The HE Byte

Integrated Communities Strategy – Green Paper: Question 7

The Green Paper proposes measures to ensure that all children and young people are prepared for life in modern Britain and have the opportunity for meaningful social mixing with those from different backgrounds. Do you agree with this approach?

Chapter 3 opens with the government’s Vision statement. At first reading one might not see too much to disagree with in the opening sentence, but think carefully about what the Government means by certain phrases and concepts, and how much it intends to impose these upon individuals/communities as an ideology, whether or not this conflicts with their personal world-view or value system.

Only select the YES box if you are in full agreement. You can always add comments to qualify a NO or DON’T KNOW choice.

Points to ponder

You might want to consider some of the following: in an age where mission creep by state officials has escalated, how happy are you to endorse an opportunity for the Government to set forth, justify and then implement its own agenda? Can those actually delivering this approach be trusted to respect the personal freedoms of an individual or sub-culture? Is there a need for more impartial safeguards to keep bureaucrats in check?

Under The Challenge, we find home education listed alongside sections on disparity of educational outcomes, segregated schools, lack of opportunities to mix with people from different backgrounds, out-of-school settings, independent schools and universities. You may wish to explore why home education is viewed as a challenge from the government’s point of view, or comment on how much oversight – if any – you feel is justifiable. Negative media coverage and the government’s underlying view of home education as a problem need regularly identifying and calling out, especially the creation of an unjustified “hostile environment” towards EHE.

One common theme seems to be the Government’s desire to increase its level of control in all these situations, with a view to achieving greater integration. In fact, as a Byte entitled The Absurdity of Homeschooling Fanatics reminded readers, we have come a long way since the Cantle Report of 2001 which suggested ways of encouraging integration in a multicultural nation of people living in parallel with each other. We now face the imposition of social cohesion measures from the top. Despite introductory assurances that “integration is not assimilation”, the underlying aim appears to be a homogenised society where awkward differences in belief or culture are eradicated. Read the section, think about the tone and the implications, then express your opinion in your own words, pointing out any unforeseen consequences of such policies as they come to mind. Remember, well thought out responses with individual examples are more influential than template answers.

The final section What are we going to do? encompasses a variety of topics including opportunities areas; reducing segregation through new approaches to school admissions; exemplars of schools’ contribution to integration; school linking; meaningful social mixing outside school (no problem here for most EHE families to furnish examples refuting the commonly held idea that wide social mixing is a problem for their children).

One word which features multiple times in this section is “funding”. Examples from page 27 include, “We require all state-funded schools to be inclusive…”, “Funding agreements require free schools to be at the heart of their community, promoting social cohesion…” Funding is perceived as providing the funder with the right to “require”. In the light of Nick Gibb’s recent statement about the responsibilities of the commissioner of any alternative provision, it would not be hard to make a converse case for a no-funding, no-intervention policy. The government certainly seems to view its own input of funding as justification for imposition of its directives. Should not the same apply for home educating parents who fund their own initiatives?

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