Monday, 15 February 2010

A Reply to Baroness Deech

This is a reply to the Baroness Deech's blog post on the House of Lords blog site.

"If home education is as good as is claimed, then there is nothing to fear from some inspection."

The inadequacy of the "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" position as an argument for anything is so self-evident as to be laughable. The Baroness obviously is rather lacking in her history education. There are a wealth of examples throughout history of people or groups who were doing nothing wrong, yet still fell foul of Ill-judged laws or malevolent bodies. Indeed, given her family history one would think she would be the last person to say this ("Deech is the daughter of the late historian and journalist, Josef Fraenkel, who fled Vienna and then Prague from the Nazis in 1939. Several other members of her family were murdered in German concentration camps in Poland during World War II." - Wikipedia).

The need for fear is entirely dependent upon the motives and the competence of those whose actions one fears. These are both in serious question in relation to the architects and executioners of the proposed legislation.

"If a child is frightened when a stranger comes into the home, the child needs help, not continued protection from seeing any strangers."

This shows an amazing lack of knowledge of, and an astounding lack of sympathy for children with special needs - autism has been mentioned by other people here, for example.

Apart from which, it is not necessarily the fact of a stranger in the home which would distress a child, but rather who that stranger is and what they represent. The Baroness seems ignorant of the inspectors already in place in some areas who will often lie, bully and cheat to try to get a child or parent to give them cause to serve a SAO. After such treatment, this is a healthy fear of a real threat. If the Baroness wanted to actually help home educated children, she could start by improving the regulation of such inspectors and suggesting a mechanism for some sort of professional standards of conduct and accountability.

"Other European countries seem to be running a lightly regulated system of home education and the UK is somewhat out of step."

Just because something is done in other EU countries it doesn't mean it is right. You still ignore the largest EHE community in the world, North America, which indeed is regulated in some places, but for which the trend (like New Zealand) has recently been to loosen their regulatory grip.

"There should be information on (a) the numbers and results of home schooled children taking science A-levels, and (b) their entry to the top universities."

More schools- and systems-based assumptions here. Science A Levels and Oxbridge places are not a useful measure of outcomes, especially for a community with a high proportion of special needs children. Nor are they the be-all and end-all of success any more than material wealth or salary. Some things in life are more important to some people, children included. Absence from the consumer culture and performance pressure that exists in school may lead children to find happy, fulfilled and useful lives outside these narrow parameters.

I also see your inference that science is superior to the arts or social sciences as another reason why the biases of the state school system
you reflect mean that it is an unrealistic and unhealthy social and academic model, both for children and the state.

"There should be some safeguard against home educated Muslim girls, or any others, not receiving the equality of opportunity that would be offered at school, or should be; and reassurance that children who are not English speakers are learning the language."

Sweeping and uninformed prejudice has no place in serious debate. I suggest you meet more Muslims as well as some home educators.

"The whole of society has an interest in how each child is educated."

And as I have pointed out before, just because society has an interest does not mean its interest should be fulfilled. Human beings (and that includes children) have a God-given right to privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their lives, and to maintain their own principles, beliefs and philosophies. State must prove that there is a necessity for it to interfere in the private lives of its citizens - again, children included - and that it is competent to do so. In casually throwing around insults, the Baroness has not demonstrated necessity, and gives a fairly damning case for her lack of competence.


  1. Brilliant post, J. Absolutely devastating critique of the Baroness's unbelievably flawed logic. Astonishing that someone who is a trained "family lawyer" could come up with a piece of bilgewater so completely fallacious. Her "contribution" to this discussion is a profoundly astounding example of the failure of your current system of education. I wonder if she is even capable of understanding that.

  2. 103 comments on her silly blog and STILL the woman doesn't respond.
    She is arrogant and rude.

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