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Thursday, 5 September 2013

Why would anyone mind providing evidence of what they're doing unless they aren't doing it?

Yes, really. Someone actually said that so I'll do my best to explain why I do mind. First you should know that my children enjoy their education because it is self-directed. They are happy, motivated, independent and curious. But I do mind providing evidence, as a matter of course, for a number of reasons.

The first is that I believe in the primacy of the family, i.e. that its needs should be put before those of the state. There is no reason to assume that educational provision will improve with the oversight of the state. I expect it will just lead to more hoop jumping exercises. I don't want that for my children. In short, how does state supervision enhance provision? The answer is simple. It doesn't. And I'd be prepared to wager that it would damage it. So if it's not enhancing provision and it might have the opposite effect, whose purpose does it serve? Bingo! The government's purpose - surveillance.

The second, wholly connected to the first, is a matter of privacy. My family is entitled to privacy. That includes my children. If they want to share their successes and stories with people, that is up to them. It's not something I'd force on them and, frankly, they can come up with more relevant people to share their experiences with than a clipboard monitor from the council.

The third reason is that I am not doing anything strange or special. Education is within the remit of parenting. It is my duty to provide education, food, clothes, housing, etc. Nobody is coming round to inspect my fridge and I'd tell them to sod off if they tried it. If I delegate my duty to someone else then of course I'd want assurances that my children were being well cared for and I'd expect the provider to have mechanisms in place so they could be accountable to me, the parent. If I am not delegating my duty, why would I need assurances that my provision was adequate? I can tell that for myself and have no need for a pat on the head from the local council. In fact, I'd find it quite patronising.

The fourth reason, and I've mentioned this many times before, is that the law in this country is based on the presumption of innocence. We are all expected to go about our daily lives without committing crimes or otherwise neglecting our legal responsibilities. If there is reason to suspect we are not, then the state has powers to intervene. If not, we are left alone. How can it be reasonable to expect families to provide evidence of lawful activity if there is no reason to suspect they are doing anything wrong? I would cooperate if there were genuine concerns but I will not cooperate with a misguided state mechanism of surveillance for the sake of it.

The fifth reason is that in imposing monitoring on children already damaged by the school system, we are teaching them that as their parents and protectors we cannot keep them safe in their own homes. By allowing these people access to our children, we are teaching them that there are people out there better qualified to make decisions on their behalf than us, their parents. To me, this is extremely dangerous. Children deserve to feel safe and secure and to have faith in their parents' protection.

There is no final reason as there are so many little things that I dislike about monitoring, but another is that I resent taxpayers' money being spent on non-jobs. If the state does not have a monitoring role which, according to the law, it does not, why is money being spent on monitoring jobs? And why, when no problem has been shown to exist, is money being diverted to home education that could otherwise be spent targeting vulnerable children?

Generally speaking, I can't think of a reason why someone would want to voluntarily provide evidence of being law abiding without due cause. I'd like to think that most people would question anyone who claimed to have authority rather than give in to their demands without thought for the consequences. Nobody randomly turns up at the police station to say what a good girl they've been. Or is it just me who missed that memo?

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