Tuesday, 16 March 2010

So What Comes Next?

So the CSF Bill is nearly dead. There's an outside chance that if Gordon Brown hung on for a 3rd June election it could scrape through, but that's not likely. So we can assume that home educators have won this battle and can look forward.

There is undoubtedly more to come, whoever wins the election. If it's Labour, or they are at least in charge of education, we will have to deal with Schedule 1 again, and soon, which may mean concentrating on the Lords to get them to amend it to tone it down. We would be unlikely to be able to do much in the short term (i.e. the next Parliament) if this happens.

If the LibDems have any say then they will be pushing for their notification scheme, although they may be on our side for the rest.

If the Conservatives are running education then we still have to be careful. They are on our side in getting rid of the CSF Bill because they don't really want to be stuck with implementing it, but at some point after the election they will turn their attention to us as part of whatever they do on education.

It is therefore important to keep working hard to convince them to leave us alone and make it clear that we will fight them as hard as we fought Ed Balls if we don't like what they propose, and it is important that we consider carefully the effects on all aspects of HE before agreeing with them. We are indeed a diverse group, but united really well to fight the current battle, but we must be careful that the unity is not shattered by the government picking off particular groups with bribes and leaving others less well off

We also need to be mindful of what happens in five years time. What may seem a good idea with a benign and friendly government who are willing to provide support and facilities for minimal sacrifice on our part may let whoever wins in 2014/5 cut all of that as expensive and be left with a helpful database containing everything we've tried to avoid them getting this time. Government is very Jekyll and Hyde by its nature.

To follow up on an analogy I used elsewhere, we're in the castle and they're trying to get in. At the moment we're doing OK, we've repelled them from the walls and they didn't have time to assemble catapults or a ram. However, the next Parliament will have plenty of time to breach the walls. If that looks likely, then we need to be ready with the boiling oil and rocks to drop, and know in advance whether we can make an effort and divert them in a direction we prefer. Obviously we'd prefer them to be outside, but once in, what happens next?

I have my own personal list for when just saying NO is no longer going to work, and high on it are demands that we can also shout from the castle walls if a breach is imminent. These are on such matters as LA behaviour, qualification of inspectors, what they think they are inspecting, etc. I am reluctant to put forward my ideas because I am aware that they would not be acceptable to some, I don't want to make government think that even I would be happy with them and I'm mindful that Mr Hyde may turn up shortly so any ground given may later be used against us. The best we can do is attempt to make them pay a high price for any concessions we are forced to give.

It is a great shame that we have come to this - I blame Ed Balls and his department for destroying trust and for mindlessly parroting their balance of rights speech over and over again. Whether it was deliberate or not, home educators are going to be very reluctant to engage with the government for a long time. We are a minority, we are not understood by many people who also fail to realise the full implications of what they so blithely post in newspaper comment sections, we were doing a good job before all this started - certainly better than the government is doing with schools and we would just like to be left alone to continue doing that job.

So my message to whoever is in office after the election is this: Leave us alone, we've managed for many years with no support or assistance and we don't like all those nasty strings on what you're offering. Go and sort out schools and when you've managed to get bullying and abuse down to our levels, pupil satisfaction and happiness up to our levels and academic achievement up to even your target levels, then perhaps you will be better qualified to understand why we home educate and how it works. Then we might be ready to talk to you.