Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Inspection and Monitoring

So, anything from light-touch monitoring (whatever that is) to having to sit SATs and conform to the National Curriculum. Fortunately the SATs and NC have yet to feature in government proposals, but given Michael Gove's love affair with the Swedish system, we need to keep an eye on it.

There seems to be a background expectation of change, whoever wins the imminent election. Home education has had to raise its profile too high to be able to duck back under cover and carry on. I did cover this in an earlier post, So What Comes Next?, where we need to be vigilant and not duck down and get steamrollered by whatever it is that comes next.

So, to the title of this post. The thing that is most likely to hit us is an obligation to make ourselves known to officialdom. Some already are known, whether they like it or not, but a good many of us are still not formally down on paper even though we haven't exactly been hiding, with petitions, visits to Parliament, writing to MPs and DCSF, TV, radio and newspaper interviews, etc. If LAs are quick enough off the mark with ContactPoint, they will be able to pick up on many of those missing from their lists before an incoming Conservative government takes it away from them.

A 'light touch' scheme, as proposed by the LibDems, would merely require us to provide the names and addresses of our children, and probably our own details, to the local authority. What could be lighter and less intrusive? Except it won't end with that. Once the LA has that information, it won't just leave it to sit in a filing cabinet (but might leave it sitting on a train), it will want to use it.

So the education inspector will call and, buoyed up by the CSF Bill proposals, will no doubt want to see an education plan for the coming year. Hang on, that wasn't part of the light touch, was it? More than a few inspectors will probably try to insist on a home visit, now you've told them where it is, even though there's nothing about that in the light touch either. And where are the samples of work, where is the child? Before we know it, we'll be back with all the inspectors who want to implement the law as they'd like it to be rather than as it is, except now they'll have more families to harass. The good inspectors, who've been at it for several years and have experience to do a proper job, will have to be supplemented by untrained and unqualified extra staff, many of whom will come from a school background and are likely to expect to see school at home. That doesn't sound very light touch, more like hassle and arguments.

It will be very difficult to keep a 'light touch' notification scheme down to just that. Local authorities are going to take what's offered and keep pushing for more, because they are burdened down with other legislation that forces them to not trust parents. As we don't trust them either, based on years of examples of power-mad inspectors and social services, it will get messy. The big difference now, however, is that we've been woken up from our slumber and have armed ourselves with a good understanding of the law and an awareness of what we might lose. It may be that we end up with some awful scheme, but we can fight to make sure it doesn't creep forward and trample our families.

1 comment:

  1. I went to my LA appointment and told the guy very directly "I don't trust you." (I didn't mince words I wanted to leave no room for misunderstanding.) I said what most people would love to be able to say but don't or can't. They are too afraid to say anything like that.

    I also made him sign a letter that acknowledged he was acting outside of the law. I then emailed him the correct sections of the EHE guidelines 2.6 and 2.7 that clearly state that EHE children are not in his remit for identifying children who are not receiving a suitable education (only children on a school roll are) and that they are not to be routinely monitoring EHE children. Page 6 of the EHE Guidelines of 2007, read it for yourself. For some reason he hasn't responded to that email. I can't ever imagine why, can you?