Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stress testing the Badman report: looking for weak points: Part 7

Part 7 of the Badman report [opens pdf] is about Special Educational Needs and, although my older son Tom was diagnosed, aged about 9, with severe dyslexia, he's managed to overcome his problems since being deregistered from school soon afterwards so successfully that I've never really thought of myself as being the parent of any children with SEN. If they'd been in school, I'd probably have been seeking diagnoses of dyslexia and Asperger's for two of my other children respectively, but their issues are so relatively mild, and home education so easily adaptable, that I find there's no need for official diagnoses now.

So I've never been on the home education special needs list, or - beyond reading some excellent posts in more general groups and on blogs - had any specific knowledge about how families who deal with more problematic cases fare, though that's not actually 100% true: I've helped to support some local home educating families with serious SEN over the years, and noticed that they do tend to be unfairly treated by local authorities, compared to other home educators.

This is my position on starting to look at section 7 of the report.

7.1 .. Many parents whose children have needs as diverse as dyslexia and autism, withdrew their child often in despair that their needs were not being adequately met in school. In such instances, it is often a case of ‘home education by default’ rather than ‘elective home education’

This describes our situation back in 1998 quite well although it turned out to be such a good - albeit forced - decision, that we're definitely elective home educators now. I suspect this is quite a common process: once the shackles of school are shaken off for whatever reason, families find they could never contemplate a return and subsequent children are then electively home educated throughout.

7.2 ... Many point to the need for greater sensitivity in intervention, indeed some are fearful that the act of monitoring would in itself be damaging to the child.

I sympathise with this position, and think it probably also holds true for many children without SEN. I'd like to see some research on the issue, and would have thought that any serious educationalist would have given it more consideration in such a crucial report.

Recommendations 17 and 18, arising from points 7.4 and 7.5:

Recommendations 17 and 18, arising from points 7.4 and 7.5

therefore give rise to particular concern.

Actually, they're quite shocking aren't they? He goes straight from paying lip service to the idea that monitoring might be damaging to SEN children, to therefore recommending a whole lot more of it, without even bothering to include any linking attempts at justification in between! Badman the sadist, or just carelessness? Either one is pretty, well.. bad, isn't it?

Recommendation 19:

That the statutory review of statements of SEN in accord with Recommendation 18 above be considered as fulfilling the function of mandatory annual review of elective home education recommended previously.

really ought to go without saying and the fact that he feels the need to spell it out like that tells us that he really does know how pedantic and unforgiving some local authority officers can be. And yet he's still keen to hand them so much power over our children's lives.

The 20th:

When a child or young person without a statement of special educational needs has been in receipt of School Action Plus support, local authorities and other agencies should give due consideration to whether that support should continue once the child is educated at home – irrespective of whether or not such consideration requires a new commissioning of service.

- might be welcome to some parents of children with SEN, I don't know.

Section 7.6 is prompting me to read the Lamb Inquiry Review of SEN and Disability Information [opens pdf], which straight away sums up the position I felt to be in 12 years ago with Tom's school when it says:

As the system stands it often creates ‘warrior parents’ at odds with the school and feeling they have to fight for what should be their children’s by right; conflict in place of trust.

They really don't need us to tell them why we don't want to use their schools, do they?

In the same inquiry, comments made regarding better and more communication with parents could equally well be applied to the expectation parents should have of local authorities when they elect to home educate,

- says Mr Badman in his point 7.6, though the idea of parents having any expectations of local authorities when they elect to home educate is a strange one to me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's orf his trolley, isn't he?

The best thing I can think of him is that he is so inured to the system (and it has served him so well) that he cannot see anything else.

Also that he was given the assignment to find a way to allow the local authorities to demand that home educators conform to every power-crazed idea that they have ever had with regard to us. He was given a CBE for " to education and to local government" after all. Oh, so very impartial.

Like giving Hitler the job of reporting on whether Jews should be running the country or not.

4:43 pm, June 24, 2009  
Blogger Gina xx said...

Well considering where and what his daughter is employed as.....

A county council caseworker!
How come the monitoring does not come as a surprise. I wonder if she did the questionnaire for the council she works at? Could that be found out?

5:59 pm, June 24, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

One warrior parent here. Still a warrior parent, might make a Tshirt.

10:45 pm, June 24, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL Diane, that's one way of putting it!

I'm inclined to agree with you.

Gina, I'm not sure. It's Somerset, isn't it? Funny, I'm not seeing anything here about the option to home educate, are you?

Maire, well it's a war between the state and the family, isn't it? If you're not a warrior, you're a prisoner IMO. At least you've got your eyes open. (PS: email reply pending xx)

11:05 am, June 25, 2009  
Anonymous Ali said...

Nice work, Gill.

Somerset is into Equalities & Diversity for home educators, though it takes a bit of finding on the website:

3:44 pm, June 25, 2009  
Anonymous suzyg said...

"When a child or young person without a statement of special educational needs has been in receipt of School Action Plus support..." Hmm... that support would be, presumably, the occasional assessments by agencies outside school, plus the unqualified teaching assistant who reminded me, wide-eyed and in an awed voice, that one day my son would have to go into the 'real world'. Good grief. How could I have forgotten?

2:04 pm, June 27, 2009  
Blogger kellygreen said...

Gill,I hope you have got all your brilliant posts regarding this report in a Word document somewhere, so that it can be given to the lobbyists/whatever-group-you-choose-to-speak when the time comes. You really nail the weak points in your analysis, and while the blog is fantastic, this analysis deserves to have a wider, more traditional audience, since education of those who aren't directly involved is the key to winning this battle in the end, I think.

6:27 pm, June 27, 2009  
Blogger Tom said...

Badman could learn a lesson from the US Bill of Rights. The Ninth Amendment provides that all rights not previously listed are retained by the people.

In other words, our rights are inherently ours; they aren't granted by the government. If this is true in America, it is true everywhere.

The Badman and Balls' report is trying to introduce a de facto licencing scheme for home education in England. So he is denying a fundamental truth about our right to educate according to our own beliefs.

4:22 pm, June 28, 2009  
Anonymous suzyg said...

I'm assuming that the Phil Brown who wrote the paper about the family is this one;


6:23 am, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks for that Ali. "Every child and young person on Elective Home Education (EHE) should have the right to a broad, balanced and appropriate curriculum experience." I reckon we need to tackle that 'broad and balanced' issue now: I see Jax has made a good start.

Suzy, that'd be the one. How could you live without it? :-|

Kelly, thanks for your kind words. My blog is public and available to anyone who wants to make use of it and I hope they do, if they feel they can.

Tom, you're quite right. I think they know it too, and that they choose to continue regardless.

Suzy, yes that looks like him, doesn't it? Did you read the paper? I'd be interested in your thoughts on it - and anyone else's too.

9:02 am, June 29, 2009  

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