Monday, June 15, 2009

How to assess home education

Thankyou to all those who have send in comments on Badman's report. I agree with much of what you say. I find it outrageous that home educators should be singled out for inspection in ways that the state would never allow for its own charges.

Our government will not be the next government, and will not be able to implement these plans, so it's crucial to focus on Conservative and Liberal websites.

It would also help, I believe (if I'm allowed to use that word in the context of Badman), to get some threads of thought moving in constructive directions. Makes life much easier for your political supporters.

So, for instance, how should Local Authorities assess home education?

Require inspectors to go on an EO training scheme?

Allow parents to have supporters (an organisation, or church, or just a friend who has been through it) during the assessment process?

Have an appeals system?

look backwards not (except at the start) forward?

Ralph

96 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've tried talking to my LA about the review. I was told that they regard it as an issue that home-educated children are not being seen by their department. I pointed out that my own child has not been seen by their department and was told in a rather condescending way that "that is a worry to me" by the person in the LA! I pointed out that my daughter is seen and known about by our GP, our Health Visitor, my SIL who is a local teacher, our library service staff, her Brownie leaders and friends, her Beaver leaders and friends and so on. We don't need to be visited at our home by a complete stranger who has no interest other than to tick a box or make a criticism.

I just find it dreadful that home education in and of itself is seen as a welfare issue by this Government when there are so many welfare issues not being dealt with already because of a lack of adequate funding to help with Children's Services resources. By villifying home educators the existing resources will have to be stretched even further and none of this will help those children who are really in need.

I was also told about a few cases whereby children who didn't want to be home educated had spoken out. Yet in their "system", a child who doesn't like school doesn't get their complaints heard - they are labelled as "School Phobic" and treated as being mentally ill!

We treat our schools like prisons, we treat our parents like slaves or criminals and we treat our children like prisoners in much of our society. It doesn't seem right that this mindset (and it's a political one rather than a logical one) has set in to our society.

7:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am absolutely horrified by the proposed changes to the monitoring system.

The reason for so many people 'hiding' from their lacal authority is that these authorities are too heavy -handed and critical and show no understanding of home-education. By giving them even more rights it will cause even more problems.

First the people who are to do the monitoring need to be well trained and have an idea of what to expect from home-educators. ( I was monitored by an ex-financial advisor who kept telling me my son should be doing cloze worksheets and so forth; my son was 4 at that stage and not reading/ writing yet!)

How about having the local authority host a coffee morning with games etc in a central library each month, with just a friendly chat involved? It would even be possible to make it compulsory to attend at least one such get-together every 6 months. As long as the authority representative just chatted with whoever was there (not interrogated!), I think many people might feel encouraged to make contact.

8:02 pm  
Blogger Eli Murton said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

I would like to thank you for your positive comments. At the moment the HE community is still very raw regarding the publishing of this review. Badman's aim from the very beginning was to further regulate a right that already has extensive regulations in place. He told many home educators to effectively suck it up as things were going to change. Trying to be proactive is very hard in the sense that most of us do not want things to change. That's the long and short of it! LA's have more than enough powers to act if they suspect that a suitable education is not taking place, they can request further information and if necessary issue a school attendance order which will then go to court. Nine times out of ten though, they are incapable of using the law correctly and instead result to bully boy tactics. Mike Fortune-Wood of the Home Education Journal offers workshops and training days for LAs. Our LA, like many, is just far too lazy and conceited to go on one. We have sent them books, offered them information, directed them to websites to give them a better understanding of HE and they simply are not interested. The positive action we would like is inaction; as Mr Balls is not prepared to require the LA busybodies to be forced to have the correct training to carry out their jobs respectfully. Its a sorry state of affairs but true!

8:13 pm  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

But why does there need to be an assesment to begin with? If we are responsible, by law, for our childrens education, then why do we need to be assessed?

EO does not represent all home educators.

8:29 pm  
Blogger badwoman said...

Dear Ralph,

I took myself away from frantic mailing lists because someone offered hope in the form of Lord Lucas :-)

Sadly I need more convincing that you are my "knight in shining".

You say you are a legislator - does that mean you are only interested in generating legislation or can I rely on you to pull the plug on bids for unnecessary legislation?

I would of course welcome legislation banning government from interfering in home education ;-)

You ask - "..how should Local Authorities assess home education?"

-what makes you think they SHOULD assess home education. Home education is the private domain of families, just as feeding and clothing choices are. Yes, we have a legal duty to cause our children to receive education, but that does not mean routine investigation is necessary any more than it is necessary to check if we are complying with our responsibility not to neglect our child's food and clothing needs.

I have no idea if you have children, but I assume if you did have you would find the idea that your LA rep should routinely take them aside alone and ask them about you, your partner (if you have any) and your education and welfare provision, rather repugnant?

I don't give a cuss whether the LA bod has been trained by EO - who by the way do not represent anything like my view or that of thousands of others as far as I can see - trained or not, there is no reason to separate home educators into a category labelled "guilty until proven innocent" whilst the rest of the land continue to enjoy the freedom of being "innocent until proven guilty" that my ancestors fought to preserve.

As for an appeals system - yes- one is necessary wherever statute is necessary - but here it is not.

We must not fall into the trap of thinking that we have to find a palatable alternative to Mr Badman's nonsense - it is just that - NON SENSE - no evidence to back up his wish list - adequate legislation already in place for all but control freaks and those who can't stand freethinkers.

Badwoman

8:35 pm  
Blogger badwoman said...

Dear Ralph,

I took myself away from frantic mailing lists because someone offered hope in the form of Lord Lucas :-)

Sadly I need more convincing that you are my "knight in shining".

You say you are a legislator - does that mean you are only interested in generating legislation or can I rely on you to pull the plug on bids for unnecessary legislation?

I would of course welcome legislation banning government from interfering in home education ;-)

You ask - "..how should Local Authorities assess home education?"

-what makes you think they SHOULD assess home education. Home education is the private domain of families, just as feeding and clothing choices are. Yes, we have a legal duty to cause our children to receive education, but that does not mean routine investigation is necessary any more than it is necessary to check if we are complying with our responsibility not to neglect our child's food and clothing needs.

I have no idea if you have children, but I assume if you did have you would find the idea that your LA rep should routinely take them aside alone and ask them about you, your partner (if you have any) and your education and welfare provision, rather repugnant?

I don't give a cuss whether the LA bod has been trained by EO - who by the way do not represent anything like my view or that of thousands of others as far as I can see - trained or not, there is no reason to separate home educators into a category labelled "guilty until proven innocent" whilst the rest of the land continue to enjoy the freedom of being "innocent until proven guilty" that my ancestors fought to preserve.

As for an appeals system - yes- one is necessary wherever statute is necessary - but here it is not.

We must not fall into the trap of thinking that we have to find a palatable alternative to Mr Badman's nonsense - it is just that - NON SENSE - no evidence to back up his wish list - adequate legislation already in place for all but control freaks and those who can't stand freethinkers.

8:39 pm  
Anonymous Rachel said...

A lot of home educators are already monitored in some way... where I am we have a yearly visit, and have a Home education officer who actually seems to get the idea of home education, and is happy to have a friendly chat. We also have Education Welfare Officers who turn up unannounced and have no idea about home education, and have been known to bring police round if children have not immediately been produced, even though they have turned up without any notice! If the welfare side was taken away and only brought in if there was a legitimate concern it would help to build a better relationship between home educators and local authorities.
Home education officers should have a good knowledge of the wide spectrum of HE styles and appreciate that this sometimes means that evidence (in school terms) of learning is not necessarily available in the same way. Children should not be interviewed alone, that is outrageous. One of my daughters would find that very traumatic and would simply clam up.
Having Home education groups involved in the training of Home education officers would be good. I don't know how this would work though.
Home education is simply for us extended parenting... we just carried on from pre-school age onwards with no sudden change, just gradual changes as my children develop which is why the idea of monitoring is so hard to accept because it is my parenting that will be monitored. Surely most parents would be horrified at the thought of that.
Thank you for your support

8:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To answer your inspection question, there is currently a wide variation in the standard of inspectors, not only country-wide, but even within a local authority. Common training and a standard to which they should inspect would be good, but the standard must be sensible.

Some inspectors appear to consider that education must be organised formally by subject and get very upset at autonomous home education and consider it inadequate, despite significant evidence showing that it is a very effective method. Others are very happy with the concept and will offer useful advice and encouragement.

Needless to say, standards for inspectors should encompass the latter approach, despite the wording in the Badman review suggesting a more formal curriculum should be imposed.

9:47 pm  
Anonymous David Hough said...

To answer your inspection question, there is a wide variation in the quality and approach of inspectors, not just across the country, but even within a local authority. It would be good to have them all inspecting to the same standard, but it is important that the standard is, so to speak, up to standard.

Some inspectors have a very rigid view of what home education should be, and the nature of any work presented for inspection. These are the bad ones, who consider that there is only one way and it is there way, with anything else labelled as inadequate. Then you get the inspectors who are happy with a wide range of different educational approaches, from 'school at home' to autonomous and unstructured learning. These are the good ones, who are prepared to take each case on its merits even if it's slightly unconventional.

However, it is a lot harder to write a standard to deal with the latter case, which is why we are more likely post-Badman to get a rigid curriculum and presentation format that is more akin to the former case, simply because it's easier to tick the boxes on the inspector's review form.

As the proposed registration form requires both a statement of plans and goals for the year, and the location where education will take place, I would hope that answering the first with "autonomous" and the second with "the world" will be acceptable. After all, many home educators will tell you that the world is their classroom, and many lessons take place outside the home.

10:17 pm  
Anonymous Karen said...

For us it's not a case of how home education should be assessed but why? We do not dispute that children's welfare must be assessed where there is a real risk of harm, but this is different from an assessment of an education that parents have taken responsibility for providing.

LA's need training in awareness of all home education issues, in particular in autonomous learning but mainly so they have a better understanding of how this diverse community functions. Training for assessment purposes is unnecessary. We do not need to be assessed. Where there is clear evidence that a child is at risk of harm, this can be dealt with through the powers given by The Children Act. This is a welfare issue not an educational one.

Home education is not a problem in itself and this really does need to be understood. It is currently a legal choice that all parent's may make and they should be able to make it without fear of harassment, assessment or interference.

10:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How should LEA's assess Home Ed?

I don't see why should they assess it at all.

The problem is that each Home Education is unique to each child. This is not the national curriculum where every child has to follow it.

The only thing an LEA should be doing is making sure an education is taking place. They already have to do that by law.

If you really push me, then I would say that if an LEA *has* to assess HE then it should be done only by people who have previously home educated themselves.

If I went into a school to inspect it, people would say I knew nothing about what I was doing.
So why should LEA's many of whom know nothing about HE assess my provision?

HE is often a completely different way of learning to school.

My eldest's attention and learning is often sharpest first thing in the morning (7am). He is raring to go and does laods of stuff. By 9am he's chilling out watching a cartoon then wants to do something again an hour or so later. Art or clay or whatever.

He often sits at the dinner table with books/workbooks/art etc.

To people like Badman, this is badly organised. To me, it is perfect because he learns quickly and easily and most of all he's having a great time. It's scarey how quickly he picks things up.

Yes, sometimes he's bored, but that's where I intervene to suggest things or give him things to do. I make sure I provide him with the opportunity to try things out, do sport etc.

Now, try and explain that to a LEA bod who thinks structure and classroom are the only way to learn.

I do keep a diary to log what he learns and how they learn it. This is mainly for their own consumption when they are older. It could be used in a court of law if I had to prove I was educating him, which is at the back of mind!

Sorry - I don't have any other suggestions. I hope others do.


J R
Devon

11:26 pm  
Blogger Mieke said...

One recommendation would maybe not earn Mr Badman Brownie points, but it would certainly have made the 28 recommendations he's now come up with void:
Local Authorities should be properly trained and made to implement current legislation and guidance, which offers sufficient protection for all children, including home educated children.

Am I to gather from your questions that you feel there is a need for further state interference with the choices that parents make regarding education?

11:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's a matter with the laws that are in place now!? If parents wish for intervention or assistantance they seek the information and help they need, if the local authorities are failing them, this is not down to home educators it is down to the local authority failing in its duties to provide, just like they have in social services, they fail because they choose to not implicate their own rules,now it seems they are turning the buck onto all parents in britain for their own mistakes.
The gov. seem to be saying we as parents are not educated enough to direct our children through life. Are they going to reimburse thousands to those of us who have facilitated our childrens' education for years, NO. SO . NO to inventions, Best as they say look no further then their own doorsteps first, before turning the law because of failure of their gov sectors to comply with laws they have in place that already fail because they insist on putting money before any thing in this world.
Our children have rights, yes of course they do, that also means THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO NOT BE HARRASSED BY THE GOV. to perform at their beckon and call to be analised for data against their wishes.

12:54 am  
Blogger In His Service said...

I almost dare not comment as all home educators will have their own opinion! I think many reject registration altogether, since it carries with it the threat of "not being permitted" and also the inference that the state has a right to a say in their family life.

I personally believe(!) registration is inevitable, as home education grows in popularity. It could even be offered as an alternative alongside applying for entry to Primary School!

Of course, inherent in registration, is the threat of not being permitted to register. The report is worryingly vague in its list of reasons that an inspector can use to refuse a registration. "Any other reason" gives too much power to the inspector.

Annual registration has a feeling of impermanence and vulnerability to it. It implies, "You might not be allowed to do this next year." You wouldn't register for a school just for one year! No. Registration should remain in effect until the parent gives notice otherwise.

I think home educators should have the choice of where to meet. It is much less threatening to meet in a suitable public space. Of course many home educators have always chosen to invite the inspector in, but it feels very, very different if it is a choice, rather than enforced on you. The opportunity to have a friend along is a good thing too.

I can understand inspectors wanting to see children, but they most certainly should NOT be seeing them alone. Parent and child should have the opportunity of discussing together with the inspector what has been studied that year. Obviously, in some special needs cases, more input to the discussion will come from the parent. I have heard reports of inspectors questioning and humiliating children - this is obviously not acceptable.

If after the inspection the inspector has just cause for welfare concerns, then the usual action can be taken.

Your idea of looking backward is interesting. I think a backward looking "diary" approach would be better than an inflexible forward looking plan. I am not an autonomous educator but think it would suit me better, it may suit them better too and it is a record many home educators already keep.

The purpose of this would be to show that "education was being provided", not to make a judgement on the type of education or to test the child. There needs to be an understanding that many home educated children were taken out of school precisely because they learn differently to the average child. They are often behind. And autonomous learners learn at a very different rate - late but extremely rapidly!

The idea of the school producing a "leaving report" and then the parent being evaluated for progress against this one year later is appalling. When my daughter left school apparently "all was well"! When I started to home educate her I soon realised at age 9 she still could not do single digit addition or subtraction. Schools who "overestimate" children's abilities will make themselves look good but put parents in an impossible position.

Inspectors seem to vary wildly. Some are very supportive and helpful. Others sound very bad! The idea of the very bad ones having the powers stated in the report is frightening. Obviously a right to appeal is essential. Some kind of process for home educators to raise complaints about an inspector would be useful too. Inspectors should be selected for their sympathy for and interest in home education and then be trained in it, preferably by home educators. Apparently many inspectors are retired headteachers - some lovely - some not - but their experience is not directly relevant.

This is just my view, but I hope it is helpful.

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Sarah

2:17 am  
Blogger Debs said...

With respect, Lord Lucas, I think you are rather missing the point. Parents are responsible for the education of their children, no matter where that education takes place. Therefore school performance is assessed in order to satisfy the parents that their child(ren) are receiving an education suitable to their age, ability, aptitude, and any SEN they may have. It does not, and should not work the other way around. Parents have no obligation whatsoever to have the education they provide through home education assessed by the state. As in law it is the parents who are responsible for the education of their children, we are not answerable to the state, but only to ourselves and our children.

Therefore, no assessment at all is necessary.

I also think you should be careful about referring to Education Otherwise as though they somehow represent all home educators, or are a body whom all home educators trust. They are not - not by a long way.

8:38 am  
Anonymous Jax said...

I'm not sure I understand the motivation for the question. Are you saying that you think that LAs currently do not know how to judge that an education is suitable for age, ability and aptitude and require some assistance in this area? Or are you asking for a new type of assessment along the lines mentioned in the Badman report? At present, home educators can send in an educational philosophy and report, or meet with an adviser, or present work, there are a number of ways that they can satisfy an inspector that a suitable education is on offer. I think having a variety of ways of satisfying enquiries is both wise and acceptable. What assessment process are you referring to that would require a.n.other individual to offer support through?

And as for the reference to EO, you are aware that they are not the only home education support organisation around, and that many established home educators do not hold them in high regard, mainly for their lack of anything regarding democracy or transparency in the running of their organisation? for example, their review response was not put out for consultation to even their own membership, but written by a small group only.

9:12 am  
Blogger Alfred the Ordinary said...

I tried to read this report from a detached viewpoint but found myself getting increasingly angry about it.

Although there might be some sensible recommendations contained within the Badman report, its obvious bias, poor assumptions and lack of any useful input from Home Educators make it at best, worthless and at worst, dangerous. If the government wanted a report that allows it to shut down one of the remaining freedoms open to us, that of the freedom to educate our children the way we feel is best, then this report fulfils that remit.

I have written down the top 8 major flaws in this report, as I see them, at http://alfredtheordinary.co.uk/index.php?itemid=120
I hope that they are useful in your review eg. He ignores comparison with Home Ed in the USA, choosing to comment on Home Ed laws in Germany and NZ, and writes a report that is about safeguarding children through the use of schools, not about Home Ed.

9:20 am  
Blogger saralexis said...

Consructive ways to deal with the concerns that sparked the review might include:
- a review of the ways that social services use their current powers
- better use of funding by those bodies
- better training for social services personel in the current law, their powers to protect children and in home education issues
The current law is sufficient to protect children, home-educated or not.. It is also sufficient to allow the government to ensure that parents are fulfilling their duty to educate their children. However it is frequently applied poorly and ineffectively.

10:19 am  
Anonymous Fatima said...

I think the best option, rather than leaving this up to local authorities (which would almost certainly be unfair), would be for the government to create a Home Education Support Service which would serve not only to "inspect" home educators but to genuinely help and offer advice as needed. This could be set up along the lines of what many districts in the State of Calfornia provide for homeschoolers, under the name of "independent study". In such an arrangement, the state provides a sympathetic tutor/mentor that the parents and children meet with on a regular basis. Centres provide sample inspection copies of various educational resources and distance learning programmes, to help parents make an educated choice of materials. Home educated children in many US states, where homeschooling is increasingly popular, are also entitled to take advantage of local school services or venues like school libraries, sports halls, etc. In some places they may be enrolled in a 'flexischooling' arrangement, whereby children may attend certain classes at school, while receiving private tuition in other subjects at home. This flexible approach focuses on the needs of the child (and family), while acknowledging the parental right to freedom of choice in education, and respecting the benefits of diversity.

People applying to work for a "home education" department should:
(1) be sympathetic to home education;
(2) have some kind of experience teaching children outside the classroom;
(3) be required to take an orientation course, including an overview of educational alternatives to the national curriculum (e.g. Montessori, Steiner, unschooling) and a survey of research on home education, like that conducted by Dr. Alan Thomas of the Institute of Education, London (author of 'Educating Children at Home' and other titles).

The issue of inspection and assessment is more difficult. Certainly, many shy children would be put off by being interviewed privately by strangers; for some, it could be a traumatic experience. Requiring parents to produce some kind of formal curriculum in advance would also be contrary to many child-led educational philosophies. Also, it is quite common for home educators, especially when new, to change curricular approaches and resources when the first ones chosen do not work as expected.

It would be better to ask for a simple statement of educational intentions, along with a modest portfolio of evidence of learning "after the fact", demonstrating activities and work completed over the course of the year. This could include not only written work, but also photos, video and audiotapes, artwork, parent's diaries of projects and conversations, etc. Perhaps parents could be asked to produce some evidence or description of learning in broad general categories, similar to what is required of independent schools: language and communication, number, science and technology, humanities/social sciences, physical education, and the arts. Specific learning targets would be much more difficult for home learners, especially for parents of children with special educational needs.

The onus should be on the state to prove that the education being provided at home is not suitable and that school attendance would be preferable, rather than the other way around. This would probably only be true in exceptional circumstances. We should bear in mind that formal schooling is a relatively recent phenomenon in history, and that many of the great leaders of centuries past were educated by governesses and tutors at home, without the benefit of formal curricula or learning targets.

10:43 am  
Blogger Random Musings said...

Lord Lucas,

Some elements of the report are actually very beneficial. Mainly surounding the areas of access to examinations, sports facilities, learning materials. These however should have some statutory basis rather than the rather wooly wording in the report. It is bizzare that an LA may consider any education not including GCSEs to be lacking; yet the same LA can effectively block or put hurdles into the process of access to these exams.

As a group we have to hire halls for sports events at our own cost whilst schools can have unused facilities from which we are barred (usually for spurious H&S 'reasons')

My concerns with the Badman report relate to

a) its lack of academic rigour. No evidence of abuse was found yet 'concerns' about abuse fill the report and its recommendations. All peer reviewed studies of positive learning outcomes of HE children are dimissed within a single sentance as not to be 'believed'.

b) Its imposition of a process of registration (with its implication of having to seek pemission to HE) and close monitoring (particularly private interviews of children) which presupposes that a level of 'concern for welfare' exists simply through the act of Home Education.

We are relatively structured Home Educators and so would have no difficulty in 'passing inspections' so in a sense these regulations would have only a limited impact on our family. However there needs to be a re-balancing of the relationship between HE and LAs.

The LAs need to have a structure emplaced which starts with the presumption that the parents are doing the job effectively and the children are safe. The LAs need to recognise the needs for access to exams and facilities. Home Educators need to recognise that within any society an effective relationship with the LA provides support and benefits to them and their children and is a starting point for mutual benefit not confrontation.

Things that could help the relationship could be.

Provision (on request) of learning materials (recommending reading schemes, course structures, etc)

Access to Sports facilities

Access to "Learning Sessions" in libraries etc where children can take part in story telling/reading sessions etc.

Access to GCSE exam facilities

Local HE groups could subscribe to gain access to LA distributed bulletins/Health awareness campaigns etc.

Sorry for the length of this comment

11:25 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas,

You appear to be confused.

On the one hand, you claim that you are outraged that Home Educators should be singled out for inspection (and by extension, registration), but then in the same breath, you propose as 'constructive' threads about how we can submit to these very same outrages.

You assume that Local Authorities should assess Home Education. This is a false assumption; Local Authorities have no business assessing Home Education or Home Educators. They have no right to know how many there are, what they are doing, where they are living or anything else about them. They are private people going about their own business, taking monies from no one and interfering with no person.

Local Authorities should not be fielding inspectors, no matter who trains them, to interfere in the private affairs of families. Your suggestion that Education Otherwise trained inspectors could be brought into play is a clear attempt to create a salve to soothe the raging pure anger felt by Home Educators. That you can suggest this as a 'reasonable compromise' demonstrates only that your own morality and sense of right and wrong are fatally compromised.

Saying that parents should have 'supporters' during assessment is like saying that violence against the person is OK as long as someone is there to 'support' the victim while it is taking place. The very idea is insulting and nauseating.

As for an appeals system, where things are operating as they should be, i.e. that Home Educators are undisturbed and unmolested, and there are no rules and regulations governing them, there would be no need for any appeals system. It is disturbing that you suggest that people should appeal to authority for their most basic of rights.

It is clear from this post that you have no concept of what true liberty is, or what being a libertarian means. Liberty is not divisible, and libertarians do not so easily compromise their basic beliefs.

I see that you "Voted strongly against introducing ID cards". It seems odd to me that after having shown some insight about ID Cards that you are now moderately FOR the mandatory registering of a group of people.

Once again, this points to some confusion in your thinking. But no matter. Home Educators are a hornet's nest that an ignorant man has discovered far away from his home, that he decides to poke a stick into. We are going to come out, stings exposed to punish this man who would dare disturb us in our homes for no good reason.

I suggest to you that you stop shilling for Graham Badman, Ed Balls and Education Otherwise, the latter being a quite despicable bunch of people whose sole aim today seems to be to ensure that they secure well paid government jobs for themselves managing Home Educators. We do not accept them, we do not accept this report, and we do not accept anyone that suggests that we should allow ourselves to be violated by the state or its proxies as a compromise.

11:33 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

This by way of a group reply.

Anonymous at 7.13pm: this seems an argument for a full separation of welfare issues from educational ones: seems a very sensible approach to me.

Anonymous of 8.02pm: That too seems a sensible approach, but I'm aware that others might want contact on their own terms.

Eli Murton: yes, training first whatever the system. Who to devise the training, though?

Elizabeth: Well 'assess' may be the wrong word, but it's clear that the LA has a responsibility under the education acts let alone the Human Rights act to make sure that children are being educated - not that they've been very good at it. As for EO, yes, understood: but then you have to find some other mechanism of agreeing - within government's timeframes - proposals for how the interface between government and home educators should work: government is not capable of resolving disputes between home educators, and if all you do is produce a host of different ideas then government will find them easy to neglect.

badwoman: as above. Government does assess the education of all schooled children though not individually - but they're moving in that direction. Otherwise as above. I make no claim to be a knight, let alone with shining armour - a peer can steer legislation, and modify it, maybe sometimes dissuade people from it, but not change it altogether. The pace is being set by the NSPCC - a malevolent force but a force to be reckoned with - and educationalists. In fundamental terms they are stronger that me, so I doubt the possibility of outright victory. But perhaps the next government will have other priorities.

Meike: no, I'm not advocating anything - just asking and learning.

And all others till now: thankyou, there's much there for me to think on.

12:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well you definitely appear to be doing a good job of learning and listening here on your blog, thank-you.

Do you have pointers to any of your colleagues in the House of Lords who have a similar avenue where we can make our voices heard?

I always thought that hereditary peers were more able of thinking independantly and you've only served to strengthen that opinion.

1:00 pm  
Anonymous Janet said...

Personally I feel that the current system does not need changing, however I can see that there may be the need to go down the registration route-if only to stop the endless round of consultations, that take us away from educating our children. However this in itself may be problematic, in terms of the Govt using the figures to argue for more red tape and monitoring. There is a real sense of mistrust between some LAs and HEedrs-this needs to be addressed and I feel the balance of power must not swing into the LAs hands,some have not got a good track record in respecting a family's right to HE, and/or the methods used. In terms of the welfare issue, as far as I am aware the review showed no link between HE and child abuse, so I wonder on what grounds the NSPCC feels fit to tighten up on HE? GBs recommendations would cetainly not help in this area, leading instead to a climate of fear which evidently is not in the best interests of our children-the very people GB and the NSPCC talks of wanting to help.

1:23 pm  
Blogger Big mamma frog said...

Dear Lord Lucas, I welcome your support and hope that you can speak out for home educators.

The title 'how to assess home education' does not sit comfortably with me. One of the reasons why my children are not in school is because I strongly believe that being monitored/ tested/ assessed/ measured/ compared with other children is damaging to their self-esteem and inhibits their love of learning.

Their learning path is whichever path they choose, I am only here as facilitator to support and guide them.

The definition of a suitable education has always been vague because of the realisation that children's needs are so very different. Prescribing a one-size -all definition is not possible, yet this is what schools attempt to do, and what LAs would be judging us on if we were to be assessed.

Provision of a suitable education is by law the responsibility of the parent, not the state.

Sadly this report has so damaged the relationship between home educators and LAs, that even those Home Educators who were willing to be visited by LA officials are refusing to do so any more.

2:20 pm  
Blogger Joxy said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

I do not believe assessment is necessary and agree with many of the comments you have already received regarding the parent being responsible and therefore no assessent being required.

The current processes in place are sufficient and I believe it would be far more effective if Local Authorities were given training in Home Education and the various styles used. The onus should then be on Local Authorities to reach out to the HE community and build bridges and develop a working relationship.

I, myself would be happy to voluntarily register with my LEA, once my son if of school age, if I could be assured of support and understanding. I already keep examples of artwork, take photos and keep a blog; all these things I would be happy for the LEA officers to look at. I would have no problem to them spending time with my family and observing. I don't actually think it is necessary for me to do this, however, I do believe that with training my LEA could become a useful resource and service.

I am however, not at all happy at the idea of the LAs being given unprecedented powers of entrance to my home and access to my child. Surely, that is what police and social services are for, if there is a welfare concern.

And if the LEA have an educational concern then there are procedures in place already.

Regards
Jacqui.

4:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact is that all assessment is a big con because it implies competiton between children. No one can be assessed against someone else's performance, he or she can merely improve upon their own performance. Testing serves no function except as a school rating system, and an irritant or, indeed, a positive deterrent to children's development. As a society, we should be enriching children's confidence, not weighing and measuring them.

As to the LAs, if you had been on some of the home education lists for a few years you would have seen the absolute hell that some poor families have gone through because of a prejudiced, ill-informed ex-teacher's views. Home education is not now, and never shall be, school.

I would like to add that there is nothing wrong with the present system. It is merely that prejudice and dislike (and ridiculous rubbish like ECM 'targets') get in the way of LA agents' sense. I do not see why an LA should have the right to 'assess' my children when that LA failed them so miserably in school. If a plumber installed a boiler in my house which blew up the bathroom, I certainly would never trust him or her to fix the leak in the radiator. These LAs are supposed to be public servants. They work for us (an ironic statement). They should be answerable to us, not us to them. We pay their salaries...

This is a ludicrous 'review,' particularly galling when thousands upon thousands upon thousands of children are picked on, isolated, injured, beaten up, denigrated, denied a voice, and feel suicidal at school. Now, there's a thought. Might the LAs actually do something which is in their remit to make schools better places for children to exist?

As to abuse, we will be the only group in society which is singled out (in fact, we are already) as potential child abusers. It is fair? Is it legal? Well, we'll see. If the government is determined to check home educating families for abuse, then they will have to check schooled families for abuse in the summer holidays and on week-ends. Then because adults can abuse children during the times they are not seen we will have to install cameras in everyone's house. Then in changing rooms, garden sheds, behind walls and fences near to fields, in barns, in cars...

Where does it end?

Or perhaps this is what the government wants.

Delilah

5:21 pm  
Anonymous Firebird said...

Q - "So, for instance, how should Local Authorities assess home education?"

A - The first question should be WHEN not HOW and when should be ONLY when they have grounds to suspect that a parent is failing in their legal duty.

How? well I really don't see anything wrong with the existing system to be honest.

Q - Require inspectors to go on an EO training scheme?

A - No. EO do NOT represent all home educators and frankly a lot of us no longer have any faith in them. Certainly 'inspectors' should be required to receive training and ideally have some experience of education outside of the Primary and Secondary school system.

Q - Allow parents to have supporters (an organisation, or church, or just a friend who has been through it) during the assessment process?

A - We have that right already and it would certainly be a serious step backwards if that were to be removed. Personally if forced to accept a visit I would be setting up a video camera to record the entire thing.

Q - Have an appeals system?

A - Always a good idea.

5:38 pm  
Anonymous Lindsay said...

How about home educators keep a rough (as in not minutely detailed) journal of the learning a child accomplishes over a year and the LA looks at that. So no targets or assessments are necessary, and it's not dependent upon approval of a specific method of education, but the LA is ensuring education is taking place. If not, then they can take steps under existing laws.

Even though I prefer the status quo, if we *have* to go down this road then as an autonomous educator then I would prefer this method rather than our lives being infected by the same disease which afflicts schools... and which still fails thousands of children.

7:36 pm  
Blogger Fee said...

I'd like to know how it is that the children for whom local authorities have prime responsibiity - those in the care of the local authority, can be allowed to have such parlous prospects in every aspect of growing, emotionally, academically, physically, and yet they think they are in a position to assess or inspect our provision for our children?

More than this, the sixth of childrenwho leave school functionally illiterate and functionally innumerate?

What funding some good academic and IMPARTIAL research into the relative merits of home education, most especialy radical unschooling, which is the approach most likely to fall foul of the local authority inspections?

I believe, but cannot substantiate that you would find a much lower incidence of teenage pregnancy, drug use, alcohol abuse, crime etc among home educated children than schooled ones. I think it is time that some proper research to look at the benefits and what home education can teach mainstream education too.

I think Milton Keynes, who do not inspect home educators, have it right. Once you are not trying to play policeman, you are in a much better position to offer real and meaningful support to those who want it. If there is no problem within a family, why should anyone need inspecting?

Did the Badman review in fact find problems generally? No, he did not, and said as much.

I think that any government needs to look at whether more and different legislation is needed, and even if the perception of the inspectorate is that the current legislation obstructs them, this neds to be looked at in an unbiassed way. I believe that Mr Badman was biassed against us from the beginning, and was expected to make the recommendations he did make because of where he came from.

That still doesn't make him right. As a community we don't feel listened to or understood. And we don't agree with the recommendations, not at all.

8:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is bad enough that education is compulsory, but the idea of someone coming to inspect what has been poured into your mind is quite sci-fi if you think about it. Often these inspectors talk about the child making progress and with their clipboards they start sniffing out for any signs. Learning is a convoluted process and is affected by so many factors. One of them is being watched and monitored. How on earth could one not make progress? Every day of your life you learn something new.
Nobody likes being assessed against their will. It feels like an assault on one's very being.
I don't want to be assessed for the provision of my child's education, no more than I want to be assessed for what I feed them. If I was ordered to eat green beans I might go sneak the chocolate more. Authoritarianism creates rebels. Free people learn how to make good choices by sometimes making bad ones. But they are also exceptionally open to good ideas when introduced to them by a benevolent source.
The LA's need to go and become public servants again and to only interfere in peoples lives if they have a genuine cause to be concerned.

8:21 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Further consolidated reactions:

I agree with In His Service that registration is probably inevitable - it's built into the upcoming children's database - but can see no reason why it should be annual.

Several of you argue against any assessment. Clearly assessment is the wrong word, since some of you say they prefer the current system. What's the right word for the process whereby the LA becomes happy that education is taking place?

Several of you rail against EO. Would you support any organisation - and if so where is it? If not, then you miss out on the benefits of co-operation which, in resisting governments, are considerable. That co-operation involves compromise, delegation and other uncomfortable words is true - I can read that in your criticism of what are inevitable chracteristics of EO as it attempts to see off Badman.

Jax, I quite agree re multimple routes of asse ... whatever it's to be called.

Fatima, might the home education support service also be delivered by LAs with central guidance and Ofsted inspection of the LA's effectiveness?

Random musings - quite agree about evealuation of HE - government should commit funding for this. Also like your support ideas.

8:47 pm  
Blogger Raquel said...

I think for assessment you could replace with the word *enquiries*

9:00 pm  
Blogger Raquel said...

As for being represented by an organisation, I don't see why we should be. People who choose to grow their own food don't need representation...though maybe with this lot they will one day. Tthe only reason that this is seemed to be needed is because we keep being attacked. Maybe the government that the people elect should stop attacking it's people?

9:04 pm  
OpenID mum6kids said...

Thank you for this I need to have a think about it.
A lot seems to come down to the attitude of LA staff. If they are antagonistic to home education then families in those areas will have huge problems. I know of a family who moved house to get away from the bullying of the LA.
Yes it was that bad.

From what you say we HAVE to be registered. That is unavoidable? (We are already regged as I pulled the children from school)
But NOT annually-that would cost a lot surely.

Then there is 'evidence'. What would this have to be and WHY?

And what is the beef with the NSPCC? Why are they so anti family?

How do you see things actually happening for us?

Thank you

9:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps a kind of drop-in day run periodically, where HE families can attend, where there activities going on and other families for support - in a neutral environment such as a library perhaps.

If LAs could organise something that was stimulating for the children and allowed the LA inspectors to interact with them this should tick their boxes. It also allows for parents to present their plans, etc. in a relatively informal session and with the support of other, possibly more confident HE parents.

If they could run these monthly, with an obligation on registered parents to attend at least one a year (more if they were supportive, perhaps) then it would seem a better use of their restricted resources than individual visits, and still allow them to inspect what they feel they need to / are obligated to.

This would be much less intimidating than a forced visit - I almost feel sorry for the inspectors, being given powers to force a meeting in the home, intimidate both parents and children and decide whether or not they feel it is appropriate to be chaperoned or alone with the child sounds very much like a perfect job description for an abuser, and I can see the inspectors being viewed with massive hostility and suspicion.

I certainly would not trust an a stranger who found themselves attracted to such a position to be alone with my HE children, and would be reporting any hint of refusal to accept a chaperone to police and their superiors even though just the report would probably invalidate their eCRB clearance and ability to work.

I don't like this "you don't trust us, we don't trust you" approach, but without serious changes to Rec. 7 I can see the careers of some LA staff being the casualties of an HE backlash when inspections start.

10:48 pm  
Blogger badwoman said...

Good evening Ralph,

I have a few moments left before I fall asleep after battling with balls and badman all day and trying not to let that interfere with my children's education

The scariest thing you said to me is that the nspcc are setting the pace and that even though you describe them as malevolent, you offer no plan to discredit them and instead suggest we have to reckon with them - ie, I guess that means you think we have to give credence to their slander and rather than dismiss it as such, try and beat it? Why?

You ponder also that the next government 'may' have other priorities - aside from being circumspect about what those priorities may be, I wonder if you have any insight into the Conservative policies/ideas about home education?

You said to Elizabeth that LAs have a responsibility to make sure that children are being educated. I disagree - statute disagrees. LAs have a duty to act "if" it comes to their notice that a child is not in receipt of a suitable education - this is a million miles away from LAs actively checking if every child is in receipt of a suitable education.

Please do ask me for chapter and verse if you are not familiar with it.

Please - before you think about any other single aspect of this debate - prefix every idea and sentence with "innocent until proven guilty, not, guilty until proven innocent - investigation only if reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is about to be committed.

you ask
"What's the right word for the process whereby the LA becomes happy that education is taking place?"

trust

there is absolutely no reason or evidence to suggest that home educators cannot be trusted to do what they say they are doing.

simple!

you say:
"Several of you rail against EO."

Yes!

Would you support any organisation - and if so where is it?

No - you have to understand that home educators are a v diverse lot of folk. EO used to represent the majority back in the 80's, but they have gone to seed and home educators are much better informed
and self sufficient. There are hundreds of on-line groups related to geographic location or preferred model of education or anti Badman report or home ed research papers or religious allegiance etc etc.

you say

"If not, then you miss out on the benefits of co-operation"

we don't -

you are more than likely benefiting from info from numerous of these groups because despite our differences we have one thing in common which causes us to cross post and share - resisting interference, intervention and bids to take over our personal responsibilities.


"which, in resisting governments, are considerable."

yes - we have benefited from that experience in the past and hope to now!

"That co-operation involves compromise,"

no! - we will not bend to the wishes of power crazy psychopaths

"delegation"

we do not delegate our responsibility to cause our children to receive an education and we will not delegate other responsibilities


"and other uncomfortable words "

like balls and badman?


and you also said

"Random musings - quite agree about evealuation of HE - government should commit funding for this. Also like your support ideas."

I hope any such research would be performed by unbiased students with the benefit of experiencing both school and home education!

I really appreciate that you are listening - lets hope you also hear :-)

Goodnight,
Badwoman

11:48 pm  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Lord Lucas,

In response to your response:

It does not actually say in the Educational act that the LEA has 'to make sure that children are being educated.' It only says in 437(1) that "If it APPEARS to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall ..." Nowhere does it actually say they had to check or had the right to inspect us.

The Human Rights Act only says we have the right to an education; it does not give the State the authority to make sure one is carried out. The Human Rights Act specifically assigns all responsibility to the parents, and that the State should RESPECT our rights.

ARTICLE 2 RIGHT TO EDUCATION
No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.

So basically—I do not need the EO to speak for me—I just need our government to respect and obey the law. Just as we are doing.

11:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas,

You are missing the point totally with what the many commenters are trying to tell you about EO.

EO has been rejected by 90% of the HE community, it survives by signing up new HEors who in general stay a couple of years before allowing their membership to cease as they see that EO has neither the skills, the drive nor the desire to represent them. At which point, of course, a new crop of proto-HEors are being harvested. It's a good business model and a nice ego trip for those who get their names in the press but has done little other than damage the HE community.

It's image in the wider HE community is of an organisation that pays more attention to it's frequent internal strife (there have been 3 coups/culls of it's Council in the last 2 or so years) and to smearing other organisations than to doing anything positive for HEors. I'm not saying some of it's people are driven, you've met a couple of those I know but it's what they are driven by that led EO to be viewed so negatively by the HE community.

I'd go so far as to say that it's the concern that any other group would end up being so seriously corrupted that makes efforts to create a more credible alternative so difficult. That and EO's long held view that lies and smears are acceptable weapons in protecting it's position as the largest HE org in England.

Things are, as I hope you are aware, very different up in Scotland where Schoolhouse has not only achieved a great deal to protect HEing but done so by reflecting and defending the whole spectrum of HEors and without watering down it's position on HE rights. AHEd would be the nearest equivalent in England and would be a much more representative source of information as you hopefully continue your welcome support of us HEors.

1:22 am  
Anonymous Cathy Koetsier said...

Dear Lord Lucas

First of all, thank you very much for taking an interest in our problems. It means a lot to me and to my family.

You asked about assessment. Like many other commentators on this blog, I too have issues with the idea of assessment at all. This is on the basis of the knowledge that I am ultimately responsible for my child. If my child was in a school, yes, I would expect assessment of the school so that I could be satisfied that the delegated task is being carried out. In our case, the children are educated by ourselves, and so there is no need for assessment. I feel so angry that parents in general end up being viewed as potentially irresponsible. This is an insult.

Having said all that, I would be willing (albeit grudgingly) to offer some sort of retrospective assessment in the form of a journal/diary/photographs showing what happened during the course of the previous academic year.

I would not be happy for my children to be subjected to the pressure of an interview in which they have to 'prove' one way or another, what they have learned. Their learning is their intellectual property, and they may share it as they wish, but never under duress.

These are my thoughts on the subject.

1:33 am  
Blogger Ali said...

Commenting on your post at 8.47:
"What's the right word for the process whereby the LA becomes happy that education is taking place?"
Enquiries. LA's already have a duty to make these.
"Several of you rail against EO. Would you support any organisation - and if so where is it? If not, then you miss out on the benefits of co-operation which, in resisting governments, are considerable."
I supported EO for many years. I no longer support them because they are not speaking for me. There are other "organisations" within the home education movement which I do support because they share my view that the current legislation is sufficient, and that the problem lies with the ignorance of many LA representatives about any kind of education other than the school kind, and their reluctance to be enlightened by the abundant evidence that autonomous education, for example, is extremely effective.
I regard monitoring as a gross invasion of my personal liberty and that of my children, and even if I did not, I would never agree to be monitored by people who do not understand, and have no interest in understanding, how autonomous education works.
You have already read some horror stories here. When we are treated with such suspicion and hostility, is it any wonder that we are angry and frightened?
I appreciate your support.

2:50 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with monitoring and registration is that the authorities aim for certain uniformity in order that they may fulfill their brief and tick all of their boxes and homeschoolers in general are not all one and the same. We represent many different circumstances - there is no one size fits all.

I am not concerned with registration, I am not concerned with needing to prove that my children work.

I am concerned with being told what to teach my children and being told to keep to someone else's schedule.

I am concerned that this bill goes beyond matters of education and into the realm of child welfare in general. Innocent until proven guilty simply because my children do not attend a state run school.

We homeschool because my children have special needs - they're on the Autism Spectrum. How do I know that I will not be asked to send my children to certain therapies in the future because the state deems it so?

Who judges whether my kids' progress is adequate enough, given their special needs to not have them ordered back to school? Will the person who makes such a decision be an expert in matters of Autism and special needs or just a person who feels they have the right to make that decision based on personal bias?

3:05 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Raquel: yes, ‘LAs shall make enquiry to satisfy themselves that a suitable education is being provided’ perhaps? Together with proper training of LA staff and an appeal mechanism and of course no one-to-one?

As for being represented by an organisation, no you should not have to be – it’s just that from time to time it’s useful to belong to one. Dealing with Badman, I and others would have little power if we had to rely on a collection of individual HE views – the government can just as easily find opposing ones to negate us, as Badman sarcastically remarks re the EO proposals; A consensus, or at least a majority view, however limited, is a much better weapon. Then again, many of you want LA officials to be properly trained: who is to design that training – an organisation, or an individual (and if an individual, which one?). Once the crisis is over, then the restrictions of the compromises involved in belonging to an organisation become insupportable again. There are many examples of such temporary co-operation in human affairs – and indeed those of slime moulds – working to excellent effect.

Mum6kids: it’s LAs who need inspection and assessment. As for the NSPCC, I think that it’s that they’re in the grip of an orthodoxy that says that 1 in 8 parents abuse their children, and it’s their mission to root out this abuse. How will things work out for HE? I’m optimistic – there’s a lot of support in the wider world – but we need to work hard to put a positive case – how HE helps children and LAs, how LAs can help, how to make the rules work – or we’ll be overrun by the schooling / abuse lobbies.

Anonymous 10.48pm – helpful points

Badwoman: I think there’s a cycle in large ‘charitable’ organisations: they do great good, they become powerful, they become corrupted, they lose their reputations, they are revived. But the ‘corrupt’ phase can last a long time, especially if there are parts of them that still do good. NSPCC are a power in the land, with many prominent supporters: within the lifetime of the argument over HE they’re likely to remain that way.

The Conservatives are, at least in principle, strongly supportive of HE. I suspect that the LibDems can be persuaded to be if we take a positive approach.

Yes, do share chapter and verse – the letter of the law does matter in this argument. Be sure to include the Human Rights Act and the UN charter: both have influence.

Re co-operation: but then you need some mechanism of transmitting your own consolidated views, or all you get is my interpretation of them. Do you want your future to be in my hands or your own?

Elizabeth. Yes, but in order for an LA to become aware it ought to put itself in a position to be aware – it’s not supposed to play 3 wise monkeys.

Anonymous 1.22am: Whatever EO’s faults, I have found the individuals that I have worked with helpful and thoughtful – and no other organisation has made contact with me.

Cathy, Ali, Anonymous 3.05am: thankyou for your views – all help educate me. The way to retain the right to diversity is perhaps to ensure that LA staff are properly trained. But who, as I’ve already said, do you want to devise the training?

10:25 am  
Anonymous Home Ed Forums said...

Although Graham Badman was advised to look to Scotland for advice on how things can be made to work, he obviously ignored that suggestion. Instead he chose to terrorise small children and their families with outrageous proposals based on no more than personal prejudice.

The fact that EO has been wiped out in Scotland perhaps explains why a workable system has been achieved (although no one is complacent due to ECM/GIRFEC creep which affects all families). Schoolhouse is the national Scottish support group which works co-operatively with AHEd, its counterpart south of the border. Both are committed to preserving fundamental freedoms for all parents and children.

Parents are responsible for providing their children with education, LAs just have to provide schools for those parents who don't choose to do it themselves. Home Education is the default model. LAs are the servants and should be accountable in law to parents and children for their failing (but monopolistic) services (including failure to keep children safe from assault). The real question is: why aren't they?

As for training...LA literacy skills may need to be brushed up as they will have to read and understand written guidance (which has proved challenging for some in Scotland). A touch of diversity training might not go amiss either, if only in anticipation of new duties under the Equality Bill once enacted.

10:58 am  
Blogger elaine said...

Trying to pin down home educators to one view point is impossible. as a true global movement home education cuts across all classes, creeds and philosophies. It's pretty much the same as trying to pin down all parents to one view point on parenting.

What I will say though is that the law as it stands is sufficient and has not met with many complaints from home educators if applied correctly and fairly.

I know there are others who will be willing to explain the law as it stands and why it is sufficient in more depth here.

There are many home education organisations in the UK, as well as special interest groups such ones based on religion, ethnicity, special needs, home education philosophy and regional groups.

I could probably put you in touch with about 15-20 if you so wished.

A large proportion of EO membership is composed of very new home educators as they offer practical support such as discounts and a magazine. It's never been a campaign organisation until very recently.

Many long term home educators have very little to do with EO as they are seen to be co-opted and enamoured by government and have their own agenda. Although I don't want to turn this into an anti EO thread as there are bigger fish to fry.

It's interesting that this review managed to not include a single real concern from home educators. I have seen large numbers of responses to the review and home educators concerns have been roundly ignored.

I direct you to the AHEd (Action for Home Education) public wiki where you can see AHEd's initial letter about the review and at the bottom of the page are links to AHEd's review response and a letter to Mr Badman's request for information on what home educators want from LAs.

http://ahed.pbworks.com/BadmanLetterMay

AHEd is entirely an action group for the defence of home education with a membership that is heavy on long term home educators. I am one and have been home educating for 14years.

For more information on AHEd our website is here

http://www.ahed.org.uk/

11:22 am  
Blogger elaine said...

>Once the crisis is over, then the >restrictions of the compromises >involved in belonging to an >organisation become insupportable >again. There are many examples of >such temporary co-operation in >human affairs – and indeed those >of slime moulds – working to >
>excellent effect.

I'm afraid that for many home educators EO's stance is an anathema to them. I include myself in that number.

I wonder how many people get your reference to slime moulds? I'm not sure if I'd want to be in a group of mobile fungi. lol. Although I do understand what you mean.

11:28 am  
Anonymous Home Ed Forums said...

Although Graham Badman was advised to look to Scotland for advice on how things can be made to work, he obviously ignored that suggestion. Instead he chose to terrorise small children and their families with outrageous proposals based on no more than personal prejudice.

The fact that EO has been wiped out in Scotland perhaps explains why a workable system has been achieved (although no one is complacent due to ECM/GIRFEC creep which affects all families). Schoolhouse is the national Scottish support group which works co-operatively with AHEd, its counterpart south of the border. Both are committed to preserving fundamental freedoms for all parents and children.

Parents are responsible for providing their children with education, LAs just have to provide schools for those parents who don't choose to do it themselves. Home Education is the default model. LAs are the servants and should be accountable in law to parents and children for their failing (but monopolistic) services (including failure to keep children safe from assault). The real question is: why aren't they?

As for training...LA literacy skills may need to be brushed up as they will have to read and understand written guidance (which has proved challenging for some in Scotland). A touch of diversity training might not go amiss either, if only in anticipation of new duties under the Equality Bill once enacted.

11:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas,

HE-UK is run by Mike Fortune-Wood. He and his wife have written many books, particularly on autonomous learning. Mike offers LAs courses on home education and has done for many years. I do not know what the take up is - I'm sure that Mike would tell you himself - but I have the impression that many LAs do not avail themselves of that opportunity through prejudice. LAs - staffed largely by ex-teacher types or indoctrinated agents - are usually deeply prejudiced. They do not understand home education, and they are not capable of giving it exam marks because they have no idea of how it works. I don't blame them completely in this, because until you do it and see it working, you don't truly understand it. The fact is, however many hoops we give the populace and their children to jump through, children will learn without our help. My younglings did not have a teacher to co-ordinate their legs when they stood up at the age of eleven months and toddled off. They weren't trained by a P.E. teacher when they began to run up and down the room a few weeks later. They acted on instinct. They learned how to do it themselves, just as my eldest is now assimilating a foreign language (that's one thing I cannot be much help at facilitating but have found her a great tutor). The educational system fails many children. Those children can educate themselves with the help of their parents/carers. It is in their design to learn. Really, it's quite hard to stop them. As home educators, we know that and we do not worry because we trust our children, and we are there as guides and facilitators for them, but try explaining that to LAs who have been imprinted by school methods.

Thanks for listening.

Delilah

12:15 pm  
Blogger Debs said...

I do appreciate that you are trying to help. As Ali said the correct term (as opposed to 'assessment') is 'enquiry', and LA's can already make enquiries of home educators. The system works just fine, as long as LA officers do not attempt to assume responsibilities they do not have, and no change is needed.

If the review is about safeguarding children, none of Badman's recommendations will make a scrap of difference to any potential or real abuse of children. If it is about education, many of Badman's recommendations could actually have a detrimental effect on children's education, by expecting it to be measured against tick-box criteria and planned for in advance. Forcing children back into school could very easily be detrimental to both their education and welfare!

I think you should definitely contact Action for Home Education, as suggested by Elaine. They are truly a collaborative organisation, and all members can work on the wiki and thus all have a say in what is said and done by the organisation. No press release or anything else is ever sent out without being worked on first by any and all members who want to contribute and then being okayed by all interested members, too, so you are not likely to come across a bunch of disgruntled home educators who feel misrepresented, as with EO!

2:19 pm  
Anonymous Barbara Stark said...

I wonder if people believe that home education is not actually open to monitoring already or that the LAs, as they sometimes claim, do not have powers to investigate?

This is not true. In the areas both of educational provision and welfare, there are well established procedures that are sufficient for the purpose but are routinely misunderstood or not used when they should be.

Of course, it is a criminal offence for a parent to fail in their duty to ensure that their child receives an efficient and suitable education. This is a parental legal responsibility and, as the persons responsible, they must have the permissions in law to fulfil this duty in accordance with their philosophy and beliefs.

The local authority must take action as set out in law to investigate and to remedy the situation should they conclude that there is cause to believe a parent is failing in their duties of if there are other causes of concern about the parental provisions.

Local authorities are empowered to make enquiries of parents to ascertain whether there is an appearance of failure, and to take further action if they have concerns. The standard of information that home educating parents should provide is such that will convince a reasonable person, on the balance of probabilities, that there is no such appearance.

But if LAs are not satisfied and investigations go further, the standard of information will become increasingly detailed and specific under a notice to satisfy.

Were a parent to actually refuse to provide information, authorities are permitted to conclude that this constitutes an appearance of failure in itself and begin legal investigations that can lead to the issue of a school attendance order.

What has become common, is for local authority personnel to complain that families wish to present their information in a form that is beneficial to the family and needs of the child but does not fit their pro forma or the current local government policy on education and child inspections - that they can't test children or demand right of access to homes and to children separated from parents; that they are expected to operate on the assumption of innocence unless there is probable cause that further investigation is required.

Local authorities increasingly argue that it is they who are responsible to ensure the education of children, and not parents, (Look out for multiple law suits for endemic failure on the part of LAs were this to become the case!)

It is now being argued that local authorities should be able to dictate not only the form in which information is made available to them, thus controlling how parents can answer an enquiry into their legal duties to ascertain whether they are guilty of a criminal offence, but also that local authorities should be able to dictate in large measure the actual form, content and predicted outcomes of the provisions made to all children.

In other words, they wish to remove flexibility of choice and freedom of conscience and require families to demonstrate their suitability by proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are not guilty of criminal behavior where there is no cause to believe that they might be.

It is of great concern that home education is being conflated with child abuse to excuse the proposed interventions. These interventions will only cause further harm to children and families.

AHEd is in the process of producing a response to the review report recommendations with their members and in preparing a response to the resulting consultation.

3:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow
It's all been said really.

A truly independent review of HE would have reported that many LAs regualrly use ultra vires practice and make the lives of He families difficult.

The report mentioned none of this.

It was certainly given many examples

5:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at Milton Keynes for best practice. The council and the HE community in Milton Keynes have a really good relationship using the current guidelines!

5:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas on bringing this new review into legislation, repelling the old coverage in existing laws that already govern what is said in the review except for access to equipment. The parent effectively becomes a slave of the state to serve the local authorities.
A. Do you agree the laws are in place already to cover all existing laws (in various acts etc) they wish to cover in the review.
B. Do you agree that a review that is repetitive is nothing but a sheer waste of tax payers money.
C. Do you agree that parents/homeeducators will have their parental rights taken from them,on the account of providing choice but if they are to be vetted by La's with penalisations this then develops to choice by the LA's.

I would be very interested to see your comments on this.

5:40 pm  
Anonymous KarenV said...

I don't think Local Authorities can adequately assess home education. They would either have to have very very open minds or have a vast knowledge of all the differnt learning styles and the very different ways each individual family not only learns but LIVES by them.

I would also disagree with using an EO 'training scheme'. EO does not represent all home educators, it's politics in recent years have driven many of it's supporters away, including myself. They represent a small corner of the home educating community. There are other Home Education support organisations, though I presume since they are missing from the discussion, they are not as vocal as Education Otherwise.

Perhaps Local Authorities should invite home educators to speak to them, take our opinion and advice on board rather than thinking they know better.
I know of experienced home educators who would be more than happy to offer themselves in a support role to both their LA and HE families in their local area.

I'm very lucky in that home educators in my area have a great track record with the LA. They are understanding, helpful, open minded and supportive. They offer to help you get in touch with local HE families and perhaps most importantly they are friendly and are not judgmental.
Will a 'one size fits all' training/monitoring/assessing scheme mean that we lose this good service from our LA?
Just because some LA's need a good kick up the bum doesn't mean that legislation should take away what is working and good.

There definately should be some form of appeals system. Otherwise there is the potential for many home educating families breaking the law.
If an LA tries to put a child damaged by school back in school there are very few parents who will just stand by and let that happen. What caring parent in their right mind would allow the state to damage their child further? I have a friend who said she would rather go to prison or even emigrate before she will send her child back to school!

5:49 pm  
Anonymous David Hough said...

I think a good start would be for the government to drop this odious review and do it properly. As many people have pointed out, the review was written to benefit government policy, not children and as such, the whole thing is tainted, even the few good points.

Far better to look at it from the perspective of the child; provide some facilities that are hard or expensive to get as a home educator, such as laboratory or arts facilities. Outside school hours many such facilities lie idle, and it wouldn't be too expensive to provide a qualified person to supervise children in the company of a home educator who can plan their own experiments and investigations and then implement them. As side effects, voluntary registration would increase if that's what it took to get access to the facilities (carrots are much better than sticks) and more children would be exposed to the sort of public scrutiny that Ed Balls wants.

7:40 pm  
Blogger shepherdlass said...

I agree with those who have commented above: I am absolutely dismayed at the proposed changes to home education monitoring. And I am utterly stunned that a government that nominally adheres to equality and diversity policies could entertain such obvious discrimination against a minority group just by virtue of their difference. If one imagines removing from Badman's allegationsthe words 'home educators' and instead inserting the name of another minority (eg homosexuals; BME groups; religious groups), it is easy to perceive the level of discrimination involved.

The fact is that we have an existing law, which coupled with existing child protection systems, is perfectly fit for purpose when implemented correctly.

I would suggest that we keep the existing law but ensure that LA staff charged with monitoring home education are fully conversant with the law as it stands, as well as home education philosophies and approaches, and their substantial record of success.

8:18 pm  
Blogger Ross & Jo said...

This government and the NSPCC in particular has ensured that a even handed debate is impossible. The review has taken place under a cloud of allegations put into the public domain without evidence and the ignorance put forward in the review has rendered it obselete. If the government is serious about reform it needs to ensure that the voice of home educators is heard. The review gave home educators a very limited scope of questions based on Every Child Matters (a contentious issue to start with) whilst local authorities had a substantial questionnaire with approximately 60 questions. The organisations quoted in the review are just adding to the misconceptions about home education.

We have to be seen as part of the solution, not part of the problem. I have invited my MP to meet with myself and my family to attempt to redress the damage inflicted by the NSPCC and I believe that other home educators need to pursue this line. We must be publically seen and show how positive this lifestyle can be.

If the Government is serious about bringing in compulsory registration then it has to illustrate how this will benefit our children. The current recommendations are frighteningly ambiguous and scant in details. Maybe with a few more details and rather less generalisations we could actually begin a debate that would be advantageous to both sides.

9:05 pm  
Blogger christine said...

Parents are currently responsible for their child's education by law. Most parents choose to pass that responsibility to schools, hence the LA is responsible for assessing these institutions on behalf of parents, to make sure they are providing an education. Parents sending their child to a failing school are therefore technically breaking the law.

If Mr Badman's proposals become law, where do parents stand? Are we still responsible for our child's education? How can we be if someone is barging into our homes unannounced, interrogating our poor kids in isolation and then demanding we do everything their way?

This is a slippery path. Where are we heading here? Are parents no longer trusted to look after their children? Does the state want responsibility instead? What is the bigger picture here?

The current home ed law is fine as it is. Taking away the rights of parents to chose their children's education means a lot more than just undermining the rights of this minority group of families.

10:07 pm  
Blogger christine said...

Parents are currently responsible for their child's education by law. Most parents choose to pass that responsibility to schools, hence the LA is responsible for assessing these institutions on behalf of parents, to make sure they are providing an education. Parents sending their child to a failing school are therefore technically breaking the law.

If Mr Badman's proposals become law, where do parents stand? Are we still responsible for our child's education? How can we be if someone is barging into our homes unannounced, interrogating our poor kids in isolation and then demanding we do everything their way?

This is a slippery path. Where are we heading here? Are parents no longer trusted to look after their children? Does the state want responsibility instead? What is the bigger picture here?

The current home ed law is fine as it is. Taking away the rights of parents to chose their children's education means a lot more than just undermining the rights of this minority group of families.

10:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not a case of "How to assess Home education" it is more of a case of "HOW can home educators Assess facilities they wish to choose free of charge,after all they too pay their taxes Twice!"

once for schools and services and twice for their children's home education.!!

Scrap the review and put the free resources there with no strings attached and gov. will be putting the child's education first under "All children deserve a good education"
As it stands they are only serving school children mainly with these facilities.

11:00 pm  
Blogger Ali said...

Lord Lucas, you said, "
look backwards not (except at the start) forward". This is crucial to understanding autonomous education. Mike Fortune-Wood, who has four academically successful autonomously educated children, has said that the success of AE only becomes apparent in retrospect. For much of the time, it appears to an outsider as if nothing is happening at all (to use Badman's phrase, it appears "little better than childminding").
This is because no-one but the child is privy to the process that is taking place. The success of that process is only apparent once it is complete.
I know of a child with Asperger's Syndrome who, after being de-registered from school, spent months watching the same film, a Harry Potter one I think, over and over again. When he'd seen enough of it, he engaged his mother in a complex discussion about the interpretation of body language, facial expressions, tones of voice, all the aspects of human interaction that an ASD child finds so difficult to grasp. Since then his social skills have been so good that no-one would guess that he has Aspergers. And yet, to an outsider, and even to his mother, it appeared at the time that no education was taking place.
How would a LA inspector interpret that?
How can that kind of progress be measured, except by looking back?
My tutor on my PGCE course in 1980 said that if we "taught" children to walk and talk as they are taught to read and write in school, there would be thousands of children with walking and talking problems. Twelve years later when I had my first child, that remark was our first step along the path of autonomy.

11:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would like to add an observation r.e. producing 'backwards looking' evidence of education.
Various posters (i.e. Fatima) have suggested producing diaries, photos etc as evidence but surely this is unnecessary. The fact that a child has already matured and developed to the point they are currently at IS evidence of their learning. How they got to that point is irrelevant.

10:31 am  
Anonymous Clare said...

Lord Lucas, thank you for your support for Home Educators.

I feel like I'm quite 'moderate' on the issue, or at least open to some compromise, but maybe that is because we don't autonomously home educate, so the way we do things isn't directly under threat (yet).

Certainly I know quite a few home educators who would not mind the issue of registering if all the positive parts of Badman's report (more support, resources, facilities and exams) were part of the package. What is really distressing (aside from all the other distressing issues!) is Mr Balls' incredibly negative response to those proposals.

The Government is offering nothing to home educators, and is proposing to take everything away from them. If it is serious about engaging then these things need to be on the table.

Similarly, I think that a guarantee of support for autonomous home educators would also be essential - that anyone involved in registration would have to have training and prove that they properly understand and appreciate how it works.

But this is just me trying to be constructive because you asked - ideally, I would not like to see any changes at all, and definitely don't think that they have been proven to be necessary.

5:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has the gov. even stop to think, that while they argue away amongst their selves on policies surrounding education, that children their selves are being effected by the constant changes which dominate their lives.
All children in this country become victims of lack of co-ordination of gov. policies, they become victims because of exam changes,wasting their precious time on time tables changing the doctrine of their learning etc.
At least home educated children are free from all this shuffle going on, that clearly leaves many taught at schools with lengthy exams but start out on the dole.
The diversity of home education is a child has TIME to research into their futures, mastering skills to cover them in preparation to adapt to different avenues, something the gov. can not provide them with in schools. Instead now they want to pressure those parents who guide their HE'ed children to success.

9:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before Hitler turned Germany into a full Nazi state, the first group of people he went after were the homeschoolers. By successfully marginallising a small group first, he then extended his Nazi ideology and control to the wider population and eventually the whole country followed by most of Europe.

I hope people understand that the recommended invasions to privacy and violations of basic human rights outlined in the Badman report is only the tip of the iceberg. If the recommendations were allowed to be carried out, who can guarantee that the same principles won't be later applied to the wider population, whether their children are homeschooled or not?

Before we get bogged down by the details and mechanics of how to 'regulate' and 'assess' homeschoolers, let's take a step back and see clearly that the entire Badman report is written based on a few fundamentally flawed assumptions:
1) that children need to be protected FROM their parents;
2) that the state should own our children and take contorl of their private lives;
3) that parents are potential criminals ready to neglect or abuse their children at any given chance.

Any report written with such a mentality would be at best viewed as skewed, ignorant and inaccurate; at worst it could be the start of a dangerous campaign to destroy families and people's basic right to privacy.

My recommendations are: toss the report in the bonfire and leave the homeschoolers alone.

9:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

unpublished letter to the Guardian:

Jacky Newvell, of the National Children's Bureau, speaks as if home
education is against children's interests (Report to call for crackdown on
home schooling, 6 June). In the case of our daughter, nothing could be
further from the truth. Suffering from a severe anxiety problem that
prevented her from doing anything, including going to school, she was
failed by all the official agencies - and especially by the Child and
Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) professionals. After two years
of trying to get her to go to school on official advice, we came across
the local home schooling group. She has blossomed in this environment,
where she has found a supportive group of marvellous children and parents
who are quick to help and slow to judge. The part of home schooling that
comes most frequently under attack - the supposed lack of opportunity to
socialise - has in fact been its greatest strength for our daughter.
Little by little, life is returning to her, and this is largely due to the
opportunities that home schooling offers her. I have never seen the
slightest evidence of the 'abuse' that Graham Badman alleges. The nearest
I saw to abuse in fact came from CAMHS, which offered a brutally
fundamentalist and entirely ineffective form of cognitive behavioural
therapy, which left both ourselves and our daughter further from
'normality' than when we first encountered it.

10:29 pm  
Blogger Cathy Koetsier said...

Lord Lucas, you wrote: "The way to retain the right to diversity is perhaps to ensure that LA staff are properly trained. But who, as I’ve already said, do you want to devise the training?"

How about using the existing Home Education Organisations - all of whom are doing excellent work in supporting their diverse groups of home educators. There is the Home Service, the Home Education Advisory Service, and of course, Education Otherwise. Mike Fortune-Wood specifically offers training days for Local Authorities.

Another idea: one off workshops could be arranged for home educators to talk to their local LA's about their needs and concerns. Bottom line though - a respectful relationship cannot be build on compulsion. How willing are LA's to really learn from home educators? Or is this just another way of trying to get home educators to 'take the medicine' as it were?

I have successfully home educated my beloved children for 19 years now, and I have never felt a need to contact the LA. This does not mean that I never will feel such a need - I imagine that if, for instance, one of my children wanted to go to school, I would ask for advice on how to do that - but up until now the home education associations, groups and discussion lists of which I have been part have been the most useful. I suppose because people in those contexts are also living the home educating lifestyle. I find them far more knowledgeable and helpful than I imagine an LA, accustomed to dealing with the very different issues and challenges of school education, would be.

Which brings me to the foundational question - why on earth is the govt insisting on involving itself in my family's life in this way? We don't need or want help. If we do, we will ask for it. On the other hand, there are more than enough people who do need and want help. Why not concentrate on those?

I am so insulted by the attitude that pervades the Review. I love my children. I care deeply about their well-being. Keeping them 'safe and well' is a task to which I have dedicated my life since the day they were born. Who are these strangers to demand the right to interview my children alone in order to check that they are safe? Who is the danger to them? Me???? Lord Lucas, I fear for my children's future in the hands of such a government.

12:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Einstein did not learn to read until he was 9 - how would the LA have dealt with his parents? He also failed to complete high school and failed an entrance exam to Polytechnic - if the LA assessed his education would they say his parents failed him?

Yehudi Mehnuhin spent far more time studying the violin than would be accepted by a LA official. Would these hours be considered abuse or self-education?

12:56 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

adding, belatedly:

I am concerned about the idea that LA employees may be granted the right to enter a private home or detain a citizen without probable cause. "Concerned" isn't really a strong enough word.

8:46 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

registration - unacceptable to have to make a supplication to those who are potentially numpty jobsworths. Being required to inform LAs that we no longer require their services or, if asked, that we don't need their services at all - fine. [ah. that's the current situation]. Remember that "registration" confers ownership... I'd even be willing to be required inform an LA
that we are HEing, but they should have no right of refusal, since such a right is open to corruption and prejudice. Numpty factor again.

It isn't that the LA employees need to satisfy themselves of anything. If they have reason to suppose an education is not taking place, they can take us to court. But under the new proposals, it seems as if they'd be prosecutor, judge and jury... and again, we are vulnerable to a prevalence of numpty jobsworths.

I'm happy to demonstrate that an education is taking place, if asked. There is a huge great list of ways of doing it in the current 2007 guidance. Why the obsession with meeting our children?

8:56 am  
Blogger John Barnett said...

What's really going on here.

1.The labour Government is deeply unpopular with the voters.
2.The Government has slumped to its biggest Election defeat in County Council Elections ever, meaning that Labour now control NO County Councils in England.
3.The Government has slumped to its biggest defeat in the European Elections ever.
4.Extremist views are on the rise. Minor parties are getting elected, particularly the British National party.
5.The scandal over expenses has tainted politics. The main parties are seen as only out to line their own pockets.
6.There is a General Election due in the next 12 months.
7.Labour strategists realise that there is a serious chance of them being defeated.
8.Ed Balls, according to newspaper and TV reports had been promised the Chancellor of the Exchequer post so the review would be handled by someone else.
9.There is no doubt in Ed Ball's mind that HE needs reforming. To his mind, individualistic free thinkers do not fit in with Labour's ethos of “nanny state” government where everyone is monitored from cradle to grave, children's lunch boxes are inspected and anything with sugar is removed as unsuitable and parents are bombarded with literature on why their children should eat vegetables and take more exercise

9:20 am  
Blogger John Barnett said...

What's reaaly going on here 2

1.Given the above, Labour strategists have determined that HE parents probably will not vote for Labour at the next Election.
2.Labour strategists hope that if Labour promise to introduce the legislation after the next General Election that the HE community will put up candidates at the next General Election splitting the vote for opposition parties in marginal seats, enabling labour to be elected.
3.Labour hope for as much fuss as possible over the report and are getting it. This will make HE a key issue at the next election with only Labour (it will be implied) on the side of the state against potential HE child abusers. This will also divert attention from the main issues such as the economy and other issues which the voters blame the government for.
4.Labour will try and coerce the press at the next election by saying that if the press advise voters against them they will make it known that it will be quietly released to their rivals that the newspaper supports child abuse.
5.HE is on the rise, signalling parents dissatisfaction with the state education system despite Labours massive spend since 1997. By making it harder and the regulations more punitive then Labour hopes to halt this trend should it be re-elected.
6.Given the above, if Labour are re-elected then, if HE were seen as a credible alternative to a failing state system then there may be a significant drop in school numbers with even more parents exercising their freedom of choice and opting out of the state system altogether.
7.Given the current economic climate and the state of Government finances, it is highly likely that “efficiency savings” will have to be made and schools per capita funding may be cut. Parental dissatisfaction again may cause HE numbers to rise.
8.Opposition parties will have to deliver the “monitoring, services and support” promised. Labour hopes it will be the LEA's that are blamed rather than the Government.
9.It is easier to add to an existing law than to introduce a new one. Labour have nothing to lose by pressing for this law's introduction. If the legislation is passed then future Labour Governments would find it easier to introduce further measures such as compulsory testing for 7, 11 and 14 year old children.
10.Labour strategists know that once a law is passed, it is very hard to get it repealed as the opposition, although opposed now could be tempted to accept the legislation, blaming the previous administration for introducing it but claiming that as all procedures and new posts, forums etc. are now in place that it would be very difficult if not impossible to remove the legislation from the statute book.
11.It gives a divided Labour party a common enemy to fight, distracting attention from its own internal struggles.
12.Labour have done the usual trick of trying to introduce punitive legislation knowing it will cause a furore and then, when a watered down version appears due to amendments they are hoping the HE community will accept it with a sigh of relief. I.e take away he right of entry and parents will accept registration as the lesser evil.

9:22 am  
Blogger John Barnett said...

Has anyone read the opening letter to the report.

Ed Balls asked Badman to investigate whether there are any barriers to LEA's safeguarding kids and whether HE could be used as a cover for abuse.

Barriers, no. If abuse is suspected then neighbours, GP etc. are in a position to report it.


Can it be used as a cover for abuse?

Yes it can, as can being a schoolteacher, nursery worker chess club leader, minister LA inspector...

How many abused children have been threatened as to dire consequences if they inform on their abuser and how many poor kids admit to being abused years later. Inspections give exactly 364 days for abuse to continue. Sometimes, in abusive families, even the abusers partner doesn't know and they live with the abuser. In these circumstances, the inspector has in my opinion very little chance of finding abuse.

Also, how many abused kids are picked up by the school system. I'd be interested to know the figures.

Ed Balls has told Badman to deliberately look for something that is patently obvious, that any profession, way of life, activity can be used as a cover for abuse. HE is no different so should not be singled out for special treatrment.

10:10 am  
Blogger Richard F said...

Hi

The review has numerous examples of taking info out of context in order to attack home education. The latest one I have read is that the Church of England education divisions statement is completely misrepresentative of their opinions. Here are some of the other ten statements they made:

"Prevention of abuse under the cover of home education seems to be the main reason for this review, and in making it so, has the effect of tarnishing the reputation of the many parents who choose to home educate their children from the best of motives."

"We have seen no evidence to show that the majority of home educated children do not achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes, and are therefore not convinced of the need to change the current system of monitoring the standard of home education. Where there are particular concerns about the children in a home-educating this should be a matter for Children’s Services."

Badman's review is not independent and he has manipulated the evidence to suit his own government led agenda.

I rang the Church of England Education division and they were aware of this and she promised me they would discuss the issue as i requested that they might make a press statement. They were very friendly and helpful and if you would like to speak to them they can be contacted on 020 7898 1501.

12:00 pm  
Blogger Mieke said...

Further to Richard F's comment (1200pm): I, too, have emailed and written to the Church of England, and I have blogged about it. The level of truth in this so-called 'independent' report is appalling low.

3:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, for instance, how should Local Authorities assess home education?

Answer: this should not be their remit. Families do not "work" for the Local Authority. The role of the LA in terms of education is to provide schools for us and if we choose to use our schools then they ensure that our children are looked after, cared for and educated in the way that we want. I choose to home educate and do not wish, thank you very much, to be treated as "a service provider"! I am a parent - I do not want to be paid as an employee, nor do I want my home OFSTEDed as if I am providing a service to the general public. I am already saving the tax payer a lot of money by not opting in to the school system. Get the schools sorted out first. Section 7 says education should be suitable to the "age, aptitude and ability" of the child and even schools are not doing that with their one size fits all policy.
?

7:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Require inspectors to go on an EO training scheme?
Answer: Yes - if they had done this before they would understand that home education in and of itself is not a welfare concern and this Review would not be so negative. The reason they inputted into this review in such a negative way is because of the confusion between CME (Children Missing Education) - which is really to do with Child Protection. They have muddled up several bits of legislation and do not understand different educational philosophies and approaches either. at the moment they cannot be liable for a child's education since they are not responsible - the parent is. If this goes ahead then they would be the ones who are legally liable if a child did ever decide to sue (and I'm sure the home education community would make that happen because if the Government want to take away our rights then the Government on national and local level will have to start to pay). If you're going to have inspectors then they ought to be autonomous home educators complemented by Steiner and Montessori ones. And then home educators should have the right, along with children, to inspect schools and the homes of these Local Authority people (after all they may be abusers too if you use the same logic!).

7:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allow parents to have supporters (an organisation, or church, or just a friend who has been through it) during the assessment process?
Answer: there should be no assessment process. It is not the Government's business to take over from parental responsibility when it comes to education. As long as there are no welfare issues (education should be kept separate from welfare which in real terms means child protection against abuse) then there is no need to assess. If a child's basic care is not being met then yes go in there, if someone is battering their child or sexually abusing then yes go in but if it is to do with education then without proper training Local Authorities should not seek to undermine parental responsibility. LAs can already under existing welfare legislation enter and see any child they want - those who have not done so in these dreadful cases show their lack of training and lack of funding/resources to do their jobs effectively. If anything I would rather see the money for this daft scheme on EHE be spent on improving services on child protection.
Plus no child should ever be seen alone for the first time, even in a welfare check. That could leave a child in a very vulnerable position and also a false allegation could be made against the home ed inspector.

Have an appeals system?
Answer: we should not need to appeal due to this Review or Consultation. There is an adequate system already in place that brings in a judge and that allows parents to go to court and represent their case.

The Government itself cannot decide what suitable education is within the confines of the National Curriculum. In fact many of us would agree that the NC has little to do with child development and more to do with political requirements.

Every time I speak to someone from my LA who thinks this review is a good idea I question them. They cite CME as their reason for having concerns - yet they completely miss the point. Our children are not missing education. This was pointed out in the CME consultation some years back and we asked for measures to be put in place to ensure home education would not be affected. The Labour Government at the time misinformed us and I think they have had this clampdown on civil liberties in mind all along. The fasttracking of the Review, the letter by Ed Balls saying that the Review suggestions would be implemented (ignoring home educators, dismissing home education research on autonomous learning, the amount of Review inputters in bodies with vested interests against home education...). If this goes ahead this proves this is not a democracy. Which sub-category of parents next?
look backwards not (except at the start) forward?

7:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Require inspectors to go on an EO training scheme?
Answer: Yes - if they had done this before they would understand that home education in and of itself is not a welfare concern and this Review would not be so negative. The reason they inputted into this review in such a negative way is because of the confusion between CME (Children Missing Education) - which is really to do with Child Protection. They have muddled up several bits of legislation and do not understand different educational philosophies and approaches either. at the moment they cannot be liable for a child's education since they are not responsible - the parent is. If this goes ahead then they would be the ones who are legally liable if a child did ever decide to sue (and I'm sure the home education community would make that happen because if the Government want to take away our rights then the Government on national and local level will have to start to pay). If you're going to have inspectors then they ought to be autonomous home educators complemented by Steiner and Montessori ones. And then home educators should have the right, along with children, to inspect schools and the homes of these Local Authority people (after all they may be abusers too if you use the same logic!).

Allow parents to have supporters (an organisation, or church, or just a friend who has been through it) during the assessment process?
Answer: there should be no assessment process. It is not the Government's business to take over from parental responsibility when it comes to education. As long as there are no welfare issues (education should be kept separate from welfare which in real terms means child protection against abuse) then there is no need to assess. If a child's basic care is not being met then yes go in there, if someone is battering their child or sexually abusing then yes go in but if it is to do with education then without proper training Local Authorities should not seek to undermine parental responsibility. LAs can already under existing welfare legislation enter and see any child they want - those who have not done so in these dreadful cases show their lack of training and lack of funding/resources to do their jobs effectively. If anything I would rather see the money for this daft scheme on EHE be spent on improving services on child protection.
Plus no child should ever be seen alone for the first time, even in a welfare check. That could leave a child in a very vulnerable position and also a false allegation could be made against the home ed inspector.

Have an appeals system?
Answer: we should not need to appeal due to this Review or Consultation. There is an adequate system already in place that brings in a judge and that allows parents to go to court and represent their case.

7:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another thing for you to understand about home education:

It is not the just the child who learns - most of the time the family learns about things together. Whereas a teacher may instruct (and yes this happens in home education too) a lot of learning is when a child asks a question such as "Mummy, what is this rock and how was it made?" Now if the home-educating parent happens to be a geologist then it is usually a straightforward process but if not, then first off we'll go and identify the rock (or it may need to wait until the next time we visit the library) and then dependent on the ability of the child we will deliver an explanation. This may then lead off into all sorts of other areas - "Was granddad alive then?" or "How do I spell igneous?". The beauty of home education is so much of it is spontaneous and individualised. If it's nice outside we sit outside on the picnic blanket and the plans you may have made can wait until a rainy weekend because it's a good day for butterfly spotting and so on. If we're up watching the constellations or bats at 9 pm I doubt the LA will understand because this is outside "school hours".

This Consultation will destroy it all.

8:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having had a child in the school system who was failed miserably - inexcusably - because of unmet SEN, I find the prospect of assessment of our education by a complete stranger from the local authority, galling to say the very least. They were demonstrably unable to provide my child with a suitable education themselves; in fact they were unable even to recognise that the education being provided in school was unsuitable. Do I have any confidence that the very same agency responsible for this failure will have anything useful to contribute regarding whether my child is now receiving a suitable education at home? No, I'm afraid I do not. Am I concerned that these measures will intimidate my child and remove all motivation and enthusiasm for learning? Yes, I'm afraid so. Desperately unhappy as the school experience was, my child may as well return there as submit to the proposed monitoring recommendations, and would probably rather do so. Our family feels as if all the benefits of the last few years of home education are about to be swept away.

2:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that home educators need "assessing". It would be nice if instead we were offered the oportunity to "access" information and supplies etc from the local authority as a school would? We pay taxes the same as others who choose the school option yet at present we supply all the resources ourselves. When I began looking into home education I had to research it myself via the web and books and feel that maybe it would be a good idea if local authorities could be given a better understanding of the different ways people home educate and then have information to pass on to parents considering this option?
"Assessing" home educators and their children is not the way forward on this in my opinion. You already, as a government and as local authorities have every detail you need on my family....doctors, groups my children attend (these require more and more form filling!).I really cannot see how all these proposals will help children at risk? Children in schools all around this country are facing awful situations at home and elsewhere, and yet they come into contact with numerous different adults in their school day - yet this does not seem to make any difference to the number of children being abused decreasing.My personal opinion is that this is not really about protecting children but instead about "control". The government answers to no-one if a child "fails" his/her GCSEs,yet we are now required to "jump through hoops" to satisfy LEA' believing they know whats best for our children rather than a parent?Has the smell of dictatorship about it all.

3:21 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Thankyou for your continues comments - particularly re other HE organisations. It'll be a while before we get round to debating HE as part of the apprenticeships bill, so I may be quiet for a while - though I'll start a new post when political activity nears

12:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you said, I Quote

"A few months ago we heard very critical

2 Jun 2009 : Column 143

remarks from the NSPCC—since withdrawn—about the link between home education and child abuse"


Then the media and the gov. should reframe from referring to any link to abuse and home education full stop.

3:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would no more expect the LA to be allowed to inspect my educational provision for my own children than I would allow them to come into my home and check what I am feeding them or what I have dressed them in this morning. Any assessment of home education would be an unwelcome intrusion into our children's lives and homes.

10:25 pm  
Blogger saralexis said...

I've just been reading your proposed amendment to the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill...

Could you elaborate on what you intend the Home Education Consultative Committee (the "HECC") to do?

At first glance it looks like proposing this constitutes a massive concession on our part - potentially creating a governing body for home education on the Tasmanian model...

I'd welcome your thoughts.

12:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas,
Looking at it from a failed outcome, if it happens, to balance anything passing through parliament as law on this consultation. I wonder if i could reconmend a few contributions you may like to consider as ammendments to the bill.
Firstly if Registration is going to happen, presuming it could!.
Can account on long established home educators be considered.
Why I ask is because yearly registration and appliance with providing a plan for the year ahead, would change the balance of children's (already in existance) learning developments. In such a way it could hinder future progress just with the neg. of knowing All has to be scrutinised by the Local Authority.
Could there be a cut of point say after 5 years of full home educating a family may be granted relief at just supplying by post a yearly outline of what has taken place in the year before to the date of the review.
This would be manageable too for the LA's who are accustomed to written outlines posted to them on request.
As for the issues of child protection, these clauses already exist in law and should be followed up on when any concerns are forwarded to them.

Asking for a outline in advance can only be based on assumption, but requesting the information on the success of the passing year, has more reproductive results then advance indications offer.

You may like to challenge these views with your readers, as establishing checks at registration for the year ahead is certain failure as children will change their views as they turn directions many times to accomplice their aim in a yearly process.. The beauty of home education allows a child the freedom to explore, this leads them of in all directions, so a past years record would be much more logical in the long run and in all due fairness if the local Authority are researching home education they can gleen more from the past year of a childs home ed then advance notice of what could or might materialise.
Failing this, a one of registration with yearly outlines of the year taken place, sounds more fairness in keeping up with children and parental rights.
More cost effective to all in the long run.
Children pressurized to perform is no example to be setting, but balancing the outcomes of the last years performances would determine the success of children keeping their rights to learn as they are accustom too.

6:17 pm  
OpenID mum6kids said...

Dear Lord Lucas
I have just seen your proposed amendment and must admit to being bewildered by it. Why a Govt appt quango?
I am growing more concerned about what my children are going to be subjected to as time goes on.

8:57 am  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Thank you for inviting comments, listening to them and, in advance, thank you for acting upon them. You seem to be doing a good job of keeping your mind open on the subject of home education and I hope that continues.

Home educators have chosen to remain outside of government educational provision. Therefore it is a lost cause for the govt to try to entice us to step back into their system - however much on the fringes - especially when it is obvious to everyone how badly and tragically schools are failing children. If they try to *force* us to comply ... well, I will break the law if that's what it takes to defend my children from damaging interference.

I can see that, sometimes, welfare concerns need to be addressed. Social services already have the mechanisms in place to do this, unfortunately they are still failing to protect children. I would not trust them an inch with mine. The current law for child welfare is sufficient and does not need to be changed.

I will not agree to being assessed, whatever name that assessment is attempted under. And assessment that is linked to any kind of 'permission' to continue to decline to use school is abhorrent.

I would like to avail myself of some of the opportunities that the LA could offer - such as facilities, resources, etc. Tax breaks to the tune of whatever percentage of my taxes pay for the schooling I am not using would be very welcome. In order to make use of those things I would be willing to register (once only) as a home educator. I would be willing to be in regular contact (maximum yearly) with the LA and I *might* be willing to meet with an LA representative and share with them a family learning journal, or somesuch.

My willingness to do this would be entirely reliant on knowing that the LA representative was fully enlightened about and supportive of all methods of home educating, including and especially autonomous learning.

I might even be willing to do those things knowing that the LA could potentially (if they thought I was failing to educate my children according to Section 7 of the education act) limit my freedom to home educate - as long as I knew that I would have my day(s) in court to fight them.

If the LA had the final say in the way my children are educated I would not meet them, and not trust them, not under any circumstances.

Having said all that, I still recognise that other families might not be willing to go that far - and I fully support and defend their right to not be known by the LA at all.

As many other posters have said - where does this all stop?

2:30 pm  
Anonymous Ally B said...

As a home educator of a child who has never been to school, I have been in two minds about whether to make myself known to our local authority. On one hand, I would like to raise awareness and understanding of home education with the authorities as I try to do with people in general, through conversation and discussion. On the other hand, I do not want deal with the pressure of filling in forms or explaining myself and my educational philosophy to an unsympathetic authority, while feeling intimidated or threatened by the powers they may choose to exercise over me, legally or not.

The Badman report has done two things, in regard to my dilemma. It has shown me just how poor awareness and understanding of home education really are. It has also made me even more cautious of approaching an organisation which apparently views me as a potential child abuser, rather than as a loving parent with a strong sense of responsibility for my child's welfare and education.

I feel the need to speak out as an advocate of home education and yet I want to stay in the shadows as one of those "unknown" home educators who carry on caring for their own families, doing no harm to anyone, except in raising unfounded suspicions about their motives and intentions.

It is about time the government and authorities looked around them and saw how children can and will learn without having teaching forced upon them. Children are learning machines - it is what they are designed for! It is for that reason that, of all children, those being home educated are least in need of educational monitoring - unless to observe how well children can learn in an unforced environment!

12:14 pm  
Anonymous Shoshana said...

Please, no! EO is *not* representative of home education or home educators at large!

Case Law states that home education can be seen to be effective to the extent that it achieves that which it sets out to do; i.e. the parents & children's own goals, not Government's, not any external requirements. This is perfectly adequate. The LA can assess the educational provision by asking the parents.

2:23 pm  
Blogger Sally said...

A good and useful discussion!

I would first like to clarify that there is no necessity for registration. We are not taking charge of other people's children (like a school does). We know if our children are here or absent!

Accountability is such a familiar idea in societies where school has become the norm. It seems logical that parents should also be held accountable. It seems so because we're so used to institutions and have lost sight of the original reasoning behind accountability.

Accountability for schools has been appropriate because the school stands in loco parentis. The parent IS the parent, unless the law (like in Germany?) states that the state is the parent and the parent is in loco parentis (God forbid!) The law is adequate as it stands.

Secondly, I don't see a need for 'assessment' of any kind, except that I agree that, as the law stands, there has to be some form of informal assessment process when the LA have cause to believe that provision is not being made and need to decide if this belief is substantiated.

Even so, I'd go so far as to contest that children, left to their natural selves, would educate themselves in any largely loving and reasonable environment where learning has not been forced upon them and where they are enabled to freely take part in the life they're immersed in.

Having said this, I'm putting the following out there as a provisional idea. I'm very happy to hear the pitfalls with it, as there are sure to be some.

(continued in next comment)


Within the current legal framework, Qualifications for an LA Home Ed Liason:
An LA official who 'enquires' (NOT inspects), will need to be someone who has, personally, home educated (for a minimum period of 3 years?)
They will need to have successfully completed a diploma in theories and practices of home education. I don't propose for one moment that this training should be developed, overseen or provided by a home education organisation! That is NOT their role. I don't see any positive benefit in that, and I don't see that anyone in any of the organisations (including myself, with two teaching degrees) is qualified to tell any of the rest of us how to home educate, however supportive they might be! Nor would we be broadly experienced or educated in all current methods and theories of home education.

This kind of diploma could be designed by a broad based group of academics that currently study home education (Paula Rothermel, Roland Meighan, etc), in consultation with the home educating community. This training would provide a detailed understanding of what is currently done within the home education community; would describe a variety of pertinent learning theories (such as Popper’s); and include empirical research outcomes.
The aim would be to enable those 'enquiring' to trust home education in all it's forms: to recognise it’s structure as a structure, rather than lack of structure, and to see that learning can take place spontaneously and belongs to the learner! Indeed, it would teach them to recognise the rich learning that happens all the time, within and throughout life.

Therein, home educators may come to find these officials useful.

I would be overjoyed to have a local person to access who was wise and knowledgeable in the field. Someone who would be able to give me confidence and support when, living on the frontier of education, I questioned my own judgment (as we all sometimes do).

(continued in next comment)

2:46 am  
Blogger Sally said...

(continued...)

An analogy: Health Visitors.

I've stopped bothering with health visitors.
They generally give me advice that I know, from my reading, is contradicted by logic, fact or recent research ... research that I've read, which they have not, despite it being their field.
Beyond professional development issues, they are governed by what they are allowed to recommend. Their hands are tied by protocol and their actions by bureaucracy. Their time is heavily oversubscribed to the point that they ask YOU to remind them to send the post-natal depression questionnaire when it is time, and don't phone when given contact info by doctors who have been approached by desperate mothers. There is always the sense that you are obliged to see things their ‘correct’ way, or your competence will be questioned.

Imagine:
Imagine a health visitor who is professionally up to date and open minded, who doesn't blame, criticise or judge, but respects your healthy, human fallibility and your philosophical standpoint (without mistaking one for the other!) Imagine a health visitor who encourages and supports you in your endeavours and can direct you to the latest writing, research and resources. (S)he can trust you to judge whether you need them, without patronising or preaching.

Home Ed Liaison:
Now imagine the training was in theories and practices of home education. Their training was designed by research academics in the field, in consultation with the home education community. That they were not tied by protocol and their time was not oversubscribed. Imagine they were not primed for a role of covert surveillance, but rather for understanding how learning naturally happens and for helping to enrich all children's environments where the parents and children wanted that help.

There would be a point to going to see them. (There would still be no point to registration).

Indeed, I'm pretty sure I'd tip them off about foam dough.
My 8 year old might describe how she has taken to using it to model, through independent research, the structure of human organs, like the chambers of the heart. She did this whilst building the organs of mother and child starting from fertilization of the egg, division of cells, development of the spinal gap, and continued development of the foetus and placenta, before building the structure of the maternal organs outward, finishing with the anatomy of the brain.
She'd be sure to let them know that, short of buying the foam dough in Tesco, I had little to do with the idea or execution of it unless you count gawping!
She’d not have to pretend she hadn’t spent the rest of the day watching the X Men.

Welfare:
According to LA statistics (collated from freedom of information requests for LA submissions to the EHE review), electively home educated children are less than half as often found by social services to be abused (including neglect), compared to the general public, despite being more than twice as likely to be known to social services (for various, unsuspicious reasons). It’s no great surprise that abuse rates are lower when you consider that taking personal responsibility for your child’s education will logically correlate positively with taking personal responsibility for your child’s overall wellbeing.

Don’t talk to us about assessing, inspecting or registering. Talk to us, instead, about how to educate the government, the public and LAs.
Let’s have the real statistics, about welfare and educational outcomes among the home educated, out in the open. Let’s have the real agendas behind this review out in the open.

The Government have underestimated this minority group when they attempt to use us to set legal precedents for eroding the civil liberties of the wider population.

2:46 am  
OpenID gaia69 said...

"The pace is being set by the NSPCC"

I realise that this is just one comment out of many but it certainly alarmed me! This would be the very same NSPCC, who on the basis of one telephone call, had my neighbour arrested, her husband frogmarched from his place of work and their children interviewed by social workers. The same family in which the mother is training to be a teacher - or rather she was until she couldn't provide a clean CRB check due to allegations made by an unknown person regarding incidents that never happened. Incidents involving bruises on her sons legs. Bruises that result from him having mild Cerebral Palsy.
She is still fighting to have her name cleared - two years on.
Are we supposed to be reassured by the NSPCC interference in something which they know very little about?

12:33 am  
Blogger Sam said...

Dear Lord Lucas

I hear you are requesting details of Freedom of Information requests made of the DCSF which are still outstanding. I have some, which are almost all now at 'internal review requested' status, being over the required 20 days. I am happy to pass on the details if you are interested?

Kind regards

Sam

1:49 pm  
Blogger Lady Portia said...

Dear Lord Lucas.

As a qualified teacher, I found that the school system is an institution with the same feel as a prison.

I gave up teaching when all those rules came in, which prevented me from doing my job properly.

I home schooled since 1995.

I never had any inspections.

My children worked away at their own pace.

We travelled all the time, and they learned their history and geography in this way.

Children also learned about money, rent, paying bills, cooking, taking care of themselves, so that by 18 they were both independent.

My son had his own company at 15.

I noticed that with American clients age was not an issue, but in UK it was.

He does not have any UK degrees, but is far ahead of those with MA degrees, who consult with him all the time.

I know a mother who is homeschooling in the same way, but now that divorce is coming up, the father is rocking the boat. The solicitors and barristers were unaware of the LAW on homeschooling, which surprised me.

Now the children and the mother are being punished because the children are about 5 years ahead of their peers, are well spoken and a delight in every way.

Have you seen where in Russia- ringing cedars. com where children have set up their own school, draw up their own curriculum and are 10 years ahead of their peers.

Truly an inspiration to the rest of us.

5:34 pm  

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