Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Home Education and the Childrens Schools and Families Bill

I shall speak on the bill in the Queen's speech debate tomorrow. Here's an outline of what I intend to say. Additions, comments and brickbats all welcome.

This (the HE section of the bill) is an ill-thought-out, Ill-defined, illiberal and unjustified, and should be removed from the bill.

Mostly based on innuendo - no proper research. NSPCC assertions. Ofsted cloak and dagger underway now.

The few statistics the impact assessment contains are dodgy, e.g 4x NEET percentage

20% unsatisfactory ed - unspecified and v dodgy basis - compares well with Ofsted's view of state education. Bullying % wd look pretty good too.

Cost £20million pa - £1,000 per HE child - to be spent on monitoring. And this in relation to a community that receives no help with exam costs, no help with text books, no educational support, none of the other benefits school kids receive. £1,000 pa could do a power of good if spent on such things - and LA would get to see education in action.

There is no recognition of autonomous education or alternative curricula - they are to be corralled into QCDA's 'exemplar curricula'

There is to be no proper training of LA officials

There is no provision for a truly independent appeal tribunal.

- true, some of these things are referred to obliquely, or in skeleton form, but so fuzzily that the outcome might be anything from acceptable to horrific.

There is no reference to additional funding for LAs

The right to educate one's own children is to be taken away, and only returned annually on ther LA's sufferance

There may be some measures that ought to be put in place for HEs - e.g. LA training, LA support - but this should be done on the basis that HE parents are doing the state and society a great service.

They are providing for the education of tens of thousands of children who have been failed by the state, and who would cost the state dear if they stayed on in school.

We ought to celebrate them, see how best we can help them, not subject them to rules and intrusions that we would not accept for our own children.

I look to my front bench to confirm that they will kill Schedule 1 in the washup.


Anonymous Firebird said...

Glad you're mentioning what OFSTED are up so, the reports I've read are very disturbing.

Sounds good, and I hope you get that confirmation! We'll be watching (Parliament TV permitting) and cheering you on :-)

9:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate what you are trying to do. Just one point: although, as you rightly say, some home-educated children have been failed by the school system, it gives an incorrect impression to state this alone. In my experience very many are home educated through positive choice. I know of one family who decided on this path before birth! Of course, these children are also saving the state thousands of pounds each year.

9:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your efforts, it's true it's so wooly but then I guess they want to tighten it up with S.I.'s What it would then be like who knows. I think the whole standardizing that goes on in society is very bad for community and society as a whole, so although this current issue regards EHE it is another step along the road to forgetting that people are on the receiving end, non-standard many and varied innovative peole who are the future and it will be very grim if we are all to be squashed into ill fitting boxes, but I think, obviously you already know this, so thank you for being a voice and I hope you get everyone really thinking. Patricia

9:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear hear.

Amongst the insane provisions in this section of the bill, apparently children will be asked if they would prefer to be educated in school, and if so the 'license' (which is basically what is being issued in respect of a parent's fundamental right and responsibility to educate their own children as they see fit) will be revoked. Apart from the obviously ridiculous nature of this (of course they would not prefer it), I begin to wonder whether this should also not be applied in the other direction, i.e. children whose parents have delegated their educational responsibility to the state should be asked if they would prefer NOT to be educated in school.

Likewise, responsible parents are clearly to be assumed to be child abusers until it is proven otherwise by inspections by some random employee of the county council. Should parents of school-educated children also be visited and inspected? Presumably they are also under suspicion, since child abuse is surely not limited to 9am-3:30pm Monday-Friday.

I could go on all day. The entire contents of this schedule of the bill, and the supporting gubbins such as the flawed Badman review and the 'impact assessment' are nothing short of horrifying. However, as I suspect I am preaching to the choir, I'll stop here and just say thank you for being a voice of reason amongst a throng of I don't know what.

10:18 pm  
Blogger Alice said...

Dear Lord Lucas

Here are some helpful ideas I hope.

"Suitable education" is defined as being "efficient" and "full-time" (s19E (2). I think that it will be hard to prove home education is “full-time” and "efficient". Home education is often part-time in terms of hours because it is more intensive. And many home educators use a variety of educational philosophies including autonomous learning.

Also a child's wishes and feelings are to be taken into account when determining if home-ed is "harmful for the child's welfare" and if education is "suitable". But children who are withdrawn from school are often confused and may take a while to settle into home education – are the wishes of a confused child who has never experienced home education really relevant? Are the child's wishes taken into account by teachers when the child doesn't want to go to school? (s19F (1)(d) & s19F (1)(f) & s19F (4))

Registration may be revoked if the education provided does not meet with the information submitted at the time of application. But home education is flexible by its nature and aims may well change part way through a year. (s19E (1)(b))


10:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It fails to recognie that lack of gcse's, whilst obviously a failing in school where they are one of the main goals,is often a positive choice for HE children who may seek alternative routes/ qualifications that better suit them and their ambitions.
It would be pointless to use this as a predictor of future earning potential in HE children. (not that we like to look at our children's future potential in that way!!)
I can see that a lack of gcse's in schooled children would suggest some kind of educational struggle/ failure/ disenfranchisement- however it would be wrong to assume that the same applies to home educated children who have a much wider range of pathways open to them.

10:37 pm  
Blogger Merry said...

Taken as a whole, i think that sums it up. We're never all going to agree on the ins and outs of everything, but this seems a good overall round up.

One point i would love to have made is that LAs already have duties and powers to deal with HE shown to not be happening suitable to age, aptitude and ability and indeed to deal with any circumstance where a child is not well cared for.

So if 1 in 5 of HE children is not receiving a suitable education, given they are known (by virtue of being in this statistic) then some LAs are doing a shocking and appalling job of using the powers (SAOs) they already have to address this and need calling to account. They certainly don't need more powers as they clearly can't be trusted to use the ones they have.

Or of course (cough) that figure of 1 in 5 could have been entirely invented!!!!!!

10:46 pm  
Blogger Elaine said...

You could point out that without a full disability impact assessment the whole farce is not legal IMHO
Their impact assessment says extra visits for disabled!! I am sure that is going to cause extreme distress not only to autistic children but also the medically disabled who have suffered considerably from absence of care in schools and would find constant meetings with the threat of having their medical care from family removed for chunks of each day and being returned to school if they fail to perform to some unknown criteria for some stranger absolutely terrifying.
In the months since January I have witnessed so many families struggle to carry on under this assault that I consider it the vilest form of child abuse perpetrated by state

10:58 pm  
Blogger Elaine said...

cannot remember if I added the link

11:00 pm  
Blogger Elizabeth (My Reading World) said...

You said: "And this in relation to a community that receives no help with exam costs, no help with text books, no educational support, none of the other benefits school kids receive. £1,000 pa could do a power of good if spent on such things - and LA would get to see education in action."

This is telling them WE want the money and the LA can INSPECT us. We do not want their INSPECTIONS! I personally do not want a single penny from the government.

My children have not been failed by the State--the State has not been involved in any part of their education. We opted out of the system from the beginning and want nothing to do with it.

I fear you are promoting inspections.

11:10 pm  
Blogger Jonathan Hunt said...

More power to your elbow. The Badman report is a vile stitch-up by crusading statists.

11:37 pm  
Blogger C. Blades said...

I am so grateful that people like you are putting forward our case in the corridors of power. Thank you.

12:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Good luck.

To give a personal view, my daughter was removed from school due to unmet special needs, despite some great teachers doing their best, and bullying.

School was a very unhappy experience for her and the pressure of having to "perform" in order to remain being happily and succesfully educated at home would be wholly negative. After a year and a half of home education her confidence and happiness have returned, she is making great progress academically and enjoying learning. I dread this legislation being passed and thank you for all you are doing to stop it.

12:50 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had a quick read and I'm all for what you've said, including the LA training and budgets ... so that they can learn the law as it is and stop acting outside it ... which they routinely do.
I have suspected OFSTED cloak and dagger .... I wonder what evidence you have for this. Have you heard anything we haven't?
Glad to have you on our side.

12:56 am  
Blogger OneVoice said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

I apologise in sending this to you so late after your request for questions to ask during tomorrow’s debate.

Having just found and read the Impact Assessment Guidance

Autism-in-Mind (AIM), who took part in a teleconference with Graham Badman and also gave Evidence to the Select Committee re the Graham Badman Review, has some questions that we would like the answers to.

The Impact Assessment Guidance says that an Impact Assessment is
‘continuous process to help the policy-maker fully think through and understand the consequences of possible and actual Government interventions in the public, private and third sectors; and a tool to enable the Government to weigh and present the relevant evidence on the positive and negative effects of such interventions, including by reviewing the impact of policies after they have been implemented’.

It is also our understanding that an Impact Assessment also gives affected parties an opportunity to identify potential unintended consequences.

We would like to ask which interested parties were asked to identify any potential unintended consequences.

AIM can find no reference in the Impact Assessment to any child who is medically disabled nor the potential consequences of an autistic child having to be interviewed at length by people who they do not know. Even with a trusted person present this could potentially be very damaging for an autistic child.

We can not find copies of an Impact Assessment being published or republished before the Consultation, the Graham Badman Review or the Graham Badman Report, as it states in the Impact Assessment Guidance should occur . We would like to know where we can find copies of these publications.

We can also find nothing in the non-monetized costs section of the assessment about race, gender and disability and we believe that there should be something included into the section about disability. We would like to know if our assumption that disability should be included into this section is correct.

After reading section 51 of the guidance we think that there should be a separate assessment published on Race, Disability and Gender and we have been unable to find any copies of an Impact Assessment outlining the issues which are wrapped around Race, Disability and Gender. We would like to know where we can find copies of this assessment.

We are in no way legal experts but the Impact Assessment Guidance has brought forth some questions that we would like answering to reassure us that everything that should have been done re the Children’s Schools and Families Bill has been done.

Many Thanks

Carole Rutherford

1:25 am  
Anonymous vicki said...

I feel that our government is scared of anything it has no control over to the extent its become paranoid of its own shadow.

Its time it let parents be parents, and make real changes to children's lives.

I would like to know why many councils adoption and fostering services are so under funded, when the government is claiming that every child matters! If they want to make a difference.. help councils rehome these children. Leave home educators alone.. The know there child matters, and are doing an excellent job of making a difference to our work force!

2:00 am  
Blogger Don'tBeRidiculous said...

Thank you for your support for home educators. Your comments neatly summarise the main concerns I have as a home educating parent.

2:51 am  
Blogger Cloudberry said...

Thank you for your support on this issue.

This Bill allows the State to completely usurp the parent's role in their child's education. I have seen the State make a mess of too many lives through their education system - it is vital we make a stand against this travesty of human rights.

7:01 am  
Blogger Cloudberry said...

This so-called "Bill" is only the skeleton - the flesh will be in the as yet unknown "Regulations". How can anyone really debate or vote on this Bill when they are only being told half the story? As my home-educated ten-year-old put it, "They need to tear it up, throw it in the bin and start again."

7:48 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you - from a HE Dad.

7:53 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you. Does nothing to safeguard children and it isn't right to have families, often with special needs and terrible experiences at school subjected to the constant threat of having license revoked at any time for any reason. At present LA need to prove education isn't suitable - and so it should remain.
Plus vindictiveness of the clause to have registration denied automatically for non-registered children, regardless of education is appalling.

7:55 am  
Blogger Carlotta said...

Thank you, Lord Lucas. These are exactly the sort of arguments I will be offering to my MP tomorrow when we present him with our petition. I will also be saying the following:

8:19 am  
Anonymous Alan Bright said...

Marvellous. Thank you so much for standing up for home educators. This is very much appreciated.

8:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lord Lucas, Thank you again for fighting for our corner. Your help is appreciated by so many you don't even know about. I must admit as an independent parish councillor, I have seen some pretty awful Conservative Councillors at District and County level. (The other partys are no better by the way). Anyway, all that gets swept aside when I see you do something like this. So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

9:21 am  
Anonymous S. Lewis said...

Could I just point out that not all parents who choose to home educate do so because their children have been failed by the state. Many do so because they believe that they can provide a better education from the start than the stste would

9:50 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Thankyou for all the comments so far - I will work as many as I can of the points raised into my speech.

10:08 am  
Anonymous Randall Hardy said...

I too want to say thank you for addressing these issues.

Perhaps you could seek clarification over the following.

In response to Graham Stuart's comments on 19 Nov, Ed Balls stated, “On the quality of education - that is what is new in the Bill - the Bill makes it clear that there is a right to see the child on their own only with the permission and agreement of the parent and the child. There is no right for the local authority to enter the home or see the child without their agreement. That is clear in the Bill.”

However, 19 F(e) seems to state that registration can be revoked if because of an objection under s 19 E(4) a child isn’t seen alone and the authorities deem that they are unable to ascertain (under s 19 E) whether it would be harmful for the child’s welfare to be home educated, wishes of the child, etc.

If this is a correct reading of that section, any parent wishing to have their child registered will be under pressure to allow lone interviews. This means Balls words were very carefully chosen.

Thank you again for your active support.

10:22 am  
Blogger Snuffyisabear said...

Thank you, Lord Lucas!
A couple of things; Too often in this process, it has been discribed as a parent's 'right' to home educate. It is not our right, it is our duty in law to ensure our children receive the education most suited to their needs. The difference between a 'right' and a 'duty' is that a right is something that a person may choose to use, while a duty is something they must do. It is an important distinction, but one that is often ignored. Where the education of our children is concerned, we are lucky enough to have a number of options available, and our duty is to choose the one that is best for our children. For some, that duty is best fulfilled by taking advantage of the governments largesse and sending their child to a state-provided school. For others, a different type of school is more suited, while for the rest putting their child in any form of school would be to fail in that important duty. It is on the basis of this duty that the truanting laws require parents to be punished with fines or imprisonment if they are unable to ensure their child partakes in the education they have chosen for them and do not either impress their will upon the child or make alterations in the education provision forthwith, because they are deemed to be failing in their DUTY. To put blocks in place that make it difficult for a parent to educate their child the way they see fit is not about recinding or revoking rights, it is about deliberately preventing parents from carrying out this legal duty (In particular, the clause in the bill that suggests that a child would be automatically forced into the school system if their parents didn't not 'register' - and I can think of a number of reasons why they might not quite apart from civil disobedience, such as simply forgetting, illness or other stresses, moving house or even not knowing it is a requirement - without taking into account the best interests of the child, and the 'one strike and you are out' suggestion that a good reason for refusing a family registration is a previous refusal or removal from the register.)
I think it is therefore important that you use the word 'duty' and not the word 'right' in your speech - the government need to understand that it is not a case of restricting access to a parental choice, but rather that this bill changes the balance of responsibilities, making the state culpable for the education of every child whose parents even consider home education as an option and that in turn opens the way for legal action against the LA's and government if the education provided based on the decisions of an official (whether it be in school or at home) later turns out to have failed in it's purpose.

11:35 am  
Blogger Snuffyisabear said...

I would also like (if you could manage to fit it in!) to see a clear mention of the LA's current responsibilities towards home educators. There is so much ignorance surrounding this it is important those deciding our future be made aware of the current position. Too many appear to believe that either the LA's are powerless to intervene if there is a problem or that they already have the right to inflict many of the heavy-handed 'monitoring' proposals (such as mandatory home visits and access to our children) upon us. Unless the truth is heard, these false perceptions will colour their decisions to our detriment. (Many home educators are afraid that new powers to LA's will not help the La's who are working very effectively under the current laws but will hinder their ability to do their job, and that those LA's which are known to misunderstand or abuse their current legal powers will simply have more scope for getting things wrong under the new proposals, particularly the ones that are loosely worded)
You are planning to talk about the dodgy statistics - could you also mention that the bill was formulated before the publication of the consultation responses, before the Select Committe's decision on the review it is based on is made and that no proper impact assessment regarding costs (both monetary and time wise - the bill seems to be asking for all home educating families to be subjected to some very long home visits by LA officials. Assuming that each family is visited only once for the proposed 4 hours and the number of total UK home ed. families is close to the conservative estimate of 20,000, that alone is 80,000 man hours spent on something that is currently unrequired. If, as the bill seems to imply, 3 visits totalling 16 hours are deemed necessary and the number of families is closer to the higher estimate of 80,000 (and it is possible, do not forget that most home educating families are not registered with their LA - mine is one of them) that is a total of 1,280,000 man hours.
And these are conservative estimates. Given the huge likelyhood of non-compliance amongst many families on top of ordinary things like illness etc. that is likely to result in meetings being unattended or needing to be rescheduled, the LA is likely to be under considerable strain.

11:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My now home educated daughter took two GCSEs at night school (in half the time in half the time that schools do a GCSE) and received high marks in both. Her verdict was that, although the subject matter was interesting, both courses 'taught to the exam.' She is now happily taking Open University courses. My daughter is 17.

I see that GCSEs are the only measure of a person's educational attainment in the so-called (and ridiculous) Impact Assessment (obviously written by a best buddy of Badman's). What about other avenues of learning and education like University, vocational courses, apprenticeships...?

I hope your speech goes well.


11:41 am  
Anonymous Alison Sauer said...

Thank you for a good summary of most of the main points.

As the main trainer of LAs in EHE I have contact with quite a large percentage of officers on the ground.

Those who I know fully understand EHE and the law do not want these changes - yes they are not totally happy with the status quo and would have liked some "tweaks" but they are horrified at a. the burden this places on them, b. the conflation of education and welfare and c. the percieved prejudice against home educating families.

I am stunned that such major changes are justified by the government with no robust evidence to suggest such changes.

My main concern is that this sets a legal precedent of statutory distrust of parents. A requirement to "check up" on them with no prior concerns. In order to fulfil this requirement it gives local authority officers more rights to enter the home and speak to children alone than the police have.

Alison Sauer

11:51 am  
Blogger Franbles said...

Thank you so much!
There are many of us that are glad you are standing up and 'shouting' about this.
Every time I hear the NEETs argument I wonder how many in the figures were only home educated for a short while, ie. taken out of school at 14 or later, because the school system was not meeting their needs. If so, the NEET figures point to a failing school system, not a failing home ed system. Of those that I know who have been home educated for most or all of their 'school life' every single one of them IS in education or work, many with degrees and great jobs.
Thanks again.
Mrs S Stables

12:01 pm  
Anonymous Astrid Brand said...

This is probably the most unconstructive post, I post it anyway. Since the shock of the Badman Review has passed, since I have run out of anger, since I have nothing else clever to say that other people haven’t already said, and since all the actionism is almost over we have to give in to the waiting game, the gravity of it all has hit me. Having collected signatures for the petition, I was faced with one comment over and over again – “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear!” We all know this line, and we all know that water is shaping stone. That comment is as erosive to the principles of democracy and liberties as water is to stone. This country is sending young people to Iraq and Afghanistan to “deliver” democracy and civil liberties whilst here those principles are signed away, because of indifference and ignorance. People have fought long and hard for these civil liberties; they died for them and still continue to do so. We are faced with the threat to lose the fundamental right to educating our children according to their needs and abilities, and a family life without state interference. I just hope you are coming up with an amazing speech and convince enough Lords to stop all this. But then, I am preaching to the converted. Thank you.

12:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas
As you know we do not trust you! I not seen David Cameron M.P come out and say We the conservitive party will oppose all of the parts about home education and do everything we can to stop it? I got a feeling David like you would like a register and some form of monitoring? you not said if your against a register? and Monitoring?
if you where really aginst it you get all of the torrie lords to vote against it! you do every thing you could if you where really aginst it but your not really against the bill are you? i got no faith in any M.P or lord to do anything for us!

1:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you from B aged 13, J aged 10 and F aged 7 and our Mum

1:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your support.

I would like to mention the fact that when Graham Badman at the Select Committee was asked, what happens if the child doesn't want to speak to a LA officer, what would happen then, he didn't have an answer. Is the government planning to force the child to speak to them and how does this tally with their claim that this is about the child's rights as much as the parents?

1:37 pm  
Blogger jenny said...

It is the state trying to take the paren'ts role.
They are trying to fix something that isn't even broken.

1:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for supporting Home-educators. I would also say, what about the meetings with children, without parents, where now there is talk of a statutory attendance order if you don't comply. This is still unacceptable. When will we be trusted? WHen will any parents who don't send their children to nursery or preschool, be visited? It is the thin end of the wedge. We shouldn't need to have to apply for a licence to parent our children, which is ultimately what this is, when education is part of our parenting.

2:15 pm  
Blogger Cathy Koetsier said...

Lord Lucas, once again I could quite willingly kiss your feet! I am watching you live on Parliament TV and your arguments are powerful and clearly presented. I have said it before and say it again - thank you so much for speaking up for home education.

4:21 pm  
Blogger Elizabeth (My Reading World) said...

Thank you for asking them to "Kill that Section of the Bill"! You couldn't have been any clearer--Thank you for pointing out all the false statistics!

4:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas Come on tell us if you belive in a register of all home educators and monitoring? simple yes or no to these 2 question will let people know where you stand? and also would you vote against your party if it agrees with register and monitoring? i got a feeling David Cameron does want a register? maybe you could ask him cos he wont tell any one?

4:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you.
I haven't much to add. Like others my older children are not/have not sat many gcses. My 15yr old will begin Open Uni when she turns 16 next Jan and my 18 yr old has managed a good college place based on his portfolio.
The GCSE courses are often pretty banal aren't they?

Thank you for standing with us and reminding this appalling Govt that parents have a right and duty to bring up and educate our children; Not the state.

4:41 pm  
Blogger jilly_uk said...

I want to thank you Lord Lucas for your incredible speech to the House of Lords today.
I was moved to tears and by the end was cheering and clapping.
It is fantastic to have someone who can see through the fabricated figures of the impact assessment.
It is important that the truth is made known and this terrible bill is stopped. If it isn't it will ruin the lives of many families.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of myself and my children.

4:47 pm  
Blogger Joxy34 said...

I want to add my thanks. I just saw the tail end of your speech..and I confess I was in tears. It is sooooo nice to see someone in politics stand up and challenge the misdirections and plain falsehoods of those awful Impact Assessments.

I was beginning to give up hope, but now I feel a bit more positive again.

Thank you.

5:00 pm  
Blogger thenewstead6 said...

"kill bill" indeed!

An excellent speech I felt. Thank you for your efforts and commitment. At least YOU did your homework ;-)

5:42 pm  
Blogger Alfred the Ordinary said...

Just thank you for caring and trying to stop this steamroller of a bill.

6:03 pm  
Blogger shepherdlass said...

Thank you for comprehensively tackling all the flaws in this section of the Bill. Your help is really appreciated.

6:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At last we hear from a GOOD MAN! (As opposed to the Bad variety).

Wonderfully succinct speech - I've just listened to it on the archives and I applaud your understanding of all areas of the Home Educators current plight!

As as additional benefit I was delighted to hear you speak of the 'good we do' for society for educating our children and (for a percentage of us) not letting our SEN or bullied children fall by the wayside.

Thank you very much Lord Lucas!

7:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankyou for your support. When my son (who is on the autistic spectrum) was in school it cost the LA £13,000 per year. If they decided that he and others like him were not being suitably educated at home it will cost them far more than £20,000,000 to provide him with the so called 'suitable education' which they so far have been unable to provide.

8:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so, so, so much. I can't believe I'm crying reading Hansard. We need that freedom to choose.

8:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your support and those of the all party group. My family are appalled at this bill.
Despite everyones protests and comments it appears that we are helpless against the machinery of government.
We will continue to fight on and use all legal methods until there is no choice but to to leave the country to escape this unnecessary stress and harrassment in our lives. We are already known to the authorities so there is no escape for us. If I were not known I would seriously consider staying that way - how would they find you? Will parents be sent to jail so that children can be forced into school?
Good luck and please continue fighting on our behalf.

8:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you not answered Lord Lucas yes or no to a register for home educated children? dont be shy tell us?

9:03 pm  
Blogger Kelly said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

Here in Canada, I just read your speech on Hansard, and I want to thank you for what you are doing for British home educators. We had a similar battle in Ontario fifteen years ago, and it ended well, I am happy to say, for home educators, so I am hopeful for my friends in Britain.

For future reference, you might be interested in what a Canadian Special Education expert has had to say about the proposed regulation of home education in Britain. I interviewed her, and posted it here:

I think it is significant that Ms. McClure quotes extensively from work done by British researchers on attachment parenting.

Thanks you again for your commitment to this issue, which is really an issue of human rights. Home educators around the world are watching what is happening in Britain, and pulling for our friends there.

Kelly Green
Victoria, British Columbia

9:04 pm  
Anonymous Dave H said...

Thanks for that, good speech and you covered most of the points.

Sad to see that it bounced off the wall of Government Dogma, covered as it is by the "we know best despite the evidence" whitewash. The closing speech from Baroness Royall just parroted the government line:

"Clearly the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, does not like the part of the Bill relating to home education. However, the Government are committed to supporting its continuation as a choice for parents. Registration and monitoring will give local authorities the tools that they need to tackle the small number of cases where the education provided is not good enough. It will also ensure that in future there is a clearer picture on home-educated children. Home-educating families are doing a fine job and are co-operating with reasonable requests from their local authority; they will find little difference in their lives."

If they're that concerned about a small number of cases then why not get LAs to use the powers they already have. In terms of value for money, they're spending 20 million (their numbers) on dealing with a small number (how many? 10? 15?) of cases, when that money could be far better spent elsewhere dealing with more cases in mainstream education.

9:15 pm  
Blogger chrisotherwise said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

I could write pages about the Badman report, and our despair at this unjustified and iniquitous attack on our freedoms by our own government.

Instead, I will simply say a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU! Your efforts are appreciated more than you could possibly imagine.

Yours sincerely,

Chris & (home educated) family.

9:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much for doing your talk and for helping us protect home education.

From rachel aged eight.

10:01 pm  
Blogger Louisa said...

You are so right to question the data. In a recent meeting with our LA they admitted that the figures they gave for the number of home educated children were grossly inaccurate, even though they had said they were accurate on the forms. They complained that the process of inputting data made it impossible to cross check and so they could not establish whether records had been duplicated.
Thank you for telling it how it is.

10:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to say thank you for supporting us today.

10:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for fighting for our childrens rights that are potentially to be rode roughshod over by Ed Balls. The last few months since the publication of the Badman Review I now feel we no longer live in a democracy. Our families opinions count for nothing to the Govt, they haven't waited to see the outcome of the Consultation which we were invited to express our opinion on, nor waited for the outcome of the Select Committee before driving ahead with this legislation. As parents we know what is best for our own children, not the State. The Badman Review is based on prejudice and opinion. The statistics are a farce. At least you are fighting our corner and highlighting how very wrong all this is. Thank you again.

11:02 pm  
Blogger Community Activism in Social Housing said...

The problem is the state has become completely paranoid and as a result successive generations are being infantilised. Parents can clearly no longer be trusted and subsequently our civil liberties are being eroded and in turn the people are losing all faith and trust in its government. You cannot legislate your way out of the current problems we see in society you merely create more and more of what you don't want as you try and legislate to tighten the grip. The state school system is an outmoded system not fit for purpose in 21st C.It cannot continue in its current form and I believe will eventually break down unless there is a complete revolution in education. I find it inconceivable that the government, /a democracy whose elected representatives are supposed to represent the people who have elected them and who pay their wages, can just ignore the wishes of so many people with such flagrant disregard. That the 'Bill' was clearly prepared before the review and consultation were carried out never mind taking the huge number of responses into account or bothering to wait for publication of same or Select Committee. That FOI requests were rejected without basis, other than that the government clearly wanted to withhold information which would undermine its own position. That such disingenuous manipulation of flawed statistics could take place. In the current economic climate and with so many other pressing needs on overstretched resources it is nothing short of scandalous to propose these changes resulting in a complete waste of public funds and services. And as for CRB checks.......well its almost like a licence for paedophiles or abusers, once they get their license they are free to go ahead, after all they now have their official CRB check! A CRB check does not 'protect' anyone, it's a piece of paper, it doesn't stop someone who has been checked from committing an offence tomorrow does it!
The problem is that the people making these decisions in the majority are all themselves a product of the current system, they do not have empirical experience of anything other than that or of doing things another way (ie. autonomous education) so it is almost impossible for them to make a judgement on something they have no knowledge, understanding or experience of. Therefore their judgements are based on nothing more than flawed prejudice...... people need to look outside the box a bit harder!!! Just because things are the way they are doesn't mean its the only way, the right way, or the best way.........

Thank you Lord Lucas for bothering to look that bit harder than most.
I really hope this can be stopped before the government fails another generation of children.

11:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too watched your speech and am so pleased and affirmed that someone else who isn't a home educator can see how wrong headed this all is, and yes in my living room where it did no one any good I too clapped and hear heared you, quiet in the house of lords isn't it not like the commons where people gasp and hoot, is it always so or was this special for today?

12:05 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful speech today.
I am so grateful that you are helping us all.

12:21 am  
Blogger Wooster Club said...

Dear Lord Lucas, Thank you so much for all your efforts in support of Home Education. I could hug you! A thousand cheers for your magnificent speech in Lords on Thursday. The government should be ashamed of itself, attacking law abiding, responsible and caring families and trying to pull this off in such an underhanded manner. Mr Ed Balls lacks any kind of understanding of home education and worse than that, he is unwilling to learn, or even to listen. All the points that you made in your address were articulated to perfection. Your concern and your work is much appreciated. Gracia mille!

12:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again sir,

I would just wish you to know that as a citizen of this country, a tax payer and a home educator, I teach my son the morals and principles that each of us would seek from our fellow man. Kindness and respect, loyalty and honour, love and mercy.
I know more than any government what is right for my son and I know this government and the education it provides in state schools will without a doubt, fail him.
He's six years old and already speaks of his old school as the 'bully's place'
in the last 6 months he's absolutely flourished in his home education.

I'm an honest educated man, and I would simply like to relay to you my overwhelming thanks for your support in our plight.
Who, if not the parents would want a prosperous education for our own children ? I'm absolutely perplexed that any government would put themselves before the laws of human nature.

Thank you so much again, I know there's so much more you will do and you will always have my support for the future.

Mr Watson.

3:20 am  
Anonymous Ruth J said...

Thank you so much for taking this on. We are more grateful than we can say. And I thought you did a storming job of trying to summarize the world's most disparate minority group!

9:19 am  
Anonymous Probably safer to stay anonymous with this government said...

Thank you, thank you. Maybe the government would like to send in inspectors to determine whether a parent has the right to home feed their children, or whether they should go to state run canteens for all meals. Perhaps a government run, taxpayer paid diet inspectors and canteen scheme would make sense? Clearly it would be dangerous and naive to go along with the traditional assumption that parents have their children's best interests at heart? (On the other hand, perhaps existing laws that protect children from abuse are adequate and parents should be trusted, presumed innocent rather than guilty, and perhaps, dare I say it, even encouraged to home educate!)

9:42 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Thankyou all for your comments and insights.

I think that the main focus should be on persuading the conservative and liberal front benches in the Commons that they will vote to remove the HE part of the bill. I do not see the current proposals as a sensible basis for anything.

With all the action in the Commons for the next 2 months, I shall spend my time on helping demolish the stats used by the government, and on thinking about what a fallback position might look like if we turn out to need one. I don't as yet have clear ideas on this but, to answer the persistent anonymous, it seems to me that a compulsory registration system is pointless, but that a voluntary one that conferred benefits (e.g. access to funding for exams, books etc) might make life easier for those it suited.

9:52 am  
Blogger Peri said...

Thank you for your support. I'm sure it is appreciated by many of us.

It feels awful to live in a country that no longer feels 'free' and democratic but like something from a George Orwell novel. The intrustion on our lives and restrictions on our freedom of choice that occur in the current Govt make me ashamed of my fellow man. They might as well lobotomise us at birth, under the care of the NHS as they seem to think that we care unable or think for ourselves or care for our young.

Please continue to help us.

11:27 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

voluntary register is that your view Lord Lucas yes to a voluntary register? is that your fall back?if you dont take it up it will flag up a cause for concern? thats not a voluntary system! LA's will have cause for conern if you dont register!
you also go on to say persuading the conservative and liberal front bench to remove the HE parts of bill.That does not sound very hopfull your need a lot of them to make any difference and some how i dont think many of those lords care to much about us the tax payer do you most of the lords vote like sheep and vote on party lines! and we sill have no idea what David Cameron views are on this? does he want a register? he wont tell us?

11:39 am  
Blogger N/A said...

Thank you very much for helping home educating parents and home educated children (like myself)with this difficult situation.

11:52 am  
Anonymous n said...

Baroness Royall's response to your speech would have been funny had it not been a dishonest, vile, contemptuous attempt to paint the government's atrocious proposals as all sweetness and light.

I noted in particular her nervous little laughs when she mentioned your contribution - trying to make out that you are the only person who holds your views. Make no mistake - she knows she's an amoral liar.

She said that Schedule 1 would lead to little or no effect on home educators' lives.

Well, I'm a home educator. As things stand, I have a statutory responsibility to ensure that my children are educated, and a right - which I choose not to delegate to the state - to decide how they are educated.

Just like Eton or Winchester, I don't have to follow the national or any other externally-set curriculum.

And given that no-one has any grounds for believing that anything whatsoever is amiss, I don't have to allow some stranger from the local town hall to come into my home and spend four hours alone with my children just to check that they are being educated properly and not being abused.

All of that would go out of the window, were Schedule 1 to be enacted.

Your speech was very welcome.

According to Graham Stuart on his blog, Michael Gove has confirmed that David Cameron has confirmed that the Tories will vote against the home-ed section of this Bill. Unfortunately, this remains third-hand info, and may possibly be subject to Chinese whispers syndrome.

Might you be able to confirm whether or not this info is accurate? A clear official statement from the party would be good.

Last point. You mention the 'wash-up'. I had to look up to see what that actually meant, but now I know it refers to the period between an election announcement and the closing down of parliamentary business, during which some Bills are dropped owing to the knowledge that they'll meet opposition, and others are nodded through.

First, are you 100% sure the government might not try to get the Bill through both Houses before they announce the election? If you're not, could you estimate how likely you think they are to try such a route?

Second, I imagine a lot of horse-trading and behind-doors dealing goes on in the 'wash-up' period. Quid pro quos and stuff. As a former whip, you don't need to be told about that! :-) So I'd be happier seeing Schedule 1 die the death in debate (after all, there is absolutely no case whatsoever for these obnoxious proposals!), rather than rely on your front bench doing the decent thing behind closed doors and putting the Bill's demise sufficiently high up its priority list, in relation to whatever else they need to do during the wash-up period.


11:58 am  
Anonymous Martha said...

Did you know the DCSF are refusing to reveal financial info concerning the Badman report?

This includes:

* expenses info for Badman
* expenses info for his 10 "experts", and
* all the other financial costs of researching and making and publishing the Report.

Is there a possibility you could do something to get hold of this info?

To justify their refusal, the DCSF have cited a section of the Freedom of Information Act which allows them to refuse to release information if the likelihood of an endangerment of people's mental or physical health, or their physical safety, outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

They claim that this section applies because, according to them, there is a "campaign" to "harass" and "vilify" Badman on the internet.

This is completely ridiculous. Harassment is a crime. Anyone who believes they are being harassed should contact law enforcement. As for vilification, well we are allowed to paint people as vile if, having looked at how much they claim in expenses, we form the view that vile is what they are.

Nobody has asked for Badman's address or other personal information. People have just asked for information including expenses info.

The DCSF also tried to influence the Information Commissioner by telling him to watch out for receiving appeals against their FOI refusals from nasty home educators. They even stressed to him that the whole point of the Badman process was to protect children. I.e. implying that wanting to know how much Badman and the "experts" claimed in expenses is tantamount to wanting to harm children.

What I'd like to know is why revealing expenses info might endanger or harm anyone? What have they got to hide?

Just wondered whether you could do something to help uncover what's been going on at the DCSF. Their own justification of their refusal is obviously completely specious.

12:20 pm  
Blogger Jemmo said...

So voluntary registration as we have now, but with the statutory right to benefit of some kind attached? I think it would have to be some kind of huge benefit to tempt most HEors after this display of contempt towards us. Wounds will be a long time healing.

But yes, as a fall back I can't see a problem with voluntary registration with bribes... I mean benefits!

12:29 pm  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

The second point that came up is how you interpreted the 4 hour visit as being one where the LA could spend up to 4 hours annually interview children without parents present. Although seeing the child alone is left to LA's discretion in the legislation and the reasoning the La's need to instate this alone visit is also worded so that they really do not need a reason, most LA's would say that they would not do this unless they had serious concerns -i.e. they have no intention of making it routine . However as you know there are LA's which have acted previously in an over zealous way and the fear is that these LA's will use the legislation to make an alone visit for every child. The actual wording would allow LA's 8 hours a year but 4 of these hours is to be travel and admin time-so in effect there remains 4 hours for visits . This 4 hours is not necessarily an alone visit with child.
The last points are about the stats. The 'unsuitable' education stats include LA's who added families who do not accept visits- you said it was families refusing to provide information. That is an entirely different scenario as families who do provide written information but do not accept visits are following 2007 guidelines and should not be included in stats . Also the most significant misuse of stats is that many of the LA's added newcomers who had not yet been assessed to their totals (because this is how the question was worded 'total not known to be receiving a suitable education'- if they have not yet been processed there is no way anyone could know whether education was suitable ).
Lastly there was one LA who said that 2 children were taken into foster care - so yes there is a singe instance in the data. There may be some more (until the DCSF release their data we will not know) but it is evident that it is very very few. Also the data was made up using 50% of LA's and as they self selected it could be that the remaining LA's if incorporated into the stats would significantly lower the figures I gave you (which came from 60 of the 74 LA's asked) of 1% r
receiving no education and overall 2% not receiving a suitable education and the 0.4% CPP rate.
To reiterate the responses however, people are genuinely pleased that you have in such a short space of time taken such a steep learning curve to help the voice of a minority be heard and I sense that even some of those who were sceptical before are no longer worried about your motivation ;>)People particularly liked the 'kill in the wash-up' reference.
Jolly good show Lord Lucas!

12:48 pm  
Blogger Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

Good morning Lord Lucas. It's Tania again- this time in two parts due to being 300 words over the blogger allowance!

The majority of responses from the home education lists to your Lords speech has been overwhelmingly positive. As you know I asked for some constructive 'criticism' and only a few of points came back which hopefully you will have time to digest and incorporate into your understanding. If there is any more points raised I will repost on this blog.
The first point raised was about your comment that 10 thousand intellectual and committed home educators are angry.
Numbers are impossible to judge. There may be about 5 thousand active people (I would baulk at using the words 'angry' as a simile for 'active') As for the rest (maybe 75 thousand?)-we just do not know how many there are. Many choose not to be involved but definitely are unhappy with legislative change based on the review whilst many simply have not even heard there is a review at all. Some peoples experiences when taking the APPG petition to their local groups has been that a large proportion were willing to sign who had no idea that this was all going on whereas my own experience was that in my group , most people did know and only a small percent were unwilling to be involved politically by signing. There were people too who would not sign as they had to give their name and address and they had not trust that this information would not be used to 'find' them. My personal feeling (not backed by evidence but anecdotal) is that there are lots of home educators who do not know about the review and proposed legislation who will most certainly become 'active' if the law changes. As I have said- no-one has looked at the reason up to 2/3rds have chosen not to be known to their local authority but my experience tells me that a huge proportion of the 'unknowns' will be outraged if this becomes legislation and the very least that will happen is they will not step forward and comply with registration but rather take a sit back and wait approach. It will take the first court case to decide what will happen . What I would love to know is what proportion of the 'active' 5 thousand are registered and what proportion are not.

To be continued.......

12:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent speech. Thank you.

1:55 pm  
Blogger Emma-Jane said...

Dear Lord Lucas,
Thankyou for defending the rights of families to home educate. My first daughter will be two years old in 11 days and I am due to give birth to my second daughter in exactly 10 days time. Already I have decided to home educate them as I do not believe that any other system can provide as high a standard of education as I can give them. My first daughter is already a gifted child, and I want her to have the right to pursue every interest and talent she wishes, fulfilling what I feel is her extraordinary potential. I went to school as a child and although I loved learning I always hated how limiting it was that I couldn't learn more subjects than were offered on the narrow school syllabus. My reasons for wanting to home educate are founded on my desire to give them an education so wide that there are no limits on the skills they will learn and the knowledge they will be able to acquire. This just isn't possible in the current state system. I therefore hope that my right as a parent to choose to home educate my daughters will not be taken away before I have even officially begun, or that I will have any futile restrictions imposed upon my attempts to establish the best possible system of education in my daughter's lives.

2:44 pm  
Blogger Cathy Koetsier said...

Thank you for your defence of home education yesterday Lord Lucas.

Baroness Royall in her closing speech said “Home-educating families are doing a fine job and are co-operating with reasonable requests from their local authority; they will find little difference in their lives."

What Baroness Royall fails to perceive is that if the Bill is accepted, home educators will find the greatest difference of all – namely that they will have lost their authority as parents and as the primary guardians of their children’s welfare and education. And this will, in time, prove itself to be everything that matters.

I find it of great concern that Baroness Royall uses the word co-operate in the same sentence in which she tries to reassure us that we will find little difference.

‘Just co-operate and you will have nothing to fear.’ I am not saying that it was Baroness Royall’s intention to deliver this message; I do not know if she did or not.
But we have seen this heinous and threatening perspective expressing itself behind all sorts of evils throughout history, from the Holocaust to Apartheid to the Inquisition to torture and bullying and every other kind of fear based control. And just because it expresses itself sweetly in the beginning people walk blindly into its clutches – and when it is too late they find that they have sold their freedom and their children’s freedom. Well, not my freedom and not my children’s freedom. I will not co-operate with these ultra vires demands masquerading as requests.

I love this country and its history and its people. I was born here and after many years abroad returned, because this is my home. I love living here; there is no place I would rather be. In all my ways I have endeavoured to uphold the good of my country and community. I have a strong dedication to my family, and I have home educated my children for more than 19 years.

I wonder whether you would care to ask the House why they think it is that such a citizen would now write the words: ‘I will not co-operate’?

And ask the House too what strong arm strategies they intend to use on us to force compliance if the Bill is accepted, because I am certainly not the only home educator to be driven to such a place.

I write these words with sadness, but also with hope.

Thanks again Lord Lucas, for being willing to listen and for your work on our behalf.

4:17 pm  
Anonymous Gavin Beers said...

Thankyou for your labour on the behlaf of liberty in general and our specific right to raise our children without the tyrannical interference of the state. Maybe she would do her job better if she stopped trying to do ours.

5:03 pm  
Blogger Kelly said...

The situation you describe, Lord Lucas, is precisely what we have in British Columbia, and it has seemed to work well for the past 20 years. The whole issue is compulsion, really.

10:51 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you Lord Lucas for speaking on our behalf, listening to us and giving us a voice and above at really taking the time and trouble to understand and comprehend what we're about.
I read what you are saying and continue to hold out hope that my children will continue to enjoy 'our journey together which will result in an education.' Once again, thank you.

11:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your interest in the matter. After the smears and propaganda from the government and the NSPCC I was very pleased to see some support for HE.

5:30 am  
Blogger teacup said...

i have tried to email you since i am realy having problems. these new rules are i think being used already . my son is sen and i had problems with schools and statments so i removed to home ed. did it all legaly school didnt deroll which is wronge in the first place. within a few days along came socail. at the moment im fighting to get son back. all the people that are in said core meetings are hand picked by socail to back them. anyone that speks up for me was ignored. even the evidence i took to court i wasnt given chance to show. so socail won . im in court this week . please help. we need you.

5:44 am  
Anonymous Nicola Joyce said...

I just wanted to say a very big thank you for your supportive speech on home education in the House of Lords. It was such a refreshing change to read something that reflects the real social and educational issues related to home education. Thank you for all the time and effort you have undertaken to research the subject and to represent us in such a positive way. I cannot thank you enough.

9:07 am  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Thankyou again.

I shall take up your suggestions for questions to ask the government.

I think that the Conservative front bench will line up against the schedule. The LibDems may need reassurance that there really is no problem re child protection - hence the point of attacking the statistics.

12:03 pm  
Blogger Lynsey said...

Thank you for supporting us.

1:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Lord Lucas for all the work you are putting into this. I hope it will not take too much to persuade your fellow Lords that attacking families is a bad and frankly malicious approach.

I am one of those home educating parents the Baroness would be pleased to see-I have always co-operated with the LA; had them to my house and made the visitor a cuppa while he looked at the kids work.
Well no more.
The days of mutual trust and respect are gone.
Perhaps the Baroness would like to think about that.

I truly hope you can sink this completely and then perhaps there could be some effort from LAs to undo some of the damage. We'll see.

5:25 pm  
Blogger Ruth Smith said...

Just wanted to say thankyou for your support of Home Educators. It was quite a relief to read your recent speech.

8:51 am  
Blogger Ruth Smith said...

I just wanted to say thankyou for your support for home education. It was quite a relief to read your speech on my friend's facebook.

8:52 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Government has forgotten that they work for us. This whole home education review and consultation shows that they believe that we parents are employed by the State which is a ludicrous thing in itself. I will not allow myself nor my child to be subjected to state inspections over her education - if I had chosen to place her in a school, then the school and the teachers work for me. Yes, then there needs to be some kind of accountability. However, Balls, Morgan et al seem to have confused who works for whom. The Government is meant to run the schools on behalf of parents and children to ensure our children are being educated according to those standards.

In my own home though, my child's education is entirely my responsibility. I am taking on that responsibility rather than employing, through my taxes, the state-provided school "system". I am really angry and concerned that this has happened - this Labour Government thinks that we parents are nothing more than employees of the state. We employ the Government and this needs to be firmly rammed home at them.

The statistics that Badman has pulled out seem to confuse exclusion education as well as home education. There seems to have been some muddling up of data. Also, if the data is correct regarding welfare for home educators (upon real analysis it seems to have been massaged) then I would be re-examining school-based figures and wondering whether schools are hiding or unaware of the real levels of welfare issues in our schools. I know that when I used to work in schools I was aware that a lot of covering up and ignoring went on (teachers are not really trained because it is so hard to just spot). So perhaps the real question is if welfare issues are higher amongst home educators is that because the school figures are hidden? Maybe more ought to be done to find out whether are national levels of welfare issues are higher in schools too.

9:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We struggle financially all the time at the moment but our family does not want money from the state. Rather we'd like to keep on working through the tough times and get on with home educating our child without interference over her education.

She has a reading age well past her chronological age and has been able to play (which in our philosophy is an important part of education) for her first 7 years without ticking target boxes. Her education means that she is a socially well-adjusted child, who can be very inventive and is able to explore those things that interest her. Her co-ordination is fantastic. She has never been to school nor does she want to. She has friends who are home-educated and those who are in school. Many of the latter tell her that they hate their schools and would much rather be home-educated but we are seen as the freaks because we happen to respect her wishes. That does not mean she cannot apply herself - far from it but our child does not want to suffer endless days of 9 til 3 pm when she can learn what she needs to in far less time and get on with things far more important than classroom management or breaktime.

Libraries are free and there are plenty of charity shops etc which have cheapish educational materials and resources so it isn't essential to have Government funding. We bake, we walk, we watch nature, have pets, we read, write and do our maths, we sing in English and a few other languages and she watches as we work too (she already has a career interest at 8). I cannot think of anything that is lacking - yes it would be amazing to go on foreign language holidays etc but we get by.

I am so incredibly distressed by what has been going on with this Government when it comes to home education. I did not vote for this, nor do I want my taxes to be spent in such an intrusive and irresponsible way. It is not necessary for this or any other Government to target home educators. The LAs already had and have powers to deal with welfare issues and to deal with those cases where there is obvious dysfunction of education. However, these new measures will destroy our gentle approach to educating because it will all depend on which biased and subjective person we get coming to our door.

I know that locally several home ed advisors are leaving their jobs because they feel that the new "regime" is not something they wish to work in. This most likely means we will get some little jumped up civil servant with no clue about education outside the 4 walls of school. I will not accept being inspected in the privacy of our home, nor do I wish my child to be interrogated against her wishes. The balanced side of me hopes for the best - that none of us will be refused because we don't sit down with bell etc but the cynic in me knows that sooner or later, some idiot will refuse families just because they can refuse. This will turn many of us into criminals because we will want to respect and aid our child's wishes.

2009 has been a sad year for home education - I just hope some kind of fight will go on in Parliament to enshrine parental responsibility for education and to ensure that home-educated children and their families are listened to and respected.

9:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh and do look at the Select Committee's contacts and interests. Many of them seem to have rather vested interests in online curriculum providers. Follow the money trail - who stands to gain if we have to register and follow a curriculum?

9:19 pm  
Anonymous Dave H said...

I've been thinking about the legislation, and am I correct in assuming that if we could get the licensing aspect struck down, the rest is rendered toothless? As soon as they can't prevent us educating our children except by the existing SAO procedure (that supposedly only looks at the education), we can be creative about how we register and what we submit as education plans. The same goes for inspections - we suddenly get the freedom to refuse access to the home and they're largely back with things as they are now. We just need to make sure that licensing can't be introduced later via SI.

Of course, ditching the whole lot is far preferable, but for rendering it toothless before final disposition, the above might be useful.

7:25 am  
Blogger Random Musings said...

Dear Lord Lucas - I'm sure you found this paragraph in the Ofsted evidence to the select committee

n Current guidance states that parents may employ other people to educate their children and that parents are responsible for 'ensuring that those whom they engage are suitable to have access to children'. Registration would not of itself prevent those who have a conviction for offences against children, including parents, step-parents or privately-employed home tutors, from home educating children. Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks should be a requirement of registration.

Is this really a credible position for Ofsted to take - requiring parents to be checked to ensure they can supervise their own children? This statement needs to be challenged with the relevant ministers and government officials as it changes dramatically the relationship between parents and the state.

Also I notice in the impact statement that no funding was identified for paying examination fees for the 40,000 HE children (approx 50,000 GCSE exams and 15,000 AS/A2 exams a year) presumably as the LA will insist on GCSE level courses they will also fund the exams?

11:18 am  
Blogger Arkadina said...

I was home educated for 5 years in the 90s, having attended both state & private schools. At 16 I enrolled at the local college to gain my GCSEs. When my tutor found out I'd been home educated she asked to see my mother to congratulate her on my undergraduate standard of work! I use what I learnt in those years every day of my life, I thank my mother for taking the brave step to remove me from school every day.

I would love to think that when I have children I have the right to educate them according to their individual needs to help ensure they reach their potential in the way that is best for who they are and not who a state would like them to be. Thank you for championing us.

Is there anything I can do to help? Would hearing some kind of statement from an grown-up home student be in any way useful?

11:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lord Lucas. Just a very quick note of appreciation to say a very big thank you for your help in defending the rights of parents to home educate. I removed my daughter from school as she was very unhappy at times due to bullying. She is now thriving and back to her happy, relaxed self after three years of home ed. My youngest has never been. We have a very good relationship with our HE inspector whose words were "these children are thriving" and I am sure if she was concerned in any way she would be capable of using the powers she already possesses to deal with them.

Also would like to add, if the rights of the child are paramount, maybe we should advise our children to say they don't want to speak to inspectors without their parents present if it goes down that road?

Deepest thanks once again.


8:42 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Lord Lucas
Catching up here and see again you have been a credit to the children of britains future. I am glad to see others are now showing appreciation of your geniune interest in Home educated children.
Well in help with the statistic's and cost of all this, that in time will only be a bonus to the LA's funds and not benefited by the Children in HE'ers families. I think it maybe wise to evaluate the balance with the possible outcome of such a policy in place.
Firstly pressure upon the child via LA's intervention, will start to reflect in these families upon the children. This element is interesting as it Does not help the child flourish or progress at their own pace, it puts a barrier and many obstacles there for each child, with parents too feeling the pressure to encourage their children, maybe at higher levels then usual to perform to unwanted standards that are required by the LA's. This its self is a form of pressurised abused inadvertally by the LA's for performance for statistic and form filling reason, not for the interests of the child's future.
The Statistics the gov. influence the public with, in order to encourage the pushing through of this bill is obviously misleading.
Many of those figures derive from open cases of families the SS or lA's are aware of. Be it in such cases something simple as an enquiry, hence a name, address and contact details taken. This amounts to them simply as known. When indeed there is nothing untoward going on in the family at all. The Gov. figures are unreliable because the nature of recording in the La's is slap dash note taking in excessive measures.
Lacking the relevent necassary instruction that caused such an enquiry in the first instance, on the parents behalf. This sort of data should be obsolete from the rest, but it is a sheer fact, that the more the LA's collect on people, does not remain anon, but indeed becomes another statistic to boost their performances.
I do hope this helps you.

4:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas.
Another thought is, Why is the funds being made to LA's for their benefit, instead of the funds being there to aid the Home educators. Surely such a measure would truely help the children, of whom some families could benefit with materials, such as comp. programs,science experimental aids, etc. The fact so much is going to LA's to squander on travel, time, wages, etc has no benefit at all in helping the child. When indeed, the law in place at the moment is sufficient for child protection needs, if only the correct departments follow up on referrals in time.
Home Educators, pay taxes twice, once for other children to use the facilities of public schools, and again for funding and facilitating all their home ed child's needs.
The bill does nothing in the way of reality to help home eductors, it is only breaking down the family unit to fall under the control of governments La's commands.
After all, in reality, how does the la's intervention in schools benefit the child, we see so many schools are badly organised, lack disapline and above all the children are in need of more help after leaving such environments. Surely the Gov. know that parents have the childs' best interests at heart in home ed. or are they seeking for a broken britain with families all being put under the strain with their laws dictating their every move. Because if this happens the future of tomorrows workforce is going to be a very pressurised, lack of enthusiastic workforce, who will give up work in sheer protest to the conditions this country sets upon them.

5:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any news Lord Lucas? has uncle Badman been stoped?

5:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Lucas.
One sentence that struck a cord when reading the badman review was - he had as many different approaches to HE as the diversity of people he spoke with. Words to that effect, but if you refresh your thoughts with that in the doc. its self, I think that will clearly spell out how difficult it would be for all departments in this country to actually get to grips and put into action any policy, that fits one size and all, with a clearly diverse majority in society, who all take in to account the individual approach in relation to their childs upbringing and education.
This surely gives the sentence the clout it needs to say clearly, it will never work in reality. How can it, children are individuals and no report could possibly cater for such a diversity at the extremes it sets out.
Bearing in mind too at which a person could even comtemplate a balance in such diversity, is like gathering all the animals on earth and demanding they follow the same the rules.
That would be a sight to see! The Tiger, snake or even the rhino.
We are all different, that is why schools are breaking down, because parents are becoming disingaged in their childrens upbringing. Please open up their eyes and let them see, the future lies with parents like us, who take the time to value their childrens future as well as their upbringing. Can they not see clearly we are fulfilling all the measures anyway to our children, so in no way are we failing in our duty or the law, infact we do a better job then the schools do.

11:08 pm  
Anonymous Anita said...

We've just backed your comments at First Tutors on the company blog. A reasonable number of our clients are home educators and we feel we owe it to them to support them as it is pretty hideous standing alone against the government machine.

10:11 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent argument, well said and shows how unjust the 'Bill' is.

To be honest, even if they get £1000 per child they don't have the man power to execute their objectives! In birmingham They only have ''TWO'' people who have to go and visit thousands of home -eds!!!!

thanks for fighting for home- eds

Sam B/ham

10:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What else can we do? We have commented on consultation, petitioned, written to MP etc.

How can we get the government to change its mind over this? Do enough people care?

I am really tired of it all, why cant we just say no we wont put up with this, when schools are failing we are doing a much better job at home giving our children one to one tuition which is funnily enough just what government recommends for its failing pupils in school!
We are saving taxpayers money and asking for nothing.

Mr Brown, Badman and Balls leave us alone!

7:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to see tax payer's money wasted on this bill, when schools and social services need it much more to protect and educate the thousands of children they already know about and are not able to protect and give a good education to, due to low funds.

9:19 pm  
Anonymous z said...

Hi - how are you doing? I hope you are well. It would be very nice if you could post an update on any progress at Westminster towards stopping this dreadful Bill.

Pretty much all of us home educators who are opposed to Schedule 1 would appreciate as clear a statement as possible from your party (and any other parties) that they completely oppose it. Election talk or no election talk!

I'm kind of worried that if your party wins the election, a replacement Bill will be introduced in the next parliament containing some sort of tweaked version of Schedule 1.

A clear statement needs to be made ASAP that the proposals are completely unacceptable and yourn party would not support them in any way, shape, or form.

As I write this, I read in my email this morning that a woman who has home educated for 15 years was stopped by police community support officers and an educational welfare officer this morning, when taking two of her children to the dentist. They threatened her with arrest unless she gave her children's names and dates of birth. A CSO told her she was detained for 30 minutes for not answering questions. She was also told that she needed a permit from the local authority to be out and about with her children during school hours.

We are treated like criminal suspects if we go out. We are told we are 'hiding' our children, and therefore also treated like criminal suspects, if we stay at home. We are damned whatever we do. This has got to stop!

Meanwhile Ofsted are calling for all home educators to be criminal-records checked before we are allowed to spend time home-educating our own children in our own homes.

Everybody involved at Ofsted in deciding to adopt such a position should be out of a job the day after the election.

So - we do not want to rely on the current government's proposals being dealt with in the wash-up. Can your party see the way to opposing these outright fascistic proposals? If not, why not?

Conditions are dreadful in which such proposals can even be mooted by supposedly respected public figures and politicians in the first place.



11:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any news Lord Lucas? what are you doing up they? or is it the xmas break allready for you!

12:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we should ensure the gov. if the rules change and parents have their duties to their children damaged by new laws, As easily as any intervention can cause interuption when not needed. Then the mass of all home educators would be seeking compensation for all the years the gov. have taken taxes from them to educate their children. Compensation for material and time over the years spent doing the teaching their selves. Wages at the going rate and compensation for undue stress and distruption to family life in the process of gov. wanting to intervene in the natural processes of a parents duty.
IF that measure does not satify their curiosty at how far we can go then we could ensure the results of any compensation runs into millions.
Can they afford these massive payouts?

4:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lord Lucus, please can I bring your attention to a timetabling double booking that is somewhat suspicious? On 11th Jan the CSF Bill receives it's 2nd reading in the house of commons. Meanwhile, the CSF select committee is in session discussing NEETs. Therefore, I gather they will not be able to attend the 2nd reading of the CSF Bill. This is illogical, since they are the most likely MPs to be there! Please can you help us to find a way to rectify this position?
I have written to the Parliamentary Procedure Committee as I gather they are in the process of reviewing timetabling, and I thought they may be able to exert some pressure to rectify this 'oversight'!
Hope to hear from you @

with thanks

2:27 pm  
Anonymous CrisisMaven said...

For home educators, students and researchers: I have put one of the most comprehensive link lists for hundreds of thousands of statistical sources and indicators (economics, demographics, health etc.) on my blog: Statistics Reference List. And what I find most fascinating is how data can be visualised nowadays with the graphical computing power of modern PCs, as in many of the dozens of examples in these Data Visualisation References. If you miss anything that I might be able to find for you or if you yourself want to share a resource, please leave a comment.

5:41 pm  
Anonymous David said...

We've HE 3 children from birth, eldest obtained no GCSEs (no place to sit them), but started Uni at 18 last year (studied with the OU and courses via the EMA to gain entry into a Uni).

2nd eldest at 15 we decided to send him to school, he'd stopped working hard for us, we thought we were failing him, but the school talk like they think he's a genius!

Youngest is 13 and still HE and doing very well (he'll go to Uni).

By our standards we've succeeded with 2 of 3 children, but we have high standards.

Saw Lord Lucas on the parliament channel earlier today and what he was saying sounds like a real concern for HE.

We had some serious problems with an LEA and social services when they discovered us (about 12-13 years ago). After one unannounced visit (EWO and Social Worker from the Lewes area in East Sussex together) and I didn't let them in (they didn't make a big deal over access), within a short period of time with no warning went straight to court, obtained an inappropriate emergency protection order (EPO) (the SW in court said they didn't know if the kids were alive or dead!) and came to our home heavy handed with a couple of cars worth of police officers, social workers and a psychologist! They forced us to let them in the home and to take our children to see a pediatrician in Brighton, after finding nothing wrong tried to use the EPO to gain access to our home and children in the future!

An EPO is for emergencies, once the emergency is over the EPO basically 'runs out' (there was no emergency). After 9 months of back and forth with the SS they left us alone when we moved from the Lewes area to Newhaven (SS never contacted us again).

We went through the SS complaint procedure, half the SWs refused to talk to the investigator! Nothing happened, might as well not bothered!

We moved to Grimsby and the LEA quickly found us. They wanted access to the home and children (which is not available in law). We offered written evidence to the LEA, they refused to entertain that idea!

After about a year back and forth the LEA issued school attendance orders. We went to court and lost (over £1,200 fine), magistrates haven't a clue what they are doing when it comes to HE.

I wasn't doing particularly well health wise at the time (disabled) and physically couldn't handle another court case, so didn't appeal and paid the fine. Waited for the LEA to try to enforce the school attendance orders (assumed they'd use them to gain access to the home and kids) and they never contacted us again after the court case!

Not complaining, ~£1,200 for Grimsby LEA to leave us alone for about 3 more years (we moved again) was a bargain, but it suggested it was nothing more than fighting us because they could!

Moved to our current home about 4 years ago and was eventually contacted by the LEA, I met with the LEA official, (about 2 years ago) explained everything was going well and they accepted it (very reasonable). Left us alone until recently, I'm going to see them tomorrow to update them (don't anticipate any problems).

The biggest issues we've had is when we've not accepted they need access to the home and the assumption home educators are abusers until proven otherwise.

It would appear the new legislation is out to gain access to our children in the home and that's not right. It sickens me that so many schooled children are abused and poorly educated, but parents who want better for their children's education are assumed to be suspect and not fulfilling their legal duties until proven otherwise.

I don't think you'll find a serious HE family that doesn't worry they are failing their kids from time to time and work harder. As HEr's we know we have to not only offer what our children would receive at school, (not a good education IMO) but what children are SUPOSSED to receive at school (outstanding education).


2:27 pm  
Blogger Alfred the Ordinary said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It seems that there is a mind set that demands conformity in all things. It was non-conformity that produced some of the powerful independent individuals that made this country great, in the past, IMO. Conformity in all things leads to little but mediocrity.

Let's hope that the ConDem coalition will reverse that trend.

12:23 am  

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