In the wake of some seriously misguided media coverage, and following on from yesterday’s post, let me ask once more how, exactly, ‘tightening the rules on home education’ might have saved the Riggi children. It is a serious question aimed at those who have jumped on the blame bandwagon over the past few days and sought, yet again, to use home education as a convenient scapegoat. So far none of them has seen fit to respond, probably because they do not want to acknowledge the fact that it would have made not a blind bit of difference to the fate of these poor children.
Let us consider the facts again. We are halfway through the school summer holidays in Scotland and there are children milling about everywhere, of all ages, often out and about with their parents, whether or not they go to school during term time. Home educated children don’t look much different from other children, although some would argue that they are noticeably better behaved and more socially accomplished owing to real world experience and community interaction.
The Riggi children would have been equally unremarkable as they went about their everyday lives. Indeed until very recently they were highly visible in their local community, well cared for, happy, polite, intelligent and sociable. They were even visited by the police on 21st July after a missing persons report had been filed and were found to be safe and well. If the police were satisfied that there was no apparent risk to these children at that time, it is highly unlikely that any council employee could have done anything to prevent this human tragedy, which had nothing to do with education and everything to do with an acrimonious relationship breakdown.
Friends and family have been left reeling at the tragic turn of events, wondering how the doting mother they knew, who had been excitedly planning her daughter’s sixth birthday party just a few short weeks ago, could have been driven to kill her own children and attempt to kill herself. If those closest to Theresa are so incredulous, clipboard man from the council wouldn’t have had a scooby. Once he had ticked his boxes (and believe me, Theresa’s family would have ticked all his boxes) he would have moved on to hound the single parent on the local sink estate who really shouldn’t be allowed to use home education as an excuse for keeping her kids out of school, which is supposed to lift the likes of her out of poverty. Surely no parent in their right mind would want to shun ‘free’ services like the curriculum for, er, excellence, wraparound childcare, healthy school dinners and after school clubs, along with that all important introduction to spitting, swearing, illegal drugs and bullying? Their motives must surely be dodgy if they don’t want to abdicate their parental responsibility and hand it over to the state, or even if they just want to keep their children out of the local penitentiary to ensure their personal safety.
As expected, the great brainwashed have wasted no time in trying to implicate home education in the Riggi tragedy, just as they have done in other cases which have had nothing to do with home education (Victoria Climbie, Danielle Reid and Khyra Ishaq to name but three – all of them known to be at risk of significant harm and all abandoned by professionals who failed to exercise statutory powers). While we are used to hearing hackneyed arguments from statist sheeple – usually teachers or ex teachers who can’t see past the school system and are fairly easy to outwit – it is more concerning when libertarian bloggers and otherwise intelligent people start throwing punches based on nothing more than personal prejudice . Some of us are beginning to feel like we are in a bad remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and, on John Otway’s advice, are avoiding plants with pink flowers.
It is a source of great frustration, nay anger, that so many commentators on home education persist in peddling prejudices and misrepresenting facts, asserting wrongly that children must attend school by law (which law would that be, then?) They usually go on to state that, if parents ‘claim’ to be home schooling (a term not used in this country but reiterated ad nauseam by the media), it’s also the law (which one was it again?) that a council box ticker will visit and make sure that they are teaching their children all the subjects on the curriculum, that they have a suitable desk or kitchen table to work at, and that they are allowed opportunities to socialise. Yeah, right, that really would have saved the Riggi children?
‘Arse about face’ is an expression we use in Scotland when things are presented the wrong way round. State-sponsored spin would have parents believe they must send their children to school by law, yet no such statutory duty exists. (We have former Dundee MP Winston Churchill to thank for the original ‘get out of school’ clause.) On the contrary, parents in Scotland must ensure their school-age children are provided with education, so those who send their children to sink schools are patently failing in that duty. It is teachers who are accountable to parents, not the other way round, which is why schools are inspected. Scottish local authorities are also legally required to provide school education which is suitable to the needs of each individual child. That is the law, although we have yet to see it properly enforced.
The confused commentator brigade are also highly likely to support child protection racketeers like the NSPCC, who rely on emotive media campaigns to further their own vested interests. The smearing of home educators has always been high on the NSPCC’s list of priorities as they pursue their vicious anti-parent agenda, and they have been caught out telling some real whoppers about the non-home educated Victoria Climbie. Never mind the truth, they’ll do anything for an anti home ed headline, aided and abetted by point-scoring Labour politicians for whom the concept of personal responsibility is anathema.
Contrary to popular belief (spin), the NSPCC does little to actively help vulnerable children (they just refer them on to other over pressed agencies); rather they are more concerned about keeping funds flowing into their fat coffers to fund their next advertising campaign. Other charities are equally unimpressed by their tactics and have not welcomed their recent move into Scotland which is already well served by the Big Four who actually do provide direct services, mostly under service level agreements with local authorities.
I should probably mention here the number of children who die or experience abuse while in the care of local authorities or their agents, the lack of social workers to deal with current referrals and caseloads, and the fact that we are entering a period of unprecedented public sector spending cuts. I should probably also mention the far greater risk to children from road traffic accidents, equestrian, cricket and other sports injuries, but risk is part of life and anyone believing it can be eliminated probably also believes in the tooth fairy. For the avoidance of doubt, I will also reiterate the fact that home educated children have been shown to be less likely than schooled children to suffer abuse, so why the relentless smear campaign against a law-abiding minority group? Try substituting black, Asian, disabled or gay for home educator if you still don’t get it.
Schools are not social work services and teachers are not social workers. Child protection should not be mixed up with education, whatever ‘they’ might tell you in a bid to sell the supposed benefits of joined-up services and GIRFEC (Getting Information Recorded For Every Citizen). The anti-parent agenda is undoubtedly gathering pace as child protection fever grips those who need to make sure they cover their arses, as well as taking over the minds of minions, who busy themselves in their own little corners gathering clients’ (i.e. citizens’) data, recording it and sharing it with all and sundry without informed consent. They may be surprised to learn that GIRFEC has no statutory basis and they could well be prosecuted for unlawfully processing sensitive personal data unless specific circumstances apply. It’s the law, you know.
Of course, like believers in the Big Lie of compulsory schooling, the database junkies have simply swallowed the story about it being in the best interests of vulnerable weans. If they thought about it, surely they would see that databasing the entire population is hardly going to help identify those most at risk, as Eileen Munro has repeatedly pointed out with her simple but effective needle and haystack analogy. Like us, she is probably aware that the system was conceived not to improve child protection, as has been claimed, but to further the e-government agenda which was ratified in Lisbon well before the Laming Inquiry into Victoria Climbie’s death and the Herbison Inquiry into Danielle Reid’s murder. It is shameful to see the Riggi children’s deaths now being used to justify calls for further state interference in family life, and home education in particular, when the truth is that no amount of regulation could have foreseen or prevented the tragic outcome in this case.
Wake up and smell the rats, folks! Or did the pink flowers get you while you were asleep?