My MP has forwarded a letter from Sarah McCarthy-Fry that I’ve seen dotted about the internet. It’s a standard letter and doesn’t address any of our individual concerns. My MP says “if there are any points you would like me to pursue further, please let me know”.
Oh, where to start. How about the first paragraph?
Thank you for your letter of 28 January addressed to Ed Balls enclosing correspondence from your constituent [details about me] about the Home Education Review. I am replying as the Minister responsible for this policy area.
From the DCSF website:
Sarah McCarthy-Fry’s principal policy areas include admissions, the National Curriculum and SEN.
Hm, I’m intrigued as to how home education is best served by someone who specialises in National Curriculum and SEN. I can see how admissions would be related given the end goal is to get all our children into school 🙁 I think we have to accept now that that is the end goal, even though it makes no sense. With the economics of the situation, it would make more sense to be encouraging ppl to use private or home education and punting the savings at the children it is currently proving difficult to educate.
I note your constituent’s concerns about the Home Education Review. I should explain that the Review of Home Education is being led by Graham Badman, former Director of Children’s Services at Kent County Council. Mr Badman has decided that he wants his review to be informed by material from a wide range of stakeholders, so he decided to offer the opportunity for organisations and individuals to contribute to the review by filling in a questionnaire. Graham Badman is fully independent of the Departments: he is not an employee and his terms of engagement do not specify any constraints to the scope of the review or the range of outcomes he can report. He has extensive experience of engaging with those opting for alternative education including experience as an Education Welfare Officer and other posts in local government.
I think I’m going to have to break up this post as this particular paragraph gives me so many causes for concern I could be here some time.
Let’s see, a wide range of stakeholders. Who are stakeholders in our children’s education? Our children? Us as the educators? And…I’m struggling with the and. Society as a whole could be deemed to be stakeholders, but perhaps we should be best informed by the judgement as to what forms a suitable education.
“education is â€˜suitable’ if it primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so.”
So the stakeholders there are other members of the community. Mr Badman should just go out and drag in some ppl off the street for their opinion. I suppose that’s what the internet questionnaire was all about, though I’m still struggling to understand how LAs rank so highly as to get 60 questions to our 6. (Which reminds me, is there a central clearing house for information received via FOI requests? I’m thinking I’d like to know what our local authority response was.) I don’t know why any other organisations should get a say, and I particularly do not understand why any of the children’s charities should get to clamber in, they are not stakeholders, not in my understanding of the term.
So, Mr Badman and independence. If he were truly independent of the DCSF, they wouldn’t know about him, and he wouldn’t have got the job. I bet they didn’t advertise it, did they? No, he’s a crony, a safe pair of hands, who has the CV they were looking for. He’s not a home educator, but he’s worked with us as an EWO – wonder if it’s at all possible to find any families who had contact with him in that position? Hm. Daresay not, or they’d have come forward by now, surely? I guess they couldn’t have put in someone like Paula Rothermel or Alan Thomas though, as they are already known to be pro home ed, so that wasn’t going to work for the government was it. He’s not an employee, they say, but he’s worked for various branches of local government in the past. That makes me feel so much better. He knows how these things work, knows how local government ticks, knows what is supposed to be said… 🙁
And we’re at nearly 800 words. I’m only 2 paragraphs in. Think I’m going to have to stop there, and get to the next part later.