It was such a joy to report on the professional approach of Scottish Borders Council the other day and we can also report positive things from North Lanarkshire where they seem to understand the meaning of the word ‘respect’ when it comes to parents who choose not to delegate responsibility for their children’s education to the school system. While these two councils are not alone in operating within the law and statutory guidance, they happen to be the most shining examples of good practice that we have recently identified.

Unfortunately this week alone has seen several reports of appallingly bad practice on the part of some of the usual suspects arrive in Schoolhouse’s inbox. And we are not just picking on Perth and Kinross again, but then it’s not just home educators who are challenging that particular council’s questionable, privacy breaching, taxpayer-funded activities.

One council appears to be a bit schizophrenic (or should that be discriminatory?) in its dealings with home educating parents, in that families who are perceived to be ‘lesser advantaged’ (whose catchment area schools usually resemble war zones and frequently attract publicity for all the wrong reasons) are routinely hounded, bullied and labelled ‘delinquent’ if they decide to educate their own children; whereas those in leafy suburbia are free to do so without the merest hint of a raised eyebrow from the same education officer (who probably lives in an equally leafy suburban dwelling courtesy of the public purse). While the former have to run the gauntlet of doorstepping social workers and a new emboldened breed of health visitor Stasi, who really should have better things to do (how about protecting children in schools?) the latter can enjoy the civil liberties and rights to which everyone is allegedly equally entitled in a not-yet-police state.

Meanwhile, in a few other council areas that have come to our attention this week, local authority officers have been employing tried and tested bullying tactics, insisting on home visits and timetables based on the distinctly unappealing CfE, despite parents having indicated their valid preference to provide ‘home education’, as opposed to ‘homeschooling’, for their children. Parents who refuse to accede to unreasonable demands can of course never satisfy a rogue council that their provision is suitable as freelance bullies pay no heed to guidance or even the law.  Holding families to ransom in this way, often where children have been experiencing difficulties in school, is not only reprehensible but  may also endanger those children’s health and well-being.

Worryingly, such state sponsored bullies often enlist gangs of sidekick ‘support services’ to back them up, all of whom are already salivating at the prospect of their abusive tactics being legalised in the upcoming CHYP (& PIN) Bill, which will see the creation of a dedicated Scottish Stasi. They may, however, be shocked to experience some unforeseen (but not unintended on the government’s part) consequences of the new legislation, since they will come under ever more intense scrutiny, both as as box tickers and box ticked. While the government impose top down measures that will reduce professionals to nothing more than box tickers, parents will be queuing up to tick their own boxes by questioning qualifications, character and competence, and woe betide any professional who gathers/shares/loses/corrupts sensitive personal data and/or puts a foot wrong near any child that isn’t theirs.

Lest we forget – and the government keeps reminding us, so it must be true –  Jimmy Savile sorts are everywhere, with the aim of accessing and using children’s sensitive personal data for nefarious purposes. And what better way to do so than via a virtual paedophiles’ address book of every child in Scotland (except those of the rich, famous and ‘important’) which every Named Person will be able to log into on a whim? Anyone who is still half asleep and who doesn’t want to heed the warnings of our own ethical hacking expert should just ask Ross Anderson et al how easy it is to access – whether through an unlocked front door which is wide open to ‘universal’ visitors, or by brute force through the back door by unethical hackers – the sort of joined up databases that are planned by the Scottish Government for all citizens and are set to be nodded through by a compliant complement of  129 unwitting (or complicit) MSPs who don’t question the cover story. Such a project is all the more irresponsible when created by a government whose track record is distinctly dodgy when it comes to data security and frankly risible when it comes to telling the truth about the origins of GIRFEC (Getting Information Recorded For Every Citizen).

But back to the point of this post….

Since it’s getting close to the time the Scottish Government will be publishing its draft CHYP (& PIN) legislation, which will bring in parent licensing by stealth (aka secondary legislation) and trigger an update of the home education guidance to suit the shouty (taxpayer funded) sorts while costing home educators (their own) time and (their own) money, Schoolhouse is once again seeking case studies of good and bad practice from parents who have had dealings with so-called ‘universal services’. We are not just seeking information about ‘education’ departments, but also about other de facto compulsory ‘support’ that may have been forced upon families without their having requested involvement, e.g. health visitors, social workers, police, children’s reporters, and the reasons given for such involvement. Now we don’t want essays (as this is initially an exercise to gauge the extent of ‘problem public servants’ as discussed during this online conference), just concise information (anonymised apart from council area unless it might identify the informant, in which case we will ‘regionalise’ the data). We undertake to destroy all responses as soon as we have collated and anonymised the information.

So please email us details of your dealings with ‘professionals’ and how these dealings have affected you and your children. We thank you in anticipation of your assistance and will report back on the project as soon as possible.