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Nanny State gives parents nightmares

Jill | 18.12.2009 20:08 | Education | Repression | Social Struggles

A new Bill threatens to undermine the rights and responsibilities of parents

“Mr. Badman” recommends children should be interviewed without their parents present

(you’d think he would’ve changed his name before coming out with that one!)

Yes, with no suspicion of wrong-doing, neglect, abuse, etc, Mr. Badman thinks parents should leave their young child alone, with no set purpose or boundaries for the interview, and for an indefinite amount of time (up to 8 hours), with an unknown LA official. This is part of the new bill that is being rushed through parliament which will regulate how parents fulfil their duty to educate their child.

While most are (fairly) happy to let schools deliver the education, it is actually the parents who are responsible for ensuring this is done. Most don’t know that, and don’t know that it’s a perfectly legal, and equal option to educate their child themselves – without needing to follow a curriculum, or even to actively “teach” the child. Those parents who do choose to “home educate” are being threatened with their human rights being put aside, and being forced to prove that they are fulfilling this part of their parenting duties to the satisfaction of an LA official. UK primary legislation and international human rights laws all recognise the sanctity of the family home, and that parents have the strongest motivation to protect their child and should be primarily responsible for their upbringing and development, but if this new bill succeeds, then it places key parenting decisions in the hands of the state, and reverses the assumption of innocence.

Whereas existing laws only require education to prepare a child for life within their community, the government has made education synonymous with exam success. Those who value home education as a way of providing a more personalised alternative to this will be forced to submit a yearly plan for their child’s education for approval by the LA. If they do not allow access to their homes, and for their child to be interviewed alone, as part of routine monitoring of this provision, then the LA will be able to simply force the child to go to school.

The government’s own statistics show that 1 in 6 children leave school functionally illiterate and innumerate, and yet there is no evidence of any such problem in home-educated children. Colleges and universities generally welcome home-educated children as they tend to be self-motivated learners, and research has shown that a positive family environment nurtures a child’s instinct to learn, even when, as with “autonomous” education, there is no formal teaching (1). Home-educated children may well not learn to read or write at the same age as school children, but they do not need to either, as there is no dependence on the written word. When they do start reading, they tend to very quickly catch up with their peers, and retain their enthusiasm and pleasure in reading. Many countries do not introduce formal learning until 6 or 7. Attempts to impose UK school-based “norms” on home-educated children will inevitably form the basis of LA assessment of parents’ educational provision, but has been described as “judging tennis by the rules of basketball”.

There is no evidence that home-educating parents are not fulfilling their duties, and yet Badman has tried very hard to obtain, and misrepresent statistics in a way that presents this view – for example by including children with Special Educational Needs in the numbers “known to social services”, thereby implying that there is a higher incidence of abuse, and by automatically including most home educated children as being “Not in Employment, Education or Training”, simply because they have no recorded information for them. It’s more than a little suspicious that he is involved in several businesses that stand to benefit substantially from this legislation, and that Freedom of Information requests for communications between the DCSF and his businesses have been refused.

At the very heart of this is a parents right to decide how to provide for their child. Demanding that parents register their meal plans for the coming year, and then empowering an LA official to observe your preparation of meals, the actual meal times, and interview your child alone to assess and monitor how you fulfil your duty to feed your child, in order to decide whether this is acceptable, is clearly absurd. Just imagine a vegetarian or vegan child being forced by the LA to consume approved meat-based meals. This is no different from what is being proposed about home education, and this bill will be a size 13 foot in the door regarding the role of the state in the family. It’s the thin end of a very large wedge. The Pastor Niemoller poem exactly describes the divide and rule approach of the government attempting to bring in routine monitoring of family life by first applying it only to a specific minority within the community –
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Please sign our petition and make it one of the fastest growing ones, so that it sends a clear message that there is widespread opposition to regulation of basic parenting duties.


Have a lovely break this Christmas, with the children home to play,
Get together with your family, and enjoy it while you may.

The times we spend with children will soon be regulated
With all details fully recorded, countersigned and dated.

We don’t protect our young enough, or their friends who come to play,
We must consider every adult that they might meet today.

If they see our children once a month, then perhaps they can’t be trusted?
We need to check the records, to see if they’ve been busted.

Most of them will not have been - does that mean they’re OK?
I’d rather trust my children, and what *they* think and say.

And now the state think I’m not safe, that I might neglect my own
Simply because I made the choice to educate at home.

They think I need to be assessed, and ask permission every year
To fulfil my parenting duty (for which I gave up my career)

They say they’re worried if they don’t know where my children are each day,
And can’t speak to them alone to check I’m doing what I say

They want me to leave my child of 7 in a room with a total stranger
Even she can clearly see that this itself is the biggest danger

If there are no grounds for concern, of abuse or other risk
Then please don’t come in here with your insulting tick-box list

Don’t routinely require that parents must prove their innocence
Please wake up, smell the coffee, and get back to common sense!

Please sign our urgent petition