Approx 75% are not EO members.

Some of the families have other children who would not come along to such meetings, as they would not be comfortable in such large groups, and I know it is a point they wish to discuss with him.

The reason the venue was chosen is that there is plenty of space for children to escape to, so that they do not have to meet with/speak to GB. He has been told that families will avoid the meeting as he is there,including families whose children have SEN and who would be upset stranger such as he attending, in much the same way as when LAs insist on home visits is upsetting.
GB has been told that the children and young people are aware of the Home Education 'Review' and the reason for it and the people there are free not to talk to him at all.

7:12 pm, February 25, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

Don't know for sure who you are Anonymous (I have an inkling, but could be wrong, though...) but I - personally - appreciate you saying this. Thanks. I suppose it's hard to find an appropriate way of 'educating the uninformed' and at the same time stand your ground wrt objecting to intrusive inspection.

7:55 pm, February 25, 2009  

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