Did we all somehow manage to miss the official statement by the DfE that it was to issue new guidelines on elective home education in England? Googling and asking pertinent direct questions produced no results, so it seemed safe to assume that the rumours circulating around the home education community had no basis and were just another NPD induced fantasy from a paid up member of the Princess Pushy society.

These rumours  continued unabated, however, prompting the supersleuths at Home Ed Forums to investigate the matter further. This eventually led us to the Facebook wall of a Tory MP who confirmed that he had asked some little helpers to draft some guidelines / guidance (the two are used interchangeably which demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of the difference). Stakeholders were not to be consulted, enquirers were informed, until Graham’s Chosen Few (with top secret identities and therefore referred to as Tweedledum and Tweedledee) had produced a fait accompli that the drones could then either rubber stamp or be called spoilers. How cool Britannia is that?

There are certainly a lot more questions than answers, although we now know the identities of some of the little helpers, none of whom inspires confidence in anyone but themselves.

Who approached whom to write this document and what was the brief?

How much public money is being used for this exercise?

On what basis is it being undertaken, given there appears to have been no official DfE statement?

Is public money being diverted into private pockets with a vested interest in providing services as a result of new guidelines?

It’s a queer way of doing, to be sure. Dodgy even, some might say. Using Facebook to tell (or confess to) stakeholders of an impending stitch up is certainly not cricket. Illiberal autocracy has replaced liberal democracy in England, it seems.

When challenged about the pointlessness of such an exercise in the face of CME statutory guidance, which is routinely being abused by LAs to define home educated children as ‘missing education’ and needs to be ‘fixed’ first, Tweedledum and Tweedledee reacted angrily because ‘they know what’s best’ for the rest of us (and most especially for themselves).  But of course they don’t.

Gill and AHEd have already pointed out the problem which should have been blindingly obvious to all but the most opportunistic of rent seekers and/or self serving sycophants.

It was also pointed out that home education guidance in Scotland is statutory (as enabled by s14 of the SinSS Act 2000) and that electively home educated children north of the border are excluded from the ‘missing education’ definition. Based on their considerable experience of having in place this statutory guidance (which was thrashed out after months of consultation and founded on proper research and legal advice), Scottish home educators have strongly advised that new elective home education guidelines for England will make no difference whatsoever to the way LAs behave.

As one commented:

“Scotland’s experience demonstrates that LAs have great difficulty in understanding the law, never mind guidance. Some don’t know the difference anyway, and the ones who claim to have been ‘trained’ are generally worse than the rest as they use it as an excuse to lie, bully and misrepresent.”

Maybe that is why Scottish education secretary Michael Russell has recently issued a reminder to LAs in response to a series of parliamentary questions about elective home education. 

It seems to us that there is good money to be made by some from flogging dead LA horses, and a book has been opened on how often the word ‘training’ will appear in the little helpers’ document. Those who are directly involved in this exercise in futility should at least have the honesty to declare their private interests. Similarly, the politicians involved should clarify whether or not this is a freelance operation or an official DfE policy decision (albeit one that nobody seems to have any knowledge of).

Meanwhile, the mushrooms are growing restless and a lot of faecal matter may soon be hitting the cooling appliances.

Comments welcome on this forum thread