Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Who wrote the briefing paper which Education Otherwise is circulating to Welsh Assembly Members?



In September, a series of documents began to be put up on the Home Education UK site about the new legislation being discussed in Wales; that relating to the regulation of home education. Eventually, they were all melded together into one document, which bore the name of Wendy Charles-Warner. It may be found here:

http://www.home-education.org.uk/articles/wc/wc-wa-brief.pdf





On October 13th, Alison Sauer introduced this briefing paper to the Education Otherwise site, uploading it to their files. She said:

This is the Briefing Document from the Wales Facebook Group with Welsh intro and summary added. Most is in English.



It was at once greeted as her own work. Edwina Theunissen, a trustee of Education Otherwise living in Wales, said;





Thanks Alison, for this. It's the most impressive doc I've seen so far and should be a great help to home edders in Wales. It must have taken a great deal of time and effort so congrats to you and whomsoever your collaborators are.





Alison Sauer did not react by disclaiming responsibility for writing the thing, merely accepted the congratulations as her due. At this point, most people assumed that Alison Sauer was the prime mover behind the briefing paper. A day or two later of course, she initiated a campaign of harassment against me via Facebook; getting people to bombard me with silly emails and publicising my address and urging people to arrange for nuisance deliveries to be made to it. Her supposed grounds for doing this were that she did not feel it right that Wendy Charles-Warner, the supposed author of the briefing paper, should be mentioned publicly in connection with it. It is interesting to see what Alison was saying at this time. In emails to me she uses the expression ‘we’ a lot, which suggests strongly that she was something to do with both the briefing paper and also Mrs Charles-Warner. For example, speaking of Wendy Charles-Warner, she said;



we do try to keep her whereabouts confidential



The newspaper and BBC articles were not supposed to be published online and we do not draw attention to them on purpose.


Whom do readers suppose that Alison Sauer means by this mysterious ‘we’? We, as in ‘me and Wendy Charles-Warner’? Or perhaps, in light of later developments, 'me and Education Otherwise'?  In any case, it is clear that Alison has a stake in the briefing paper and is in some way very involved in it. As we have seen, trustees at Education Otherwise thought that she had written it and were dealing with it on that basis.

Four days later, on October 18th, Education Otherwise made a surprising announcement. This may be found here:



http://www.educationotherwise.net/ndex.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=334






It will be observed that the briefing paper is now being unambiguously attributed to Wendy Charles-Warner and that she has been appointed Education Otherwise’s official representative in Wales, a role previously held, incidentally, by Edwina Theunnisen. The briefing paper has been officially adopted and is now being printed and sent to all Welsh Assembly Members.

I have not room in this post for a detailed criticism of the paper. It is pretty dreadful and contains many errors and inaccuracies. That is nothing to the purpose here, except to mention that the style is unmistakably Alison Sauer’s. We have seen that it was accepted as such when first it appeared and also that she was using the term ‘we’ when referring, apparently,  to she and Mrs Charles-Warner.

What would Education Otherwise’s motive have been for misleading people in this way as to the authorship? There are two good reasons for concealing publicly the fact that Alison Sauer had a hand in this document. For one thing, her name on the cover would have discredited it at once as far as many home educators were concerned. After the fiasco of the abortive attempt to introduce new guidelines for local authorities about home education, anything with ‘Alison Sauer’ on the cover would be damned in the eyes of many. There is a more serious objection to using her name openly in connection with the briefing paper. Welsh Assembly Members are likely to look more favourably upon such a document if supposedly written by a Welsh home educator than they would if it had been produced by an English businesswoman. Some of them are already getting a little ticked off at the fact that most of the opposition to the proposed Bill is coming from England, rather than Wales.

As if that is not enough, there would be a horrible suspicion, were Alison Sauer to be seen as involved with the briefing document, that she was not completely unbiased and that there was a clear conflict of interest. As readers know, Alison runs an outfit known as SC Education:



http://www.sc-education.co.uk/home/






This company is working hard to encourage the spread of the flexischooling model of education. Indeed, according to her company website, Alison Sauer is  ' currently liaising with the DfE to promote flexischooling as a recognised and credible system.'  One of the alternatives advocated by the briefing document, instead of the compulsory registration and monitoring of home education,  is of course an expansion of flexischooling. If shown to be the author of this document, the unfortunate impression might be created that a commercial opportunity was being exploited here by Alison Sauer; that by pushing for an increase in flexischooling in Wales, she would be creating future work for her own company.  Another benefit of the system that the briefing paper recommends is, ' Investment in training for LA staff in the law and their duties'. By an uncanny coincidence, training LA staff in the law and their duties  is something else which Alison Sauer provides.

 I shall in another post examine the briefing paper itself in detail, but for now I wonder if Education Otherwise would like to explain in a little more detail the precise provenance of the thing? For some, it is beginning to look rather as though Alison Sauer now has her feet firmly under the table at Education Otherwise; a development which is unlikely to be universally welcomed!

21 comments:

  1. "Some of them are already getting a little ticked off at the fact that most of the opposition to the proposed Bill is coming from England, rather than Wales."

    Really? I've seen messages that suggest that some Welsh people are ticked off at the lack of support from England.

    ReplyDelete
  2. '"Some of them are already getting a little ticked off at the fact that most of the opposition to the proposed Bill is coming from England, rather than Wales."

    Really? I've seen messages that suggest that some Welsh people are ticked off at the lack of support from England.'

    I don't think that there is any contradiction here. The people to whom you refer are presumably home educators in Wales who want more support from people in England. I was talking about members of the Welsh legislature, who are discussing a proposal which will only affect those in Wales. I am sure that you have noticed that the majority of those signing online petitions opposed to the Bill are not actually living in Wales.

    It was in this context that I was suggesting that a document written by an English businesswoman might not be as well received as one by a Welsh home educator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I see, yes, I misread that. Can you point me to evidence that members of the Welsh legislature are ticked off, I like to keep up with events and am clearly missing something somewhere and would be interested in understanding their point of view.

      Delete
  3. 'Can you point me to evidence that members of the Welsh legislature are ticked off,'

    After I posted about this the other week, I got an email from a member of the Welsh Assembly who had been pointed in the direction of this blog. A constituent had called on him for support and drawn his attention to a petition against the new measures. As a Welsh patriot, he was a bit puzzled to know why most of those signing it were in England or even places as far away as Singapore or Canada! He asked me for some information about various things and it was in the course of our exchanges that he said that some of his colleagues were irritated, because it seemed to them that opposition to the new law was being coordinated by groups in England.

    ReplyDelete
  4. 'He asked me for some information about various things'

    The poor man actually thought you had answers. THAT is sad. For Wales.

    ReplyDelete
  5. ''He asked me for some information about various things'

    The poor man actually thought you had answers. THAT is sad. For Wales.'

    Yes, I won't deny that I was a little surprised. However, he was aware that there was more than first met the eye to some of the campaigning which is currently taking place. I think that he felt that I might be able to fill him in on a little background; personalities and so on. I gathered that he had first been pointed in my direction by someone from the DfE in London!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So Welsh assembly members are annoyed that Welsh home educators are being supported by English home educators, and the first thing they do is ask for advice and information from the DfE in London and a blogger who lives in/near London? That makes sense then...

      Delete
    2. Dosn't ring true to me.

      Simon ought to let us know the name of this poor Welshman who needed to seek information from a bloke with a blog. His constituents may be interested.

      Delete
  6. Well said about Alison though.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "The newspaper and BBC articles were not supposed to be published online and we do not draw attention to them on purpose."

    This statement beggars belief; does the author honestly expect anyone to take it seriously?

    ReplyDelete
  8. '"The newspaper and BBC articles were not supposed to be published online and we do not draw attention to them on purpose."

    This statement beggars belief; does the author honestly expect anyone to take it seriously? '

    Presumably the various mugs whom she roped into her facebook campaign must have done!

    ReplyDelete
  9. We have a meeting of home educators in Wales on November 17th. Wendy is the guest speaker. We are home educators and we have also signed the petition and I have to say that I too was concerned that the Welsh Assembly would discount the signatures from across the border and further afield as they are a devolved government. We are a very small group of people here in Wales that I know of and there are many home educators here who choose not to be identified. I am not an expert on the subject but I appreciate Simon's blog is a very useful source of information for us in Wales. We have all seen what happens in what I like to call the Saville Factor. Blindly following false prophets and do gooders. Scratch the surface or care to take the time to do some research and ye will find. Thank you Simon for the information you care to share with the world. I will be asking some questions at the meeting and I have no doubt that the many other Welsh home educators will also seek some clarification.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Could I please direct any Welsh based home educators to a new Facebook page for home education. I am slightly uncomfortable with what I have read as a result of following some of the links posted here. I would like to stress that the page is open to Welsh based home educators to discuss the Welsh Assembly proposals to register all home educated children. Whilst I appreciate any support from home educators based in other parts of the world it is a devolved government issue, which the people of Wales will decide upon. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Home-Education-Wales/223233447807368

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Whilst I appreciate any support from home educators based in other parts of the world it is a devolved government issue, which the people of Wales will decide upon."

      Unfortunately, the people of Wales will have very little influence, given that the Welsh Assembly comprises a clique of people with very little support. The Labour government running Wales didn't manage to win a majority in an election which saw only about 42% turn-out. They have no real mandate, but they'll carry-on regardless. That's democracy!

      Delete
  11. What do you suggest?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There isn't a lot one can do in the short term, but highlight the issue of the lack of a democratic mandate - not just in Wales, but also in England (most Westminster governments rule with the support of no more that about 25-30% of the electorate). The Police Commissioner elections highlight this problem to an even greater degree.

      Complain to your MP (and AM, if you have one) that they are making laws without any understanding, experience, or legitimacy. This will be like water off a duck's back, but maybe one day, enough people will make enough noise. Talk to like-minded people and encourage them to do the same. Write letters to newspapers or blog about the problem.

      If you have the time (but not many useful people do), stand for elected office. Of course, independents have little chance without the support of a party machine.

      Alternatively, we can roll-over and accept everything that will come without complaint.

      Delete
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