Monthly Archives: February 2009

Fisking Tony Mooney and His Anti Home Ed views from the interview on the BBC yesterday

Gill took the time to put this transcipt together. I just can’t help but fisk it.

Transcript of Radio 4’s PM interview with Shena Deuchars and Tony Mooney

:: Transcript begins 0:46:44/ 1:00:00 ::

EDDIE MAIR: Parents who teach their own children at home are often very passionate about what they do and some of them aren’t taking too kindly to a government review of home education in England. The intention is not to change parents’ rights to educate at home, but to:

FEMALE ANNOUNCER: “Ensure that everything possible is being done to guarantee all children their right to a balanced education in a safe, healthy environment.” [So it’s not suitable anymore it’s balanced is it? And what does that mean I wonder? Is this to prevent children showing a particular interest in one area?]

EDDIE MAIR: The NSPCC have agreed, saying that existing guidance is out of date, [out of date from last year!]and that parents’ rights need to be balanced with Local Authorities’ duty to safeguard children and the child’s right to protection. What do they think is going on behind closed doors? I’m joined live by Tony Mooney, who inspects home schooling for one Local Authority and by Shena Deuchars, who schools both her children at home: seventeen year old Catherine and fourteen year old James have never been to conventional schooling. Tony Mooney first of all, what are your rights at the moment as an inspector when it comes to home schooling?

TONY MOONEY: Well we’ve got no automatic access to the house. [No one has automatic rights to enter another person’s home and that is a good thing] We’ve got no automatic access to the child.[Parents have the right to protect their children from unwanted interference. Professionals can only demand access to a home or child where there are genuine concerns. No one has automatic rights to enter the homes and access the children of parents who have chosen school] We can only make informal requests for information about what the education involves for the child. As the law stands, all the parent needs to do is write a synopsis of what’s been covered and provide examples of work. And have the educational provision endorsed by a recognised third party. Or endorsed by a recognised third party.

[In other words there is plenty of evidence provided that shows a child is receiving a suitable education-but Tone wants more power]

EDDIE MAIR: Now you may not have the rights you would like but in practice, don’t parents respond to your requests for information? Do you need to know [there’s a good question]– do you find out everything you want to know? [need and want are two different things]TONY MOONEY: The great majority of parents invite me into the home and I see what they’re doing, as an ex-teacher I can give them advice, [being an ex-teacher would be a disadvantage in advising home educaters. It’s a completely different philosophy with vastly different pedagogies than a school uses] and they really appreciate it. But there are one or two who just don’t want to know. They will not let me go into the house, they won’t let me look at the work their children have done, and it becomes very difficult.[I would never allow this man into my house either. How many parents want a hostile presence in their home with their children? I do allow the EWO in my area to visit. He is very pro-home education and although advice is not something we seek, he has been supportive. Parents have the RIGHT not to allow strangers into their home. No professional should seek access where it is unwarrented. I believe the Law backs us up on this]


EDDIE MAIR: And what about this hint that children might somehow be coming to harm? The government talking about a safe environment and the NSPCC talking about the safeguarding and protection of children? [Hint? Blatent accusation more like. We call it lieing in our hourse].

TONY MOONEY: That may be the case. I’ve never seen, in ten years, children coming to harm, um, but it may be the case, but I don’t have a remit to report on that. Although I have to say, if I did see any kind of abuse I would feel morally obliged to report on it. [In ten years he has NEVER seen abuse-but he still wants to barge into people’s homes against their wishes. To back of Mr Mooney’s claim I can say that in 16 yrs of psychiatric nursing including some time in CAMHS I have NEVER seen a case of home education and abuse either. I did come across children who were  or had been in care or had been suspended or expelled from school who could not read or write and had no social skills to speak of-that surely DOES come under his remit. Meanwhile my husband has seen a lot of kids who have been abused in school (as did I). While reports say 48% of children suffer abuse at school Mooney wants to get into good parent’s homes]

EDDIE MAIR: Are you trained to spot abuse? [LOL]

TONY MOONEY: Well as a teacher, I’d try to find if children were being abused when I suspected it. No, I’m not trained to spot abuse, [what can I say…?] but as a parent.. um.. I think I feel obliged to look and report if need be.

EDDIE MAIR: Shena Deuchars, let me bring you in at this stage, and I’ll let you talk and respond to some of that in a moment if I may, but just let me ask you why you’re schooling your children yourself.

SHENA DEUCHARS: It was something that I decided to do about ten years before my older child was born. I found out that home education in this country was legal at that point as I left secondary education myself, and decided that it sounded like a very good idea.

EDDIE MAIR: And what do you think of what the government in England is thinking of doing? It’s having a review and may want the right to come in and have a look at what you’re doing.

SHENA DEUCHARS: Well, one of the reasons why home educating parents are so angry about it is the conflation in the media particularly, but also in the terms of reference for the report, of education concerns with welfare concerns. And because Baroness Morgan has been quoted as saying that some home educating parents may be using it as a cover for child abuse. That’s why we’re so angry about it.

EDDIE MAIR: Well let’s look at those.. let’s split them up and let’s look at education concerns. Do you have any problem with someone like Tony Mooney coming in and having a look at how the schooling’s going?

SHENA DEUCHARS: Well yes, because in fact what we tend to find is that most Local Authority personnel actually have no experience of home education and mostly they only have experience of a school model of education. [This is true] So, for example, I know of many home educated young people who leave school at perhaps ten or eleven: they’re withdrawn by their parents, unable to read or write, [or unable to read at 14 like myson] being predicted to get no GCSEs, and quite often what happens is that, left to their own devices and without being left behind by the rest of the class, they then learn to read and they go on to get GCSEs, do further education or higher education and hold down jobs where essentially the school system had written them off.[That pretty well covers my son’s experience too]

EDDIE MAIR: Tony Mooney on that point?

TONY MOONEY: A lot of my children, who are mainly on council estates, don’t actually sit any GCSEs or any examinations of any kind when they’ve been home educated and they just go out into the world of work and fend for themselves. I think it’s an indictment of the education they get at home.[WOW! So these kids from council estates -which Mooney seems to have such a low opinion of- get jobs. There are doing a whole lot better than my older son’s friends then, who have left school and have no work and no direction in life. I wonder what the schooled children on those estates are doing]  Um, you see often we get newspaper articles showing affluent, middle-class families educating their children. That’s not what I see most of the time. [ Okay on this point I have some sympathy. I too and tired of the posh kids are home educated articles where money is thrown around on tutors and fancy classes. I would love to see home ed from our end of it shown too] I do see some very good teaching, by people who know what they’re doing, but the great majority of my children don’t get GCSEs when they’ve finished and go out into.. onto the workforce, just trying to fend for themselves.[Good for them. Now if Mr Mooney really cared about the children he says are ‘his children’ then why doesn’t he do what the EWO who sees us does? He understands the atronomical cost of GCSEs and IGCSEs to a family like ours and so he has encouraged us and given good advice about building a portfolio of work. Alex did this and Iona is doing it. When they are finished he comes over goes through the work and writes a reference for the front of the portfolio explaining that the work reaches or exceeds GCSE standards. Alex has his college place and a job and is fending for himself very well thanks]

EDDIE MAIR: And, Shena Deuchars, I do want to talk about the second strand that you mentioned which is causing so much anger, you say, among home educators. Of course, most home educators – perhaps none of them – are involved in abusing their children, but should there be a system whereby at least someone like Tony Mooney can go in and check that everything’s OK?

SHENA DEUCHARS: Actually, could I come back on what Tony Mooney said about GCSEs? I think it would be very interesting to look at the reasons why young home educated people don’t get GCSEs and the answer to that is basically if their parents – if they’re not in school – their parents have to pay for it and it can cost £150 per GCSE. [It was a lot more for us. Iona was 14 when she sat her IGCSE Maths and had to travel to Bristol to do it! Alex went with her one day and her day the next. The cost with travel was over £250]

EDDIE MAIR: All right, but just on the other point, because we only have a moment left and I’d like you to respond?

SHENA DEUCHARS: OK, well, the thing is that Baroness Morgan, again in today’s Independent, was quoted as saying: “If there are problems, we have to look at the evidence.” This review looks more as if they’re looking for evidence, because to date there have been no problems. There are no cases of children who have been abused who also were being home educated who weren’t already known to the authorities. Victoria Climbié is a red herring: she wasn’t being home educated at all, and the Spry children were removed from school once Eunice Spry had been abusing them already for a number of years and had been checked over by Gloucestershire Social Services. [And with all this dishonesty flying around we are supposed to let people like Mooney into our homes eh? Thank God the EWO here is not like this]

EDDIE MAIR: All right, listen, thank you both for taking the time to talk about this. We’ve tried to give it as much time as we can, but it may well be that you have a view on this and probably some experience too. If you’d like to share your experience, please just go to the PM blog, where you’ll find more information and a space where you can comment. Just put ‘PM blog’ into any search engine.

:: Transcript ends 0:54:01/ 1:00:00 ::

The NSPCC reach a new low. Vijay Patel needs to be fired!

Having taken their 30 pieces of silver the NSPCC are making sure they give the Government their monies worth. Vijay Patel was quoted in THIS BIZARRE ARTICLE IN THE INDI.

“Some people use home education to hide. Look at the Victoria Climbié case.”

Did you see that? Poor Victoria was NOT home educated at all. Yet despite the fact the NSPCC were complicit in her death and even went so far as to try and alter evidence to hide the fact!


To use this child’s murder for the political gains of the Govt and the NSPCC is beyond disgusting.

The fallout for Mr Patel should be rough.

Gill of SOMETIMES IT’S PEACEFUL has all the details.

Gill has posted this letter:

Letter from AHEd to NSPCC Chief Executive

Dear Sir,

AHEd [1] has received a number of member complaints concerning the outrageous comments of Mr. Vijay Patel reported in the Independent newspaper today [2] which we believe abuse the memory of a murdered child for political ends to falsely conflate her death with a minority group and to express a causal link between home educators and child abuse.

Mr Patel is quoted: “Some people use home education to hide. Look at the Victoria Climbié case.”

We object in the strongest terms possible to these comments. It is our view that the comments demonstrate a clear prejudice against home educators and a deliberate attempt to implicate home education with false evidence and scandal in order to prejudice the outcome of the government Review into Home Education.

Mr Patel has already admitted publicly [3] that there is no link between home education and child abuse. Now, however, he is deliberately implying that Victoria Climbie was home educated, hidden from the authorities, abused and murdered without their knowledge by home educators!

This is shocking considering that both Mr Patel and the NSPCC must know that this little girl, who was not a home educated child, but was known to a number of authorities and to the local education authority was not murdered in secret hidden from their view whilst being home educated, as confirmed by the Laming enquiry; and in view of the fact that the NSPCC was forced to apologise for its part in the failure of those responsible to help Victoria over an extended period prior to her death [4] In fact, Victoria is one of the many cases now in the public domain in which it has been demonstrated that those charged with helping children in need failed in their duties towards a child, resulting in further suffering and death. [5]

We note that the Victoria Climbie Foundation are also very worried about this misrepresentation from an official of the NSPCC [6]

We are appalled that Mr. Patel, the NSPCC Child Protection Policy Advisor, is propagating libelous attacks against a conscientious and law abiding minority and wonder if it is NSPCC policy that home education is linked to child abuse? We call for a full and prominent public apology and retraction of the comments by Mr. Patel in the Independent today, and a withdrawal of the NSPCC from the review.

Yours, etc.





[5] Excerpt from Lord Laming’s Speech at the National Social Services Conference 2003: “I remind you that in the ten months Victoria was alive in this country she was known to no fewer than four Social Services Departments, three Housing Departments and two specialist Police Child Protection Teams. Furthermore she was admitted to two different hospitals because of suspicions she was being deliberately harmed and she was referred to a specialist Child and Family Centre managed by the NSPCC.



Subsidiarity and Home Education

Subsidiarity is a principle in which the most local authority deals with situations rather than huge distant beaurocratic Governements. It means those who are near the community-part of it in fact, get to run those communities. Families look after one another and those in their immediate community and then so on until the Government ONLY does what it is competent to do and thus totalitarianism can be avoided. It allows parents the rights and responsibilities proper to them so that families can stay strong and with an emphasis on responsibility there is more genuine care.  (Check out RERUM NOVARUM on this very thing). It is the base on which Distributismis built. Distributism works well with home education. It is about local life; about building a strong responsible and self sustaining society from the family up. History tells us that societies that undermined the family collapsed.

But this Government thinks it is better to overtly attack families and drastically undermine the good we can do. It’s mad really.

Despite the experience with the school system that we had before I began home educating, there are probably still one or two people who can;t understand why I want to do this. Take a look at this.

Meanwhile some bloke called David Semple who is apparently a teacher, wrote an article that showed no insight into home education at all. BISHOP HILL managed to fisk it with style (and some bad language that to be honest seemed rather appropriate to the cirumstances.

 Semple writes:

Those who provide education in schools are in a position to examine the education provided by home educators.

I really don’t see how. School education is based on a vastly different philosophy from home education. What do teachers know of John Holt or my own Charlotte Mason. How many understand how Montessori works or the nature of a Classical Curriculum based on rhetoric logic and the other one (Can’t remember and too tired to look it up right now-but many of you homeschoolers will know).

While I know a lot of teachers who support the idea of home education-because they work in schools and see the National Curriculum up close and nasty; I don’t know a teacher who does not home educate, who could judge home education as a process, it’s outcomes or how the children are learning.

It’s grossly arrogant to assume a person trained for a school would know. As a psychiatric nurse I never assumed I could go an assess a renal nurse. Why would I?

Having said he is concerned about what the child wants he then wonders if home educated children

b) is the child getting the same breadth of education as in a classroom; c) is the child simply being taught to regurgitate the world-view of the parents; d) does the child have access to sufficient resources to support learning to a level equal to that which his or her peers will reach by the same age.

I hope to heaven my children are getting a broader education that I saw in classrooms when I worked in school!! So far they get better history and geography, Astronomy (didn’t see that in school) Latin (didn’t see that) hands on science experiments which they actually get to DO rather than just watch…the list goes on.

Most homeschooled children I know are learning to think and discover for themselves, rather than being spoonfed (as in school) so they are not regurgitating anything. When my older ones were in school regurgitating the propaganda of the national curriculum was the norm. You should hear some of the stuff my daughter’s school friends come out with!

Of course home ed children have resources. Sometimes they cost a lot and so we share them; but at least they actually get to use them.

But his real bug-bare is this:

 I have always been particularly concerned about c) since I know that in the United States, home schooling is increasingly prevalent among extreme Christians and I have seen it suggested that this trend is the same in the UK. If home schooling can be a vehicle to prevent scientific learning, then we have a duty to those children to regulate it.

Did you see that? “extreme Christians”. What does that mean? Does he mean that parent who may have religious reasons for home education is ‘extreme’ and is therefore unable to teach science. Does he know any history of science!? He insists that ‘skepticism’ should be taught-rather than a healthy search for the truth.

The article goes on (and on); but Bishop Hill fisks it better than I can be bothered. I am particularly concerned by the idea that the State somehow own our children. Bishop Hill calls this Fascist and I have to agree. Hitler made home education illegal in Germany to ensure no child missed out on his propaganda machine. The fact that Hitlers law is still law in Germany is utterly shameful. Semple of course talks of the “absolute authority of the State”. If that doesn’t chill you to the bone I don’t know what will.

Reasons to homeschool:

Terrorism lessons anyone?

 The generation of pupils let down by testing: In fact one of Iona’s friends said she was pleased that at least she was taught how to pass tests. When challenged on whether that was the extend of her education, she believed it was-and worse still-believed that was all education was about!

The Cambridge Primary Education Review has been reported in a lot places not just THIS ONE. Did you see that last line?

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said: ‘To say children are receiving a deficient education is insulting to hard-working pupils and teachers everywhere and flies in the face of international evidence.’

But to say hardworking home educating parents and their children are living in abusive homes with forced marriage and domestic servitude or missing education all together is just fine and dandy!

Interrupted in blogging by Ronan pointing out he haven’t got around to “Longitude and Shortitude” yet today LOL!

Just a quick note on the health of my younger ones.

Most of you who read this blog will know that Avila has had health problems since birth. She has already failed the ECM ‘achieve be healthy’ (sorry stop the sarcasm). Anyway, she has been improving for some time and over the last few months has been growing and even putting on weight-slowly but surely. Nevertheless she still has terrible problems with her tummy and going to the toilet as well as her energy levels.

Last week the chiropracter clinic I have been attending for my problems were offering a special deal for children in Half Term. As we were going through another bad patch I thought I just have to try this.

It seems to be working! PLEASE say a prayer. I would love to be able to return to the Paediatrician in April (when she has an appt) and say  she is well!

Some of you may also remember-although I can’t remember whether I have blogged on this-that Ronan is blind in one eye. He has a cataract that we were told was inoperable. The reason given was that the cataract had formed when he was very young possibly less than 4mths old (when I first noticed something) and so his brain had never recognised he had two eyes. We spent some time going through this before the decision not to operate was made.

Finally, after many trips to the Children’s Hospital he was discharged last month.

Then one Sunday during Mass-only about three weeks ago-he tells me he can see out of his ‘bad eye’. Well, it was the middle of Mass and to be honest I didn’t believe him. When we got home I got cooking and didn’t think about it for a while. But it was on my mind. On the following Tuesday when another home ed family was here and the children were dressed as pirates I used the pirate eye patch and completely covered Ronan’s good eye.

“What can you see?”

“Nothing” he said. I then picked up toys and objects and held them to the side of his face by his bad eye and he could identify them. I checked his good eye was completely covered and we did it again-and he could identify objects.

So I emailed the hospital and they phoned me back yesterday saying they will see him in May.

Just in case I’m mad I rechecked with him yesterday and he could certainly see the objects I held in his peripheral vision.

I have no idea what this will mean for him. But again I ask for prayers.

Birthday cake, just before Lent begins.


 Birthday Bubble Yesterday was Ronan’s 6th birthday. We bought him a lorry with a crane attached which I think dad liked rather a lot 🙂

A couple of home ed families came over for the afternoon and as a treat the children did no session but were allowed to play together un hindered by parents trying to teach them something. Iona had made a lovely little birthday cake which everyone had after lunch.

In the evening he had a special birthday pancake. Of course.

He started Beavers the day before-a sign he is a ‘big boy’ now I guess.

Today Lent begins. We went to Mass this morning and received ashes. It’s a great time t explain some of the traditions in the Church. Avila spotted the purple curtain on the tabernacle. She remembered from Advent that this is a colour that reminds us to be sorry for our sins and grateful for all the Love God gives us.

We have the ‘Walk With Me’ Calender that helps children focus on Lent each day. I don’t usually ask the pre-Holy Communion children to give anything up, but Roni and Avila have decided to give up Chocolate spread. (There’s a huge jar in the cupboard thanks to our trip to Costco-so I wonder how this will go LOL)

In the light of the mess the economy is in and the struggles we have as a family, I want to try and spend this Lent working on gratitude and getting rid of my irritation at the whole situation.  Meanwhile the fact that the little ones enter Lent with such enthusiasm is encouraging.

For the older three they are giving up various things and taking up some extra reading. One of the good things about these little sacrifices is the way we do them together. My husband teases me over housework sometimes when he is doing something around the house while I am doing my work; “Together in adversity” he says cheerfully.

I think there is something good for the spirit when we are TOGETHER IN ADVERSITY.

Leprosy, Debt and Bearing False Witness

monasticmedI’ve been wanting to blog about leprosy since last Sunday. It’s time I got around to it.

Last Sunday the first reading was from the Book of Leviticus about how to deal with a person with leprosy. This was followed by the Psalm on turning to God in times of trouble, followed by St Paul telling us to avoid giving offence and be more like Christ and this followed by Christ showing mercy to the leper whom he heals and then in accordance with the Law as in Leviticus the man must show himself to the priest, make the proper sacrifice and be declared clean.

Continue reading

Pro-Life Witness

The Oxford Pro-Life Witness will

 take place on 29th Feb at 3pm

outside the John Radcliffe


This is a monthly event lead by a fellow homeschooler Amanda.

Most of you come to this blog often enough to be used to these posts and I know you will keep the Oxford group, and the mothers, fathers and babies they are concerned for in your prayers.

The video is Norma McCorvey the “Roe” of Row vs Wade.