The Home Educated Youth Council (HEYC) met in August with Penny Jones, the Deputy Director of the DCSF. The meeting was supposed to be about the government listening to the Home Educated teens to get their view points on the Badman report. The full transcript can be found here: HEYC-DCSF Transcript.
Penny Jones seemed to me to be very condescending to the teens, and I believe the teens held their own ground-and proved to be a very well-prepared group of articulate, intelligent teens. Teens ready to defend their way of life.
The government has been saying all along they want to hear from the children, that the children should have a voice in this.
This is how the government official responded:
JONATHAN PRIOR: I want to read you a section of annex C: “The review will look in particular at if and how far home educated children have access to the five Every Child Matters outcomes.”
PENNY JONES: Ahh, I see, okay.
GARETT ROSS: I don’t want them.
PENNY JONES: Well, want or not, I am a government official, and these five outcomes are government policy. [loud crosstalk from all sides]
Yes–The Deputy Director of the DCSF has said, ‘want or not’ the governments ‘policy’ will be forced upon the UK population. The key word here is ‘POLICY’. The Every Child Matters program is a government policy, not the LAW! Is the DCSF a law unto its own?
Here is the rest of that section. I have to commend the teens—I think they did a wonderful job! The main point: this is a policy to police the effectiveness of an educational system, and it does not belong in a family setting.
GARETT ROSS: Yes, and they can’t be applied to families, they aren’t for families to pay attention to, they’re for government organisations like the LAs, and the–
PENNY JONES: Exactly, because the tactic, if you think about it, all taxpayers, I’m a taxpayer (come back to you in a moment [to a raised hand]) [inaudible] we have a system which, an education system which most children attend, most taxpayers are contributing to, and [inaudible] and I think the vast majority of people in this country think you do need some kind of benchmarks as to whether your education system is performing adequately, you need some sort of targets.
JONATHAN PRIOR: The problem is, is that we’re not an education system.
PENNY JONES: [What I was trying to say was] home education… it clearly has to relate in a different way to the Every Child Matters outcomes…
JONATHAN PRIOR: Should it?
PENNY JONES: …because it’s no good talking about ‘Enjoy and Achieve’ in terms of school if a child’s home educated.
JASPER GOLD: Which is exactly why we’re against the report…
GARETT ROSS: This report implies forcing those on us.
PENNY JONES: I don’t–I don’t think they are things that can be forced upon anyone, they are at a fairly high level of generallity.
GARETT ROSS: Yes. But the Report tries to do it. I agree with you. But, there are things that can’t be forced on people.
So you shouldn’t try.
JASPER GOLD: In a way, we will enjoy and achieve [inaudible] long term [inaudible]
JONATHAN PRIOR: Let me read you a section from the terms of reference…
PENNY JONES: Chloe, Chloe, I meant to say that there are people coming into this room at twelve o’clock, so we really need to cut it short…
CHLOE WATSON: I’m sure they’ll be happy to wait a minute [not seeing anybody waiting to use the room]
PENNY JONES: Well, not terribly long, because they’ll be arriving in a bit with stacks of paper… so if there are any, you know, different points people haven’t made.
CHLOE WATSON: Yes, there are. I want to point out that I have spoken to a couple of barristers, and they have told me that Every Child Matters is not enshrined in law, and therefore, it is not applicable, because it is not a law that every child has to achieve these things, and therefore they can’t be applied as if they were law, as they are in these cases. It’s been treated as if it’s something legal, when actually it’s an idea, which doesn’t really have any force in its own right.
JASPER GOLD: [inaudible]
CHLOE WATSON: That is what I’ve been told by more than one barrister.
PENNY JONES: Yes, I mean, the-the Every Child Matters… [pause] um, the Every Child Matters outcomes, are not sort of specific in terms of, you know, we… we want to make children [inaudible] the children, [inaudible] and da da da da da–that’s not in legislation, we feel that has to be another stage, so I think I–[pause]–I think there’s a sense in which the every child matters outcomes can be directly applied in that clause of the bill to home education. It’s more at the policy level, in terms of how we approach home education, the place home education has within the broader policy framework.
JONATHAN PRIOR: Unfortunately, this doesn’t really apply to us in any real way, shape or form…
CHLOE WATSON: And it’s really just bureaucratic nonsense.
PENNY JONES: Well, you have your opinion there…
JONATHAN PRIOR: The problem is that it really doesn’t–Every Child Matters, in its current form, does not apply to home education. It can’t be applied to home education. It’s a school–it’s an idea for…
CHLOE WATSON: Institutions [crosstalk] because institutions don’t have any investment in the individual, they have investment in averages. As a family, you have investment, individually, in your children.
JASPER GOLD: I think if you need to tell a parent that your children need to enjoy and achieve…
PENNY JONES: Yeah, I think there are, I think there are sort of two, two different things here aren’t they–the Every Child Matters, in the sense of an expression at a very high level, of the way that the state chooses to do things for the benefit of children. Now, there are certainly some things which have to come which cover… all children, or the vast majority of children, for example vaccination programmes, you hope we’d extend it to all children, no matter what educational setting they’re in…
But certainly, those things which relate to education, the state has very little role, outside of maintained schools, so if you look at the very detailed targets and so on that we have behind Every Child Matters, well we can only look at those [inaudible] education in state maintained schools.