Monday, 3 January 2011

Education Otherwise

About a month ago those running the Education Otherwise list, which is an Internet meeting place popular with home educating parents in Britain, announced that it would close down on December 17th. It is not necessary to be a member of Education Otherwise to belong to this list and a number of people were upset at the news. The announcement of this closure came shortly after the Annual General Meeting of Education otherwise, at which a number of trustees felt that they had to stand down. A new group took control, among them Shena Deuchars and Heidi de Wet. Until this AGM, Education Otherwise had been largely controlled by trustees in the north of England, notably Fiona Nicholson and Annette Taberner.

I rather assumed that closing down the EO list was part of a scorched earth policy by the old trustees, a way of stopping too many people knowing about any power struggles or problems between the different factions of the trustees. I said here that if the list continued past the December 17th deadline, it would indicate that the new faction of the trustees based in Swindon, where Shena Deuchars lives, would have triumphed over the Sheffield group, where Fiona Nicholson and Annette Taberner are based. Lo and behold, the list is still running and both Fiona and Annette have now resigned. This seems to be a conclusive victory for Swindon. This is particularly so because both Shena Deuchars's daughter and Heidi de Wet's husband have been appointed as trustees in Fiona and Annette's place. A glorious victory indeed for the Swindon mob!

Some though are wondering if this will prove to be a Pyrrhic Victory. In September, the accounts for 2009 were finally sent to the Charity Commission. They were horribly late. The Charity Commission are so busy these days chasing after independent schools in order to try and revoke their charitable status, that they don't always have time for their basic work. The accounts which were sent to them in September were not signed, either by the accountant or the trustees. Sure, Celia McDonagh's name is printed there as Secretary, but she has not signed and dated them. Were they approved by the trustees? If so when? In particular, were they approved by a quorate meeting of the trustees? The accountant has not countersigned them either, which is unusual. Anybody glancing through these accounts will find much to mull over, which is perhaps why Shena Deuchar seems keen to have another Annual General Meeting so soon after the last one. We are told that;

'information is coming to light about EO's financial status and legal compliance that suggests EO is in a difficult position at present.'

This sounds like code for, 'Shit, you wouldn't believe what's been going on over the last few years!' I shall be watching further developments eagerly. The sudden and unexpected resignation of both Fiona Nicholson and Annette Taberner might well tie in with the calling of another AGM so soon after the last one. There is widespread and gloomy speculation that there will be startling revelations at the next Annual general meeting such as might make it difficult for Education Otherwise to continue in its present form.


  1. Actually, although I am not a member, I do feel tyha the current Trustees are trying hard to rescue the current situation. Clearly they have found themselves in a position where expediture exceeds income, and that can't go on, and the past Trustees, however well meaning spent a lot of money on things like legal fees. One can only hope the current lot can make the necessary cutbacks to sort it all out.

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