Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The way the market goes

I take Tiger to a workshop with DoubleTake Movies, an educational service for film and animation working in schools, kid's groups, and communities near you. I booked her in, paid for her, dropped her off. I found this company through a private contact, but they advertise in Primary Times.

Tiger says it was alright; she liked the software which made filming easy. She wasn't sure about the two boys in her team. Apparently they wanted a film about exploding dinosaurs. Dinosaurs that go BOOM BOOM BOOM then their heads fall off and the body explodes KABOOOOM. Tiger says she wasn't impressed. They all compromised instead on a dinosaur that disappears. PFFT. (No puff of smoke.)

Well, the point of this is not to tell you about Tiger's animation workshop. It's to say, if you are thinking about not sending Tinkertop back to her primary school come September, and you don't want to do everything yourself, it's become flippin' easy to buy in the educational services your child wants, and you can call it a creative curriculum.

Although it's the school summer holidays, so these companies are more visibly pitching at parents, in truth they're working all year round. Workshop deals, offers on packages, recommendations for events, information on where to find an artist who'll teach mixed media: poke around and you'll find hundreds of places offering resources. You'll find a shed load of people hoping to take cash off you for a full range of learning services. Get stuck and there are dozens of alternative educators to ask. Look around. Your local museum probably offers a deal on a Key Stage 1 and 2 workshop; you don't have to be a school to pick them up, just go in and ask.

I bet some home educators are hissing SHUT UP GRIT. We don't want EVERYONE knowing about this sort of thing! We have to be the exclusive few who have it sussed! And we TRUST each other to be committed educational types. We don't want any old Tom, Dick and Harry home educating! It has to be a thought-out choice with an educational theory and a philosophical basis!

Yes, those too. But aren't conditions right for more parents to take out a year or more to home educate? As shifts in the economy maybe put one parent at home, and we all take up allotment gardening, repair, recycling and commitment to local communities and shopping on the High Street, maybe home ed starts making sense for more people as a lifestyle change. Maybe the educational philosophy will come second.

And there's that education as a business thing. The market for educational products, goods and services is a huge and profitable industry, working on large to small scales all around the world. Schools - and parents - can buy in services and the conditions for them to do so are being encouraged everywhere.

But as the educational system fragments a little more; as kids are peeled away from conventional schools and mainstream education; as we all go off to our individual home ed journeys to match curricula and workshops to kid interests, I think the centre's impulse to monitor will grow. It's in their instinct to keep eyes on what we're doing, where we are and - most importantly because it serves a market and economic interest - what educational goods and services we're buying.

Well, there are my thoughts: I'm not surprised Wales is flying the suggestion to have a home ed register.

For reference, the download to the 17 July Statement on the Legislative Programme by the Welsh Government is here.

[...] The Education (Wales) Bill ... will set out a number of proposals including requirements for the registration of the education workforce, reform of the statutory framework for children and young people with special educational needs and the registration of children of compulsory school age who are home educated.

The basis of the provisions within this Bill will be formed by the outcome of the public consultations on the requirements for registration of the education workforce; the consultation which sets out the proposals for reform of the legislative framework for special educational needs; and the consultation on the educational provision made by home-based educators.

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