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Please email Ed Balls TODAY!

(10 Posts)
flamingobingo Tue 16-Jun-09 10:55:49

I recieved this today:

There is a suggestion that we all email The Minister Ed Balls TODAY (16th June)

And tell him what you think of the home ed review.

FWIW being constructive may be worthwhile, if we are to be seen as a rational bunch

Please use this address to email Ed Balls


let him see the dragon he has woken.

Remember how week this Government is, they will want our votes very soon.

dandycandyjellybean Tue 16-Jun-09 11:28:58

Done, tried to be contructive, whatchya think?
To quote Sir Ken Robinson, creativity is as important in education as literacy. I strongly believe this, and have decided to home educate my son, currently 3.7 yrs, because 'school' has become a place where children are taught to pass tests, and make grades, not encouraged to think creatively and explore the world around them.

Schooling as we have it today has evolved a reasonably efficient way of educating the masses, and let's face it, most people agree with this; to a degree, I do. But, just because something works for the majority (and I am sceptical that it does work, really, given the appalling level of education that most children seem to leave school with these days), does not mean that there are not brilliant alternatives that work fantastically for the minority. Trying to force autonomous home education to fit in with the regulations and testing that 'supports' traditional schooling would be like trying to push water with a fork.
Indeed, I have chosen autonomous home education exactly because I do not want my son to be burdened by arduous and stressful testing; and certainly not at six years old! I am an intelligent, articulate, talented person, and yet I can honestly say that the only useful thing that came out of my years of senior education is that I learned to touch type, a skill I use every day.

Those four years of my life were miserable, boring, stultifying, and ultimately, a total waste of my time. I do not intend to waste my son's time in this way, and wish him to continue the 'education' that has been his every day life since he was born. Please do not take that freedom away from him.

Just do one thing, before you finally decide what you are going to do. Get up from your desk, go out of your office, find a park and go for a walk. Smell the air, really notice the different kinds of flowers, trees and plants - try to count them, even. What kinds of clouds are up there in the sky? What do they tell us about the weather? How many different kinds of wild life are there? Can you identify all the different bird songs? How far would you have to walk if you wanted to go all the way around the park? Did you have to pay to get in? How much would it cost for all your family to come to the park? ...and so on and so on. All of these things could be learned in a classroom, dutifully written down in notebooks; but honestly, wasn't it refreshing, delightful, fun even, (heaven forbid!), to discover these things in an unstructured, autonomous way? Everything, from Shakespeare to chemistry can be learned in this way, with a little creative thinking, and the space and freedom to do so. Please do not take that freedom away from us.

ommmward Tue 16-Jun-09 15:11:59

Dear Mr Balls,

Review of Elective Home Education

I am writing to express my concern about the reforms to current practice proposed by Graham Badman in his “Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England” and about your acceptance of the report.

The report is flawed on many levels. It is not evidence based or impartial. It in no way reflects the views of the home educators who responded to the review. It is not based on expert opinion – Mr Badman has no personal experience at all of home educating and has either failed to read, or has failed to understand, the academic literature on the subject. It lacks moral rigour also – appointing a previous head of Kent Childrens’ Services and current chair of the government-funded BECTA hardly inspires one with trust in its claimed independence. Since Badman publicly stated that the status quo could not remain long before the review was completed, the findings were partially pre-judged. The on-line questionnaire used to gather home educators and others’ views was badly designed involving leading and poorly constructed questions. The LA questionnaire had ten times as many questions as that for the general public.

The review was explicitly set up to find out whether Home Education can be used as a cover for child abuse. It is curious, then, that the report does not offer any analysis of the actual number of suspected and found child abuse cases involving home educators. The claim that ‘the number of children known to children’s social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to their home educating population’ gives the impression of skeletons rattling in cupboards. Badman fails, however, to mention the common but ultra vires practice in some LAs of routinely referring HEing families to Social Services as soon as they come to the LA’s attention, the prevalence of referrals by neighbours concerned to see children not in school but not understanding that Home Education is legal, and the number of HE families where there are SN of one kind or another (and this certainly IS disproportionately high with relation to the total number of HEers, reflecting the woefully inadequate SEN provision offered within many schools), and therefore, automatically, a case worker within children’s services. There is no reason to suspect that any of these Home Educating families known to Social Services have given a single social worker a moment’s pause for concern about safeguarding, without Badman producing evidence. For Badman to produce no evidence, but to spin it this way is surely dangerously close to defamation?

The recommendations do not follow either from the clearly stated remit of the review or from the evidence (such as it is) presented within the review. The review says that many LAs are not performing adequately, but then recommends they have more powers. Without an analysis of why they are failing it would seem inappropriate to give them more powers; this would simply create problems and maladministration claims for the future. The review does not find evidence that Home Education is being used as a cover for child abuse, but proceeds to recommend the urgent provision of laws which intrude on the private lives of innocent families in order, supposedly, to protect against child abuse.

The review recognises the diversity of home educators, but fails to take this in to account in its ‘one size fits all’ recommendations. Those families who practice “autonomous home education”, following the interests of the child rather than a parentally-imposed curriculum or plan, are particularly vulnerable under the proposals, which demand that LAs should see plans for the year ahead. I cannot plan what my children will be interested in in 5 minutes, let alone in 6 months! But I can guarantee that, following their own interests and facilitated by their parents, they will be learning effectively and efficiently, in line with their ages, ability, aptitude and any SEN they may have, as per the existing Home Education legislation. The freedom to pursue such an effective child-led education will be a hostage to the prejudices of the LA employees under the proposed new legislation.

The most outrageous of the recommendations is that LA employees should have the power to insist on interviewing HEed children alone, with the caveat that they could be with a trusted adult (not the parent) if their SEN or communication difficulties deemed that appropriate. In a recent poll, 77% of Home Educated children said they did not want to meet with LA personnel. Are their preferences to be completely disregarded? Who deems the SEN or communication difficulties of a child to be sufficiently severe that a trusted adult be permitted to be present? Are we really expected to accept the proposal that LA staff should have unsupervised access to our children when there are no grounds for welfare concerns? Badman has advocated extending powers to LA staff which not even the police or social services have – the power to interview children alone when there are no grounds for suspicion.

This is the statement of opposition currently doing the rounds. I endorse every word of it:

It is NOT acceptable for the state to have ultimate control of the education of our children

It is NOT acceptable for the state to make ultra vires judgements about the welfare of our children and then act in loco parentis

It is NOT acceptable for the state to operate on a presumption of guilt

It is NOT acceptable for the state to demand access to our homes without reasonable suspicion that an actual offence has been or is about to be committed

It is NOT acceptable for the state to demand access to our children without reasonable suspicion that an actual offence has been or is about to be committed

It is NOT acceptable for the state to demand unsupervised access to our children

These are all contained within the recommendations of Badman's review document, which you have accepted in full as "proportionate and reasonable".

I have a vision for the future. It involves an immediate and unequivocal withdrawal of your support for the review and a cancellation of the consultation process which, presumably will lead to legislation (although it is hard to see why you are consulting us, yet again, given that Badman so signally failed to listen to us earlier this year, given that we have been consulted on EHE-related legislation repeatedly in the last 5 years and you know perfectly well that public opinion does not support your legislative agenda, and given that you have already given your public support to Badman’s heinous recommendations and will presumably do your level best to put them into action, however well argued and sensible the consultation responses are). It then involves you publicly stating that you will not tolerate LA staff acting in an ultra vires manner towards Home Educators, and that you will look urgently at the practices within Children’s Services which have led to children known to be at risk – Baby P, Kyra Ishaq, Eunice Spry’s foster children and Victoria Climbie, to name but a few – being so abjectly failed by those who had a duty of care for them.

The final part of my dream involves you treating the EHE community with the respect we deserve. Rather than saying that the only proposals in Badman’s report which are problematic are those which involve providing services, please remember how much money we save you every year by not taking up the school places to which our children are entitled. Just a fraction of that money would provide access to exam centres, free swimming lessons and the like, for those HEers who choose to avail themselves of those opportunities. Insist on the LA EHE staff being those with sympathy for and understanding of the area – retired Home Educators rather than ex-teachers, for goodness’ sake.

Statistically, EHE children out perform their schooled counterparts on every measure (and if you haven’t read any of Paula Rothermel’s research then it is about time you did). We are a beacon of excellence. Why are you alienating us (and losing Labour thousands of votes into the bargain) when you should be sending researchers to find out from us what it is that we are doing so successfully, so that you can do something to address the pitiful literacy figures and the pitiful GCSE results that your schools achieve every year?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

milou2 Tue 16-Jun-09 18:35:58


julienoshoes Tue 16-Jun-09 23:51:17

Where abouts are you flamingobingo?
Your OP was a message sent by me, to the local HE lists I am on.

Have just managed to send Mr Balls a message today-with a bout 15 mins of 'today' left to go!

julienoshoes Wed 17-Jun-09 06:51:51

forgot to say=even if you didn't get chance to email Ed Balls yesterday, it's not too late to let him hear your views!
Please do email him

Litchick Wed 17-Jun-09 10:44:51

I emailed him yesterday, repeating everything I said throughot the review process.
- registration is a great thing as it will rpove that HE is a legitimate choice for a sizable minority. It will also force the governemnt to face up to why parents often feel they have no choice.

- the HE officers employed by the LA should be entirely seperate from the LEA or SS. They should be entirely supportive of HE as a concept and act as a trusetd advisor to the HEing families within their authority, assisting in provision of services, resources and where possible finances. He should remain in regular contact with all HEing families with a view not to check up on them once a year, but to work with the family to ensure that they are getting any assistance they need.

- where a family registers to HE the legal presumption will be in favour of the registration not against. Where the HE officer feels the child is not in a suitable situation to HE, the case must then be handed across.

-It will be for the LA to prove a child is not in a suitable environment, not for the parent to prove it is. The burden of proof will remain with the LA.

-where the LA and the family are in conflict the matter will be referred to the courts for a specific issue order or similar. Public funding must be available to those families.

flamingobingo Wed 17-Jun-09 10:47:39

Do you mind if I don't out myself on here, julienoshoes?

I did copy and paste but you said to let people know - I hope that was ok! Will email you properly!

robberbutton Wed 17-Jun-09 13:39:24

Excellent emails. Will send mine asap.

julienoshoes Wed 17-Jun-09 23:57:55

thank you for copying and pasting to send the message here

and thank you for your email off list, satisfied my curiosity!

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