Are You “Empowered” by and “Comfortable” with the Welsh Proposals?

Doublespeak in consultation documents reveals Welsh government’s hypocrisy!

What’s been said?

Our most recent comment on the Welsh Local authority education databases consultation focused on one paragraph from the Integrated Impact Assessment Summary. This paragraph illustrates the confused thinking of the Welsh Government [WAG] concerning this whole matter.

That is not the only such example. This paragraph for instance is also found on page 3:

Prosperity for All

These proposals are driven by the need to support a child’s right to education and to ensure that they, and their parents, are empowered and comfortable in accessing universal and targeted services that are aimed at supporting their well-being. [Emphasis added]

Before we discuss the content, it should be noted that the link in the title of this section in the original document is broken. We assume that it should take the reader to this page, from which the PDF Prosperity for All: the national strategy can be downloaded.

Nowhere in that document are the words “empowered” or “comfortable” used in connection with children and their parents. In fact “comfortable” does not occur at all, whilst there are three references to Welsh citizens being “empowered”.

On p.13, in the context of working with the NHS, the WAG promises to help “empower patients and carers to take greater control of their health and wellbeing.” Later, on p.19 in a section addressing communities, we read that people “need to be empowered to do the things that really make a difference.” On the following page, in reference to resilient communities, they state “Government’s role is to support and empower those who want to make a difference, and to make sure they have the space to pursue their vision.”

The more one thinks about these proposals the more one becomes convinced that they will only serve to disenfranchise children and parents, making them increasingly uncomfortable with living under the oversight of a government which apparently believes that only conformity to its ways and means will ensure every citizen’s wellbeing.

Why does it matter?

We trust that by now you will have noted the irony in the contrast between the definition of the WAG’s role in supporting and empowering those who want to make a difference, with the tone of the present and previous consultations, both of which demonstrate institutional mistrust of EHE parents.

The vast majority of EHE parents have taken a long look at the school system and decided they cannot allow their children to run that particular gauntlet. They want something better for them, and wish that states everywhere would back off and allow them to make a positive difference in their children’s lives.

Secondly, some readers may have spotted the irony of the WAG’s promise to work with the NHS to empower patients to take control of their health and well-being. They have been made aware that they are doing the very opposite through the plan for data-sharing by Local health boards [LHB].

In her Ministerial Forward to the Consultation Document, Kirsty Williams said that there would be a requirement placed on LHBs “to disclose to LAs certain specified non-clinical information about a child who is ordinarily resident in a local authority area.”

In January the WAG published a summary of responses to last year’s consultation. The relevant question about data-sharing by the NHS is addressed on p.17, with responses to the “open question” summarised on the following page. This initial paragraph highlights respondents’ main concern:

Around a fifth of responses criticised proposals to share data between health agencies and local authorities. Responses outlined a range of concerns including confidentiality of patient data, going against current codes of practice and concerns regarding protection of data. It was considered that this approach could puttingput [sic] children in danger by acting as a deterrent to home education families to accessing health care. It would also create an uncomfortable environment for health professionals and home educators and this was viewed as a further barrier to be facefaced [sic] by home education families.”

On that basis alone, these proposals are in direct conflict with the WAG’s Prosperity for All legislation and therefore should be abandoned!

What can I do?

Make sure you respond before the deadline on 22 April – you can find links to all the documentation and our previous Bytes on our Welsh Consultation page.

Your submission does not have to be long and you may find it easier just to reply to the open question at the end, as the majority of others don’t provide any opportunity for you to reason your objections. Alternatively you can avoid the set questions by submitting a response by email.

No matter where you live, encourage other HE families known to you to respond also. Why not send them the link to this Byte?

There are just thirteen days left before the consultation closes.