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please help us! Ed Balls wants to treat a minority group as guilty until proven innocent...

(76 Posts)
ommmward Sun 05-Jul-09 15:41:07

Please would you write to your MP and ask them to sign Early Day Motion 1785

Mr Ed Balls wants to give LA officials the power to enter private homes without any reason to think anything is amiss and to force children to submit to an interview on their own with LA staff. These are powers that even the police and social services don't have!!!!

He wants to do it because he is concerned that not having your child in an institutional setting (that's school now, but he could easily extend these plans to those who don't use nurseries or child minders) might be a cover for abuse. His planned legislation is a sledgehammer to crack a nut- he doesn't have evidence that Home Ed is being used as a cover for abuse and it will cost a great deal of our tax money to have LA staff coming to do welfare checks - but he hasn't even done an impact assessment!

So please write to your MP, tell them the planned EHE legislation is disproportionate, uncosted, and has no evidentiary basis, and please would they sign the EDM 1785.

If you don't HE you probably think this has nothing to do with you. But those with children not in child care are next in line for such heavy-handed state intrusion. We will support you when that time comes. Will you take 5 minures writing an email to support us HEers now?

LadyRaRa Sun 05-Jul-09 15:48:52


HecatesTwopenceworth Sun 05-Jul-09 15:50:35

I agree that that sounds ott, but I do actually think that HE should have some sort of checks because children who are at school have people who can notice if something is amiss and children who do not go to school should have that as well.

There is no evidence that people choose to HE in order to abuse their children, in fact, from what I have seen of HE parents, they are a very committed bunch of parents who have given over more of their time to their kids that, erm, I have blush- I certainly couldn't do it, I need those few hours when the kids are at school. double blush.

However, it is, imo, actually a good thing for all children to have someone who is able to notice if something seems amiss. I don't think there's anything wrong with the idea that all children should been seen and made sure that everything is ok. Do you?

littlelamb Sun 05-Jul-09 15:51:07

Can I ask why this is a bad thing? Seems a sensible approach to me, but maybe I am missing the point

PortAndLemon Sun 05-Jul-09 16:27:01

(I am not a home edding parent, by the way. I have every expectation that both of my DCs will attend conventional schools throughout childhood).

The most controversial proposal is that local education officers should have the right to enter your home and if they deem it "appropriate" (no standard of proof or grounds for reasonable suspicion required) interview your child alone, with no one else present. If your child is "particularly vulnerable" or has difficulty communicating there can be another trusted person (not the parent) present, but it's clearly intended that that shouldn't be the norm. So there will, in most cases, be no independent witnesses to what may or may not be said.

These are greater powers than social services or the police currently have. There are enough problems with communication between different agencies in child welfare cases as it is -- that comes up time and again in reviews of tragic child abuse cases. and each time you introduce another party into a communication network the number of lines of communication that can be cocked up increases exponentially. So the proposal is to introduce yet another agency who will be given (in some respects) greater powers than existing agencies but who (although given some training) aren't specialists in child protection (or if they are specialists in child protection, aren't specialist in child education, which they are supposed to be), and who will have to communicate with all the other agencies.

You'd have to register a statement of intent, against which they intend to measure progress, immediately you register your child for home education. And this plan would need to be "finalised" within eight weeks (which is going to be unworkable in many cases, as it's well-demonstrated that where a child has been withdrawn from school because of, say, bullying, or just because they aren't responding well to that school's atmosphere and ethos, they typically have to go through a period of several months' "deschooling" before they can settle down to the pattern of work that suits them) and needs to include outcomes against which the local education officers will measure the child after twelve months, which (depending on how narrowly "outcomes" are defined) may not be possible for autonomously educating parents.

And there's a new requirement to "review" the parents' proposed curriculum -- which doesn't sound bad in theory, but (a) fails to take account of the autonomous strain of home educators who don't have a curriculum to be reviewed but instead follow the child's interests (b) already some local authorities (who currently have no powers to review the proposed curriculum) incorrectly suggest to home-educating parents that they must follow the National Curriculum -- are they really going to become that much more liberal when their powers are increased?

There is some good stuff in the Badman proposals, but the sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut aspects of much of them seem ridiculous to me. And there is every indication that Badman was prejudiced against home education in general (see, for example, the complete submission of the Church of England to the review, and then look at the bit of it that was selectively quoted by Badman).

ommmward Sun 05-Jul-09 16:58:50

You know, I wouldn't mind AT ALL having to provide evidence to the State that my child is seen, that there are people who would notice if there was something amiss.

Some HEers are currently engaged in a postcard campaign. When we (and our children) see people who we see regularly, we are asking them to send a postcard (ready stamped and addressed to westminster) to their MP to say that there is a HE family who they see regularly and that the children are not hidden.

I wouldn't mind at all having a sort of petition I carried around once a month to get people to say "we see the family regularly and they seem fine". I would happily present that in a court of law if the LA were trying to say that my children are hidden and therefore maybe I'm abusing them. They are not, and I am not, but the idea of the LA starting to employee people whose job involves them having the right to interview children alone, who they don't know, without witnesses - does that not give you the cold heaves?

If I trusted the LA employee it would be fine. But this is some complete stranger, with no reason to believe there is any wrong doing going on, suddenly being given huge power over my family.

Portandlemon I think it's really good that you are contributing to the discussion as a non-HEer. You probably find it easier to rationally point out the shortcomings of the Balls agenda without coming over all mama tiger...

anastaisia Sun 05-Jul-09 21:37:17

I have a HUGE issue with the fact that there is now draft legislation about the changes proposed in the report here, but the public consultation on the report doesn't end until October.

So do you know what, it doesn't matter what you think about home education, or the proposals in the report. What matters is that is a sham and completely undemocratic, and every person in the country should be complaining about this and every other pretence the government are making about 'listening' to parents and giving them 'choices'. Its all crap.

anastaisia Sun 05-Jul-09 21:43:22

should have said 'mentioned here' in the link but accidently deleted 'mentioned'.

Kayteee Sun 05-Jul-09 22:25:15

I know Anastasia,

but there's always hope and where there's a will there's a way.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 05-Jul-09 22:27:12

No Sorry

Kayteee Sun 05-Jul-09 22:42:15

The two people who have merely said "no sorry"....would you be prepared to elaborate?

It seems quite a pointless remark really...

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 05-Jul-09 22:50:18

My DC's go to nursery but I would be very happy for someone to come and check on me if they were here to make sure that they were OK. Is that elaborate enough?

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 05-Jul-09 22:51:07

But then again I have nothing to hide.

PortAndLemon Sun 05-Jul-09 22:52:55

Well, it's keeping it bumped smile.

I vaguely assume in the absence of elaboration that either

(a) They'd be perfectly happy for a local government official to turn up to their house and insist on questioning their DC alone, with no other adult present, for no particular reason other than that he/she thought it was "appropriate", or

(b) They wouldn't be happy about it, but think it's OK if it happens to other people.

onagar Sun 05-Jul-09 22:53:52

I can see why the government want to do this, but I'm in favour of less supervision and not more as the vast majority of parents are quite capable of looking after their own children.

This won't work anyway as the current laws to protect children don't work do they. Ofsted etc think they are helping, but everything they see has been prepared especially to impress them.

The government would argue that if it saves one child it's worth it. That argument could be used for a lot of things. Suppose we have compulsary lie detector tests for all parents and ask them if they are abusive? It might save one child mightn't it. How about CCTV in every home so that the SS can do a spot check or could check the recordings if an accusation was made?

You just get less freedom and children get harmed anyway.

PortAndLemon Sun 05-Jul-09 22:59:12

(And drifting OT, very little seems to happen if schools do report concerns about non-HEd children. In her teaching career my mother has dealt with a number of cases where the school were absolutely bloody certain that children were being physically abused (and relayed that concern in the strongest of terms). Did anything happen? Did it buggery.)

Kayteee Sun 05-Jul-09 23:05:49


So great, you have nothing to hide, but would you be ok if some stranger had the power to take your dc away from you and "interview" them without you being there? You would have no say in this btw according to the new proposals.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 05-Jul-09 23:20:24

Yes , but maybe I am naive enough to expect the interviwers to translate what my children say to them properly.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 05-Jul-09 23:23:04

And why should HE's not get the same extent of inspections that schools, CM's, nurseries and pre schools get. I understand why you want to do it but you need to be accountable aswell.

Kayteee Sun 05-Jul-09 23:37:23

accountable to who?

anastaisia Sun 05-Jul-09 23:38:18

Right. This is the situation NOW as it already stands.

Legally the people with parental responsibility for a child are the ones responsible for making decisions on behlaf of that child. They have a LEGAL DUTY to 'cause a child to receive and education that is suitable to their age, ability and aptitude'.

Many parents make a choice to delegate this responsibility to a school. However they remain at all times responsible for their child's education. This is why children can't sue schools or local authorities which have failed them and not provided a suitable education - legally this rests with their parents.

The schools are providing a service for the parents, using the country's money if they are state schools. Because of this they must be accountable to tax payers and because the parents are legally responsible for their child's education they need feedback about the education the school is providing. In this OFSTED is essentially working for the parents/tax payers.

To suggest that home educators should be inspected like schools are is exactly the same thing as suggesting that parents with 0-5's should be subject to the same inspections as childminders in order to have their children at home.

Kayteee Sun 05-Jul-09 23:38:59

who are you accountable to, with regard to your dc?

FAQinglovely Sun 05-Jul-09 23:40:02

because HE and "formal" education are 2 totally different things.

Neither guarantees a great job and neither does either mean you'll be a failure.

You simply can't compare HE and formail education as they're 2 totally different things.

fortyplus Sun 05-Jul-09 23:43:32

I believe that the vast majority of he parents will be providing an excellent education for their children. However, they should be mature enough to accept that this is not the case in every instance. By submitting to inspections they will be protecting not their own child but that of the inadequate parents who keep their children away from school without fulfilling their obligations.

anastaisia Sun 05-Jul-09 23:47:02

But fourtyplus, there is ALREADY legislation in place to deal with that happening. If LAs are not using it properly because of a lack of funding, indaquate staffing or because they actually sometimes don't seem to know what the law says(!) then how will creating MORE work for them help anybody?

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