What’s been said?
In the early 1950s one parent, Joy Baker, stood up to officialdom in order to exercise her right to educate her own children rather than let the state decide how and what they should learn. She became a pioneer for every HE family in the UK today.
When Ed Balls initiated the Badman Review in 2009, the growing HE community found itself thrown into a political battle it never expected. What was remarkable about that response was that no single individual or organisation sought to control what was done. Instead, everyone put their efforts into what they felt able to support, and did not seek to hinder what others were doing. There was a remarkable sense of working together without breathing down one another’s necks.
The team behind the HE Byte came together in the wake of Lord Soley’s Home Education Bill in an effort to encourage HE families to revitalise the stand against state oversight. Most of us had been involved in the 2010 campaign against the Children’s, Schools and Families Bill, and had experienced the joy of seeing the offending clauses being deleted from it in the run-up to the general election.
Since then we have seen HE families working alone or with others to successfully protect their freedoms. In Scotland Alison Preuss fulfilled an important role in seeing the Named Person Scheme abandoned. A few months ago we reported on how effectively HE parents in Northern Ireland had engaged with the Education Authority there. Very recently in the Republic of Ireland, a circuit court ruled against a government agency which was making unlawful demands on HE parents. In this case it took a single determined family to stand up and be counted.
We have emphasised recently that apart from the Named Person Scheme, the proposed new guidelines for EHE in Wales together with the promised data-sharing regulations are the most aggressive threat to HE parental freedom that we have seen in the UK. We continue to encourage all who can to respond to the consultation on this – less than two weeks remain before the deadline.
We have also encouraged our readers to consider supporting those seeking to raise funds for legal opinions about proposals in government consultations. Previous appeals concerned the 2018 English consultation and the ongoing Isle of Man Education Bill. Given its significant implications for the whole of the UK, the current Welsh consultation almost seemed to demand that someone take the initiative and seek advice from an experienced QC.
Very recently we were put in touch with a HE family in Wales who had realised that if no-one else was going to formally enquire about the legality of the Welsh guidelines, then they would have to do so themselves. They have now instructed a QC and launched a crowd funding page. As on previous occasions, we encourage readers to consider supporting their efforts to try and protect all HE families.
Why does it matter?
Parental responsibility is presently being undermined on several fronts. Home education is seemingly under threat because it does not conform to the desired objectives of the civic education so highly valued by “children’s professionals.” Recent Bytes on the Welsh consultation (linked from the bottom of this page) have attempted to demonstrate this. If parents – and it seems HE families are the best placed to recognise this – do not stand up to this philosophy, then future generations will be squeezed into whichever mould the political elite favours.
The title of this Byte is based on a quotation which President John F. Kennedy attributed to Edmund Burke.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Whilst the origin of this statement is debated, the truth it embodies remains clear. In the context of home education, we might say that for those with an undeclared agenda behind the political lobbying to succeed, all that is needed is for good parents to do nothing.
One could look back with hindsight and think that the way Badman’s proposals were abandoned in 2010 gave HE families a false sense of security. Did we take our collective eye off the ball? Yes, it seems that we did. At very best we now know it only gained one more decade of educational freedom. Unless HE families can stir themselves up once again to pay the cost of standing against state erosion of their natural rights and responsibilities, then the next decade will almost certainly see these being taken away, here in Britain and in many other places.
What can I do?
Right now you can consider responding to the Welsh consultation – you don’t have to live in Wales to do this. For further inspiration, read the sample response offered to the HE Byte for the encouragement of ordinary families in this matter. Remember the closing date is 21 October.
Seriously consider donating to the costs of the QC commissioned by the HE family in Wales through their recently established charity Protecting Home Education Wales. More details are available on the appeal’s GoFundMe page and the charity’s new website. For reasons of confidentiality it is not possible for them to share publicly the brief they supplied to the QC. However, before it was forwarded to the QC a draft was shown to the Byte team for comment, and we can confirm that it was comprehensive in content and prepared in a professional manner.
Finally, please encourage others, no matter where they live, to do what they can to stand against the usurping of natural family responsibilities by the state.
If for any reason you cannot fully support what someone else happens to be doing, then we urge you to focus on what you yourself can do. Complement their hard work rather than using your energy to oppose them. Remember that there is one thing worse than good parents doing nothing – and that is good parents arguing amongst themselves. This only allows those with bad intentions to succeed in their ambitions.