Friday, September 14, 2012

But surely we can trust them?

This is my fourth post in a series about last week's oral evidence hearing for the Commons Education Committee's inquiry into home education support.

[Clip = 7 seconds long]

["So the unit of funding following somebody getting involved with the local authority, yay or nay?"]

He's talking about roughly £500 per year I think (possibly a lot less: I've tried to work it out, but it's complicated!) - 10% of the normal state funding per pupil, although I've no idea where the 10% figure came from, or why it suddenly seems to be being offered to us. As Julie Barker explains:

[Clip = 29 seconds long]

 ["10% of a school budget isn't very much. The funding of college places and exams that had been done through the APG or whatever we call it, is a much bigger pot because, you know, college funding isn't going to be paid for.. I mean, some of the colleges, for their 14-16 are charging sort of £4,000 and that's not going to come out of 10% budget."]

But more to the point, can we trust an open offer of government money with no strings attached? Zena Hodgson:

[Clip = 42 seconds long]
["Just as long as it's voluntary? I mean, I know there's mistrust, but.." "It's how you can ensure that, and does it start down the road where a few months later, it's not voluntary? You know, a choice of some sort of voucher scheme, yes in principle I quite like that idea, but there can be an element of 'Well, you know, you've not chosen to take this up. We've got vouchers for swimming and music.. but you've not taken it up. So is your education up to what it should be?' These are the concerns. I think in principle, if you could really remove those concerns, I quite like the idea. But it would really have to be set in stone that there is a non-judgmental element."]

Set in stone. And can we trust government promises on home education, even ones that seem to be set in stone? Here's Jane Lowe, talking about what happened several years ago when the Children Missing Education statutory guidance was being developed, and home educators were worried it would affect their position:

[Clip = 66 seconds long]

["The two sets of guidance were originally conceived to do two different things. I was involved with discussions when the first draft of that was made, of the Children Missing Education guidance, and the civil servants who we were dealing with assured us that this was not something which was being designed to entrap home educators. They assured us that the whole point of that exercise - giving the statutory guidance on section 436A - was to find children who had completely slipped through the net who were not receiving any education at all. It was not designed to target home educators in any way. And the first version of it actually said explicitly that this guidance does not apply to children who are educated at home."]

 I don't need to remind any home educating readers what happened to that reassurance in subsequent versions of the CME guidance, and how this has indeed adversely affected our position. 


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