Friday, 15 November 2013

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Home education




I have heard from one or two readers this morning,  who feel that they have been left behind by the recent discussion here about the APPG on home education. Perhaps I should give a little background. There are dozens of informal groups at parliament, where MPs, peers  and members of various charities, special-interest groups and so on get together to discuss anything from football and farming to brass bands. Or, in this case, home education. Although such groups have no real, official status, they can exert a certain amount of power especially when they are led by the Chair of the relevant select committee.  Graham Stuart, for those who didn’t know. 

Because MPs and peers are usually busy, the actual running of the groups is often delegated to a secretariat; a few people who arrange meetings, issue invitations, take minutes and sometimes act as gatekeepers. These individuals can really shape the APPG in their own image. In the case of the APPG on home education, these gatekeepers are Fiona Nicholson and Jane Lowe.  Now immediately, some people can see a problem with that; or really two problems. The first is of course that nobody elected these two people to that role. It looks to some as though Fiona and Jane simply had the sharpest elbows and were shrewd enough at intriguing to get themselves into this position. The second problem that some have, is even bigger. It is that Fiona Nicholson and Jane Lowe share something in common with the present writer. (And no, for those who have been reading the awful things that Maire Stafford and her cronies have been saying about me, it is not that we all dye our hair!) The fact is that any new legislation or changes in regulations will not affect Fiona and Jane, because they are no longer home educators. It will be recalled that when I was invited to give evidence to the select committee in 2009, a great fuss was made about this and it was thought that the fact that my daughter was no longer being educated at home should have been enough to disqualify me from expressing an opinion on the subject. The same thing is now being said about Fiona Nicholson and Jane Lowe.

Some current home educators have another difficulty,  as far as Fiona Nicholson is concerned.  In 2009, she and a few friends, such as Ian Dowty, submitted this document during the Badman enquiry.  


http://www.educationotherwise.net/attachments/article/151/Prospectus%20For%20Improving%20Support%20to%20Home%20Educating%20Families%200409.pdf


Among other things, it recommended:


4. Recommendation: that the DCSF Elective Home Education Team should 
work with home education support organisations to set up a national 
Committee for Home Education, remit to include contributing to 
Government policy initiatives related to home education, contributing to 
Impact Assessments and making recommendations related to Home 
Education policy. 

This national committee was to have a far-ranging but rather vague role and relationship to the government. It was not unnaturally assumed that Fiona visualised herself as heading this committee, which was to some sort of Quango. This belief was strengthened when she gave evidence to the Children, Schools and Families select committee on October 14th 2009. I was also giving evidence that day and one thing which struck me very powerfully was Fiona’s inability to say whether or not she approved of compulsory registration for home educators. Barry Sheerman, the Chair, pressed her repeatedly on this point, but she waffled on for some time, finally saying:

I am not taking a position on whether I think it would be a good or bad thing

Call me an old cynic, but the construction which I put upon that was that Fiona was in favour of registration, but reluctant to say so out loud, in case it alienated too many other home educators. 

In short, there are those who are suspicious of Fiona Nicholson’s  involvement in the APPG, because rather than being a home educating parent, she now has a commercial interest in the subject and is apparently being paid by at least one local authority to give advice. Incidentally, the APPG apparently has a website, about which few seem aware. If there really is such a thing, one guesses that it was set up by Fiona’s son Theo, who is something of a whiz about computer and internet related matters.

I must make one final point, which is that on a personal level, I am very much a fan of Fiona’s. She is an enthusiast for both the Molesworth and William books and I never knew anybody who enjoyed those books to be otherwise than fundamentally sound!

110 comments:

  1. In a group as diverse as home educators you can't please everyone, and frequently you'll be opposed by people with contradictory views. I've no doubt that my remarks will attract some opprobrium and derision, but that's life and I'm safely below the parapet of anonymity. I'm not Fiona Nicholson, BTW!

    Fiona Nicoholson has a level head and a safe pair of hands, as well as great skill, tenacity and fortitude in her research and dealings with the authorities. I can't think of anyone in the HE community that I'd trust more to help run the APPG. I don't know Jane Lowe so well but she strikes me as similar to Fiona in this respect.

    If Fiona is being paid to advise LAs then I have no problem with that, and I know I speak for some others here; far better that she should be doing this than many others one can think of, ranging from management consultants and retired education managers to mouthy termagants. Her support for HEors goes far beyond what you see on her web site and is freely given.

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    1. As far as it goes, this is all true. I like and respect Fiona myself, but this runs a little deeper than personal liking. There is uneasiness that Fiona has now been appointed as the gatekeeper of the APPG and that this was done without anybody knowing about it until it was established. Nobody doubts her good will, or at least I don't myself, but it always causes me to raise an eyebrow when i see people slipping into positions of this sort without any general consensus. Although, as you may very well remind me, there could be no more oxymoronic phrase than 'consensus among home educators'!

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    2. Simon wrote:
      "it always causes me to raise an eyebrow when i see people slipping into positions of this sort without any general consensus."

      Good grief Simon, your eyebrows must be in interstellar space by now; this sort of thing happens all the time in public and private sector organisations. Just occasionally - like this case - it's a pretty good choice, but then Fiona isn't exactly on the same kind of gravy train as, say, Graham Badman or both of the Baronesses Morgan.

      I'm all for openness and transparency, but public and private corporations have their own rules: skill, competence and efficiency are rewarded with a few scraps and more work; dim-witted chums get a seat on the board and big fat cheques.

      Yes,'consensus among home educators' is an oxymoron, but that's no different to many other spheres of political activity. In spite of having a so-called democracy, for as long as I can remember we've been governed by people who lack the support of most of their electorate.

      Perhaps you've devised the ideal scheme; if so, please do tell us about it and we might be inclined to nominate you for the Nobel peace prize - although that's become somewhat devalued of late.

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    3. I agree. I think Fiona should advise all LAs and cut out those pesky locals.

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    4. When all the locals do is mither and slam doors, that is probably the best plan!

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    5. That is right. We don't know what's good for us and we have no right to complain to or about our LAs! Thank you for saving us those from ourselves!

      PS Using exclamation marks to drive home a point is so much better. :)

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    6. Good plan. The government has a word for people who slam doors when other folk want to run their lives. It's called service resistant. Best policy is go ahead and make decisions over their heads that they will have to go along with anyway. Butt out and leave us alone is not a valid response is it?

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    7. So, when Fiona has been involved in discussions with LAs, what has been the result? I don't know, that is why I am asking. Do things generally improve? Or get worse?

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  2. "Good grief Simon, your eyebrows must be in interstellar space by now"

    Hence the moustache; he's growing it for a transplant.

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  3. What kind of gravy train is Fiona on then? She's not a home educator so what does she get out of it? Not more freedom for her HE kids, not money (presumably) so one assumes it's political pull she's after. That puts her on exactly the same gravy train as Graham Stuart et al

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    1. So she doesn't have a vested interested as a HEor, she gets little in the way of money out of her activities, so that must make her a really evil, er.. power crazed ...er....

      Yes, well anyway, why didn't they put ME in charge of the APPG!!!

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    2. Maybe you didn't think of the idea of it and put in all the hard work to make it happen?

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    3. I agree entirely; I was merely being ironic. Fiona's performing a thankless task, as some of the comments here prove.

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    4. She is compensated monetarily by LAs and APPGs can pay their secretariats. She is often, if not always, compensated by local home educators for any expenses. People do what works, even Fiona.

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    5. "That puts her on exactly the same gravy train as Graham Stuart et al"

      Except that Graham Stuart is on an MP's salary. The rest of us either have a vested interest as HEors or we want to influence the process for the sake of our particular views. Doesn't that mean we're on some sort of gravy train too?

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    6. HErs certainly have a vested interest their kids. The question is What Is Fiona's?
      Commenting anon on a blog is by no means the same thing as refusing to answer questions from people who have not appointed youbut whose lives will be affected by your actions just the same

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    7. So get off your butt and engage with the same effort as Fiona. Then you might be invited to do even more!

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    8. It's a very strange idea that only current home educators have a strong interest in the future of home education.

      Those who have finished up possibly decades of it with their own children will surely be concerned about the option still being available as an for their nieces and nephews/grandchildren etc.

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    9. 'as an option', I meant to write.

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    10. "It's a very strange idea that only current home educators have a strong interest in the future of home education."

      Strongly agree with this; I'm grateful for the continued involvement and experience of such people. I hope some of the whiners do as much when they've finished HEing their kids.

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    11. "She is compensated monetarily by LAs and APPGs can pay their secretariats. She is often, if not always, compensated by local home educators for any expenses. People do what works, even Fiona."

      Sure, she's going to get rich quickly with all that. In her shoes, I'd be inclined to say "sod the lot of you" and invest my talent, time and effort in something much more lucrative than helping a bunch of whinging ingrates.

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    12. Oh get off. None of us is on our butts. There are loads of us out there working with families but we aren't in the headlines because we aren't seeking power or glory. We also don't do things that had wide ramifications without consent. But even if that wasn't the case, we are still entitled to have an opinion about stuff being done over our heads that affects us. Its very autocratic to suggest otherwise.

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    13. If you think Fiona Nicholson is seeking or achieving power or glory then you have a very low sense of aspiration.

      Nobody is preventing you expressing an opinion other than yourself, but if you wait for consent from everyone then you'll wait a very long time.

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    14. "
      Sure, she's going to get rich quickly with all that. In her shoes, I'd be inclined to say "sod the lot of you" and invest my talent, time and effort in something much more lucrative than helping a bunch of whinging ingrates."

      I agree. I too have often wished to say to Fiona, "Get a job!"

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    15. Do be careful of using exclamation marks to make a point. There's someone here who is apparently disturbed by them.

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  4. She's certainly been taking lessons from politicians on transparency, accountability and dialogue.

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    1. Given that most of us here are anonymous, I hardly think one can complain about transparency and accountabiity - and dialogue is well nigh impossible!

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  5. Fiona does what she does for political pull and influence. Home Ed is a means to her end nothing more and she will never compromise her career aspirations for our freedom. Her performance at the select committee is one of many indicators of this. In my humble opinion.

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    1. This hardly look like a an ambitious end or towering aspiration.

      This whole thing is a storm in a teacup, brewed and stirred by Simon, with a lot of moaning from the weak and feeble about someone who's somewhat less feeble.

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    2. You are not understanding me. We are a step on Fiona's staircase. Home Ed is her power base. We are tools. Stop being mentally feeble and get real for gods sake

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    3. "You are not understanding me. We are a step on Fiona's staircase. Home Ed is her power base. We are tools. Stop being mentally feeble and get real for gods sake"

      ROTFL! Yes, with HE as a power base I've no doubt that before long she'll be building a Reichsparteitagsgelände in Sheffield!

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    4. "ROTFL! Yes, with HE as a power base I've no doubt that before long she'll be building a Reichsparteitagsgelände in Sheffield!"

      Didn't she already try for that with EO funds?

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  6. It was very strategic timing on Fiona' s part. HE will be subject to increased regulation and she will mediate that. Eventually she hopes she will move on up the ladder. If she hasn't told you this you are obviously not one of her bff's yet. Suck up some more and maybe she will. I mean seriously how can anyone trust someone who thinks machievellian is a career aspiration

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Interesting.

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    2. "I inadvertently deleted this comment, while trying to reply to it. the gist was that there was something sinister about the fact that I had removed moderation again. This is idiotic! I have always avoided moderation and only imposed it when people were sabotaging the comments here. Since this stopped a few weeks ago, I thought I could safely disable the moderation again. That anybody could possibly see the ability to comment freely on a blog as being somehow a wicked plot by me, is utterly baffling.

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    3. Obviously, if the original poster wishes to repeat the comment in full, that's fine.

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    4. Surely you aren't THAT easily baffled, Simon? LOL

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    5. 'Surely you aren't THAT easily baffled, Simon? LOL'

      Even by the mad logic that some people use, the idea that removing censorship could be part of a sinister master plan IS a little baffling! I hope that the person who made this comment will put it up again; it was an absolute classic.

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    6. Oh, please, repost it. I only turned my back to go and make a Christmas cake and I miss all this unfolding!

      I noticed Simon had removed moderation earlier this morning, so either we're all very predictable, or he's telling the simple truth. I'd rather it was the second option.

      But I do agree about it being a storm in a teacup...

      Anne

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    7. 'I noticed Simon had removed moderation earlier this morning,'

      Of course I turned off the moderation; apart from disliking the idea of it, it is a damned nuisance having to keep checking the comments and click 'publish' for each one. That anybody would find this a bad thing for me to do is perplexing in the extreme!

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  8. 'HE will be subject to increased regulation'

    Will it? Do you have some sort of special source of information that relates to that? Perhaps an email from Janet McKay?

    'and she will mediate that.'

    Will she? How do you know this?

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  9. There is a simple solution to all of this for those who support Fiona, just ask her to answer our questions. If all is as you supporters say it is then there is nothing for Fiona to keep silent about and it would put an end to any speculation.

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  10. Who exactly are you and yours? The 'our' in 'our questions'. No idea what your questions are.

    I posted a question earlier which hasn't been answered, though:
    'So, when Fiona has been involved in discussions with LAs, what has been the result? I don't know, that is why I am asking. Do things generally improve? Or get worse?'

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  11. "So she doesn't have a vested interested as a HEor, she gets little in the way of money out of her activities, so that must make her a really evil, er.. power crazed ...er....

    Yes, well anyway, why didn't they put ME in charge of the APPG!!!"

    Do you honestly think most of us would be willing to ditch our ethics just to feel as important as you do?

    "So get off your butt and engage with the same effort as Fiona. Then you might be invited to do even more!"

    Again, the bewildering idea that fraternising with the enemy is everyone's ambition.

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    1. I think you need to do a lot of homework to understand both ethics and irony.

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  12. ...ethics...yeah, right.

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  13. Yes ethics. If you're at a point where you don't have any or cannot envisage anyone who does then you need to take stock of your life.

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  14. Of course, ethics. Otherwise we'd all be down in Westminster sharpening our elbows.

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  15. Don't be silly. It's not 'ethics' which prevent many people engaging in dialogue. Often, it's fear of being shunned or attacked by the HE community. The nastiness of the comments on Facebook this week about people who may have attended past APPGs is ample evidence of that.

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  16. In everyone I know, it's ethics or other priorities, not fear. Recent developments prove them right, as do more historical ones.

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  17. So, now, anyone wishing to prove they are 'ethical' must refuse an invitation. Just as long as we all understand the rules.

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  18. Yes. Well done.

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  19. Great. So, all future APPG's will be solely composed of MPs and LA officers. And Fiona. Brilliant strategy.

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  20. Not at all. One can have ethics and still attend. It is high time that someone with the ethics to inform other home educators what is happening in these meetings attends.

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  21. Which is it? You can't go if you have ethics? Or you can go if you have ethics? A person of ethics, who has been invited to attend, could get very confused by the mixed signals here.

    Want to know what happened? Here are the notes:
    http://edyourself.org/articles/allpartygrouphomeeducation.php
    Knock yourself out.

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  22. Written by Fiona Nicholson with her spin put on it...no thank you.

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    1. Well, whose spin did you want? Specifically? You want every single person who attended to write up the minutes and publish them? Is a there another area of life where this happens?

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    2. Recorded live would be my preference.

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  23. It is not about attending. It is about who one is representing and how they share info. It is also about not having the same people invited time and time again so that views become distorted over time. Don't worry, no one who is merely interested in sharing info without an agenda for their own gain, be it power or money, will be invited. Now, an open meeting will contain several people who fit that category.

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  24. 'It is not about attending. It is about who one is representing and how they share info. It is also about not having the same people invited time and time again so that views become distorted over time. Don't worry, no one who is merely interested in sharing info without an agenda for their own gain, be it power or money, will be invited. Now, an open meeting will contain several people who fit that category.'

    Tripe. You know absolutely nothing about some of the people who were invited or you wouldn't say such rubbish.

    You had me going there for a minute. I actually thought I was having a useful dialogue.

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    1. I assume your definition of 'useful dialogue' is a conversation where everyone agrees with you? I know a great deal about the people who were there.

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    2. Not all of them, you don't. That's a cert.

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  25. It's a very strange thing, but the only people commenting here in whose integrity I have any trust are Anne and Julie. I wonder if that is because they are the only ones who dare sign their names? I don't get the impression that either of them care for me particularly, but they say what they think and then put their names to their message.

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    1. I'm certain they are happy that you endorse them Simon. I shudder at the thought of such an honour.

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    2. 'I'm certain they are happy that you endorse them Simon'

      I don't endorse them at all; I think that many of their ideas are muddle-headed and wrong! I said that I respected their integrity, which is a different thing entirely.

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    3. Thank goodness for that Simon. For a moment I thought you were losing your edge and that would be a shame.

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    4. 'For a moment I thought you were losing your edge'

      Not yet, Anonymous. Leastways, not while I have breath in my body!

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  26. "Great. So, all future APPG's will be solely composed of MPs and LA officers. And Fiona. Brilliant strategy."

    Seems to be the status quo.

    "One can have ethics and still attend. It is high time that someone with the ethics to inform other home educators what is happening in these meetings attends."

    I don't think so. What is the point of this APPG group anyway? Nothing that will help home educators.

    "Which is it? You can't go if you have ethics? Or you can go if you have ethics? A person of ethics, who has been invited to attend, could get very confused by the mixed signals here."

    They should not attend. A refusal to engage is the only ethical stance.

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    1. "A refusal to engage is the only ethical stance."

      That remark pretends to be high-minded and ethical but isn't worth a hill of beans; you could at least try to justify it.

      In this case, I don't think a refusal to engage is justified or ethical, but I could still make a better case for refusal than we see here.

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    2. The case for refusal:

      Home education is an anomaly in that it's not regulated or routinely overseen. Government is in the business of regulating and overseeing, therefore any engagement will create opportunities for this to be introduced.

      Also any engagement from home educators would have to be fully representative to be ethical, and we know that this is impossible. Therefore any engagement is unethical.

      Is that enough of a hill of beans?

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    3. "Is that enough of a hill of beans?"

      Not even a can. I'm completely opposed to registration and monitoring of HE, but refusal to engage with the people who, ultimately, have overwhelming power, is a crazy notion; in fact, it could be taken as tacit acceptance of anything that the authorities choose to do.

      Given your requirement for "ethical", very little that happens in any sphere can be "ethical"; I suspect you mean that your own personal engagement would be necessary and sufficient to make it "ethical".

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    4. No, I wouldn't personally engage. So anything you say or do to represent all home educators, you do fraudulently. Many of us would prefer no engagement.

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    5. I respect your right to not engage; but don't deny me the right to engage on behalf of myself and my children. In any dialogue I've had (with my MP, for example), I always make it clear that I speak only for myself or others I've been asked to represent, and that there is a range of views in HE.

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    6. I don't have the power to deny you anything.

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    7. No you don't, but some may be put off by the kind of rhetoric we've heard here (not necessarily from you); it's wrong to try to claim that one represents the whole HE community, but it's equally wrong to prevent anyone from engaging on behalf of themselves or others who accept their representation.

      It's not a perfect system, but you'll wait a long time - and probably suffer worse - if you wait for that.

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    8. "anything you say or do to represent all home educators, you do fraudulently"

      Is anyone insane enough to claim that they represent all home educators? Would anyone believe them?

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    9. 'Given your requirement for "ethical", very little that happens in any sphere can be "ethical"; I suspect you mean that your own personal engagement would be necessary and sufficient to make it "ethical".'

      And there, Commenter, you have hit the nail on the head.

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    10. Are you people just incapable of believing that some of us do not want to engage with central government?

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    11. No problem if you don't want to engage with central government. Although that's not the point of some of the APPG meetings. The one in August for example was about engaging with schools exams officers and examination boards in order to level the playing field for home educators wishing to sit exams. (All this is clearly evident in the online report available for all to read.)

      However, if you don't wish to attend APPG meetings for whatever reason, that is your prerogative. I can respect that.

      What I don't respect is your claiming that those who do attend are in it for 'power, money, glory' etc or as a result of a lack of ethics. That is quite simply stupid.

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    12. Not necessarily power, money, glory or lack of ethics. Could be just thoughtlessness, or gullibility.

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    13. Someone else adding something new to the list of insults? It started as just 'enethical' now it's a lot more. Anyone want to add anything else to the list of motives? Perhaps they are all secret members of the Rothschild Family? Dress up as Nazis in their spare time? Torture kittens?

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    14. 'unethical', rather.

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    15. Ah! Godwin's already. I wondered when it would surface.

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    16. Oh, it's omni-present.

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  27. "They should not attend. A refusal to engage is the only ethical stance."

    In regard to any invite only appg meeting I agree.

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  28. I don't think any actual home educators were being invited to that particular party held in their honour anyway, were they?

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    1. Good point. No they are not invited. Don't worry though because Fiona and Jane will be there.

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  29. "There are loads of us out there working with families but we aren't in the headlines because we aren't seeking power or glory."

    This is interesting; I've hit this thread too late, but I'm interested in the basis of this remark: how many people are involved; how many hours per week do they work with families; what are they doing when they work with families; what impact does it have on their own family?

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    1. It's a hard slog down on the blog - and then there's all the facebooking to see to.

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  30. "Blah blah blah ....ethics... blah blah.. ethical... blah blah blah"

    What a lot of pompous cant!

    I've no doubt that most of the people saying they wouldn't accept an invitation to the APPG on "ethical" grounds would be in there like a rat up a drainpipe given half the chance.

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  31. The people who would be in there like a rat up a drain pipe are bound to assume the same of everyone else. Please don't judge us all by your own standards!

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    1. "Please don't judge us all by your own standards!"

      But the standards of those complaining are quite clear; they're dishonest. Nobody has been claiming to represent all home educators, but a group of people who seem to resent anyone's involvement with the APPG are claiming that those involved are making such claims about their mandate.

      This looks a schoolgirl schoolyard spat.

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    2. That looks like a straw man argument to me. The issue for those of us who don't want engagement is the usual one which never changes. Those who do will argue for what they want.

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    3. Except it isn't a straw man, is it. The basis of the complaint against those who engage with the APPG is that they are claiming to represent the whole HE community, but I've yet to see the slightest justification for that implausible claim.

      I don't have any problem with people not wanting to engage, but I have a problem with their subset who wish to impose their views about non-engagement on everyone else.

      I've had nothing to do with the APPG; if I was invited to take part then it's likely I'd take the opportunity, but I don't think that's likely to happen as I see no reason why I would be invited, and I have no problem with that. I'm happy to follow what's happening and if I don't like it, I'll write to the chair and members to express my views.

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    4. To tick the box of consultation and engagement, they don't need to claim any such thing. The very fact that there are sufficient home educators willing to go and engage in dialogue is enough for any action (like this new professional body) to be carried out without compunction. You go there to make deals on behalf of all home educators, whether you openly state this or not. Even if you deny it, it is still what you are doing.

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    5. I'm not doing anything with the APPG, but I'm glad that someone is. It's time that some people faced the nasty reality of the prospect of a Labour administration coming at us like a steamroller. Petty procedural wrangling over the constitution of the APPG will seem trivial by comparison.

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    6. "You go there to make deals on behalf of all home educators, whether you openly state this or not. Even if you deny it, it is still what you are doing."

      This argument is an attempt to manipulate people and processes by those who pretend that they don't want to engage.

      If you don't engage, you can't then expect to set the rules for those that do. Don't like it? Tough. You can't expect to eat your cake, still have it and demand other people's cake too.

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    7. LOL! Exactly.

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  32. And what do you think this new professional body of public sector workers will become under a Labour government?

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    1. Interesting; you seem to have the same fear-driven mindset as the LA workers we're all concerned about - not to mention the larger body of the they-must-be-up-to-something community.

      Such bodies of people have always been with us; the faint glimmer of hope I see for the outcome of the APPG is that it might be a little more informed, open and accountable than it otherwise would be.

      That leads to the questions we should ask of the APPG instead of wringing our hands over constitutional issues (I don't wish to demean those altogether, but we live in a very imperfect political world):

      What mechanisms will be set in place to ensure that the new body is open, accountable and maintains a dialogue that represents the views of all home educators?

      Maybe I'll post that on Satan's latest thread.

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    2. I should add that I don't mean "fear-driven mindset" to be as offensive as it sounds; we're all driven by fear at times, and the work of many state organisations is predicated on fear. But it's frequently fear of the wrong thing; we focus on dealing with our fear of the small, sometimes trivial things, while ignoring the big problems that are more dangerous.

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    3. This new organised body of public sector workers will not be a trivial worry under a Labour government. It will probably be one of the main instruments of our downfall. This is from a realistic, not a fear driven mindset. Just think back to the Badman review and imagine that again, plus this new body. It's not going to be on our side for long, is it?

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    4. Are there sides? Is every LA really out to get us? Is a not-yet-existent body really going to be 'our downfall'?

      Wow!

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    5. I said "one of the main instruments" and my guess is that most public sector workers would feel uncomfortable about a small minority of children being outside their system. To rely on a body of such people to defend that position when they don't have to is risky in the extreme.

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    6. In some LAs though, where the HE community has been speaking to them, helping them to understand it and stay out of its way, like parts of Hants, the LA has retreated to the point of there being no inspections at all any more as they were seen as a waste of money. (My understanding.)

      If only other HE communities had been prepared to discuss with the LAs, done that ground work etc. We might now be looking at a potential future body which was largely 'on our side', as you put it.

      PS, who said anything about 'relying' on it? For what?

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    7. For helping to keep regulations at bay. Surely that's the reason for setting it up?

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    8. "This new organised body of public sector workers will not be a trivial worry under a Labour government. It will probably be one of the main instruments of our downfall. This is from a realistic, not a fear driven mindset. Just think back to the Badman review and imagine that again, plus this new body. It's not going to be on our side for long, is it?"

      I'm amazed that anyone believes that this sort of body won't exist without APPG engagement. Some LAs are already talking to each other about dealing with HE across county boundaries, simply because it's not necessarily cost effective for each LA to do its own thing.

      The only question at issue is whether this happens with or without our influence. Those of us keen to see engagement via the APPG (and I have no actual connection with it in any way) don't want to talk to politicians any more than anyone else, but we can't keep our heads up our bottoms with impunity forever.

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  33. "my guess is that most public sector workers would feel uncomfortable about a small minority of children being outside their system."

    Tell us something we don't know. Tell us, how do we stop LAs when they gang together against us independently of the APPG?

    I'd hoped that most home educators would actually value education enough to understand that it might be possible to enlighten even those public sector workers so that they see that HE is not the problem some of them think.

    Of course, some might be difficult to budge because of their vested interests in monitoring and control, but openness and scrutiny - with home educators involved - is the only hope of handling this.

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  34. Thank you for explaining how the proactive amongst us think. I wish we saw explanations like this more often. It would help those of us who would rather do nothing - for fear that doing something makes matters worse - to at least understand some of the reasons for future changes. I wish we could have had the debate first though, rather than after the suggestions have been officially made and the wheels put in motion. We would feel a lot less disregarded in our views.

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