The sound of Sorry

February 15, 2009

For anyone who missed the sound of bankers apologising to the Treasury Select Committee last week, Tonus Peregrinus has mashed up the edited highlights. Wonderful.

Every parent untrustworthy

February 10, 2009

On the number10 website:

‘We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to remind his government that parents must remain responsible in law for ensuring the welfare and education of their children and that the state should not seek to appropriate these responsibilities.’

The petition has its roots in the Home Education community, but it involves a far bigger principle about responsibility for bringing children up. I’ll declare an interest straight away as a retired home educator (our sons are now at university and 6th form college).

Local authorities have always been responsible for assessing education provision but the government now wants all children to be evaluated against the Every Child Matters ‘five outcomes’ welfare framework. This follows LA complaints that they had no way of meeting their targets where home educated children are concerned because they don’t have the data. Government has initiated yet another consultation on home education – the 5th in 3 years – in order to establish an inspection regime for the five outcomes.

Although the previous consultations have concluded that the present regime offers sufficient protection to children, the government has turned it into a child protection issue, saying that home education is being used as a cover for abuse and forced marriage, and they have garnered the support of the NSPCC. Government has been put under pressure to supply the evidence to support their claims, but none has been forthcoming.

At stake is the far wider issue of whether parents can by default be assumed capable of raising children without state oversight. Government and LAs have become increasingly edgy about home education because they can’t see what’s going on from day to day. Are they really saying that parents can’t be trusted to promote their children’s wellbeing unless they are monitored?


When you’re in a hole…

February 7, 2009

It’s probably time the government stopped digging themselves even deeper into the mire they created with their dodgy knife-crime stats. From Mark Easton’s blog:

The row over the release of unchecked knife crime stats by the Home office last December has taken an extraordinary new twist today with the government’s account of what happened looking increasingly shaky.

This afternoon, cabinet office Minister Kevin Brennan told committee of MPs that “the statistics produced within the Home Office on that fact sheet were approved by statisticians in the Home Office before publication”.

Startled by a suggestion made by the committee chair (and revealed on this blog a few weeks ago) that the stats guys had done no such thing, a flustered Mr Brennan replied: “That is the information I have, but if that is incorrect, Chair, I’ll correct the record”.

That’s only the start – go and read the rest of it.

DNA collection – where there’s a will, there’s a way

February 1, 2009

Unabashed by their resounding defeat in the European Court of Human Rights, government plans to collect everyone’s DNA have shifted to a different arena:

The Government has admitted it wants to store patients’ DNA samples on the new NHS computer system.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo says her ‘long-term objective’ is to put people’s genetic profiles on the £12billion Connecting For Health database. And Prof Dame Sally Davies, chief scientific adviser at the Department of Health, admitted the Government was ‘determined’ to proceed with the plan.

It really is worth taking some time to read the information on the Genewatch site in order to understand the involvement of pharmaceutical and private healthcare companies, and the relevance of the information sharing powers contained in the Coroners and Justice Bill currently going through Parliament. (If you don’t already know what these are, Computer Weekly explains.)

The results of Genewatch’s meticulous research are shocking. You may want to have smelling salts or a stiff drink to hand.