Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Best Laid Plans Become Activism

I had wonderful plans for today but the weather didn't cooperate too much with me, so instead we stayed inside.

This week, a political issue has been weighing on my mind and this issue is also an educational issue.

Yesterday I bit the bullet and contacted my Local Education Authority (now called Local Authority and UK equivalent of the School Board).

Today they contacted me in response to my email and then I decided I didn't have time for email chat or 'chailing' so I picked up the telephone and spoke to the man I deal with for home education.

The issue is the lack of access to exam centres for home educators in the town. Every year, parents must make the same rounds of telephone calls, and that ends up being duplicate, triplicate efforts or more to find a centre that will accept their children as external candidates.

Schools and colleges are the most likely choices but the problem is a reluctance on their part to do so. They have obstacles to allowing this to happen, and now I think I want to meet with them to find out what these obstacles are and how they can be removed from the path.

Why the dickens am I doing this when my children won't be at this stage for a few years? I want this sorted for everyone, not just my own children.

I can't sit back and listen to everyone scrambling to find a centre, this needs to be tackled.

The way I explained this to Mr LA Officer is that the parents are like telemarketers contacting the same schools over and over and the schools are probably getting annoyed with having the same queries.

The solution is of course to get someone to communicate to these schools that they can indeed have our children write their exams and that their exam results will not be a reflection on the school. That is another problem, League Tables which are a ranking system and all the schools go on them with the amount of people who got their 5 A* to C GCSEs.

Another thing that needs to be communicated to the schools is that this is a bit of a business opportunity for them. They may think that we are expecting them to provide this service free of charge and so again there will be reluctance.

What we need is a place or places around the town where our children can go, where the location is publicised on school websites and on the LA's website too. We need to have dates and deadlines and fee information at our disposal so that we can make informed decisions about which syllabus to follow and when the exam dates are. At this point nobody can make a choice for syllabus because people are unable to find a centre who will take external candidates.

I spent a lot of my time trying to make contact with people who are in a position to allow us this access and have essentially come up empty. Tomorrow is another day so the best laid plans really do become activism, which means that tomorrow I will be probably doing something else on this note.