Outrage and Disgust at Latest Government Attack on Families.
MEDIA INFORMATION FROM ACTION FOR HOME EDUCATION (AHEd)
For immediate release, 21 January 2009
Parents Express Outrage and Disgust at Latest Government Attack on Families
Home educating parents in England are expressing outrage and disgust as the government launches a vicious attack against them with yet another consultation affecting their family choices.
National home education group Action for Home Education today complained to the DCSF about the consultation which includes accusations that home educators are potential child abusers.
“This is not the first time we have had to defend ourselves against wild, unsubstantiated accusations made in an attempt to excuse further interventions into our family lives. We are already regularly questioned about our arrangements and it appears that the government now intend to put us all on permanent enquiry”, said Barbara Stark who is a home educating parent and chair of AHEd.
This consultation, the latest in an endless round of similar vexatious exercises, is part of a review of home education. However, home educators say they are being asked to defend themselves against unwarranted charges of child abuse and/or neglect and "invited to partake in the construction of our own oppression by answering a question asking what the government can do to ensure this abuse does not happen".
Barbara Stark said: "Parents are telling AHEd that they are extremely fed up with the repeated and sustained attacks on them while the state-as-parent continues to fail the country's children in breath-taking fashion.
"Many parents are home educating precisely because the authorities failed their children in school and are offended at the attempts of government to impose their much hyped desired outcomes on their children.
"Children are entitled to have their own desired outcomes. We reject the right of the state to dictate or examine our desires. AHEd stands by the right of parents to enable their children to aim for their own outcomes in their own way.
"Every week we hear that the many and sometimes tragic failures of authorities to educate and protect the children with whose provision they are entrusted are due to lack of resources - so why misappropriate funds to an area of research backed success in order to persecute this minority group, labelling them as potential abusers?"
AHEd supporter Clare Murton added, "If government can produce proper evidence of risk factors in home education, we are more than willing to examine that evidence and respond accordingly. However, whilst all that is put forward is rumour, slander and libel aimed at distracting the focus from their own despicable failures, we refuse to give credence to their leading questions".
One home educating parent blogs: "Your child can be bullied at school until they're suicidal but dare to take them out and the government want to brand you a potential abuser. Your local authority can break the law, dragging their feet or flat out refusing to do anything about your child's Special Education Needs but when you finally decide you've had enough and take them out of school, you're a potential abuser. Stand up for your child when the state fails them and you need watching. Put your children before career and material possessions and there must be something wrong with you".
Home educator Monika Dutta has very personal reasons for challenging this gross inteference. She says this consultation has moved to tears. "All I can think about is how my own family members were investigated by the government for not sending my mother to Hitler Youth meetings. Yes, New Labour's government reminds some people of Hitler who, incidentally, banned home education because of his desire to control all thinking as early as possible".
Home educators do not know precisely what final solution the government has in mind for them but fear that, while expensive routine and abusive checking on the many thousands of home educators will be a red herring that will detract precious time and resources from genuine instances of need, members of their community will be required to tolerate increased state interventions aimed at controlling the choices of law abiding and loving families.
"Why else would government launch their third attempt at revising the law pertaining to education otherwise than at school in as many years, despite previous spectacular failures due to massive opposition and blatant legal inaccuracies", asks Barbara Stark.
"This review is being seen as harassment and a threat by home educators who are tired of being ignored when it comes to their own views on what to do about home education, especially given the preference shown for the views of local authorities who routinely misunderstand education law and home education practice. Not only has the government ignored and tried to sideline us repeatedly, but now they try to silence and exclude us."
AHEd members are asking why only LA staff have been formally notified of the consultation. Home educators, the major stakeholders, discovered this consultation only through their own vigilance and networking, while the consultation response time has been cut to only one third of the usual minimum allowed using the excuse of urgent overriding public interest requiring prompt action. AHEd has made a formal complaint demanding to know what overriding public interest justifies this action.
Barbara Stark added: "To add insult to injury, we find that while we may all answer this 6 question consultation on what to do about home education, local authorities are being sent an additional questionnaire encouraging ultra vires practices and soliciting their detailed views about home education, containing 60 questions".
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