Saturday, January 23, 2010

Canvassing the Lords - now's the time to get writing

It seems likely that the second reading of the Children Schools and Families Bill in the Lords will come soon after we return from our winter half term on 22nd February, and that Clause 26 will still be intact.

To interest peers in supporting HE at second reading, aim to canvass us before 9th February – we rise on the 10th.

Hints on canvassing us:

- keep it short. We have no staff, and too much to do. Make your main points on the first side, even if you say more thereafter;

- understand our limitations. We are most of us more or less ancient, more or less establishment, and conscious that political power rests with the Commons. Liberty plays well – but there are few absolute libertarians here;

- your aim is to find friends, not conquer enemies. You will find plenty;

- do offer to meet in the Lords, if that’s easy for you, or if you are part of one of the HE organisations ask if the peer would like to meet a HE family who lives near their home (peers have no published home addresses by and large, so only organisations are likely to be able to find a good local candidate.

After Second Reading comes Committee, when the whole house (meaning those who take an interest) go through the Bill line by line. What we will need for this stage are suggestions for amendments – different ways of having oversight of HE, different ways of supporting it. I know that the whole concept of oversight is anathema to some of you, but that’s the way we work and our strengths are more in grinding the government down gradually with practical arguments than cutting them down with politics. So do send in your ideas for amendments, as we can put them down straight after Second Reading.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A complete waste of time that will be lobbying Lords! When we knew that you yourself want a register?The best defence is just to say No thanks!

3:09 pm  
Blogger Alison said...

Many thanks for that...just wondering how do we find a Lord who would like to be a "Friend"

4:10 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Alison, I expect that the HE organisations will be helping this happen. If you say where you are I may be able to suggest.

Anonymous suggests the hedgehog defence - works fine on most occasions, but not all.

10:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the heads up. On the case now!


12:03 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know how Labour MP's can sleep at night. They pass the second reading even though they have grave misgivings about it. They are so power-crazed they will do anything to keep their party happy. They need to turn their head away from the position of being an MP and to the people they represent.
And what about the Lords? The Kinnocks who are supposed to be socialists. What a joke. Now they have their millions their true colours are showing. Lots of other brown-nosing politicians who failed to get elected as MP's so they get made Lords.
I simply can't suggest amendments, bec the whole thing should be dropped. My children are seen by many pillars of out community on a regular basis. This law will not protect them anymore. One of our family friends had no schooling or education (she was brought up in USA) so believe me, she makes sure I'm educating my children. (She's a self-made millionaire by the way!)
Nothing except money to help with my children's education will bring me to register. Why would I voluntarily register otherwise?
The SAO penalty is a joke. The only time my children will go to school is if they choose to. Not if some LA box ticker tells me they should. I would enjoy watching the LA spend thousands on court fees trying to get me to follow through an SAO. Then I'd move to Scotland where they can't touch me.

9:36 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for this. I know Lord David Alton is also on side so he would be good to approach.
I disagree with Anonymous. I think we have to fight for the well-being of our children.

9:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm from Northern Ireland, can you suggest someone I can contact?

Thanks for your continuous support!


11:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i prefer the stone wall Lord Lucas no way in! and your be pleased to know that system has worked really well for over 6 years with our LA! many attempts where made to beach stone wall but all failed!
Lord Lucas wants a register of those home educators? and i suspect he wants checks on us as well? see lord lucas is just making out he is a friend of home educators you dont fool us Lord Lucas!
Have the tories/Cameron already agreed to the bill going though in the wash up? you know the horse trading that goes on at westmister Lord Lucas?

11:47 am  
Blogger emma said...

I like Graham Stuart's suggested amendment: remove Schedule 1

Let's bin the whole thing, and have a PROPER process of consultation in the next parliament (or the DCSF could always, you know, USE the responses to the latest consultation, or the material Badman collected and ignored). Home Educators have told government what we think. It is time for government to balance our experience, knowledge, and care for our children, with the DCSF's anxieties about putative abuse and educational failure. And the logical answer is likely to lie within the current legislative framework, but with a statutory emphasis on

- access to services and funding for HEers who want it, and declining such services not being grounds for LA suspicion

- making some personal experience in HE a necessary prerequisite for anyone wanting to work on a LA HE liaison team

- absolutely NOT trying again to change the law in a top-down manner, but having HEers in the centre of continuing discussions about the most mutually beneficial ways for HEers to interact with the State. If a report needs writing, hire HEAS or HEYC or AHEd or AIM, or the splendid Chloe Watson to write it, not someone with no understanding of or sympathy for HE.

I really think government needs to think longer term. It is going to take years to rebuild HEers' trust in the State's benevolence. The DCSF, Badman, Ed Balls and his team have put us through the _mill_ in the last year. The tactics, from start to finish, were bully boy. Such tactics do not work well against parents protecting their children from harm. And the proposed bill will harm our children.

We simply aren't going to accept legislative change at this time, especially not when the grounds for the change are, as you know, based on lies, distortions and smears. The DCSF, and Cameron's education team-in-waiting, really need to spend at least the next parliamentary term offering us only carrots before the HE community will even begin to be in a position to consider the potential benefits to society more widely of any governmental sticks.

It's so ironic. Had Balls and co wooed us with offers of modest but strings-attached funding a year ago, a large proportion of HEers would probably have taken it, with alacrity, setting the precedent for all HEers to be expected to accept close monitoring since "look, thousands of you do without anxiety". Instead, whoever was in charge of strategy made the crazy error of alienating almost the entire HE community from the outset with the groundless child abuse smear.

3:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your continuous support!


What support Debbie has Lord Lucas given? a quick speach in the house of lords before dinner with his mates?are you a red or white wine man Lord Lucas?
We pay Lord Lucas wages along with the rest of those lords who often appear to be fast asleep in the chamber! For once Lord Lucas why dont you really do something to help home educators.cos so far you done nothing at all!

5:38 pm  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

Anonymous-'find friends not conquer enemies'- nor make enemies- will you lay off the man please!

9:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you MUST have legislation on EHE and you MUST surrender to registration for all, I would not feel the need to emigrate/practice civil disobedience/got to jail if the following conditions were in place:

1. Freedom for autonomous education, so no forward educational plans to be measured against, back to the old system my LA used of me showing an education had taken place after every 12 months. The education to be suitable for my child's age, ability and special needs as defined by ME as the parent who knows him best. The LA may disagree with my judgement but should have to get a court order for a SAO, as now.

2. The money which would go to my child's school should come to me. Some of it may be in the form of vouchers to be spent on any educational product I choose - books, lab equipment, art supplies, software, laptop, whatever. The rest to be spent on my choice of field trips, sports, lessons and tutors, sourced by me. I keep receipts and records and will show the LA inspector all materiel bought with the money.

Access to school libraries, sports facilities, group music lessons and exams for free as vaguely proposed but not legislated for, is TOTALLY INADEQUATE and completely unacceptable as a motivation for registering. I'm talking about more than half the per child school funding, not just a few hundred pounds.

I know it won't happen so I won't hold my breath, but I'd vote for it and I don't suppose I'd be the only one.

8:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tania and Andrew Anonymous-'find friends not conquer enemies'- nor make enemies- will you lay off the man please!

Lord lucas is no friend of home educators.Lord Lucas belives in a register of home educators dont you lord Lucas?Have you found out what cameron thinks about it all because i have not heard Cameron say he is against a register has any one in plain English?
Are you a red or white wine man Lord lucas we dont need him and thats what most likly hurts him the most we can just say NO THANKS!
I much perfer to conquer enemies and send them to hell!(if they is such a place?)

10:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Emma. The whole thing is a complete farce. If we were criminals we would have more protection than we've had from these draconian, totalitarian bullying proposals.

Then, again, Labour seems to want to make all middle England criminal.

If the so-called evidence used to convict home educators were employed in a court of law against a defendant, the defendant would have the right to sue the lawyer and those making up 'evidence' against him. Conspiracy to make money by unnecessarily finding problems in the home educating community is still conspiracy. Conspiracy perpetuated by Labour MPs, and those who stand to gain from home educators like Badman.

I totally despair of the whole political process. There would probably have been less double-dealing from Idi Amin than there has been from Labour and the complicit local authorities this last year.

6:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Lord Lucas for your helpful suggestions.
My family and friends will be contacting as many Lords as possible over the next couple of weeks.

1:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Lord Lucas for your postive suggestions.
My family and friends will be contacting the Lords over the next two weeks.

1:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone has already said, we have not got a voluntary scheme running. Those of us who took our children out of the school system are already known to the LA. We would not necessarily choose to be known and there are no benefits for us.
I could give my children even more fantastic opportunities if even some of the funding that goes to the school came to me, and I would happily produce receipts to show that all had been spent on education.
Perhaps the current way out is just to say it is too costly to set up and therefore should be put to one side until more research has been done.
I for one do not think it is necessary for someone to visit me at home. I am happy to meet with LA and children in tow, but do not wish to entertain LA officials in the only private place left to our family.
If cannot get rid of schedule 1 entirely, then see above for my suggestions. Take no notice of rude comments, we do appreciate any help we can get, I am in great admiration of Mr Stuart and all of his work and sensible comments on our behalf. Thank you in anticipation of your help when this gets to the LoRDS.

4:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why haven't you blogged about the Digital Economy Bill anywhere? You are very pro-active in its reading.

Also Would you ever consider taking "tech" into the House OF Lords? Alot of the time networks like Twitter are debunking the minsters replies as it happens.

11:07 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"I could give my children even more fantastic opportunities if even some of the funding that goes to the school came to me, and I would happily produce receipts to show that all had been spent on education"
Me too! If there is ever any money for home educators I want to decide how best to use it for myself. I do not want the LA using it to 'offer' stuff based on their ideas of what I need.

8:10 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I canvass one particular Lord? Did you know that the only concrete promise of support that DIane Johnson made for home educators has conveniently not materialised? This link gives details
Ed Balls even told the Select Committee that this support would be offered, but was characteristically cagey about new money see here
If they don't keep this promise, why on earth would anyone believe they'll keep any of the others? Or that this is about anything except control?
Is there anything you can do to raise this publicly?

3:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, you're the one politician that actually seems to value privacy and have some understanding about (the effects of) technology. Please bash some common-sense into the british parliament. Maybe Britain is not a lost case after all.

A voice of the Geeks of Europe.

8:33 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

NI asked for a suggestion.

There's a good range of NI peers - Trimball, Eames, Rogan et al have good reputations here - as does Brookeborough

All the rest of you - thankyou. The Bill will not now leave the commons until late February, which shortens the government's timescales.

12:14 pm  
Anonymous Dave H said...

I've been watching the timetabling for the Lords - at present there's no sign of the CSF Bill first reading. Can it be put on the timetable before it passes its final Commons stage, or does that have to wait until it's officially cleared (even though the chance of it not doing so is pretty much zero)?

The Flood and Water Management Bill had its first reading the day after it cleared the Commons - can they be introduced with almost zero notice, or was that one timetabled a few days in advance. It obviously affects the amount of talking you're all going to have to do to kill it if the Bill launches immediately in the Lords instead of waiting a week or two for first reading.

10:18 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

The bill is slipping down the timetable and it's very difficult to know what is intended for it - it may just be left to die.

Second week in March is a possibility for second reading - 'first reading' is just a formality, recording the bill's arrrival in the Lords.

4:09 pm  
Anonymous Dave H said...

Here's one to think about.

Given all the provisions for home-school contracts, what happens if a home educator is forced by the legislation to send a child to school but refuses to sign the home-school contract? If it's mandatory to sign it then it can't be a contract because of the compulsion element, if it's not, then there's no problem in refusing, even if that then means the child cannot attend the school.

If taken to court, the parent can point out that the child was receiving an education at home until the authorities intervened, and suggest that the child be allowed to continue home education.

For all that they're riding bandwagons heading the same direction, neither of the two main parties have really thought this one through.

12:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bill is slipping down the timetable and it's very difficult to know what is intended for it - it may just be left to die.

Are you saying Lord Lucas that the bill will run out of time and not get though? what money will you put on it not geting though? what are the odds? i like a bet do you?

6:13 pm  
Anonymous Fiona Nicholson, Education Otherwise said...

As I see it, Committee stage in the Lords would only have 3 days before the Easter recess( ie 22-25 March) even assuming it reaches Committee before Easter. The House would not return until April 12th. This is assuming no General Election till June, putting the wash-up in the first week of May. Watching the Commons Committee stage, one would almost think the Government wanted the Bill to run out of time.

8:18 am  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

Is there anyway you could turn comment dates on - just having times but no dates renders some of the info here a lot less useful :/

And "boo" to the pointless negative comments here. If you've decided that burying your head in the sand is the best approach, after stating that this is your chosn course of action, perhaps you could improve the signal-to-noise for those who are trying to mount a more active defence by keeping quiet here and moving rants to one of the many mailing lists/discussion fora? Ta.

1:43 pm  
Anonymous Green Harry said...

I understand your point that members of the Lords recognise the Commons as the more important house, and work within that recognition. I suppose you feel that just saying "no" en masse might possibly come back on you and your colleagues too. Thus you prefer to try to defeat this Bill by proposing constructive amendments.

However, one of the important points of principle here is that people should not be presumed to be breaking the law (here, the Education Act) unless there is reason to suspect that they are doing so.

Do not prioritise expedience so fervently as to forget this. This is worth a tennis court oath. It's the thin edge of the wedge.

Members of the upper house should defend this point of principle, no matter what. That means voting against any form of this Bill which would introduce a regime based on such a presumption.

At the end of the day, who knows - maybe if you take this course, the respect in which the Lords are held will actually increase? After all, you don't want the upper chamber to get "Bercowed", right? That could as easily happen under Cameron as under Miliband.

Did you read yesterday's piece in the Guardian's 'Comment is Free' section? (It quotes you). The whole idea of home education involves more than parental choice and the defence of a minority community. If home education is really to be celebrated as a positive contribution to society, it links to the wider issue of human potential and doing something about what your party calls the "broken society".

Society really is broken, even if politicians say it with forked tongues in order to win elections. Do you want "broken society" to be the new "social exclusion", i.e. meaningless bullshit?

The reality is that members of our species can all do amazingly well educationally if we are given the chance.

The first place this starts, even if children go to school, is at home. Indeed, even when they go to school, the most important indicator of educational success is their life at home. I imagine there are probably quite a few Lords who started at boarding school at 7 and from then on spent more nights at school than at home. But they are an extremely small part of the population.

So promoting the role of parents in educating their children - and the amazing scope for success if people stop believing they're stupid and "that's teachers' business" - could change society enormously for the better.

One last point - you talk of the Bill slipping down the timetable and the difficulty in knowing what's intended. Well isn't there a rumour mill in the Palace of Westminster? Don't Tory whips get some sniff of what's going on when things change on the timetable?

What many home educators are concerned about is the possibility that the Tories will use the progress of this atrocious Bill as a bargaining counter in horse-trading about what's going to happen during the wash-up.

I wouldn't be surprised if such trading has already begun.

We know you want some kind of state support to be given to home educators so that they can buy tutoring of the kind advertised at your commercial website under "Tutors and tutoring". You said as much in your speech to the Lords. Well fine - let such support be available. But if the price is compulsory registration, or voluntary registration designed to put us on the slippery slope to compulsory registration, the state can shove it!

11:30 am  

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