Monthly Archives: February 2010

The snowballing media and the attack on Home educating families.

There is something deeply disgusting about the way Ed Balls, Graham Badman, the BBC and even some others are mis-using the tragic murder of Khyra Ishaq to attack the lives and well being of home educated children all over the country.  In all fairness most of the MSM has simply reported the facts of the trial and the Judge’s view that Birmingham Children’s Social Services had seriously failed this child and her siblings because they refused to carry out the Initial Assessment.

It wasn’t that long ago that this social service dept was found unfit for purpose. Having had a couple of friends deal with them I have to concur.

The case notes are heart wrenching and leave me with a lot of questions. The schools acted pretty well it seems although I do wonder why they waited until the children were removed before asking social services to intervene. They had already needed to provide the children with extra food because of their loss of weight and hunger. Perhaps they didn’t think they had enough to go on.

I am impressed that a teacher was so concerned she made a home visit. It’s good to know teachers like that are out there.

The fact that the social worker comes across as, how shall I put this- remarkably unprofessional and lacking intellectual rigour, should surely tell us something about how Birmingham Children’s Social Services came to be assessed as unfit for purpose.

The social worker called Miss G seems to have done all she could to avoid doing her job. Perhaps she was already overloaded with cases-the judge doesn’t say. Instead of carrying out an Initial Assessment she got the teacher of the school to contact the police and forcefully demand a Safe And Well Check. The police went out to the house to do this check and then quite remarkably didn’t do it!

Balls and Badman have from the get go tried to conflate safeguarding and suitable education. But the dangers of doing this are stark in this case. Para 244 says the Social worker ditched the Initial Assessment that was so desperately needed because Mr H was now involved.

Now I know Mr I.H: Irving Horne has been bashed by the Daily Mail but I would like to say I liked him. He was supportive of our family and of EHE in general.

He told the court he had a case load of 350 families to deal with alone without so much as a secretary to help get letters out. Frankly that’s dreadful. Of those 350 families quite a few would not have been EHE. He talked to me some time ago about the kind of work he did. He had all the registered EHE families and then families where the children were “between schools”; that is parents couldn’t get the child into the school of choice so they were at home awaiting placements. These parents had not chosen to Home educate at all. Then there were the families where the children were out of school because of trouble with the school or law and were awaiting suitable placements or home tuition.

Mr I H was a retired head master. As far as I know he had no social work training, and why should he, that wasn’t his job.  I am sorry that his name is plastered all over the press when journalists seem incapable of checking basic facts for one article let alone dealing with 350 in one go!

I know social workers often have a tough time too. But I tend to have less sympathy because I have had to work with so  many over the years and found most of them to be useless. Miss G did what so many other social workers I have come across do-pass the buck. Rather than do the Initial Assessment she tried to get the police to do it. They didn’t do the Safe and Well Check and then she tried to pass the buck for the welfare of these children to Mr Horne who had neither the training nor experience to deal with such a thing on top of his ridiculous workload.

While the BBC and Daily Mail snipe at home education neither have explained how Badman’s silly review would have in any way helped the Ishaq children.

Check out Firebird’s MEDIA WATCH (nb the Daily Mail have altered the page since she gave them a Pass- and now they Fail).

And then came FERN

The BBC have continued their attack on Home Education by wheeling out Fern Britton, who is apparently fairly famous. She tried to tell us all that Ryvita really doesn’t taste of cardboard left in the shed for a few days. I was warned by someone called Ronan who posted on my previous post that this would make me a little cross. I didn’t get to listen to it; a girl has to watch her blood pressure you know. But I have come across some quite startling quotes from Ms Britton that I can only assume are true:

Apparently she began by asking why home educators shouldn’t be made to follow the “same rules as the rest of us.” Erm, what rules would they be that we naughty EHE families are not following? I don’t think she went on to explain.

She did go on to ask, “Do home educators have to show the LA their school room?”  Like many people she obviously thinks home education is doing school at home. For most of us it isn’t. It is learning at home and at other people’s homes and other places in the community.

She then had the nerve to say; “Parents aren’t qualified to teach.” ROFL! Speak for yourself Fern. As it happens most of us don’t do a lot of teaching as such, we facilitate and often learn alongside the children. Often the children will teach us stuff they have learned. It works well.

The silly socialisation question -or in Fern’s case, negative statement, came up again. YAWN! How many times do we have to answer the same things over and over?

I know I should get cross about all this; but with Ed Balls quite deliberately misusing the murder of little Khrya Ishaq for his own bullying of the home ed community and to politically manouvre his Bill through-well Fern is small fry isn’t she?

open letter to Fern Britton from merry.

Blessings and the Kindness of friends.

I wrote a post a few days back going through some of my plans for proper pain management. The Amitrip has begun to work and although I need to adjust the dose somewhat I have hope that I am going to get to grips with this pain malarky.

I mentioned some of the things that I would like to do once I have saved up enough and one of those things was a dustpan and brush with longer handles so I can stand up.

Well yesterday the doorbell rang and there was a delivery man clutching a long parcel addressed to A. Friend. It was a veleda broom and the delivery note tells me that the second half of my gift will arrive soon. I am guessing the long handled dustpan is that part.  While I think the sender was trying to be anonymous as the note said “To A Friend from A. Nother Friend” I noted something which means I just want to say a very big


That was so thoughtful and it will make a difference.


I’ve been told my FIL is willing to let us have the money we need to buy the wardrobe and food mixer! Hopefully we can sort that out soon and my heavy box lifting days should be over. The food mixer will be a great help and more so as I have a friend who could do with help there too and I wanted to prep her veg for her-but just can’t at the moment; as I can barely do ours!


Shall I vote Tory after all????

I have been trying to work out what I would do at the election. I am one of those fickle voters who have put a cross in a many a box in the hope that it is a strategic way of doing damage reduction.

The next General election is on the way and should be properly announced by the end of March. While dates for the actual election day are muted as early as April and as late as June the most likely date appears to be May 6th (I think). So I need to make a decision.

I hardly watched any of the Third Reading of the Bill. But I managed to catch a few moments where Vernon Coaker was sneering (and practically dancing in glee) at the prospect of the Bill going through and the Tories being quite unwilling or unable to ditch it when (he seemed sure about the when I noted) they got into power.  It was the near enough a straight out admission that this whole charade is to hand a poisoned chalice on education to the next Government.

Carlotta, ever on the ball has spotted some wonderful news in The Times. It seems that the Tories are willing to ditch at least some of the poison and Michael Grove has been good enough to come out and say so. Clause 26/27 of the Bill will never become law under a Conservative Government.

Noami a home ed mum asked him about the Bill HERE and he said:

I think home educators do a wonderful job – they give up time and sacrifice so much for their children – Government should support them and we won’t allow the current Government’s plans to stigmatise home educators to get through

That didn’t quite answer the question as it looks like they might not be able to prevent the Bill getting through. We haven’t forgotten the ridiculous comments posted by Barroness and Deech and Lord Soley have we? So Naomi pushed for a straighter answer and she got one!

Comment From Naomi

Thank you ,but can you promise us that clause 26/27 of csf bill will never be law?

Michael Gove:

Dear Naomi


That is marvellous. I hope he means it. Now if they would be willing to drop the forced sex ed as well I would be dancing with joy.

If I take Mr Gove’s word then I will have to vote Tory for the sake of my children’s education. But I do wonder what a Conservative Government does plan to do about home education.

Home Education: The Bill is back

The CSF Bill should be back in Parliament today for more shenanagans. I can’t quite see this as debate as none of the excellent points of people like Graham Stuart and others have been acknowledged at all. Repeating the words “light touch, light touch” like a Diana Johnson mantra is hardly debate.

So far no amendments have been made either to the forced sex ed sections or the home ed sections of the Bill. It certainly has not helped that Oona Stannard and the CES have backed the Government while trying to make out they have managed to get some concessions for the rights of Catholic children. They plainly have not managed anything of the sort.

I have to regretfully say that my bishop; Archbishop Longley,  has refused to meet the home educating families of his Archdiocese on the grounds that he defers to the CES on these matters.

There’s a reasonable article in the Guardian.H/T Carlotta It goes off a bit at the end. Not sure I buy all that stuff about sth America but I could be wrong. The comments are the usual mix of those who know what EHE is and those who made statements when they patently have no idea what it is. And of course the ones who ‘fear’ what some of us might get up to.

Also from Carlotta she links to Jeremy Wright MP for Rugby and Kenilworth. The more MPs who think like this:

There may well be a case for establishing an inspections scheme to ensure that home education is of a sufficient quality, but that case has not yet been made. The Government have justified these measures on the basis of child protection issues.

Parents who make the decision to educate their children do not choose an easy path and they make considerable sacrifices in order to follow it. Suggesting that their children may not be safe in their care is not the right way to assure ourselves that these children are being educated well.

the better we will be.

Anyway let’s see what happens today…

Lent. health and home

Offer it up.

Continue reading

Home Education to be a wife and mother

One of the reasons I think the Govt and their arm the LAs are not too good a judging what is and what is not “suitable” education is because they don’t have the same outcomes in mind for the children they are ‘monitoring’ as the parents and children themselves. The whole aim of state education is to make people who will jump through hoops and earn a wage without showing too much independent thought. Everything in schools from the age of 4 is about what career do you want? I will never forget a little girl (aged 4) in the class I was working in at the time saying she wanted to be a mummy. She did not get a warm reception for the idea. In fact her ambition was treated with less respect than the lad who wanted to be Spiderman.

A theme that keeps cropping up in the ‘debate’, if that’s the right term, is the sheer horror expressed over the idea that some families-mainly Muslims and the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities-might be teaching their girls to be merely wives and mothers.

In order to be a wife and mother a girl needs a “suitable” education. She needs to learn to take good care of herself and budget properly. She needs to be aware of the needs of others; of safety, good nutrition and how to prepare food properly. She needs the language requirements and development of her children. She will need basic first aid skills. She needs to be able to read well so she can read to her children. She will need to be a good manager and able to prioritise tasks. She needs to have learned honesty, integrity and the willingness to see something very difficult through. She needs to be chaste and willing to make a strong commitment to her family. She will need a very large dose of common sense.

There’s a lot more a girl will need to be educated in to be a wife and mother. It’s a very broad and highly skilled vocation. But this Govt doesn’t recognise it has having any worth at all.

I wonder what these girls are supposedly not learning. Or is it that they are learning traditional skills that don’t fit well with the 1970s psuedo-feminist politics of (sadly) most of those in power?

I’ll never forget that ….man Tony McNulty MP and presently under the Expenses Scandal cloud, saying it was “misogynist” to suggest a woman might want to be a full time wife and mother!

That’s not to say I am not preparing my children for the world of work. But I will never be pushing them into a view of themselves as having worth based on their career and wage packet. and how much stuff they can accrue.

Personally I think it is important that children learn about marriage and children and how to do it properly. That means boys learning how to be husbands and fathers too. Perhaps they will be single or ordained or religious-but the skills to run a family are transferable to all callings.

In the end this clash is surely because home educators still hold on to the old notion that education is to build on a persons innate talents and interests, to help them discover and to reason so they can discover what is true. We want our children to grow into good people, not merely machines of the state.

While unions mutter about not needing home education in the 21st century -we EHE folk are still stuck in the medieval idea of the person with innate dignity and ability to reason. There is a chasm between us.

Ash Wednesday and I might be giving up pain for Lent!

Lent has begun. We went off to Mass this morning-well, Al and I went withe the smalls, the bigs are going this evening. Ashes were duly daubed on all of us and we were instructed to “repent and believe in the Gospel.” Good idea.

I now have to sort out what I’ll read and pray for Lent. Yeah, I know I should have done this ages ago, but better late than never. So. I am reading G K Chesterton’s The Innocence of Fr Brown from the collected works. Now don’t laugh, this is legit Lent reading I think-honestly. The stories always have that Chesterton insistance on reason and truth which I think is worth contemplating. I think I can learn a lot from the short little priest and his tatty umbrella.

I will also try and read the excellent Commentary on the Gospel of John by Steve Ray. It’s an excellent commentary which I read a few years ago. Time to return to it I think.

I am also going to try and do the Seven Sorrows rosary at least once a week during Lent. Now this might not seem like much, but I want to be realistic. I’ll continue with Universalis morning and night prayer which I am just about managing (not always night prayer) so once a week on the rosary is about it for me I’m afraid. Who knows by Easter I may be better at it.

picture credit

I went off to the doctors last night because of another chest infection. While I was there I decided to go for the overhaul and talked about my pretty useless pain management at the moment. He was really good. He listened to me; prescribed the antibiotic for the infection; agreed not to give me steroids at this time (I don’t like taking them unless I have to) and then when I told him about my daily pain and asked for amitriptyline to help me out. I’ve been taking a combination of Diclophenic, paracetamol and on bad days Tramadol for years and frankly it isn’t really working. Mainly because I wont take the Tramadol unless things get desperate because it makes me feel off (stoned to be blunt) and I don’t like being unsafe while home edding and taking care of the children.

I did ask for amitrip some time ago but as I was still breast feeding the doc refused. I have to say I could not see the drugs I was supposed to take were much safer but hey.

So the doc has agreed to start me on a low dose (pain doses vary from10mg to 50mg). I am to start on 10mg at night and then I can double it if it doesn’t work. I have to go back in a month for review and he even said he could get me referred to a pain clinic. Whoo hoo!! So we’ll see. Maybe I’ll be giving up pain for Lent. I certainly hope so 🙂

I notice the Wiki article says the drug is unapproved for pain relief, but I know plenty of people who have it prescribed for that and the GP even commended me on my request!