Monday, 15 November 2010

The new guidelines; a summary to date

Judging from some of the questions being asked on Internet lists, there is confusion about what these guidelines are which Tania Berlow and her friends are working on. Let me just give a brief outline so that people can see what is going on.

The law relating to home education in this country is very muddled and confusing. So much so, that even lawyers cannot always agree on what the situation actually is. In addition to the basic bit of law which allows home education, Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act, there are various old precedents and also a number of more modern pieces of statute law. The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006, Children Act 2004 and of course a new section added years later to the 1996 Education Act. Section 436A, laid upon all local authorities a duty to identify children missing from education. Section 437 goes on to specify that home educated children receiving a suitable education are not to be regarded as being missing from education. The result of all these laws is that local authorities sometimes get a bit mixed up about what their legal duties actually are when it comes to home education. For this reason, in 2006 it was decided to try and produce some guidelines for the local authorities, government approved guidelines which would explain their duties. Between August and November 2006, York Consulting Ltd. undertook a study for the Department of Education and Science, which in May 2010 became the Department for Education. Their brief was to examine elective home education in England and try to identify any perceptible trends.

The result of York Consulting's work was that in 2007 the Department issued the Guidelines for LAs on elective home education. They can be found here:

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/everychildmatters/publications/elective/


The aim of Tania Berlow's group is to rewrite these guidelines. There are two difficulties. Firstly, the guidelines are not statutory. This means that local authorities can ignore them is they wish. The second problem is that the current guidelines could hardly be made more favourable to home educators than they already are. For instance, they say;

2.7 Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis.

Some parents may welcome the opportunity to discuss the provision that they are making for the child’s education during a home visit but parents are not legally required to give the local authority access to their home. They may choose to meet a local authority representative at a mutually convenient and neutral location instead, with or without the child being present, or choose not to meet at all.

3.11 Local authorities should bear in mind that, in the early stages, parents’ plans may not be detailed and they may not yet be in a position to demonstrate all the characteristics of an “efficient and suitable” educational provision.

3.14 It is important to recognise that there are many, equally valid, approaches to educational provision. Local authorities should, therefore, consider a wide range of information from home educating parents, in a range of formats. The information may be in the form of specific examples of learning e.g. pictures/paintings/models, diaries of educational activity,
projects, assessments, samples of work, books, educational visits etc.


In fact it is hard to see how these guidelines could be any better from the point of view of home educating parents. They already make it clear to the local authorities what they can and cannot do. Why do they need to be changed? Of course some parents are not happy with the law itself and want that to be changed. This is quite a different matter and there are, as far as we have been told, no plans for this.

So much for the background. The only public face of the changes to the 2007 guidelines is of course Tania Berlow. Two slightly alarming things have been noticed about her more recent posts on the Badman Review Action Group; one relating to form and the other to content. Tania seems to be falling into the habit of emphasising important words by the use of capital letters. Rather like THIS. This is SELDOM a good SIGN and unless she is CAREFUL, she might end up using GREEN or YELLOW ink like another well known home educator! The second and even more chilling feature of her latest post is mention of the New World Order. Now in my experience, once people begin talking of the New World Order it is only a matter of time before we start hearing about Rosslyn Chapel, the Illuminati, Area 51 and Prince Philip being responsible for Diana's murder. It is devoutly to be hoped that there will be no mention of either the New World Order or any of these other topics in the new guidelines!

If Alison Sauer's company, Sauer Consultancy, has been officially commissioned to do some work on behalf of the Department for Education, as York Consulting was in 2006, we should be told. It is high time to drop the secrecy and come out into the open. When York Consulting carried out their work in 2006, work which led to the publication of the 2007 guidelines for local authorities, there was none of this secrecy and I cannot for the life of me see why there should be now. The only reason which I can think which would explain this lack of openess is that something a bit fishy is going on.

35 comments:

  1. From what I can see, it is others who are mentioning this 'new world order' and pushing the ideas of a conspiracy theory, and a government out to enslave us all.
    Tania is merely pointing out that other people with these beliefs are harming the negotiation process. She is not the one with these beliefs at all.
    I feel you are going all-out to discredit her when she is just trying to work with Graham Stuart et al. I dont understand why it's secret either but given the depth of feeling from others towards those who are currently willing to discuss things with the gov.t and to be democratic, its hardly a surprise that people dont want to raise their hand and admit they are involved. Even as a tentative 'wait-and-see'-er I'm afraid to post under my own name.

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  2. I am far from convinced that drawing attention to the content and style of another person's posts can be described as an all-out attempt to destroy that individual!

    'I'm afraid to post under my own name.'

    I am sorry that you are such a nervous person, but am hardly responsible for this aspect of your character. As I pointed out above, when York Consulting were engaged to lay the ground for the 2007 guidelines, the whole thing was done in an open and transparent fashion. If Sauer Consulting have been similarly engaged, and this is by no means certain, then I cannot see why it is being done in an underhand and secretive way.

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  3. old Webb says-I am sorry that you are such a nervous person, but am hardly responsible for this aspect of your character. As I pointed out above, when York Consulting were engaged to lay the ground for the 2007 guidelines, the whole thing was done in an open and transparent fashion. If Sauer Consulting have been similarly engaged, and this is by no means certain, then I cannot see why it is being done in an underhand and secretive way.

    your right Webb if you got nothing to hide your do it out in the open so that every one can see there is something very fishy going on!
    We do not like having to agree with Webb but on this point he is right it really is amazing that this Tania(who is she) can be trying to change things for home educators who elected her? we did not!

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  4. 'From what I can see, it is others who are mentioning this 'new world order''

    Well, not really. The only mention I have seen about this on either BRAG or any of the other main lists has been by Tania. For example, yesterday she said:

    ' Those who prefer to expose the New World Order and work to dismantle it can refuse to participate anything that falls short of getting rid of all the related legislatiion until only Section 7 remains'

    I was simply remarking that the New World Order might be somewhat of a distraction when people are discussing the 2007 guidelines for LAs on elective home education! I am not trying to suppress any debate on the New World Order, I just think that it might be best to keep it separate and distinct from the new guidelines. Quite apart from anything else, it gives an unfortunate impression to any professionals who might be following the discussions on these lists.

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  6. 'I was simply remarking that the New World Order might be somewhat of a distraction when people are discussing the 2007 guidelines for LAs on elective home education! I am not trying to suppress any debate on the New World Order, I just think that it might be best to keep it separate and distinct from the new guidelines.'

    It would be best, wouldn't it? The problem is, as anonymous said, that other people with these beliefs are harming the negotiation process. Read between the lines on the Home Education Forums, and it is obvious. Tania is just bringing it to our attention.

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  7. Who is Tania? never heard of her untill Webb said about her!

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  8. "I was simply remarking that the New World Order might be somewhat of a distraction "

    I don't know to what extent NWO is an issue in the community, but certainly I've got the impression there are some pretty extreme politics\belief systems hovering beneath the surface of arguments and positions on HE issues. (see "Stasi-like). I didn't come away from that conversation with the impression that HE is the priority for people at the extreme ends of political spectrum. In fact I got the impression that in PR terms HE would happily be thrown under the proverbial bus in order to use it as a vehicle to air political leanings.

    If it turns out that disproportionately big chunk of high profile HEors who have had a massive impact on shaping HE's public image, tactics and stance on a variety of issues have unusual or "interesting" politics, then I think it deserves to stand as a separate, equally important discussion that is worth having.

    Extremists just don't usually do a good job of representing a diverse group of people. They tend not to be able to compromise their primary political goals for the sake of practicalities that affect the wider group as a whole. So a light shone on what lies behind people's attitudes and arguments probably isn't a bad thing at all.

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  9. "Firstly, the guidelines are not statutory. This means that local authorities can ignore them is they wish."

    Not really. The guidelines are basically a summary of the law so they cannot be ignored in that sense.

    "As I pointed out above, when York Consulting were engaged to lay the ground for the 2007 guidelines, the whole thing was done in an open and transparent fashion."

    Was it? Can you point me in the direction of a detailed history? I certainly don't recall much information being available before the first draft was put out for consultation and we haven't reached that point in the current round yet.

    "If it turns out that disproportionately big chunk of high profile HEors who have had a massive impact on shaping HE's public image, tactics and stance on a variety of issues have unusual or "interesting" politics, then I think it deserves to stand as a separate, equally important discussion that is worth having."

    In my experience, home educators have been politicised as a result of HE rather than the other way round. Certainly I had not responded to any government consultations or taken much interest in how the law and government works before home educating. It has certainly been an eye opener!

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  10. 'Not really. The guidelines are basically a summary of the law so they cannot be ignored in that sense.'

    If that were the case, then of course there would be little point in re-working them as Tania and Sauer Consulting are apparently doing at the moment. In fact they are an intepretation of the law, which is quite another matter.

    'I certainly don't recall much information being available before the first draft was put out for consultation and we haven't reached that point in the current round yet.'

    There was quite a bit of discussion when York Consulting began doing their survey among the nine local authorities. There was nothing secretive about it. One gets the feeling that Alison Sauer and company wanted to do everything quietly and then present people with a fait accompli.

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  11. Well I dont know what to think half the time because with all the infighting, it makes it hard to figure out. For HEers who don't really know what's going on, all this 'he-said-she-said' nonsense make me think everyone is a liar. It doesn't present a good image of HE to outsiders either.

    I guess the way I see it, those trying to whip up a frenzy with conspiracy theories are really not very helpful. I haven't noticed Tanya saying she believed in a 'New World Order' but I am happy to look again at this if you can point me too it?

    In the meantime, I feel I couldn't possibly be for, or against, a guideline document that I haven't even seen so for now I am going to have to take the middle line and avoid extremes in either direction.

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  12. "In fact they are an intepretation of the law, which is quite another matter."

    The law seems pretty straightforward. Where do you see scope for interpretation?

    "There was quite a bit of discussion when York Consulting began doing their survey among the nine local authorities. There was nothing secretive about it."

    We didn't hear anything about the first draft of the guidelines though and I'm reasonably sure no home educators were involved in drawing them up, so that's an improvement straight away.

    I still cannot see what they hope to achieve with the guidelines though. They can be ignored by LAs just as easily as they ignore the current guidelines and laws and they will not prevent future governments changing laws if they wish.

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  13. You ask where I see scope for interpretation. the bits which I psoted are almost entirely waffly interpretation. For instance:

    Some parents may welcome the opportunity to discuss the provision that they are making for the child’s education during a home visit but parents are not legally required to give the local authority access to their home. They may choose to meet a local authority representative at a mutually convenient and neutral location instead, with or without the child being present, or choose not to meet at all.

    3.11 Local authorities should bear in mind that, in the early stages, parents’ plans may not be detailed and they may not yet be in a position to demonstrate all the characteristics of an “efficient and suitable” educational provision.

    3.14 It is important to recognise that there are many, equally valid, approaches to educational provision. Local authorities should, therefore, consider a wide range of information from home educating parents, in a range of formats. The information may be in the form of specific examples of learning e.g. pictures/paintings/models, diaries of educational activity,
    projects, assessments, samples of work, books, educational visits etc.

    There is nothing in the relevant legislation about pictures, paintings or models! This is the writer's interpretation of the law.

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  14. "I haven't noticed Tanya saying she believed in a 'New World Order'"

    I read it as the other way round, that the some of the people arguing with her are new world order fans.

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  15. "new world order fan?"

    Somebody who believes this conspiracy therory is true, as far as I can work out.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_World_Order_(conspiracy_theory)


    Although, I have a nagging feeling there was a band in the 80s that went by the same name.

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  16. "There is nothing in the relevant legislation about pictures, paintings or models! This is the writer's interpretation of the law."

    So you are in favour of a straightforward detailing of the applicable laws without examples of possible practice? Possibly more like the 'Elective Home Education - Legal Guidelines', jointly compiled by many home educators about 10 years ago but brought up to date?

    http://www.home-education.org.uk/ehelg.pdf

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  17. 'So you are in favour of a straightforward detailing of the applicable laws without examples of possible practice? '

    No, I was just responding to this assertion:


    'The guidelines are basically a summary of the law so they cannot be ignored in that sense.'

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  18. who is Tanya? never heard of her untill Webb started tlking about her.What is she and what does she do?

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  19. "No, I was just responding to this assertion:


    'The guidelines are basically a summary of the law so they cannot be ignored in that sense.'"

    But they basically are, with the addition of practice examples. The guidelines make it clear when they are describing law that LAs are required to obey and examples of how that law might work in practice. Still not sure how the law could be interpreted differently from the bit you quoted.

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  20. Wildly OT question on the side just in case anybody knows

    What happened in the end to Oak Reah ?

    Did he go back to school or did the parents comply and that was the end of it ?

    Did he grow up to be a home educator too, or did he change his name to Barry and become a geography teacher complete with leather elbow patches ?

    I keep reading the Donaldson stuff and get left wondering how it all worked out for them in the end.

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  21. Everyone has been told on more than one occassion, that no money is being paid and no companies have been commissioned. Not even expenses for all the phone calls!

    Simon I am shocked that you post information about a persons accounts from someone you yourself called 'unreliable'. Surely if this unreliable person had at least done the job properly and paid Companies House the measly sum (£5.00) required you would have made the accounts available for all to see?

    Why not 'drop' Alison Sauer in it if there was anything dubious to show?

    It seems therefore that there is nothing untoward at all to show.

    I have a copy of this 'misinformation'.

    It is not a paid for document and it therefore shows zero income for the last 5 years .

    Technically if it really were zero, then this company is showing insolvency or near insolvency.

    If this was the case will the Sauers be accused of being homeless or destitute , oh my!

    How could they pay the mortgage or indeed feed and cloth the kids with zero income?

    'The credit rating is not great either'. Does this mean they are behind on their instalments for the new plasma screen ? No, it just means that they are not great global consumers and do not much like the use of credit cards or take out loans which charge exorbitant rates. Credit ratings fall if you do not borrow money.

    I am sure enquiring minds want to hear more of an explanation. I am tempted to say go and pay Companies House yourselves but will delegate Simon with the task as he is the 'investigative ' journalist .

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  22. continuation.....

    Here is the background information. Alison's husband is a successful project manager in the chemicals industry with international credentials . They both own The Sauer Consultancy Ltd.

    Please note Mr Webb that it is not 'Sauer Consulting' – that mistake should only be reserved for Graham Badman who made the same error.

    Now as is wont twixt husband and wife , they file jointly.So anyone paying the small amount of dosh to companies house would not be able to discern between the 2 incomes.

    Alison Sauer has trained staff from about 30 different LAs. This does not mean all staff from each LA are required to attend nor indeed to listen.

    There has been little opportunity for training since Badman and even less opportunity in this budget-scarce economy.

    The guidelines rewrite will hopefully take the 'mishmash' which Simon admits is confusing and muddled and clarify it. Unless it is just Simon who is admitting to be a bear of little brain and everyone else is absolutely clear on all the various Acts, SI's Statutory Guidance and Guidelines?

    If guidelines are clearer so that LAs don't fudge or mess them up , as some are wont to do, then there would be even less opportunity for training as they will not need any.

    Guidelines are there to interpret law so LAs ignore them at their peril especially if the current government is backing them and enough home educators demand that they be adhered to . Unless of course a Local Authority wishes to prove they are interpreting the law in an equal or better way in a court of law or with the ombudsman.

    As for Ralph Lucas, the good Lord of Crudwell and Dingwall, he is a man with a great sense of humour. He would possibly be first to admit that humour was needed with a title such as his and in his dealing with home educators over the past year or so he must have honed his wit considerably.

    It does not hold in evidence that he took a slap from both sides. Only one side. As for his 'staying power' now that is getting a little too personal don't you think?

    As regards his silence on "that" forum - I think he quickly realised that he was probably wasting his time. Maybe he also didn't feel like doffing his cap or tugging his forelock to folk who clearly were not willing to be civil or engage.

    Could it be that I sniff a new blog post coming from the Lord who has tried his darndest to understand as much as he could about home education over the past 2 years-he went from 0-60 in as many months and is a man well aquainted with the 'politicking' that goes on in every group in the world?

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  23. 'I have a copy of this 'misinformation'.'

    The misinformation to which I referred was the attempt to persuade people that Mrs Anon who comments here and Alison Sauer are the same person. They are not.

    I don't think that there si anything dubious about Sauer Consultancy or its accounts. Only that the company does not seem to be flourishing.

    'Technically if it really were zero, then this company is showing insolvency or near insolvency.

    If this was the case will the Sauers be accused of being homeless or destitute , oh my!'

    I have no reason to suppose that this company is the only source of income for the Alison and Ralph Sauer.

    'So anyone paying the small amount of dosh to companies house would not be able to discern between the 2 incomes.'

    This has nothing to so with anybody's income, only the affairs of the company.

    ''The credit rating is not great either'. Does this mean they are behind on their instalments for the new plasma screen ? No, it just means that they are not great global consumers and do not much like the use of credit cards or take out loans which charge exorbitant rates. Credit ratings fall if you do not borrow money.'

    Bit of confusion here about a company's credit rating and how an individual's credit rating is calculated.

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  24. Oh just go do the leg work Webb! It will only cots you a few bob. I just prepaid for a copy of your blasted book so use that money and buy yourself a coffee on me with the remainder ;>)

    The numbers on that document you were sent are not the actual numbers...they are 'zero' because the person who sent the info to you did not pay to get the full account details from Company House. I am happy to bet my grandmas knickers that the business is flourishing but that you will not be able to tell from the more detailed Company House reports whose income is whose between the husband and wife.
    Maybe the person who sent the info was trying to show support for Alison by asking you to tell the world that no money had been made this year thereby thinking they were disproving any 'rent seeking' allegations.

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  25. 'The numbers on that document you were sent are not the actual numbers...they are 'zero' because the person who sent the info to you did not pay to get the full account details from Company House.'

    Obvious to see that you have little experience of financial matters! In fact Sauer Consultancy claimed exemption as a small company from sending in their full accounts. However much money I sent to Companies House, they would not send me the full accounts because they do not have them themselves. The reserves of this company are currently around £5000, which in itself suggests that they are not very busy!

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  26. The guidelines rewrite will hopefully take the 'mishmash' which Simon admits is confusing and muddled and clarify it.

    So what wil these new guidelines say? its a complete waste of time!

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  27. Julie the confused16 November 2010 at 00:37

    I am as usual, a bit confused here - I thought the main point that Simon was making wasn't the accounts themselves (which I have also seen and which don't appear at all exciting or illuminating, or of any particular use in deciding Alision's motives etc) but the fact that someone is distributing them at all and futhermore wrongly identifying them as being Mrs Anon's of this blog (who certainly isn't Alison).

    The only thing this seems to prove is that something very odd is going on indeed, and whatever Simon may have done/been accused of having done in the past, this is not his work and is even odder (and I am not one given to conspiracy theories at all!)

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  28. 'I am as usual, a bit confused here - I thought the main point that Simon was making wasn't the accounts themselves '

    That was indeed the point which I was making, Julie. The accounts simply show that not much is going on in Alison Sauer's company, but this is not in itself sinister! Since the email to me was headed, 'Financial Motive', I took this to mean that because the company is not flourishing, it gave Alison Sauer a motive for becoming involved in the Graham Stuart project. Somebody has obviously gone to the trouble of obtaining them and then sending them to me in the hope that I will link them here to Mrs Anon. This is very rum indeed!

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  29. Ah I see ! I agree it is not sinister at all. What a let down for some people.
    So is there must be rumour making the rounds that Mrs Anon is one of the guidelines group. I must go back and read up on the opinions of this Mrs Anon. Does she tend to agree with Simon about registration matters hence the insinuation? My dog is called Anan - maybe she is really Mrs Anon? Of course Simon can trace all posters if he so wishes as the original email will come up and through this you can trace the IP address

    At any rate, the 'accounts' sent to Simon show sweet feck all but this is not the true accounts for the past 5 years...no matter I am sure Mr Sauer will come and correct this misapprehension about his families generated income if he can be bothered.

    Simon my most devious nemesis and fellow fishwife could you indicate whether on your blog in the name of 'free speech' is it ok to use the word 'feck'? You are welcome to bleep it out .

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  30. 'Simon my most devious nemesis and fellow fishwife could you indicate whether on your blog in the name of 'free speech' is it ok to use the word 'feck'? You are welcome to bleep it out .'

    Tania, you and anybody else can use any words you like here. I hope that I have not given anybody the impression that I am genteel and shocked by strong language?

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  31. No actually you have not given that impression . Nor are you shocked by strong accusations or making them . Mercy be! Simon Webbs blog the epitome of free speech! arghhh!

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  32. 'I must go back and read up on the opinions of this Mrs Anon. Does she tend to agree with Simon about registration matters hence the insinuation?'

    Nope.

    'My dog is called Anan - maybe she is really Mrs Anon?'

    Wrong again.

    I keep telling people, I'm Nobody.
    Mrs Anon

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  33. "Of course Simon can trace all posters if he so wishes as the original email will come up and through this you can trace the IP address"

    Can he? How does this work then? I thought you needed a warrant to gain that sort of information from an ISP? Knowing an IP address is one thing, finding out who is currently making use of the IP address is something else entirely as far as I know (which may not be much!).

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  34. Mrs Anon.
    You write most eloquently.
    Far better than my dog ever could.
    Hence I conclude you cannot be my most beloved canine but I know for sure you are not the person the 'misinformer' says you might be!

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