Many home educators could be forgiven for not even realising we were a topic of current political interest, as the parts of the Education Bill being discussed were supposed to only relate to school admissions & selection processes & as such home educators were not consulted on the proposed changes, as the government decided, in their infinite wisdom, that a proposal to impose a 20 day 'cooling off period' for de-registration of a pupil would be "uncontroversial".
MP Graham Stuart (who is also the current government's 'Chairman of the Education Select Committee') was alerted to the fact that, should these recent proposals relating to de-registration be put into practice, it would, amongst other things, give divisive Local Authorities, who already feel they have the right to work above & beyond their lawful remit, a further excuse to perpetrate institutional biases & related bad practices against home educators. He, like many, did not at first feel that the ensuing outrage expressed was proportionate to the matter at hand but once again those with a sound knowledge base, relevant past experience & brilliant analytical skills were on hand to open debate on the issue & succinctly express the problems in a way that enabled Mr.Stuart to analyse the evidence & make a more informed decision than he had thus-far been able...
So here's the 'Good News'... In yesterdays parliamentary debate Graham Stuart was, once again, 'Our Saviour' ....& Amen to that.
He fought our corner fairly & with enthusiasm. Kept to the FACTS. Reinforced the primacy of the parent, told the 'State' to get it's own house in order. Put some jumped up little madam in her place when she tried to conflate welfare with education & further the myth that home educated children are in need of being 'seen' to be safe & put to shame one particular 'gentleman' who dared to say that it was us lower-class riff-raff that needed to be kept an eye on...
...& he took a fair bit of flack from the last governments Ex-Chairman of the 'Children's, Schools & Families Select Committee' in the process...(<-Whose expressions of a desire to implement 'monitoring' of home educators educational provision were predictably depressing)... All of which Graham Stuart dealt with in good grace & efficient style, bringing the debate back within the parameters of the current law as opposed to the bigoted opinions of the ignorant... including a very low parting shot by Mr.Sheerman implying that he thought Mr.Stuart had been somehow brainwashed by home educators & lost his mind.
Most importantly Graham Stuart highlighted the endemic situation of many Local Authorities overstepping their statutory duties & emphasising how it is this which needs addressing & correcting to bring them into line with the law. He showed that he'd done his homework by researching the websites & publicly available information published by various LA's, citing several examples of particular LA's shamelessly displaying their institutional biases. Nick Gibb spoke of how Graham Stuart had been instrumental in helping him to understand the reasons why the 20 Day Rule idea was a bad one & Mr.Stuart & he agreed to have a meeting to discuss the problems with LA's that overstep their remit. Even Michael Gove got a quick word in to agree with Nick Gibb that Mr.Stuart is in fact the "best-informed Member of the House on home education."... (So I reckon that we better make sure we keep him well informed eh!?! ;))
Further comment on the whole
"In my view, they belong to themselves but when they're very young, parents are their guardians precisely because - unlike the state - we have a natural, instinctive, loving bond with our children. We know them from birth, we spend the most time with them and we are therefore best placed to make decisions with them and on their behalf. The cold, impersonal, self-serving machine of state should be a parent of last, not first resort and the law properly reflects this"This attempt to introduce the 20 Day Rule, though successfully deflected, should serve as a warning to those who would like to think that there is any kind of quick fix to the problem of authoritarian mission creep on either local or national levels. The prejudices of political ministers, being spouted as if they are fact, should also serve to remind us that many of those in positions of power are a dangerous mix of arrogance & ignorance.
In a previous post I took issue with how a 'secret' few had taken it upon themselves to take active measures, without general consultation, to write 'guidelines' for LA's & legislators regarding 'how best to deal with HE families', any fallout from which will impact upon all home educators... disconcertingly, it appeared that the SGG seemed to have gained the ear of particular members of parliament who'd previously supported home educator's after the Bad Man fiasco & were attempting to push forward their own agenda in an underhand way whilst claiming that what they were doing was 'uncontroversial' (hmmm, ring any bells?). To make matters worse the ensuing in-fighting threatened to drive away that hard won political support & depleted the levels of trust between all concerned.
I hope those who would seek to serve their own biases, egos & self interests above those of others, both in the political & home education spheres can see the strength with which home educators have again responded, at short notice, to another potential threat to our families autonomy. We are, as ever, vigilant of the seemingly innocuous meddling which can easily snowball into flagrant agenda-ism & we will not give up our freedoms or self-determinism to those who purport to know what is best for us 'little men' without a fight...