Friday, 25 October 2013

The public and private faces of some prominent members of the British home education movement

I shall be going off for the weekend tomorrow and as a consequence, will not be able to sort through and publish any comments here for a few days. As I am sure readers are aware, since I began this blog in 2009, comments have always been unmoderated; anybody  could come here and say anything at all that they wished. No chance of anybody being barred, censored or any of that nonsense. This all changed in May.

Those who wondered why I singled out Jai Daniels-Freestone for mention a few days ago, might not know that she was one of a group of people who were last year being very rude about me and planning to cause mischief.  I had annoyed a number of fairly well known home educators by discussing their plans publicly. They then decided to try and close down this blog; not wishing their activities to be exposed to the light of day. Some members continued  intermittent, guerrilla warfare against the blog and then in May this year, hit upon two new tactics, both of which meant that I had to start moderating comments. One of these was to arrange for an industrial level of spamming here. It was running, at its peak at over two hundred posts a day and I simply didn’t have the time to keep deleting them. These were well designed to slip through the spam filter. I have seen an exchange where a few of those who don’t like free speech when it comes to home education, revel in the disruption that they managed to cause by this means. 

At the same time that the large-scale spamming began, I received a letter threatening to sue me for libel. The woman   who sent this letter, an official representative  of Education Otherwise, was really quite cunning. Her objections were not so much in respect of what I was saying, but concerned rather  the comments here; over which I had no control. I was inclined to ignore the thing, but my wife insisted that I should reply and then delete the comments to which objection had been made. This was because it was being hinted  that an attempt would be made to try and ruin us by making us homeless.  Although I thought personally that the letter was a nonsense, whenever people claim that their solicitors are Carter-Ruck it is almost invariably a bluff,  I thought it best to prevent people being able to make comments freely any more. Once again, the easiest was of doing this was by beginning to moderate what was said here.

In short, a number of people in the home education movement who constantly bang on about freedom, liberty and all sorts of other high sounding notions, were annoyed that this blog was a forum where anybody could come and debate freely about home education. Those who have put me in the position where I have felt compelled to stop having open comments here are  really enemies of free speech.  Until this business erupted, I have never blocked anybody, exercised censorship or tried to control in any way at all what was said here.  This incident shows us a the great disparity between the liberal and freedom-loving public face of some home educators and their private actions, which are designed to prevent free discussion. I might remind readers of the attempts by another well known home educator in North Wales to have me arrested last year; again, because he didn’t like the idea of a free forum for the discussion of home education. Some of these people really will stick at nothing and I shall be examining possible motives for wishing to maintain such secrecy, when I return.  That somebody representing Education Otherwise should engage in tactics of this kind raises in my mind a question mark over that organisation too. One expects sharp practice from Home Education UK, but when Education Otherwise is mixed up in these games, it is curious.


  1. for once old Webb is right and he should not have to moderate comments i am no fan of Webb but freedom of speech is very important and he does allow you to comment on here even if you dont agree with him if what he says is true about education otherwise then their are wrong to do this the way to beat webb is to show that his ideas are wrong

    1. Definitely agree. There are occasions when Simon and I agree, but most of the time we don't. He still lets my posts through and we engage in a civilised exchange of views. I very much doubt I've ever changed his mind, but that's okay. I didn't have to post, or even look at the blog, and if it annoyed me enough to resort to the tactics referred to above then I'd simply not visit it any more.

      Have a good weekend, Simon


  2. I strongly disagree with much (probably most) of what Simon has written on this blog over the years, but I respect him for his open comments policy.

    I understand his decision to moderate, given that the last time I looked here, earlier this year, it seemed to have descended into a parody of a metropolitan soap opera, randomly interspersed with bizarre spam.

    The problem of spam and - arguably worse - the antics of delinquent (but rarely juvenile) "pranksters" is growing, and in some cases, in other subject areas, bloggers are disabling comments altogether.