Thursday, 29 March 2012

Take your pick

One of the unpleasant knowledges I live with in England is what potential damage the Local Council can inflict on my family.

Legally, a member of staff in the Council can ask me if I provide an education for Shark, Squirrel and Tiger.

Legally, I am not obliged to tell them.

But I think silence would not serve my interests. With no information from me, a Council staff member - with not much else to do, a zealous line manager, and an annual appraisal form to complete - might quickly conclude I am providing no education for Shark, Squirrel and Tiger.

Within the blink of an eye they would mark my children down on some internal form or other, and there we would be, Missing Education.

This would press all the Busy Buttons. All kinds of Council paperwork would be activated. It would look very industrious on someone's annual appraisal. It might even help out in pay grade discussions or promotion.

But for me, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger, such involvement would spell disaster. Once we have the administrative attentions of bureaucracy, their demands on my time and my life would have to take precedence. I would give up the maps of Mesopotamia.

When school-choosing people find out about this angle of home ed life, I have had several kinds of response. One not very sympathetic person even suggested I was paranoid! Well, I'm not making up this knowledge of my duty, nor my legal position, nor how wearing can be the knowledge that Council staff so blithely and carelessly overstep their legal boundaries.

Indeed, home education discussions are routinely occupied with people recounting their unhappy experiences of over-enthusiastic Council staff members (probably with zealous line managers, an annual appraisal form to complete, and someone's eye on a pay grade).

Hey, there's even a website for home educators to share their experiences - invaluable if you're considering moving from a benign Council to an aggressive Council. Choosing a house on either side of the county line could save you months of pain.

(You school people have been playing boundary and catchment games for years, haven't you? We alternate people do exactly the same.)

Well, becoming entangled in all this local bureaucracy is something I clearly want to avoid. We already have enough dealings with all other agencies, from the corporations tax people to the wretched accounts office. And then the voter registration staff spell my name wrong and the National Trust get the family ID messed up. Phew. I can't take on any more.

Then this blog comes in handy for me. I can save myself from the worst of my worries. I can put out pictures, crow about some latest education success, and satisfy myself with a mouthy platform from which to position myself to Maud at the Local Council who'd like a pay rise. Now if she ever comes a-knocking, I can answer, Look at the blog.

Today, Cambridge. Depending on who you are, take your pick.

If you are Maud from the Council, see us not chained to the radiators
but kneeling at the altar of culture!

Aka The Fitzwilliam Museum, Mesopotamian clay tablets.

Writing, drawing, leaving smudgy fingerprints all over the glass,
and scaring the security guards.

If you are a teacher-type, take this as evidence
that our education often looks like that provided by school.

Except my class today is 3 rather than 33,
and we spend what time we like wandering about the museum
without an attainment target / risk assessment / pre-determined tick list of objectives.

If you are an American, have some pictures of Cambridge.

If you are T&D, come over and visit us.
We'll make English ladies of you.

With tea.

If you like intriguing details, then so do I.

And if you are Shark, Squirrel and Tiger,
you might want to remember a leisurely day out in Cambridge,
where Squirrel wondered, should she should come to study at the Earth Sciences Department,
Shark mused on your river life, and Tiger drew pictures of horses.

1 comment:

kelly said...

I have had TWO letters telling me my daughter has a place a *** secondary school where we used to live. One offered free bus travel. I phoned them and said that if they were happy to arrive at 5:30 am to pick her up every day, then we'll give it a whirl.

Got told off for being sarcastic, but in my defence I had already emailed and written to them.

Apparently the previous LEA are legally BOUND to know where we are, at least that's what they are telling me.

Post forwarding stops next month, what will they do then?