Re: Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill [HL]

[UPDATE: Today, Monday 20 November 2017 I emailed Ed Vaizey MP to check on the progress on my letter. I got a quick response from his office:- “I am just confirming that we have received your letter to our Westminster office and Ed will reply in due course.”  That is 21 days from posting and I had to chase.]

Ed Vaizey MP

House of Commons,

London

SW1A 0AA

Monday, 30 October 2017

Dear Mr Vaizey,

Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill [HL]

It has come to my attention that the above private members bill is going through Parliament.  Should this bill reach the House of Commons, then I require you to vote against this Bill.  I explain the reasons for my requirement below.

I have three children and all of them go to state school’s in Wantage; two go to King Alfred’s Academy (KA’s) and the other goes to Charlton School.  But I require that home-schooling stays in its current form, so it remains a viable option for my children if need be.

The State schooling system has shortcomings and at its core, State schooling is a product of the nineteenth century; it teaches “attributes” such as compliance and obedience, and the ability for young people to regurgitate facts.  For the 21st Century, teaching children such “attributes” is no longer relevant for the connection-economy.  The internet is available 24/7 and access to information/facts is easy and fast.  With cheap labour from China and coupled with robotisation/artificial intelligence replacing jobs in this country (jobs which will never come back), trying to compete on obedience and fact regurgitation seems ridiculous.  I have never been in a job where you sat exams all day long.  But exam sitting seems to be the key-skill at King Alfred’s Academy.

The skills young people need are leadership, the ability to make connections and have insights, as well as problem solving.  In addition, being creative, persistent and self-motivated to research/learn/inquire under their own initiative, to name but a few.  Sadly, the State has a “bean-counting” led approach to public services, so the skills I have mentioned above, are very difficult to measure and set targets for.  And so are not taught in any serious way.

I have nothing good to say about King Alfred’s Academy and if you remember I wrote to you not so long ago for your help to bring to the attention to the Secretary of State for Education, three incidents of what I politely termed “mis-charging”.  I was disappointed that the Secretary for State only wished to refer me to another arm of the State to look into this.

I would also like to bring to your attention that within a two-year period, two students of KA’s have committed suicide.  I can say that one of my children has had emotional issues at the Academy and speaking to other parents with children at the Academy, mental health issues are common. The horrendous environment and culture at the Academy is a significant contributing factor.  The Academy seems to be in an endless pursuit for achieving “targets” and neglecting the wellbeing of students under their care in the process.  This is one of the main reason I wish that home-schooling is kept in it current viable form.

It baffles me why the State wants to interfere so much in the lives of people and their families.  Parliament seems to be like a never-ending sausage-machine which has no off-button; endlessly churning-out legislation to justify its existence.  The private members bill above, wants to regulate parents akin to what  OFSTED is doing with State Schools but using Local Authorities as the enforcement arm.  Parents are taking the home-schooling option precisely so they can escape the tyranny of the State Schooling system and OFSTED-type bureaucracy.

If parents want to educate their own children, let them, it is their right.  Parents have the best interests of their children at heart and they know what is right for their children. It would appear to me that State-school teachers meet targets, tick-boxes and follow rules, and nowadays pastoral care is a secondary concern.

I hope my requirement and my views are now clear to you.  I thank you in advance for your help.

Yours sincerely

Steven Herbert

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