Radical Unschooling

#HomeEd Under Attack in the UK! Pt. 1

Yesterday, I am managed to drag PanKwake and Cookie Jr. out of #HomeCrazzyHome to our local #HomeEd group’s bi-weekly gymnastics. While PanKwake LOVES gymnastics, she hates winter…the cold and the rain. But she wanted to show her new au pair who is a gymnast the facilities and try to get her hooked up with training there.

Another reason that PanKwake is reluctant to go to gymnastics is that it requires taxi rides. She gets motion sick easily. Be it taxi…bus…or train. So she has to REALLY want to do something for it to be worthwhile. Luckily we live in an area with loads of great stuff to do within walking distance.

One of the ways that we help PanKwake to manage her motion sickness is distraction. We took her old iPad with us anytime we travel. But yesterday, she and Cookie Jr. entertained themselves with discussions of time travel. It legitimately sounded like some scientific conference in the back sit as they tossed differing ideas and theories about…debating the merits of opposing options. Except, of course, for the squeaky high-pitched kiddie voices that is.

Both times I sat in the front seat educating the taxi driver on #HomeEd and #RadiCoolUnschooling. I am having to do that a lot lately. Because you see #HomeEd is under attack in both England’s House of Lords and the Welsh Assembly. While the proposals differ (although as of yet, the powers that be have not really shown their hand about what they propose at all), at the minimum both seek a register.

They do so under the guise of Child Protection. Much is being made about a boy in Wales who died of scurvy, a completely preventable disease with a well-balanced diet. The authorities are saying that this child was not seen by anyone since the age of 13-months. And they are deflecting the blame for their failings onto #HomeEducation.

To be fair…no one really knows the full story here. The reports that are coming out are full of holes and at times contradictory. The bottom line of the final Concise Child Practice Review, the review by a panel of professionals into what ‘went wrong’ in serious case of abuse, neglect or death of children, found:

“The Review also calls for CYSUR [Welsh word for reassurance, also an acronym for Children and Youth Safeguarding and Unifying the Region, Mid and West Wales Safeguarding Children Board]to write to the National Independent Safeguarding Board to ensure there is widespread training for all practitioners working with children, adults and families on the implications of the new guidance for the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 to ensure that assessments on individuals also consider the wider family context, including the impact on parenting and the needs of carers.”

Following this Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children said:

“the home-education element is just one part of this particular case…In terms of home schooling, I’ve already met with the Minister responsible for that decision, and we are, again, looking at the whole principle of well-being, about how that will look, and I’ll continue those discussions. I had a team meeting today, across the departments, to start looking about what we are going to do about this particular case, and what the lessons learnt will be, and how we will interpret them, in terms of legislation or otherwise, if we need to do that…, my personal view is that I don’t think a register will fix this problem. It may be part of a solution, but it’s not the only fix here and that’s what we’ve got to understand better to make sure that Dylan’s scenario doesn’t happen to any child again.”

(Both of these quotes were sourced from EdYourself a #HomeEducation advocacy practice. For a better understanding of the particular of this case, I highly recommend that you follow the link and read the whole article for yourself.)

Despite these findings the beginning of 2018 saw a full scale attack on the rights of privacy for #HomeEducating families when Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said:

“I am committed to ensuring all children in Wales receive a suitable education, are safeguarded, and have the opportunity to benefit from universal services. I have accepted, in principle, the recommendation by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales for a statutory register for home-educated children and will be working with the commissioner to take this forward.” (WalesOnline, January 4, 2018)

Examine that statement carefully, critically, and logically, folks! By this woman’s own words this has moved from a rare case of child neglect and a failing of the existing social services systems in two local councils to coordinate their efforts and use existing laws to help a family in crisis to a top priority of determining for ALL what is SUITABLE EDUCATION.

Government is using the smoke screen of one isolated case about which the full story is still not open to complete review to this taken the Cascade Report, a piece of ‘academic research’ at the behest of the Children’s Commission which many #HomeEducating families boycotted due to the biased nature of its questions.

Registration would therefore need to be accompanied by regular assessment visits that focus on supporting the family, assessing that the children are receiving the educational provision intended and ensuring that the child’s voice and their safety are being considered in decisions about their life, if it was to achieve its aims.

Note again that the emphasis is NOT on child protection but upon monitoring that education provision…giving government the power to determine what is and is NOT suitable education.

Some uninformed may even argue…

Yes, but isn’t that the role of government? To ensure that ALL children receive an education?

But I think that shall be tomorrow’s blog…

If you live in England or Wales…PLEASE share this series as widely as you can with open-minded friends, families, and others. Our greatest strength at this time comes from changing the tide of public opinion…which is only getting the side of the story that government wants it to hear.

Same is true if you are a member of the world-wide #HomeEducation community. What happens to one will certainly be used against others eventually.

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