Friday, July 17, 2009

Home Education - progress with government

I had a useful meeting this week with civil (very) servants from both the Department of Work and Pensions (to discuss the welfare aspects of home education, the main point of the meeting) and the Department of Children Schools and Families (to bring in the home education review aspects).

Fingers crossed, I'll be able to report some progress on the welfare front - ball is in their court while they check if they really can do what they said they'd like to do. And no, this is not anything earth-shaking, but it would help.

I reiterated to the DCSF why (in particular) the time-alone-with-child proposals were unacceptable, and said that in my view they must keep education and welfare separate, and that proper training in home education should be required for all LEA officials having responsibility for HE. Did not fall on deaf ears, but there's a way to go to say the least in convincing them of our case.

Things will go quiet now as parliament goes into recess until mid October, but with home education due to appear in the Queen's speech in November it's going to be worthwhile educating MPs in the interim - getting to see them, helping them understand home education, and impressing them what a sensible and worthwhile bunch home educators are. If they remain ignorant they'll not take an interest when we need them to. In that context, though I admire the ingenuity of the best of the badmanesque blogs, please avoid personal abuse and vilification: it will not play well with MPs if that's what comes up top on Google, or if a newspaper is able to run a story of direct harassment: they get too much of both themselves.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent - you are a credit to the Lords - let's hope you'll be able to stay come what may.

You make a fascinating point towards the end about the effect of the more abusive blogs - I'd say we're seeing a similar effect with libertarian swear-blogging in general, and it's probably going to have a negative effect on influencing people in the long run, putting off loads, even if it gains some zealous supporters in the short run.

2:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for trying to help, Lord Lucas.

The whole 'make benefits recipients work for their benefits' thing seems to be an obscenity in a modern, supposedly enlightened society, and quite ridiculous in view of the lack of jobs. But, I suppose, it's easy to be smug when you actually have a job.

On the home education topic, it is strange that a few blogs expressing powerless people's frustration with apparently deaf and uncaring civil servants is perceived as a threat to a man who followed others - see various newspaper articles - into vilifying and harassing home educators.

If Mr. Badman feels vilified and harassed, I am sorry for him and I definitely can sympathise because I know how he feels.

As to the DCSF, it is not their duty to prefer, and act on, the paranoid assertions of untrained officials in LAs to the people who actually pay their salaries and for whom they work and that is the people. It is not for government to overthrow this country's tradition of innocent until proven guilty EVEN in the case of us dreadful home educators.

We are not the enemy. Government cannot, and should not, treat us like one.


12:42 pm  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

I would like to know why Home Educators get their knuckles rapped for offending sensibilities on blogs, and yet it's ok for us to be smeared as child abusers across the national press by government. Double standards? Surely not?

12:55 pm  
Blogger Gordon said...

Lord Lucas;

You may not be currently aware, but this Government conducted a consultation throughout 2007 and in December published "Guidelines for local authorities on home education."

In my opinion this was a very good document to "move forward."

The DCSF website stated the purpose of the document was to "encourage good practice."

I would encourage you and your staff to review this current document as to how things should be happening amongst LEA in England.

But here are the questions that need to be asked;

1.) If this document represented the Governments position at the end of the 2007 is it not right to give it time to see if it works?

2.) What events happened in 2008 that required another consultation in 2009?

3.) Is the Government admitting that they failed in their 2007 Consultation and Guidelines?

Maybe we do need a Consultation, just not the one we are having. Maybe the consultation that is needed is how the 2007 Guidelines are working and/or need to be improved.


12:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love you.

You are brilliant - thanks so much for doing this. I can't tell you what it means for someone like you to take up our cause.

Your help has not gone unnoticed or unapprechiated.

JR Devon

1:19 pm  
Blogger Merry said...

Lord Lucas,

I have been reading with interest although i haven't commented before.

I think it is worth reminding everyone, loudly, that we have been smeared with the taint of child abuse, without any evidence - a smear that it will take years to overcome. There is no evidence our children are more at risk of that than any other, reasonable evidence to suggest that in fact they are at lower risk, yet the smear has been made and the taint will remain.

We are angry, extremely angry. We've been made to appear, by government and press, that we are strange and perverted because we choose to spend time with our children and take moral, social and educational responsibility for them.

It is wrong for that to have happened and rude at best for people to assume they know better than a large community of people partaking of a legal right to do so. At worst, it is virtually criminal that it is happening.

Please do not presume to reprimand us for voicing our anger and making sure we expose this attack for what it is. It would not be acceptable to turn on a religious minority and say they are not allowed to answer back with legal and vocal fury, so do not ask us to be quietly polite while other people presume to sit in judgement on us.

We are living in a country where 2000 of us answered 6 questions, 12,000 answers in all - and yet 2 sentences were used. Our voices are not being listened to, our rights and privacy are not being respected, our government is not governing with our best interests at heart. We feel utterly abandoned - and not in a good way.

In this country there has always been the right to speak up with the Private Eye voice, the Viz voice, the Spitting Image voice - while we are still a country who pays lip service to freedom of speech, do us the courtesy of allowing that to continue.

2:25 pm  
Blogger jenny said...

I am very concerned about this Badman report, as a home educator with 9 children. I think it is an abuse of their power, the proposals which they seek and I thank you for standing against it.

3:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the spirit! You certaintly do have wisdom. You show your understanding of home education very captavating and shame there is not many more with your unique insight. Infact I know nothing of your personal circumstances but that does not stop me wondering that you would be a fantastic dad to your children and respectful husband with great understanding to balance all issues surrounding your life. You certaintly reap what you sow and hopefully your insight will begin to follow through parliament. There is no doubt in my mind you have the children of britain in your heart for the future, that is certaintly something they will admire you for.
Well done and thank you for the time you are putting into home education aspects.
Your teachings will go along way amongst your elders and peers.
You never know - one day you could write or Right the system for all those in school who have never had the joys of home educating. After all it shows one has to be free to express their selves and achieve their aims in life. I'm sure if collective doctrines continue then the country in the future will have no diversity at all, leaving many just following like sheep and unable to branch out for the best for the country. The Future of british children is beginning to show a step forward with you as their guiding light!.

6:44 pm  
Blogger Louise said...

Lord Lucas, firstly thank you for taking the time to meet with DWP and DCSF to discuss the Home Education Registration and Monitoring Proposals.

I concur with you that 'vilification and harassment' is not the best way forward for those HEers who are campaigning against the Badman review and it's associated legislation. True, we Home Educators have been vilified and harassed in the press, but we should try to preserve the moral high ground and not sink to the level of those who try to slur and slander us.

However, I am somewhat mystified by the DCSF's decision to withhold information pertaining to the EHE review requested under the FOI procedure on the grounds that the review's author has been 'vilified and harassed'. Surely the best way to clear Badman's name, and prevent further vilification, is to make all the data Badman had at his disposal when writing his review. Once that is done we'll all get to see what a good, unbiased, professionally written report he made with all the available evidence fairly considered.

That being so, the DCSF decision not to release the information that will enable Badman to clear his name seems perverse.

Or a disingenuous and cynical excuse.

8:11 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Dear All, thankyou for your comments. The more you send in the more I learn.

Two brief replies:

- I agree that you're right to be angry, it's just that venting it against Graham Badman personally, rather than against what he wrote, is in my view (based on rather too many years of political experience and rather too short a personal fuse)likely to weaken your case.

- I know that EO does not represent most of you - as far as I can see nobody represents most of you, which is why I'm keen to hear from you in the raw. But it's a fact of political life that the government, as an organisation, likes to deal with organisations, so EO has - at least for the space of time until we settle the issues raised by the review - a great value to you all. Several of you have mentioned other organisations, but none of them has made official contact with me, let alone offered to help.

11:11 am  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

"- I agree that you're right to be angry, it's just that venting it against Graham Badman personally, rather than against what he wrote, is in my view (based on rather too many years of political experience and rather too short a personal fuse)likely to weaken your case."

It's hard not to be personal; this man wrote a report that seeks to constrain our children’s liberties.

He made recommendations, but does not provide the evidence to justify them. This can happen, we all make errors. If a professional makes such an error or finds that people require greater evidence than they have given they then seek to provide the rest of the evidence. It’s simple; they do not hide behind the skirts of Government. If there is no further evidence they admit that their recommendations are based on the limited evidence they presented, and so they accept that some may regard that as evidence as insufficient to justify the recommendations.

The balance between personal and professional criticism is tricky. From a technical, professional perspective we can criticise this man. From a moral perspective we must challenge his use of power without justification to deliberately curtail all children’s freedom to learn as suits them best.

Our family way of life is in the balance but we can go elsewhere. We will, with great sadness, leave the country if we need to ensure our children have the ability to access the education they need, an education without interference from those who know nothing about to power of autonomous education. It is those children who are forced to remain in unsuitable coercive schools with no route of escape, where a Government has the power to impose an education and social environment on them and their parents have no power to act to protect them if it turns out to be damaging for them.

Many thanks for you help it is much appreciated.

9:46 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

I would also like to express my appreciation of the work you're putting in and the understanding you're showing on the home education issue.

I totally agree with you that we should be dealing with issues and not personalities. And yet -- after a long day of trawling through blogs and forums looking for an easy way to help my MP and my neighbours understand my concerns, hearing the frustration of others when their concerns are dismissed, feeling angry when new information comes to light that turns the report into even more of a farce -- then I turn to the Badman spoof and regain my sense of perspective with a good chuckle, and get on with real life: enjoying home education with my family.

Rosemary May

9:59 am  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

Lord Lucas,
I think that there have been few organisations to talk to as it is hard to represent everyone who is a home educator. For example, niche groups would arise getting ever smaller- I would be in a community of maybe 10 as a Jewish home educator , whereas the Christian home educators may split into denominations- rather like friendship groups. Now that this major political challenge has arisen people are gathering together to fight the review -as a single issue group. Some of these groups have slightly different approaches and takes on it . I have yet to hear of a home education 'group' coming out and supporting the review.. but there are some groups (maybe not specifically EHE groups but groups with some EHE families in them) who do support parts of the review. There are also individuals who think that because they are already registered that it will make no difference to them and why shouldn't everyone have to become become registered. I think they possibly have not read the recommendations in full and therefore the implications of this review. Home educators are individual familis and couold never be a homogenous group however the phrase 'united we stand-diverse we remain' seems particularly apt phrase for me personally. There are few, if any, home educators who would argue that better training for staff is needed- the variation in treatment amongst local councils is astounding- I live in a great area and would gladly have my EHE visitor involved. Also, children who are HE'd who also have special educational needs often have issues getting these additional needs met by LA's or have problems getting LA's to agree that certain special needs exist when a school has previously decided certain needs which a parent now feels are unsuitable.
Personally I am happy for EO to speak in my name at this point, but I am very wary of any suggestion that a council be set up where the government appoints the EHE representatives (even if they are from EO).MY fear is that this councl would be co-opted by the government agenda as only 50% would be of actual people who represent some home educators. My experience with the NUrsing and Midwifery council is that when it comes to midwifery there are too few people in the council who are midwives -the majority have no idwifery experience. Finally, the satirical blog you refer to , Lord Lucas, has put a smile on my face at the end of my day when I have been in tears of frustration and anger previously. The Fake Graham Badman blog is ingenious indeed but I would not call it libelous and certainly not as slanderous as the way Badman has actually used his statistic to vilify home educators.This blog is not done in the name of any group and ought not to be used against home educators in general any more than the obvious fact that some tiny minnority of families may be abusive (as is found in general society at large) should be used against home educators as a group.
I thank you for all the work you are putting into this issue. You have clearly taken the time to understand this issue and are trying to represent it fairly- which is, to my dismay more than most in government are doing.Incidentally, I have now come to believe that despite my previous misgivings, I would prefer to see hereditary peerages kept rather than only 'elected' peers -I have lost faith in the processes by which some of these people may rise to the peerage- I have for the most part lost faith in our political system and do not find it democratic -at least not in the way I define democracy.

10:49 am  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

Lord Lucas, other Home Ed orgs have been inordinately busy getting together facts and figures, perhaps you might like to have a read of them:

presumably you have seen the FOI figures compiled by ahed - they are mentioned in the above briefing paper, but can be found directly here:

HEAS issued a press release which can be read here:

plus countless other unaffiliated home educators are writing letters, visiting MPs, talking to people etc whilst all the while educating our children!

11:27 am  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

sorry for an error i of course meant to say that 'there are few, if any home educators who would argue that better training for staff is NOT needed' but hopefully from the context of the rest of my post, this was obviously an error

6:05 pm  
Blogger magicflyingfairy said...

Thank you for your continued help and support.
Every day we hear more stories of LA officers taking the law into their own hands, particularly wrt autonomous HE and children with SEN. I tried to make a compilation of these stories, but unfortunately could not get permission to use most of them even in anonymised versions, because people are so afraid of more ultra vires bullying.
Most of these LA officers are totally uninformed about AE and SEN, and worse, they don't seem to be interested in learning.
This is the situation with the law as it stands now; it doesn't bear thinking about what may happen if it is changed and the behaviour of these people becomes legal.
A recent satirical blog reported that Delyth Morgan had recommended compulsory genital examination of all girl children to detect female circumcision. That this was taken seriously by some of us is an indication of how frightened and vulnerable we are feeling.
The government seems to believe that it can put an end to all abuse of children and that any level of stigmatisation, surveillance and violation of privacy is acceptable as a means of achieving this impossible end.

9:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anger can some times be justified as in some circumstances. Known paedifiles have been helped by social services to continue the upbringing of their children on their own, with the schools putting down the child's display of anguish and fright to speak out as nothing more then a learning difficulty. I should say that really boost our confidence our children will be safe in the system, but to be called abusers our self was more then a public insult, as people who are aware of the system, who do home educate their children know they do it out of love of caring for their children, they know the system does not protect them, let alone reconise any thing in the school settings. But to turn the emphasis round on to honest people when the system is supporting abusers out there and some gov. officials know this is taking place within the social services, is like sending good people who educate for the benefit of their child into no mans land, just because they know the truth of what the system is doing beneath the surface of it all.
I don't think anyone would trust their children alone with such people that wish to cover abuse then pray on innocent parents children so they can earn their daily bread and use their children because they have steered fear into a community as seeing them as easy targets.
You yourself would be surprised of how many cases are in the schools and the teachers do not have the time to sit and make head or tail of what is upsetting that child. They have no idea!
I must say I am expressing no anger at you or in writing this, I am just making you aware that it is known what goes on in the system and we are entitled to protect our children from it, no doubt you would under the circumstances.
The system is creating abuse and leaving those behind that are suffering. But that will show in future statistics no doubt as it all comes out in the end!..
Social services and all organisations connect know their are more lives upset by wrongly accused then real abuse cases are dealt with.
So Mr badman is seen as listening to the services, helping out those that appear to want to help societies children only to be duped into thinking he is doing what is right in the long run.
How many cases ended up in court with social services or lea's connected only to have the children taken in care on lies the services put foreward, this is why there is such a mess in this country with the courts. It is all connected and Mr Badman is doing nothing to protect children by putting them in vunerable positions with people the public have no trust in at all because of their conduct in what should be a duty by law but is infact a duty to their own laws they make up to suit their selves, causing many children to suffer and families because they will not address the law the gov. sets out for them.
The law is adaquant now, just the services are pushing for more FOR their benefit not the childs. AND their benefit is not healthy!!!
Especially when children are placed in care and abused! and children begging to go home to their parents and not a sole except those that love that child will do anything to rectify the mistakes. I do think there is a lot this gov. is failing to address in all honesty, don't you?
yet for some strange reason I know you have an insight to look into this as a knowledgable person. Wouldn't it be nice if we can right the system, it only takes someone to start it working towards that goal.
Keep up the good work. I can't fault your understanding of the issues and I hope this enlightens you more.

1:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But it's a fact of political life that the government, as an organisation, likes to deal with organisations,"

Wow! That's a powerful statement.
Very interesting too.
How it would be nice to educate the political world that Britain is made up of "Families"!. Real people that exist and keep the country running smoothly. Maybe alot of political history has faulted because of this very fact.
Organisations before individuality is like saying they listen to the old mangle but not the poor squashed shirts going through it!.
(crushing their buttons!)
Maybe that is another reform the political world needs to address the british people as families and allow diversity as to live in harmony with different views because if we all start thinking the same and being drawn to act the same then the future is sounding very bleak.
Organisations in general have no idea over personal views on matters as it would be beyond them to put each one over, just in the same essence Mr Badman tried to weigh up and balance the information before him to set out his review.
He read, he interpreted and sadly what he wrote and others contributed to in the process of his consultation, turned out as a matter of opinion from his views based on material that some of it, now has been retracted as not factual.
He said his self and I quote, "he had just as many different reponses as the diversity of the different ways in which people home educate"
The sad thing is, we all will in the end have personal reflections on how to interpret anything we see or hear, yet when it comes to setting rules out from what we determine based on the time and place we viewed those other materials, sometimes the conception of it all becomes misleading as other facts arise from a wider quarter to support the negativity of such actions..
It should not be beyond reconition for a person in this position to be able to withdraw their compiled document on the bases they were not enlighten with the whole picture in the first instance.
That really brings into questioning, how acts of parliament can safely be introduced and claim to be for the best of the people in the country.
Visually I see top, middle rank and lower levels all trying hard to come to one collective way of thinking, which for majority of the times ends in more squabbles then any family in britain suffers. But at the end of it, Who really is calling the power behind what is made law, are they listening to local mps who speak for the people or has a few people got a vision for the future and then turns it all around, all the hard efforts of the mps and lords to only bring it in anyway..

Thanks for the insight, I really wondered what made politics surface in the first place in history. Seems it was just a collection of some people wishing to speak out on many issues and see if through the passage of time they could get it Right to Organise a mass, one size fits all direction in order to keep law and order.. I really don't think the balance is right yet, not while some organisations in society do not work for the benefit of the people but for them selves. I think the gov. have a hard job deciding what is right for the people but sadly there is still different levels in society, leaving those at the bottom still very vunerable to organisations that take the laws bound on us and use them to their own advantage...
Oh! you never know, one day someone may get it right! lol.
But until then parents and children don't need laws to say they have a right to family life and privacy, because its a natural part of life that does not need rules applied to it. The same with HE. it is the most natural form of education a child could wish for.

2:40 am  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

Lord Lucas-
I would like to understand your position on the EHE review. Do you think that compulsary monitoring is inevitable but that freedom of entry in a home and possible interviewing of children alone is wrong or do you feel that the entire review should be scrapped because there are enough current laws and guidelines which are adequate?

If you think that it is inevitable that complusary registration is brought in, do you feel that the recomendation for a council is also a good one as it is the only way to get individual vioces heard?

Are you saying that because the compulsary registration is inevitable that this council is the best way forward and that therefore home educators should now organise in groups,thereby getting their concerns raised by a spokesperson for the group?

How do you feel about autonomous education?

Do you feel that Education Otherwise can successfully represent this educational philosophy as well as concerns for SEN and posibly faith based issues?

Sorry for so many questions- just trying to post back to a few groups on your stance. thank you Tania

3:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your support for home educators.
We are new to home education and undertook the task after careful thought and lots of stress and confrontations with the system and the head. We are very distressed about the review as are my children - the eldest has been in tears over it. We have had a lovely meeting with our LA, all very nice and friendly and would not want this to change. We feel like we are about to be lined up like the jews to get a star sewn on our arms.
Why does this government persist in taking away all of our freedoms - its true there will always be bad people but you cannot legislate against evil. Please continue your work on our behalf we really appreciate it.

6:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you said
"- I know that EO does not represent most of you - as far as I can see nobody represents most of you, which is why I'm keen to hear from you in the raw. But it's a fact of political life that the government, as an organisation, likes to deal with organisations, so EO has - at least for the space of time until we settle the issues raised by the review - a great value to you all."

Lord L/Ralph


Jump off the velvet bench and come into the playground....

Did an Org represent you in the playground - NO - folk with power over you pretended to represent you.

EO has NO value in this instance , except to any ptb who wish to co-opt a front man. EO are a liability - as , very sadly, we have already seen - evidenced by your tragic suggested amendment to the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Bill (itself a comedic misnomer).

Did you not read your blog comments b4 drafting this awful amendment that HEers now have to add to their list of positions to fight??

I had hope for you... but........... :-(

Please, either listen to those such as AHEd who campaign for real justice - or just stop trying to help - perlease..


10:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ralph Lucas

I look forward to your update re progress with the DWP. Good luck in achieving more than you hope.
Re DCSF and the Review: I can quite understand why, if you'd only encountered EO, you would put forward your amendment to the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill 2008-09 since they have proposed something similar. Despite their proposal also being unwelcome, as far as I recall they did at least provide that the committee would include home educators. However, you have had quite a lot of alternative views on this blog that I would have thought indicate that a Home Education Consultative Committee such as you suggest, would be a nightmare.
It appears to me that it would simply add legal weight to the many ultra vires practices home educators already suffer and which we have been fighting for decades.
I can’t understand, given that you have this ready means of access to views other than EO’s, and the multitude of other home education groups you could have consulted, why you didn’t sound this idea out before going ahead with it.

If the amendment is accepted we will have yet another problem to fight against.

You wrote

“But it's a fact of political life that the government, as an organisation, likes to deal with organisations,…”

and it appears that your HECC is your solution to that.

Such a committee would absolve government of the responsibility to consult with real stakeholders, whilst claiming to have spoken to our representatives. We have already seen, through Mr Badman’s actions, how easily that can be manipulated.

We wouldn’t need an umbrella group if they didn’t keep ‘reigning’ down on us!

Rather than seek this amendment, it would be most helpful if you withdrew it and sought to impress upon your colleagues that the present legal provision, if used properly, is sufficient to the task. This is what home educators have been insisting for years, it is what previous consultations have concluded and it is what the Home Education Review could not disprove. Do you folk in the house have to keep making legislation to keep busy, or is it ever reward in itself to prove it isn’t needed?

10:26 am  
Anonymous David Hough said...

Do you have any comments or advice on the enquiry into the Badman Review announced today? Is there a reasonable chance that the whole thing will be thrown out or is this just fluff to keep us happy? Or is this where they conveniently drop the stuff they never intended to do and leave the core stuff that was planned all along?

You might be able to tell that I'm one of those who is prepared to work with the process but has little faith that the government will take real notice.

2:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there is now Parliamentary Select Committee this September (2009) to look into the (lack) of procedure in producing the DCSF Badman review. Perhaps we (Educational Groups) can comment on the lack of consultation 'outside' the selected 'inner-city' areas which feature prominently in the review! The rest of the country is ignored as is the many successes of national and local Home Education groups across the nation.

1:34 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Dear All,

Thankyou for your comments. My reply in 3 sections: general, my position and the select committee call for evidence.

Yes, I’m amused by the Badman spoof, and I can see how therapeutic it could be. I’m just counselling you to see it from the other side too – what it feels like to GB and to people (civil servants, politicians) who may feel sympathy for him as a result.

Thankyou for the ahed links – I’ll find that useful.

Several of you don’t like my amendment. That’s fair enough from those of you who think there should be no engagement between government and HE, but if that’s not your view then please tell me how you’d like that engagement to be structured.

6:16 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Tamsin and Andrew on Pegasus ask about my position on a range of issues. I am a libertarian Conservative legislator who is taking an interest in HE; I represent no-one but myself, and my views develop as I learn. As of today, my answers to your questions are:

No, I do not believe that compulsory monitoring is inevitable. I suspect that we’ll end up with universal registration. I aim to make sure that any assessment that accompanies this is appropriate, and carried out by trained and sympathetic LEA staff.

I am against a right of entry to homes / solo interviews on principle. I think that education assessment should be kept separate from welfare.

It may be that Badman will be scrapped in its entirety – but that depends on you all engaging with the arguments over the next six months. My judgement is that some part of Badman will be preserved.

Why a council? HE is affected by many aspects of government policy. If HE’s interests are to be taken into account, then there needs to be some mechanism for bringing HE’s interests to government’s attention at the policy development stage. In the absence of a well-funded HE organisation to research and lobby, it may be viable for government to create its own group. I am wide open to alternative ideas – I know a fair bit about how to work with government, but I am a novice with HE. I think that engaging with government is better than ignoring it – but then I would, wouldn’t I?

No I don’t see a need for HE to organise into groups – at least not when it does not want to. I just argue that groups can be advantageous in some circumstances.

I know very little of ‘autonomous education’ – but I am gradually learning. I don’t expect ever to be a home educator myself, and if I was I’d probably be quite a conventional one. My immediate interests in autonomous education centre on ‘how does an LEA official establish that the autonomous education being provided is up to scratch’

Whether EO represents you is your choice. Who I, or the government, engage with is our choice. If HE speaks with too many voices, or seems to be largely disputing with itself, it becomes easier for me to justify choosing the voice I find most congenial and helpful, and for GB to say that there’s no consensus and to prefer his own constructions.

6:18 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

David Hough asks what should be done with the Commons’ education committee’s call for evidence.

The Commons is a different world from the Lords, so I don’t hold myself out as an expert, but my strong view is that you should engage with it. It is a reputable committee composed of reasonable and well-informed MPs, and what they say is going to affect how other MPs feel about HE, and that’s going to have a large effect on the fate of the Badman review.

From the evidence that they receive they will choose a couple of HE correspondents to hear and quiz in person. If you want that to be you, cover the whole review, and keep your voice calm: the committee will pick people or organisations who it thinks will give a sensible answer to whatever question they might ask. If you just want your written evidence to be taken into account, then pick on a few points and argue them cogently in a couple of pages: busy MPs may read all of a short submission, but just skim a longer one. Do not attack GB as a person, or disparage other HEers’ views: both will harm your cause.

6:19 pm  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

thank you Lord Lucas for the responses to my post. Now that there is to be a select committee enquiry-I think it is absolutely essential that we have access to certain information. The DCSF will not release which 25 local authorities answered which questions and what percent of these 'known ' children have special educational needs in order for 'more children to be known to social services' . I would like Graham Badman to correct the press statements which erroneously misquote his review (the roess sauid EHE kids more at risk of ABUSE) .By his not doing so and not making the statistics decipherable he has done much harm to the credibility of his review. Not to mention what this has done -even in good local authority areas to the 'goodwill' of the EHE community. Before I would ever consider collaborating with the government on this review I need to be sure that my own liberty and integrity has not been corrupted.

7:31 pm  
Anonymous David Hough said...

Thanks for the response, you seem to be agreeing with my instinct to submit something to the committee, it's just a case of what.

As for autonomous education, it's scary when doing it for the first time, although research has shown that it provides good results. It's based on the fact that children have a natural curiosity and will learn a lot better if they're interested in the subject matter. It does need nerves of steel, because letting the child lead also includes such things as choosing when to read. For my peace of mind my son is now reading, but he definitely was not ready for it at five or six, and totally rejected phonics, which is the latest teaching fad for this. I know of a case in my local area where the child held out until age eleven but picked it all up very quickly and advanced to a level above that for schoolchildren his age by thirteen.

With careful thought it's possible to cover all sorts of things without needing to deal with formal subjects in the way that school does. Astronomy is one example, easy to do as a practical subject (weather permitting!) and it's possible to work in some maths to explain movements and calculation of star positions, history to cover the Earth-centric universe and how it developed to today's model, explanations of what all the heavenly bodies are, etc. Volcanoes are another example - there's there basic stuff on how a volcano works, history to cover events such as Pompeii and Krakatoa, geography, plate tectonics and a lead-in to some geology studying rocks. It can be gently guided by parents by dint of selected field trips or suggestions leading from existing studies to spark interest in new topics

Based on my reading, I think that DCSF and GB show little understanding of autonomous education and how it works. It is not easy to measure because progress can be non-existent for some time before all the results suddenly appear. It is not balanced, in the sense that a child may concentrate on a field of interest for several months, but when carefully managed and encouraged, it all comes together. Conventional education and monitoring wants to tick a nice set of boxes at regular intervals over a broad range of subjects; autonomous education is not like that, and it may be that some of the boxes are not ticked until age 16. What does come from the autonomous approach is something that hasn't even got a box on the conventional form, where a child has been taught how to learn. The child will know how to express an interest, look up information, do some research and accumulate knowledge on the subject in a way that I don't ever remember being taught at school. I believe that this skill equips them for life far better than rote learning for an exam, because the child is able to easily handle anything that has been missed in the preceding years.

Given that autonomous education is so unstructured, the Badman recommendations will totally fail to cope with it. Should it come to the compulsory registration exactly as proposed, under the section for plans for the next twelve months, I will merely put "autonomous" and see how the system copes. It provides a perfect description of what is planned for the period. I urge others to do the same if that is the philosophy they follow.

On a personal note, I still have my old school report from my chemistry teacher where he acknowledges that I probably learned more from my own reading than I did in his lessons. I was interested in the subject so I was motivated to read about it over and above anything he taught in class. Contrast that to subjects that I had to do even though at the time I had no interest in them.

8:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you wrote:
"Several of you don’t like my amendment. That’s fair enough from those of you who think there should be no engagement between government and HE, but if that’s not your view then please tell me how you’d like that engagement to be structured."

I believe we have a perfectly adequate system of engagement already in place.

Case law provides that the LA can make an enquiry of any parent about their child's education. Statute provides that should any reasonable concern be raised about the suitability of the education or about the child's safety, that action can be taken to investigate and then if needs be, to remedy any problem found.

The review found no evidence to support the view that current legislation is inadequate for education or welfare issues - only lots of "I believe" and unsupported assertions.

The recent Laming review also found that current legislation, if it were used properly, is sufficient to the task of keeping children safe.

I am not asking for no engagement at all for home educators, just an honest recognition and admission that the engagement allowed by the current legislation is adequate for all but those who have prejudices, power ambitions, a lack of respect for human rights, a misunderstanding of current legislation or ulterior motives such as IT systems to sell or a paedophile agenda, as well as those who have sadly believed the abuse propaganda.

I am asking you to understand that creating new legislation and statutory procedures is costly, invasive and in this instance actually completely unnecessary.

What do you see that a committee can do that can't be done already without it?

8:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in West Sussex and our EHE department is being placed under the umbrella of CME - that is Children MISSING Education - so what does that say about the mentality of the Local Authority? I find it extremely insulting that they are doing this (considering I pay them through my council taxes etc). I've already had a few insulting comments from people who read about the Review in the press and believed that home educators are child abusers for the most part and that we need to be stopped because there have been so many cases. It's a very unpleasant implication to say the least.

Mr Badman happens to have an unfortunate name to parody (which is probably not very kind to him) but I don't know of any threats to him on a personal level. I feel that criticism has been justified against his professional ability and conduct in the Review and that is how I feel myself. Or maybe he was set up too? The consultation seems to have been prepared with a narrow remit to curtail home education, villify home educating parents and hasn't put in any of the few good bits he mentioned e.g. better training for and national consistency with EHE across LA staff.

I have responded to each and every year to the EHE consultations. It's more than a nuisance because I already have enough to do, not only as a parent and home educator but I also work too. The Labour Government seem to have slipped so many other bits that affect our roles as parents/home educators into other areas of legislation too. I do believe some of them may have good intentions at heart but I disagree with the way their legislation is often carried out in practice.

To me child protection law and processes are there already. I don't see why home education should be lumped in with this. I'm frustrated and sad that I have to defend my family's choice to home educate because some unelected officials in local government can't understand how to use the appropriate welfare legislation when it is necessary and are ignorant and uninformed about home education and can't even be bothered to make the effort to educate themselves about it.

The teacher/SW training courses are loaded with political dogma and I know this is the case on many other career paths. There are thankfully teachers and social workers who can see around it but they are working in a politically driven system, and Children's Services are part of that. I hope a change in Government may help. I also hope that teachers and SWs who don't speak up now against the "management" will be able to.

11:15 pm  
Blogger Snuffyisabear said...

The DCSF do not wish to keep education and welfare seperate - I agree wholeheartedly that this should be the case, but not only this review, which starts out obstensibly concerned soley with welfare interests but rapidly side-lines them for recommendations that are designed with the main intention of regulating education (none of the monitoring, registration etc. proposals will have much positive effect on the welfare of children but on the contrary are likely to compromise it, they are all explicitly designed to either determine and control what the child is learning or make it too difficult to take/keep a child out of school to home educate - it is exlicit in the language used as well as the tenets of the recommendations that this is the main drive)
It is a convenient propoganda tool to play the 'welfare' card in order to bring in legistlation that has the DCSF's idea of 'education' at it's heart - it doesn't just apply to this review, look at the new White Paper on education reform that loads the blame for their children's actions onto parents while reducing their ability to act autonomously to deal with it but at the same time effectively removes any responsibility from schools while handing them further powers. This, too, is couched in 'welfare' terms while the results will be tighter control not only on the children but on the parents too.
The only way you are going to stop this in any measure is to split the department so 'education' and 'welfare' are dealt with seperately at the source. Currently, with everything under one banner, it is too tempting, and too easy, to use 'integration of services' by using one area as a cover for unpopular/unreasonable 'reform' in the other.

10:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Part 1)

Thank you for your willingness to help home educators.

The fact that the government prefers to deal with organisations is not one that those opposed to the HECC have failed to recognise; on the contrary, for many of us, it's the basis of the strongest argument against it. This is not merely a desire to be obstructive, but a recognition that government is unlikely to go out of its way to seek alternative ways of consulting and alternative people to consult with (who are likely to be less sympathetic to their aims) if they have a ready established body at hand, appointed by themselves, playing by their rules, speaking with a single voice, providing the government with a consultative body that provides the twin advantages of convenience and predictability.

I feel establishing such a committe would facilitate the paying of lip service to consultation with HEors in the form of discussion with a council that, not only may not be representative, but would be necessarily constrained by legal considerations governing organisations of its type and the need to act within its own remit.

Who the government wishes to engage with is not only their choice, it is also the choice of the people they choose to engage with. If HEors refuse to accept the HECC idea, and, instead, continue to demand open consultation with any and all interested parties, then we are less in danger of individual voices being drowned out by the approved, official, voice of the organisation or committee in question. It could be argued that it isn't a case of either/or, voice of committee v voice of individual, but many of us feel that, in practice, that's exactly what it would turn out to be. Theoretically, I suppose, the HECC could even seek to stress the importance of listening to individuals, but even if this were to happen initially, how long would it be before someone, somewhere, deemed such an approach inconvenient, impracticable, and the HECC became, not a defender of the voice of the individual, but an alternative to it?

11:02 am  
Blogger Snuffyisabear said...

Lord Lucas, today I sent this e-mail to Ed Balls in response to a letter he sent to an MP asking about the review (reproduced on his own website as his 'thoughts on the review)
Edit postReport this postReply with quoteRe: Latest Statement from Ed Balls Regarding Badman Report
by Snuffyisabear on 28 Jul 2009 08:14

Well, I've just knocked off a quick e-mail to him;

"Dear Mr. Balls,

I am writing to you after reading a letter published on the Education Otherwise Campain site, Freedom for Children to Grow

I am very interested in the point you made in paragraph 5 of your letter;

The Review recommended that the home education framework should be strengthened significantly, and in two different respects: first, by acting to address the small but worrying minority of cases where home educated children have suffered harm because safeguarding concerns were either not picked up at all or were not addressed with sufficient urgency.

I would be obliged if you could furnish me with information on cases you are referring to, because as far as I am aware, there are no cases where home education has been a factor in the missing of, or delaying action in, instances of abuse. If you are aware of such cases, it would be in the best interests of the Review for you to disclose them as the current feeling is that there is no evidence of this to base the recommendations upon.

I look forward to recieving your reply.

Thank you,"

I would like to ask you if you could ask about this too - I have little expectation of getting a reply myself unfortunately, but I suspect that the cases he refers to here are ones where home education was incidental to, not a factor in, the inaction over the situation and if so it would make the review even more tenuous than it already is. If not, then it is in the best interests of the DCSF to talk about them as this is the whole basis for their legistlation.

11:02 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Part 2)

For me, another potentially serious problem with the HECC is that it would need to be seen to be *doing something* in order to justify its own existence; this is not going to help those of us who want to preserve the legal status quo. There is only a limited amount of time that it could fight for benign proposals (such as no-strings support) and, if it isn't proactive, if it just states and restates a postion of "train LAs to work within the existing law and treat people fairly, offer support without pressure to accept it, and otherwise leave HEors alone" (imo the only acceptable line to take) and also says "Don't forget to mention HEors and how this should/shouldn't apply to them too" to other government proposals not directly concerning HE, then how long is it likely to be before it's disbanded? Not very. So it's unlikely that the committee would so limit itself. The committee is more likely to feel a need to justify its continued existence, to work to show its utility value to government etc Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the aforementioned benign (even helpful) statements would be the only ones it would ever make (especially if the members are appointed by the government, then they are likely to be selected on a basis of the probability of their saying exactly what the government wishes to hear - this is unlikely to resemble the benign statements outlined above).

I would hazard a guess that the goverment prefers to deal with organisations for three main reasons: convenience, the idea that an organisation is "official" providing an air of bureaucratic legitimacy to engagement, and the fact that organisations are bound by the constraints mentioned in my first full paragraph, so are easier to work with than individuals (who are not so constrained and are thus less predictable). Additionally, individuals are able to argue from many different positions; a tactical problem for government, who wish to see plans rubber stamped by broad agreement of the group they affect, and can't easily quash the many-headed opposition that comes from politically active individuals without a single representative voice. In this way, our lack of unity poses a problem for *them*, while, for *us*, it provides a tactical advantage. I believe that this is why the Badman report makes reference to our diversity and the difficulties in securing representative opinion, and that it demonstrates that the fact they can't do so here is likely to cause them problems. Our lack of unity is being cited in an attempt to excuse their failure to obtain this representative opinion, showing that they consider it may be harder to effect change without it. Therefore, for those who want change, our lack of unity may well work against them, while for those who resist it, our lack of unity actually works in our favour.

The government's preference to work with organisations could mean that a HECC may be beneficial for those who wish to negotiate; for those of us who wish to draw the line at retaining the existing law and will not consider alterations to this, giving the government such a covenient body as the HECC can only work against our aims. That is not to say that I think existing HE organisations should not engage with government; on the contrary, I think it's the most helpful thing they can do, as long as they do so in a way that shows steadfast refusal to compromise over issues that matter. As long as they stress that they are not prepared to negotiate regarding our freedoms, remain firm in insistence that they will not accept alterations to the current legal position, then their engagement with government can be a positive thing, imo.

My opposition to the HECC idea is not about unwillingness to engage, but a demand to be heard as individuals, and the importance of being resolute in refusal to consider changes to the law as it stands.

11:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Part 3)

I think I can understand why EO proposed the HEC, and why you suggested an amendment to the apprenticeships bill attempting to introduce a HECC, and I don't think the suggestion is entirely without merit. I believe those suggesting a HEC/C were acting with integrity, making decisions based upon a professional assessment of the situation and wish to improve the situation for HEors. However, I feel that, on balance, establishing such a committee could be a really bad move.

Although I have my differences with EO, I do have a very high regard for a few of the individuals within it and I appreciate the work that EO are doing and the help that you are giving them (especially over the situation regarding single parents and the welfare system). This is not intended as a criticism either of yourself or of EO. I simply feel that there is a danger of dissenting voices being brushed off as failing to understand how the system works or as anti-government extremists. People are not against the HECC proposal out of naivety, spite, stubborness, anger or fear, but have some very real and seriously considered reservations concerning it. I think it important to be aware of this.

What is happening with this amendment now? Assume you haven't withdrawn it? Was it thrown out or is it still under consideration?

Thank you for taking the time to listen.



11:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lord Lucas

With regard to autonomous education, I would say that the proof is most certainly in the pudding.

My family educates on an autonomous basis in order to meet our child's educational needs, not for philosphical reasons. Without autonomous education he would not be able to learn anyting at all and our family life would ultimately break down.

I have submitted a single "end of year" report to my Local Authority explaining our methodology, resources available to us, areas covered, activities undertaken etc etc. I have not met them, they have not met my son and they have not seen any of his work.

They were however perfectly satisfied that my son is receiving a good standard of education. My LA are experienced and intelligent people and they certainly believe that they are capable of determining whether or not I am providing a suitable education based on the information that I supplied.

If THEY are able to do that, and are confident in their ability to do so, how can it possibly be necessary to "tighten up on" (or in fact eliminate based on the Badman proposals) autonomous education provision?

Surely what is required ius better training, and standardisation of service and interpretation across the LAs.

What is certain is that I could not present a convincing case for my provision at the START of any year as we cannot and do not have any kind of educational plan from one day to the next.

But this does not change the fact that an education is being provided, and that my LA is satisfied that this is the case.

I hope this helps a little.

With Kind Regards

10:19 pm  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

Lord Lucas-
sure you know what autonomous education looks and feels like! Libertarian values are at the heart of AE. Of course there are some people who are home educating with 'degrees' of autonomy and there are some Libertarians who say there cannot be 'degrees' of autonomy.
From Libertarian parenting , naturally follows libertarian education where the child decides when and what they learn. The parent is there to offer options when asked and to lead by personal example.
I was not a 'Libertarian ' parent- however compared to the usual authoritarian parenting, and certainly by mainstream authoritarain parenting standards some may have called me 'liberal'. My daughter set her own safety limits, she weaned herself, she played and shared when she was ready - I think that her knowing this has give her a sense of self awareness and assurance .After all walking and talking came form within her own self- I merely held her fingers and parroted back at her abbbling but i certainly cannot take credit for providing the eductational standards which she so spectacularly succeeded in- accomplishing both by age 2 to the point where she could get where she wanted and tel me what she was feeling. However, she could not eat whatever food she wanted (I limited access to sugar for the first 3-4 years ) She did have to brush her teeth and she was not 'allowed' to jump on other peoples pianos or children.
When it comes to autonomous education she chose what she was interested in and I helped her follow that interest . I would say that we were 'semi' autonomous' in that every so often I would ask her to look at the 'curriculum. She certainly had no real drive to do this but did consent. Lo and Behold, a three week stint and we covered an entire school year- so obviously she had picked up all the concepts herself previously without the aid of a structured environment. People in general find the concept of autonomy difficult to understand and to trust. They come from the reference point that a child NEEDS to be filled up by an adults idea of what they need to know . Autonomy trusts that a child will work out what they need to know and that can be a drawn out process in which parents help to 'draw out' answers and facilitate growth.
So in short, Libertarian principles are behind autonomous education. Try this article by a former Summerhill boy.

10:23 am  
Anonymous Ali said...

I'm still not quite sure why nobody has asked the Scottish Government about their guidance on 'engagement' with HErs. It actually works (when the LAs pay attention to it) and was informed by research undertaken by the SCC and Schoolhouse as part of a comprehensive consultation exercise. Since the Scottish Govt has confirmed it has no plans to revisit its statutory guidance, HE parents in England can lose the nasty child abuser label simply by moving across the border. But why should they have to?

12:24 pm  
Blogger Ali said...

With regard to autonomous education, you say: "My immediate interests in autonomous education centre on ‘how does an LEA official establish that the autonomous education being provided is up to scratch’."
At the moment it is not his job to establish this; his job is simply to take action if it appears that *no* education is taking place. Many LA reps have a big enough problem with this; to the Tony Mooneys of this world (and there are many of them) who cannot see that education can look like anything other than what they see in school, autonomous education often does look like "no education" because there are no lesson plans, no curriculum, no imposed structure, no benchmarks for achievement, no aims and objectives other than to facilitate the child's education of herself. It is based entirely on the child's intrinsic motivation; she learns what she wants to learn, when she wants to learn it, and in the way that she chooses. The AE parent provides her with inspiration by "seeding" or "strewing" ie making available possible sources of inspiration in the form of books, objects, videos, materials, musical instruments, pets and other resources, providing visits to museums, theatres, farms, workplaces etc, walks in the park or on the beach, opportunities to take part in activities or classes (structured or unstructured)with other children or adults,and by means of "purposive conversation". It is a very efficient way of learning; children often outstrip their parents very rapidly and everyone learns together. I know; I have autonomously educated both my children. My son started seriously learning to read at 7; by 8 he had a reading age of 11. He learnt to spell at 13, just before he decided to go to school, and probably because he knew he'd need to. At school he was disappointed to discover that he already knew all the science they were teaching, and more. He's been trying to teach me quantum physics since he was about 11. He went straight into the top set for maths; I barely scraped a pass at O level. He is waiting for his GCSE results; he will get A* for maths and science, and respectable passes in several other subjects.
I know how he learnt the maths; when he was small he constantly asked me to give him lengthy mental arithmetic problems to solve; when he was older I bought him a CDRom and let him get on with it; but I have no clue how he knows so much about science. At the time when he was learning it, I didn't even know that he was learning it. I could not have told an LA rep, in all honesty, that he was learning science. Or spelling. In fact, for weeks on end he appeared to be doing nothing but watching whodunnits on telly and taking the dog for long, long walks.

12:24 am  
Blogger Ali said...

Part 2:
This is how AE works; so much of the process is invisible to the educator, and probably even to the child, that it is impossible to make any judgements about its success, except in retrospect. As you said in a previous blog, the only way to judge it is by looking back. Furthermore, the idea of testing an AE child is anathema, because it destroys the spontaneity and unselfconsciousness that are central to the process.
Nevertheless, it does work, and there is plenty of evidence to prove it, regardless of the fact that GB was "unconvinced" by it. As an AE parent, I have had moments of being unconvinced myself, but I have only to remember the many AE children I have seen grow into erudite, thoughtful, articulate, self-motivated and successful young adults for my confidence to be restored.
I have yet to meet a young person whose autonomous education has failed them; and yet this is the same thing that GB dismisses as "lacking in pace, rigour and direction" and "little better than childminding".
To answer your question, no LA official who has no knowledge, understanding or appreciation of autonomous education can possibly decide if any AE family’s provision is “up to scratch”. No LA official should have to, or be allowed to make any such judgement. The law clearly states that parents are responsible for providing their children with a suitable and efficient education, not the LA. Schools are monitored because we, the parents, choose to employ them to carry out our legal responsibility, and therefore we need to know that they are fit for purpose. If govt. is planning to relieve us of the legal responsibility for our children’s education, and either take it upon itself or give it to the LA’s, it needs to be aware that either it or the LA’s are likely to be faced with a barrage of legal action from parents whose children have not received a suitable or efficient education at school.

12:26 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Badwoman, if you can phrase a question for me re the 24 councils - making it as exact as you can - I'll ask it as a parliamentary question and see where we get to. You can find me at Snuffyisabear: yes I could ask that, but at no great speed at this time of year.

To those of you who don't like the HECC idea, and prefer an open consultation, please illustrate how this would work. DWP starts to think about reviewing Jobseekers legislation, canvasses openly for ideas - that's fine. DWP produces some draft proposals and canvasses for responses: are you content that the civil servats choose which responses to take seriously, and what changes to make, based on their own assessment of consensus? Illumination welcome.

Re autonomous education - it sounds wonderful, but I don't believe that LEAs will be allowed to make no judgement as to the suitability of the education being provided. One way might be to describe and validate the autonomous education concept as a whole, and then for LEA staff to be able to say that this child's upbringing is within that concept. Do point me at any validation that you know of. Or perhaps we could conduct our own exercise: choose an autonomous education hub (somewhere that parents turn to for advice) and ask all students in contact with this hub who turned 16 beween 2000 and 2009 if they would email me with their evaluation of the method and of their experiences since?

4:16 pm  
Blogger tania said...

it has been sugested to me by a 'headmaster' of a democratic autonomous school called Sands in Devon(rather like Summerhill) that EUDEC -European Democratic Education Community may be an authorative source for autonomous education.

4:22 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Oh, and if any of you have come across or similar operations I'd love to have your opinions,

5:28 pm  
Blogger tania said...

Interhigh is fine for those who wish to follow a curriculum- a school curriculum but it has nothign to do with autonomous education.
Autonomous educators would have children who picked maybe one subject (at a time) and would therefore need something more specific rather than an entire curriculum planned out. There are lots and lots of internet schools offering curriculum from the structured academic to the more steiner based curriculae- you can follow one form the USA or even in a different mother tongue.

6:02 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Tania: anywhere there's a good list?

Where would you go for a list of autonomous education sites?

6:58 pm  
Anonymous David Hough said...

Where would you go for a list of autonomous education sites?

Very often Google or some other search engine is the starting point for autonomous education. We had a 15-minute session on the space shuttle a while back, get some pictures from Google images, some of the host sites had good articles on the subject, pictures of a rocket engine that I could use to describe the workings. It's come a long way from when I wanted to know something and was stuck if it wasn't in one of my encyclopaedias.

For more specific knowledge, if the search engine doesn't provide a good answer then Amazon or the local bookshop is next, plus asking other home educators if they've got any tips. Field trips often give good results because there's usually a gift shop with some relevant books. (For all I say 'start with Google', the internet isn't the only place we get information.)

As an aside, this type of skill is what makes the HE community pile in and rip apart something like the Badman Review; we're used to going looking for information and sharing the good bits with others. Our way of life is threatened so as a group we reacted (even diverse groups will pull together in the face of external challenge).

7:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lord Lucas

Based on the evidence released by the DCSF and in the Badman Report we actually have no firm evidence so far that ANY LAs have an issue with autonomous education (although we do, of course, know from real life examples that some do). Remembering that only 60% of LAs responded, if half of them had a problem with autonomous education (which I suspect is quite an exageration), we could perhaps suppose that some 70% are fine and a minority of 30% actually need some retraining in the subject.

I can't imagine that there would be a huge amount of difference between an LA considering a retrospective report/interview with an autonomous educator as compared with a "school at home" educator. They merely need to establish that a suitable education has taken place - they are not required to grade or assess the child in any way.

8:28 pm  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

Lord Lucas The DCSF has just published a review on self-regulated learning- extolling its virtues.

Of course it is from a school perspective and may well tie in with the earlier link I sent about EUDEC. One quote from this review is ' Autonomy is an important part of self regulation'.

This is exactly what we mean when we refer to autonomous Education or as it is known is the USA-'unschooling'. The children self regulate and are given the space and trust to do so.

The distinction between schools offering autonomous education(Summerhill) and home education is often merely the setting however obviously growing up in your family with outside interests is not like growing up inb a school environment. However that said, some of the independent autonomous schools are not boarding but are day schools.If I had £12,000 ayear I may have been a parent who chose this route.

A quick ask around on 4 home ed lists has produced this:

There is an AE list in the UK and I asked how people would feel if you joined and read or even began to engage. Not sure yet of the response but if there is nothing in the rule book about joining then I personally have no problem with it . I will return to you on what the group thinks regarding this as many people have been upset and stressed (myself included) about The Badman review and may feel like the list needs to stay as a sanctuary rather than become something that is trying to show its own values and virtues (rather like how many people feel about having their children produce work for LA consumption and comment). This feeling, if it is voiced I hope you can empathise and see it is understandable.

my private email if you wish to go mor ein depth after reading is I am sure any number of the coments posters would be willing to discuss in email with you too.

sorry you will have to cut and paste as links do not come up when i post.

many blessings to you Lord Lucas. Of everyone I have contacted and belive me there are many, other than my own home education lists you seem to be the only one who is really trying to get to the bootom of this and understand what it is that government wish to tamper with . I admire this quality and sincerley hope you manage in such a short time to grasp what is a stake. Its very hard to misrepresented and misunderstood by people who claim power over you.

11:32 pm  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

one more-

11:57 pm  
Blogger Ali said...

Part 1
Hello again, Lord Lucas.
You said: "But it is a fact of political life that the government, as an organisation, likes to deal with organisations, so EO has - at least for the space of time until we settle the issues raised by the review - a great value to you all. Several of you have mentioned other organisations, but none of them has made official contact with me, let alone offered to help."
I am a member of AHEd (Action for Home Education) which as you may know was set up to defend and advance home education rights and liberties and fair and equal treatment for all home educators. As part of that we oppose the review report and recommendations. Our position is that the law as it stands is perfectly adequate; some local authorities are able to work within it, and examples such as Spry, Khyra Ishaq and Victoria Climbie, which are being cited as failures of the law, are in fact failures in the working practice of the LA's concerned. In our view Badman's report is so corrupt, and is based on such a profound misunderstanding both of the current law, and of the nature and practice of HE, that there is nothing in it that we are prepared to accept. This is why EO cannot speak for us, and why we are unable to agree with your HECC proposal. Any government-approved, or government-appointed, council of home educators is open to corruption and co-option (if that's a word!) by that government, and is therefore in danger of not speaking for us, but of becoming a govt. mouthpiece.
You have already been given links to some of AHEd's ongoing actions and we would welcome a dialogue with you, in the interests of clarifying our position and ensuring that you are truly speaking for us.
Of course AHEd doesn't speak for all home educators any more than EO does, but we speak for ourselves, and for many others who are not actively involved in campaigning, and there are a lot of us.

3:36 am  
Blogger Ali said...

Part 2
You say: "Several of you don’t like my amendment. That’s fair enough from those of you who think there should be no engagement between government and HE, but if that’s not your view then please tell me how you’d like that engagement to be structured."
Speaking for myself (not for AHEd, which is a loose alliance of individuals with only our shared purpose in common) I am not against engagement with government, but I don't think there is a simple choice between HECC and no engagement. Over 2000 HErs responded to the Review; among those there were not 2000 opinions..I strongly suspect that the majority of those were of the opinion that there is no case for changing the law, and that the Review questions demonstrated that govt. has much to learn about how HE works in practice. If I am to engage with govt., I ask only that govt. engages with me and does not dismiss my point of view out of hand. Badman's conclusions gave me no cause to think that this has happened, or will happen. Our views were solicited, and then ignored or misrepresented. Therefore I am extremely wary of any further engagement. I will respond to the consultation, but I hold out very little hope that my opinions will count any more that they have done already; in fact some of us fear that by responding, we could be shooting ourselves in the foot; that govt. will then justify their foregone conclusions (again) by saying, "Well, you can't complain, because we did ask you."
You say: "Who I, or the government, engage with is our choice. If HE speaks with too many voices, or seems to be largely disputing with itself, it becomes easier for me to justify choosing the voice I find most congenial and helpful, and for GB to say that there’s no consensus and to prefer his own constructions."
But govt. is supposed to represent us; we elected them to do that and it is in their interests to actively engage and to listen to what individuals are saying. Of the 2000-plus Hers who responded to the review, the varying opinions we expressed are not 2000-fold; it can’t be that difficult to analyse our responses. Is there consensus among the LA’s, or among the named consultees? We know there is not. So why does govt. require consensus among Hers? Expecting us to have a consensus of opinion about every issue the review is attempting to address is unrealistic. All our points of view have been dismissed except the ones that support the DCSF’s pre-determined agenda. Are you saying that govt asks for our opinion and then dismisses them because we are not groups or organisations?
Where does that leave us? Will the Select Committee be more willing to listen to us? AHEd will be submitting a written statement to the Inquiry, and we sincerely hope that we will be taken seriously.

3:38 am  
Blogger Ali said...

Part 3
Personally I am interested in engaging with the LA's and the individuals within them who are responsible for EHE. These are the people who, as Badman tells us, and as we know from our FOI requests for their review responses, feel that the current law gives them responsibilities to monitor our educational provision, but no power to do so. If we can persuade them to take us seriously as educators, and to accept that we can work in partnership with them to enable them to achieve a better understanding of the nature and practice of HE, and in particular of autonomous HE, maybe they will be able to stop seeing us as a problem, and work with us. A few enlightened LA's have already done this, and it tends to work well until the staff change; then the process of educating them has to begin all over again. I would hope that with continued hard work on our part, and with a less suspicious and more co-operative attitude on the part of the LA staff, we can build constructive and positive partnerships and encourage LA's to stop pestering govt. for more control over us. The crucial question is, where is this desire for control coming from? If it is from the grass roots, we have some hope of success; if it is from central govt. and from Europe, I am less optimistic.
As for educating MP's, we shouldn’t have to do that, because MP’s are our elected representatives and should be working for us. Our views should carry as much weight as theirs, if not more in this case, because we are the experts in HE. However, many of us have been trying to educate them, with varying degrees of success. As with people in every walk of life, some MP’s are our natural allies; some are not. Those who are against us are not going to be persuaded to change their minds; the most we can achieve is to persuade them to work for us in practical ways by taking our concerns and questions to the right people, which is, after all, their job. With those who are our allies, and who are genuinely interested, there is much more work which can be done. They understand our point of view, they are open to learning more about how HE works and the impact that Badman’s recommendations would have on our lives, and they can educate and influence other MP’s.
Please consider yourself invited to engage with AHEd and thereby to discover that there are other organisations, (ie groups of individuals) with opinions which differ from those of EO.

3:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have heard mention a lot that if the government attempted to regulate/monitor/interrogate the children of a particular religious group, for example, well it couldn't. Using the home educators route seems to me a path into those groups, the clue being Ms Morgans original assertions that HE could be used as a cover for forced marriages. Am i being sceptical or are we being used as a cover for checking out the homes/lifestyles/choices of our Muslim friends (for example...) without it seeming that its anything to do with religion? All the other proposals etc being cooked up along the way by overzealous, uneducated and career do-gooders?

10:54 am  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

one more.....

a great critique on yesterdays Independent piece on AE and will have an AE article soon.

12:38 pm  
Blogger Ali said...

Dear Lord Lucas
Research into autonomous learning:

How Children Learn at Home
by Alan Thomas, Harriet Pattison

Alan Thomas has conducted major studies into autonomous learning and written several books on the subject.
(anecdotal, but interesting reading.)

Paula Rothermel:
http://pjrothermel. com/phd/Home. htm

http://www.leeds. documents/ 00002197. htm

Paula Rothermel's paper highlighting how "school based" measures are not appropriate for assessing home ed:
http://www.pjrother /Researchpaper/ BERAworkingpaper .htm

note point 7 (and 8) in "Discussion summary points"

She also gives a good overview of other research (including one study on adult follow ups whch indicates no unemployment)

DCSF Literature Review on Self-Regulated Learning:
http://www.dcsf. data/uploadfiles /DCSF-WBL- 09-04.pdf

2:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have put a blog entry on
about autonomous education which we practice.
My then eleven year old daughter enlightened me a few days into home education when I set my two children a chapter to read and some questions to answer afterwards. My youngest said, "I didn't leave school to write answers to questions all the time."

I am not saying that no child should be 'schooled at home', as such. For some children it works very well. For mine, it does not, and we have been happily child-led ever since.


5:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you wrote:

"Badwoman, if you can phrase a question for me re the 24 councils - making it as exact as you can - I'll ask it as a parliamentary question and see where we get to."

You've lost me here..... ?

7:14 pm  
Blogger Ali said...

You say:
>>Re autonomous education - it sounds wonderful, but I don't believe that LEAs will be allowed to make no judgement as to the suitability of the education being provided. One way might be to describe and validate the autonomous education concept as a whole, and then for LEA staff to be able to say that this child's upbringing is within that concept. Do point me at any validation that you know of.<<

I have been so eager to give you examples of validation of AE, that I have forgotten about the essential point I was making about HE in general.
We are legally responsible for our children's education. Our only duty is to provide one; the form it takes is up to us. Why should this change? Is there evidence that it's not working? I don't know of any, and Badman couldn't find any either, so he had to resort to not being convinced by the abundant proof that it does work. What right has he to make any judgements about our educational provision, and insist that we should allow LA's to make them too?
To return to autonomy; it is a way of life, of which learning is an intrinsic part. Educational provision cannot be judged, in the autonomous family, as a separate entity. Autonomous means self-governing. How can autonomy exist alongside external judgement of its suitability and efficiency and by inevitable extension externally imposed rules about what, or how, or when, or even if a child should learn? Children can't help learning, and they learn all the time; unless they have a disability, they would have to be tied up and kept in a sound-proof box to stop them learning to walk and talk. Do we have inspectors coming round to check on their progress? Is anyone concerned that there are hidden children whose walking and talking provision is unsatisfactory, or who are failing to achieve the required standards? Why is it so difficult to understand that this does not change when they reach the age of 5?
Autonomous children learn in whatever way is suitable for them. That's all anyone needs to know.
Autonomy is compatible with the current law. If the LA.s are required to make judgements, it will no longer be autonomy. And we will no longer be legally responsible for our childrens' education, because we will no longer be free to decide what form it takes. And that is a can of worms.
I am happy to help you to learn about autonomy, because I know with absolute certainty that it works, and because I want you to understand that despite your good intentions, of which I am in no doubt, negotiating for us to be allowed to practice a watered-down facsimile of autonomy is not what we need; I am equally happy to help LA staff to understand it, if it keeps them off our backs. But not if the result of that will be LA inspectors coming into my house and ticking boxes to try and find out if I am really doing what I say I'm doing and making judgements about what autonomy is and what it isn't because they think they know all about it.
One more reference for you: Read John Holt.
How Children Learn
Learning All The Time
How Children Fail.

9:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to clarify that an autonomous (or child led) style of educational provision can *sometimes* also form part of a whole parenting strategy that runs along similar lines. This parenting style is sometimes known as Radical Unschooling or whole life unschooling.

Some of the links that have been provided here may relate to this whole life philosophy (although you may be able to dig the educational bits out of them).

I think it is important not to get the two issues muddled. We need to focus exclusively on the educational element of children's autonomy as opposed to parenting styles, which are not at all relevant to the Review and may cause confusion and quite possibly consternation!

10:05 pm  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

regarding 'anonymous' and the possible conection to forced mariage and using changes in guidance to get access into 'certain' houses-

I have investigated this route as far as it can go- young people who 'disappear' will either end up overseas (hence not on the 'books' for LA's) or they will miss quite a while of school and then return to school and keep the marriage quiet. During this 'while' even if a school atendance order is issued there is little the LA can do- possibly fines but I know not of any Asian family going to jail- usually because the wheels are slow and the young person is back in school before anything happens.
Asian families are not deregistering and pretending they are home educating.
Although technically they could and thereby solve the problem of having the proceedings of an SOA . Unfortunately from what I have found out, even when the young person is still registered but missing education , there is ittle that they actually can do- and a school attendance order takes quite a while.
Maybe there is a possibility that tightening legislation on deregistration for the purposes of home education will pre-empt any move in that direction by that community but really with extended family networks it is simpler for some families just to say that the young person has moved to the next town to live with a sister or something similar. So in short- no to the question.

12:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brighteyes!. back again. Just don't seem to be able to stop catching up with your
I just read the article in the BBC
A quote they said was by Mr Balls.
"Mr Balls said there had to be action following a "small but worrying" number of cases in which children had suffered harm."

Could you ask a parliamentry question on this matter please.
That they find out if this small number is a reflection of the children who have left school due to staff poorly managing the childs educational/disability needs. Also that to remind them that penalising many thousand of home educators for the lack of action by the schools and lea's in connection with school absentees,suspended,moving forward to HE and leavers does not justify bringing in a full overhaul of child protection services when the law is sufficient now and adaquate to address these circumstance.

Ralph the law is there already to address any worries they have, it is down to the schools to notify ss if they have concerns and ss to follow up with the aid of lea's if necassary. Any child they have concerns with should not be left just so they bring in laws to cover their mistakes. If Mr Balls is saying there is a worrying few they are concerned with, then sitting back waiting for parliament to resume is not justifiable when the laws are adaquate now to address these families.
It works like this, 1. a referral. 2. an investigation. 3 action or no action...
Really can't be plainer then that, it does seem Mr. Balls is letting these so called few suffer till the ss and La's get what they want!..Parents who home educate take the responsibility very seriously, so the problem with these figures could be addressing school failed children who already have some concerns overlooking from the school staff. This really needs to be verified. It Seems Mr Balls is in the know and should address this, because i think you too would be concerned if he is insinuating the children are being left until some new law surfaces.... Well that is the way it sounds and speaks clearly out to the population. What you need to ask is, What happen to the law which gives them to the right to acquire the EPO( emergency protection order) because it seems they are not using it, no need for one to one with children, if they truely feel a child is in need they should without delay use the law not hide behind it to protect these few children Mr Balls is referring too. But i dare say its all a smoke screen anyway.
A concern is a concern, it only needs the co-operation of the parents to end their enquires! Seems that in all these months since mr badmans review,these children have been left without proper intevention to aid this legislation... That's not child protection that is failure to protect by the gov. and the LA's.

Home educating parents do well protecting their children, but the law is adaquate now for intervention and parents are better judges of their childrens behaviour then any stranger in the mist who decides something may not be to their liking, in fact i can see the la's experiencing more prosicutions against them for causing upset to families particulary the children!..

Hope this helps..

Blue eyes!. lol.

12:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas. Best address you properly this time. lol.
Home educators are very busy people, as majority of their time they are supervising their children 24/7 compared to schooled children. This normally being on top of housework and other engagments etc. So the whole heart goes into family life and ensuring the children's security and education are catered for.
With Autonomous learning, it tailors basically for the child's natural inquizative nature to learn, tackling with it all the ideas that arise from one/numerous enquiries into building up to a full blown project, which can lead of into many directions and be so fulfilling, the children then have looked at all the different area's surrounding their thinking and understanding of the matter, drawing upon different developments as they move forward, this can change to either dramatically leading of the project or even advance the child to focus on higher abilities... The experience children gain from research and natural learning has to be said, a very creative art in its self, as they explore all avenues and focus on the interesting sections that appeal to them, gaining fast accurate knowledge as they search deeper.
There are many ways in which a child can learn from one simple idea that takes their interest,as the child loves what they are doing they tend to have a desire to dwell deeper. ITs all natural abiity, something that carries on through life and does not hinder the child, but actually benefits to aid inspriation and focus as they learn more. A child that naturally fulfils their aims, feels much more at ease with the whole aspect of learning. Most children in school shun the word education, but home educators love it and thrive on it, the autonomous learner has only the pressure of their own abilities to push their selves forward to complete their tasks, that suit them, but pressure on them to perform for certain periods set, would interfere with the natural abilites of these learners, it would hinder progress as the child would feel rushed and under review all the times, making them feel someone will be critical of their work, will start to have draw backs on their own abilites.
Monitoring is down to us parents, we take it seriously to ensure children do acquire the right support, spend our days and lives making each moment count to ensure their future is a success.
There can not be two authorities over a childs future, it has to be us parents or the authorities, it muddles a child's mind and causes confusion especially with children with disabilities.

Home ed children who wish to be autonomous do so out of the ability to acquire and build on their own abilities, that has to be admired and if demands on this were targetted their self esteem would suffer too...
Carry on the good work.
I should say your name is already down in history, as our hero, for your attention helping home educated children.
Well i know my children and people i speak to are being made aware of your continued support for nurturing of our children's futures.
Blue eyes....

1:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of needing a HECC or similar, if they followed their own rules and guidelines about consulting the public, we could rely on government to take proper account of our (stakeholder’s) views canvassed through full, open and honest consultation.

As it is, what we are trying to do is deal with a corrupt system and whilst I am trying to make them work by the rules, you are trying to see how we might accept their invalid intentions with least injury to ourselves.

Focussing on issues such as whether or not we can convince an LA that autonomous education is OK, is a distraction. Home educators have been managing that for years.

We need to focus on more fundamental issues.

Was the review necessary/valid?

A vast amount of public money has been spent on a Review of Home Education that had no sound basis (it was based on myth and rumour), that was very poorly conducted by persons with prejudices, possible vested interests and either a poor grasp of or a malign intent with statistics. A short investigation into Baroness Morgan’s claims would have shown that she was wrong and no review was necessary.

Are the results sound?

The findings refuted the hypothesis yet the author forged ahead with ridiculous recommendations based on that faulty hypothesis; the government accepted the recommendations with no justification.

Why are home educators being discriminated against?

Are other groups in England being singled out to have their presumption of innocence removed, on the basis of rumour, with no evidence to show that there is a risk that requires this level of action?

This is a major civil liberties infringement for children and parents, disguised with disingenuous words about child protection.

There has been a deliberate attempt to tarnish home educators in order to use us as a scapegoat – to give the government somewhere to point their finger when they know it should be pointing inward.

Every tragedy they try and hoist upon us, such as the deaths of Victoria Climbie and Khyra Ishaq or the abuse of the Spry children, has been their own spectacular failure but they point their crooked finger at home education in a sorry attempt to cause a distraction.

If the government genuinely wanted to reduce the amount of child abuse in this country, they’d do better to look first at their own employees; the number of children abused by teachers is shocking.

However, I see no government review investigating that. They collect statistics on the number of teachers wrongly accused and there are campaigns regarding that, but they do not collect any statistics regarding school children abused by teachers.

So, the government make a noise about home educators - everyone takes their eye of the real problems - LAs, Social Services, Children’s Services Depts, teachers etc are happy it’s EHE being singled out instead of them and so are happy to believe/spread the myth – Parents of school children are glad it’s those weird home educators that are being shown to leave their children at risk, not them – lo and behold, the government have their foot in the door – home educators have to accept home visits etc., - and then of course, so as not to be discriminatory, they move on to the rest of the population in bite size chunks so as not to mobilise any groups they imagine large enough to fight them off.

So let’s not make our group even smaller by dividing autonomous educators from other home educators.

3:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas said:

"To those of you who don't like the HECC idea, and prefer an open consultation, please illustrate how this would work. DWP starts to think about reviewing Jobseekers legislation, canvasses openly for ideas - that's fine. DWP produces some draft proposals and canvasses for responses: are you content that the civil servats choose which responses to take seriously, and what changes to make, based on their own assessment of consensus? Illumination welcome."

I haven't been keen on the HECC idea simply because I think the first person Ed Balls would appoint to this committee as a home educating expert would be Graham Badman. This would not help home educators at all.

I do however, like the idea that there would be someone(s) with the power to look at consultation responses and flag up the ones most relevant to home educators.

6:04 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How's your Autonomous learning coming along, I gather by now you have acquired all sort of reasonings and practical advice in your seeking out how to understand it all. You have taken on a subject it seems that is not within your boundaries of interest in the past and have pursued the journey out of a matter of interest and a need to know, to fulfil your aim.... You are in essence upon your own autonomous course, this insight will show you how it is accompliced.

lord lucas I wonder if you had seen this in your own actions recently?

What you should be gleaning from all your experience is the desire you are pushing your self to learn more about, from one particular interest that takes you further into other concepts.
That is Autonmous learning too.

So if you can do it naturally, a child has benefits of less destraction in their lives to conquer their aim too.

If you look at it like this then you will gain an even deeper understanding of how an equizative mind works when interested in learning on a particular subject,as you are experiencing it first hand.

Please note you are under pressure to perform by a certain date or in a certain time, which makes it harder on you, also young children as you can see do not need this pressure, they need the relaxed approach to develop their interests..

You learn more each day, no such thing as boredom in home education.

Blue eyes.

8:13 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

First, an advertisement from a business that I run:

A job that might suit a home educator

Tania and Andrew - thankyou, a wonderfully helpful post

Ali: yes, I'd like to talk to ahed. Let me know when someone suitable is in London - but not this month. Am in email conversations to that effect. I am delighted that you are engaging with the select committee and with MPs - personal contact with HEers is a great protection against acqiescence to unjustified government demands. Perhaps an answer to the LA staff problem is to require them to have been on a training course - designed by ???

badwoman: you said that some documents were being witheld - if you describe them as exactly as you can, I can try asking for them via a parliamentary question

Ali again: don't ever think that I'm trying to represent you - I only represent myself, and have no claim on you or yours. Do you mean that there's no such thing as bad autonomous education - families where children will come out into the word disabled by their lack of knowledge and skills?

Anonymous - will pursue this as a parliamentary question

replies a bit slow - supposed to be on holiday.

10:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas

I am even more lost now...

you wrote:

badwoman: you said that some documents were being witheld - if you describe them as exactly as you can, I can try asking for them via a parliamentary question

please quote me

and even more important - please address my last couple of posts -

or is this just a PR page where you can look like you are engaging with the peasants, even offer them a job application opportunity (to advertise SCHOOL - ha ha!!) - no doubt private school ads are lucrative....

I am still at a loss to see what you are doing that truly supports home education - rather than support yourself - I know that sounds cruel - i don't like writing it because I know al ot of HEers are happy with you, but I want to know what they are happy about - please forgive my blunt approach but i am a tired HEer of 20 yrs.


validity of review

trust in results



11:15 pm  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

Part one-

Lord Lucas- yes we are trying to get someone with an Ahed 'hat' on to come along too.

This week Schoolhouse in Scotland sent out a press release detailing a rise in English home educators asking about the practicalities of moving North of the border due to the Badman review. Interestingly, it came to my attention that Scotland also had , just before England in 2007 - revised guidelines for all LA's on EHE.
The history behine the revised Scottish guidelines is what caught my attention.First of all, before the Scottish guidelines were made, The Consumer Council of Scotland was commissioned to do a report (just like Badman was).Called, 'Home Based Education :Towards Positive Partnerships', this report is a fine piece of work . It takes into consideration all view points and even organised a seminar for interested stakeholder and Local uthorities with speakers. This report can be called truly independent-i.e. not written by someone who previously worked for government in Kent Social Services(Badman). I include a link below. The Scottish guidelines are very clear and leave little room for ambiguity or individual LA interpretation.Where there may be some issues between specific families and Local Authorities, the Consumer Council has a clear role in helping with any complaints. Granted, the SCottish EHE community is figured at about 1-2000 not upwards of 60,000 so possily a similar report in England by Consumer Focus would be more difficult.Add also the fact that Consumer Focus sets their campaign reports a year in advance (now all Consumer Councils have merged into Consumer Focus so Consumer Council SCotland is now Consumer Focus with a SCottish department) However, having looked through the Scottish report, I can see all the ground has been covered and can see that it would be fantastic if England could have a similar report done and a place where complaints could be raised seeing as so many home educators get into indivisual troubles with Local Authorities who are not following current guidelines.

And now it gets more interesting..... FOI's from the DCSF prior to the English guidelines in 2007 show internal emails and the exact timeline of why the consultation in 2007 was halted. The legal and financial people said it was too expensive and under researched a field- hence this 2009 review a la Graham Badman. Instead a copy of some familiar guidelines was circulated to LA's and some stakeholders as a proposal to clarify the English guidelines- and guess where the DCSF got these new ideas from? You guessed it- they were a copy of the recently released Scottish guidelines released after the SCottish Consumer Council report.HOw do we know? Another foi from back then shows that they did not even bother to take out the SCottish references -Scottish local authority names etc!!

Entire Consumer Council report-


The actual link to the released DCSF internal mail and the conclusion that the English 2007 guidelines (whihc for the most part people in the EHE community are happy with) can be sought through Education Otherwise.

Perhaps someone else may be able to send in a link on this blog for you a I do not know how to locate it , having only participated in the online discussion within lists....tbc

1:56 am  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

part 2 ...
Lastly , the withheld documents are numerous. Someone else again can post about this- but I can add that it was not until an FOI request for things like the literature review and the breakdown of the stats FOI that it came to light that only 25 local authorities were used to gather the stats and the answers form these LA's extrapolated to all 152 LA's to get an answwer. It is still not clear whther children with a Special Educational Need (SEN) are included in these stats or whether 'known to social services' also includes those families for where the LA has concerns about Educational provision.

I cnanot say that in a sample of 20,000 children there would be no concerns about educational suitability-however what i can say with conviction is that not all LA's decide this is a matter for Social Services and also that many HE families have come up against LA's acting ultra vires in their interpretatin of 'suitable'.

FOI's have been put into every LA asking about Social services involvement due to abuse or neglect in registered Home educating families as has FOI's regarding concerns about 'suitable education'.

The first set of FOIs are nearly finished and show that about 0.5% of children are known to Social Services from the EHE community.This is disparate with Badmans assertions and certainly entirely a different picture than THE INdependents headline that 'Children Educated at Home Twice as LIkely to be at Risk of Abuse' whihc incidentally thiwer Education Editor says came straigt out of Badman's mouth at the press release. Either The Independent et al have heard it very wrong or Badman et al have no intention of correcting a very damaging headline made in their name.

The stats on 'educational suitability' are only just started. It is already clear that some of the LA's have concerns for example due to 'lack of structure' which is ,of course, ultra vires.

Have a great holiday- I am off tomorrow too. Blessings Tania

1:56 am  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

Lord Lucas- me again- below is a list (not exhaustive) of current outstanding FOI's and some which are not outstanding but we suspect will not be answered. Either because they say it would be too expensive, due to section 38 or some organisatins which say they come under Chatham House Rules (grrr)

1)Currently on Internal review status, their ref 2009/0058529:

"I request that you supply the local authority evidence to support the statement "the number of children known to children's social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population" in paragraph 8.12 of The Report To The Secretary of State on The Review Of Elective
Home Education in England, by Graham Badman.

I request you include a breakdown of the reasons why these children are known."

Several re Annex F

2)Due by 12 Aug their ref 2009/0062902

"Please supply the response of Professor June Statham of the
Institute of Education, University of London to the recent Review
into Elective Home Education conducted by Graham Badman.

If Professor Statham did not submit a response herself, please
supply a response made on behalf of the Institute of Education,
University of London."


Due by 12 Aug their ref 2009/0062887

"Please supply the response of the National Autistic Society to the
recent Review into Elective Home Education conducted by Graham

Due by 12 Aug their ref 2009/0062876


"Please supply the response of Professor Edward Melhuish of Birbeck,
University of London, to the recent Review into Elective Home
Education conducted by Graham Badman."

Due 12 Aug their ref 2009/0062869

"Please supply the response of the Inclusion Trust to the recent
Review into Elective Home Education conducted by Graham Badman"


3)Due 12 Aug their ref 2009/0062860

"Please supply the response of Professor James Conroy, Dean of
Faculty of Education, University of Glasgow to the recent Review
into Elective Home Education conducted by Graham Badman."


4) Due 12 Aug their ref 2009/0062843

"Please supply the response of Professor Stephen Heppell, Chair of
Trustees at Bournemouth University to the recent Review into
Elective Home Education conducted by Graham Badman."


5)Due 12 Aug their ref 2009/0062840

"Please supply the response of the NCB to the recent Review into
Elective Home Education conducted by Graham Badman"


6)Due 12 Aug their ref 2009/0062880

"Please supply the response of Barnados to the recent Review into
Elective Home Education conducted by Graham Badman"


11:27 am  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

7) due 4 Sept their ref 2009/0070423 but given their current record won't be answered in time:

"Please supply me with a comprehensive list of those who responded
to the Review into Elective Home Education.

Specifically, I am requesting a list containing the number of home
educating parents & children, together with a list of the 90 LAs
who provided a response and a list detailing all other respondents."

8)also simlar to 1)but more detailed-


11:27 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Badwoman - an apology - I messed up my notes and attributed a comment to you about FoI refusals that came from T&A - and has now been responded to. But no apology for just being myself and not a category, or for not giving you full answers - I'm on holiday and not giving the blog a lot of time and anyway much of what you say is unanswerable by me - but most useful in formulating questions to put to government in mid October; as far as I am concerned, what I get out of the blog is an education. Nor do I apologise for posting the ad: The Good Schools Guide is half my life, and half my reason for being interested in HE (Summerhill is in there), and after all the conversations I've had about the difficulty that HEers have in finding decent homeworking jobs of course I put it in my blog - it's plastered all over the job sites too.

Coming back to the HECC, I have taken all your reservations to heart, but still do not see how an open consultation works. As Merry and Ali have pointed out, 2000 of you wrote in to Badman and were effectively ignored - and I am not surprised. That sort of write-in works with politicians - mostly we're interested in individuals - but not with civil servants, who live at the level of the organisation and find it impossible to summarise or to draw conclusions from a host of individual submissions. If you won't trust one or more of your own organisations to summarise, why is it better to trust a civil servant who may have little knowledge of or sympathy with HE?

12:19 pm  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

Here is an example of a section 38 refusal


here is another


LASTLY some released FOI requests that show that only 25LA's were actually used- here is the foi that gave us some useful info that SHOULD have been released with the review-it allows us to pick apart the stats and then a week after that came a second release with a bit more info and confusion

see both in full-
or the actual document here;


or the actual document-
Thats all for this mornings gathering of unanswered question. Considering both of us are on holiday not bad going if you can copy and paste them all and print them out to read.

1:23 pm  
Anonymous schoolhouse said...

Following on from earlier comments, Schoolhouse (Scotland's national HE org) has worked closely with the SCC (now Consumer Focus Scotland)for the past 10+ years. The SCC was never 'commissioned' to review home ed in Scotland but included it in their work programme (twice - there have been two reports) on the basis of need to investigate HE/LA relationships due to evidence of poor LA practice.

The DCSF did indeed plagiarise the Scottish guidance when drafting its HE guidlelines but found you can't just remove the kilt as the legislative framework is different in E&W. So why was Scotland's statutory guidance not looked at by Badman (has the SNP Govt just been too embarrassingly successful in producing something workable?)

One more comment: a 'reserved' issue (welfare reform) should not be confused or mixed with an England only issue (EHE review) as one cannot inform the other.

Schoolhouse co-operates with AHEd on cross-border 'reserved' issues (we jointly ran the Every Single Parent Matters campaign). We also comment on English HE matters when it is appropriate to do so, thus the issue of our recent press release re the Badman review which can be found on the Home Ed Forums site (our own is currently under redevelopment):

2:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas

I know I’m getting stroppy but I am glad at least to know that I am not also going mad – I searched the blog several times in an effort to see how I’d prompted your request :-)

While you are learning about home education, I am slowly learning more about how Government works (or doesn’t).

When 2000 ish of us responded to Mr Badman’s review questions, I guess a large percentage of us thought that we WERE indirectly speaking to the Minister (ie an MP) and that the civil servants were just a conduit rather than the decision makers.

So do you think the current consultation is also likely to ignore another 2000 responses from home educators and if so, what is the point of public consultation? Is it really just the tokenism many of us believe it to be?

If MPs are, as you say, interested in individuals, why do so many of them just suggest that if we are worried that we respond to the consultation – manned by those civil servants? They also just copy our letters to them, to the Minister, who regurgitates the same party line response, ignoring any individual questions we’ve asked.

I think, ironically, that the reason why I get a bit grumpy/rude toward you is that you are at least responding personally and thereby at the same time providing an outlet for my major frustration with the political process. How am I supposed to be heard and have my views and feelings accounted for when my MP regurgitates the Minister’s party line, my consultation views are ignored, my old home ed organisation has become corrupt (a bit like the cyclical thing you mentioned in illustrating the NSPCC situation) and my knight in shining armour (LOL) has suggested a HECC which I (and many other HEers) believe will cause me more problems in life than I currently have (which are enough already!) and there seems to be no simple way for truth and honesty to prevail – ie for the fact that Badman’s report was not justified and his recommendations are even less so?


ps – never take your computer on holiday – sun block is more useful!

11:39 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Dear T & A,

Best that I restrict myself to the larger questions where information has been refused, I think. This seems to boil down to (setting it out in parliamentary jargon):

"Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the local authority evidence to support the statement "the number of children known to children's social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population" in paragraph 8.12 of The Report To The Secretary of State on The Review Of Elective Home Education in England, by Graham Badman; whether they will provide a breakdown of the reasons that these children were, and for comparison a breakdown of the reasons why children in general are, “known to children's social care”; and whether they will set out the question (in the review or otherwise) which elicited the local authority evidence."

Does that seem right to you. Please let me know if you are turned down on any other requests.

Dear Badwoman, thankyou for your cheery rejoinder. Home education for both of us. Yes, in my experience individual submissions to a review are mostly ignored unless they are in support of / in amplification of a previously defined line, or come from someone with a noted expertise. It's too easy to net off individuals, as it appears Badman has done.

Yes MPs may just pass on questions to the government - the volume of low-level work thrown at MPs has become such that the response if often mechanical. You might try 'you're going to be asked to decide our future in next session's legislation, so I'd like to come to see you for half an hour to boost your understanding of an educational patch that you may never have had to tread before' or somesuch, which cannot be redirected.

Then a last question for you (in that I'm looking at alternative mechanisms to HECC) and schoolhouse: how is the government / HE conversation worked in Scotland? Consumer Focus exists in England also, but do not appear to be part of the equation here. How do they choose which HE organisations and individuals to engage with? Do they keep tabs on the HE-related aspects of all government departments? Who chooses the officials who work on HE at Consumer Focus, and why are they so good at the job in Scotland?

12:42 am  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

may i post your comments about what to ask to some lists and see if some more questions come up?

I am not sure if decision to include consumer focus came from within scottish gov or if it was Schoolhouse's idea and that idea was accepted. I suspect the latter.
One major difference is there are much less home edders in Scotland so possibly an easier group to get views from. also less local authorities -basically any work done by consumer focus was looking at between 500-2000 kids. with a possible 20-80000 in England I can see why consumer focus may think it too big a job if they were asked. They also decide a year in advance their main 'agendas' .As far as I know , the person who wrote the Scottish report knew nothing about HE beforehand.
As ex head of childrens services in Kent, Graham Badman comes form a certain civil service culture which makes him IMO not a believable choice for anything 'independent'.

10:29 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote from Lord Lucas:

"Yes, in my experience individual submissions to a review are mostly ignored unless they are in support of / in amplification of a previously defined line, or come from someone with a noted expertise. It's too easy to net off individuals, as it appears Badman has done."

This makes a mockery of the consultation process and a monkey of all us individuals who think we are informing government policy. I am shocked and appalled by that.


4:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> individual submissions to a review are mostly ignored

I didn't know that. Bit disappointing that all the time & effort didn't count for much.

What's the best way to provide input to a consultation? Do we (individuals) need to have official organisations submit on our behalf? Can we submit as local groups (eg. Bognor HE Group) or will they also be treated as individual responses?

Thanks for your time helping us understand the system.

9:46 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Re getting the best out of a consultation, or a committee investigation.

Summarising 2,000 unco-ordinated replies is just not feasilble, and you should not be surprised that officials give up on it. They prefer established organisations (e.g. NSPCC) or expert individuals.

To make an impact, you need to find a way of coalescing round particular points of view. A local society will have some impact, particularly if you state membership numbers, and in other fields organisations have organised write-ins to support a particular policy slate. Perhaps for HE you could put together a surveymonkey questionnaire and thus present a co-ordinated data set made up of individual points of view.

Your objective should be to give your contribution clarity and weight.

3:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for the advice on grouping our responses locally.

"They prefer established organisations (e.g. NSPCC) or expert individuals."

I quite understand that. But what the Badman debacle has failed to take into account is that the expert individuals on home education are, well, home educators...

6:07 pm  
Anonymous schoolhouse said...

"..I'm looking at alternative mechanisms to HECC) and schoolhouse: how is the government / HE conversation worked in Scotland? Consumer Focus exists in England also, but do not appear to be part of the equation here. How do they choose which HE organisations and individuals to engage with? Do they keep tabs on the HE-related aspects of all government departments? Who chooses the officials who work on HE at Consumer Focus, and why are they so good at the job in Scotland?"

The relationship between CF Scotland (formerly the SCC) goes back many years. Their first HE report was instigated by the SCC education policy manager whose remit brought her into regular contact with LAs and vol orgs including Schoolhouse, and it was timed to coincide with the 2000 SinSS Bill to which HE related amendments were tabled (and one resulted in the inclusion of a section on statutory guidance). The Badman review is a bit like deja vu for us as there was near revolution in Scotland when the then Labour-run Executive sought to impose draconian HE guidance on us. This was contrary to the will of Parliament which had wanted to protect HErs in the wake of the SCC report which had exposed routine ultra vires practices among LAs. An unholy alliance of the SNP group and the Tories, along with a smattering of LDs, ultimately led to the complete scrapping of the first draft (which SH had demanded from the outset) and a commitment to rewrite the document. The subsequent guidance, which was a fair interpretation of the primary legislation, was reviewed two years ago and the SCC sought SH's co-operation with a second HE research report. Despite vague concerns from LAs (including the the child protection chestnut for which no substantiation was forthcoming), the hard evidence produced by the SCC was undoubtedly influential in maintaining the right balance of respective rights and responsibilities.
As has been mentioned, Scotland is smaller, but it has the benefit of having a dedicated national HE charity which is free to join and has established connections with the usual suspects, including central/local govt and the vol sector. Unlike EO (which is not a registered charity in Scotland but whose inaccurate advice has previously caused problems here) SH has not alienated its membership or the wider community as it sticks to its aims (supporting HErs and defending their rights regardless of which social, cultural or economic subset they belong to). We are regularly invited to participate in consultations, steering groups etc and organise events of our own, including the 'Learning without Limits' conference last year which was attended by HErs, LAs, third sector and businesses.
SH strongly opposes the HECC idea and is appalled at the Badman proposals (which have increased our workload considerably as families make plans to head north). The Scot Govt has already ruled out a similar review, but SH conducts ongoing research (including 'mystery shopping' for LA services) so that evidence is available to counter the sort of claims we have seen made (and accepted without evidence) by Balls, Morgan and Balls.
EO has always demonstrated a propensity for compromise and sychophantic behaviour which suits the govt but does not serve the interests of HErs. By favouring the EO lapdog over other free to join organisations like AHEd (whose members have contributed a huge amount of work to the evidence base to support retention of the status quo) is frankly deplorable but not unexpected from this UK govt.
Schoolhouse supports AHEd's position and will make its own brief submission to the Select Committee regarding Badman's inexplicable failure to ask the Scottish Govt about their approach to HE/LA relationships, yet seeing fit to selectively offer up examples from other countries.
We would urge you to pursue this point since public money has been squandered for no good reason, given that there is a system just up the M74 which has achieved the seemingly unachievable 'outcome' of satisfying LAs without alienating the vast majority of HErs.

9:30 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Thankyou schoolhouse - v helpful and informative.

So the question that I bounce back at the English HE community is: given that having an organised structure to relate to government works so well for HE in Scotland, will you make one work here too? And if so, what? Pie-ing each other may be fun and even justified but it weakens your ability to deal with government. Would AHed and EO between them cover the waterfront?

11:34 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

oh, and HEAS too of course.

12:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Scotland, there is a population of 5.06 million (GROS figures). Of that, 13.73% are 5-15. Let's assume that EHEers are 1% of the school-age population. That means that the single organisation in Scotland represents about 7000 EHE children and about 3000 families.

According to Badman's figures, there are likely to be at least double the 20,000 EHE children known to LAs and there may even be 80,000. Can we have at least 6 organisations to speak to government, please?

This was also the problem with the "Tasmanian model" - Tasmania is smaller than a normal-sized English county, so the scale would be inclined to make it fail.

As a taxpayer, I also feel insulted that government will only listen to me if I am represented by someone. And why is there such an extensive pseudo-public-consultation mechanism? If they invited submissions only from organisations, we would have known where we were and would not have wasted our time writing individual submissions. I agree it takes a lot of work to synthesise 2000 replies - if they are not going to do so, they should be honest about it.

(A Scot, but living in Wiltshire)

4:19 pm  
Blogger emma said...

I completely agree with Shena.

The closest thing to Schoolhouse sotb is AHEd - they have considerably more credibility than EO. But this is a problem of scale, as Shena says, and a couple of organisations wouldn't cut it. Off the top of my head, you'd need - at least - AHed, Home Education Forums, EO, whatever the big Christian group is called, representatives from the HE-Special email list and the largest of the other email lists (which have an important role as places where information is shared and ideas are debated).

But, notwithstanding that suggestion, we surely pay civil servants enough that it is reasonable to expect them to critically synthesize a range of views rather than demanding that a single representative view arrives on their desks? I was deeply troubled by the complete lack of such synthesis in the Badman report - it was only through FOI requests that the extent to which he ignored the questionnaire responses has begun to emerge. And surprised, too, especially when compared to the 2007 consult, when the civil servant charged with making sense of the responses did an admirable job of synthesis. Perhaps (s)he should be offered the task for a redraft of Badman, together with Badman's ill-earned consultancy fee.

3:42 pm  
Blogger Jacqui said...

Dear Lord Lucas

You said that "Summarising 2,000 unco-ordinated replies is just not feasilble, and you should not be surprised that officials give up on it. They prefer established organisations (e.g. NSPCC) or expert individuals."

(Aren;t parents the expert individuals when it comes to their childen? But that is another discussion :-))

The BERR Code of Practice states that:
"6.4 Following a consultation exercise, the Government should provide a summary of who
responded to the consultation exercise and a summary of the views expressed to each
question. A summary of any other significant comments should also be provided. This
feedback should normally set out what decisions have been taken in light of what was learnt
from the consultation exercise. This information should normally be published before or
alongside any further action, e.g. laying legislation before Parliament."

So they *have* to collate all the information. And in fact they did for the Badman Review, as has been revealed by a FOI request:

It's just that HEers views were ignored.


3:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lord Lucas

You said that "Summarising 2,000 unco-ordinated replies is just not feasilble, and you should not be surprised that officials give up on it. They prefer established organisations (e.g. NSPCC) or expert individuals."

(Aren't parents the expert individuals when it comes to their children? But that is another discussion :-))

The BERR Code of Practice states that:
"6.4 Following a consultation exercise, the Government should provide a summary of who
responded to the consultation exercise and a summary of the views expressed to each
question. A summary of any other significant comments should also be provided. This
feedback should normally set out what decisions have been taken in light of what was learnt
from the consultation exercise. This information should normally be published before or
alongside any further action, e.g. laying legislation before Parliament."

So they *have* to collate all the information. And in fact they did for the Badman Review, as has been revealed by a FOI request:

It's just that HEers views were ignored.


3:30 pm  
Anonymous David Hough said...

Catch-22, if I fully agreed with EO, AhED or HEAS then I'd be a member, but I'm not, so there isn't a large group that fully represents my views. As such, I have my own views and I expect my elected government to listen to my views, along with those of other individuals. Otherwise we'll end up like corporate America where money and lobby power is the only way to get things done. When the government stops listening to individuals then we're on the slippery slope.

8:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please read Lord Lucas, this has brought me to tears,please stop these kind of situations from developing in Britain, For the Childrens' Sakes.


3:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

The DCSF in their new guidance letter to LA's on home education of children with SEN is a blatant attempt to get LA's to do to Home Educators what they cannot do themselves and bypass waiting for statutory change. To get LA's to set precedent so that courts will find it difficult to overturn a SAO depite a lack of basis in statutory law. As a HE parent with a autistic child with a Statement I am absolutely horrified by this backdoor approach, I can now expect my local authority to believe they have the right to enter my home, see my child alone, if my child or I refuse to force us to accept a specialist interviewing my child and then issue me and my child with a SAO if I or my child do not submit to this regardless of how good my provision is. Please look at this letter and please help us with this horrifying prospect. Sick with worry, distraught parent.

10:21 pm  

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