Wednesday, November 15, 2006

DfES Threaten Changes to HE Monitoring and Curriculum

Right, third post for the day - a record for me, I think!

The HE community has been debated and sharing some worrying information that recently came to light. We have become aware that the Department for Education and Skills are set to consider changes to HE law and practice.

In order to encourage as much of the community to get informed, and get involved, people with HE blogs - or any blog for that matter! - have been encouraged to "spread the word". So, if you don't already know about it, read on. ..

A number of people asked to be better informed, so that they could take action. To this end, Fiona and others came up with a series of straightforward answers, to some straight forward questions. Namely:

a) The DfES is in charge of .......
b) They are planning .......
c) There is a man proposing.....
d) To keep home education alive you need to email/write to.......and say..

So, consider these answers a starting point:

a) The Department for Education and Skills is the government department that is responsible for developing strategies in education. They see part of their remit as aiming to achieve excellence for all and their functions will accord with the Every Child Matters agenda.

b) Following last year's DfES consultation on draft local authority Home Education guidelines, (which many HEors felt did not adequately or fairly represent the views of a large portion of the HE community, and even DfES admit was "targetted"), the DfES intend to conduct another consultation on Elective Home Education. They describe the proposed consultation as being "a full one, conducted via the Department's consultation website.".. where they hope to ensure that the documents are accessible to as many people as possible.

c) Put simply, it appears that the DfES is considering using the Every Child Matters Agenda to insist that home educators conform to standards as decided by the state. This will doubtless mean that they would like to impose a system of routine monitoring to assess progress. It would also, in all probability, mean that they would like to intervene in the matter of educational content, either explicitly through the imposition of a curriculum or through the method of punitive monitoring. DfES's complaints with the current system is that whilst schools are subject to close inspection, home educators appear to get away with it and that "whilst s437 of the Education Act 1996 provides a remedy for LAs which have concerns that there may be no suitable provision, this is unwieldy, time consuming and expensive and in some cases will be nugatory where home educators are making good provision but are resistant to LA enquiries."

d) To keep Home Education as we know and love it,
  1. Write to Elaine Haste of the Elective Home Education Department (DfES) at info@dfes.gsi.gov.uk and ask to be included on a list of those who receive information about the consultation.

    Ssample letter/email to DFES :
    "I am a home educating parent. I understand that there is to be a DFES consultation about light touch changes to the "monitoring" of home educated children. Please keep me informed of any further developments with regard to this consultation. Yours sincerely"
    info@dfes.gsi.gov.uk
    Elaine.HASTE@dfes.gsi.gov.uk
    Elaine Haste
    Elective Home Education
    DfES
    Mowden Hall,
    Darlington
    DL3 9BG.

    NB: This does NOT mean that you have taken part in the consultation and the DfES cannot honestly claim that you have. The reason why this last point is important is that HEors who are experienced in the area of government consultations are rightfully cynical about the uses to which these exercises are put. On previous occasions, HEors have found that they may as well have been shouting at the moon, since their views were not adequately or fairly represented in any conclusions or practice, though the DfES nonetheless was able to band it about that they had consulted us. So why bother signing up now if we don't plan to actually take part in the consultation? Signing up is important because the DfES needs to know just how many of us they are going to have to deal with. They need to realise just how many of us will resist changes in a serious way. If the powers that be think that they currently have significant problems with the dealing with HEors under the present legislation, they need to realise just how many more problems they are going to have should they change the situation in the way they appear to intend. This will only happen if the numbers of us who look as if we are going to be resistant to change really stack up.


  2. Spread awareness. Send this post (or improved version) anywhere you think helpful. Tell at least 4 other HEors what is going on and get them to sign up, as above. Get them to tell at least 4 others. Put this on Local HE Lists everywhere. Blog the story if you have an HE or any other kind of blog. Use this explanation there if you don't have the time to re-write it fully. Every one of us counts.


  3. Spread the positive word about home education (personalised learning, healthy happy children etc) possibly using the recent media stuff about "toxic childhood". This would be the "battle of hearts n minds" stuff.


  4. If you are a member of Education Otherwise you might want to communicate your feelings to the EO Government Policy Group (governmentpolicy@education-otherwise.org) about what you would ideally like EO to be doing about all this. You could also speak to your Local Contact. If you are a member of any other home education support organisation (or you know anyone who is) please pass on general information about the forthcoming DFES consultation.


  5. If you have any energy left, I would also write to your MP, whose seat will doubtless be a much more marginal than it has been for years. Tell her/him, for example, that you don't want your private family life invaded, that should the situation change and HEors be told what to do, you believe that changes will lead to a challenge in the law that holds that parents should be responsible for the education of their children.

3 comments:

Natalie said...

Hi Ann,

I have signed up and have received a 'confirmation' email to say that i am on the list - which i have saved for future reference!

Glad all is well with your pregnancy.

Natalie

Anonymous said...

thank you for this, ann. mike fortune wood has just posted it up on his HE-UK site as well ! another thing that occurs to me is that someone could usefully be talking to independent schools because they would be threatened in the same way ( cogs whirring in my brain ) talk soon, love fiona

Carlotta said...

That is great...The more people who can get to hear of it, the better. Are you on any local lists? I am not sure if it has made it's way over to Kent yet and it would be great if you could pass it on over there.

Bws.