Archive for December, 2009

Young Kids bullied to write. Morning Star.

I liked this piece in the Morning Star. Young kids bullied to write.

Mumsnet and the Early Years Foundation Stage discussion thread

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Some have said the next election will be a ‘Mumsnet’ election. As a parent I sometimes frequent chat boards – for advice, help, support or simply for fun. Yesterday I started a thread at the social networking site Mumsnet about the parliamentary e-petition I launched recently. The text of the petition is quite simple and reads as follows:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to change the sixty-nine compulsory Early Years Foundation Stage Learning and Development Requirements (targets applied to children from birth to five in nurseries, schools and other early years settings) to recommendations and guidelines only”.

As readers can see the first signatory on my petition was Dr. Richard House.

The subject matter of the discussion thread I’d started was actually fairly boring. The petition itself is not particularly challenging. It isn’t the first parliamentary e-petition on the subject and it won’t be the last. The downgrading of the EYFS learning and development requirements to recommendations only is by no means a radical demand. I’d thought it was something that many people could agree upon.

Not so, it seems. I’d been warned by other mums that the Mumsnet site is notorious for it’s bullying posters but even I was shocked by some of the reactions I encountered there. On the very first day, personal attacks were vicious and almost exclusively negative. I wondered why – finally coming to the conclusion that in some parenting ‘cultures’ dissent is simply not permitted. What does this say about families and the impact of the EYFS Learning and Development Goals on our educational and political culture as a whole? What does it say about parental peer pressure?

I’d suspected for a long time that many parents have swallowed government propaganda on EYFS wholesale. Someone like me who has acquired a thick skin can just about hold their own in such a debate (and fight back) but what about all those parents out there who can’t or who are struggling to understand the implications of the EYFS Learning and Development Goals?

What about parents  who have misgivings about the Learning and Development Goals, backed up by their own instincts and their own experiences with their own children?

What about the parents who are not strong enough to face such an onslaught? Those who are just too busy with coping to face it? Let me know your thoughts on this one. (And I promise not to shout you down).

To view the Mumsnet thread follow this link.

To sign the parliamentary petition go to this link.

Update 15.22 p.m.: Taking a welcome break from this Mumsnet thread now. I feel as a discourse on EYFS and early years cultural politics it speaks for itself…

MP’s to hold enquiry into Badman Home Education review

Back already…can’t seem to leave this blogging thing alone…see this important piece in Children and Young people now

Happy New Year…EYFS parliamentary e-petition

I’m going to sign off from this blog over Christmas. Back in the new year with renewed vigour (I hope)…

Don’t forget to sign the parliamentary e-petition  (see the link on the right)…

Home Education Petition Record

Yesterday’s home education petition handover was a record. To read the Sky News report click here. According to Sky News: Mr Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) told MPs: “If enacted, the Government’s proposals will for the first time in our history tear away from parents and give to the state the responsibility for a child’s education.”

These issues are clearly a matter of concern for all of us, whether or not we home educate.

Jemmo contacted this blog via the comments box and said:

 “Someone has done some counting:117 Petitions were presented tonight, of which 55 presenting MPs gave the total signature count

The grand total was 2052 signatures from just those 55 petitions. And there are plenty more to come!”

Home Education Petition Handover

According to the web site of Graham Stuart M.P. :

“A total of 74 MPs from across the three main parties are set to present more than 120 petitions containing thousands of signatures to Parliament tonight (Tuesday) opposing Government plans to bring in strict registration and monitoring of home educated children, thanks to Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart”.

For updates click here.

Historic Home Education Petition and EYFS

There are some simple yet important links between grass roots home education movements and movements which oppose the compulsory sixty-nine EYFS learning and development targets. These are practical and philosophical.

 Firstly, home educators may sometimes choose to place one or more of their children (part-time perhaps) in the care of a childminder. Since childminders are obliged to conform to the EYFS targets (unless that is they have secured an exemption, a process which is difficult and lengthy) the learning and development requirements would have an impact on them.  

Secondly, I’ve heard from some parents whose children have started mainstream school that they would like to stay in touch with home education networks in case school doesn’t work out for them. “To hit the ground running” as it were. Regardless of whether our children attend mainsteam school or not it seems the issue of  freedom in education affects all of us.

This week I became aware of a historically important home education petition. Here is some background information about it which is also available at this link. Graham Stuart M.P is due to hand over the petition next Tuesday on the floor of the House at 8.p.m. See this link to access Graham Stuart’s website.

Freedom for Family Education – Because Families Raise Children

More information about the Petition to Parliament

A Bill with a clause about changing the law on home education is expected to be introduced to Parliament via the Queen’s Speech on November 18th. Parliamentary debates on the Bill after the Second Reading could be in early December.

In response, Graham Stuart MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education has offered to organise a Petition to Parliament opposing the Badman recommendations which Members of Parliament will take to Westminster in early December.

A number of MPs have told us that Petitions to Parliament are much more effective than Downing Street online petitions. The Petitions to Parliament are taken by MPs to Westminster and are recorded in Hansard.

The key thing is the number of constituencies where a Petition to Parliament is signed, rather than getting a huge number of signatories from any one constituency. The people who sign the Petition have to live in the local constituency (though they do not have to be UK or EU citizens) and put their names and addresses, but they do not necessarily have to be home educators. There are no age restrictions on who can sign.

The Petition of Persons resident in x constituency…declares that they are concerned about the recommendations of the Badman Report, which suggests closer monitoring of home educators, including a compulsory annual registration scheme and right of access to people’s homes for local authority officials; further declares that the petitioners believe the recommendations are based on a review that was extremely rushed, failed to give due consideration to the evidence, failed to ensure that the data it collected were sufficiently robust, and failed to take proper account of the existing legislative framework.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families either not to bring forward, or to withdraw, proposed legislative measures providing for tighter registration and monitoring of children educated at home in the absence of a thorough independent inquiry into the condition and future of elective home education in England; but instead to take the steps necessary to ensure that the existing Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities are properly implemented, learning from current best practice, in all local authorities in England.