Archive for June, 2010

June 19, 2010


I was sitting here at well after 1am and I could hear the helicopter very close to our roof. When I lived in Portsmouth as a child I never notice dthe helicopters much becuase the sound was so common. Once I moved to Oxford the helicopters always seemed to be the harbingers of doom especially along the river where we lived.

Here in yokel-ville the helicopter is usually about joy riders or ‘runners’ who take advantage of the cops’ inability to follow them past a certain point in a car. WE had a runner hide in our wendy house one summer which frightened the life out of dh. (I’ll tell you that tale another day)

We had a fright the other week when the air ambulance circled the house then landed on the park at the top of our road where all the kids play. It turned out to have come down to get to a man who had been found in his kid’s paddling pool. Although we didn’t know him personally he was well known to many round here and everyone was upset to hear that he didn’t make it. He left a wife, a four year old and a four month old baby on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Tonight I don’t know what they were looking for but I hopped out into the front garden to see if I could see the searchlight – and stepped on a slug with my bare foot

Actually it wasn’t a bare foot; it was my left foot which is partly covered with my compression stocking which I wear to help my leg function better than it does on its own due to the DVT in it. There is yucky sticky slugness on the stocking too.

Serves me right for being nosy.

June 18, 2010

Local Authorities cannot and will not support home educators

I have met the manager of the department that ‘looks after’ home educated children locally and I can tell you now that they have no means of offering us any kind of assistance or support or funding or anything remotely like what Mr Stuart suggests in the press release in my previous post.

He may think that a better offer from the LAs would be a better way but at the cliff face there is no money and no will – on either side. They don’t have the money to pay for any more ‘visits’ and they can’t think of what else they could do for anyone other than nod their heads and write reports. Apparently they can’t be seen to be supporting any other organisations by giving contact info for exam help, music, dance or sports activities and classes, places of local interest like museums and galleries or contact information for the local HE community.

From our side, better support and advice on free stuff might have been good if they had started off that way decades ago but now, folks would be more inclined to see that kind of thing as blackmail.

In our discussions with this manager and her admin sidekick we realised that they are like marriage counsellors and high risk obstetricians who, based on their experience, could quite reasonably believe that marriage is a pointless thing and that all pregnancies are dangerous.

The LA is involved with the difficult end of home ed which most of us don’t recognise and that they call ‘people exploiting a loophole’. 6ft tall teenagers who won’t go to school and whose parents can’t make them; kids being advised to home educate instead of being excluded from school; kids advised to opt for home education in the year before they do their GCSEs so that they won’t mess up the league tables.

Schools are shunting people into home ed to get them off their books and parents are accepting that instead of holding the school to account for failing their child. The LA accept that these families are not only known to them but also to school services, Social Services and often the Police as well. In these kind of cases, the LA say, no education is happening at all. A child in one of these situations might be learning a lot about life and the natural consequences of crap decisions but the LA can’t see any maths/English/science so they are worried. They then extrapolate this feeling to cover the whole ‘unknown’ population of home educated children or those who they know about but don’t see (like mine).

From the LA perspective things were already difficult before Badman stuck his oar in and had them panic to make up numbers but things are even worse now because more and more of us normal folks are refusing contact which just makes the LAs ‘worry hairs’ stand up on their necks because they have all been taught that the only reason people don’t want to see you is if they are hiding something.

What this is really about is school failure, not home education failure but because schools aren’t dealing with it right, these children end up under the remit of the Social Inclusion unit who deal with us ‘normal’ home educators too.

I can’t see a good solution but I do think that someone like Graham Stuart repeating that that LAs already have powers to deal with issues if they have evidence of concern is helpful.

PS and ETA

In a bid to help them get to see that there are lots of us who are normal, I suggested (slightly tongue in cheek) that they come and see a group of Home Edders in our natural habitat (the great outdoors) once in a while. The knee jerk reaction was that they couldn’t afford to do that as there is no budget for such meetings. I put it to them that as I had not used up my allocation of two visits over two years, the money saved by not visiting me could be used to fund a meeting.

Blank stares. These people have no common sense. At all. DO NOT let them into your home.

June 18, 2010

Ofsted nonsense on Home Education

OfSTED has no understanding of the law as it stands and neither do most of the media commentators despite our best efforts to educate them last year. Today they published a report claiming that Local Authorities need more powers. Are the writers the ghosts of Badman?

For anyone who is under the impression that Home Educators like me who refuse to have local authority officers in our homes and don’t send them reports once a year or provide samples of our children’s work, are somehow acting outside the law here is a very good precis of the current guidance.

June 17th, 2010

Ofsted Home Education Report Seriously Flawed Says Graham Stuart MP

Graham Stuart MP, who last week was elected to take the Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, today condemned Ofsted’s report on home education, “Local Authorities and Home Education” as “an unpleasant hangover of the last government: a manifesto for more state power at the expense of dedicated home educators and their children”.

Mr Stuart went on, “It is astonishing that the Chief Inspector of Schools should stray onto home education and get it so wrong. In Ofsted’s official press release she says that “it is extremely challenging for local authorities to meet their statutory duty to ensure children have a suitable education”, when they have no such duty. Parents, not the state, have the statutory duty to ensure that their children have a suitable education.

“I find it deeply concerning that, after months of work, the Chief Inspector should make such a basic mistake and so utterly confuse the duties of local authorities and parents. Parents who home educate deserve our respect and awe at their dedication and achievements, not the relentless suspicion of an over mighty state.”

Under section 436A of the Education Act 1996, inserted by the Education and Inspections Act 2006, local authorities have a duty to identify children who are not receiving a suitable education in their area, so far as it is practical to do so. As the 2007 Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities make clear, however, ‘local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis’ and are only required to intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education.

Mr Stuart went on, “As local authorities do not have the power to demand access to home educated children and cannot insist on parents registering with them, the obvious and correct answer is for local authorities to improve their support for families so that more families make contact with them voluntarily. If they did this and made sure that they employed sympathetic staff who built good reputations, then the number of “unknown” children would be reduced. Such a positive approach would respect the primacy of parents in determining the education of their children and put the onus on local authorities to serve and support, rather than catalogue and monitor, families who home educate.

“Ofsted’s report has little to say about improving local authority support for home educated children and says only that the Department of Education should “consider” funding an entitlement for home-educated children to take public examinations. Ofsted’s report is seriously flawed and damaging to the confidence of home educating parents who had hoped that the relentless disinformation and bullying of the previous regime was over.”


June 16, 2010

Wordy Wednesday

This week some hair, a hedgehog and some lilies.

Hair from J finally giving in to the summer heat and wanting to get a weight off his head. We think this hedgehog is the daddy of some babies conceived under our lilac tree a while back and he was cruising by our front garden when I freaked him out by opening the front door. These gorgeous lilies came from a client who gave them to Mr G wrapped in newspaper ‘for his wife, or girlfriend or whoever.’ They were almost five feet long so I had to hack a good bit off with the bread knife to get them into the tallest vase I own.

The art in my kitchen is by my Nan; the one on the left is part of her purple phase that hit some time in the 1970s and the one on the right is an unfinished study of a cafe we used to go to with her when I was younger and she was about 80. That one used to be in the hallway but I found a mirror that went better there and Miss Amoo suggested we put it above her chair at the table because it is food related.

And this little fluffy thing is our neighbours cat. (I can’t get a good shot of her at all!)

I think she is called Poppy but I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that she likes our garden much more than her own and she is a bit partial to a bit of Miss Froo’s lovin’. As soon as the neighbour gets home and lets the cat out it slinks into our garden quick as a flash. She peers into the kitchen and hops over the front threshold and several times she has run all the way through the house in a panic pursued by a shrieking girlie.

In some respects this is my ideal kind of pet: the children get to love up a little cat but we don’t have to feed her and her vets bills are paid elsewhere. Then I came home the other afternoon and found her sitting on Mr G ‘s lap at the computer!!!!!! That is a step too far in my book but we shall see how much braver she gets.