Category Archives: Government Attack on Home Education

Home Education; Study looks at why people choose to do it.

Over the years there have been a number of studies asking home educators/homeschoolers why they do it. In the past the American results have had religion either number 1 or 2 but over here it comes much lower down the list.

A recent study reported HERE shows that reasons are shifting in the USA as well. Now school environment is the number one reason to homeschool and standard of academic instruction comes in at number 2. That matches up closer with UK studies.

ITV Wales recently produced a fairly long report (not sure how long this link will be live) about families choosing to home educate. The title question “Can home education ever make the grade?” made me laugh.  Studies have shown over and over again that homeschooled/home educated children do better across the board than their schooled peers. When you consider that the HE community has a much higher number of children with learning problems (who have often had to be pulled from school) then I don’t think we do too badly.  In fact when Ed Balls came after us, his side kick Badman had to make up statistics to try and make us look bad.

For me, I think the biggest advantage home education has over schools is that our children get to read whole books and are encouraged to read every day. In teaching them to read I listened to them one to one every day. No school can do that unless they a) have hardly any children or b) have an army of volunteers.

The other massive advantage we have is not being tied to a curricula or methodology or philosophy of education. We are free to adjust to the child’s learning rather than forcing the child into a pre-packaged box.

Most importantly of all, many home educated children are taught how to think and how to learn, not what to think and what to learn. Schools are far too prescriptive and narrow.

And finally, socialisation. Yup. It’s much easier to get your child properly socialised in the natural community of home education than in a classroom with one or two adults and 29+ other children, all the same age.

What about religion? Doesn’t it count? Well, for a lot of home educators it probably doesn’t. For us it does, of course. Having the freedom to choose an orthodox and well written religious curriculum has been very good.  I want them to have access to their Faith, history and heritage that sadly even Catholic schools don’t seem able to offer.

The bottom line is that parents have an intrinsic right and deep responsibility to the proper education of our children. Our children do not belong to the state or to teacher’s unions. They are free persons belonging to a family. If, as a parent, you choose to delegate some of that responsibility to a school, then you are still the primary educator and are obliged to ensure the education is best for your child. Overall, although home ed is very hard work at times, I think it’s easier than trying to keep on top of what happens in school.

Will there ever be TV news stories questioning whether schools are good for our children? Why is Ken Robinson so roundly ignored?

The idea that home educators should be monitored by the people who can’t provide a decent education in schools is never going to wash.

Will the changes in GCSEs help home educators?

The Conservatives Hold Their Annual Party Conference - Day 4Michael Gove is setting about changing the way GCSEs are done. My dh says one of the changes will be that pupils will be reading whole books for English. That has to be a change for the better – if it happens.

Gove is ditching course work and continual assessment, probably, in light of the unsurprising news that parents and even teachers were doing the coursework for pupils, on a rather embarrassingly regular basis. So, those who cheated were getting better results than those who did the work for themselves.   Gove is moving to an exam only GCSE. Is this a good thing? Umm, I don’t know, but it might make life just a tiny bit easier for home ed children.

If this actually happens then I wonder if home educators might feasibly have an easier time accessing exams.

As it stands most people seem to either send their children to school or college for GCSEs or they (like us) go through the IGCSE route with the massive exam costs that go with it.

There had been some colleges willing to take pupils at any age, so long as they were ready, but that door got slammed when funding changes ensured that pupils able to take GSCEs at 13 or 14 would not be able to and would therefore have to wait until they were of a bureaucratically acknowledged age. I can’t help wondering, sometimes, if Gove et al actually want children to be educated.

Gove has also announced that GCSE exams will be harder. I wonder if this means GCSE and IGCSEs will now be on the same level. At the moment it is generally recognised that IGCEs are harder and therefore of a higher quality.

While on the surface these changes might look good, I’ll wait and see. It’s under this Government that UCAS as ditched equivalencies making Open University points worthless while easier exams are accepted.  It is going to be a massive shift in emphasis from getting an education to jumping through hoops and I am yet to be convinced that this will happen.

It is very frustrating to see that in America many universities are welcoming homeschooled students with open arms because they have noticed how much better educated they are, on average, than schooled children; that over here doors that were open or opening have been shut. UCAS needs scrapping completely, as it’s nothing more than a tick box machine that rejects well qualified students simply because there isn’t a box to tick.

American universities have a massive advantage in that they still meet with would-be students and actually interview them. This helps form a view of whether a student can actually do the work of the degree. Having a box ticked that shows a student has a good memory, is hardly a ringing endorsement as far as I can see. Having a folder full of lovely exam results but an inability to work independently or treat other people with respect is not a good start in adult life.

I am glad I don’t have children old enough for any of this right now. Whether it will be better or worse by the time they are old enough I don’t know.  I did think the children could get work and do a part-time degree with the Open University but they have jumped on the “charge excessively” bandwagon and their courses are simply no longer affordable.

As things stand I would prefer my children to do one of the very good quality homeschool Highschool Diplomas, but as UCAS narrows it’s boxes this might not be the right choice – unless they don’t want to go to Uni over here or at all.

As more distance learning is launched I’ll be keeping an eye on what options the children might have.

Home Education; navigating the exam hoops.

The age of my children means I have a sort of respite in the exam world. The older three are aged 23, 21 and 19 while the younger ones are nearly 10, 8 and 5 and a half. So you see it’s a bit different for us.

Let’s take Josh. He went through the school system right to the end. He came out with 13 GCSEs grades A to C and two A’levels in English and Drama. He wants to be a paramedic. If he can’t do that, and it seems he can’t, he’ll be a nurse. Now you would think he would walk into a nursing degree thanks to his Open University points in Biology and health care as well as six years as a care assistant.He’s never been out of work since he was 18 apart from the time he was seriously ill while his type 1 diabetes was being dx and getting under control.

But those things don’t count, it seems, so he is now doing a Diploma (old NVQ 3) to get the right points in the right place. Thankfully his workplace are supportive.

GCSE-exams-Maidstone-Gram-001Over the last few years I’ve seen many home ed articles and blogs saying that home educated children don’t need exams to get where they want to go and if they do they can do them later when the need arises. This may have been true some time ago, but I am increasingly worried that it is less true now.

If this was America where the universities have realised the high standard of homeschooled children and offer places based on portfolio work I would agree, we shouldn’t need exams. I did think that as the research piles up that shows home educated children are better educated over al,l that universities over here would follow suit. So far the only Brit Uni’s I know of who accept students based on what they have actually achieved, rather than on a tick box system set up with UCAS (the most pointless organisation under the sun), is the Open University and Oxford University. That doesn’t leave many options does it.

Neither Josh (school) nor Alex (school and then home ed) have ever been unemployed. They have both worked very hard and yet both are facing huge obstacles in their chosen career routes. Partly (with Alex at least) the broken economy is to blame, but I also think the bizarre lack of human contact plays a role. Everything must be done by a tick box read by a machine.

But there are no doors opening to easy careers for either of them. What about their schooled friends? Life is just as difficult for them. Ah well, a home ed parent and child might be tempted to say, if exams don’t help either what’s the point?

It seems very strange to me that instead of making collages more accessible for adults who wish to sit GCSEs or A’Levels, the system from this Government is actually shutting down access for adults wanting these exams.(It’s a money thing apparently – of course). IGCSE’s have never been available unless you pay a huge amount for them. (Thank God for credit cards when it comes to paying off exam and travel costs!)

I had thought for the younger three that I would put them through the American High school Diploma either via Seton, as we use their curricula anyway, or via St. Thomas Aquinas. Both are accredited.  It’s interesting to see that Catholic Heritage has set up a non-accredited High School curriculum pointing out that quality homeschoolers don’t need accreditation

If we could move away from computers and robots deciding on who gets onto what course, we might have a chance over here. Bypassing the computer either for education or healthcare, seems beyond the capability of “real people” who hide behind the machine’s like stunted wizards of Oz.

But then perhaps the machines will work in our favour as time goes on. Just as more of us can access high quality American highschool diploma’s thanks to the internet and Skype, perhaps our children can access degrees in the future from American Universities who are willing and able to offer high quality degrees to those who are capable, rather than mediocre degrees to those whose boxes can be ticked by a robot.

I am keeping an eye on developments and of course will see how older home ed children fare in this country.

Sir Ken Robinson speaks on the need for a learning revolution.

This is a continuation of the excellent talk Sir Ken gave a few years ago about how schools were destroying children’s creativity. His critique of the massive use of Ritalin for children stuck in my mind from that one.

This speech is just as good and just as true and will be just as ignored. I was interested when he commented that people in the audience were from various places, including industry.

I would love to believe that this means a change in tack from industry and they are actually, genuinely, appalled by the standard of education and instead of using it as a great excuse to push for slavery by the back door – bringing in lots of people from Eastern Europe and paying them £2 a hour or less and saying it’s because home grown kids won’t work. Do I sound a little cynical? Sorry, seeing what is happening around me is making me feel like Cassandra and there isn’t even a Greek gift!

It is good to see that Sir Ken recognises and supports the place of Home Education. It would be nice to think that the youngest MIT Professor having been homeschooled might be a plus for us too.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suddenly saying that home education is to ensure more and more prodigies. No. Children can grow and learn to be all sorts of people; so long as they are good people, moral thoughtful, discerning people. But the occasional MIT Prof from our rank is good too 🙂

If you have the time you can watch the first speech on education illustrated wonderfully by RSA Animate.

The more I talk to people who work in schools, or have children in them the more I am left wondering why we keep doing this to our children.

Real Education is a dangerous thing for some

This article via Nonna reports that the German minister Norbert Blum has spoken out for intrinsic family rights.

In Germany parents are not allowed to decide for themselves what is the best form of education for their children. They are forced, violently at times, to send their children to school, no matter how bad the school might be.

Parents who have removed children to home educate – which is an intrinsic right – have been persecuted, their children forcibly removed, and parents threatened with prison.

Sounds like a Nazi regime doesn’t it? And that might be because the law against Homeschooling dates back to 1936. It’s one of the few Third Reich oppressive laws that wasn’t repealed.

from the article:

Michael Donnelly, GHEC2012 secretary and director of international affairs at Home School Legal Defense Association, the world’s largest home education organization, underscored this impact.

“Norbert Blum has said what no one else in Germany has been willing to — that Germany’s iron-fisted monopoly on education is unhealthy for children and families. I hope Angela Merkel and others in her party will listen to the wisdom and advice of this German statesman and take action soon so that parents in Germany can homeschool like millions around the world,” Donnelly said.

The German government have received heavy criticism from those fighting for human rights over the years. unfortunately they are somewhat sheltered from proper condemnation by the strange anti-family culture of European power bases.

I am sure the nod-wink of European politics to family oppression is why Ed Balls and his strange sidekick Badman felt comfortable in citing German law as a reason to come after home educators in this country.

One of the primary goals of most home educating parents (as far as I’ve seen locally and internally) is to teach our children how to learn. We want them to be able to make their own discoveries, to discern right from wrong, truth from twaddle (as Miss Mason would say). We want our children to learn to think critically and be able to understand language use and misuse.

The Taliban are quite right to be deeply afraid of a well-educated populace. They are even more right to be terrified of educated women. It has been shown in missionary work that when the woman and girls are educated they educate the men and boys. Then education spreads from families to local communities and out there. A real education is a genuinely empowering thing.

People who want to bully, control and oppress don’t want people who can think for themselves. Spoon fed education and mass dumb media are great tools for them.

I am grateful I can still home educate my children.

Home Education; Government want to “support” us??? I doubt that.

Local Authorities are still breaking the law on Home Education. I personally wouldn’t mind being “monitored” nearly as much if there was any real support for families who home educate and any real care for children in school who are being seriously abused either at school or at home. The fact is, I am not alone in having seen Social Workers, Local Authority staff and even the police betray seriously abused children and children in extremely difficult family situations simply because of being idle, while these same people are all too willing to bully innocent families. I can’t even blame it on lack of training any more. It’s a basic lack of decency and integrity.

So, it would be good to think the present Government might have some kind of committment to cleaning house in Local Authorities, Social Services and the police, especially where children are concerned.

Well they haven’t. Instead they are coming after Home Educators again.

The Education Committee have announced a new inquiry into Home Education looking at what “support” we receive from Local Authorities. The short answer is “NONE AT ALL”.

I would truly like to believe that this “inquiry” really was a way of trying to clean house, but I simply don’t.

It’s  time they just left us alone.

Vatican spokesman speaks out for the rights of parents to home educate

A Vatican Spokesman has called on the UN to respect the rights of parents to choose the education of their children, including the right to home educate.

Many European countries are draconian in their treatment of home educating families. Germany and Sweden are perhaps two of the most tyrannical when it comes to the rights of families. More than one family has fled Germany to find asylum in a country that respects their rights.

Actually the way German authorities behave towards families whose children are having serious problems in school make our social services look almost professional.

It’s concerned to see that the fight goes on in California. It was lost, it seems to me, in New York, but there are plenty of genuinely free states left – Texas stands out as one of the best.

We must pray and fight for our freedoms and rights to care for our children properly.

I don’t do politics usually but…

I tend to follow the Chestonian view that “It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.”  Frankly the whole lot of them are so alike it would be difficult to tell them apart even though they wear different coloured ties.

Until I settled on distributism as a general political, social and economic view I suppose I was more or less a Labour supporter. That changed rather rapidly when Blair fitzThatcher took over and the astonishingly nasty Balls and Brown dark-comedy duo hit town.

Interestingly I see Fr Ray has this post with a link to this article which appeared in the Herald, and I never got around to reading. It’s a good article that explains how people like me ended up with no “politics” to speak of at all.

Some of you may remember how difficult I found it to decide how to vote at the last General Election. I knew from a tactical point I had to vote Tory, but most people of my age have a lot of memories of the Thatcher years and they aren’t good.  I went to school in an area where within a couple of years of Mrs Thatcher’s attack on the unions we had a school full of kids on “free dinners” because their dad’s were suddenly out of work. Whole communities went to the wall – and frankly the Union grip didn’t seem to get any less. But I was just a kid – what did I know?

As a nurse however I saw something up close that I still think was so utterly unethical and wicked, I am amazed there was such silence on it. It was the full on attack on those who had long term serious illness.

Most people noticed that “Care in the Community” was nothing of the sort. Beds in psychiatric hospitals closed with a startling correlation on the number of people with mental illness in prison and the rise in homeless figures.  Like many nurses in the ’80s I saw people who had once been patients begging on the streets.

But for me it was one patient that made me swear never to vote Tory. Let’s call him Jim. He had schizophrenia. It had not been all that well controlled and he had been in and out of hospital and sectioned more than once. Then one day out in the community he had been attacked and left with brain damage. He had been transferred to the psych from general and once his schizophrenia was controlled I had received him for rehab. By this point he had been in hospital a good number of months. He had to deal with trying to get well, and coping with the permanent damage he had been left with thanks to his attackers. (I don’t think they were ever caught).

Jim had a flat in a high-rise which he had continued to pay rent on while in hospital so he would have a home to go to. Unfortunately, his brain damage and the uncertainty of the effects this would have on his long-term mental health meant we no longer deemed it a safe place to be discharged to. Thankfully Jim had a good mother. She was getting on a bit and just about making ends meet on her state pension but she was willing to take care of her son and keep an eye  out. All we needed was a change of tenancy so he could live on the ground floor and near her. SIMPLE.

However, sneakily Thatcher and her buddies had changed the benefits system. Once a seriously ill person had spent more than a year in hospital their benefits were drastically cut. No appeal. Just cut. So Jim received weekly benefits that were less than his weekly rent. This put him into rent arrears obviously and also meant he couldn’t even buy basics such as toiletries. – just at a time when hospitals were no longer helping out there either.

Like many student and qualified staff back then, we bought stuff for our patients because they wouldn’t have them otherwise.

Being in arrears meant Jim could not have a change of tenancy even with the maximum medical points that he had.  In the end his mother had to try and pay off his debt out of her state pension. I can only assume she went without a great deal to do this for her son. God bless her.

At last we were able to get Jim the flat near his mother that he needed. No thanks at all to the astonishing attack on the truly vulnerable from that Tory Government.

Tony Blair was pretty dreadful and nick named “son of Thatcher” for a reason. But he did at least ensure nurses got a reasonable wage, eventually.

As a distributist I believe that families should be left with their own money so they can take care of their own and that with local funding and charity projects the truly vulnerable will be known and not slip through the enormous holes in the net we have now.

Jesus said “The poor we will have with us always,” but He never said, “So lets make the really vulnerable as poor as possible.”

What’s the problem with Young Earth Creationists?

David Attenborough, the darling of the BBC is the latest person I have come across who is demanding that creationism must not be taught in schools.

Apparently he means young earth creationism.

I am not quite sure which schools he has come across where YEC gets so much as a look in among the banalities of the National Curriculum, so where’s the problem? I assume he is terrified that a Free School might be set up in which YEC gets taught. Well, I suppose that’s possible. But frankly when you look at the appalling quality of science in schools, perhaps there is a massively bigger problem dear ol’Dave could be getting in a fuss about.

The thing that I am becoming more interested in is, why are so many people getting into such a state over those who are YEC believers? What are these people doing that is so awful? I have even seen some pretty nasty and pompous comments from Home Educators over YECs and I am at a loss to see why they are so up in arms over such a small and harmless group of people.

But it has occurred to me, that it could be people like me who are the real cause of fear and consternation from those on the Anti-YEC side. You see I have found a lot of science books to be just dreadful. Badly written, full of grossly unscientific assumptions and often just plain outdated. So, I confess I have bought and used a couple of well written, solid science books from Apologia – and they are YEC book producers. So, how can I say they are better written than some other science books I’ve had the misfortune to own? Well, the botany book is really well set out, has plenty of experiments and  studies for the children to do and frankly doesn’t have much YECiness to it. The astronomy book had more YEC science in it, but the author was very clear about her view and put forward just as clearly what mainstream scientists have to say on the matter. She then does something far more respectful of learners than David Attenborough – she leaves us to do further study and make up our own minds.

Obviously the underbelly of the beast is scienstism that newish superstition that tries to insist that only material science can show us anything. It’s a narrow and assumption laden view and because it is anything but scientific – and certainly does not come out of what real science should – the search for truth no matter where that truth might lead.

I wonder if the behaviour of these pseudo-scientists who are more wrapped up in the importance of their own opinions, careers and massive financial rewards is actually causing people to look more towards the YEC scientists? Are more people becoming YECs because of the very obvious corruption and dishonesty within so much “mainstream” and (worse still) “popular” science?

Attenborough himself is guilty of selective evidence delivery himself as Ian Maxwell so easily and expertly fisked. I think there is a much more pressing problem with science in both our schools and the media and that is so much of it isn’t science. It’s politics and opinion – nothing to do with science at all.

Lets get the huge log out of the eye of mainstream science before trying to go after that spec in the yec.

New Draft Guidelines for Home Education and it’s monitoring.

I haven’t had chance to read these properly yet, but the DRAFT GUIDELINES (H/T Danae  3dgs freedom)

are out ahead of the Green Paper which we are expecting on SEN provision and HE. What I have read so far actually looks remarkably pro-family, which was not what I expected. I assume Graham Stuart MP (Cons) has had some input here as there is real evidence that some one somewhere has listened and understood.

I am expected the man from the LA next week and I have a lot of questions for him. We’ll see how they are answered.

 

Are Home Educating parents selfish? Phil Gayle from the BBC wonders!

It has been noted that in Oxfordshire and a couple of other places around England that the numbers of home educated children has risen by over 50%. This rise has caught the attention of the local BBC in Oxford who put out this video in which they briefly look at one family and talk to one “expert”. The mother of seven is home educating her oldest son after his move into secondary school proved pretty awful. She intends to HE her other children through secondary ed but is happy with their primary school.  She calls home education “the poor man’s private education,” – which is an interesting view. It is more and more recognised that  private schools offer a far superior education to state run schools, strangled by the National Curriculum.  I came across a few nurses over the years working double shifts and other jobs to pay for a child to go to private school. I think home ed is easier than doing that.

The “expert” is a professor at the University of Buckinghamshire. He was introduced with the words that “experts” believed that the rise in numbers may be due more to improved paper work than more children being removed from school. It’s funny how whenever anything rises- such as autism rates, Ritalin prescriptions or depression in children, someone always suggests it’s about the paperwork – and no one ever produces the evidence for the theory. Whatever the reason, the numbers have increased significantly and it leaves me wondering how many more non-registered families are out there. Most of the HE families we go around with are not registered at all.

So what did the “expert” have to say?

Educating children at home is a very important
freedom, but it is something that really needs to be embarked upon with great
care. It is a tremendous commitment. It may well be that your son or daughter
are not lost in a big impersonal school system, but there are great advantages
to going to school. One of them is that you can see what other children are
capable of. It’s also true that you miss out a lot on the social interaction.
So you may have been protected from bullying but you may not have learned how
to handle it.

I note the “with great care” bit. Does anyone ever tell parents that sending their children to school is an important freedom but should be embarked upon with great care?  After all, schools can leave your children depressed, self harming, alcoholic, illiterate and incapable of holding down a job or making decisions.

He admits that a child can be lost in the “big impersonal system” which surely is a very bad thing indeed, but insists that schools offer great advantages. And these advantages (over home education) are?  Er..that bit was vague and weird.

You can see what other children are capable of in school, he says. Home educated children can see this too, any time they like and they can see it in children of different ages and with different problems to overcome. You see, unlike school children, home educated children get to mix with all sorts of people, because they are not segregated from children on age and ability. Because of this they not only learn what others are capable of academically, but more importantly, in life skills and virtue.

His assertion that home educated children miss out on a lot of social interaction is simply untrue. They certainly have less negative social interaction than school children, but that is a good thing.

The final sentence is yet more evidence that those in positions of power and the “experts” of this country have no respect for children as persons. No one I have ever met who was bullied in school has learned how to deal with it better in adult life. Just the opposite in fact. But then if this “expert” was pushed around, hit, kicked, spat at, half strangled, threatened, mugged, urinated on and robbed he would call the police and demand the perpetrators were arrested. But when it happens to a child in school, either nothing is done or the victim is the one punished. I really do want to know how being systematically abused at school prepares anyone for a healthy adult life. There is no evidence to say it does and plenty of evidence to say it does nothing of the sort.

There was also a radio programme covering the same piece of news but interviewing a different parent. The radio host asked on more than one occasion whether homeschooling wasn’t a selfish thing for parents to do.

There was a call from a home educated student in which she eloquently explained why HE is so good.

Despite both the mother and student talking about the exams they or their children have/can sit and of course doing Open University courses, the question over how home educated children can gain qualifications was asked again. And despite the clear message about how children learn together the work “isolation” was still used to describe HE.

Before I answer question about how selfish we are, I want to look at what the other host on the radio show came up with. She said that taking children out of school undermined the school system. She said of the school system “What’s the point of it, if people aren’t using it?” (Oh what a lovely question.) She went on “Its something we pay our taxes for. It’s something I’m immensely proud of.”  But she doesn’t say why she’s so proud of it – what does it genuinely offer as a system? What about all those children the system is failing? What about the shocking drop in literacy levels and the complaints from employers about the uselessness of GCSEs? What about the fact that Universities have had to put compulsory essay writing modules into their first year courses because even students with straight As at A’level can’t write an essay? I could list more, but get my drift.

Then Phil Gayle the host went on to repeat the “is it selfish?” question and also wondered how wealthy we all must be. You would have to be wealthy he thought.

The woman thought we got help. She doesn’t know a thing about HE obviously.

So to answer Gayle and others, no, those of us who spend our time and adjust our tight budgets to home educate our children are not selfish. We want our children to grow up whole, happy and well educated. We want them to be able to live independent lives able to make good decisions and think for themselves. We want them to have the freedom to make those choices, rather than find themselves shoved into a rut created by someone else. And we are obviously massivley counter-culteral because we believe that our children are persons and have an inherant dignity to be treated respectfully.

Our children get a wider, deeper and stronger education than schools can offer. While home education may not be the best answer for all children or all families it certainly is the best answer for very many. And while some children do well in school very many indeed do very badly indeed and an even bigger number of children get a mediocre education from a one-size-fits-all system.

As for the finances we save up, we do without so that the children can have what they need. We share resources, food, curriculum, time and talents. How often do we have to repeat all this before some journalist somewhere gets it? *sigh*

State monitoring of home education; how do you do yours?

The battle home educating families fought for over a year to retain their basic God given rights to education and bring up our children without state interference was hard won. It was won basically because the jack booted control freaks of the Labour Government simply ran out of time and lost the election.

While the local authority really do not have any moral or legal rights over parents, they do have both over the way the schools under their authority are run and how the children in them are taught, treated and protected.

It is strange then that while boys can be bullied to the point of blindness and if you read the comment thread there are other horrific stories to see; and while teachers happily write this stuff about their pupils (H/T Carlotta) that it is home educating families who need to feel the weight of political nastiness on our shoulders.

After everything we went through fighting the Badman and Balls agenda with their lies and fake stats, it is, to be honest. just a bit irritating to read this from and American homeschooler who has a little laugh over the fact she feels the need to hand over far more information to the ‘official’ than is warranted.

Why would anyone want to hand over rights to the officials, especially those of the ‘Pelosi’ flavoured? I assume the author of the article above picked that name because it is so heavily linked with anti-family anti-child rhetoric.. All the more reason imho to avoid handing over information.

I wonder what the Civil Service make of me.

I’ve been given a heads up that my blog has been noticed and possibly read by members of the Civil Service who have been compiling information about home educators and what we think.

I wonder what they have made of my blog. perhaps they are just a little ashamed that they are so worried about a mere mother (statusless) who has, without a PGCE to her name managed to see her children learn to read and write and do science and get socialised, etc. etc…

They ought to be solidly ashamed of the fact I had to reteach my (then) 14-year-old son to read, after his treatment in one of their schools.

There was a big meeting at my LA recently. People with little children couldn’t attend of course because no provision was avialable. So, although this was supposedly a meeting wherein the LA staff could begin to build bridges with a (pretty angry) home educating community, they made it impossible for most of us to attend. Thanks. Then they sent out the most ignorant questionnaire in which documents already placed on their website were mentioned. It never occurred to these people who if they treated us with even a modicum of respect they might get some back. No. They write their silly documents, put them online and only then ask us what we think.

The meeting has come and gone. Have I received information from the LA about what was discussed or decided? No, of course not.

It seems that having quite deliberately knocked down any bridge between is, they, far from trying to rebuild, are simply throwing stones.

The ghosts of Badman and Balls, like poltergeists infect the LA here.

The DCSF was dead, to begin with….

We battled and we won. Oh well, let’s be honest here, we didn’t win, they simply ran out of time. We have a new government who have more than enough real problems to deal with, especially in education, that surely families who are home educating could be left in peace. You would think so wouldn’t you?

I received a letter and questionnaire yesterday from the LA. They say they want to improve relations between LAs and home educators. Well, that didn’t seem to be the case during the Badman and Balls bulldozer event. In fact the LA we are registered with were so honest and shiny that they managed to loose their response to the Government so that a FOI request could be denied. If they want trust, being honest would help.

The questionnaire wants to know all about our family inclduing how many children we have and what our post code is. Strange questions for an anonymous response methinks.

But the glaring omission in all the paperwork is what they have on the table for us. They say they want to improve relations, and I bet they do as they must surely be at an all time low after the Badman’n’Balls debacle. But their info and questionnaire STILL give the impression that they think they are the ones in charge of our children even though they admit they have nothing to offer.

Despite the fact that I have had visits here every year for 6 years and I know most of the other registered families have the same, the questionaire shows no understanding of the philosophies and methods that underpin much home education. In fact the only one the seem to acknowledge is Autonomous/Child Led. This is deeply frustrating.

The website info admits that parents do not need to follow the unbeleivably awful National Currriculum and then lists subject on the NC!

I don’t think I will attend the meeting. So far as I know the LA have no idea that I use a wheelchair. I don’t want to advertise the fact by turning up in one. But I do think I’ll fill in the acceptable bits of the questionnaire.  It’s just a bit depressing that after all that has happened, and all the information LAs could have and should have listened to, that it seems the people who think they are in charge of us, just HAVE to have boxes to tick and some strange need for us to tick boxes for them.

When did it become “normal” for children to be tired and miserable all the time?

Most mothers I come across love their children and want the best for them. Not all, of course, but most. But over and over I am finding myself in conversation with mothers who are telling me how difficult life is for their family because life is just so demanding and difficult for their very young child or children. I am talking about children as young as 5,6,7 here. The thing that is making life so difficult, producing tired, miserable and even frightened children is school.

Mothers speak in tones of shrugged powerless shoulders as they explain how their child has been bullied, has to face (at the age of 6) that he isn’t good enough at something and must be thrust with strangers for the morning. The same child having just about adjusted to this change is thrust into the exam fever as SATS approach. He is SIX!

Mothers tell me how they must rush hither and thither dragging tired and disgruntled little ones with them to fit school, afterschool and extra stuff into their evenings. Clubs, groups, events getting later and later so that rest and even getting food become a major obstacle.

It seems to me, from outside this lifestyle now (thank God) that we have made child misery “normal”. These mums don’t want this for their children. Who would? But they are part of the great “groupthink” that expects this and must have it.

Things aren’t that easy in my world either. But I tell you, something absolutely drastic would have to happen before I would allow a child of mine back into that life of school, misery and exhaustion. Especially as so little actual learning takes place.

I am normally very careful about not being too critical of sending children to school. I am well aware that most people think it’s the best thing to do. I am also well aware that far too many of us made that decison with no understanding and I am very aware that school is rarely the best place for a child whatever their age. But I am left shaking my head as mothers tell me how miserable they and their children are- and tomorrow they will do it all again.

I’ve been listening to HS through the hard times today. Get it while it’s there and check out the book download too. There is some great insights and she even mentions a HS mum who uses a wheelchair (so I’m not the only one). One part well worth hearing is about how she began to HS her nephew. Her experience of him just out of school rang very true for me. I remember the same problems when I pulled Alex and Iona out. Enjoy.

All I can say to parents who are unsure is, think very hard before putting your children into school.

Should homeschooling families receive “government” money?

The question on whether families who homeschool in America and home educate here in the UK should received some sort of tax break or benefit has been raised many times. I am sure the same question gets asked in Australia and other countries where home education takes place.

In America Congress has (again) failed to pass a measure to offer tax breaks to families who homeschool. Zoe Romanowsky blogged briefly about it. Interestingly the comments are much the same as the reactions I have heard here.

To summerise the comments; most families are justifiably suspicious of money from the Government (even if in reality it is just being allowed to keep more of the money you’ve earned) because it will come with strings attached. The strinngs will undoubtedly be detrimental to the education and general welbeing of the homeschooled children.

What Gatto has to say about the abysmal educational system in America could just as easily be said of state education here. Isn’t that why so many UK HE families wax lyrical about him?

As a (cautious) Gatto fan myself I have sympathy with those who are saying that all families should receive tax breaks -keep the money they earn- and the Government should get out of education, as it has proved to be appalling at providing it.  It might also be argued (with justification) that teachers unions have undermined education and are the power behind the refusal to allow tax breaks to homeschooling families. Over here we certainly saw some poisonous union activity against home education during the Labour shenanigans.

Allowing families to keep the majority of their income would be just, presuming rights and responsibilites were handed back to families for the care and education of children, elderly, sick and disabled relatives and that there was a locally provided and resourced safety net for those who needed it. However, we all know that would never happen. The government is a greedy beast and there are too many poweful vested interests shouting for their piece of our flesh.

The NYT discussion is here. Comments are often the same old prejudices spouted over. It just shows how badly school has educated so many people.

Did slavery stop invention?

Plato said that necessity is the mother of invention and he seems to be correct.  Over the last hundred years or so new inventions, machines, medicine, compounds like nylon and who knows what else have been invented and used, at a great pace. I have wondered why.

The Greeks and Roman’s at the height of their respective cultures and Empires produced a huge amount in learning and inventions. There is even some evidence that early batteries made enough electricity to allow makers of little gods to electoplate them in gold or silver.

Rome had access to all sorts of materials, including a range of metals and yet although they came up with some excellent engineering and of course the invention of concrete – there doesn’t seem to have been the huge invention process you might expect from a thriving and wealthy empire.

The same can be said of the Greeks. At the height of their learning and culture with such people as Galen, Socrates, Plato and the ever lovable Aristotle – still they seem pretty univentive compared to modern times.

Looking at the history of medicine or machines it seems there wasn’t that much to be said of the ancients, but there was an upsurge in both medicinal understanding and machine incention in the Middle Ages. Monateries led the way it seems. It was the Cistercians who invented the water wheel I believe and thus made milling so much easier, quicker and finer.

We know from archeology of monastic gardens that the Benedictines and others had a stunning understanding of how plants could be used for medicine. The pharmacy was increased with the pilgrims and their protecting crusaders who came armed with all sorts of spices and medicines fromt the Holy Land and beyond.

We know that thanks to the monateries of Britain Leprosy was eradicated here by the end of the middle ages (I believe it returned after the truly nasty Henry VIII closed all the schools and hospitals in his grabbing of monsatries and their lands).

While it is obvious that war and famine can hold back invention and progress, there had to be something underlying the lack of inventiveness for so many eras.

There are those who argue quite reasonably that much science was put on hold because pagan systems of belief did not accept order in creation or time. It was the Jews and Christians who saw creation as ordered by One God who was a reasonable God. Obviously pagans are not going to look for the laws of physics if they don’t see how they could exist. Even so people like Euclid (300BC ish) must have considered something approaching order for his works in maths and geomatry to have been so accurate.

So what was the real block to invention?

I can’t help thinking it was slavery. it wasn’t just Greek and Roman cultures and life sytles that were propped up by slavery. It was widespread through all cultures (and sadly still is too widespread). Slavery was built on the idea that some people were not worth much. Christian ideals of all people being made in the image of God and possessing dignity and a soul was only introduced with Christ. Before that, the strong could decide on the worth of the weak and slavery was rampent.

No one is going to invent cleaners to make slave life easier. No one invents a central heating system that works better than a hypocaust if it’s fine to have children crawling in the heat under the house; because they were only slaves after all.

In the end great empires always fell and I wonder if slavery and child sacrifice played a huge role in their fall – but it seems that countries that value (or valued) freedom and got rid of slavery then became inventive.

Britain has stopped inventing and making stuff over all and I know from those who work with the problem, that slavery in some pretty nasty forms is back with human trafficking (slave markets).

There’s an old saying “sin makes you stupid.” and slavery is surely a sin. Wish we were rid of it – but it’s alive and slimy even up the road from where I live.

Institutionalisation leads to dependancy; another reason to Home Educate.

We watched a few minutes of Emergency Bikers last night. It’s a programme that follows the work of the paramedics and police in Birmingham.

As they followed the paramedics there was an astonishing statistic put out by the narrator that of all the 999 calls the bikers are sent to deal with, only around 10% are actually real emergencies. The rest are from people who can’t take care of a bit of a problem or are deliberately hoaxing. I was very surprised, and a little dubious of the figures.

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Could we start an educational revolution in home education?

With the launch of Kelly’s book and some musings on the subject by Danae, I’ve been thinking about how Home Education could change the face of education as a whole in the UK. Scotland have their own little battle going on at the moment thanks to the astonishing crassness of a Labour SMP and his remarks about the horrific tragedy of the Riggi case. It is a case that has had horrible echoes for me of something closer to home (though no HE children involved). Perhaps if the Labour SMP could spend some time considering the horror of divorce and it’s impact on children? No? Thought not.

Meanwhile I have been wondering if it is time for more home education to happen, lots more of it.

Could we spread the message so far that more and more parents decide that a suitable education is one that the family offers the children? In a strange way we even seem to have the MSM on our side, in as much as it is filled with so many horror stories of what goes on in schools and the state of pupils that come out of institutional education. Perhaps as more teachers are sacked for trying to do their job properly, and while Ofsted gets it wrong so often, and more and more children are leaving school illiterate, tbere just has to be a better way. Couldn’t that better way be home education?

I know Michael Gove hopes more free schools will come into existence but I think he is stimmied on that for the forseeable future because of the appalling amount of beaurocracy any groups of parents would have to wade through to get the thing off the ground. And let’s face it; there is massive opposition to the idea of mere parents, especially if they happen to be middle class, taking their children’s education too seriously. We haven’t got past the horrible cultural view of “leave it to the experts” yet by an stretch.

Home Education could be the answer for so many children stagnating in a system that doesn’t help them learn or grow. If more parents took the optionand offered their children a truly flexible and worthwhile form of educaiton we might find lots of cultural problems could at least be curbed a little.

I am not saying all home educating families are saints and that all home ed parents put the welfare and education of their children first. I know some HE parents seem to think that, but I have a long and broad experience of HE and have come across  a couple of families over the years who just weren’t good at parenting, let alone educating their children. Chaos and sheer nastiness ensued.  Those families, however, have proved thankfully rare and anyway most HEers steer clear once burned.  In school children are forced to get burned over and over and the horrible behaviour, far from being shunned is enabled by the system.

Perhaps if more and more parents pulled out of the broken system and demand a new one was thought of there could be change. Meanwhile the basis of this system, which was to feed workers to the factories Ofsted thinks should upfront be financed by these private firms. If this isn’t telling is what Ofsted and the Government structure think education is for, I don’t know what does.

Of course many parents who tell me they would love to HE are stuck in the economics of needing two incomes. They are in so deep they can’t even see themselve managing on one and half wages.  I can’t say I blame them. Managing on one wage is extrememly difficult and that’s with doing without a load of stuff these other families take for granted.  But perhaps if enough parents thought the sacrifice was worth it…

I wonder if it would change the way people think. Would more families lean towards a distributist way of life as communities grew stronger with more families living their lives in these communities. No more streets emptied all day as mum goes one way, dad the other way and the children to the locked building up the road. What if instead the families lived and worked together and shared their resources?  It would surely make life easier for single parents too, to be more involved in their local community and able to home ed and work because other families would assist.

There is a move to make school attendence voluntary- but the fact is, as the law stands now, no one HAS to go to school. The question then is, why do so many parents send their children to school? Why is that normal, and home education seen as weird?

Home education is bad I tell you! Here we go again.

The report is out on the murder of Khyra Ishaq, which Kelly over at Green and Gold picks up on. I still haven’t read the report but apparently the dear decrepit NSPCC (fake charity extroadinaire) are still trying to pin this on home education.  Both Kelly and Carlotta picked up the Guardian article by Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison in which they try to correct some of the gross misinformation out there. I am a little surprised a paper like the Graun allowed this to be published but you can soon see by the comment thread that the usual Graunids (or whatever you might call them) are crawling around spewing their ignorance and bigotry. I actually laughed when I saw the “What about science?” question.

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Nature, nurture, personality and free will.

Back in my psychi days when I were a young lass, we constantly had a debate around the nature versus nurture aspects of mental illness. How much of a person’s experience of say schizophrenia was really nature; that is the chemical imbalances in the brain, and how much was nurture; that is how they had been taught to behave and react in their upbringing.

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Before Ofsted education was a homely thing. Education BO

I know I’m late to comment on the recent serpent bites its own tail event. I am sure most of you have already seen the news that Ofsted made a last twitch attempt to bite at home educators. Graham Stuart stamped down on the attempt quickly and we hope that can be a breather.

One person commented on the Indi thread that she had reported a home ed family and nothing was done. Finally the dad went to prison for child abuse. I am sure there are plenty of cases like this out there. Does that mean the LAs and Ofsted need more power to monitor all of us or does it actually mean they need to get to grips with the families that genuinely require intervention? If, as seems to be the excuse, theey are already stretched too thin and that is why so many mistakes happen and so many children end up hurt, then surely getting around to all families regardless of whether there is a problem or not is only stretching the service more so that even more vulnerable children are left to sink.

Perhaps they should be working closely with social services. Perhaps they should be properly trained, know the law and how to use it, and have a very good idea what home education is and have just a modicum of respect for families. It isn’t just the system that is broken, it’s the people in the system. It doesn’t make sense to want more power when they don’t know how to properly use the ones they have.

I’ve been reading a bit o’history to get to grips with the next phase of history with the children. One of the things that has fascinated me is a quote from a bishop instructing all his priests to offer schooling to the children of their parishes.  The priests and monasteries were instructed by the Church to offer (not force) a free education for the children. It makes it clear that poor families must be welcomed and that no charge is to be made, but donations from wealthier families would help keep the schools afloat. Most education still went on at home right up until about 100 years ago.

I don’t know how we can turn this culture around so that families are allowed and expected to be responsible for their own and their communities. Ofsted are steeped in the view that “experts” and “professionals” and “Government officials” are in charge of every person in everything they do. Like strangle weed in the garden it’s a view that kills the good and is difficult to get rid of.  It kills off the view that we are our brother’s keeper and it leaves that horrible much repeated mantra “The Government should do something.”

The emergency budget has caused consternation with journalists reporting in horror that the price of an iphone will go up and that foreign holidays will cost so much more. I had to laugh. It sums up the Culture in which Ofsted and unions like NASUWT and NUT work in.

We don’t need to be afraid. There is still plenty for everyone to get by with so long as we share what we have. Simple.

Silence enables bad people to get on with it.

Danae has posted a moving piece about her feelings over our fight with Ed Balls and Graham Badman to protect our children from the CSF Bill.

The thing that stays with me from those days is just how many people were silent while Ed Balls tried to stamp all over us. I wasn’t the only one to notice how few extended families, friends and parishes were willing to so much as sign a petition or write a short letter.  Shockingly many of the silent ones were actually home educators who privately were horrified at what was happening but were more than happy to let others do the fighting for them.

A couple of days ago I came across this video. Take a couple of minutes to watch THIS FROM ABC entitled “What Would You Do?” They put an actor with Downs Syndrome in a store as a worker and get other actors to come and verbally abuse him to see what other customers might do.

As is to be expected there were customers who would not speak up. But there were marvellous people who did. One woman had a baby in a pram and said all too clearly what she thought. Other’s too spoke up to defend the young man working so hard behind the counter.

Most of those who spoke up had personal experience with disability of some kind.

I don’t blame those who were too afraid to speak up there-especially when they brought in the big bloke to abuse the young man; but those who agreed!! I hope they have had a rethink.

But those who were silent during our fight have more to answer for.  Signing a petition, writing a letter, showing any support at all would have done them no personal harm whatsoever. So why where they silent?

The reason so many people with visible disabilities get treated so badly is because we let it happen.

I am proud to know people like my friend Amanda who will actively stand up for the right to life of all of us no matter how small or disabled.

If we all do something- even just a small thing, we are doing something and the silent enablement of those who wish evil on others is chipped away.

UPDATE On the same subject you can sign THIS PETITION to get Channel 4 to remove the Marie Stopes (remember her? A eugenicist like Margaret Sanger) International advert pretending to help pregnant women when what they really do is offer to kill the baby. Can’t wait to see the adverts from British Victims of Abortion or the Silent No More people. But of course that wont happen will it?

It’s past time to de-comoditise our children.

One of the things that seems to stand out when studying civilisations that have come and gone is that at the point of going they so often seem to fall to child sacrifice. There were many gods over many lands that apparently were happy to receive the lives of children in return for wealth.  Molech is perhaps the best known but the gods of the Aztecs and the Nazca people also, according to written texts and sad little graves, liked children. Saturn was blood thirsty for a while and his story even had him devouring his own children. Closer to home we have the Irish demon Crom Cruach. But even the otherwise human sacrifice free Romans sometimes resorted to child sacrifice as more recent archaeological discoveries have found.

How can this happen? Simple. Start viewing children not as persons in their own right but as commodities to be bartered, bought and sold and soon you can dispose of them in Molech’s fires or some South American stone table.  Of course our modern clean way is the abortion mills churning out dead babies with a false promise of problem solved.

During the fight to protect home education and home educating families the argument kept coming back to who children belonged to; who OWNS the children? It was a disturbing argument for on the one side were parents who claimed that children BELONGED to them and on the other those who saw children as commodities of the state. To belong is nothing like being owned and this was were the clash of language and understanding came.

Too many people have misused language to make false ideas. How often do we hear people insist they have a right to a child? Where does such a right come from? Certainly it is not rooted in natural law where the rights are with the child who has a right to life and to a mother and father who loves and cares for him. The right to own a child is little different from the right so many of the past have assumed to own a slave (often a child slave).

Ownership of children means some parents (too many) believe they can do as they like with the child they have spent money on. The poor kid is bought and paid for and so is the commodity of the family. Hence we see children paraded on some stage wearing bikinis and doing sexed up dances, or having their bodies harvested for organs to “save” a sibling. We see a schools system that insists that children are all cogs in the machine of commercialism. We see fake horror at pederasty scandals in the Catholic Church while children (not young adult men) are force fed sex ed and soft porn and dressed in clothes that actually have words stating that the child is available!! It took a campaign by concerned parents to have Primark remove the padded bra bikini sets for little girls from it’s shelves. Who on earth was the person who a) designed and made such a foul product and  b) thought it would sell and was a good product?

Why was my 7yr old son faced with a kill zombies game on a children’s website yesterday? (Keep the computer where you can see it).

Why is it ok for the local sweet shop to have porn on the shelves and why are so many advert posters just porn?

The abuse of children is supposed to be on the increase. While I don’t trust the NSPCC figures at all on this I think it would be a surprise in this culture if the “commodity” wasn’t being abused.

On Tuesday our little HE group was exposed to the parenting approach a few other mums and a dad. The dad was disinterested in his child and the mothers were frankly vicious. Foul language and foul behaviour with children no older than mine. Why? Well if the child is yours by right you can do what you like can’t you? If on the other hand the child is a blessing and a responsibility and a PERSON then you can’t scream abuse at them or allow them to bully and stamp on others.

It is not just that children have become commodities in our culture it’s the kind of commodity they have become. They are like dress up dolls with all the gadgets. They must have stuff, lots of it and it must be the most state of the art possible. Going by research and of course common sense, the more stuff these poor materially spoilt children are inflicted with, the more miserable and unsettled they are.

Give them less, love them more.

I hope more mums and dads will come forward as time goes on and demand the decomodisation of their children. The Government doesn’t own them, and we don’t own them. They belong to us because they have been given to us and we love them and we recognise that from the moment they were conceived they were and are persons in their own right with all the inherent dignity and right to respect that goes with that. The culture can only rebuild from the roots up and that means from the family. We have to repair the family and that includes changing the way we view children. It’s rooted in the old old notion of hospitality.

Goodbye DCSF Yippee!

Carlotta has linked to a Graun story that Michael Gove has set to work already and has changed the Dept for Children Schools and Families to The Department for Education. I would like to hope that his is a sign that my fervent wish that this government will leave families out of their interfering shenanigans might come about.

The Graun says:

Some fear the new name could mean that children and families will now become a lower priority for ministers.

Well we can hope so! The view that the DCSF was in way way encouraging inter-disciplinary work or improving the lives of families is a bit of a sick joke really. If there is one thing we learn from recent child murders right under the nose of social services and other departments is that they DIDN’T work together. No, the people in these agencies simply thought someone else could deal with it.

Maire who linked to THIS asks if it too much to hope that some of those involved with the appalling treatment of families under Bully Boy Balls will see their P45s? I think if this new Government wants to really CHANGE as their horrible obamaesque posters proclaimed then this does have to happen. I’m not holding my breath.

Nevertheless it is a good step in the right direction.

There is also the mild fiscally dependant promise of parent led schools. I still think home education is a better and cheaper option; but there are some things about little parent schools that might be better than HE. I have a few fluttery thoughts on this which I hope I can elucidate  later; but I’m not promising.