Schoolhouse Supporting home education in Scotland Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:45:33 +0000 en hourly 1 NO2NP November Roadshows: Perth & Montrose Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:14:19 +0000 alisonp No2np roadshowsDon’t miss these upcoming NO2NP roadshows in Perth and Montrose!


no2np roadshows



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Judicial Review: Named Person scheme and associated data theft Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:34:44 +0000 alisonp In advance of the Judicial Review which is to commence later this month, we are grateful to our colleague Tristram Llewellyn-Jones from the Isle of Man for circulating this excellent position paper focusing on the non-consensual universal data gathering and sharing on which GIRFEC and the compulsory Named Person scheme rely.


Named Person Judicial Review – T C Llewellyn Jones [pdf]


One commenter has described the paper as “a very clear explanation of the motivations behind introducing the Named Person into Scotland and the inevitable inequitable, prejudiced and targeted use of the powers over individual families and children.”

Let’s hope the Court of Session upholds families’ rights to privacy and freedom from unwanted and unwarranted interference by state appointed tyrants wielding tick boxes and SHANARRI wheels of misfortune.


Until then, we would recommend employing some or all  the tactics outlined in Schoolhouse’s presentation at the NO2NP roadshow in Inverness:


  • Opt out of any school surveys and don’t allow your child to be coerced into taking part. Have an opt-out note attached to your child’s records and remind teachers that there is a law against grooming childrento disclose personal sensitive data.
  • Formally withhold or withdraw consent from every ‘service provider’ for any data processing without your written authority and obtain confirmation that they have complied with your instructions. This might make you a non engaging parent in the risk assessment stakes, but Aileen Campbell has stated on public record that there is no requirement to engage with a Named Person. Go figure!
  • Avoid providing personal information to service providers wherever possible, including third sector organisations whose remit is now to mine data from you and your children. Try not to get guilt tripped into providing ‘feedback’ which they claim they need to prove they have met their outcomes, to get their next grant and provide future services (you get the drift).
  • Submit subject access requests under the Data Protection Act to obtain your own and your children’s records. They must produce them within 40 days and you may be surprised at what has been recorded and shared about you with every Tom, Dick and Harry, playground tittle-tattle included. (One parent was surprised to learn she was emigrating to Egypt, not just moving two streets away!) Do you really want your child’s teacher to have access to your entire family’s medical and social work records at the click of a mouse? The Assistant Info Commissioner seems remarkably complacent and is even quoted in Perth and Kinross Council’s training manual that encourages staff to break the law, but his lay ‘opinion’ looks very shoogly in the context of the Haringey judgement and when compared to the opinion of leading counsel.
  • Make formal complaints about every concern you have as a parent about the actions of your child’s NP – whether a health visitor, nursery worker, teacher or ‘other’. Consider asking for access to their police, health and social work records so that you can satisfy yourself as to their suitability to work with your child. On the Home Ed Forums website you’ll find a 50 page thread listing professionals convicted of abusing childrenRotherham hasn’t inspired confidence and Scotland has plenty of its own embarrassing skeletons rattling their way out of the closet. The ‘paedophiles’ address book’ label still applies.
  • Finally, when you find government agents at your door announcing they’re there to help you, employ the ‘Saltcoats Solution’ and send them away to think again.




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Notice of Schoolhouse AGM 2014 Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:11:33 +0000 alisonp This year’s Schoolhouse Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday 29th November 2014 at Eighteen & Under, 1 Victoria Road, Dundee DD1 1EL, at 11.30am.

The venue is in central Dundee  within easy walking distance of both the railway and bus stations. The Wellgate shopping centre car park is nearby and there is on street metered parking. [Get directions]  Please note that the venue is on the second floor and there is no lift, but we will do our best to facilitate access for anyone with prams, buggies or mobility issues.


Please let us know if you are coming so that we can arrange teas and coffees for attendees.


It is anticipated that the AGM itself will be a brief business meeting where the annual report and accounts for 2013-2014 will be presented to members. Afterwards, there will be an opportunity to discuss some of the important issues that have arisen over the past year.


Please note that no additional activities have been planned for this year’s AGM , but there are many things to do and see in the City of Discovery for those who want to make a day of it.


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NO2NP roadshow visits Inverness Sat, 04 Oct 2014 00:17:46 +0000 alisonp Schoolhouse was pleased to take part in the NO2NP Inverness roadshow on 1st October, which attracted a lively audience concerned about the implications of the Children and Young People Act for every family in Scotland.


The event was filmed and we will add a link as soon as the video is available. Meanwhile, here is a transcript of the Schoolhouse co-ordinator’s presentation with links for reference.



Schoolhouse presentation, Inverness NO2NP roadshow


Home educators tend to have highly sensitive ‘early identification’ antennae to detect threats to our existence because we are a bit of a misunderstood and misrepresented minority. We’ve been variously accused of subjecting our children to neglect or abuse, domestic servitude, forced marriage and religious fundamentalism and have had quite a few Mel Gibson moments as the state has repeatedly tried to encroach on our freedom to educate our children ‘by other means’. From a purely self-preservation point of view, we have been actively opposing the universal data gathering behind what was to become the Named Person scheme since the CHYP Bill was still just a twinkle in the present government’s eye.


But we are just one among many square peg minorities who don’t fit the round holes prepared for us by the state for dispensing its ‘wellbeing’ prescriptions.  I expect several here tonight are also ‘square pegs’ who are being regularly hammered into unnatural shapes by ‘services’ for reasons of disability, chronic illness, cultural difference, or even just for making independent parenting choices.


Having said that, I am probably the saddest square peg here tonight (perhaps with the exception of my colleague Sheila) on two counts:


  • Firstly, we have been at this for such a long time, since about 2001 when home educators were tipped off (by a teacher, ironically) to the systematic data collection that was going on. Once we started digging, we just couldn’t stop, realising that children’s rights to privacy were being routinely breached and information was also being gathered about every associated adult without their knowledge (all in the run up to the planned introduction of ID cards). Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) was founded by a small group of us to focus on children’s rights in education as nobody else was bothering to uphold the UNCRC as a whole, just picking and mixing the Articles to suit an adult orchestrated agenda. We quickly became a thorn in the government’s side, producing well researched evidence of the illegal databasing of children across the UK and delivering a Big Brother Award on behalf of Privacy International to Margaret Hodge, the then UK children’s minister. It is still the case that children’s rights are being selectively applied and ‘children’s rights champions’ are doing pretty good impressions of chocolate fireguards. Playing the ‘children’s rights’ card as an excuse to intrude into their lives, database their families’ sensitive personal information and force them into doing  something against their will, where they are not ‘at risk of significant harm’, perverts the whole purpose of the UNCRC which is supposed to prevent such abuse of minors. A right is not a right if you don’t have the right to refuse, like forcing a Named Person on every child without opt out.


  • Secondly in the sadness stakes, we failed to wake up the population in time (or even the  politicians who screamed blue murder about ID cards) to the creeping surveillance  agenda, but it’s not for the want of trying.  Politicians have no excuse, but people just didn’t believe it was happening, or could happen, or even that it had already happened in Scotland, with only a judicial review between us and the loss of family autonomy.


For the record, we are the lab rats for Tony Blair’s New Labour social engineering  project known as ‘early intervention’, which was allegedly designed to identify the delinquents of tomorrow and ‘remediate’ them, but has effectively consigned most parents and children to the ‘criminals in waiting’ class. Tony Benn famously described it as “the sort of thing Hitler talked about”, and as we have heard on earlier roadshows from Dr Jenny Cunningham, there is no evidence to support the premise that early intervention makes an iota of difference and can in fact damage children and families.  It does, however, allow service providers new and exciting publicly funded opportunities to perform subjective ‘parental capacity to provide wellbeing’ assessments at every stage of every child’s life from the womb onwards. It’s also an open invitation for IT companies to flog ever more sophisticated surveillance software to database and ‘profile’ the population. Big data is worth big bucks to the economy.

GIRFEC (Getting Information Recorded For Every Citizen) is actually the evil Scottish twin of England’s ECM (Every Citizen Monitored), and the Named Person scheme is the equivalent of England’s Contact Point which had become known as ‘the paedophiles’ address book’ before it was scrapped. Both schemes involve the routine gathering and sharing of children and associated adults’ personal data on a universal basis without consent, i.e. data rape (a term cited in a Westminster parliamentary motion condemning  the database state). Both schemes use illegally obtained data to profile citizens and force interventions based on a bunch of so-called risk indicators. In Scotland these are known by the acronym SHANARRI and have gained cult status among professionals who have been missold GIRFEC as a child protection scheme. Their heads must all button up the back.


As a real child protection expert, Eileen Munro, famously asked “How does making the haystack bigger help identify the most vulnerable children?” State snoopers covertly recording every child’s pet bereavements, lunch box contents, pocket money rates and mummy and daddy’s failure to buy the latest trainers isn’t exactly going to help the children who are already known to be at risk of something far worse than missing out on their five a day. Professional social workers (like Maggie Mellon and Hilary Searing) agree, and it’s social workers who could improve outcomes for children at serious risk if there were more of them on the ground with adequate support and resources. Lowering the child protection threshold from ‘at risk of significant harm’ to ‘at risk of not meeting state dictated wellbeing outcomes’ based on a risk assessment framework that includes being under 5, an only child, having a disabled parent or one who is ‘non engaging’ is a recipe for disaster. In fact it was a complete disaster in the Isle of Man which had to scrap a similar scheme when children’s services melted down due to over-referral.

GIRFEC may have been ‘piloted’ here in Highland, but it’s not a Scottish idea. It’s part of the same outcomes based policy that is being pursued relentlessly throughout the EU and relies heavily on accumulating every bit of data about every one of us to allow the government to cross reference information and control the citizenry through proactive ‘nudging’ and intervention. E-profiling is now a reality and pity help you if you don’t  build your four capacities according to the state’s good citizen template, for which you need to show you are a successful learner, confident individual, responsible citizen and effective contributor.  There are of course set marking  guidelines in the form of tick box assessments  to measure your performance in each. As the proverbial square peg, I know I don’t  score highly according to their round hole criteria, but by my own lights I reckon I’m doing just fine without interference!


To put the dangers of e-profiling into context, let me quote from a 2010 research paper by Ian Dent of the University of Cambridge entitled ‘Beyond Broadband: the true cost of digital Britain’. This might sound familiar to those who have listened to Scottish Ministers justifying their ‘need’ to know everything about us to provide the ‘services’ they decide we need for our wellbeing.


“The EU has spent almost £470bn creating a system that enables it to monitor the impact of citizens within the economy, and allocate public spending budgets according to the credit score a citizen receives in this e-system.”


“The EU believes that technology can create a utopia whereby all the information they have on the population can be cross-referenced to provide in-depth data that helps them make financial decisions in the most logical way.”


(That’s GIRFEC for you)


The author gave this example to show how data can be used to ‘credit score’ a human being’s ‘worth’:


“ In a world of e-profiling, a woman whose mother had died of breast cancer and was unemployed for 10 years would have difficulty gaining access to expensive drugs or treatments on the future e-controlled NHS because her “worth-to-the-economy profile” would be low.”


(‘Getting It Right For Every Child Citizen & Community’, which is already well under way in Inverclyde, starts to look a bit sinister in that context)


So it’s all about the data – your children’s data and your own – and they are closing in. We keep having to catch up with hasty rebranding exercises (which we feel we may be partly responsible for, along with Kenneth Roy at the Scottish Review and bloggers who have been banging the same drum). Take the Evidence2Success school survey which caused a stooshie in Perth and Kinross due to its notorious questioning of pupils on their sexual and drug taking habits. It has just been quietly rebranded as ChildrenCount so that it could be rolled out in fluffy new sheep’s wellbeing clothing to the school children of Dundee, Angus and North Ayrshire where parental consent has been deemed unnecessary as some of them might make a fuss. Unfortunately for those conducting the N Ayrshire supplementary household survey, the ‘Saltcoats Solution’ was deployed by parents who collectively rebuffed the advances of strange blokes asking dodgy questions about young children. They’ll be back, of course.


What  is currently happening on the ground isn’t pretty. As a national charity Schoolhouse takes a large number of enquiries from families looking into home education. Traditionally it has been a 50/50 split between parents making a positive choice and those who have reached the end of the school road (often due to special needs or bullying). Since we set up our online petition to raise awareness of the agenda behind GIRFEC, we have been fielding significantly more enquiries from families who have no interest in home ed per se but who report they are being bullied, threatened and victimised by Named Persons assuming  the role of state sponsored dictators.


Since Holyrood passed the legislation in February, we have been inundated as more families are experiencing unwanted interference by Named Persons up to and including referrals to the children’s reporter on spurious grounds. This is happening a full two years before the Named Person provision is scheduled to come into force, but families are already having their personal data stolen and assessed by multi-agency box tickers who may not personally approve of particular parenting choices and have had a couple of hours’ training  on how to circumvent the law. Think chronic illness and disability, vaccination, travelling lifestyles, home birthing, attachment parenting, home education and remember the Ashya King case which resulted in a European Arrest Warrant being issued for ‘irresponsible’ parents seeking a second opinion and private medical treatment for their sick child.


So what about the evidence, supposedly gleaned from the Highland pilot, for imposing a data collector on every child in Scotland?



  • Secondly it was selective – GIRFEC was not a universally imposed ‘service’, but one in which parents whose children had additional needs were over-represented and likely to welcome a single point of contact, having been serially fobbed off in the past.


The social engineers have of course been busy defending the indefensible.



  • It was publicly claimed there were no complaints from parents, but the press has carried stories of parents who did complain and were ignored. Some of them are here tonight and others are still complaining. We know because we have been hearing from them on a regular basis.


  • The ‘evidence’ is purely policy based, having been commissioned from vested interests who need to justify their own existence for the next funding round. The so called ‘children’s workforce’ is big business and the public sector and big state funded charities have all fallen into line, drowning out smaller grass roots groups who have witnessed the pitfalls at first hand. All attempts to obtain raw data have so far failed.



These cheerleaders’ arguments are well rehearsed and often repeated by those who haven’t bothered to think for themselves, so here are some ripostes we prepared earlier.


  • “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear.” Tell that to Ashya King’s parents.  Personally, I am happier hiding my cellulite from public view, thank you very much, although it isn’t a crime to eat too many cakes (yet!). Also remember that “privacy is a necessary condition of mental health”, which is why it is specifically protected in human rights legislation.


  • “If it saves just one child…” Well it didn’t save Mikaeel Kular, who was known to children’s services in Fife where the GIRFEC Named Person is already operational and already causing problems for home educating families who have been subject to malicious referrals. When implemented universally, GIRFEC puts the most vulnerable children at greater risk by diverting resources.


  • “We need to know everything about your family so we can plan the services you’ll need.” For that read “the services we decide you’ll need” as the Enabling State is primed to disable dissenters who may stray from their predetermined wellbeing outcomes. Why not actually address the needs of parents and children who are already queuing up to ask for support they have identified as necessary but are being turned away through lack of resources or disagreement on the part of professionals?


The future isn’t bright if we do nothing, so we need to keep reminding parents that no family is safe from state intervention. The bar has now been set so low that we’re all deemed a risk to our children’s ‘wellbeing’.


Fortunately the judicial review is in progress, but who would have thought that ordinary parents would need to go to court to protect their children from the government’s assault on their human rights?  Given the Haringey case precedent, where Article 8 was upheld and data processing without consent deemed unlawful below the established ‘at risk’ threshold, and given that the entire legal establishment in Scotland has come out against the anti-family provisions in the CHYP Act, they are digging themselves an enormous hole and won’t even share their legal advice (no doubt still on the back of Kenny MacAskill’s fag packet and carrying a health warning). For the sake of every child, we can’t afford for the legal challenge to fail.


In the meantime we have a few tactics to keep the wolves from the door.


  • Opt out of any school surveys and don’t allow your child to be coerced into taking part. Have an opt-out note attached to your child’s records and remind teachers that there is a law against grooming children to disclose personal sensitive data.


  • Formally withhold or withdraw consent from every ‘service provider’ for any data processing without your written authority and obtain confirmation that they have complied with your instructions. This might make you a non engaging parent in the risk assessment stakes, but Aileen Campbell has stated on public record that there is no requirement to engage with a Named Person. Go figure!


  • Avoid providing personal information to service providers wherever possible, including third sector organisations whose remit is now to mine data from you and your children. Try not to get guilt tripped into providing ‘feedback’ which they claim they need to prove they have met their outcomes, to get their next grant and provide future services (you get the drift).


  • Submit subject access requests under the Data Protection Act to obtain your own and your children’s records. They must produce them within 40 days and you may be surprised at what has been recorded and shared about you with every Tom, Dick and Harry, playground tittle-tattle included. (One parent was surprised to learn she was emigrating to Egypt, not just moving two streets away!) Do you really want your child’s teacher to have access to your entire family’s medical and social work records at the click of a mouse? The Assistant Info Commissioner seems remarkably complacent and is even quoted in Perth and Kinross Council’s training manual that encourages staff to break the law, but his lay ‘opinion’ looks very shoogly in the context of the Haringey judgement and when compared to the opinion of leading counsel.


  • Make formal complaints about every concern you have as a parent about the actions of your child’s NP – whether a health visitor, nursery worker, teacher or ‘other’. Consider asking for access to their police, health and social work records so that you can satisfy yourself as to their suitability to work with your child. On the Home Ed Forums website you’ll find a 50 page thread listing professionals convicted of abusing children. Rotherham hasn’t inspired confidence and Scotland has plenty of its own embarrassing skeletons rattling their way out of the closet. The ‘paedophiles’ address book’ label still applies.


  • Finally, when you find government agents at your door announcing they’re there to help you, employ the Saltcoats Solution and send them away with a NO2NP leaflet!



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NO2NP campaign gathers momentum Sat, 02 Aug 2014 18:30:33 +0000 alisonp The No2NP campaign is gathering momentum and a number of videos have been released highlighting the concerns of various individuals and organisations regarding the implementation of the compulsory named person / state guardian scheme and allied universal data gathering and sharing without consent.


Schoolhouse’s spokesperson describes the approach of the “state steamroller” from the home educators’ perspective:



Meanwhile we are preparing to take part in a series of NO2NP roadshows in Dundee, Stirling, Glasgow and Inverness where parents will be able to hear about the implications for every family of GIRFEC (Getting Information Recorded For Every Citizen),  SHANARRI , wellbeing wheels and the Named Person  ’service’ with no opt out.


Download and share the NO2NP roadshow poster




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Who’s going to fix it when they ‘get it wrong’ for our child? Sat, 02 Aug 2014 17:30:20 +0000 alisonp As we reported in our recent article, GIRFEC, data mining, consent and the Named Person: who’s misleading whom?, the  legal challenge to the anti-family Part 4 of the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act has now been officially launched. A small crowd of supporters was in attendance on 9th July, along with an impressive media turn out, as the legal papers were hand delivered to the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Several tourists asked what was going on and were shocked to be told about the nature of the legislation. Even a gaggle of law lords en route to their hallowed benches seemed interested in the throng, while the home educated young people and their parents looked forward to embarking on what will be a steep, but compelling, legal learning curve as the judicial review proceeds.


Here’s what some of the NO2NP supporters had to say on the day:



Meanwhile our petition has now well exceeded 4000 signatures and is still attracting considerable interest from those who were previously unaware of the issues, or who were duped into believing that the Part 4 provisions are designed to improve child protection, as opposed to introducing a universal state surveillance scheme and imposing an unwanted state guardian on every child in Scotland.

In recent weeks we have been hearing some seriously worrying reports of malicious referrals and the deliberate undermining of parents by a variety of professionals acting as unwanted ‘named persons’, where their unwelcome interference has caused significant damage and distress to children and families. What was it Aileen Campbell said about there being no requirement to engage with a named person? Why are these people being allowed to get away with acting ultra vires?


Take the case of the parent who, out of courtesy, notified a primary school head teacher that her child would be home educated after the summer holidays, as had been discussed and agreed as the best course of action with medical professionals and a psychologist. Rather than accept the parent’s decision, this state appointed ‘named person’ saw fit to refer the child to the Reporter because she did not agree with it, resulting in extreme stress for the family and wasting valuable social work resources on an unnecessary and intrusive investigation. ‘No further action’ was the inevitable outcome, but at what cost to the family’s wellbeing?


Another parent who recently visited A&E after her child sustained a minor injury was informed that details would automatically be sent to the child’s GP and head teacher as the state appointed ‘named person’. The parent was not asked for consent to share the information outside the NHS and she is now so concerned about an outsider having access to her family’s health records that she will think twice before using the NHS or any other public ‘service’.


Given that the named person provision of the CHYP Act does not come into force until 2016 and is in any case subject to judicial review, we have to ask under what legislation or guidance are A&E doctors presuming to routinely share information outside the NHS about a child’s treatment without obtaining informed parental consent?  If head teachers and other universal services now have carte blanche to access and trawl the medical records of children and all associated adults, current and historical (and we have had reports of this happening), it begs the question: whatever happened to the duty of confidentiality?


The tragic case of Mikaeel Kular demonstrates that the state can never guarantee to ‘get it right for every child’ and the findings of the SCR will no doubt uncover the usual multi-agency failures from which “lessons will be learned”. But while social work departments remain woefully under resourced, front line social workers will come under intolerable pressure to respond to a growing mountain of referrals generated by GIRFEC. As we have already seen here (and as was the disastrous experience of the misguided ECM in the Isle of Man), many such referrals will be based on ignorance and/or old fashioned prejudices, leading to the diversion of resources from – and potentially tragic consequences for – the most vulnerable children who are “at risk of significant harm”.


As one social worker commented on the Home Education Forums:


“It seems to me that while GIRFEC has widened the safety net it has unfortunately led to a loss of focus and clarity in child protection matters. It will be interesting to read the Significant Case Review into the death of Mikaeel Kular. Questions will certainly be asked about the effectiveness of information-sharing between social workers in Fife and Edinburgh. Obviously this was a serious case of child neglect but it was not recognised as such and was closed. Information-sharing is essential in cases where the child is at risk of ‘significant harm’ but social workers clearly need to improve their skills in this area of their work.”

Of course child protection is not an area the ‘wellbeing wonks’ can hope to have a clue about with only a B.Ed (Hons) in crowd control, but it would appear that even professional social work training has been infected by what has been described as the Cult of SHANARRI where tick box tyranny has  replaced professional assessment skills. One social work student has told us that she dropped out of her course as she felt she was being “trained for the Stasi”, while others have abandoned teaching, nursery nurse and midwifery courses for similar reasons. Childminders have also expressed resentment at being expected to engage in daily data theft for the state without the knowledge of parents which they believe is a betrayal of trust. How on earth can the teaching unions have failed so spectacularly to spot the Trojan Horse that is the Curriculum for Excellence and ‘personalised learning’ (towards the same state dictated outcomes!)?


And while we’re on a roll, how can anyone seriously support the practice of universal data collection and sharing when the Scotsman has informed us that:


“Doctors, teachers and former police officers are among 660 suspected paedophiles arrested as part of a major UK-wide crackdown on those viewing child pornography online. The National Crime Agency (NCA) said its six-month operation – which involved 45 police forces – had led to the arrest of those who had access to children through their jobs and had no previous contact with the police. A total of 660 people were arrested, including 13 in Scotland.”

and the Express has reported that:


“Young runaways or children in care were lured in, drugged and then sexually abused. Many were then forced to work as ‘rent boys’ at a number of seedy secret flats across the Capital. The paedophile ring is thought to have operated over several decades and to have included, at one time or another, well-known TV personalities, lawyers and police officers. Victims were forced to stay quiet by a fear of reprisals, with at least one murder of a young man rumoured to have been carried out by the network. In a chilling echo of the abuse scandal currently rocking Westminster, it now appears that a dossier of Scottish paedophiles with links to Paton was prepared in 1982 – but never made public.”

Need we mention Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris, both of whom fronted child safety campaigns? Or the catalogue of professional child abusers which we have been adding to our frighteningly long list on a frighteningly regular basis? Who is going to ‘fix it’ for the victims of data theft by unsavoury professionals using the handy ‘paedophiles’ address book’ by which GIRFEC has become known? Once an individual’s privacy has been violated, whether by brute force or via coerced ‘consent’, it can never be recovered. As yet, the government has failed to tell us what redress will be available when they ‘get it wrong’ for our child’.



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Ireland’s shame: only the F word will do Sat, 02 Aug 2014 13:09:59 +0000 alisonp When the Irish state imprisons a parent for exercising a right enshrined in her country’s constitution – to educate her children outside the school system – only the F word will suffice to sum up the injustice.


But it’s not only naturally freethinking home educators who have noticed the creeping fascism, cleverly disguised as ‘safeguarding’ or ‘protection’, which is infecting the so called ‘free’ world. Our anti-GIRFEC petition has attracted over 4000 signatures from a cross section of concerned others, who have realised that they have been deliberately misled by politicians and those with a vested interest in maintaning a Big Brother state.

Free thinkers have always paid a high price for exposing and resisting totalitarianism, of course. Although we are used to seeing home educating families torn apart in Sweden and Germany, where Hitler’s 1938 law banning home education is still enforced with an iron fist, the Irish Republic has this week also drawn international opprobrium for seeking to deprive Monica O’Connor of her liberty, and her children of a loving mother, for daring to stand up to state sponsored bullies.


“Eire needs to look in the mirror at its own childcare history, not wage war on home educating families exercising rights that, by their very nature, do not require the state’s permission.”

“This is not about ensuring education or safeguarding children. This is about the take down of family as the fundamental unit of society with responsibility for children. This is the hostile take over bid of the state.”

Some might argue that it would have been easier to compromise and ‘apply’ to exercise a constitutional right, which would not have been denied a family like Monica’s, whose successful track record in educating her children is self evident. But as Monica says, giving into bullies represents the thin end of a wedge which will just serve to encourage them to ‘come back for your lunch money tomorrow’. ‘Peace for our time’ is not really a viable option, just as it wasn’t back in the 1930s.


Rather than reinvent the wheel, we would refer readers to this forum thread which contains all the relevant background to Monica and Eddie’s story. In particular, Eddie’s comments in the must-watch Homegrown Knowledge video (from 14.55) sum up all that is wrong with state dictated outcomes for all.


Schoolhouse utterly condemns the shameful actions of the Irish state in persecuting a family who have chosen to exercise their constitutional right to educate their children outside the school system. We support the courageous and principled stance of fellow home educators in Eire and across the world who have been harassed and victimised by the state for defending the rights and freedoms of families in all their glorious diversity.


Meanwhile here in Scotland, GIRFEC, SHANARRI and the Curriculum for Excellence are simply kilted manifestations of the same global control agenda, which relies on universal data theft to justify state interference in family life, based on the state’s own concept of what represents a ‘worthwhile’ human being. Think about it, please, before it’s too late.





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GIRFEC, data mining, consent and the Named Person: who’s misleading whom? Thu, 10 Jul 2014 15:45:52 +0000 alisonp judicial review

no2np judicial review


Image credit: No2NP

A range of media coverage of yesterday’s launch of the judicial review of the Named Person and data mining provisions within the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act can now be found on the NO2NP Facebook page.


Just as the legal papers were being lodged by the Christian Institute at the Court of Session,  we were somewhat bemused to hear an oft repeated, but unsubstantiated, assertion by Bill Alexander of Highland Council that GIRFEC had been a resounding success there. Moreover, he sought to assure every reader and listener of every news media outlet he could muster that no complaints had ever been received in Highland from parents and young people whose experiences of the surveillance scheme had been less than satisfactory, never mind downright dreadful.


We quote from an article in Holyrood Magazine:


“Alexander has clearly become exasperated with a conversation that he considers riddled with misrepresentation. Not a single parent has complained about having a named person, he says. The Christian Institute has labelled that untrue and said a number of parents supporting their judicial review live in the Highlands. After the negative publicity that accompanied passage of the Bill, however, one parent entered a school to say that they didn’t wish the head teacher to act as a named person.” [our bold]


He’s exasperated? Spare a thought for the victims, please.


Along similar lines, we find in the Inverness Courier:


“Head of care and learning Bill Alexander said concerns by campaigners who claim it contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights were misguided.


“Mr Alexander said it had proven to work well for children.


“He added: ‘I don’t understand why people want to spread misinformation about a system that supports families and reduces the number of vulnerable children and is a Scottish success story.’”


We are left wondering if Mr Alexander’s comments alleging the spread of misinformation by “misguided” others (that  would include us, we presume) might fall into the same category as a previous grave robbing claim by Highland Council, duly disseminated by other vested interests; namely that the murder of Danielle Reid and the subsequent Herbison Inquiry led directly to the introduction of GIRFEC.


As we know, that could not possibly have been the case,  given that Danielle’s death post-dated the already well advanced plan to implement a scheme of universal citizen surveillance and early intervention dreamt up (with outside help) by Tony Blair, whose Big Idea was described by Tony Benn at the time as “the sort of thing Hitler talked about”.  The crocodile tears soon dried up when  we pointed out that the dates didn’t add up and we haven’t heard much about the poor child since.


Returning to Mr Alexander, we thought we should at least attempt to clarify some of his assertions about the ”Scottish success story” that is allegedly GIRFEC,  since we, like the Christian Institute, have been made aware of a number of complaints by parents in Highland about the Named Person and non consensual data sharing. We have therefore today submitted this FOI request to mine some data of our own.


Freedom of Information request – GIRFEC, data processing, consent and the Named Person


Please provide the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act.


How many complaints have been received by Highland Council from parents and young people in relation to any aspects of the operation of GIRFEC from the date of its first implementation up to and including June 2014?


How many of these complaints have been received in relation to the actions of specific Named Persons?


How many of these complaints have been received in relation to the collection and sharing of children’s and parents’ personal data with or without informed consent?


Please provide copies of the forms used, and/or other arrangements made, by Highland Council to obtain informed consent from parents and/or young people for the gathering and sharing of personal data.


How many subject access requests (under the Data Protection Act) from parents and young people seeking copies of records accessible by, and shared with, Named Persons have been received by Highland Council since GIRFEC was first implemented up to and including June 2014?


How many parents and young people have withheld or withdrawn their consent for the gathering and sharing of personal data by/with a Named Person since GIRFEC was first implemented up to and including June 2014.


After the original emotive child protection cover story was outed as false, some new soundbites had to be found to defend the indefensible, so the “Highland success” storyline was crafted by GIRFEC’s architects and vested interests. It was duly trotted out by Aileen Campbell on Sunday Politics last weekend in an interview with Gordon Brewer, who, after asking about Named Persons’ access to children’s medical records and receiving only a scripted response, which bore no resemblance to a proper answer, posed the rhetorical question: “Isn’t there something a bit East German about all this?” Quite.


Another of the Minister’s claims about “extensive consultation” with parents and young people having been undertaken is equally suspect, unless the Scottish Government’s definition of  extensive means asking a  few hundred folk who had been misled into believing that GIRFEC, the cult of SHANARRI, the Named Person and blanket data theft were all about protecting vulnerable children (in the established child protection sense), as opposed to imposing a state snooper on every child to ensure state dictated ‘wellbeing’ outcomes are being met – or else!


Telling us that the majority of so-called children’s charities were in favour isn’t remotely convincing, either, when the very legality of GIRFEC has been called into question by senior counsel, the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and myriad others.  These cheerleading charities all stand to gain big bucks from interfering with other people’s children on behalf of their state paymasters and have consequently lost the confidence and respect of families who object to having a Named Person forced on them, crucially without any ‘choose to refuse’ option.


A patently ridiculous contention by one such charity, that having a Named Person is akin to visiting the doctor when you need one, fails even to acknowledge, never mind address, the thorny issue of consent, which is a requirement for all medical treatment but can apparently now be overridden by any old state imposed snooper. According to reports we have been receiving from concerned families, Named Persons have not only been trawling and sharing children’s and parents’ health records, but have been using (previously considered) confidential,  historical  personal data  to undermine legitimate parenting choices and decisions.  Now that is what we would call scary and more than just a bit East German!


In fact we would say to Every Named Person: “Could do much better on understanding Article 8 safeguards and basic data protection principles. Highly likely to fail the test of judicial review which may lead to dismissal or prosecution.”




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Named Persons in the firing line Sat, 21 Jun 2014 19:01:50 +0000 alisonp no2np launch


Some of the attendees at the No2NP conference and campaign launch

Image credit: No2NP

We must apologise for the belatedness of this update, but we do have several compelling excuses!

We have been fielding a record number of enquiries from home educating parents and those considering the option due entirely to anxieties about GIRFEC, Named Persons and the legalised data theft incorporated in the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act which was recently rushed through the Scottish Parliament before MSPS had the chance (or wit) to wake up to its implications. Despite not coming into force  until 2016 (and not at all if the upcoming judicial review succeeds) GIRFEC appears to have already unleashed an army of home ed hating zealots from schools, councils, the NHS, the police and third sector, whose mission seems to be to undermine parents and distress children who choose to decline optional ‘services’ such as nursery places, schools and health visitors.


In addition to our usual constituency of families interested in home education, there has also been growing interest in GIRFEC and allied data protection breaches from the general public, causing our enquiries service to become overwhelmed. The penny seems to have finally dropped that this ill-conceived piece of legislation will affect everyone (although we are fairly sure that the weans of  celebrities, royals, aristocrats, MSPs and important people will be exempted, as was the case with the doomed ContactPoint in England, since the data can never be held securely). Whether it’s one central database or a bunch of separate databases, it makes no odds when everyone is sharing sensitive personal data willy nilly. Thanks to one head teacher’s cavalier attitude to confidentiality, we are aware of at least one child whose medical condition became the subject of playground tittle tattle, and data theft by on-duty police officers continues to plague Police Scotland, so it can safely be surmised that a significant proportion of Named Persons will also indulge in illegal nosy parkering activity.


Furthermore, we have seen a worrying increase in reports of bullying, intimidation and malicious referrals to social work and children’s reporters by incompetent, untrained and unprofessional Named Persons who disagree with parents about a child’s best interests, who are ignorant of the law (especially when it comes to parental choices such as home education), who lack the ability to see beyond their given SHANARRI tick boxes and who demonstrate alarming levels of personal prejudice.  Aileen ‘Also’ Campbell was obviously talking total tosh when she delivered her repetitive ‘benevolent Named Person’ platitudes, but we already knew that.


There has meanwhile been a corresponding increase in media enquiries as mainstream journalists finally catch up with, and believe, the dangerous data stealing, surveillance and control agenda we have been flagging up for years. Along with the usual tabloid suspects, who were quickest off the mark, the Scotsman and Press & Journal have both come out strongly against the legislation, having recognised it for what it is: a Trojan Horse designed to disguise its sinister intent in faux child protection clothing and fool parents and professionals alike in order to avoid close scrutiny until it had been forced through the Parliament .


Aside from all of the above, we were also directly involved in the launch of the No2NP campaign and conference in Edinburgh on 9th June, which attracted such a large audience of parents, academics and other professionals that some attendees had to sit on the floor. With the exception of Liz Smith MSP, politicians were noticeable only by their absence and, as one participant pointed out, can expect to pay a heavy price for their ‘failure to engage’ with parental concerns come election time. The event, which drew well respected speakers from a range of disciplines, was filmed and will shortly be available on the No2NP website.




We have also had a series of meetings with interested parties who are keen to be involved in directly opposing the offensive anti-family provisions within the legislation. It has been extremely encouraging that some highly regarded experts in law, social work, health and education have put their weight behind the No2NP campaign and associated resistance.


Meanwhile we are continuing to support the judicial review which has been lodged by the Christian Institute with backing from a diversity of organisations and individuals. Schoolhouse is preparing a dossier of dodgy practice, highlighting human rights and data protection breaches, which we will offer as evidence of the ongoing harassment of families by GIRFEC box tickers, which has undoubtedly worsened as Named Persons proceed to overstep professional boundaries without lawful authority.


We have also been keeping tabs on the latest court judgements relevant to Article 8 and data protection breaches. Google has recently come a cropper as the ‘right to be forgotten’ was upheld by the ECJ, with far reaching implications for state sponsored databasers across the EU. Most recently, in the Supreme Court, JUDGMENT R (on the application of T and another) (Respondents) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and another (Appellants) (pdf) has provided further fuel to the anti-GIRFEC fire. We quote:


The exercise of power by public officials, as it affects members of the public, must be governed by clear and publicly accessible rules of law. The public must not be vulnerable to interference by public officials acting on any personal whim, caprice, malice, predilection or purpose other than that for which the power was conferred

….in order for the interference to be “in accordance with the law”, there must be safeguards which have the effect of enabling the proportionality of the interference to be adequately examined.

The European court has said repeatedly that, although the purpose of article 8 is essentially to protect the individual against arbitrary interference by public authorities, it does not merely compel the state to abstain from such interference: in addition to this primarily negative undertaking, there may be positive obligations inherent in an effective respect for private life.

All in all, a fairly heavy workload for a small charity which does not receive (and would decline) any funding from government or other sources whose rhetoric includes promoting or improving ‘wellbeing’. As Stuart Waiton was at pains to point out in a recent BBC interview on the subject of the so-called Enabling State, the powers that be will only ‘enable’ and ‘empower’ individuals if they are working towards state approved outcomes; otherwise they will experience the state as disabling. For more on outcome-based education (like the CfE) and outcome-based everything else (whose main objective is universal data collection by fair means or, more usually, foul in order to ensure compliance with collectivist state goals ), Charlotte Iserbyt, former Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) in the first  Reagan administration, tells it like it is. Follow that link and you will see that GIRFEC is not new, is not Scottish and is not about protecting children.


Returning to topic, we would encourage everyone to sign up to the No2NP campaign, ‘like’ No2NP on Facebook and follow the campaign on Twitter. Full details are on the campaign website, where you will also find a plethora of stories from parents and professionals and regular updates. A series of GIRFEC dedicated threads on the Scottish Home Education Forum also keeps track of developments on a daily basis.


The following selection of media articles should be of interest to all those concerned about blind faith in GIRFEC and the cult of SHANARRI with its raft of risk indicators. Often the comments are as interesting as the article copy.


Wider implications of named person law

Scotsman: scrap unwanted law

‘Nanny state gone mad’: Paper slams named person plans

How ‘snitching’ could erode teacher trust

Scotland’s Named Person law: A boost for children’s wellbeing or a threat to religious liberty?

Tymes Trust announce they support court action against ‘Named Person’ scheme for Scotland

A YOUNG man’s life was almost ruined by school and council snooping as a result of living in the pilot area for the SNP’s state guardian scheme.

Victims of state snoopers

Highland Council accused of “Big Brother” tactics

P&J editorial on state guardians

daily mail


state snoopers


Bloggers have also helped spread the word with insightful analysis and incisive comment. We can highly recommend the following:


Alice through the Looking Glass (State Control of Children)




Meanwhile, as government spokespuppets continue to parrot the same old lines about ‘voluntary engagement’, a veritable army of self styled ‘enforcers’ (or ‘remediators’, as Iserbyt would call them), who all appear to be strangers to the real meaning of children’s rights, have been meeting in plush surroundings at a Capita conference in Edinburgh (at our expense in more ways than one, see comment thread here). They have been talking tactics on how to get away Scot free with blatant blanket data theft using a network of state informants and how to undermine families by creating a nation of ‘at risk’ children, all of whom will be fair game for interference by strangers. Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith would have approved, as would the architects of ContactPoint (spawned by GIRFEC’s evil twin ECM) which quickly became known as ‘the paedophiles’ address book’ before it was finally scrapped.


In case anyone is still harbouring any doubts about the war that is being waged on families’ privacy and autonomy, we would remind readers of this nugget of sheer nonsense from a Perth & Kinross Council staff ‘guidance’ document.


‘In such cases where information will be shared, consent should not be sought, as to do so would give the subject (child or young person and/or their parents/carers) a false belief that they can control the decision, which they cannot.’

We make no apologies for singling out Perth & Kinross Council as it has lots of ‘previous’ in overstepping boundaries, although it is of course not alone in behaving badly towards the members of the public it is supposed to serve.


As the legal challenge proceeds, we have found the ‘subject access request’ to be a particularly useful weapon in the anti-GIRFEC armoury, since data subjects are legally entitled to copies of their records in order to find out what has been said, written and shared about them and their children, often  without consent (or even knowledge). Data controllers are legally obliged to respond to data subjects within 40 days and, multiplied by several hundred requests a week, the extra work will keep them too busy for busybodying elswhere.


Many parents have already indicated that they will be employing a Just Say No approach to data stealing and interference by an imposed state invader. As Alan Sugar might say: “Named Person, you’re fired!” And as Thomas Jefferson advocated: “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” Without consent, the scheme will inevitably fail.


One way or another, we predict a very rough ride for Named Persons and a fairly dramatic meltdown in social work services, as occurred in the Isle of Man. While Aileen’s Army of state snoopers from education, health and other ‘services’ busy themselves with tick boxes to record pet guinea pig deaths and make malicious referrals where parents don’t ‘engage’ or comply with the state approved parenting template, the results could well be fatal for the most vulnerable children who are truly ‘at risk of significant harm’ but whose needs are overlooked in an ocean of GIRFEC trivia and SHANARRI false alarms.


It’s not hard to foresee who will be in the firing line, literally, when Getting It Right Goes Horrendously Wrong. Step forward, Named Person, and explain to an outraged public baying for blood why that deceased pet parrot should have ticked the same number of risk boxes as visible bruises, black eyes and obvious signs of child neglect which constitute ‘significant harm’ as opposed to fluffy ‘wellbeing’ concerns.


When the chips are down, heads belonging to head teachers will be the first to roll.




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Schoolhouse response to Northern Ireland Elective Home Education consultation Mon, 02 Jun 2014 14:11:31 +0000 alisonp Home educating families in Northern Ireland are being threatened with the implementation of a draconian new Elective Home Education policy which is currently the subject of public consultation.


In an oppressive move to undermine the rights and freedoms of home educating families, the ultra vires proposals contained within the Boards’ draft policy include:


  • state entry into family homes without suspicion of wrongdoing
  • powers to question children
  • delays over deregistration from school
  • the requirement of parental ‘permission’ to home educate
  • control over the form and content of the education provided


Schoolhouse has today submitted the following  response to all five Education & Library Boards, ticking every ‘disagree’ box and setting out our reasons for vehemently opposing these anti-family proposals.


“As Scotland’s national home education charity, we had considerable input to research which subsequently informed the current Scottish statutory guidance on home education, which protects the rights of home educating families while acknowledging the responsibilities of local authorities. The law in Scotland is comparable to that of other parts of the UK in that it is parents who are responsible for educating their children, not the state, and education “otherwise” or “by other means” is an equally valid and lawful alternative to schooling. Human rights legislation provides that there should be respect for, and no undue interference in, family life unless there is risk of significant harm to a particular child or children. In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, there is no duty upon local authorities to ‘monitor’ home education on a routine basis, and informal enquiries and annual updates represent an acceptable form of contact for most families.


“In particular, we would point to the following difficulties we have with the draft policy which, if implemented, would adversely affect relationships with home educating families and undoubtedly attract international censure on human rights grounds.


“Firstly, the policy as drafted misrepresents the role of the Education & Library Boards by stating that they have a statutory duty to ensure that children of compulsory education age are receiving an appropriate full time education for their needs when no such duty exists. In fact the law, which is comparable to that of the rest of the UK, mandates a ‘negative’- as opposed to pre-emptive – duty on the Boards. We quote: “If it appears to a board that a parent of a child of compulsory school age in its area is failing to perform the duty imposed by him by Article 45, it shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy the board, within such period (not being less than fourteen days beginning with the day on which the notice is served) as is specified in the notice, that the child is, by regular attendance at school or otherwise, receiving suitable education.”


“Secondly, the policy as drafted requires families to submit their home education programmes for Boards to assess as “suitable or otherwise”, but no such requirement is mandated by primary legislation and would therefore be ultra vires. Parents need not notify or otherwise register their home educating status since they are wholly responsible, as in the rest of the UK, for the provision of their children’s education during the compulsory years, whether or not they use schools.


“Thirdly, the policy as drafted proposes the establishment of an “Education Management Database” which has striking similarities to the ill conceived home education registration schemes proposed (and later dropped) in England and, more recently, Wales following consultation. Creating such a database would amount to  parent licensing scheme in Northern Ireland alone and would in our view breach both UK wide data protection principles (such a database being neither “necessary” nor secure) and the EU wide protection afforded by Article 8. It should further be noted that children, like adults, have the right to privacy and that the UNCRC provides only for children who elect to do so to express their views about their education or other issues that affect them.


“We would urge the Education & Library Boards to abandon this draconian draft policy and to work constructively with home educating families in Northern Ireland to ensure a suitable balance is struck, as has been achieved in Scotland and the rest of the UK.”


Commenting on ‘Equality Considerations’, we further submitted:


“Our experience in Scotland demonstrates that home educating families can be subject to disproportionate discrimination and unfair treatment by dint of exercising an equal lawful choice, either through ignorance of the law or prejudice. Any additional ‘protected characteristics’ which are evident or perceived within home educating families are likely to further exacerbate the unequal treatment they receive and compromise relationships with state bodies.”


Please consider responding as  fellow home educators to this important consultation. Responses should be sent to all five Education & Library Boards (details below) and copied to so that they can all be accounted for. If you are in Northern Ireland, please also write to your MLAs.


For further information on how to assist our friends in Northern Ireland, please refer to the HEdNI website.


Education & Library Boars to whom consultation responses should be sent

1. Belfast Education & Library Board

Attention: Liz Fairclough ( EHE)


2. North Eastern Education & Library Board

Attention: Corporate Development Officer


3. South Eastern Education and Library Board

Attention: Mark Donnelly, Best Value Officer


4. Southern Education & Library Board

Attention: Teresa Connolly


5. Western Education & Library Board

Attention: Siobhan Devlin




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