Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Home Education under a coalition government

We can be sure that the Conservative/Liberal coalition government will not be springing any horrors on us when it comes to home education. Barring accidents, we have five years of peace ahead of us.

As I have said before, I don't think that the motivations behind the attack on home education have gone away, and I do expect it to re-emerge in one form or another should the government fall. I am therefore a proponent of the idea that we should try to legislate in a couple of years time to secure the basis for home education in the way in which we would wish, and to remove the excuse for attack.

In just the same way, I welcome the proposed Lords reform: not that I am convinced that it is necessary, or that it will produce a better house than we have now, but I believe that it is inevitable that it will happen and I had rather that it was done by a government that I am comfortable with, and whose views I can hope to influence.


Blogger Adele said...

Is it just me or does the second paragraph completely undermine the first?

I sincerely thank you for all your help, and I am sure that you mean well and have HEors best interests at heart. But I am disappointed and, indeed, angry about this post. I had thought that, at last, my family were going to get a break...

What legislation would "remove the excuse for attack" and still be acceptable to us? I can't see it, personally.

We could be left alone - we have a chance for that now! But I suspect some HEors and supporters will not be satisfied with being left alone, but will want to get "proactive". So I guess I can kiss goodbye to a few years of respite...

Adele (not meaning to be ungrateful but not happy with this *at all*)

11:39 am  
Anonymous anna said...

If what I've read is true, and the Lib Dems will be putting forward the Freedom Bill under the coalition, then I'd like to suggest this kind of legislation could be included in this.

An amendment calling for parents to have the freedom to meet their parental responsibilities, without unrequested/unwanted intervention from the state, UNLESS there is reasonable cause for concern would ensure freedom to home educate while allowing LAs to continue to act when there is cause for concern.

Not only would it be a huge step for home educators, but it could be widely supported by all parents who feel that under New Labour they were being told the best way to raise their children right down to the small day to day details!

12:25 pm  
Blogger Random Musings said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

Thank you for all your efforts so far. Regarding the future I would suggest that the current voluntary notification scheme is used and stengthened. At present we are not 'registered' with our local authority for the simple reason that it is pointless. I actually asked what can they do or offer and even suggested a few things such as

a) liason with local schools to organise exams (not even funding just maintaining a list of receptive schools)
b) provision of excercise books at cost prices (not subsidised but at the LA cost)
c) loans of text books
d) access to DCSF materials/learning support
then a few which might have some cost
e) access to music tuition at a comparable rate to that offered to school based children
f) ability to use/hire Council premises at subsidised rates
g) access to SATs tests if desired

Their answer was "we don't provide any of that"

So what do they do? "monitor and check on progress" was their only answer.

So basically if you don't register you get nothing but they leave you alone. If you do register you still get nothing but they have the ability to check up on you and fill in their clipboards and databases.

Based on that extremely one-sided 'offer' I declined to register!

A system where there was some benefit to notification would give

a) and incentive to people like me to register and
b) allow the question "Given the benefits we are offering why do you still want to 'hide'?" to be asked in those tiny minority of cases where hiding rather than educating is the active verb.

12:52 pm  
Anonymous Philippa said...

The problem with legislating might well be that they start off with the intention to make sure freedoms are guaranteed in legislation and then as the bill goes through there is more and more added until it becomes registration by the back door.
I think a number of people would sign up locally for benefits like free access to museums, no library fines, access to exam centres and subsidised music lessons (and maybe much more) without the need to legislate. If there are enough benefits and the relationship is mended between the authorities and home educators then some would accept light touch monitoring in return for benefits. Then the power stays with the parent. If people don't want to sign up then they don't have to. I don't understand the need to legislate when the existing legislation is sufficient.

3:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old crafy Lord Lucas says-As I have said before, I don't think that the motivations behind the attack on home education have gone away, and I do expect it to re-emerge in one form or another should the government fall.

what you mean is you want to attack home education? no need for any new laws on home education Lucas go poke you nose into the rubbish state schools you want people to send they children to! how much did it hurt that we won?

3:12 pm  
Blogger Alice said...

I think that any legislation on Home Education, even if it is reasonable, would not protect us in the future against onerous regulation and intrusion. It would be easy for a future administration to expand on such legislation either through a new bill or using any statutory instruments contained in the bill. The same thing happen with the National Curriculum, which was initially bought in by Thatcher, but hugely expanded under Labour.

If no legislation is passed it would at least give us a few, hopefully 5+ years of respite and maybe more if the Tories get in again. Some of our children will have flown the nest by then.

6:09 pm  
Anonymous John said...

Adele and Anonymous,

before misatributing to Lord Lucas sentiments he does not share, please take a look at the history of the fight against interference in home education. Lord Lucas has been home educators staunchest ally. That he is also realist enough to have noted that the calls for regulation have a basis (however illegitimate you hold that basis to be) in no way indicate he approves of such regulation. The example he goes on to use - that of reform of the upper house - clearly illustrates this point.

Lord Lucas, may I join many others in commending you for your continuing efforts to secure the liberty of home educating families.

8:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@random musings

I agree with your analysis of the pointlessness of being known to the LA.

I also agree that the LA HE budget would be better spent on the provision or loan of educational resources, rather than on monitoring families.

You inaccurately describe the present LA list of home educating families as a “voluntary registration scheme”. In actual fact, the LA compiles its list of HE families from information received from schools and other government departments. It’s certainly possible to voluntarily notify the LA that you home educate, but a large majority of the present list is made up of people who have been registered involuntarily.

I also do not agree with your conclusions that if the LA offered a few incentives to register that anyone who did not could be considered to be “hiding”. For starters, none of the items on your suggested list would be useful to me.

One of the major strengths of home education is that the education can be tailored to fit the individual child. Even well-intentioned LA offers, such as subsidized music tuition, mean the child has to fit the system – the child must learn one of the instruments on offer, at a school, at the day and time suitable to the school. If this suits your child, fine. If the child wishes to learn an unusual instrument, if they have another commitment on the day the school has available, if the child has been removed from school due to bullying and refuses to return, then the LA offer is of no use to them.

There are at present numerous disincentives to registration with Local Authorities. Some legislation/regulations need revision. Many Local Authorities act in an ultra vires manner. Autonomous (and semi-autonomous) home education is not recognised by all LAs as a legitimate form of education. There is little understanding that it is an entirely different educational paradigm to institutionalised education and therefore 99.999% of the population is unqualified by either education or experience to pronounce judgement on it.

The biggest disincentive to registration in any form is our recent experience with the Badman Review and the consultations leading to the CSF Bill. We discovered that the party then in power was authoritarian, paternalistic, and deaf. We discovered that they had no hesitation in launching a smear campaign against a minority group. We discovered that backbench government MPs are rarely willing to rock the boat. They don’t represent their constituents, they represent their party leaders. We discovered that the DCSF can’t be bothered to produce robust statistics or to produce realistic cost estimates. We discovered that Director’s of Children’s Services are merely concerned about covering their ass. We discovered that everyone from the clerk at the grocery store through to the Children, Schools and Families Committee has strong opinions on a subject they really know nothing about. After all this, I really feel that the less the government knows about me, the better, and I would be disinclined to register even if there were benefits.


9:49 pm  
Anonymous Jill said...

Whilst we greatly appreciate your support in defeating the HE parts of the CSF Bill, your blog completely misses the point that there is no established need or benefit for *any* form of regulation - we don't need restrictions, and we don't need permission to go about our lawful duties and responsibilities as parents. I realise your intentions are good, but there just never was a problem in the first place, except in the deliberate attempts to turn a right to access education into a requirement to demonstrate achievement, and a duty to act when there are problems into a right to routinely check for "problems". It is equivalent to social services intervention - we wouldn't expect routine "safe and well" checks etc in all families to see whether there is a need for SS to be involved.

Also, no matter what "incentives" are offered for parents to engage with LAs, it should never be seen as a problem to simply not want / need to do so.

Just for clarification, we *do not* currently have a system of voluntary registration - we have one of compulsory de-registration from school, following which the school informs the LA that they are no longer eligible for funding to provide the education for that child - it is a financial and contractual matter, nothing to do with education or safeguarding.

All the best,

11:25 pm  
Anonymous Katherine Norman said...

It seems to be that the education legislation at present cannot be bettered.

But what is lacking at present are clear guidelines for LA, closer scrutiny of LAs to make sure they are following guidelines and understand home based education, and examples of good practice (as defined by the 'consumers'/'stakeholders' - home educators themselves).
And a general understanding by LA's and the general public about what education outside school is and how it is so different to school.
Also the biggest problem is the idea that the state and experts know best when it comes to parenting - the dreaded safeguarding issue. We need to celebrate diversity in parenting, not continually judge and monitor parents and this appllies in all areas, not just education.

8:05 am  
Blogger Complementary Therapist said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

How dare you! How very dare you! We have just overcome the biggest attack on HE ever in this country à la Balls and Badman, or as we like to combine their names, BadBalls, and now you are telling us that in a couple of years time we will be under attack from you?

What needs to happen is that the EHE guidelines of 2007 need to become enshrined in law and it clearly states that the LAs have no duty to monitor home educated children and that they are to be identifying children on a school roll who aren't receiving suitable education. Sections 2.6 and 2.7 that is what needs to happen.

Do you realise that we are not required to follow a time table, nor the National Curriculum but there are LAs who ask how many hours per day the parents will spend teaching their children and what subjects they will teach them!

There is an LA in Bury Lancs who is getting parents to go through an approval process, that went out in the washup but yet they are doing it.

What needs to happen is that the LAs need to have legislation passed on them and you should leave home educators alone!

8:26 am  
Blogger Adele said...

John, I am well aware of the history and Lord Lucas' part in the fight against Badman.

To those who would like to make current guidelines statutory - I can see why you'd want that, but I think this would be a very risky move. Once they were statutory, they could then be *changed* and probably without any need for further primary legislation to do so. So we could all call for the guidlines to be made statutory, then six months later they could be changed to the point where they didn't even vaguely resemble what they are now, and we'd be pretty powerless to do anything about it. So it would be one heck of an own goal to make such a call, imo.

9:36 am  
Blogger SuchSmallHands said...

I think from my experience the only way you will bring an end to this long war of attrition is to ensure that LEAs are forced to meet with groups of home educators on an equal footing.

It's shocking just how few local authorities do this. Some, such as Cambridge shire LEA, think that its inappropriate to talk to home educators as groups and they said so in a government consultation not long ago. This is a position that is repugnant and designed to create poor relationships between home educators and the authorities.

Even those home educators who are militantly opposed to intrusion are not so blind as to believe that LEAs have no roll of any kind, but this will not happen until home educators can expect to receive an enlightened, realistic, well educate and sympathetic hearing.

LEAs must meet with us, gain much greater understanding about how home education works (so few have even an inkling). from there we can develop meaningful dialogue and training. I feel certain that if this was done we could have a peaceful settlement Until this happens home educators will fight any attempt to force an entry to our homes.

11:36 am  
Anonymous Louisa said...

It seems back to front to me. There is no problem with home education law, the problem lies with local authorities going beyond it, or in many cases, making it up as they go along. So why is the answer to that problem more legislation on home education? Surely the answer to the problem is for the DofE to get a very firm grip on the LAs and to institute some kind of sanction for those that act outside the law. What I personally would like to see (and I speak only for myself) is the ability for families to refer complaints about errant LAs to the DofE, for the DofE to promptly issue warnings to LAs about their conduct and for there to be measures the DofE can take to ensure compliance by LAs. At the moment families are left fighting badly behaved LAs out of their own resources and knowledge and any improvements gained are fleeting and lost when staff move post. It seems to me that LAs take their lead from the culture that prevails in the government. For a long time we have been fighting to get LAs to obey the law without any support from central government whilst LAs clearly felt they had a mandate for their hostility from the labour government. That government, to our blessed relief has now gone. The culture in the new DofE will, I trust, be very different and the LAs will, I trust, eventually follow suit. In the meantime, whilst we wait for them to catch up, a robust procedure for dealing with those who drag their feet would certainly help!

12:33 pm  
Anonymous JK said...

Actually, the sentence, "we should try to legislate in a couple of years time to secure the basis for home education in the way in which we would wish, and to remove the excuse for attack", is nonsense—comparable to suggesting that we bomb a few, relatively empty, UK buses to remove the excuse for terrorists to make a big attack. Or it's the old "if you can't beat 'em then join 'em", yet you (we) have beaten them! Or perhaps you're just being superstitious and think that something a little bit bad now will bring better luck in the future, warding off fate later. Do you truly think that someone like Ed Balls would be dissuaded from his plan by a little extra existing legislation? "Give 'im an inch..."

No Legislation brings freedom—think about it—no law has ever granted liberty: law does precisely the opposite by laying out demands and requiring punishment for transgression. Law is necessary to restrain evil, but we have ample law for protecting children and absolutely no need for new demands on parents. The only new law that could be enacted for the benefit of the home educated would be something that clearly restricts Local Authority and DCSF powers and defines penalties for these public servants who abuse their offices, many of whom frequently act ultra vires. These are the dangerous family-abusers who need reminding that they are servants and not masters of the public. From the pessimistic, compromising tone of your post I am not led to think that the type of legislation you propose should restrict the government though. Why not restrict the state so that the public can go about their lawful business! That one never crossed Labour's mind.

For the nation the Badman/Balls scheme displayed no rational basis, offered no tangible benefit and would actually have put more children and families at risk by snatching parental authority and enabling arbitrary state interference in family life. The only people this would have benefited were the despotic rulers, Balls being prime.

Any legislation on Home Ed that isn’t solely for restricting state powers is merely more erosion of civil liberty and family life. It can never benefit the children.

And if you think that the Lords reform is unnecessary and that it will not produce a better house than we have now, how can your conscience allow you to approve of it in any way? Surely (if you can be honest with yourself) you must see it as nothing more than a crass waste of public funds and government time, and it must be fought against. I personally do not see how either house could be reformed: after so many sad episodes (yes, highlighted by the vile expenses stench) then what possibly could be done to 'reform' the crooks and liars that rule us!

Compromise may be acceptable politically, but that doesn't make it ethical or excusable. There is a proverb that says, "a righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well." But, even putting your conscience aside, do you think that you will never be called to account for your own deeds? Many other politicians assumed they could get away with theirs.

3:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lord Lucas,

You have been magnificent in helping home educators in the terribly testing times we've had under Labour.

The current law is sufficient to ensure that home educators do not unfairly suffer from prejudice and discriminatory practices under various LAs; or, at least, it would be if LAs could understand and adhere to the law as it stands.

We should, in fact, have the ability to take LAs to task when they do NOT adhere to the law. That is possible, but unlikely at the moment considering that the legal aid to ordinary people has been all but abolished. LAs need to stick to the law. They need to leave their prejudices in the past and recognise that home education is not only here to stay but is quite likely to grow to huge proportions because, quite simply, home education works.

4:40 pm  
Blogger OrganisedPauper said...

It is very clear if you look at any country that has legislation specifically for elected home education (including states & provinces in the US and Canada) that legislation leads to restriction and control of home education.

Any legislation, including making the ultra vires 2007 guidelines statutory, will merely be a convenient hook to hang further legislation on.

Current legislation is fit for purpose if it is properly understood and applied. The fact that it is misapplied and used to bully and harass home educators speaks far more about the necessity of regime change in local authorities than it does about the quality and appropriateness of the law as it stands.

4:40 pm  
Anonymous Neil Taylor said...

In your opinion where precisely are "the motivations behind the attack on home education" coming from, and what are they?

Neil Taylor

11:25 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard to know what to say in response to this, other than that the sense of betrayal - by someone who formerly presented himself as an ally of home education - is acute and dispiriting. Perhaps I need to work on developing that dubious quality of being shocked at nothing.

11:38 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

To pick up on Neil Taylor's point, I see the pressure coming from three directions. Firstly there is a general pressure on local authorities to get a grip of children in their area who are "not in education, employment or training", and on those children who have dropped out of school. Secondly there is the general child protection lobby, who have made much progress over the last few decades and presumably will end up wanting us to get a licence before we're allowed to have children. Thirdly there are at least occasional cases of people who drop into the "home education" designation in order to allow them to avoid having to deal with truancy problems, or to avoid educating daughters beyond what they regard as an appropriate level.

I do think that we have a five-year respite from government attack, and it may be of course that the underlying direction of these pressures is changed during the course of this government, or whatever government comes after it. I do though think that it is worthwhile to review the current arrangements, which were so nearly crushed this spring, to see if there are things which can be done to reduce the likelihood that home education will find itself under attack again.

Because perhaps I work in the middle of it, I don't have the sceptical view of the legislature that some of you have. I do though understand particularly your view that dropping powers into secondary legislation, allowing governments to make regulations with little control, would be a dangerous thing to do.

There may though be ways of moving local authorities into a better relationship with home educators, that would remove the route of attack, that is working on local authorities fear of being caught out in a tragedy, or of being criticised for their performance. Several of you have highlighted this problem.

So my thinking runs along the lines such as giving local authorities a duty to consult with and offer support to local home educating families, funding them to do this, and making their performance in this role subject to audit.

But do take some comfort from my promise that though I will continue to put forward ideas, and to press my view that it is better to mend roofs while the sun shines, I have not the slightest interest in getting legislation underway unless I win your substantial support.

3:45 pm  
Anonymous Jill said...

@ Ralph Lucas - I like the analogy of fixing the roof while the sun shines. It still seems to me though that it's the wrong roof that you're trying to fix!

I agree that it's largely the LAs' fear of being accused of not fulfilling a duty that motivates them in wanting change, but clarity about their actual duties and responsibilities seems to be the easiest way of addressing this problem. Their role should be clarified as being analogous to social services, with action being required when there are specific concerns, rather than action to routinely check for any concerns. Another useful analogy here is one that has been used by another HE parent previously - when you're looking for needles in a haystack, it doesn't help to make the haystack bigger!

I would like to think that the vast majority of the population would readily agree that what is needed is meaningful follow up of genuine and specific concerns, rather than funding systematic routine checks "just in case".Public statements and guidance to this effect would enable roles and resources to be properly targetted, and would probably be the source of great relief from all - that common sense and commitment to purpose was finally shining through.

Whilst I understand the concerns about those who have "dropped out" of school, and then defined as HE (often following either pressure or encouragement from schools / LAs to do so), this situation only really arises as a result of the increasing pressures on schools re attendance and achievement. The distinction between teaching and learning is crucial here - teaching is something that is done to children, whereas learning is something that children do themselves, every minute of every day. The other big difference is that learning is intrinsically at least semi-autonomous, and will be at it's most efficient when it centres on whatever is meaningful to that child at that time. Unless a child is actively prevented from learning, then they will educate themselves, and research shows that this is true regardless of actual instruction or of the educational achievements of their own parents. Most children who "drop out" are the ones who are not expected to be academic achievers anyway, so why are they being assumed to be at risk of failing academically once they are out of the system, more so than when they were in it? It seems obvious to me that the "one-size-fits-all" approach of the national curriculum, has effectively prevented them from learning to the point that they have been unable to constructively engage with the school system, and that HE might well therefore massively increase their learning potential.

The governmant's own figures regarding numbers leaving school functionally illiterate and innumerate are staggering, and yet the handful who (for whatever reason) leave school to HE are immediately under suspicion of under-achievement etc. the statistics simply don't back this up, and "NEET" figures are unfortunately completely meaningless given their very limited scope, and their use of "NEET" as a default where no information is known (which is useually therefore the case with HE children).

I don't see how "giving local authorities a duty to consult with and offer support to local home educating families, funding them to do this, and making their performance in this role subject to audit" would change anything, and I suspect it would simply lead to LAs interpretting this as a duty on HE families to therefore be consulted etc. It would just add another grey area, rather than removing the ones already there that are worying the LAs (and us!)

Thank you for making the effort to engage with us on this, as it's vital that we have an opportunity to explain our varying and developing perspectives. Isn't technology great? :)

9:16 pm  
Anonymous Dave H said...

I think that home education is at a point where we need to maintain a watching brief. Certainly the proposed education bill needs a going over to check for anything, but if we're being left alone we can quietly work amongst ourselves to come up with things we might want to see in legislation and good arguments against things that might appear that we don't want.

Rather than highlight home education, I think we would achieve more lasting improvements by trying to highlight and change the intrusive nature of state interference. This benefits us by the back door because if we can get the general population and the media to stop expecting the government to do everything for us, pressure on local authorities will be reduced and their culture an expectation of knowing full details about every child will be changed. It's worth remembering that having a large, anonymous contingent of home educators makes it harder for a future government to control us because first they have to find us.

By all means talk to your MP and others, but reduce the emphasis on home education and make it a wider discussion. That way we get to keep the contacts (or make new ones if you have a new MP) in case they're needed for the future, and try to leave positive memories of home education without being too blatant about it.

Yes, we may need to try for some pro-HE legislation in two or three years, but that will be a lot easier if we can change the general attitude towards state control that currently exists.

9:29 am  
Blogger Raquel said...

These pressure groups and LA's really need to back off. The public have had enough of being nannied and measured and watched and tick boxed, as they demonstrated by rejecting Labour at the general election. I think that if our legislators can't make them back off, then we are in a very sorry state. These people should be working for us. The laws should be working for us. There shouldn't be any change to Education Act as regarding to home ed. There should be stiffer penalties for LA's who act outside the law. Pressure groups need reining in.

When I first started home educating, about 5 years ago, it was the first time ever, that I had witnessed my Local Authority acting above the Law. I'm sure they did in many ways, but this was my first view of it. It was a real eye opener and I was shocked at how they blatantly lied to me. I couldn't believe they could get away with it and why nobody was stopping them doing it. We have a chance now to stop them I feel. It should be *game up* time. Use the law to protect the citizen from the rabid Local Authorities. We really have had enough!

6:05 pm  
Blogger Netty said...

Personally I feel that we did not "win" this battle. I feel the government of the day got beaten by the clock. That was the only thing that stopped this horrid legislation coming into force.

I also have a fear of the whole wretched attack coming back to us at some point, and speaking as someone who's children will still be well and truly "school aged" in 5 years time, the image of this fills me with dread.

I therefore feel that in one way or another we must at least look at ways of minimising the risk of another attack on home education. I have no idea whether this could be realistically achieved, or what would be the best way to proceed, but I for one am happy to fight on if needed and agreed.

Thank you Lord Lucus for all your support and understanding. Without us having you and people like you who are willing to stand by us, would in my opinion leave us in a far more vulnerable position than we already are.

Kind Regards

10:29 am  
Anonymous Henry T said...

Ralph - I'm afraid it doesn't stack up, for a legislator to say they're in favour of legislation because legislation is inevitable.

New legislation is not inevitable; it's very evitable. It can't happen if sufficient numbers of legislators oppose it, or make clear at an early stage that they will oppose it. As and when someone moots something, over to you, Ralph, to tell them "no". That's what we home educators expect!

If you don't think there's a need for new legislation, then if no-one is proposing any, you should do nothing.

You sound as if you do actually think there should be new legislation.

You are also surely aware that any new legislation is bound to increase the state's powers to meddle unnecessarily and to no good end whatsoever. Let's be serious. I've just stated the bleeding obvious.

You did an excellent job opposing the Labour bill. Please, for goodness sake, do not involve yourself in trying to help the new government draft a bill.

The position must be clear, and from what you have said, you are 100% aware that this is true: no new legislation is needed, whether to protect children against abuse or to ensure that they are properly educated.

Indeed even the DFES and Ed Balls were aware of that. That's why they got Badman to write his crazy report full of, er, "statistical inexactitudes".

You cannot be half in agreement with that statement, based on a belief that other people are going to say or do X, Y, or Z.

Either you agree with it, or you don't.

We don't want any bloody deals with those who are going to push to introduce new legislation. Don't help them soften it. Just say no.

Also I wish you'd stop saying "we". You're not a home educator. You have helped us, and your help has been welcome. That's all.

11:53 am  
Anonymous David CT said...

Please can you pursue the issue of the costs of the Badman report, including expenses claimed by Graham Badman and so-called "experts".

The DFES refused to publish this information, claiming that if any information were published, it would put Badman and others in danger of harassment.

Please could you ask Michael Gove to look into this. I'm told he promised before the election that he would do so.

This is public money that has been spent, and it is surely the case that the amounts spent, and what they were spent on, should be made public.

11:59 am  
Anonymous Mary Mackinfield said...

On what you said about the "sceptical view of the legislature" that some of us hold...

Those who wanted to demonise and licence us, and force us to register, nearly won. They tried to use the legislature. Had the election not come, we would have kept on fighting like tigers, but I'm not sure they wouldn't have been successful. We were saved by the election bell, not the division bell.

Of course a legislature should not be used for the purposes that the anti-HE crowd were using it for. The Badman report should have been laughed out of court. It's an atrocious, dishonest piece of rubbish. Heads should have rolled. The minister should have been hauled over the coals for his positive reception thereof. No minister should ever be in a position where he thinks he might get away with singing the praises of such crap and introducing legislation on the basis of it. Public money should never have been spent drafting legislation based on Badman's proposals.

And so on.

But for all these "shoulds", this kind of stuff does happen. That's the nature of the relation between the state and society in the current epoch of British history, and no change for the better is on the horizon.

So while I have a sceptical view of the legislature, it's no more or less sceptical than my view of other parts of the state.

You can say you work in that building that William Morris once said should be turned into the "most beautiful dungshed in Europe", but that doesn't give you a better view of the consequences of unnecessary laws which all seem to point in the same direction. You and we can all see those. The legislature has played a major role in practically all of the changes for the worse that Britain has undergone in the past 30 years.

I truly hope there's little for you to do, on the HE front, in the next 5 years!

Thank you too for clarifying that you won't get involved in getting legislation underway unless you get our substantial support. This is very welcome!

(hushed tones)
But if anyone approaches you, trying to sell you on some new anti-HE legislation, could you please give us a nod? :)

And tell them from us, if they try to attack us, and hinder us from fulfilling our statutory responsibilities under the Education Act, we will fight even harder than we did under Labour, if we need to. We will have absolutely no qualms about driving wedges between the two coalition partners, for example. And will have absolutely no qualms about bringing down the government, if that's what we need to do.

Because our first responsibilities are not to a party or the state, but to our children.

(/hushed tones)

Mary Mackinfield

2:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bunch of leeches LA staff are Lord Lucas bit like the lords? how much does it cost to run the lords? you going to tell us?

10:27 am  
Anonymous Andy said...

I wonder if some of the commenters above have actually read what Ralph said! Or perhaps just the word "lord" drives people into an unthinking red fury.

Our days of home educating are long over, having taken our two children through to completion of GCSEs. (Between them they now have a BSc, a BEng, and an MSc). Attitudes have changed a great deal since we started (mid 1980's) when the first question was always "Is that legal?" followed by "what about the socialisation aspects".

So Ralph, it is great to have some real support from the Lords. Thanks for that. HE fits absolutely into the Coalition's agenda for personal freedom, a marked contrast with "progressive" Labour (what's "progressive" about ID cards, DNA database, CCTV, nu,ber plate recognition cameras and all the other means for the state to spy on the individual?).

And as an aside - for people new to HE, our experience was that the less formal teaching you do the more they learn. With hindsight we would have done even less "real work" and even more play. - "education is what's left when what has been taught has been forgotten"

2:29 pm  
Blogger keeper of the children said...

I support my children's education at home (my children are in charge of their own education) and I have been trained and have worked in the childcare sector.

Childcare professionals such as educational welfare officers, health visitors, social workers, nurses and day-care workers are being conditioned to tell families what the parents should do, to treat parents like idiots and to look down on any parents who don't do things the way the recent advice says to do it.

(Who writes this new advice anyway? Why do we have to follow it to be a good parent?)

This is wrong, really very wrong!
Parents are being encouraged to ignore their basic instincts.
What happens between the parents and the child when parents don't follow their instincts?
The family separate!
The parents lose touch with their children because they are sooo busy working and sooo busy trying to follow the latest advice in an attempt to be what the UK as a whole see as the right kind of parent.

Back to basics is what is sensible.
Allow parents to do what they feel is right for their child. Tell them where they can get the newest, latest advice and support and leave it at that.

Everyone I know doesn't want to live in country that demands and forces people to do things or to allow things (like having to let people into your home to dictate how to rear your child). And everyone I know can see the UK is heading that way.

It would be a shame to spoil such a great country!

8:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy says-I wonder if some of the commenters above have actually read what Ralph said! Or perhaps just the word "lord" drives people into an unthinking red fury.

But we know crafty old Lord Lucas wants a registration scheme for home educators dont you Lord lucas? yes or no will do?

Lord lucas if he is truthfull want some form of checks visits and follow up checks on ALL home educators dont you Lord Lucas? yes or no will do.

Lucas is no friend of home educators he does it for what he can get out of it. how much you get paid Lord Lucas?

10:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I agree that we should be thinking about the next "wave". It is not right that LAs can apply a postcode lottery on our families, and also I believe that you "stumble" into HE, you either know someone or for other reasons you find out about it, but it should be an option for all families, and they should know that and make an informed decision, not just fall into school.

8:25 am  
Anonymous Adam said...

Hello Lord Lucas,

I am one of those parents who removed my children from school in order to not have to deal with truancy problems. The problems were not with my children, or myself or my wife. The problems were and are inherent and rampant in the public education system.
Is that the end of the story?

Of course it isn't. It's actually a epic tale of nonsense, inconsistency and severe harassment from a representative of the Local Authority which involved court proceedings and eventual acquittal due to the intervention of legal services on the morning of the trial, but I won't bore you with the details.

Suffice to say it was nothing but a major inconvenience, but the Local Authority made out to be everything (as they tend to do when it comes to adjusting the law and the truth to fit their agenda).

Your opinion may indeed be true of some cases, but to make a blanket statement which is indicative that people who remove their children from school in order to avoid truancy issues as a problem which needs to be addressed is one I find insulting and ultimately unfathomable.

Whatever reason (not that reason is required) we have for removing our children from school, I expect in most cases that the intended outcome remains the same as with any other decision leading to home education. Home educated children.

8:26 am  

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