Wednesday, 7 October 2009

January to October, 2009

Grit has a secret stat counter. It's the one she installed after the mainframe exploded in Texas. She knows people stray here, possibly by accident. And they may not know much about home education.

Jo in York could be here to satisfy a pigeon fetish (which can be done here).

But Grit thought, in that tender way of hers, Jo needed an easy reference guide to our political home ed world instead.

1. Start here. Shake a double 6! Withdraw your kids from school!
Thanks to the media, the local primary playground sounds like Afghanistan.

Peer into this muddymedia world and you'll find little seven-year old Tinkertop is taught how to swear, spit, drink vodka, mix crack and shoot the rising-5s.

Some people choose home education. They may want to withdraw their little pig-tailed Tinkertop from this apparent battle ground. Others home educate because they are sick to the heart of constant exam prep from birth.

There are, of course, a sad minority, like Grit, who home educate because to make school in the mornings we'd have to get out of bed, and we can't be arsed.

In these days, the government wants to know what we're doing, who we're doing it with, and if can they fine it or use it to smack us on a database. They probably want to stop the stroppy rebellious and independent attitudes that come with home education, too.

So in January the government tried doing a Number 2.

2. Step back! You all MUST KNOW that home education is a cover for ABUSE.
The government slam out juicy stories to the press and the prurient public who murmur there's no smoke without fire and if you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear.

Some journalists later conflate home education and child abuse, home education and forced marriage, home education and devil worship, home education and sexual exploitation, home education and drug abuse, home education and fundamentalism, home education and eating weasels with the fur on.

The government rubs their hands in glee! Soon the general public will say there's no smoke without fire and if you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear.

And how many informers there will be! Lots of people who probably do not have much power over their own lives try to pretend they really do have power by seeking to exert a little bit of power over other members of the public, by way of withholding teaspoons and cheese. And probably reporting the hippie next door!

In fact, Grit has noticed that walking down the High Street has recently drawn suspicious stares and surreptitious glances from these types of people. Perhaps that is just because of my gold lame platform cowboy boots, but you never know.

3. January: Graham, would you like to write a review?
Graham Badman is a completely independent person who is utterly impartial and totally unbiased when it comes to reporting on matters of home education. The government say, Bring him in to this game!

As an independent, unbiased person of impeccable credentials, Graham has been a school teacher, school headteacher, school inspector and chief education officer, in charge of mostly schools. Totally independent and fair minded, with no vested interest whatsoever in promoting of a particular type of education, he is also a Governor of Christ Church University and a Governor and Trustee of three Kent academies. Completely independent of the DCSF, in January 2008 he was awarded a CBE in the New Year's Honours List for services to education and local government. As I said, totally independent. Totally fair when it comes to non-school provision. The right man for the job. If I had a baby, he could kiss it.

Graham was invited to write a review of home education for publication this year.

4. June: Stop everything for Graham's review of Elective Home Education.
Now we all say Graham Badman's review like it's his work alone. This is astonishing, isn't it? Where's the panel of committee members? Gone?

Grit has worked on the publication of a committee report in her distant past and it was a nightmare. Every committee member pulled in three different ways from anyone else. The chairperson went bonkers. The report had to be presented as a multiple voiced work. None of this diversity can be seen in Badman's work. Maybe the committee was there merely to spread something that looks like consensus; we haven't heard a dicky out of them since. Only Elizabeth Green of the government's DCSF receives a big smackeroo on page iv. Hmm.

Graham's 'recommendations' for home educators include allowing a local official to enter the home and assess the child. Without their parents.

Um, this is supposed to be a review into educational provision.

Not surprisingly, step number 6...

6. All summerlong: Home educators make a nuisance of themselves.
Some home educators are good at this. They run off with all the counters.

Look at all those Freedom of Information requests. Lots. Including requests for details of the statistical evidence on which Mr Badman bases the assertion, 'Children educated at home are twice as likely to be on social services registers for being at risk of abuse as the rest of the population.'

Home educators also do a bit of mockery. Stop sniggering.

7. The DCSF say Right, that's it! We're not playing!
Honestly, you need a super sharp steel pair of secateurs to start snipsnipsnipping through the emails buzzed back and forth about the FOI requests turned down.

Those requests for the release of documents and background statistics that helped compose the report were turned down mostly on the grounds that Graham Badman is in danger of becoming mentally unstable. Home educators might tip him over the edge.

8. The volcanic pressure builds ... a select committee is appointed.
A select committee is appointed when scrutiny is needed. Initially, things look up when a select committee is announced, because they might accept the dodgy and disreputable basis of the Badman review, and the fact that the majority of respondents suggested no change was needed to the presently wide and wonderful world of home ed.

By this time, Grit is learning more about parliamentary procedure than she is about the 6x table. But every cloud has a silver lining. What strikes me now is the huge resource on the web to access your government and parliament. My only recommendation is to roll your sleeves up, get in there, and assert your rights.

9. Wednesday. The witnesses to the select committee are announced.
On behalf of the common all garden home educating parent, two men are speaking to the select committee next Monday.

If you go to a kid's home ed social meet, you'd expect fathers to outnumber mothers wouldn't you? Why do you think Grit goes? She is just swamped by hunky-men-eye-candy. They only wear false boobs to confuse everyone, obviously.

One of the men speaking is Simon Webb. On that, I just can't see the funny side.

10. To be continued...
On Tuesday 13 October, a mass lobby of Parliament is taking place; lots of home educators will turn up. Who knows what will happen when you have a barrel load of bolshy types together?

One thing is sure, these past few months have seen a lot of involvement from many home educators and many people, some of whom choose school, or flexi-school, but who fundamentally sympathise and support the right of parents to bring up their own kids as they see fit.

It's exhausting, isn't it Jo, keeping up with this lot?

Perhaps it's time to wander off, and find your sexy pigeon elsewhere.


Jax said...

Fantastic roundup. Hope Jo finds it helpful.

Do you know who David Wright is?

Elaine said...

I really have enjoyed that read

Maire said...

Brilliant timeline!

Jemmo said...

Great stuff. I love your blog!

sharon said...

Good luck on Tuesday. I know you will all make a big noise and hope that it's heard loud and clear by the idiots in Government.

Grit said...

hello people! thank you all for your comments and support for home educators of all styles and types; we need this lively diversity, otherwise the world will slip into monochrome.

(i have no idea jax who is dw, but i will try watching the live feed on monday.)

Rachel M. said...

Recently I was cleaning my car, husband said if I did he would vacuum and wash it (still waiting) and I had to keep the baby with me because he was making dinner (fair exchange), meanwhile at the car baby got to hear a stream of foul language from the 10 and below age group nearby. Shut your mouth, you shut up you stupid Cx*T, I'm going to kick your A**, Faxk! And so on and so on. These are all local school children that my daughter will NOT be attending school with.

Grit said...

hi rachel! it's the same here; and it's a form of socialisation i think we can manage without!