Friday, September 3, 2010

Aristocratic Art of Distraction.

Why does a child have to die in order to generate enough focus and manpower for her siblings to be saved from protracted abuse ?

How many unaided and invisible children were left high and dry while one family suddenly got the attention and action they needed far, far too late ?

How come the social workers involved having an average caseload of 50, yes FIFTY, is given minimal attention ?

Why the current focus almost exclusively on home education as the key issue when the alarm bell was repeatedly rung by several increasingly concerned teachers, well before the children were removed from school as well as beyond ?

Don’t think for a minute that I have a blind spot when it comes to this case, caused by a desire to home educate unencumbered by regulation. I DO have a problem with the unanticipated (by the Italian state) issues that arise from the regulations I home educate under, but I am not HE regulation phobic by default.

I just can’t reject regs out of hand as inappropriate or unnecessary.

Not while I regularly breath a sign of relief that I was born in 68, well before HE was a known option. Thank God.

The idea of my mother coming across home education and being given a free rein makes my blood run cold. We’d have left the age of compulsory education as keen knitters and not much else. The only reason we were able to develop our own ideas, interests, opinions and personalities was because school gave us respite from a home somewhat oppressed by maternal personality and foibles. Nothing that would catch social services eye in of itself, but the potential to be educationally limiting and emotionally stifling from the children’s perspective none the less

So no, I can’t oppose the regulations I home educate under full stop. Although I reserve the right to fiddle with them (at least in my head), not to water them down, but because I’m pretty sure you could re-jig ours to take the curriculum sting out of them and sort out the “hostile, subjective and powerful” accountability environment for people, like me, who have had spectacular fallings out with the entity that oversees them.

With care, attention and consultation you can probably create a system that most of the time should red flag anybody who is off kilter in either welfare or educational terms, but which also goes to great lengths to avoid causing disadvantage to any particular type of home educator, other than the “loopholers”.

Yet a perfected set of regulations would still be absolutely useless as a safeguard if superimposed on a system of child protection that has been so battered and diminished by successive governments that it has fallen apart at the seams, to the point that it requires a lifeless child presented to it before it can react to an evident need of intervention.

There are children, pre school, in school, missing from education, in significant numbers who need immediate intervention today.

Just not going to happen while social workers are spread so thinly that they break…and then leave.

So the waving of a tragic case as a pretence that the sole issue is home education makes me feel ill.

Because the strategy is as transparent as it is devious. It is being employed to allow the same entity that systematically dismantled the safety net of social services, to kick the results of their decades long, lip service under the carpet.

How many more children are going to have to die or be irreversibly damaged before governments, past, present and future, take responsibility for years of “being seen to do something” knee jerks and focus their attention on putting social services back together as an effective, funded, supported and professionally run agency ?

If they don’t know where to start, try asking the social workers themselves. The eternal scapegoats when political policy comes to bloody fruition have no shortage of illustrated information as to how it has all gone horribly wrong and what can be done to darn a child protection safety net that is currently more hole than thread.

When you are talking about Khyra Ishaq, who hurtled through those innumerable, gaping holes and came crashing down in a lifeless, crumpled heap on the other side, how can you not make stitching back together the whole damn thing, for ALL of the children in harm's way, the absolute priority ?

Fix social services, as an absolute government priority, if you really give a damn about children at risk of serious or deadly harm..

I can live with my regulated status as a home educator in the main, but I don't want to have to live with headlines about children being starved to death despite alarm bells ringing, or toddlers being tortured to the point of a broken back until they die, under the noses of the very people who already have the powers (but not the manpower) to protect them.

So Dear Lord Soley, don't fiddle while Rome burns.


  1. My mum is a social worker of some 25 years experience, working in children's services. She has just been offered voluntary redundancy. This from a council that is actively recruiting social workers. It is madness.

  2. Let me guess, she has experience so she costs more, so they'd rather get rid of her and have a "wet behind the ears" brand new recruit instead who is way down the bottom on the pay scale ?

    Am I warm ?

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. HE is not the issue here, reading around there were questions raised far before she was taken out of school but yet again its easy to say HE is to blame rather than an over stretched system and a breakdown in societal values - what were the neighbours thinking, did nobody notice what was happening to those 5 children?

    To make HE an issue here is to confuse the issue - too simple to blame factor I fear



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