Friday, 17 June 2011

Who actually produced the new guidelines on elective home education?

One of the most curious and disturbing things about the new EHE guidelines is that not one person has so far come forward and admitted to having written any part of them. This is odd. Even Alison Sauer will not confirm that she wrote a single word of this document. Since this might have an enormous effect on how local authorities deal with home educating parents in the future and in view of the controversial nature of the sections on special needs, perhaps it might be worth trying to work out who was involved in the thing.
We know that one member of the team who produced the guidelines was a woman called Rainbow-Leaf Lovejoy. (Stop sniggering at the back; that’s her real name. I have an idea that she is known to Allie who comments here pretty regularly).Tania Berlow was also mixed up in the business, but to what extent is unknown. A woman called Jacqui also worked on the guidelines although, according to her own account, only to find out what was going on.

The secrecy surrounding the guidelines is not accidental. I have been contacted by a number of people who emailed Graham Stuart MP about their concerns. He passed their details on to Alison Sauer, who then got in touch with them. Several people were invited to become involved, but it was made plain that the whole thing was top secret and that they must agree not to tell anybody that they were involved or reveal the names of any others who they got to hear of who were working on the guidelines. This secrecy is alarming, considering that this is a project which might affect many thousands of parents.

I think it is almost certain that Kelly Green, an American living in Canada who writes a blog called Kelly Green and Gold, was also a member of this group. The problem here is that she is a very ignorant woman who claimed on her blog that Graham Badman was a civil servant at the Department for Children, Schools and Families and that I was an adviser to the Department. She knows nothing about British law and I cannot really see how she became involved in the matter. Alison Sauer’s husband Ralph helped to produce an earlier document about the so-called ultra vires practices of some local authorities and so it is possible that he was also involved with the guidelines.

I am very puzzled as to why Alison does not simply release the final draft of the EHE guidelines. She commented on here, telling us that the version at which everybody is currently looking is not the final one, but I don’t know why she does not simply let us see the one which she sent to Graham Stuart. I have a suspicion that when this does emerge, there will be even more irritation and outright anger than was caused by the draft which is currently in the public domain. Otherwise, why not simply show it to us?


  1. Seems that all you have here is a whole lot of conjecture. The 'guidelines' you previously linked to were clearly early drafts, so to get fired up over them seems ridiculous. Instead it would be more appropriate to wait and see what actually emerges in the end rather than trying to stir up a hornets nest. Secondly, how do you *know* the people you mentioned wrote(or helped to write) the guidelines, Both the early ones or the final ones? You say that Alison Sauer wrote them herself, yet you also say that all these other people did too. And for all we know you were part of that team too, I doubt it but it could be anyone. It could be me, or one of the anonymous posters here, or someone else entirely - why are you so determind to guess?

    I want to wait and hear about ACTUAL guidelines and debate something real, rather than something that is proported to exsit but which I havent even read.

  2. ' Secondly, how do you *know* the people you mentioned wrote(or helped to write) the guidelines'

    Because all three of these people said that they were involved. I have no idea whther they actually wrote any of it or if they were just proofreading; but all three said that they were working on the things. As to why I am speculating about this; there are two reasons. First, to underline the extraordinary degree of secrecy which has surrounded the whole thing from the start. The fact that people were being sworn to secrecy if they agreed to become involved is very odd in itself. Secondly, because if we know who was involved, it gives us an insight into the motives behind the thing. If it was largely people like Tania Berlow, then we can be pretty sure that the motive was an altruistic one. That is to say that the project was undertaken with the best interests of home educators at heart. If on the other hand the whole thing was written by Alison Sauer and her husband Ralph, then this suggests a commercial motivation, since they run a company which advises on contracts for both local authorities and private companies, as well as running training sessions for local authorities on home education. Until we know who actually wrote the guidelines, then it is hard to work out why they written in the first place. The 2007 guidelines are adequate, although often ingnored by locla authorities.

  3. I see, OK I understand your reasons now.

    I still feel though that the fact that others claimed to be involved would surely tell you that it was/is a culmulative effort as opposed to a venture purely by one person.
    I am curious though as to why you assume that Alison Sauer *must* be doing the for commercial gain just because she runs a company. For example, people might be lawyers, but sometimes they do pro bono work because its their passion to help. How do you know that her motives were anything other than honourable?
    I also feel that surely, based on your opinion on Tania Berlow, that she would have used her altruistic intentions to prevent the guidelines being used for personal gain.

    As for the secrecy, the way I see it, lots of people write draft or suggested guidelines for the government all the time. They dont ask permission from a wider society to do that or announce who they are, it is only when papers are written and presented that they are then given consideration by a wider audience. Based on this, why shouldn't a 'secret' group propose a guideline regarding home ed. Equally, why shouldnt another group imput a different version if they wished.
    As I understand it, ANYONE can contact Graham Stuart to suggest guidelines for HE, or to suggest that things are left well alone, and if everyone did that instead of stirring and bickering perhaps those in government would have a clearer picture of the hugely varying views that HEers hold.

  4. 'As I understand it, ANYONE can contact Graham Stuart to suggest guidelines for HE, or to suggest that things are left well alone, '

    Quite true and some of those who have done so have found their details being passed to Alison Sauer. We have to assume that as far as Graham Stuart is concerend, Alison is British home educating.

    'I am curious though as to why you assume that Alison Sauer *must* be doing the for commercial gain just because she runs a company. For example, people might be lawyers, but sometimes they do pro bono work '

    I don't assume this, but it is certainly possible. Others have made the accusation quite forciby. Certainly, the fact that somebody is running a business which advises others on the law relating to home education makes it at least possible that producing these guidelines is a commercial undertaking. At the very least, it could be a conflict of interest. All the more reason for the peraon concerned to explain what she has been doing and why. That way, our minds will be put at rest. Even today, Alison Sauer refuses to confirm her involvement in the whole project. Why would this be, if she is simply doing it to help other parents? She has not offered a single word of explanation.

  5. I find this whole business utterly bizarre, TBH. Why anyone would want to get involved in a 'secret' process is beyond me but, then again, I am increasingly of the opinion that anything that can be made into a drama in the home ed world, will be.

    I have met Rainbow-Leaf Lovejoy once but don't know her well at all.

    I am hoping that this whole process will come to nothing in the end because I can't see home educators ending up in a better position from such a hopeless beginning. Oh, yeah, and I don't trust Graham Stuart...

  6. Yes it is possible, as are many things within the whole situation, but I dont feel it is beneficial to present this as almost certain, rather than what it is; speculation.
    It is quite easy, when angry about someones actions or proported actions, to say something unkind or accusatory against them but we dont have any facts about whether its true or not so I dont feel its helpful to repeat.

    Maybe the reason she hasn't confirmed her involvment are that she isn't involved?(I know its pretty much a given that she is but I hope you see my point) Or maybe she is trying to avoid backlash - to be fair she does get a lot of stick, rightly or wrongly, for everything she does. Maybe she doesn't want to detract from others' involvement so that she doesn't appear to be taking all the credit.... in truth I don't know. But I do wonder how helpful it is to try guessing, which only ends in wrong assumptions and pot-stirring.

  7. Simon, the fact that you are pretty sure that Tania Berlow is altruistic shows how bad your judgement is. Based on that alone I would not take anything you say seriously. Allie (who you mention here) and Tania are allegedly best friends, and are always standing up for Alison on just about every forum. How you can see any altruism there speaks for itiself. I see C above is from Somerset also. Is it possible they are friends with Tania Berlow, Allie, and Alison too. That would explain why they are so supportive. Get your friends out to come and stand up for you, it's pathetic.

  8. Yeah, 'allegedly' would be right. Allegations without firm knowledge or evidence is certainly not amongst my top ten ethical or altruistic actions.
    I don't know who Allie is therefore she is certainly not my best friend.
    My 'best ' friend is Ali who does not post under her real name on this blog. I don't know when she comments unless she tells me. Ali Edgely sounds like allegedly so maybe you got mixed up :>)
    Maybe the people who actually know me in person are best placed to decide motivation and degrees of altruism rather than those who know nothing about my real life and my friends.
    Jacs and I did the statistics and FOIs in 2009 which showed the true rate of LAs concerns to be far lower than Badmans.
    Thanks Simon for the comment- I guess it pays to refrain from insulting you in public.

  9. Hi Anonymous,
    Yes I am from Somerset, well done on your detective skills.
    Funnily enough there are A LOT of people in Somerset - it does not follow that I know all the people in Somerset, OR that I know Tanya Berlow or Alison Sauer.
    Just to be clear on my position on the matter of guidelines - I cannot be for or against guidelines that have been seen in draft only, nor can I support or be negative against people without proof of involvement. I am waiting to see. I simply said that pot-stirring and second guessing without proof not a helpful thing to do.

  10. Oh and I forgot to add= to my knowledge, I don't know Allie or Ali, or whether they are friends with Tanya, Alison, or anyone else who posts here or not. Again this Somerset link is reaching somewhat.

  11. Go on everyone, I dare you, read this:

    It might enlighten you and expand your horizons.

  12. I can't take any blog seriously where the blogger doesn't allow comments.

  13. 'Allie (who you mention here) and Tania are allegedly best friends,'

    The Allie to whom I refer here lives in Brighton and is not Tania Berlow's best friend. That you should make such a statement suggests that tou are not really very well clued up about this. Unless of course you are muddling her up with Ali Edgeley?

  14. Anonymous, you said:

    "Simon, the fact that you are pretty sure that Tania Berlow is altruistic shows how bad your judgement is. Based on that alone I would not take anything you say seriously."

    The imaginative tour de force that follows certainly doesn't encourage me to take anything you say seriously either. I wonder how you can be so sure about people's motives when you keep getting them mixed up with other people?