Tuesday, 2 March 2010

I've moved!

I've got my own website, and I'm now hosting my blog there. All the old posts have been imported to it, and I will no longer be updating this blog. If you want to carry on reading my ramblings, please bookmark the new place!

Monday, 1 March 2010

More photos.

Been doing a lot of thinking about home education these last few days. Way too much thinking really. My thoughts are a jumbled mess, and I can't seem to reach a conclusion. In the meantime, the children are really getting into their art.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

A disgrace!!

This is the press release issued by the Secretary of State for Education, Ed Balls, in response to the death of Khyra Ishaq:

Secretary of State's response to verdicts in the Khyra Ishaq case

25 February 2010

What happened to Khyra Ishaq and the other children involved in this case was tragic and will shock and appal everyone who reads or hears about her terrible death. It is very hard for any of us to understand how adults could do this to children in their care.

There are clearly serious questions to be answered about what local services and professionals were doing in the months before this tragedy took place. As the trial has shown, it is now clear that concerns about these children were not acted upon effectively and it is right that a Serious Case Review has been carried out.

The Local Safeguarding Children Board will report shortly - I expect it to publish a full and detailed Serious Case Review (SCR) executive summary that is clear about what happened and what action is being taken as a result. The Government has already taken decisive action to intervene in Birmingham’s children's services, following Ofsted's judgement in December 2008 that their services were inadequate in terms of safeguarding. If we think there is more to do, we will.

The trial has demonstrated, and statements today from the police confirm, that home education was a factor in this case. It shows why we do need a system in place to make sure that when children are home educated or removed from school, they not only get a good education but are safe. That is why I asked Graham Badman to review home education and home educated children’s safety and welfare.

I am now taking forward Graham Badman’s recommendations that every local authority should have access to any home educating family and that all home educating parents must register with the local authority. We will do all we can to ensure the safety of children, in Birmingham and elsewhere, including using statutory powers where it is right to do so.

Ed Balls' statement, linking home education to Khyra's death is a disgrace. He's misleading the public to push his own agenda. If EHE was a factor, then so was the way her parents fedd their children. So why aren't the government advocating the registration of all parents, requiring them to get permission to feed them certain types of food, forcing them to submit to inspections of their food cupboards, fridge and supermarket receipts to ensure the diet is suitable, making them submit for approval menus 12 months in advance, and issuing State-regulated compulsory diets if the above isn't adhered to?

Why isn't that done? Because it's ridiculous. None of that would save the next child to die of abuse. Just like Schedule 1 of the CSF Bill won't save the next child to die of abuse. Schedule 1 is ridiculous. Ed Balls and Graham Badman are using this case to push their own control agenda. Balls wants to control every aspect of family life and is using this poor girl's case as ammunition. It is shameful. I am ashamed that I ever voted for this government.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

What we did today.

Here we go again.

I wasn't around in the HE community when the Badman report was published. I came to it all rather late. I'm quite glad really, as I think I would have been completely demoralised. To take one example, he said that the rate of child abuse in home educated children was twice the national average. This was wrong and based on flawed statistics, but despite this, the government accepted his report as fact, and accepted his recommendations in full. The Home Ed community have worked hard to try and correct the tons of misinformation in the Badman Report, and many people have realised how wrong it is. We started to feel we were making progress. Then the trial of the parents of Kyra Ishaq resurfaced in the media.

Kyra Ishaq was a little girl who was starved to death by her parents. At the time of her death, she wasn't going to school. Her parents had removed her. Badman, the local MP and Social Workers say her case is the reason home educators need to be licensed and monitored. And on the face of it, the claims look reasonable. So lets look at some detail.

When you remove a child from school in order to home educated, the law says you MUST send a letter of de-registration so that your child is removed from the school roll, and the parents cannot be prosecuted for truancy etc etc. There is NO de-registration letter on file from the parents of Kyra to say she was being educated otherwise than at school. Kyra wasn't being home educated, she was being hidden.

This family were known to social services. When Kyra's body was found, her siblings were also found to be in various states of malnutrition. None of them were attending school, even though they had all attended previously, and none had been formally de-registered. The school had raised concerns about the children and about their absence. Yet social services had deemed the children not at risk, no Education Welfare Officer had visited, Police declined to visit do to 'no concerns' from social services.

Graham Badman says this case proves that a tiny minority of families use home education to cover up abuse.

What it says to me is that the local authority, the education service and social services failed utterly in their duty to the children in this family, and in the light of horrific cases in Darlington and Harringey, these 'services' are trying desperately to lay the blame elsewhere.

Home Education is a red herring. Kyra wasn't home educated, she was truant. She was being prevented from getting any type of education by her abusive parents. She was utterly let down by those who should have protected her.

This case isn't about home education, it is about the failure of established agencies, and their failure to use existing law to save Kyra's life. The people who think this case is about home education are wrong, are guilty of not looking at the details properly, and if they stand by and let the current proposals for the monitoring and licensing of home education become law, are guilty of letting thousands of children down.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Bully? Part 2

Seems I wasn't the only one think like this. 2 patrons of the charity have resigned in protest at the breach of confidentiality. One resigned this morning, and I've just seen on twitter (via Ben Goldacre) that Sarah Cawood has also resigned. It seems Ms Pratt may have her own agenda for wanting to discredit Gordon Brown (and let's face it, he doesn't make it hard to dislike him or his policies, does he?), but to use her charity and the people who need it is beyond the pale.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


Amongst the clamouring to reveal the Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a bully, one in particular has disturbed me. The Chief Executive of the National Bullying Helpline has told BBC News that several staff from the PMs office have contacted her charity for advice. I want to leave aside the political ramifications of this to comment on the actions of Ms Pratt.

One of the ways bullying works is to make the victim feel isolated, alone, and with nowhere to go, no-one to turn to. Even people who would normally support the victim may turn away, frightened that the bully might turn on them next.

It is so very very important that a victim of bullying has access to a safe haven, someone or somewhere safe where they can seek advice, get help or even start the process of taking action. Somewhere where they know they won't be discovered by the bully. The people who work in this area must never divulge the identities of the victims using the service, not even by naming the place of work.

The actions of Ms Pratt, by saying several of the PMs staff have contacted the charity have left me astounded. Any bully in that office now knows that there are staff there so frightened that they had to contact a charity to seek help. That bully probably now knows exactly who has called out for help. And, as is usual in this situation, the intimidation will now probably be stepped up a notch or 3.

This indirect identification of victims is almost as shocking as the allegations of bullying itself. The indiscretion of Ms Pratt will probably lead to many more victims doing nothing, saying nothing about the bullying they endure. It's almost as if this helpline is in collusion with the bullies!

I always thought the point of helplines such as this was to empower victims to make choices that were right for them. Ms Pratt has dis-empowered the staff in the PMs office, and more than likely dis-empowered thousands of bullying victims across the UK. Shame on her.