Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dear Ed Balls & the DCSF – no thank you!

I'm pretty sure this won't be as eloquent as Helen, Jax & Merry, but I had to say my piece!

I, Mr Ed, am already registered with my LEA, of my own FREE will and choice, but don't get me wrong I didn't do it so you could count me in your numbers, check up on me annually, or so you could consider yourself at liberty to enter my home & interview my children. I did it because I wanted to be a resource for those who might be starting out on the road of EHE and need a friendly welcome to the community! I did it, so that IF I should ever require your services I would not be eyed with suspicion for having never registered before. I did it because that is what I CHOSE to do. BUT I have friends who have not made this same choice and for whom I now choose to stand for. It is for reasons such as this report/review, whatever you want to call it, that my friends chose not to register in the first place.

So, you want to know numbers - but why? What business is it of yours?
I hear you when you say "so we can plan for services to support the EHE community." - but guess what - WE DON'T TRUST YOU!! - and with that in mind it is likely that many would not choose to use those services you are just now paying lip-service to. Your review makes sweeping assumptions that we actually WANT your help. Agreed, there are many things that I am sure Home educators would LOVE more ease of access to, but NOT with all these strings attached. If given the choice of access or freedom, I know what I and many of my friends would choose... FREEDOM wins hands down! Why should we have to prove we are providing an adequate education - by your measures - in order to have access to these things? I have yet to see you deny examination access to those schools that fail our nations children year after year! Do you go in and interogate school children one-on-one to hear what they have to say about their education? I think you might get a nasty shock if you were so to do! I don't mean interviewing the ones who are high fliers, high achievers (who are likely well supported at home also), but the ones who are struggling, the ones who are 'at risk' of failing to achieve, the ones with behavioural problems, the ones with Special Educational Needs - ask them whether they think the education system works for them, or against them! I dare you...
And then I challenge you to go set your own house straight before you go poking around in mine!!

Luke 6:42 NIV
"How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

One more thing... Mr Badman talked about the 'Tasmanian model' of monitering, where it is home educators who monitor home-educators. This looks to me like a formalised, state organised & controlled* version of what home-educator naturally set in place for themselves here in the UK. It is for THIS* reason that I suspect Home-Educators reject the idea (which despite knowing it was not widely accepted in the HE community Mr Badman put forward as an example anyway!) - we do not wish to be state controlled!! We do not believe the state has any RIGHT to control our lives! Believe me, there are not too many Home-Educators out there who chose to go it alone. It's not easy and we need support - but we CHOOSE where that support comes from and for the most part we are HAPPY with the way things are. THIS POT IS NOT BROKEN - DO NOT TRY TO FIX IT!!

For a supposedly intelligent man Mr Badman appear to me to be making incredibly ridiculous assertions. Lets look at his figures...
0.2% of the general population are 'known to the DSS' - or if we are to believe Mr Badman, that is purely the figure of children under "section 47" of the at risk register. OK - let's assume that's true. According to Mr Badman (and his meagre statistics) 0.4% of the KNOWN EHE community are likewise under that section 47 of the register (although I do recall the original questions put to the LEA's did not make it clear what 'known to the DSS actually meant and so I doubt if this is an honest promise). From these figures he makes the assumption that EHE children are doubly at risk of abuse. On what planet does he live? Is it not clear that IF his guestimated figures about the UNKNOWN EHE community are anything like correct (which I suspect he has severely UNDER estimated) then his 0.4% is going to drastically drop! Is it not pertinent to assume that IF a child were at risk in the community they would already be known to Social Services (and therefore counted in the 0.2%) - I mean lets face it - it's not always schools that pick up these issues and report them in reality is it? HE children are the ones out there in the community, mixing with the folks in their locality all day, every day; not hidden away in a classroom full of children their own age, who are unlikely to notice abuse, even less likely to report it. HE children are 'known' to the neighbours because they always about - they are noticeable - and you can bet your bottom dollar, if anything untoward were suspected there would be enough people in any location to think the worst, and that family would very quickly come under scrutiny - justly or otherwise. Please tell me then, why do you feel the need to vest MORE powers of interference in the EDUCATION Authorities than you currently do in Social Services? Currently it is only the POLICE - with warrant - who have the power to interview a child and only then are Social Services involved IF NECESSARY. How plays it that suddenly EDUCATION authorities are being allowed to make calls on SOCIAL welfare grounds?! Just supposing for a minute that the 0.4% were an accurate figure, surely these are the families where your focus needs to be - and these are already known to you, so no need for registration!? These and the 0.2% of the rest of the population. WHY do you feel the need to inspect and interfere with the lives of those of us who are quietly getting on with our God given responsibilities as parents of our children, to raise, love, protect and educate them as we see fit (at school or otherwise). YOU do not have a "duty of care" towards our children - WE DO!! YOU do not have responsibility for their education - WE DO!! YOU do not have the right to strip us of our duties and responsibilities until you can prove that we are shirking them - and that's what this review is all about - setting out to prove that we are not doing our job and thereby vesting the state with parental status - YOU WILL NOT WIN!! Try as you might but you cannot prove something that simply isn't true!

What I see developing before my eyes is a twisted woven web of Government control of our lives. BIG BROTHER is watching you. If you don't learn to think like we want you to think and know the things we want you to know, you are of no worth until we have kicked into shape and forced you to conform. And if we can't catch you in one web, we will spin another.
So what if my son is a NEET for a few years - I am not training him to be useful to you - I am not training him for puplic slavitude - I am training him to find his joy in life. My ambition for my son is that he is happy and fulfilled - and I'm sure his happiness won't be tied up in what he knows about "ancient oriental history!" IF my son chooses that as a topic of interest then we will look closely at it, if not we will probably touch on it lightly at some stage - just as they would in school (where nothing is learnt in any great depth though many things are covered as token gestures). I want my son to spend his life in a vocation that he loves, not one that he feels trapped into through a need to earn and contribute to public productivity. I love my son - I have more ambition for him than THAT! IF he needs to take his time to get to where he is going, that is fine by me - his age is not the issue.
Like I said I am already registered, but I do not follow a prescribed curriculum and have no intention of doing so. I tweak my schooling according to the needs of my children year-by-year, month-by-month, week-by-week-, hour-by-hour, even minute-by-minute if necessary. I have NO intention of writing down learning goals and objectives for the upcoming year - this would be a waste of my time! In our house I might set a goal and it can be met in a week, or it might take two years. It's not that my educating has failed, it's that my goal was not well aligned with my child's needs and therefore needs changing. But under your proposed system I would be deemed to be failing if I did not reach my original goal that year - and what would befall me then? Prescribed State Curriculum? Enforced state schooling? LEA 'support'? - I can see the thin end of the wedge already!! Am I then to stick with that goal even though it has already been achieved/I got it wrong, just because it's what I said a year ago that I was aiming for? THIS would be crazy!! THIS is where it's all gone wrong in schools. Teachers are no longer free to use their initiative and change the goals according to the needs of the child and/or class - they have to stick with the goals laid out before them, or woe betide! NO WAY am I getting into this in my home. We have already seen the impact of your trying to enforce the 'early learning goals' on childminders. These are people caring for children in their own homes, in a large number of cases, because parents have chosen to send them to a less constructively educational setting - a setting where the children are more free to play as they would as home, and yet BIG BROTHER believes it is only right that ALL children should be squeezed into their mould from as early an age as possible - let's get at them even before they can talk!! THIS IS WRONG!!!

I will not bow down to your totalitarian state, where everything I do is watched and controlled and I will train my children to stand up and be counted also. I will change my goals as often as I see the need to, or even not set any in the first place - that is MY CHOICE! I WILL NOT conform, or fill out forms or allow you to interview my children without me there. WHO do you think you are!?! I do not want or need your 'support' and I will not use it even if you offer it to me - I would not be foolish enough to fall into the snare trap you are setting - and I think you will be surprised just how many of us can see right through you!

1 comment:

HelenHaricot said...

wow! a v passionate letter there! way to go.