Oh no, it's another S. Webb!

My daughter drew my attention to Ed Balls' piece in the Guardian yesterday about home education. There is a bit of a story behind this. For some incomprehensible reason, she joined the Labour party earlier this year and is now active in the campaign to secure the leadership of the party for Ed Balls. This has entailed going to the campaign headquarters and ringing up members to urge them to support Ed Balls for leader. The other day she told me that she had been telephoning dead people, which made me wonder for a moment if she had been contacting Keir hardy and Ramsay McDonald in order to solicit their support. It turned out simply that the membership list was a little out of date and some of those on it had died.

Now my daughter is very touchy about home education and very quick to jump in if she feels that somebody is attacking the idea or saying silly things about it. Yet after reading Ed Balls' article, she posted a comment in support of his views at once. I also read the piece and could not for the life of me see anything objectionable about it. He says that most home educators are doing a good job and that it would be sensible to check that this is the case with all children being educated at home. Neither I nor my daughter can see anything at all wrong in this idea. My only criticism of what he says is that he falls into the popular error of talking about parents' 'rights' to home educate. This is of course nonsense. It is, as I have pointed out before on more than one occasion, children who have a right to education. Parents have not a right but a duty to see that their children gain access to this right.

Among other things, ed Balls said;

'The review I commissioned and the legislation I brought forward for a formal registration scheme – with rights to see children alone for local authority officers in rare situations when they can obtain no co-operation from parents – provoked vigorous criticism from some, who claimed I was infringing parental rights, criticism which I believe was wholly disproportionate to what we actually proposed.'

I think one would be hard pressed to find anybody apart from home educating parents who would be inclined to disagree with this. One hears a good deal of the views of home educating parents, many of whom are vociferous, but it is curious that one does not see the children and young people themselves on the main lists such as EO and HE-UK. My daughter tried to join both last year, but was refused permission. I found this curious and so did she, that an articulate home educated young person should be denied a voice in this way. Why do no young people and children ever post on the lists? Have they no opinions? At any rate, my daughter is very eager to talk about this and so she will be answering any comments here herself today. This will be a glorious bonus for readers, as I shall also be answering comments in my usual amiable fashion. I can imagine the hearts of some home educators sinking at this prospect; imagine another S. Webb giving views about home education! It does not bear thinking about. They are already all too familiar with S. Webb the father. Now they are to have S. Webb the daughter inflicted upon them. Whoever will it be next? S. Webb the mother? S. Webb the aunty? Perhaps even S. Webb the grandfather's cousin twice removed? Fortunately, I can assure readers that this is strictly a one-off event and that my daughter will only be on here for one day, although she has already weighed in to the debate on the Guardian about ed Balls' article. Nervous readers may rest easy; there are no more S. Webbs lurking around the place ready to rave on about home education. Her contributions are likely to be later on, because during the day she will be at Ed Balls' campaign headquarters, beavering away to secure this frightful man the leadership of the Labour party. Why she can't just vote Tory like all other sensible and well balanced people is a complete mystery to me.

The complete text of Ed Balls article may be found here. Santaevita is my daughter;