Some people are very strange

An anonymous complaint was made to a HE site today about me. The concerns were passed on for me (and were stated to the complainant as having been passed on to me) to consider my approach although the person who took the complaint does not think that there is a case for complaint.

As the complaint was anonymous and gave me no opportunity to address the concerns that the complainant had, I will deal with them here.

It claims that I am “advocating that home educating families present themselves to a governmental sponsored organistation with the admission that they are unable to provide a suitable, balanced and wide education for their children without the support from the LA”. Apparently I am undermining EO’s campaigning.

Anyone who knows me – please stop laughing now 🙂

Right then, the complaint was made in response to an e-mail that I sent to a local HE list as a follow on to an e-mail posted by someone else mentioning the organisation mentioned within and to enquiries from home-edders in the local area re. the possibility of accessing English and Maths GCSEs, something, which whilst I support HE-ers right to chose the GCSE route, I am not a fan of (GCSEs that is). I went along to the organisation to find out what they offered, so that local HE-ers would be better informed as to what the organisation is (as the previous e-mail sent by another list member didn’t go into as much detail). SO the enquiries I made were on behalf of OTHER people as the majority of the e-mail below does not apply to my own children.

Here’s the e-mail I sent (edited for location and names):

Hi,This is going to cover a few different things and ages, so please bear with
me as I’m starting with the older ones first.I had a meeting with ****** (Project Manager) from **********
(previously mentioned by C) today.******* did indeed HE her daughter,
so it was interesting to hear her perspective on HE in ********. Her
background is the Youth Service and Connexions.
The key focus is young people aged 13-25 who are outside of mainstream
education, employment or training and as such, they run a number of courses.
Funding is from the New Deal for Communities and as I understand it, those
living in the *********** and **********
are included in ********’s aim to accommodate 80% NDC residents on fee free
courses, those outside of these areas need to pay.

Access is through referral (usually from school or Connexions), however
*******Â appreciates that this is a issue for HE families and so suggests that
interested people contact her directly ********* to discuss accessing the
various courses.

Their regular activities are:

Access Group: support group for young people with disabilities aged 13-25)
Monday evenings 5pm – 7pm. Members work together on projects of thei choice

DJ course: Mondays 14.00-16.00. 8 week course. The group hone their mixing
skills and work towards OCN Level 1. The course also teaces Health & Safety

Byker Groove: Tuesdays 10.00-14.00. 12 week cycle repair course – working
towards OCN Level 1 ‘Working with Others’. Each young person overhauls and
rebuilds a cycle provided by Open Cast. Once they’ve successfully completed
the course they can buy the bike they’ve created for just £1.00.

Maybe Baby: Tuesday afternoon parenting support class for young parents (a
funding bid for a creche is currently going through and it is hoped that
childcare quals. will be available to study once this is up and running).

Health & Fitness: Tuesdays and Thursdays. 8 week course for young men to
study Fitness and Personal Hygiene. Accreditation through OCN (1 credit at
level 1).

GAP Support Group: Mondays 17.00-19.00. Support group for gay young men
who work on projects of their choice.

Can You Dig It? Monday and Wednesday 10.00-14.00. Allotment project. Young
people are designing and creating a garden and activity area. (1 OCN credit
at Level 1).

Healthy Eating: Wednesdays for 2 hours. 8 week course. Accreditated
through OCN (1 credit at level 1 – there’s a pattern emerging here :0) The
group learn about Healthy Eating and produce their own selection of cooked

Textiles: Tuesdays for 2 hours. 8 week course. Hand and machine sewing.
Accreditated through OCN (etc.)

Diners Club: Thursdays 17.00. The young people create a temp. restaurant
and provide guests with a full evening meal (working towards Basic Food
Hygiene). Charge is 50p a meal.

IT: Thursdays 10.00-12.30. 8 week course.

Nail & Beauty: 8 week OCN Level 1 course. The group learn about aspects of
beauty therapy including health & safety. 2 courses available on Wednesdays
and Fridays.

Kick Boxing: Tuesdays. 8 week course, incorporating looking at nutrition,
personal hygiene and anger management resolution.

Media Studies: Tuesday afternoons. 8 weeks. Young people produce their own
magazine using packages such as Adobe Photoshop.

Art & Design: Thursday afternoons. 8 week course. OCN Level 1.

Evenings are on a drop-in basis and there is a gym, cafe and various
activities – no referral is needed for the evenings (as I understand it).

Maths and English are also offered as per tutor groups, but usually course
work is set by the young person’s school and they then meet together to
study (hope I’ve got that bit right). There may be scope for HE pupils,
HOWEVER, *********  do not fund GCSES although they may be able to help with
support in working towards them. Maths GCSE is on a Tuesday evening or
Monday in the day. English GCSE is Monday in the day. Either phone ********,
or drop me a mail with exact questions you want me to ask next time I go in.

All the above are for 13 and overs. ******* do not generally plan for
young people and children under this age, although they do the occasional
craft workshop as C has mentioned.

HOWEVER, there is the offer of a large ground floor room for ALL ages,
Fridays from 12.30-14.30, however they would prefer people use the cafe in
there (rather than bring a pack lunch) to help subsidise their costs –
apparently it’s very reasonable and run by volunteers (either young people
or the parents of young people involved with ******). There’s absolutely
no smoking anywhere in the building, or in the alleyway outside it. It’s
pretty much in the centre of ******* (although typically the other side
from the bus/train station, but it’s not a long walk, the centre isn’t very
big) and almost next door to the museum. It’s also close to the park.

Would people be interested in a regular meeting here?

Would people please point out to me WHERE I am “advocating that home educating families present themselves to a governmental sponsored organistation with the admission that they are unable to provide a suitable, balanced and wide education for their children without the support from the LA”? Because I am really at a loss?

At no point do I suggest that people make any sort of admission that they are unable to provide a suitable (etc.) education – in fact, I don’t really see that a desire to study Nail & Beauty or Kickboxing is an admission that a child isn’t receiving a ‘suitable, balanced and wide education’ – or should I be concerned that I never *taught* the boys these subjects? 😉

Even the desire to do a GCSE (and I’m personally not a fan) is not an admission that a suitable (etc.) education is being experienced – who’s to say that a young person may or may not prefer to study a GCSE as part of a group? That’s not an admission of failure, rather one of personal preference. Even where a family felt that they were perhaps struggling a bit in this area, they are STILL not failing to provide a suitable (etc.) education, as the young person would be receiving support from the organisation in question?

A further complaint was: “While these initiatives might appear well-meaning they will inevitably point the finger at parents as failing their children. One would also be concerned about data gathering and inclusion onto the information sharing index as a consequence of taking part in these initiatives that are designed to support families with problems.”

For a start, I find such a comment very prejudiced. Yes, the organisation supports young people who are not in mainstream education or training – but the complainant appears to have assumed that that is because their family has ‘problems’. What about young people who are bullied and therefore afraid to go to school, so are refusing (and *school phobia* – I use the term loosely)? The project manager family have been a home ed family, I don’t think she considers her own family in a negative light, or that she has failed her child/ren. Anyway, what if a family has some *problems*, crikey, who doesn’t at some time in their life.

I would be concerned about information-sharing where young people are attending the courses offered and I might be sceptical about my own children attending, I’m certainly very sceptical of Connexions and did have to bite my tongue at the association. However, I was considering what other local families might want (and indeed, I’ve been contacted by a couple with questions about activities for teens and GCSEs). Therefore, it was an information-gathering exercise, which I duly recorded and then passed on the information for others to consider.

The local HE situation is that of a fairly large number of HE families, very few of whom are members of EO or HEAS (as far as I can see). The majority are known to the local authority and those that aren’t are really, really well hidden as, unlike the last place I lived (where I was a local contact for EO) I know of practially no HE-ers who are unknown to the local authority. In other areas I know of quite a few. This struck me as rather strange when I moved here.

It’s hardly a HE-vibrant place and the local authority have a rather *particular* take on HE and I have had some 18 months of contention in the past over this because my personal way of dealing with the local authority is not one that they *recognise*, in fact, labels like ‘difficult’ and ‘obstructive’ were levelled at me, not the labels used for someone who advocates families presenting themselves before the local authority with anything, let alone an admission of failing to provide a suitable education. I think any file the local authority has on my family has a very big black mark on it 😉

There is no local meet for home-educators to regularly attend. Although attempts have been made. AFAIK, even the regular postings on the local list aren’t attended – or rather the odd person turns up to find that they’re by themself 😦

The organisation above – which is NOT a local authority organisation, although they work with organisations such as Connexions, has offered us space to use. There is no requirement to pass on any names etc. for any home-ed meet that is there, as we will be using space, not particular services that they must account for. The onus will be on the group to hold any record of who is present (for fire safety, etc.) and that becomes a data protection issue for local home-edders, NOT said organisation as they will not be privy to such a list.

I do not think that as a local contact both here and in the previous area I lived in and as a volunteer on the Ed. Otherwise enquiries line, I have ever undermined the hard work that Ed. Otherwise has done to support and promote home education in the UK. I have never had a complaint made against me before and am very surprised that in trying to gain more information for local home-educators that I have been seen by someone to be doing something to the detriment of home-educators.

Anyway, opinions welcome – atleast if people comment here I’m given the opportunity to discuss!


5 thoughts on “Some people are very strange

  1. Ruth says:

    (((hugs)) Nikki. It seems to me the complianant has got the wrong end of the stick entirely and it is a pity they were not brave enough to sort this out with you directly instead of anonomously. I don’t think using other options is showing you cannot provide a suitable education. Surely doing classes e.t.c is all part of what some HE children want? Just cos they are L.A run does not mean you are lacking in some way as a HE parent. I agree Connexions is a sticking point tho and I do think they infomation gather but as long as families are aware that might happen it is up to them if they use the classes or not. I think we have something similar here ( and as a previous contact I did make HE aware of it) but my kids were not interested as GCSEs are a no no here and they prefer other things. Some did do some art classes tho. It is hard to defend yourself when the attacker is faceless and nameless. It it was me I would refuse to talk to a go between and ask the person who is annoyed to say so directly.


  2. t-bird says:

    looks like a fantastic resource for those that want/need those sorts of things and I’m not quite sure how making use of all available resources means you are saying you are failing or that you feel the need to get the LEA involved Although I’m very surprised you have never offered your boys instruction in Nail and Beuty (wink)


  3. jax says:

    there’s always someone willing to knock those who are actually trying to do something (anything) to help, because it isn’t exactly the way they would do it.

    Except they don’t ever do it.

    You aren’t doing anything that they say you are, you’re gathering and sharing information and allowing ppl to evaluate it without putting themselves forward – if anything you are protecting ppl from the very thing you are accused of doing.


  4. Gill says:

    I’m totally puzzled as to how they’ve got ”advocating that home educating families present themselves to a governmental sponsored organistation with the admission that they are unable to provide a suitable, balanced and wide education for their children without the support from the LA” out of your post. Seems like they didn’t read it properly, or just got the wrong gist or something.

    Happy new blog anyway! I like this 😉


  5. Shirley Smith says:

    Yes, I’m confused too. Having anything on offer like this for those families that want to do it is fantastic. Our local authority or Connexions don’t offer anything like this.

    Sometimes I think you find that people just don’t like change. As jax said above, some people hate the fact that someone else has organised something. Put it down to sour grapes and do what you feel is right – the complainant can “go and take a long walk off a short pier” as we say around here…….:0)


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