Friday, 30 October 2009

Plans, schmans...

Honestly, I had a plan for today. I did. No, sorry, I didn't get to writing it down. It was in my head.

My plan for Friday October 30th, 2009

Go for a walk with the dog.
Visit mother.
Transcribe the tape of an interview.
Wrap some presents for a person who is going to have a birthday soon.

So, LAs, that was my plan. The reality was a little different.

I missed the dog walk because my left foot was extremely painful for no obvious reason, but I could scarcely hobble on it.

New plan: add yoga to the to-do list for this evening.

Cross out the go for a walk with the dog entry.

Decided to change the order so I fetched the tape recorder and began to listen to the tape while thinking I would visit mother after finishing a half hour of transcribing.

The tape was impossible to decipher - there was a loud hum on it, and a hissing. I told H. who went to check that one of our other phones would work with the tape recorder. To do that, he had to 'phone a friend' and get her to chat to him. So I couldn't transcribe the notes I had taken because I was reading them and typing a copy on the computer. My computer clacks loudly. I had to stop. Meanwhile the dog needed attention.

After the phone situation was resolved, I went back to transcribing my scribbled notes - the interviewee was lovely but a very fast speaker.

I finally completed my transcript at 17:02.

Should I wrap presents? But the place I wrap presents in is being used as an office at the moment and I can't disturb those people who are using it.

Maybe this evening. If I am not too tired after a visit to Mother.

Meanwhile, there's dinner to see to, and the dog to move from his flake-out on an electrical socket. He just loves to lie there, where his rear end might be engulfed in a blue light at any time.

New plan - move dog.

Still have not visited Mother, walked dog, made dinner or wrapped a single present.

And, whoops, forgot that important shopping I planned to do earlier.

Plans, huh!

So, if the LA was judging me on my plan for today, I'm sorry I would just have to be sent off to school.

Plans never go to order. Never. That's the nature of plans (says E) and I agree with her. A plan is a mere guide. It should never be slavishly adhered to. What if you planned to watch t.v. and your house caught fire? Would you sit on your comfy chair while your toes charred and burned? Or would you flee like a mad thing?

Of course you wouldn't stay in your comfy chair.

You cannot count on plans. They are not dependable.

They are from the machine world and helpful when you are building a house. They have their place, I guess, but you can't rely on them.

Like the Local Authorities really.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Reflections on a home

My home is not just where I live.

It is where I laboured to bring forth my always cherished, magnificent, beloved babies.

It is where I dream and create my future.

It is the place I feel safe, and can relax my tense jaw and wriggle my toes.

It is where no one can get at me; unlike in the rest of the world where someone could get at me.

It is where I gobble down the books I re-read and the latest books I discover.

It is the fortress of my life and I sing in it and dance in it, and no one laughs at me because I haven't a voice like Leona Lewis or a body like Katie Price.

It is where my children hug my around my ample middle without anyone criticising them for being Mummy's girls.

It is where they feel safe and cherished and they can laugh and chaff and chatter and stay up late discussing the law and computer games and their future and their past.

It is where they can plaster make-up over their sweet faces and make mistakes and cream off the errors.

It is where they can don their faded, torn jeans and not have someone decide that they are neglected.

It is where they do not have to be on show or talk about age-specific things or talk at all if they don't want to.

It is so much more than a building. It is where we are happy and free.

It is not an educational institution.

It is a sanctuary.

And I will fight to keep it that way.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Are Local Authorities fit for purpose?

Sale of Goods Act. The Act specifies that any product sold must be fit for purpose. This means that a product must conform to its description and be of a certain quality.


OK, now. We are consumers of the LAs duties. We consume the declarations they make, and we have to jump to their demands.... They like to make the rules, and they love to make the running. They demand, and we may find ourselves shaking in our stylish but affordable slippers.

However, what if we turn the idea on its head and see what it is the LA near you is supplying you with? What are you getting from the enormous amount of council tax that you are paying these – er, hem - public servants?

Is the service they provide you with fit for purpose?

What is the LA supposed to do? Well, it has a duty of care to any child in its schools. Does it indeed fail that duty of care? Does it provide an education: a sufficient and efficient and effective education? Does it to every child?

When you meander or flee out of the school gates at the end of the very last lesson in the top class of school, do you feel that you can learn no more, that you are replete with learning, that your education is complete and rounded? Are you ready to take on any job? Climb any mountain? Bounce from school to the hallowed halls of university or academy of excellence? Fly to the stars, touch them and come back with a handful of sustaining starshine?

In all my years I've yet to meet anyone who thinks that their schooling was 'fit for purpose'.

You are a pupil in a school. The school ignores the fact that you are bullied pretty continuously and nastily even though your mother has complained forever and the school has told you – to shift the blame and to perpetuate the bullying -that it's your fault. The bullies are made librarians and your secret sanctuary has been busted and the other bullies get you outside and kick you in the crotch. Then they have you up against the wall and lay into you.

Does the LA get involved? Do they say sorry and that they will defend you from now on from the bullies? Do they assure you that the duty of care they have to you will now be executed carefully and to the best of their ability? DO THEY GIVE A BURNING CIGARETTE BUTT?

So are the LA services fit for purpose?

Would they pass the 'fit for purpose' test?


So what are they good for? Like war, they are good for absolutely nothing.

If they are already good for absolutely nothing, why are they there?

Why do we support a system that is so bent and twisted?

That we have to look at being CONSUMERS to receive what we are due as human beings tells us that there is something wrong with our society. When we buy an item, it must be fit for purpose or we have the means for legal redress. Yet when our freedom to home educate as we will and as our children will is under threat, where is our legal redress? Where are our knights in shining armour? In any kind of armour?

If, as I argue here, the local authorities cannot defend the weak in their care, cannot oversee and guarantee a reasonable standard of education and cannot do anything for home educators beyond cause them anguish and agony, are they in fact FIT FOR PURPOSE?

I will leave you to answer as you see fit.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Sell your children's freedom for a shamisen lesson

Sorry, I just cannot keep quiet about this.

I am completely shocked. Knocked sideways.

I guess I have realised today how naive I really am.

It's about this. Some home educators are glad to have the 'extras' that the LA and government have promised that they will provide once our children's names are on a register and we have handed in and had approved the plans for the year's education.

As my savvy little Y would say, "This is all kinds of wrong".

For a start, although the money that the LAs will receive for monitoring home educators and nodding and shaking their heads over various plans and progress made or not made will undoubtedly appear, it seems a fair bet to me that the money for all the juicy lovely bits will be lacking.

Why is that? Well, I think that because the government is riding rough-shod over a group of innocent people - nay, not innocent people - innocent children in the name of caring for them.
And they have been known to lie. Yes, tell untruths. Twist the facts. Their pants are well and truly on fire. In flames of the most shocking orange.

They lie. They lie because they can. They lie because they are allowed to. They lie because - thus far - no one has challenged them (and now home educators are challenging them, by God, they are). We let them get on with their little politician things until a huge great stink arises from their corporate pan and then we jump up and hit them with a jet of cooling, refreshing water.

But because no one has taken any notice of the awful things they have been doing as they chew the fat and smoke the peace pipe, they aren't used to this kind of - er -anarchy. They are losing face. Face it, they are losing lots of faces. Faces and jaws are dropping all over Westminster and Whitehall and, probably, Buckingham Palace.

So, apparently one thing they haven't been lying about is that some home educators are dying to get their hands on the trifles and pretties that the LAs are about to donate to them. Little Ethel will go to the school library. Tiny George can toot away on the shamisen at the local music lessons.

The fact that these lessons will appear for home educators, if they do at all, with hosts of strings attached and some of those strings will be likely used to cut the throats of home educators seems to have escaped them.

But, hey, if you are structured and you have a good relationship with the really sweet lady at the LA, what do you care? It's all good, isn't it? I mean, you'll be fine. Your children are doing what they are supposed to and no LA officials would dream of assaulting your throat with the strings attached to the presents? Would they?

Then, the nice lady disappears to another country where she can breathe free air, and you're left with Graham Badman for an inspector and Graham loves school. He loves it so much he desires that everyone shall experience it, just the way he did. He demands that your child recites the meaning of carbon sequestration (and, oops, you didn't cover that particular subject) and then he turns to the test about Chinese History. What? Only scored four points and that was for spelling Chinese correctly.

Well, so sorry (not really sorry, but that's what people say sometimes when they're not sorry), but Ethel and George will be going back to school.

When you protest, you say it isn't fair. You say school doesn't fit all. My children won't like school, they won't thrive.

He'll just laugh. He will turn on you a huge laughing triumphant grin, and he'll tell you that music lessons cost money and the cash for the school library books must be paid for.

With the souls of your children.

I hope you'll agree it was a good bargain then.

But I doubt it.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

We have to be better than all the rest

Don't know about you, but I see a pattern developing in the Home Education Review Select Committee commentary.

I see the same old problem pattern. It's one we women should be draggingly familiar with. One we've been raised with, our mothers and grandmothers have struggled to correct, and one that we see raising its butt-ugly head again.

Are you better than your comparative male, woman? Are you twice the man that a man is? Can you cope with twice as much stress, do twice as much work, give everything to everyone and come up smiling and being pleasant? (And create and look after children, and a household too)

Well, now, we might hire you. Just for a trial. Until someone better comes along, of course. Someone male.

Here it is again. Home educators must be twice as good as teachers, twice as good as students in school. A child failing in school, once home educated, should be up-to-scratch before a year has turned and outperforming all his peers. Under new recommendations, all the matters that school has not addressed or helped will have to be sorted within months of home education beginning (and that is a generous estimate of the time the local authority will kindly allow you as you strain to erase the bad habits that school may have inculcated).

You might arrive at the situation, like many parents do, where school bullying has totally demoralised your child; then the local authority begins on you and on your young one, bullying again. Before you've found your feet, the tsunami will sweep you away.

It's like cutting a person's legs off then expecting them to not only run in a race, but to win it too, AND in half the length of time it takes for all the competing runners to cross the finish line.

Schooled children can fail. Yeah, well, the school tried everything, didn't it, to 'encourage' them and 'support' them. Schooled children can flunk out of courses, make Gs in their GCSEs and snort with laughter at higher education. But not home educating children. THEY have NOT to be NEET. They don't have the leisure to be people or to be themselves. They have to run full tilt, scramble over hurdles that would faze others, dash to the finish, end up with the biggest, shiniest trophy or it's "Oh, they home educate, you know. Huh, they get no education. Hang about all day. Don't do anything. It's an excuse to avoid truancy and shouldn't be allowed, I say".

So, home educate your children, that way your children's attainment will be spelt out to you. Be the best. Not the best you can be. Just BE THE BEST. OR ELSE.

OR ELSE we'll send you BACK to the FUNSHACK which failed you the first time and where you can enjoy being yourself just like all the others.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Pearls before swine

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet".

Good and honourable words from the Bible, Matthew 7:6.

In other words, don't hand over those most precious gifts - your children - to those who do not appreciate them, who seek to treat them like pieces of meat to be measured, who will stamp all over their spirits and their lives and their freedom.

You are the protectors of the gifts from life.

You will stand before them to answer for your treatment of them. Let their lips speak of your guardianship of them. Let their eyes praise you for your help and defense of their freedom.

We have a moment upon the beauty of this most magnificent earth.

Don't throw away the precious gifts to be trampled by the ignorance and rancour of careless men and women who would wound and destroy in the name of safeguarding.

Honour your holy visitors from beyond time. Give them the strength to become everything that they will be, those most brilliant gems.

Cherish them. Love them and protect them as they polish their skills and their souls.

Oh, cherish them, beloved.

Then, let them go to shine forever.

A new regime for the youngest one

I was sorry, but it had to be done; I had to sit him down yesterday to lay down the law.

"I know you have rights, buddy," I said in my this-is-me-at-my-limit voice, "But this will not do. You are seven years old now. You're not a baby any more and this is not acceptable."

He looked up at me with appealing brown eyes. That doesn't pull the wool. I am doing this for his own good, and he has no say in it - no choice at all.

"You did not conform to what we discussed you should do, the other day. Now, I've been patient. I thought it might take a few days to come out the doing-exactly-what-you-want-when-you- want-to mode. Other people, I may say, would have been FAR LESS TOLERANT than me when you deviated from the plan I made for you".

He turned his head. It was quite hard for me to judge whether or not he was listening. "Back to the plan. It was explained to you. Twice. And I cannot abide this behaviour. I instituted a wall chart with boxes to tick. I delineated how we were going to measure your actions and reactions. The plan is robust and it is rigorous. Boy, you have a RIGHT to this plan, and, by Badman, you are going to follow it!"

He yawned.

"Do you realise that if you DO NOT conform to the plan I have made up for you then there will be consequences? You will probably have to attend school. You will have to be drilled in various aspects of your behaviour. You will have toys removed, and treats withheld. YOU MUST FOLLOW THE RULES AND OBEY ME".

He had put his head on his arm by now; his eyes were closing and he was patently ignoring me. I stood over him. "If it gets too bad, I will have you taken away by the authorities. Are you listening to me?"

Like the government, he paid no attention. Or maybe he was paying attention, but nothing came of it. There was no change. Whatever he had decided to do, he was going to continue doing it.

"You will do what I say. You will be socialised. You will learn correct behaviour. I want to see results. I want to see changes. I want to see your behaviour improve month on month or there will be serious consequences. There will be progression and you will demonstrate improvements! You will be a success whether you want to be or not!"

He got up, tail in the air, defiant to the last. I shook my head. You simply cannot make a golden retriever do anything he doesn't want to do. No matter how much you threaten him.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Select Committee hears weird evidence

Sir Paul Ennals, chief executive of the National Children's Bureau, said a register needed to be a "proportionate response to the problem".
"The registration system should only be a light tool, not overly elaborate," he said.

That's from the BBC's unbiased report of the proceedings today at the Select Committee who are currently charged with determining whether or not to murder home education in the heretofore amazingly liberal and freedom-supporting country of England.

And what has the National Children's Bureau to do with my children, you may ask? Nothing, I answer. Do they pay for tuition? No. Do they accompany them on outings? No. Do they sit anxiously at my child's side when that child is unwell? No.

Do I know Paul Ennals? No. Does he know me? No. Is he competent to judge how my family relates, how I help my children, where I might fail and where I might succeed? No.


A proportionate response to the problem, Paul? (I feel that I know you ever so slightly because you are engaged in a process that might smother all home education in England within months)

What problem would this be then?

Sorry, I've looked at it a few times. Can't see it at all.

If there is no problem, and I cannot see one and, believe me my dear readers, I am good at finding problems, why should there need to be a response? There shouldn't.

The only problem is you. You bloated enormous cats sucking down money and you other bloated Children's Services types, Peter Traves, who are trying to protect your ass in case, which has happened quite a few times in other cases in similar organisations, you're too busy having parties or sticking up Christmas wreaths to bother about little folk you might actually help.

The problem is you.

Not home educators. We take responsibility for our children. You do not.

At least now we've found a problem.

And it's you.

Mr Traves again: "I'm held to account for children's welfare, and I think not to know there are children living and being educated in my area is actually unreasonable if I'm being held to that account."

No, you are not held to account for children living and being educated in your area. You should be held to account for children who are in your remit which is school and you obviously don't give a flying damn for them. I'll prove it, Mr. Children's Services.

Look at these numbers carefully:

450,000 children are bullied EVERY WEEK in school. EVERY WEEK. Not every year. It is incomprehensible, isn't it? How many a week? 450,000 children.

What are you doing about that, Mr. Traves? Nothing. You're responsible for them, you say. But what are you doing about them? We know the answer.

360,000 children a year are injured in schools a year. Well? Did you hear me? That's a lot of pain.

Saddest of all, 16 of our dear young people feel so battered and bruised by bullying at school that they choose to kill themselves. No home educated child has been so deeply injured by life that he or she has felt compelled to leave it.

Are you sweating yet, Mr Ennals? A little uncomfortable in your cushy seat, Mr. Traves? Or still bothered about the public humiliation you might suffer if you fail in your cushy job?

Then, there are the Children's Services and the National Children's Bureau staff who sit by as 1 out of 6 children march out of school not knowing how to a) read, b) write and c) add up.

That's a lot of children to fail. A lot of young people to add up.

Want to do your jobs yet?

What about the 1 million - yes, 1 million - children who truant every year? Are they part of your job description? Do you want to register them and monitor them? Or are they just collateral damage on the job?

No, you just send their parents - usually mothers (funny how it is usually mothers) to gaol. That's the ticket. Kick the mothers in the teeth to show the children what's what.

What sterling work you are doing for the majority of our nation's children, Mr. Ennals and Mr. Traves. The ones you are responsible for, you don't give a flip chart about, and the ones you are not responsible for, you cannot wait to tag their little ears.

What have we got in this Britain?

People of rare ability and quality indeed. People who will demand to register my children then go back to protecting their money and their keisters while avoiding the avalanche of human misery in the schools that they are actually responsible for.

You're not responsible for my children. I owe them a hell of a lot more than that.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Children's right to speak

We're all so big in society about letting children speak.

That probably starts in the family. Do you take your child's view of what your family does into account? Do you ask them what they think?

Then ignore them.

It's the same tactic that the government uses on everyone in society. We'll consult you - they say- then they ignore your opinion and employ tactics that put Hitler to shame to get what they want.

So, Mr. Badman, yes, my children are periodically asked whether they still would like to be home educated. I get various answers from 'Yes, of course' to 'What do you think?' accompanied by an is-she-serious roll of the eyes.

I do admit to a failing, of course. When I trotted them off to school every day, before I saw the home educating light, before I saw what I was reluctant to see, I didn't ask them if they wanted to go.

I didn't ask them if they wanted to go to school to be bullied and brutalised in the name of socialisation and conformity. They've had all that, thank you. But in the home-educating-Now they use knives and forks and fail to speak with their mouths full at the dinner table which is one up on many teens in our society, I guess.

My children do not aspire to be part of the local terrorist gang shouting abuse at old ladies fetching their pensions or carving up one of the few play spaces left for small fry in the area. They aren't among those parked outside the library entrance enjoying themselves hassling library visitors and being warned by the police about their anti-social behaviour. They don't cat about or seem keen to mix it with the stalwart youths to have babies and get flats of their own and a 'life' of that kind. They have aspirations - pretty interesting high aspirations - to be the best they can be in their chosen areas.

So home education has obviously failed them.

School meanwhile scythed them down to the lowest level because everyone who sticks up is hammered down but all pupils must do their best and get good exam marks because the school wants to stay open because all those people who receive their money from it would be out of a job if the school didn't look good.

And we're so effective at being a democracy in this state of chaos, aren't we?

A majority doesn't wish to be part of the Lisbon Treaty. There have been polls. Ignored.

An astonishing amount of people don't want Labour in power. We know that. Ignored.

I'm sure you can think of more examples.

I ask my children - "Do you still want to be home educated?" They say yes and I take notice.

I wonder how many people have asked their schooled children, "Do you still want to go to school?"

It's not a question that would even cross your mind, is it?

So to have Graham Badman banging on about asking home educating children anything is rather amusing. Why should home educating children have the pleasure of choosing their lives when schooled children do not?

Why are we listening to a pathetic group of toothless elders, and robotic youngers, who tell us they are listening to us when it is patently apparent that they listen in order to tick a box to say that they have listened.

It's all so silly, isn't it?

Whatever the Select Committee says, good or bad, I shall expose it to the government's own trick. I shall listen and ignore it.

The government does not hand me my rights like a bunch of sweeties at Hallowe'en. I have rights because I am a person over 18. My children have rights through me until they are old enough to choose their own lives in whatever way seems good to them.

I am hear to listen to them. I will give them the benefit of my opinions, if they wish to have me do that. Otherwise, it is their lives. They will do with them what they will.

I am here for my children. That was the unspoken bond we made before they emerged into the world, before they were conceived, before they were thought forms. I am here for you - with all my faults and all my good points - I am here for you. And I hear you.

Everytime you speak.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Independent review of Elective Home Education - DCSF page

The DCSF says:

"All children and young people are entitled to a good education. This doesn't necessarily mean children have to go to school: many parents choose to educate their child at home'.

I have to take issue with the first part of this. According to Protocol 1 Article 2 of the ECHR 'No person shall be denied an education'. OK, a person should not be denied an education and nothing is mentioned about a good education. The state provides an education but scarcely anyone agrees what a good education is and many voices would howl me down if I said the state provides a good education.

How do we actually know what a good education is? Other than some helpful judges with an almost impossible task, no one can define what a good education actually consists of. If I were like my father, I would say everyone should have an education in the classics and in Maths, and maybe have a run around a football field once a week for a bit of a diversion. If I were a P.E. teacher I would probably say that English is a natural thing for English people, and we should be doing more push-ups, football, rounders, cricket, cross country running, ski=ing...

I would hate both definitions of a good education because I am not good at Mathematics - oh, I can get along and I can excel myself if pushed, but I'm not a cleaving-to-numbers-natural mathematician. As to P.E., I was one of those children who dreaded the lesson, unless it involved dancing, and hated the idea of being at the mercy of several bullies who knew how to take advantage of the opportunities advanced by the myriad wonders of Physical Education, indoors or out.

So, for me, unless you're a budding Steve Cram or you loaf about doing Calculus in your fun time, don't ask me to vote for at least two members of the National Curriculum.

The convent school I attended had Sewing classes (don't laugh, it did). Oh, the humiliation. The pricked fingers. The continuing and absolute hatred I had for my kit, my uselessness and the horror of having to 'make a dress' for the 'fashion parade' at the end of term. It was a term already contaminated by the terror induced by the prospect of having to emigrate to unknown Canada at the end of it. I laboured: I did labour on that darned dress. I learned to detest the material I'd bought - the cheery bright yellow mocked me, the patterned yellow leaves and flowers irritated me. I heaved at the thought of more endless, boring tacking. In the final countdown, my dear aunt who was a dab hand with a needle took pity on me and finished the garment. I wore it on the catwalk. Everyone was underwhelmed. I was embarrassed. I was sick at heart, but relieved to get the ordeal over and relieved that I wouldn't be 'tested' on something so foreign to my nature again.

So what makes a good education? I think it comes from inside yourself. I think it's your motivation. I think it is what interests you, and what interested me was reading, reading, reading, other people, history, French, reading and writing, more reading and, gradually, even more writing. In my adult life, people now pay me for my writing. Putting pen or word processor to work was an 'out of school' habit. I didn't write at school. I did the minimum amount of writing I could do at school because my writing, my real writing (my love) was private. It did not belong to the school, it belonged to me. I didn't want my adoration of the written word to die prematurely because I was forced to write.

So it was a secret. All those years ago it wasn't ready to flower and grow and be stomped upon by the foot of criticism it would probably have received in school. You get very little encouragement in school, I found. It was all 'Well, you should have/could have done it this way' Or 'that's wrong'.

Or even, once, after one of my short stories was marked, I was asked, "Did you copy? Is this your own work?"

Mrs. English Teacher, no, as I told you at the time I didn't copy. I read everything like a pig enjoys truffles and I got good because I did what I enjoyed doing and enjoyed getting good at, and your severe, distrustful look and your swingeing insult could have blighted the little plant beneath the bushel but, thank the universe, it didn't.

It was mine and you didn't put your big feet all over it while it was growing - my talent was buried under a bushel until it was ripe and until I felt confident enough to let it try itself in the full glare of light.

Then it flourished. As all true real passions have the ability to flourish when they aren't trampled all over by strangers with gigantic damaging assessing criticising destructive unsympathetic plates of meat.

I gave myself the best education I could give myself. I gave me the education I would wish schools had given me. I did what I was good at and I wasn't put off what I loved until what I loved became what I was good at.

Most of what school gave me was heartache. Years of time wasting. Hours of droning boredom.

My life gave me my education.

How do you deliver an education? You are fooling yourself. You cannot deliver an education. You can help someone through their thoughts and emotions and finding out information, but never ever stomp on their little talents.

Those little talents might, one day, save the world.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Consumers of education

As consumers of education, our children aren't very well served, are they?

Yes, we see that children are beaten up at school, and the assault is shown on mobile phones with a jeering crowd encouraging the attacker.

We see that education is a spent powerless little serpent with decayed teeth still trying to 'inject' knowledge into our young. A useless hopeless and victim filled vacuum that sucks in a load of skittish rot about qualifications and GCSEs and support and robustness. Buzz words to fill your head with fog. Fog to blind you to the truth. That as consumers of education our children are not served well by purveyors of the almighty boring National Cur-sickulum. That home educated children having often been outraged by the dreadful blight that is state schooling are visited again by the purveyors of the state system and assessed and monitored and planned to death. No way, Jose.

I say that it will be the way it was. My way. Or the highway. And you'll be doing the highland fling down the highway soon, Mr. and Mrs. LA.

Oh, and when you're on the dole, old soul, don't forget the hours you spent harassing, vilifying and bleeding away the time of the home educators who have put in the equivalent of Mount Olympus of their lives beating back your power-hungry-grabbing-muck-sucking-stupidity. Who have sunk all the richness of their massive, gigantic hearts nursing the last blue gasps of the last remaining true education in this country? Home educators - that's who. Hours and days and weeks of deep feeling, wise words, patient argument, logical inductions...

Listen to me, LAs. At THIS MINUTE, you have the power to intervene if children are abused. ANY children. ANY CHILD. You have it. You really have. Go read the laws. Go get someone to explain them if you don't understand. Ask home educators. Any child. Of any age, colour, creed, educational status, or moon sign. You have the power to intervene if, in your honest opinion, an education is not being provided by people who have decided to exercise their legal right to extend an education to their children in the home-based manner. You may be wrong about your assessment. But then we'll find that out in court.

Dear God, educate yourselves. EDUCATE YOURSELVES about your powers.

SO, because of the whining of brain-dead officials who haven't got an ounce of sense, the government dictates that home educators have to be monitored to do what we know is best for our children by an all-benign, all-loving Big brother government. Our fearless Balls going before us, banner in hand, shouting "I want equality for every child who matters. I want all children to be as dumb as each other. As bullied as each other. As degraded as each other. As coerced into holding their bladders and ignoring the signals from their rectums as each other. I want no parent unpunished. I want no poverty-stricken person who has problems not of their own making or of their own making having the audacity to raise children".

"We can raise your children much better than you can. We'll tell them what we want them to... er, what they should know. What's best for them to know. We have their best interests at heart. Every Child Matters".

And so the angel of death of the Labour Party goes rattling on his way. He'll be kissing the corpse of Britain for his bid at the top job when the Election frenzy grips.

Every Child Matters, oh, dear, yes. If it were true, then we wouldn't have to say it, would we? I mean, you don't go around reassuring other societal members that Every Breath Keeps You Alive. IT JUST DOES.

If you need to say something over and over ad nauseum, maybe there's something wrong with the something you are saying.

Every cog in the machine matters. Every kid has the right to have an opinion as long as it's the right opinion. Every child should be consulted, then ignored. Say anything, mean nothing and be as mean as you can to people you don't understand because your greed would never, ever let you put your children first.

Every Child matters. Well, my children's freedom matters to me. My grandchildren's right to have the choice of a decent proper home education matters to me. And they aren't even born yet.


Sunday, 4 October 2009

The DCSF's Diversity Delivery Plan

The DCSF, headed by Secretary of State from 29th June 2007 (that blessed day), and for which he received a salary of £79,150 (2008-2009) has objectives.

These are:

1. Secure the well-being and health of children and young people.

Short of being the sort of saint who can cure those unfortunate souls who are born with various problems or the other sort of saint who can transport him or herself into a building at double quick notice, I fail to understand how the department can secure the health of our youngsters. Interesting thought. If your child happens to fall ill during the course of a day, does the DCSF miss its objective and get punished?

It would be delightful to think that one department could miraculous be the arbiter of well-being (and what is that exactly? Is there a definition?) and health. I would guarantee them veneration and rather large gifts from every segment of the population.

So, objective 1. Untenable and unreachable.

2. Safeguard the young and vulnerable.

I have two young people in my house, and I would love to stop them getting broken hearts and making mistakes that end up in tears, but then I would have to stop them from living and that wouldn't do for the fifth objective. No one, but no one (to use a Canadian expression) can guarantee that another person never encounters something that you would far rather they never encounter. Occasionally, your soul has to drag itself through a mini-hell to emerge a better soul after the bad times. It's just the way the cookie crumbles.

2. Impossible. Into each life a little rain falls.

3. Achieve world-class standards in education.

Erm. "47.6 per cent of teenagers scored five crucial A*-C grades including in maths and English. One in seven pupils failed to achieve a single C grade in any GCSE subject". (ThisisLondon article)

To throw a little positive light on that I will say that I don't think that not being able to pass a GCSE is evidence of a lack of education. It may mean that the GCSE subject didn't appeal to you; it could mean that you panic at the sight of an exam paper or that you were too stressed to recall anything.

What are world-class standards anyway? In comparison with some countries who don't bother with education as we see it, we must be superlative. In comparison... but there's that word. How can you compare one person's performance with another person. It just don't cut it. You can only compare what you were with what you are now or become later. As I get older I find the idea of statistical comparisons of people rather odd really. The only one I can improve on is me.

Could it be that the DCSF means it desires to have its own employees achieve world-class standards in education? What is education anyway?

And THAT is a whole stratosphere-high can of worms.

4. Close the gap in educational achievement for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

On the face of it, that seems a reasonable and kindly thing to want. When you start to think about it, however, what gap do they mean? Is there a gap? I'm not convinced - I'd have to see lots and lots of studies about gaps. Then, I would have to have lots and lots of people I trusted to care about the statistical analysis and be honest during the analysis of the studies. You'd have to scrutinise the premises, the way the questions were asked... etc. etc.

Again, there's the educational achievement and, again, what do you mean by educational achievement? If you mean school, it's a major victory for some kids to attend for a week and others to stay awake during class. How do you measure educational achievement? What does it mean to the person who is 'achieving'? Perhaps their interests lie in other directions. I knew one girl in my street when I was a kid who was determined to become a ballerina with a major dance company. Her every waking moment was spent on dancing, preparing to dance, cooling down from dancing, watching other people dance, practicing the dance moves in her head and talking about dance. I took ballet too, but failed to be impressed with the thousands of hours I needed to devote to it to develop the expertise so I didn't. I was vociferous about it. I spent many playtimes informing my friends about how little ballet engaged me as a hobby. And still I got books on ballet from my best friend for my birthday!

My friend grew too tall for the ballet but became a dancer. But she was never an academic type of lass. It didn't interest her. It wasn't her thing.

Disadvantaged backgrounds. What constitutes a disadvantaged background? Now the Universities are accepting foreign students and cutting down on British students so that people who haven't truck-loads of money cannot travel to the University of their choice perhaps?

Disadvantages come in many shapes and sizes.

It's my belief that people will do what they want to do. If they want to do it enough. That is the way we are made.

'Disadvantaged backgrounds' sounds to me like a little bit of prejudice talking. Does it to you? The you and we thing again. We're OK. Our parents have silos full of money and we went to Eton, Harrow, Roedean... wherever. Anyone who doesn't come from our background is disadvantaged, what.

We all disadvantaged in that case, bud.

5. Ensure young people are participating and achieving their potential to 18 and beyond.

How can you ensure another person is doing anything? Ever? Ensure young people are participating...? In what? Eating ham sandwiches? Volunteering with Victim Support? Street gangs? Mowing their neighbours' lawns? Enjoying reruns of the X-Factor?


Ensure young people are achieving their potential. In schools? How can you ensure they're even listening to what you're teaching in a lesson? What is a person's potential? Who has achieved his potential? Gandhi? He was reviled by many as a troublemaker. John F. Kennedy? He was a US President who was shot. Maybe that's a sign he wasn't too popular with someone (or a group of people) and therefore maybe he didn't reach his potential.

What is potential? If you don't define it, you cannot measure it which then makes a mockery of your performance managing targets and turns it all into 'wedding speeches'. (Thanks for the analogy to my husband's friend) Pretty words, but do they get put into action? Most brides and grooms would be doubtful about that.

And isn't a human being's potential his OWN BUSINESS? In my opinion, I would say that I have yet to reach my potential. I only know this because I realise that I am capable of doing more in certain areas than I do. In one area, though, I know I have reached all I am gonna reach. I will never be a better ice-skater than I am now (I can stand upright and skate a bit, but not much)because my right ankle turns over if I walk down a street sometimes. It goes over, off the edge of a flagstone. The joint hurts, and it goes on hurting for a few weeks. I know I couldn't progress as an ice dancer however much I avidly watch programmes about skating and remember most of the performances of the greats I saw on t.v.

Young people achieving their potential to 18 and beyond. You're an adult at 18. What you do after that, other than the outrages a small minority of individuals commit against other individuals, is up to you. Your potential and whether or not you choose to achieve it is entirely a private matter, Jim.

The state has no place dictating our dreams; it has no place telling us what we should be doing except in limited circumstances. It is not our master. We, each of us, are our own masters.

We are the arbiters of our fate.

We are the captains of our ship.

6. Keep children and young people on the path to success.

Again, WHAT? What does this mean? What is success? I live frugally (which I like to do to spare the earth the depradations I might otherwise make on it). Very people know my name (still waiting for fate to knock on my door). I don't steal, tell lies (well, the spare 'Your hat looks lovely, Mother' type now and then), cheat, borrow other people's ideas, claim insurance falsely, lie about my age, throw tomatoes at politicians (sometimes I'm tempted) or abuse anyone's trust in me (at least, I try). I live the best life I can live. I'm quite successful at it. Do you think that will count? I haven't got a line of sports clothes, a set of perfumiers pouring out stinky stuff with my name branded across the bottles or a handy-dandy aeroplane in which I whirl over from my chateau outside Paris to visit Crown Prince Humhah from the Creightonn Republic. So am I a success? Probably not.

Do your children want to be successful? Do they want to go to the shops in a wig and hat and large shades, looking a bit of a prat in order to get some privacy? Do they wish to wake up every morning terrified that the stock market has dropped and pig's trotters have plateaued?

Any and all of that stuff would kill part of my spirit, I'm sure. That doesn't count as 'success' to me.

You might be different. That might spell 'success' to you.

And that would be your choice. Not some demand of the DCSF.

7. Lead and manage the system.

Here we come to the nit of the grit. The nub of the hub. The nose on the face. The plug of the bath. The claw of the cat. The closing sentence of the paragraph.

To have a system, you must have managers and leaders. Who would tell us what a towering mess we're making of our lives if the DCSF wasn't there? All these managers and leaders receiving their stipend for managing and leading a totally unnecessary system.

Who would encourage our success and cheer lead us to our potential, if the DCSF disappears?

Well, we would.

And we'd do it for nothing.

There, now, Mr. Brown. That's saved you some money.