Today I completed the Govt consultation..oops ‘review’. When it was pointed out they had broken the rules on inflicting consultations of people they changed the process to ‘review’. Of course the process is the same. If you haven’t had your say go to ONLINE ‘REVIEW’ FORM. Remember we only have until the 20th Feb to get this done.
below are a number of open letters and pieces of important information from the Facebook based group: Stop the UK Government Stigmatising Home Educators!
For Immediate Release, 2nd February 2009
HE PARENTS WELCOME CHILDREN’S SOCIETY REPORT
The Good Childhood Inquiry by the Children’s Society will release the results of its study this week. Home educators have welcomed the review which reports that the children of Britain need more parental attention, more freedom to play, more access to the outdoors, and are harmed by junk food, peer pressure leading to consumerism and experimentation with alcohol and drugs, and the stresses of bullying, academic competition and exam anxiety.
These stresses and strains are some of the reasons why so many parents make the decision to home educate their children. Home educated children have greater familial contact and much less exposure to the negative social and academic pressures endemic in schools. They also have far more access to play and to the outdoors and are free of the rigours of constant testing and standardisation. Recent studies also show that most watch far less television than their schooled peers, and become more self-aware and community minded.  All of these are exactly what the Children’s Society recommends for a happy, healthy childhood and by extension, a happy, healthy society.
“When I went to school I was bullied and I didn’t get any help from the teachers. Now I’m doing home schooling, I get help if I need it and I don’t get bullied.” – H, aged 12.
“I am loved and cared for and have great fun everyday, exploring, exercising, laughing and talking!” – A, aged 11.
A ‘slanderous’ review
Home educators were angered on 19th January by the announcement by the Department for Children, Schools and Families of an Independent Review of Home Education , the fourth such consultation since 2005. The review was especially surprising as guidelines to Local Authorities on home education have only recently been issued as a result of previous consultations. This review targets home educators as potential abusers, but has nothing to say about the well documented abuse of children within the schools system. Home education organisations have repeatedly asked for statistical evidence to back up these claims, but according to Vijay Patel of the NSPCC there is no such evidence  and requests continue to be ignored.
The DCSF is ignoring the problems with their over-worked, under-funded and under-trained social care workers  and instead is looking into adding to their workload with the monitoring of a home educating minority, justifying their stance with unsubstantiated rumour, hearsay and little else.
Criticism for the DCSF
The DCSF has been criticised for its methods from the start of this review. Home educating parents in their hundreds have decided to use FaceBook as a tool to organise their protests, contesting the rights of the DCSF to interfere with their freedom to educate at home unmolested by bodies who have a history of hostility towards them and little apparent understanding of them. Several conclusions have been reached:
The branding of home educators by this review as potential child abusers is discriminatory and incites prejudice which actively harms children and their families.
There are concerns that issuing press statements that home education may be a cover for abuse may violate Article 17 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 
Article 17 says that the Government must not allow the mass media to publish things which harm children, but “the media, with Government backing, has inferred that many children are being abused by dint of the fact they are home educated,” says Techla, a home educating mother from West Yorkshire. “My children are hurt and angry at the suggestion, and at the thought that their non-HE friends will think this is the case.” Other children have also expressed their feelings that inciting suspicion against mum and dad is causing them distress.
Also, by not considering disabled children or those with Special Educational Needs the review’s consultation of Local Authorities may actually be illegal. 
In-house Social Services and Local Authority publications have carried letters and articles criticising home education, and reports are that memos have been circulated advising on how the Local Authorities consultation should be answered. This will have undue influence over the results of that consultation.
Many children were removed from school because of bullying, abuse, neglect, or the lack of provision of a suitable education. In many cases the Local Authorities were at best apathetic, at worst openly hostile to the needs of the child. To suggest that these children and their parents should be investigated by the very agencies that failed them is insulting and dangerous.
Home education provides a good childhood
Independent research has shown home education provides many of the qualities that the Good Childhood Inquiry finds essential to a happy, healthy childhood, and therefore to a happy, healthy society. Home educators then ask why the Government is apparently intent on the regulation of HE in the face of yet another indictment of their failing schools system. The DCSF’s attitude seems to be that childhood should be managed by the State at any cost. The conclusion seems to be that parents will necessarily abuse or neglect their children if they are not supervised. With their placing of the rights of Local Authorities above those of parents and children, as advocated in this Review of Home Education, it looks like the Children’s Society report will fall on deaf ears.
As home educators and parents we support the findings of the Inquiry as outlined above and feel we demonstrate the positive nature of many of their recommendations. Home education should be seen as evidence of a supportive, loving and nurturing home, not as a potential cover for malefactors.
Issued by the Home Educators of FaceBook
Stop the UK Government Stigmatising Home Educators!”
Notes for Editors:
 “How Children Learn at Home” by Alan Thomas, 2007.
 Elective Home Education: Guidelines for Local Authorities, October 2007. http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/localauthorities/_documents/content/7373-DCSF-Elective%20Home%20Education.pdf
 Jeremy Vine show, Radio 2, 20th January 2009:
JEREMY VINE: “Vijay, have you got any statistical base at all?”
VIJAY PATEL (NSPCC Child Protection Policy Advisor): “We… the inf… We don’t have the evidence there statistically, no.”
 UNISON report “Still Slipping Through The Net?” See http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=8347
 The LA questionnaire asks about children who are statemented for SEN. This ignores children with other disabilities and those which have SEN but are not statemented (parents of many home educated children with SEN prefer that they not be statemented). Government has a legal duty to consider disabled/SEN children (statemented or not) in all its documentation. http://www.dotheduty.org/
OPEN LETTER TO CRAE
On January 19th, 2009, DCSF, acting on the wishes of the NSPCC and local authorities, launched a consultation (since changed to a ‘review’) on home education; their grounds for this being that they believe Home Educated children are vulnerable to abuse, forced marriage, domestic servitude etc.
DCSF issued a press release to this effect which was taken up across the media with headlines along the same lines as this one in The Times newspaper:
Home education ‘can be cover for abuse and forced marriage’
There is no evidence to suggest that Home Educated children are at an increased risk of being abused than are their schooled counterparts, in fact there is overwhelming evidence to suggest the opposite. Indeed when pressed for evidence, the NSPCC spokesperson stated on Radio 2 that they have no evidence or statistics to support their concerns.
The media, with government backing, has inferred that children are being abused by dint of the fact that they are Home Educated. Our children are hurt and angry at this suggestion, and at the thought that their non Home Educated friends will think this is the case. We believe this contravenes article 17 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, specifically:
(e) Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the provisions of articles 13 and 18.
Some of our children have written letters to you expressing their feelings about this matter, which we have collected on our Facebook discussion board, you can view them here.
On studying the 6 questions Home Educators and their children have been given to answer (the LAs have 60 by comparison!) question 6 is not qualified by a yes/no option and is proving very difficult for children to answer, and we are concerned that the children’s replies are at risk of being misinterpreted. As such we believe that DCSF has broken Article 12 of the UNCRC, which states:
Governments are to ensure that children have the right to express freely their views and to take account of children’s views. Children have the right to be heard in any legal or administrative matters that affect them.
Question 1 of the Local Authority questionnaire gives us cause for concern: it asks how many children are statemented – statementing is not common place in Home Education, although there are a number of children with autism/medical issues. We believe the DCSF has failed their statutory disability equality duty, and as such any conclusions drawn from the Local Authority responses will not take the disabled into proper consideration.
The *review* as it has now been called, is due to end on February 20th, 2009, with yet another consultation to follow on the back of it later in the year. We would greatly appreciate your speedy advice on the matters broached within this email.
Techla Wood on behalf of:
stop the UK Government stigmatising Home Educators
CHILDREN’s Open Letters to CRAE
Please can you get your children to post THEIR OWN reasons why they think that this consultation and the press coverage announcing it is wrong. We will email CRAE and ask them to read the replies. We are doing this so as not to overload CRAE’s servers, we do however suggest that you copy and email your letters to Mr Patel at the NSPCC:
and the DCSF
The report on The Good Childhood Inquiry from the Children’s Society is due out today but the press have already been reporting on the findings. The Telegraph concentrates on the lack of outdoor play and too much advertising aimed at children.
The Times Online is more indepth with a number of articles on the subject. HERE and HERE and HERE.