Friday, 4 February 2011

Every Child Matters - what does it mean?

Every Child Matters (ECM).

A bit confusing, isn't it?

Our ex-government wished us to believe that we parents should be told what we want for our children. We want what most parents want. We want healthy children who achieve what they are capable of and we want them to become independent of us as and when they can.

The ECM five desirable outcomes are:

Be healthy
Staying safe
Enjoying and achieving
Making a positive contribution
Achieving economic well-being

Of course, the ECM agenda only related to England.

"However, at a deeper level Every Child Matters is a language game or discourse - a favoured way of thinking that is imbued with the full weight, authority and power of the English state."

There you have it. The ECM, like so many other productions of government, is a language game. As a language game, it includes those who play the game and excludes those who don't. It excludes those people who believe that the government should butt out of their children's lives and get on with their own business.

"As a power based construction of reality, this favoured way of thinking not only expresses an entitlement for England’s children and young people, but also inherent within it is a potential to exclude some groups of children, young people, their parent(s)/ carer(s). The Every Child Matters way of thinking has the potential to enmesh formal and informal educators in an unquestioning participation in the cognitive and semiotic traps of the ‘brand’, and in the assumptions, taken-for-granted beliefs, language games and the premises and practices inherent in that ‘brand’, which,

'While they create a way of seeing and suggest a way of acting, they also tend to create ways of not seeing, and eliminate the possibility of actions associated with alternative views of the world. (Morgan, 1986, p 202)'"

Since home education is an alternative view of regular or school or state education, then we immediately have a problem, Houston.

So the emphasis is on a bunch of symptoms, like childhood obesity, and the real wound, the real culprit dividing folks and engendering problems in society is the lack in some families and the overabundance in other families.

"In taking a shallow focus on such ‘symptoms’, attention at both national and local level is diverted away from deep and widening health inequalities between advantaged and disadvantaged communities in England (Department of Health, 2008)."

Once again, the shell game distracts us from the reality that underlies the lies in Every Child Matters:

" Wilkinson (1996) argues, it is from deeper inequalities in socially divided societies that negative physical and psycho-social health emerges for children and young people and also for their parents/carers. Linked to this are questions about the ‘invisibility’ of major aspects of children and young people’s lives within the five outcomes. For example, the whole question of spirituality is not mentioned anywhere in the outcomes framework."

"Inherent in Every Child Matters is a seductive and powerful potential to enmesh formal and informal educators in an obedience and passivity that may run contrary to our vocation and calling: to participate in a favoured way of thinking that glosses over, or institutionalises the invisibility of deep structural inequalities in contemporary English society. In engaging with the information and critique offered in this article, my hope is for formal and informal educators to be reminded of their active choice in how we operate in our roles and in our practice:

Whether as autonomous self actualising practitioners who have, “...a disinterested love of her fellows and an understanding of the aims she is pursuing and the methods of so doing - in other words, a mature person with knowledge, judgement, objectivity, and a sense of values in social affairs” (Younghusband 1947, cited in Jeffs, 2006).

Or, as an unquestioning technician of a favoured way of thinking promulgated and sanctioned by government – inherent in which is a specific and particular moral order."

I think most home educators saw through the role of technician during the threatened Badman and Balls invasion of our country of home education.

We are not technicians; we are autonomous self-actualising practitioners raising the next generation to the art of autonomy and self-actualising.

Quotes from

To home education! An alternative and a reality. May you be spreading your light forever.


  1. so in light of all that hn what do i do if mine want to go to school . . .. . . humph im a bit swamped hun xxx

  2. Hi Dawny,

    It's a different thing if your children choose to go to school. It's the choice that counts. Most schoolchildren have never been given a choice about it. You have taught your children to question authority, to think and reason, and to be aware of the power and intention behind words.

    Your youngsters will be fine, whatever they decide to do.

  3. Our ex-government wished us to believe that we parents should be told what we want for our children.

    I not heard M Gove M.P say he is against the ECM nor has the tory government? and im still not clear what view Gove has over home education? also a number of questions have been asked in the commons about how many home educators are they in different areas of england i wonder if Gove is thinking about a register of home educators?