Saturday, 9 November 2013
Through the looking-glass; a look at the mad world of the Fortune-Woods
I have had one or two things to say over the last few weeks about those in the British home educating scene who manufacture scare stories and spread alarming rumours. Of course, no mention of this subject would be complete without a look at the stuff that Mike Fortune-Wood and his former wife have turned out. I have been browsing on the Home Education UK website and thought that I might just publish some of the things to be found there. It provides a fascinating glimpse into an alternative universe; a world such as few of us have seen.
Lots of home educating families feel nervous about being out in the daytime and lots of children never go out 'just in case'. Imagine if you could be routinely be stopped in the street by policemen checking up on whether you should be in work and suspecting that you might be committing a crime just because you were going to a bookshop on a weekday morning.
Is it really true that a lot of home educating families feel nervous about being out in the daytime? Apart, obviously, from the crossover group of families who are both home educators and also vampires. And who are these, ‘lots of children’ who never go out, ‘just in case’? Have any readers yet met a home educated child who never goes out, 'just in case'? One hardly likes to ask, 'In case of what?' Are we to understand that these unfortunate children never leave their homes at all? That doesn't sound like a healthy model of home education! Presumably, if they never go out, those children won’t be worried about the curfews which are about to be imposed on them, which will make it illegal for children to be on the streets at all, apart from, ‘the twilight world between 3 and 9PM’ What, you haven’t heard about this? You really ought to check the Home Education UK website more often! The Fortune-Woods have the facts about the new law;
A new education act is being planned which would make it illegal for children of compulsory school age to be in a public place during school hours without good reason. This legislation is primarily aimed at excluded children who are perceived as being a public menace but will affect other children such as those being home educated. Home educators can expect problems similar to those experienced with anti truancy legislation which has been a nuisance for HE families almost since the day it was introduced. It largely depends of course upon the wording of the bill and how local police, who still have difficulty understanding the nature of home education and how it works, interpret it. At worst it could effectively make HE children prisoners in their homes from 9 till 3. Given that children in some areas are already under curfew after around 9pm that means that children are only allowed out in the twilight world between 3 and 9 pm.
And then there are those idiots who have contact with their local authority…
Many parents, having made the decision to home educate, are aware that other home educators have had their decision in some way “second guessed”. This leads many home educators to actively avoid any contact with education authorities, fearful that LAs will assess the parents’ decision to deregister their child against the national policy of ensuring that all children are in school. Experience suggests that parents known to authorities do come under undue pressure to return children to school and this pressure sometimes extends to maliciously contacting social services to put further pressure on the parents to ‘cooperate’.
And what about those parents whose children need to be taken to the Casualty Department at the local hospital? Don't they know what is likely to happen? The fools!
I have heard examples of parents discussing the wisdom of taking a child to an emergency ward when they know that a visit will be noted and passed on to the social services
Is this true? Do Casualty Departments generally pass on details of children seen there to social services? Or does this only happen with children educated at home? We need to know a little more about this, I think.
Remember the old Connexions service? You might, like me have found them to be pretty useless, but I bet you didn’t know this about them:
Not since Germany's Third Reich has the state systematically gathered information about parents by using their children - it is truly reminiscent of "1984" …the introduction of the electronic Connexions card for young people, with its overtones of Hitler Youth reporting on their parents
It easy to laugh at lunacy such as this, but that would, I think, be a mistake. Home Education UK and its associated support group, the HE-UK Yahoo list, is one of the biggest British home educating sites on the internet. For thousands of home educating parents, this is, heaven help them, their first contact with the wider world of home education. Once there, many of them get sucked into this delusional world-view and believe that these paranoiac ravings are what home education is all about. No wonder there is so much friction between home educators and local authorities with poison like this being poured in the ears of parents.