Home educating parents object to council’s home visit plans

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Parents proactively defending their civil liberties and exposing ultra vires LA activities.

Home educating parents object to council’s home visit plans

“It’s a general mistrust of the population. We are not citizens any more we are all terrorists …” says Rachel Graham, with irony. “Or child abusers …” her friend Leslie Barson exclaims. “We are a danger. We need to be checked and controlled.”

This is a meeting of parents who have all decided to educate their children at home, rather than sending them to school - some of their children are long grown-up, others are still school-age, though not at school - and they are angry because their local authority has introduced a new monitoring regime for home educators, which they say is an illegal infringement of their civil rights as parents.
Leslie nails it:

“Parents are responsible for their children’s education,” says Barson, a mother of two now grown-up children who were home-educated. “They ramp up safeguarding - ‘if it saves just one child’ - but this is not a safeguarding issue.

“There is no duty on a local authority to approve home education, it’s a parental responsibility. This is about approving and monitoring. I feel an inspection is an illegal infringement of my rights as a parent. The law says I’m responsible for my children’s education. The local authority’s responsibility starts if there’s evidence of a problem or a concern.

“They think our children are at risk because they are not being seen daily by a teacher. But children are not safe just because they are at school.”
Collusion between London boroughs...

Until earlier this year the Westminster parents had a home education policy, formally approved and adopted by the full council in February 2010, with which they were happy. It changed, to include the annual visit, when Westminster joined forces with Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea in a tri-borough arrangement to share services.
Pity they don't exercise the same 'extreme' diligence when it comes to investigating cases of child abuse in the hallowed halls of Westminster and nearby Dolphin Square.

Push it too far and they will soon find that parents make difficult and dangerous prey when it comes to protecting their children from state sponsored 'grooming'.
 

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Transcript of BBC Radio 5 Live broadcast on home ed

BBC Radio 5 Live broadcast on home ed, 3/01/15

Westminster council wants to introduce home visits for home educating families. The council is not required by law to visit. We will hear first from Helen White, a teacher, who home educates her 2 children age 10 and 14. Helen believes this infringes on parents' civil rights.

Interviewer: Helen, how does it work, one of your children is 14, will they be doing GCSEs in the same way as if they were at school?

HW: They can do exams if that's what you choose. It depends on the family and on the child, what their interests are, what their future plans are. Some take exams early, some late. Some do whatever qualifications the child needs for the particular course the child wants to do. In some cases the children go back into school, sometimes they go straight in to colleges, sometimes they do Open University.

Interviewer: Why are you so against the council popping in on just one day of the year to see how you are operating?

HW: The Triborough are not working within the current legal framework. All of British law is based on the fact that people are presumed innocent and also that parents bring up children not the state.
Education is just one of my responsibilities as a parent, I also have to feed my children, I have to look after their welfare, I have to keep them safe, if they need healthcare I have to go out & find it for them, take them to the GP or to A&E. The state's role is to support me. I can send my children to state school or private school, I can use tutors, I can pay for piano lessons or pay for sports.../

If there's evidence that we're failing in some way, or abusing our children or neglecting our children, that's the point at which the state would step in.

The authorities can contact us, they can offer support, it's perfectly alright for them to get in touch and say how can we support you, would you like us to come round and visit you, would you like some advice, but the issue with the Triborough is that they are trying to force people to have a visit, they are also trying to force seeing the children and they have no legal right to do that unless there's a child protection issue

Interviewer: their point is that children have a right to a home education, and they would argue that not all children are getting what they might describe as a proper education, and it is their responsibility to make sure that they are being educated.

HW: No. The responsibility to educate the child in the first place is with the parents and the last resort is with the local authority. There needs to be evidence that you're not doing it properly. We have cases in the Triborough where parents have prepared extensive reports, they've had feedback saying this is great, and we've got no safeguarding concerns, but we want to meet with you, and when the parent says no, the Triborough then starts bullying, it issues School Attendance Orders saying that in our opinion you are not providing an education, when the evidence is already there about the education.

Interviewer: Lets have a word with Andrew Christie, who is Director of Children's Services at Westminster Council. It's none of your business, as far as Helen White is concerned. How do you respond to that?

Andrew Christie: Well unfortunately it has to be our business in a few cases. From time to time there are cases where parents tell us they're home educating their child when in fact they're not, and our proposition is a fairly simple one which is that we just need to meet with the parents, meet with the child, and we're saying at a minimum just once a year just to establish for a fact that the parents are properly home educating their children.

Interviewer: But she argues that really you should have some kind of evidence in the first place, and there should be a presumption that a parent is doing right by their children unless you've got reason to believe otherwise.

AC: Well the difficulty is we're unlikely to have any evidence unless we actually get the chance to meet the parent or parents and the child.

Interviewer: What would one annual visit achieve anyway? If you've got genuine concerns, what are you going to find on one day, because you'll have given prior warning, so really what would you learn?

AC: Well, I think that's a fair criticism and actually part of the problem with all this is that the law and the regulations are in our view inadequate, not fit for purpose, and I certainly hope that the next Government will give consideration and will address this matter. But so you are right that one visit a year is not a lot, but if we have people who know what they're doing, sufficiently skilled, they may identify on that one visit that perhaps there are some concerns and if they did have some concerns then of course we wouldn't leave it at that, we would follow it up. But in any case through one visit you can pretty reasonably satisfy yourself that the child is being properly educated, the parents are doing a good job and we'd leave them to get on with it.
Would Andrew Christie be happy to have his home searched on a regular basis, just in case he is hiding some illegal activity? Shouldn't MPs' personal lives also be much more closely scrutinised since they all live off the taxpayer and should be more directly accountable? After all, "we're unlikely to have any evidence unless we actually get the chance" to check their homes and hard drives.

Our extensive map of professional child groomers and abusers confirms that a serious problem exists, which really needs to be addressed, but there is more chance of seeing pigs flying across the Westminster skyline than any independent public inquiry into the extent of child abuse by those placed in positions of 'trust'.

Why do public servants not uphold (or even understand) basic legal principles like the presumption of innocence and the right to a private family life? Does the law only protect the abusers?
 
... actually part of the problem with all this is that the law and the regulations are in our view inadequate, not fit for purpose, and I certainly hope that the next Government will give consideration and will address this matter
.

And there it is, the nugget, the main point of his whole argument.

The councils/overseers/whatever you want to call them, don't like the fact that the law doesn't support their view of the world.



Would Andrew Christie be happy to have his home searched on a regular basis, just in case he is hiding some illegal activity? Shouldn't MPs' personal lives also be much more closely scrutinised since they all live off the taxpayer and should be more directly accountable? After all, "we're unlikely to have any evidence unless we actually get the chance" to check their homes and hard drives
Absolutely!
 
If they're going to rip up the existing home ed laws as not fit for purpose then perhaps we ought to pre-empt them and write up our own version to wheel out if they do make a serious effort.

Having said that, it's not that the existing laws are wrong, it's other laws brought in to handle other problem areas that fail to properly mention home education as not being part of their target area.
 

Diane

HEdups
Yes, and it's simply that they see parents as the 'other'. Not part of their group, suspect and dangerous.
 

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Guardian letters: Home schooling and the rights of both children and parents

Two letters to the Guardian in response to the article:

Home schooling and the rights of both children and parents

The first letter exposes the fallacious 'child protection' argument now routinely used by state sponsored lackeys to smear home education,

Calls to regulate home education in the different British jurisdictions in recent years have all failed due to protection afforded to families by the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the “right to respect for private and family life”. Parents rightly fear local authorities for the bad decisions they make about the children they gain access to.

The Westminster education committee inquired into home education in 2012. It found no child protection issue. The chair, Graham Stuart MP, recently wrote that “the conflation of home education with a child safeguarding risk amounts to a serious stigma against parents” and that he had never seen either “any credible evidence that home education is a risk factor … nor … evidence that home education effectively hid abuse from the authorities”.
The second latter writer makes the erroneous and risible assumption that Articles 12, 28 & 29 of the UNCRC are upheld by the state, yet not by parents, when nothing could be further from the truth!

...the UN convention on the rights of the child defines an education as the child’s right (articles 28 and 29), and restricts the rights of parents over a child in light of the evolving capacities of the child (article 5) and the right of the child to express their views and have them given due weight (article 12).
Perhaps he hasn't noticed that the school system is failing on a massive scale to educate children and that school pupils are given no opportunity to have their views (or even their bodily functions) respected in the day prison environment.

Our not so little list and map of professional abusers should act as a reminder to all those well-meaning but severely myopic wearers of school tinted specs, who have failed to notice the nationwide accumulation of elephant dung that apparently passes for 'education' policy.
 

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The original Guardian article has attracted hundreds of comments. Predictably, the 'schooled' contributors just repeat the same old prejudices, smears and unsubstantiated claims they have been taught to trot out without doing any independent research or addressing the key human rights issues.

I especially liked this riposte by one Graeme Evans:

"Human rights are the most fundamental rights of human beings. They define relationships between individuals and power structures, especially the State. Human rights delimit State power."

State power currently prevents state officials invading a families privacy - any family. To change that requires necessity, proportionality and a lawful basis. As none of those conditions exist in relation to parents educating their children at home, school or anywhere else FOR EDUCATION purposes any intrusion into private family life for education reasons is a breach of rights.

The state may intrude when specific welfare concerns exist and the requirements of necessity, proportionality and lawfulness are met.

Highheels you might like to bone up on law, human rights and education methods before suggesting a child's rights are being violated by home education.

How many council education workers who have a home ed role have you met? The majority I have met have no clue - they think they are assessing a school, and work as though assessing a pupil in a school. Their overbearing hypercritical attitude does more harm than good. If councils employed competent people offering genuine service more HE families would get involved. Most councils do not and their intrusions into HE often cause harm. That does nothing to safeguard our children's education let alone their rights.

As has been pointed out how does a one or two hour per year assessment by a complete stranger evaluate anything? If done by a biased council education officer - and many are - what are the objective criteria they are using to assess that child? How do their views from a one or two hour assessment carry more weight than either the child's views or the parents views? No argument put forward by any authority figure in the last 10 years has addressed any of these issues except on emotional grounds - no objective criteria, no evidenced risk or harm, no significant number of HE children subject to school attendance orders (its a handful a year for in excess of 25, 000 children BTW) and the list goes on and on.

In response to these non evidenced issues we get more and more emotional claptrap about rights and safeguarding. Well that lack of evidence or objectivity is not good enough for my children or for me regardless of where they are educated. Plenty of children who are HE stood up in 2009 and spoke in parliament against monitoring and assessment - of their own free will, with no parents present. Those children ran rings around the types of officials who would be assessing them. How would being assessed by someone who is not competent advance their rights let alone their education? People generally know little about home education - but everyone has an opinion on it - just like most council education workers. Children deserve far better than to be judged by ignorant, narrow minded, constrained thinkers - council education workers need to evolve out of their school mentality and get a grip on what a 21st century education delivered one on one looks like. When they do - my kids might want to talk to them - if they don't want to talk to them, then that is their right.
 
Good to see this is on the Christian Institutes radar:

Council’s homeschooling plan ‘illegal infringement of rights’
http://www.christian.org.uk/news/councils-homeschooling-plan-illegal-infringement-of-rights/

Homeschooling parents in a London borough are campaigning against council plans to impose an annual home visit to monitor their children, saying it contravenes their parental rights.

. . . Mother-of-five Rachel Graham explained: “It’s a general mistrust of the population”, adding with irony that homeschooling parents are being seen as “terrorists” rather than citizens.

She continued: “If you have got someone coming into your home to look at what you are doing, they are making a judgment. But who are they? You don’t know what their background is or who they are.”

And fellow campaigner Helen White, a former teacher who home educates her children, said: “Everything is: ‘We do not trust the parent. You have to prove to us you are innocent. You have to do it on our terms.’ I find it quite insulting, to be honest. It’s an abuse of their power.”
Precisely. The default assumption that if you are working for a local authority you must be 'safe' has to be challenged. If they are not coming with a warrant containing actual evidence then we should turn them away.

And keeping your children 'safe' means preventing their wellbeing being harmed by intrusive and needless visits doesn't it?
 

Diane

HEdups
Would it be time to break out the list and post it on social media?

Entitled (something like) How safe is the 'professional' who wants to see your child?
 
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