This is the last post in my series. I may blog more on the subject of Badman (click on the keyword to see!) but in even more random fashion. I have saved what for us could be the worst until last. This could spell the end of autonomous or child led home education in the UK. The 12 month plan.
Doubtless some people will have just spluttered tea all over their keyboards reading that. You will have decided I have finally flipped my lid if I think a 12 month plan could kill off the way we have educated our children for 13 years. All I can say is get a cloth, clean up and read on. I’m not crazy. Well ok, maybe a little, but there is method in my muttering.
Badman called for new legislation to require parents to “provide a clear statement of their educational approach, intent and desired/planned outcomes for the child over the following twelve months. He then went on to specify that the terms “effective” and “suitable” currently used to describe the education parents must provide should be further defined ”sufficiently…to secure a broad, balanced, relevant and differentiated curriculum”. He doesn’t provide any evidence for these elements being essential for education to be “effective” and “suitable”
The consultation into proposed new legislation states that “regulations will specify the information that parents must provide which is likely to…(include) a statement of approach to education”
Note the different language, the consultation uses much softer terms, much less definition, makes it sound like nothing too onerous. Call me a sceptic, but I don’t think the legislation will be as light as this, and I certainly don’t think the statutory guidance DCSF will be empowered to issue will be anything like as light.
So, how will the requirement of 12 months plans, against which we will be monitored cause problems? Well, in the hands of a benign LEA they might not cause major problems (though undoubtedly the bureaucrats will ensure we have to waste lots of time filing in paperwork to rectify an as of yet un-demonstrated problem) but as home educators up and down the country have found, many LEAs want to see all children in school, ofsted have often supported this drive, and home education is seen as an anomaly which should be discouraged or even wiped out. I have mentioned Birmingham in a previous post, so now I’ll bring in another example. Staffordshire.
In their submission to the Badman Review they said that changes should be made to the monitoring of home educated families thus:
“All CYP (I assume this to be Children and Young People, they’ve even acronymed our children!) are registered and monitored – parents have a duty to demonstrate how there child is receiving a suitable and efficient education to cover the
key areas of:
A All ages (5-16)
• Understanding English, communication and languages
• Mathematical understanding
• Scientific and technological understanding
• Human, social and environmental understanding
• Understanding physical health and well-being
• Understanding the arts and design.
B Personal Learning and Thinking Skills – to be considered during Key
Stage 3 & 4
Independent enquirer – process and evaluate information in their
investigations, planning what to do and how to go about it; take informed and well-reasoned decisions, recognising that others have different beliefs and attitudes.
Reflective learners -evaluate their strengths and limitations, setting
themselves realistic goals with criteria for success; monitor their own
performance and progress, inviting feedback from others and making changes to further their learning.
Self manager – organise themselves, showing personal responsibility,
initiative, creativity and enterprise with a commitment to learning and self improvement;
actively embrace change, responding positively to new
priorities, coping with challenges and looking for opportunities.
Team worker – work confidently with others, adapting to different contexts and taking responsibility for their own part; listen to and take account of different views; form collaborative relationships, resolving issues to reach agreed outcomes.
Creative thinker – think creatively by generating and exploring ideas, making original connections; try different ways to tackle a problem, working with others to find imaginative solutions and outcomes that are of value.
Effective participator – actively engage with issues that affect them and those around them; play a full part in the life of their home, college, workplace or wider community by taking responsible action to bring improvements for others as well as themselves.
Parents should give some thought of how they can best present evidence of learning of A , and B, so that the local authority can be satisfied that the child is receiving a suitable education. For instance this could be as
• drafted/redrafted written work;
• graphic / annotated drawings;
• photographic portfolio/record;
• Practical demonstration / presentation or demonstrate any flair /
expertise / strength.
• Third party testimonials
• Reading log
So, given some latitude by new legislation, I guess that Staffs will be ensuring that home education is wiped out, as parents drown in a sea of paperwork and red tape. The state system that many have decided not to use will be forced onto them by the back door. Choice will be gone. Coming to a local authority near you soon.
The Badman Review is poorly researched and based on opinion rather than evidence. Even on that basis it ahs proved impossible to demonstrate any real need for change, use of warm fuzzy terms like “safeguarding” and “children’s rights” has been essential to give an air of credibility to calls for change. Change is being brought in out of a dogmatic desire to see one of the last outpost of free choice closed. As a result of this, ill formed plans are being drawn up to legislate to solve a non-existent problem, with no reference made to the paperwork, stress, suspicion and false allegations that may ensue. Time to stop this nonsense, celebrate freedom, celebrate choice, and remember that parents are far better placed to care from their children and ensure their voice is heard than the state, who should be focusing their attention on getting it right when they are called on to help, and to hearing the voices of children who are already crying out. Stop looking for more problems, sort out the ones that are already staring you in the face. One final thought before I leave you in peace. Where is Badman’s analysis of how existing legislation could be used more effectively to solve the (non) problem he identified? Lacking perhaps because it was already decided that no change was not an option. Hmmm…..
Photo courtesy of Flickr user luxomedia