Thursday, June 25, 2009

Home Education and Welfare - preparation for a meeting with officials

We had a short discussion on Home Education and the welfare system in the committee stage of the Welfare bill on Monday. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200809/ldhansrd/index/090622.html#start_grand – then look at amendments 74 and 75

My view of the situation is that we cannot hope for any substantial allowances to be made at this time, but that we can try to build on my promised meeting with officials to get some small improvements.

What improvements can you suggest? My thoughts include:

Making it totally clear in guidance that sending a child back to school is not ever an acceptable outcome if against the child’s wishes

Giving guidance on how to conduct interviews when the child is present

Better arrangements for offering homeworking opportunities

Better arrangements for offering help with starting your own business

Offering training as a childminder where this may be an appropriate option

A better understanding on what constitutes acceptable childcare

And – though with no great hope of success – another crack at allowing postal signing on

33 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Gov. should reconise that Bringing up children and home educating is a full time job in its self. Housework and other issues in the daily life of running a home are full time for any parent.
Pushing parents out to work when they have committed to doing the best they can for their child/children is like wanting their cake and eat it.
After all, the end result of good parenting and parental guidance in educating a child, brings forth a well articulated individual into the work system later in life.
Seems the gov. forget family life in order to draw their taxes at the sacrifice of family time.
They moan about parents not spending enough time teaching children the rights and wrong, yet the gov. expect parents to be at their beckon and call day or night for a job they don't want.
They have a problem with families supporting the needs of their children and balancing the rights between family life and work. When it all boils down to it, children are not young long, there are millions on the dole who wish for a job, why not give those that want to work these jobs and ask the gov. why do they target single parents who are already finding it hard to make ends meet financially, to put their families under more stress leaving them to fill a job in society which would be gladly taken by someone seeking work.

12:23 am  
Blogger In His Service said...

I have just notified the Yahoo group of your request for information and ideas, so hopefully you should have some comments along soon! I know that this is a very important area for many people and that they appreciate your support.

Sarah

12:50 am  
Blogger Carlotta said...

"Making it totally clear in guidance that sending a child back to school is not ever an acceptable outcome if against the child’s wishes"

It is so exciting to hear that someone in your position is able to appreciate in genuine fashion what it really means to take children seriously.

Otoh, it is extremely aggravating to hear the government appearing to gain the moral high-ground by claiming to protect children's rights to be heard, when they only actually listen and act upon what children say when it happens to suit their own purposes.

Children are quite capable of giving informed consent on any number of issues from a young age, including upon the subject of the location and form of their education. If the government really wants to protect the right of children to be heard and to be taken seriously when their views are well informed, it will have to accept, amongst many other things, that the large majority of HE children far prefer to be HE, very, very few would prefer to be in school and that tens of thousands of school children would infinitely prefer to HE.

Further the government will have to accept that when last polled, a large majority of HE children would rather not speak to LA officials about their education - they probably rightly believe that it would be far from their best interests and that they would gain nothing from it.

Further, it is possible that some of these children will seek legal representation to show that the LA official, in breaching their rights to privacy, intellectual property, and rights to be heard, will have failed in his duty to promote the child's welfare, as state officials are enjoined to do under section 175 of the Education Act 2002.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts2002/ukpga_20020032_en_15

10:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not at all. We haven't to give anything. This is a totally immoral and, hopefully, illegal move by the government. It suggests that people have to be worthy to receive 'benefits' and whomsoever doesn't know, because of their allowances and their salaries, that benefits are not liveable upon is not living in the real world.

We cannot give up a big freedom on the chance that a small one will be granted. That is blackmail.

We cannot sacrifice the system that has made this country a model of the best forms of charity (in the true sense) for centuries.

In effect, the government is saying that it is a parent's 'right' to home educate, but is making it impossible for that parent TO home educate. The government is judging suitability of people to stay on benefits, and who are they to judge?

It's all very well talking about poverty in terms of money but there are many forms of poverty and one is taking children from their proper place which is being taken care of by their mothers and their fathers. That is a scheme of nature, not of mankind. It underlies and pre-dates anything we can think we are doing with regulations etc. It is a moral imperative.

In this country, in these modern times, powerful people target the already vulnerable and humiliate them some more. (In some cases while hypocritically stealing from relatively poor people). Most people struggling for self-hood WANT to take care of their families; they WANT to be independent of the state system of benefits. Most people struggling to live on benefits have already paid in many thousands of pounds to ensure that they and their families do not suffer too much when the inevitable dry spell comes along so, in effect, the government are robbing them twice.

There is no sense or justice in this previously most sensible and just country.

I mourn for it.

Delilah

10:55 am  
Anonymous Natasha said...

Back in 2002/03, when i was claiming IS as a lone parent, i was offered (by the Jobcentre) a considerable package of support to help me into self-employment. This was a programme delivered by a sub-contracted organisation and included a small grant, a personal business adviser, signposting and help with funding/business banking plus a period of 'test-trading' of up to six months, during which the personal adviser would be a co-signatory to the business account and i would not be able to draw on it BUT i would be able to continue receiving my existing benefits, entirely unaltered, during the 'test-trading' period. I cannot remember what this initiative was called (it wasn't much help to me at the time) but it struck me as wholly sensible. I've scoured the Jobcentre website for any trace of it, in the light of this Bill, but can find nothing. Strikes me as exactly the type of thing that might help HEers, non-working LPs and the 'unemployed' in general. Don't suppose the Minister would consider anything as helpful as reinstating it? Self-employment would seem a possible option for all of the 'sticky' groups the Gov't are now trying to prise into work, and as i've outlined the DWP do have an existing model available to them, if they want to use it.

5:55 pm  
Anonymous Andrea said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

I am a single parent, currently home educating two boys aged 7 and 10. I deeply appreciate the way in which you have stood up for us single parents, who are so often regarded with disdain (and increasingly contempt) these days, and tried so hard to represent our interests and that of our children. I am particularly impressed that you have strived to ensure that those of us who are home educating our children are treated a little more fairly in the welfare system.

I definitely agree wholeheartedly with all the improvements you have already suggested, in particular that sending a child to school should not ever be demanded. My children would certainly find that distressing, since they have chosen which educational setting they prefer. If they wanted to return to school that would not be a problem, but I wish welfare offcials to recognise that it should be their choice (In fact I have never admitted during my work focus interviews to being a home educator simply because I have feared that insinuations would be made that I send my children back to school. I also feared that my choice to H.E. would be perceived by social security staff as purely being an attempt of getting out of the need to find work.)

Also I really agree that more guidance and help could be given to find alternative ways of working; starting a business and/or working from home. This simply isn't something that is offered to single parents. I often feel frustrated by the lack of inventiveness in terms of offering workable solutions to unemployment in this way. During my last interview, I was told that they don't really have services that help in this area, in fact the interviewer seemed taken aback at my question. But the option of work would be fantastic for H.E. parents because it is difficult to arrange child care for older children, as well as, in many cases, financially unviable to do so. Often I feel that the focus and intent is not really on helping Single parents whether they H.E. or not. I feel it is often assumed by Social Security staff that you are unintelligent and incapable of working for yourself if given guidance and help.

Postal signing on would be wonderful, having to bring my children into the non- child friendly atmosphere of the jobcentre is awful and is always stressful for them. It is not uncommon for volatile situations to erupt in my local Job Centre, evidenced by the presence of body guards. I simply find the idea that I am required to do this -at the risk of benefit withdrawal- unacceptable in terms of the better welfare of my children. I cannot always find available childcare and can seldom afford it.

One improvementI think would be good is that those conducting back to work interviews/JSA staff were trained in better awareness of H.E. Also that, those with children should not be kept waiting unecessarily long to be seen. I have experienced waiting an hour with my children just to be seen by B.T.W. advisors. With the interview included, we spent 1hr 45mins which we could have used for lessons. This, added to the time spent on travel to and from the centre, meant the whole day had to be written off.

Apart from this I can't think of anything that hasn't already been recommended that would be seriously considered for implementation.

Thank you so very much for caring about this issue.

7:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lord Lucas

Thank you again for stepping into the breach on behalf of Home Educators. As a single parent I am Home Educating all 4 of my children, but with the new legislation, will be required to be available for work, for a minimum of 16 hours a week, once my youngest reaches 5.

My whole education ethos will have to be rethought in 2 years time, if I am unable to teach my children due to these new requirements. Something I do NOT want to have to do. My kids are happy, outgoing and empathic individuals that would not fit into the current state system. I couldn't, in all good conscience, inflict the current crumbling and appalling system on them.

What I do NOT see is any advice or help offered by my local job centre as to how I can successfully do both! They have a hard enough time understanding Home Educating is legal!

I feel that because I am a single parent on benefits, I am "labelled" as a certain type of person - one without the means or intelligence to home educate - and this attitude appears to permeate the whole system. The fact that my education is probably far higher than anyone I have seen in the agency so far, confuses and confounds them. I don't fit and they don't have a box they can tick about me!

I know - I used to work for the DWP!!! There is a definite LACK of understanding with regard to Home Educating and unfortunately a lot of judgemental attitudes.

How else could this current legislation have come about? The idea that we, as home educating single parents, are "skiving spongers" is one that I take exception to. Home educating is a LOT of hard work, but I don't get paid for it and I work 24/7 not 9-5.

You mentioned training as a childminder as a possible way forward? - Well I am sorry to say that the Government has made childminding a mine field nowadays, with assessments and Government ordered "suitable" education being TAUGHT to 2 year olds a requisite! Whatever happened to learning through play or the freedom to just be a kid?

I have to say they aren't making it an easy road!

I would like to see a concession being made for those single parents who home educate (one can dream!) - there can't be that many surely?

The cost of retraining us to go back into the workplace alone, isn't that going be prohibitive? Are there any jobs available?

I haven't worked since 2003, but have spent all my time teaching my children, whilst accepting a lower income. That was the choice I made - Home Educating doesn't cost a fortune - the cost of living in this society does!

I choose a different style of living, based on my children's needs, and I shouldn't be punished for it. Our current system doesn't cater for sensitive children, artistic children or even gifted children.

Home-working would be one option and also starting my own business, but what support would I get? How could I make it financially viable if all my Housing benefit, Council Tax benefit gets disallowed the moment I no longer get benefits? (which invariably is the case, whenever you change your circumstances! Different governing bodies, different rules - the minefield continues)

There are so many obstacles to work for a single person, after long-term unemployment, what chances do we, as home-educating single parents have, especially as we cannot accept full-time work because we are teaching our children?

I wish there was compulsory sensitivity training for all civil servants! We may then start to get the system of our desires, where people are treated as individuals.

I do not know what lies ahead for us as a family, and that makes me really upset. To think that our choices are being forcibly limited just because of the way we choose to live. Just because we don't fit into the holes pre-dug for us.

If we were Jewish, or Black or Muslim, there would be a public outcry of racism or prejudice for the way we are being treated...

1:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lord Lucas

I agree with your thoughts on improvements, apart from the childminding one - unless one wants to be an extension of an already failing state education system!

Being allowed to get on with the job of teaching our kids without persecution would be nice! It appears that our minority group is such a huge financial burden on the Government that they cannot allow us to continue.

Exactly HOW many single parents are Home Educating?

How much is it going to cost to retrain us all and for how long? How much will the Government pay for suitable child care whilst we train? Suitable child care for us would be private tuition at about £25-£30 per hour - would they cover that for ALL of us?

Paying us £56 a week, if that, must surely be cheaper!

There are so few jobs around at the moment, how can we compete in the workplace? We could only take part-time work as we are educators, unpaid, but educators nonetheless.

And there's that little box on the JSA form asking how many hours you are willing to work, that if you state part-time only you get penalized and not given any money because you are limiting your chances of getting work!!!

It's a vicious circle.

Why should we, as Home Educators, have to let our children undergo Job centre employees scrutiny whilst we physically sign on every 2 weeks? It's an unfair and prejudiced piece of legislation.

1:31 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see no reason to concede anything, Lord Lucas. This report from Badman is a complete shambles, prejudiced and discriminatory. Which other parents have their children 'talked to' by local authority representatives without someone else (mainly parents or carers) present? No one.

We cannot surrender any more of our civil liberties.

It is a heinous misuse of power.

I did not know that we have so far lost our democratic processes as to be ruled by a dictator called Badman.

Danae

11:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again, Lord Lucas

As a follow-up to my last post, I suddenly realised that it is possible that you weren't talking about the interview with the child present from the Badman review. In which case I apologise for my one eyed-response.

I do think that this government is intent on punishing the poor and cutting benefits is merely a symptom of that. What does the government think will happen to people whose benefits are cut? Will they quietly disappear, emigrate, suddenly win the lottery? Or very likely turn to crime in which case we have another problem (and a far worse one) to solve although, arguably, the children of such parents will be better off as sons and daughters of criminals.

Danae

11:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree that guidance should state that it is unacceptable to place a child in school if it is against the childs wishes. This cuts across many issues and should find its way into at least one official statement.

home working should be made available through the jobcentre for those that go to the centre AND those that sign on by post - I think that it is discrimination of the minority to state that parents of school educated children can sign on by post and those that home educate can travel.

I am not a single parent but I do find that obtaining work to fit in with the needs of home educating my special needs children are difficult to say the least - and I have slightly more flexibility than lone parents. Much more support should be put in place to promote work that helps those who are at home looking after their children and trying to make ends meet. Until then, lone parents should be able to sign on - by post and be supported by this benefit until they can find work that is suitable to their family commitments, not have their children forced into inappropriate childcare or worse school. Thank you for your continued support on all matters that relate to home education.

2:40 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Thankyou all for your comments - some useful material here. I hope to see officials on 14th July - so please keep talking.

What sort of homeworking would suit Home Educators? Where - apart from jobcebtres - would they look? Do any Home Educators run homeworking agencies? When I advertised recently for someone to work from home selling advertising space I had no useful replies - so I have additional interest in finding out.

3:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankyou for supporting Home Education.

I would like to know why the government continues to say that Home Educators are more flexible in their availabilty to work. They do not show any understanding of the nature of home education.
My children have a great deal of freedom in what they learn about, when they learn and how they learn. I would not want to break off from their education when their curiosity and desire to learn is fully aroused by something, which can happen at any time of day.
We also go to many Home Ed group activities and go on many organised trips to museums, theatres etc These are a vital part to their Home Education. There is no flexibilty in these things as we are meeting with other families and the availability of sessions are arranged by museum/theatre staff etc

I do not see how I could fulfil my legal duty to give my children fulltime education according to their age, ability and aptitude if I am forced into work. But maybe they are going to couple this with recommendation 23 of the Badman review -
That local authority adult services and other agencies be required to inform those
charged with the monitoring and support of home education of any properly
evidenced concerns that they have of parents’ or carers’ ability to provide a suitable
education irrespective of whether or not they are known to children’s social care,
on such grounds as:
...
■■ ANYTHING ELSE which may affect their ability to provide a suitable and efficient
education.
(my capitals)
Are they really trying to do away with Home ducation amongst the financially worse-off even though studies have shown that the children of these families thrive better when Home Educated?

I agree wholeheartedly that children should never be forced back into school - priority number 1.

Childminding is not an option for everyone and we should not be forced into this.

I already work full-time raising and educating my children. I also think the government should acknowledge that parents are important to children as it seems to that they think it is a better idea for children to be looked after by paid carers instead of LOVING parents. I have friend who works in schools giving support to primary school children with behavioural prolems. She says the worst children are the ones who come from 2 income households who have minimal contact with their parents and go to breakfast club and after school club.

Posta signing would be very helpful. Taking 2 children on a thirty minute minmum each way bus ride to experience the joys of the jobcentre is not really my idea of an education. Butthen, seeing as how the Government are convinced that children who grow up in families on benefits will also go on benefits maybe it is just the life skill they need! Just to add, my eldest, Home Educated child has never been out of work since the age of 18 when he finished fulltime education. He is now going to start a University course, having just completed an access course (part-time whilst still working) in which he got As for everything! So my personal experience disproves the governments assumptions.

6:10 pm  
Anonymous Elaine said...

You asked about what sort of home working would suit home educators and mentioned that you recently advertised a 'work from home' job. Unfortunately when trawling through the papers jobs often appear which, on the surface, seem fine but turn out to be a bit dodgy or require money up front, or turn out to be totally unsuitable. Perhaps if these jobs went through agencies or job centres there would be a reasonable assumption that the job in question is legitimate and achievable.

As a child I helped my mum stick lables on packets at home she received a couple of pounds per 1000 packs. It was a lot of work but helped pay the bills. However, this is advertised as work AT home and not work FROM home which could require walking or driving miles and many return journeys - not practical for a home educating single parent family.

Until recently I was able to work one day a week to help make ends meet - but 16 hours would be impossible. With the current job climate my job is no longer available - will there really be that many 16 hour jobs to fit in with the needs of the family? I believe that the needs of the family should come first.

10:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas,

I'd like to thank you very much for taking such an interest in home educators and lone parents generally.

We home educators are a truly diverse group of people with an amazing range of talents (I myself am a freelance writer who sells her soul to the... er, articles to editors of magazines mainly). There are some wonderful young home educating people who have started and run their own businesses too.

I think that what you are doing - speaking to us - can usefully be rolled out across government. Part of the difficulty I perceive is that elected or unelected officials do not see us as individuals with families and difficulties or joys of our own. We are lumped together in a group which attracts a label which then encourages prejudice. An US and THEM mentality. As a psychologist I can say that some of the best work done with prejudiced people was countered by those prejudiced people getting to know people of the originally despised group. Equally, many burglars, for example, don't target families they know to be in extremis. If you know a person as Joe, and not just some hippy home educator, it is more difficult to discriminate against him.

We need to be able to 'talk' to officials, to get across our points of view. This would be an excellent beginning to a much better society. Ultimately, all any of us want is to be treated with respect.

Danae

Our Scottish cousins run a Home Education Business Forum wherein you could advertise. I imagine anyone would be welcome to advertise home working posts there. After all, home working is so much more sensible than trailing about in private cars when we are all destroying the planet with our car fumes (if we have cars).

http://www.home-education.biz/forum/

P.S. I could certainly use more business. With the economic downturn editors are cutting pay to freelance writers and taking work 'in-house.'

It's not easy for those with money, but the state of the economy affects vulnerable people so much more.

11:14 am  
Anonymous Alison said...

The UK Home Education Business Directory lists (free of charge) businesses run by home-edupreneurs and has associated business support and networking forums to encourage start ups and flexible home based enterprise. The idea is to urge HErs and HE supporters to "shop local on the home ed high street". The (still fledgling) project has been supported by Unltd and some small businesses, but the Badman report has inevitably dominated discussions of late. For a full explanation, see http://www.home-education.biz/home-education-business-directory/

11:42 am  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I don't know if this helps but I was recently forwarded a piece of research sent to David Blunkett when he was Education Minister. A study was done on 2000 home educated children approximately 1000 families and children were tested against national standards both at age for entering primary school and age for leaving primary school. Home educated children in general approached the test as an interesting new thing to try with no sign of nerves unlike the school children, in addition and I think most useful to your query, the Home Educated children from single parent or very low income families fared far better than those at school. The report went on to strongly promote children starting school much later if at all. If possible the suggestion was to allow and SUPPORT financially those families that chose to home educate that might otherwise struggle to find the funding.

If useful I think I can attach a link?
www.pjrothermel.com/Research/Researchpaper/3-13.htm

9:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balance is a wonderful word if used in the right context and put usefully into practice.
As you fondly seem to be a person who has the people at heart in your understanding. Further to my posting 12.23am (first post) I would like to add.
Reconising the balance in this job adventure plans for all british people, has in so many ways gone beyond what is practical and in some means an intrusion on family life.
Children need stability, yet the gov. to and fro with plans that throws obstactles beyond belief on the parents who are doing their best in society to help the future with thoughtful articulated intelligent human beings like your self. By pressurising individuals in society, virtually hounding them into fulfilling extra tasks on top of chosen motherhood and educational responsibilities soon lowers a families security, to the depths of running about in all directions, wasting valuable time that could be met on the children and building a foundation for the future, so when the time is right the parent can establish their own needs as to when it is best for their child to take up a job.
What with all the other legislation appearing on all manner of things in society, surely priority to the workforce should be either unattached men and women who have no responsibilites, who may be looking for work or sat on the dole queue for years to obtain such work. How can the gov. start to penalise single parents without taking into account that factor first. The system is getting unjust in areas, fairness I thought should be the aim.
Please ask your honourable friends to put BALANCE back in their rules, because if it is not seen soon, everything will fail...

Looking back in history when women were the main carers and the men went out to work. The job vacancies were fewer then.! Equal rights i hear you cry, yes that is up to the individual in society today, I should know my son cares for his children, while his wife is at work. Something they decided to do to help fit in with transport as she does not drive. So you see, parents have minds of their own how to adjust to their own circumstances, to aid their childrens up bringing, in the best way possible for the time it takes.
If the gov. put pressure on the single parent like they are then the ability to articulate around their family becomes harder with outside responsiblities that do not suit the families needs.
These parents do not fail society because they draw money from the state, infact they put a lot of free time and effort into raising children to work in the future to beable to support them selves and help in the communities. Another area the gov. should balance it's views on.

4:06 am  
Blogger saralexis said...

As others have said - thank you for taking an interest in this.

I don't want to be making concessions. This is a fundamental breach of our human and civil rights...

... but a comment on your suggestion that children who don't want to go should never be placed in a school. My concern would be that my child might want the novelty, but change his mind very swiftly... having been placed in school by the authorities against my will, would I be able to remove him again if he asked..? Or would I have to apply to those (presumably unsympathetic) authorities?

8:40 am  
Anonymous Natasha said...

Homeworking, has acquired, i think, a somewhat shady reputation. This is something i've looked into myself at various points. Most of the opportunities advertised are either franchises requiring substantial investment, direct selling schemes such as Avon, Kleeneze and 'Bodyshop at home' or extremely low paid 'piece work;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2004/may/10/workandcareers.money

A proportion of advertised 'jobs' are downright scams where a registration fee is requested and no work materialises;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2000/apr/19/guardiansocietysupplement9


The only UK NGO concerned with the homeworking sector closed down last year;

http://www.ngh.org.uk/

Social sector
tenants also often find that working from home is precluded by the conditions of their tenancy;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2002/apr/17/housingpolicy

The issues of sub-minimum wage rates & homeworking restrictions for council & HA tenants particularly, highlight public policies potentially at odds with the aims of the Bill. Makes one wonder what happened to joined-up Government.

1:38 pm  
Blogger Working Dad said...

I think your sugestions are pretty good.
I'm sure the majority of parents would rather earn an income than be subject to means tested benefits but there should be recognition that this is not always feasible.

Staff should offer advice on what jobs and business opportunities there may be, how this could be combined with childcare if acceptable to the parent and child or whether there may be opportunities for home working / part time working / child friendly employers.

They should recognise that it is not acceptable to force children back into school as many have chosen to home educate their children due to the massive failings of the state school system, particularly the significant damage done to individual children.

Assistance with startup grants for self employment with support via benefits until the business is financially self sustaining may be an option.

Basically, encouragement and support should be tried instead of using the big stick. It should be remembered that those parents that home educate are saving the country significant sums of money and usually raise their children to become net contributors to the economy rather than drop outs which drain the public purse. They should take a look at the wider benefit to society in having committed parents and intact families instead of the largely disfunctional society we are becoming.

1:21 am  
Blogger The Midwife said...

'Making it totally clear in guidance that sending a child back to school is not ever an acceptable outcome if against the child’s wishes'

This is the most important statement and I wholeheartedly agree. I am a single parent and mostly home school. My son is in school 3.5 hours per week and attends a nurturing centre twice a week. I work nearly full time as a midwife and would love to be able to just take him out of the system all together. My mother has moved in with me to help but I would love to be able to pay her. She can not work due to her commitment to my son. Help with childcare costs to a family member would be divine! Flexischooling may continue to be the answer. Thank you for championing our cause!

Kathryn Weymouth
Hampshire

9:03 am  
Anonymous Moira Hendrickx said...

Dear Lord Lucas,
thank you for your interest in this issue.
This may not be helpful, but I think it needs stating:
If I have others care for my children so I could work - the government will support these fees and look at it as a necessary service worth money. However if I am caring for - and educating - my own children I am deemed to be 'unemployed'!
While I see that many parents do work and care for their children - it is not ideal for everyone or every family. If Childcare is a 'job of work' that is valued - then it should be equally valued when embraced full-time by the parent.
If this huge endeavour were recognised as the skill it really is, and the massive service to society it provides, mothers-at-home would be on executive salaries!!! While this is unlikely - I do think there is value in weighing this up.
Then add in the cost per head of providing education - and recognise what we 'save' the system by providing it at home. From a financial 'housekeeping' perspective this is definitely something worth investment.
Lastly parental authority is all but gone in our current society - and I really do believe this is in a small way a cause of some of the instances of abusive or negligent parenting. As a mother myself I can attest to the way a person (child) will rise to the challenge when given responsibility. I have also witnessed the 'turn-around' of a local school and central to this was the growth of respect and responsibility given to the students. Parents are experts on their children - I suspect even 'bad' parents are - and should be recognised as such.
If the above were part of our culture, legal and benefits system it would lead to the proper balance of partnership between state and families - and support home-education and parental childcare.

My own situation: lone parent of 4 children who were home-educated till last year. With the changes looming ahead I accepted a part-time job from home (which has become nearly full time) and the children are currently in school - but not happily.
I struggled to home-educate over the years, and took three different p/t jobs - each of which led me into debt as soon as the run-on benefits were stopped, and I was forced to leave in each case. It was finally recognised (by the job-centre management) that the system (new deal for lone parents) worked for some, but not for all - specifically those with more than two children.
It is true that Home Ed is not a huge expense - but having 'science lovers' in my family (and being more art/history myself) did mean that expenses were incurred, or the children's education would have been dry and insufficient. While in a few counties there are possibilities of co-operation with schools - as long as Home Ed is under the radar and 'suspect' we cannot expect more schools/colleges and other educational facilities to welcome us and allow us access to either facilities or flexi-schooling etc.
This last was my dream - a flexi-schooling arrangement which would support the science/math that I lacked, while allowing my direction over the rest of the curriculum. Everyone is different and the way H Ed is 'seen' publicly will impact greatly the options and opportunities for our families to seek the best for their children's education.

Many thanks for your representation, and for 'listening'!

11:36 am  
Blogger Lou said...

.....Single parents have a right to be acknowledged that they too are doing a worthwhile job home schooling. Support the petition and force the Government to reconsider their plans about JSA and provide business development support to lone parents.

http://petitions. number10. gov.uk/jsaHElone P/

Lou

6:25 pm  
Blogger Sally said...

I'd like to bring this to your attention this recent case: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5743419/Is-the-state-guilty-of-child-kidnap.html
Lord Monckton of Brenchley, who is involved with the case, may be someone we could ask help from (or at least the peer he has handed his dosier to) especially in the light of the data collated from FOIs by EO, which appears to show so far, in the EHE community, a rate of abuse less than 50% of the schooled community.
Here is the link for that data, but it can also be found in files on the EO group I gather:
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=rbrk5-GEdrUdcmfi670Mihg&gid=2

We will be potentially more in danger from this sort of debacle than those who actually suffered it. It is unbelievable, but is also the reason most of us chose not to elect into LA 'support' through making ourselves known. How much more unlikely are we to feel comfy about it with the LAs merged with social services????

In response to elements within your post:
Thanks for the recognition of the potential damage to children of requiring them to go to school. My children would certainly refuse daily if this happens. I wonder what the DCSF would do about that? Prosecute me for my children's non-attendance I'm!

I read that you say in a previous post that the government will not be able to act on this plans before leaving office. Are you sure about this? They have written the recommendations into their education white paper despite no conclusion to the public consultation! I'm very afraid that they will attempt to rush it through. You have a lot more knowledge of the workings of it all than I have. What reasons do you have for your confidence. I'd love that confidence too, so would love to hear why it won't be possible.

with thanks
Sally

12:33 am  
Anonymous Lou said...

I would very much like to embark on buying and renting properties from home and i suppose one could also set up a lettings management agency . Business such as setting up a cleaning agency, that clean empty properties for local authorities and other landlords could also be possible. Single parent would need financial support,advise and training to run a successful business from home and continue to home educate their children.

2:45 pm  
Anonymous SD said...

Why does the government say they support home education but then provide no funding? Statistics show that it is usually a very effective form of education. Even if materials were provided for those home educating, it would still save the government money as it would cost much less than providing places in schools, where staff salaries and premises' overheads are required. And it would possibly encourage more people to home educate because lack of funding is a huge deterrent, so as a result potentially the government could even save more money than if providing no funding at all due to a possible increase of people opting to home educate.

And how can they possibly expect single parents home educating to work outside the home when they are already working fulltime within the home? Single parents have a tough enough job as it is with no time off ever unless lucky enough to have support of friends and/or family (and many don't). By forcing them to work, the government is jeopardising the education and welfare of many children. Some parents choose to home educate, others feel they have no option in the face of problems like bullying. What are parents expected to do, try and squeeze 30 hours into every day? Whatever they do it's going to be at the compromise of their children's welfare and/or education. And these children will have already had a tough enough time by the omission of one parent present within the home and the subsequent challenges and hardships that causes, as well as frequently dealing with the emotional aspect of the breakdown of the family unit.

Also I don't understand why the government is spending so much time trying to deal with knife and gun crime instead of investing in preventing it. By forcing parents to work, especially those home educating, they are undermining the stability of the family home. As is clearly documented, knife and gun crimes are frequently the result of unstable homes. Whatever is the government thinking of? Why are they sticking a bandage on the wound of society instead of preventing the damage in the first place and even going so far as to directly cause more damage??? Also why are they pushing parents to work and place their children in childcare when no one can do a better job than the parents themselves? Why not pay the parents to do it instead of paying a stranger who can rarely do a better job. It has been proven to be beneficial for the parent to do the child rearing and not palm the job off on someone else, so why is the government pushing this at the expense of our children’s welfare and the stability of society? Society broke down when the family home broke down. The family home requires at least one parent to be on call at all times and not to be stressed out and exhausted from work, but able to give full attention and energy to the child(ren).

I would like to quote from a document dated 9th June 2006 by Steve Doughty of the Daily Mail entitled "Children perform better if mother stays at home". Whilst it is relating to early childhood, the principal is still the same in that the government is again pushing mothers' to work at the expense of the welfare of children, which is not in the interest of society in general. At what point is the governent going to realise that the only way to tackle the growing problem with crime, and in particular violent crime, is to go back to family values, creating a stable family home where children are cared for by a parent/parents who are not stressed out and tired from working and instead given the attention and nurturing they need to grow into a confident adult and a valued member of society. Note also my aside comment within the quote on Sure Start funding. I will add the quote separately as it will take me over the word limit to add it here.

1:35 pm  
Anonymous SD said...

Quote from a document dated 9th June 2006 by Steve Doughty of the Daily Mail entitled "Children perform better if mother stays at home". Due to character limit this has been split into 2 parts. Part 1 of 2…

"...published research that admitted babies and toddlers sent for long hours in daycare learn less quickly, have worse health, and behave worse than other children. It also suggested that the children suffer because mothers who return home from work tired and unhappy are less able to give them the time and full attention they need. The warnings over childcare published by the Institute for Public Policy Research suggest a dramatic rethink over working mothers and childcare at the heart of the Blairite establishment. Since 1997 Labour has poured billions into subsidising nurseries and childminders through the tax credit system, through direct daycare benefits, and through the troubled Sure Start project meant to help the neediest families."
[Aside: though in contradiction the Sure Start funding is spread between everyone, even those with a large disposable income, reducing the amount of funding available for those who genuinely need it. For example funding in my area was recently withdrawn for an activity previously funded by Sure Start. Had it been spread across those in genuine need, they would have been able to continue to fund it, but now those unable to afford the fees will be forced to cease this activity. Surely this is poor management.]
"Persuading mothers to go back to work soon after their children are born has been a central plank of Mr Blair's 'project'. Three years ago the Department of Trade and Industry - then headed by current Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt - published a paper describing those who do not return to jobs in the first two years after childbirth as a 'problem'. It said mothers who stayed at home were not giving the taxpayer a return on the cost of their education. Despite growing evidence from independent studies that full-time childcare can have harmful effects, new figures from the Education Department last week boasted proudly that a record number of more than 700,000 children now attend nurseries for more than four hours a day. But two articles in the IPPR's journal said the children would be better off staying at home with their mothers.

1:56 pm  
Anonymous SD said...

Part 2 of 2…

Psychologist and TV presenter Oliver James, who described himself as a 'reasonable left wing person', said he was sceptical about the drive for 'affordable childcare'. He said: 'My proviso comes in when politicians, who have the evidence about how important early care is on children's development, decide that only people doing paid work are of any value and that there is a moral duty for us all to do a paid day's work. 'Trying to persuade parents of very young children, particularly single mothers, to leave them and go out to work, while not an unqualified no no, fails to recognise that somebody has got to be left holding the baby and that, on the whole, it is better if it is one of the child's biological parents up to the age of three.' Oliver James added: 'On the whole children who attend daycare under three are at greater risk of being aggressive. 'I am arguing for us to rediscover feminism. Let's actually have female emancipation and not the nonsense that we have got now. One part of that is definitely supporting women who do want to care for their children to be able to do so.' A second article by US academic Janet Waldfogel told IPPR subscribers that in the first year after birth 'there are reasons to think that exclusive mother care would be best for a child.' She cited learning ability, health and social development as adversely affected for those who are in childcare before their first birthday. 'Across all three dimensions, with all things held equal, children tend to do worse if their mothers work in the first year of life,' she said. Children also did best if they lived in two-parent families, she added, in a view that conflicts with the Government's policy that claims all kinds of families are just as good as each other. Both IPPR journal contributors said there should be 'costly' new public spending to pay salaries or give more time off work to new mothers. But critics of subsidised childcare said the best way to help mothers stay at home was to give tax breaks to help one-earner families. Jill Kirby of the centre-right think tank Centre for Policy Studies said: 'It is gradually dawning on the Government that they should do nothing more to penalise mothers who stay at home with their children. 'There is very strong evidence that childcare, and in particular the mass cheap childcare that Labour favours, is not in the best interests of young children.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-389797/Children-perform-better-mother-stays-home.html

1:56 pm  
Blogger Snuffyisabear said...

I have a problem with the whole 'lone parent having to work' proposal that is based on the needs of the child. This legistlation is effectively telling the populace that children have no need of their parents beyond the age of 7. There are no where near enough part-time jobs that fit withing school hours (and none at all that give you all the school holidays off) so any child, home educated or schooled, is looking at a life-time of being cared for by people other than their parent, whether that be by other relatives, registered childminders/babysitters or in formal programmes designed specifically to deal with the problem of children with no where to go, such as after-school clubs. This is of course assuming a parent can afford, or rely on, such care. Where they cannot, there will be large numbers of children of the sort that used to be known as 'latch-key children', who would have to look after themselves until a parent got home from work.
Either way, it breaks the bonds between child and parent, leading to the estrangement seen in many families with teenage children who spend too little time together to know each other well.
This directly impacts on the child's welfare - if a child and parent are virtual straqngers to one another, not only will they find it hard to share one another's joys and triumphs, but there is less likelyhood that the child will share it's problems and fears and the parent will lose their ability to intuit when there is something wrong with the child. This is a welfare concern - families where parents and children have little time to build bonds of trust will be more likely to have children vunerable to harm than those who know each other well and can talk easily together.
For home educating families, who see first-hand the benefits of establishing and promoting the bonds of family, being forced to break them will be unbareably stressful as they will feel they are being forced to 'do wrong' by their children in order to be forced fulfill an air-dream of the government of 100% employment or lose all monetary support, while being forced to watch their children suffer day by day. Lone parents with children in school will also find what time they do have with their children severely curtailed and reap the damage that will cause.
A 7 year old needs it's parent. So does a teenager - puberty is a roller-coaster ride that children often need a helping hand to get through. Schools are not capable of offering this, it is a parent's role, but if they are not there to fulfill it who will? Teenagers already vunerable will be made more so by having to glean support and information in dribs and drabs from wherever they can rather than accessing the 'been there, done that' parental source if their family time together is forcibly reduced.

10:20 am  
Blogger Snuffyisabear said...

Working from home is not easy - there is a good reason most workplaces don't allow you to take children to work with you! They are distracting and demanding and to a parent their needs will always come first. Even if you have the kind of children who are willing and able to let you work in peace for a few hours, there are so many restrictions imposed on small businesses that it can be virtually impossible to set one up, let alone turn a profit. If you can manage to set up a venture, the initial outlay costs on things like stock, materials, advertising etc. can be crippling (and impossible if you have no source of income - try getting a small business loan!) It is often a good year before the initial start-up costs are cleared and a profit actually starts to come in, often it will take much longer to earn a reasonable living from it, assuming that you remain in business (the outlook for new small businesses is not good, most fold in the first year) and that is without annoyances such as tax returns which can be a bit of a minefield for someone new to business.
Working for someone else from home would be a reasonable alternative, if there was actually legitimate work that paid properly availible. Most 'work from home' jobs are currently either dodgy/outright scams or so low-paid it amounts to slave labour. It has a very bad reputation, so much so that legitimate businesses will not consider offering it in case they are 'tarred with the same brush' and look suspicious in the eyes of their customers.
This is an option many people, not just home educators, would like to have - the disabled, other carers, people with no access to transport etc, are some other sectors of the community who could benefit from the ability to work from home, but in the current climate it is not a reasonable option for most people. there are things that could be done to make it easier to set up businesses from home and make home employment by others a legitimate option, but it would be a hard battle to fight as there are so many factors involved, not least of which is the psychology surrounding it - it is scary to take the plunge and splash out money on starting up your own business esp. if you have no experience of working for yourself, and suspicions of dodgy practices die hard.

10:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas
I have just signed on for jobseekers allowance now that my son is 12. I am a single parent and home educate him; which is something that we both enjoy and want to continue doing.
At the job centre we were told that they don't have to take him into account when offering me work.
Can't I send my child back to school? one advisor asked.
Can't I leave him at home on his own if I work during the day? asked another.
I was offered a job working through the night. When I asked them who would look after my child, they said ask family.
I have to apply for 4 jobs each week to take into the job centre. I can't find any part-time work, so I have applied for full-time, otherwise I will have my benefits cut.
The only thing that is helping us at the moment is that the unemployment is so high.
It is becoming impossible for single parents to home educate.

2:23 pm  
Blogger Lesley said...

Thank you for your work on behalf of home educators.

I was originally one of 'the dispairing' but have become an autonomous elective home educator.

8:57 pm  

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