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The death knell of home schooling

You know that this will result in less safety for the child, greater tyranny from ‘experts’ interfering in family life for any number of arbitrary reasons relating to targets ‘not met’ and could present the death-knell for home-schooling:

Changes being introduced since Victoria Climbie’s death from abuse include a £224 million database tracking all 12 million children in England and Wales from birth. The Government expects the programme to be operating within two years.

But critics say the electronic files will undermine family privacy and destroy the confidentiality of medical, social work and legal records.

Doctors, schools and the police will have to alert the database to a wide range of “concerns”. Two warning flags on a child’s record could start an investigation.

There will also be a system of targets and performance indicators for children’s development. Children’s services have been told to work together to make sure that targets are met.

This is the age of the database and the state loves them. Why does it love them? Because it reverses the roles of ruler and ruled in all matters. Dr. Eileen Munro of the London school of Economics begins to understand:

“They include consuming five portions of fruit and veg a day, which I am baffled how they will measure,” she said. “The country is moving from ‘parents are free to bring children up as they think best as long as they are not abusive or neglectful’ to a more coercive ‘parents must bring children up to conform to the state’s views of what is best’.”

How long before our children wear electronic tags for security and the monitoring of best practice, attendance at a state recognised school, and ironing out the anarchy that we used to call ‘play’?

42 comments to The death knell of home schooling

  • If people aren’t rioting over this, they never will. Might as well turn over the kiddies to the state at the point of birth, they’ll be getting there soon enough.

  • Chris Harper

    This will result in so many screwups that it will help undermine the whole nanny state.

    Once social workers and human rights lawyers and labour councilors start being subjected to NuLab controls on their private lives even they will start questioning these restrictions.

    The one group any government can’t afford to piss off is the educated middle class. They will fight, and they will win.

  • Keith

    ” They will fight, and they will win”
    No they won’t. This is Britain under Blair. They will make some grumbling noises and then cave in, as usual.
    Apathy rules.

  • Chris Harper


    No, this will be different; Islington socialism is all about controlling others, the proles and the people who get their degrees from the old polys. They don’t expect to be subject to these rules themselves.

    Well, they couldn’t be immune forever, and this is about the control even being extended to Islington. In a way this is good. Blairism will have to get really oppressive before we can hope to see the people becoming repulsed to the point of chucking it. This, I hope, will at least create the first cracks.

  • Keith

    Well, fingers crossed, Chris. You’re in a far better position to judge than me.

    But as an observer from a distance and one who still feels a great deal of affection for the country of his ancestors, Britain looks like a country headed for disaster. And every Brit I talk to seems to share my pessimism.

  • ziz

    You may rely on the incapacity of the State to install a working IT / software for any purpose whatever.

  • Liam

    Well said Keith. With all legitimate candidates in both parties now sporting a Blairite agenda death is a knocking. The only question for me is when would be the best time to abandon the rotting hulk and find somewhere else to forge a less reprehensible nation.

  • This story in particular makes me feel that Liam is right. The question is not “Is England finished?” but “Where are those of us who can’t accept this new police state going to live?”

    I have begun researching. It’s not so easy. I could afford a comfortable retirement in the USA, for example, but it doesn’t accept foreign retirees. Any suggestions, either as to a good place for a libertarian Brit to spend the autumn of his days, or as to a methodology for comparing different countries for this purpose?

  • Chris Harper

    Tom Paine,

    I think a million bucks to invest will buy you a spot here in Oz. As far as general living expenses go it costs you about a dollar here for a pound spent in England. However, after spending three years back here, where I was born, I am desperate to get back to London, home for twenty three years. Even with that prick Blair in charge, London is still the centre of the universe. Stay and fight.

  • Liam

    $250,000 to invest will get you a yankee visa. There is always the option of doing it on a work basis sooner rather then later and converting it to citizenship after however many years they make you wait these days.

    Personally I am working towards the Free State idea (wife willing).

  • permanent expat

    Keith: Right on!….. and Chris, you know as well as I do that there’s a wealth of difference between a protracted visit to a country which attracts for whatever reason or sentiment and actually living there…….and Tom Paine, when folk mention Germany, pictures of Bavaria or the Schwarzwald spring to mind. Similarly, mention Portugal & one sees the (enormously expensive) Algarve. Diamonds are often found not very far from the front yard.

  • Chris Harper


    I may be Australian by birth, but I am British by choice, and unlike most poms I have a bit of paper to prove I am British. Even if it does have David Blunketts signature stamped on it it is still one of my most prized posessions.

    I will be back, and I will fight.

  • You may rely on the incapacity of the State to install a working IT / software for any purpose whatever.

    I agree that the government’s record on IT cock-ups and outright fiascos is astonishing… but I think it is a mistake to just assume that means we do not need to worry about the panopticon database state!

  • Julian Taylor

    Chris Harper wrote,

    No, this will be different; Islington socialism is all about controlling others, the proles and the people who get their degrees from the old polys. They don’t expect to be subject to these rules themselves.

    Do bear in mind that one of the creatures responsible for this state intrusion is a woman not totally unknown to us here – Margaret “Sexual abuse does not exist in Islington” Hodge.(Link) As it just happens she was leader of Islington council for many years in the 1980’s and there are residents there with the permanent psychological scars from serial child abuse to prove it.

  • RAB

    Hmm. So It appears that I can easily move to the USA, Australia and Portugal (Hi expat!) But I dont want to.
    This is my country and I will stay and fight for as long as I possibly can.
    The bottom line on any Government initiative or daft idea dreamt up on the back of an Ivy napkin at this point in time, is that it aint going to happen.
    They are dead in the water. Even the blissfully politically ignorant can smell the sweet smell of rancid decay coming from Nulab.

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    Why the hell would you bother with spending $250,000 on a visa to come here to the US? Doing it illegally is much easier and cheaper. And believe me, nobody calls the INS (or CIS or whatever it is now) on an Anglosphere-accented person. We all just assume you are totally legit.

    This suggestion, while slightly tongue-in-cheek, is not really a joke. You’d just have to get in illegally, which you could probably do through Canada with ease.

  • permanent expat

    RAB & Chris: Despite my rants, I too, am the holder of a British passport of which I am proud & would never exchange for another. That does not mean that I wouldn’t accept another for dual citizenship & would have done so had it been possible in the country of my choice.
    Staying & fighting……wow! My father returned from foreign parts to fight in WW1. As a kid, I was first in the queue the morning after Eden’s call for the LDV. I later volunteered (idiot) underage into the army & did my thing for the duration of WW2.
    “Ask not what your country can do for you, etc.” as the Doughnut said. Nobody posed that stupid question in 1939 when, as today, the enemy was clearly identifiable. Then, our Quislings were few, Then, there was the will because our survival depended on it. Then, we stood alone for a considerable while & finally, with a lot of help, we made it. One can be reasonably proud of those days.
    In those days, an SMS & Gumment that remotely resembled today’s would have been put against the wall..and rightly. Today, the nation is riddled with Quislings & the enemy is inside the bloody gates…………..Sheeeeesh!
    I am now too old to fight & can only stand on the sidelines & beat my breast with truly sickening disappointment at the nadir to which those that remain have allowed my country to sink

  • permanent expat

    ………………and oh yes…..tick,tick,tick,tick……

  • Mugwumper

    Countries, you can have em. Stay if you like it there, stay if you have friends and/or relatives that you just can’t live without… But to stay just because of some strange devotion to some lines that were drawn when some noblemen sent a bunch of people to die fighting against another bunch of people that another nobleman had done likewise is just foolishness.

    Do the libertarian thing and look out for your own self interest. The world will be a better place for it than if you go down fighting for some historical accident of fate.

  • Nick Timms

    While I applaud the idea of the Free State Project in New Hampshire, I have no desire to become a US citizen because I like Europe and most European culture. I just despise the politicos and their insatiable desire to regulate and tax everything.

    A few people are getting together to start talking (again) about the possibility of a European free state (Link)

    I too believe that we are reaching a point where we should have been at the last general election. Just in the last six months I have detected a far greater number of people who have finally become disenchanted with Blair and his appalling cronies.

    With any luck they will continue to mount Orwellian attacks against the nation and enough people will WAKE UP.

  • toolkien

    ***You may rely on the incapacity of the State to install a working IT / software for any purpose whatever.***

    That’s part of the problem, it doesn’t matter if it works right or not, just having the database with the names and addresses etc centrally located, matching with data the state doesn’t like from afar, is the whole problem in itself. Whether it works or not, the likelihood skyrockets that innocent families, parents and children, are going to be subjected to guilt until proven innocent. This is a criminal system, it is a bureaucratic system. If the the system doesn’t work right just means that one will have to prove that the incidences aren’t properly theirs which is tantamount to the same thing.

    Interference. The State doesn’t have to be particularly efficient at it to be a problem. They find a way to become effective through sheer weight.

  • @permanent expat, who wrote: “I am now too old to fight & can only stand on the sidelines & beat my breast with truly sickening disappointment at the nadir to which those that remain have allowed my country to sink.”

    You have no less than what we here (commenters on Samizdata) all have:

    – one vote,
    – one brain (still engaged),
    – a not inconsiderable ability to argue well your case.

    Best regards

  • permanent expat

    Nigel: Point taken…..but no domicile & (correct me please) therefore no vote. If I have or had I’m so offgepissed I’d probably waste in on the BNP……Okay, okay………….tell me who!

  • @permanent expat, who wrote: but no domicile & (correct me please) therefore no vote. If I have or had I’m so offgepissed I’d probably waste in on the BNP……Okay, okay………….tell me who!

    You’re right on the vote. It’s waiting for your return. [Interesting: USA citizens, I believe, keep the right to their vote and the obligation to pay (at least some of) their taxes. Perhaps we should consider that here too.]

    The “who” deserves a question mark; its the BNP that deserves the exclamation mark. Personally, I’ve always viewed it as a citizen’s moral obligation to vote. Lacking any candidate desirable enough: “none of these” , written boldly, is my recommendation. [And I’m waiting for the decision of the first returning officer who counts more “NOT” than votes for the leading candidate.]

    @Guy Herbert (who knows about these things): is it legal to canvas for “NOT”? [And do the electoral funding limitations apply?]

    Best regards

  • permanent expat

    Nigel: Voting. I echo your feeling that those who have the vote should use it. Or not? In a modern society the right to vote comes with responsibility, a trait that appears to be somewhat lacking in The Septic Isle at the last glance. It would be better that welfare-morons should stay away from the urn & concentrate on their binge-drinking. As for mandatory voting (as in Oz I believe) I find it difficult to imagine that scenario in England. Maybe an Aussie commenter would be kind enough to give a short opinion?

  • permanent expat

    Mugwumper: An accident of fate gave you your father and mother & whatever colo(u)r of skin you may have.

  • I wrote: Personally, I’ve always viewed it as a citizen’s moral obligation to vote.

    Just in case anyone has any doubts, I really really did mean, and always have on this issue, a MORAL obligation; no way LEGAL obligation.

    The UK would be a much better place, if that difference was more widely understood in and more widely applied by Parliament.

    Best regards

  • Chris Harper


    Australia does not have compulsory voting. It has compulsory attendence at the electoral booths. What you get up to in the booth is no ones business but your own; you can chew up your voting slip and swallow it if you like. However, even compulsory attendence is a bit much for my taste.

  • Funny you should mentioned chipping and all that Tracy Twyman has done a great piece on the chipping thing on our podcast.

    There are actually parents in the US who voluntarily chipping their children so they are trackable. I wonder how long it will be until there are back-street surgeons willing to unchip teenagers?

  • permanent expat

    Chris: Thanks for the explanation. What folks do inside the booth is the same the world over. But you have confirmed mandatory ‘attendance’ at the polling station. Aaah! Theory, theory, theory………

  • RAB

    What happened to the home schooling bit?
    I’ve been sat here for what seems like hours, Weetabix congealing, homework all done.
    Mum! Mum!
    Hush child! this is the Government. Go to school or we will bang your mother up for non compliance.
    As to yourself… how does a foster home suit you?

  • veryretired

    I’ve been reading good things, at least economically, about Ireland and one of the Baltic states, (can’t remember which one, off hand).

    Question: Does the more open economic opportunities model spill over into other areas of society, such as schools? I would appreciate facts from any with direct experience in the matter. Thanks in advance.

  • permanent expat

    RAB: The home-schooling bit. Sorry I’m a prime culprit & suffer from ASDS…or some such.
    As, in the past, countless children were educated at home because of a simple lack of schools; so, today, there is a simple lack of schools which meet the high standards that responsible (perhaps not wealthy) parents wish their children to enjoy.
    In the development of our society, many home-educated children went on to form the fabric, and backbone, of the early education system. Time has unfortunately shown that the fabric has ‘growed’ like Topsy but that the backbone has degenerated into Spina Bifida.
    I believe that the law requires that every child should have an education; if that means attendance at the local mayhem- thuggery, then education at home should be encouraged.

  • ResidentAlien

    I’ve lived outside the UK for more than half of the last 10 years and have always kept my vote in the UK. You need to register with the Electoral Registration Officer for the constituency in which you were last registered.

  • guy herbert


    @Guy Herbert (who knows about these things): is it legal to canvas for “NOT”? [And do the electoral funding limitations apply?]

    Legal, yes. But all the other rules apply. The Registration of Political Parties Act 1998, the Representation of the People Act 2000, and parts of the Local Government Act 2000 (establishing the Standards Boards) have together largely nationalised politics and subjected it to the control of bureaucrats and establishment (which increasingly means only Labour) politicians.

    See for example Andrew Gilligan’s column in yesterday’s Evening Standard detailing how north London shopkeepers Ean Levy and Mayoor Patel were threated with prison by Cllr Keith Burchill (Lab) after they distributed posters, urging people to vote anything other than Labour, that lacked the addresses of printer and publisher.

    The most handicapping potentially is the Electoral Commission’s capacity to demand accounts from, require identification of donors to, and limit expenditure by “controlled third parties”. That is, anyone (other than registered trades unions, which are specifically exempt) spending more than a certain amount to promote or disparage any candidate or group of candidates in an election up to a year in advance of the election.

    Note “group of candidates”. It would be possible on this basis for the Electoral Commission to tackle abortion campaigners, euroskeptics, nimbies, health-food nuts, or any other single issue group. It is most likely to do so where an establishment consensus is being challenged. And because general elections have variable dates and local elections interleave them, all the time is potentially within a year of an election anywhere in Britain. If those powers start to be widely used, it will make political campaigning of any kind subject to politico-bureaucratic interference.

    The worst chilling factor, in my view, is the prevention of anonymous donations. Anonymity permits people to support unpopular causes when otherwise they would be under pressure to conform. That’s why (for the moment) we have a secret ballot.

  • guy herbert

    Sorry, I left out the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. That’s the one that created the Electoral Commission and invented “controlled third parties” – the latter a measure that clearly in the context is pre-emptive of euroskeptics.

    That all these pieces of legislation derive from Tony Blair’s first term and three of them are in 2000 alone does suggest something of a plan. (2000 was a busy year for New Labour. It might be the most destructive of liberty in history, and all of it before “the rules of the game” purportedly changed. Perhaps that is when the rules of the game actually changed.)

  • Chris Harper



  • guy herbert

    Chris Harper,

    Estonia may be better than most economically but EU accession has closed up its markets a bit, and as for education: firmly under state control.

  • Mugwumper

    Mugwumper: An accident of fate gave you your father and mother & whatever colo(u)r of skin you may have.

    And your point is?

    Look, I’m not saying that it’s not worth fighting for something, politically or physically when you have a chance of winning or when there’s no other choice. But one must look realistically at know when the cause is lost.

    To stay in the UK when one may have a brighter future elsewhere out of some misguided (and likely misplaced) sentimentality and continue to feed the beast with one’s taxes… Well, that’s a choice one must make for oneself.

    My reasons for leaving the UK were not political but after the last time I went back, I have no desire to return. Maybe it will be a fit place for my children or grandchildren…

  • Not-a-mugwump

    OK, I just pulled mugwump out of thin air and did not know what it meant. For the record, it has nothing to do with this:


    I’ll choose a different handle. Sorry for any confusion.

  • P.Andrews

    Firstly, though I am probably preaching to the converted, teaching granny to suck eggs, etc. A good rule of thumb is – THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. Apply it at every opportunity.

    Re Retirement – Crete is worth considering. It’s not that they aren’t in the EU – and theoretically burdened by much of the same legislation. But they are an independently minded lot and treat many of the rules they dislike with the reverence they actually deserve.

  • I’m living in Denmark for a bit. It is totally government controlled. You cannot even hire a video without giving in your national security number. Books are taken out of the library using your national id card. We are tracked. The kids are watched like hawks by bored and bitchy teachers, neighbours and others and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard of families being reported to the social services unjustly. We homeschool our kids but have to have the chief psychologist from social services checking up on us because of it (seriously..that’s who they send to monitor home educating families here). They don’t like kids to be home educated here cos then they cannot monitor them. The schools here are intense with obligatory lessons in ‘Christendom’ (one reason why we had to withdraw..our kids were coming home totally indoctrinated) with massive peer pressure. The state owns the kids in Denmark with nearly all parents in work (or working for their dole) and babies put in government approved daycare, looooong hours, from being 9 months old. Everyone looks great here, the crime is really low, it’s clean as a pin, the mother’s are all in great shape and the trees planted in straight lines. But compared to England there is no real artistic expression with the art created being boring and flat. *ahem* And that were my two pennethworth. I personally can put up with it all..just about…cos I couldn’t cope with the crime and grime of Blighty any more..but I miss the freedom of expression.