Today, Randall has published on his blog a letter from Nicky Morgan to Owen Paterson MP where the Secretary of State says “The article in The Independent to which Mr and Mrs Hardy refer centres on the risk posed by some tuition centres and part-time settings which offer services to parents who educate their children at home.”
On December 22nd I wrote that it was virtually impossible to work out exactly what was being considered for home education in England, variously described as “tightening up” “increased regulation” or “clamping down”.
I mentioned that I had spoken to a journalist from the Independent on Sunday who told me that “the Government was going to investigate home education because of fears of radicalisation and children’s minds being poisoned“. I said that the journalist “didn’t have much information about what the Government was actually considering apart from wanting a better idea of home education numbers and wanting somewhere for people to be able to report concerns.”
In the “crackdown” blog before Christmas I said that “the issue of possible compulsory registration was raised by me, in response to the IoS journalist saying the Government believed there could be 20,000 or 50,000 and it had to have a better idea of numbers. I said home educators would think that sounded as though the Government wanted to get all the children on a list.”
(The article was published here and was followed up in various other newspapers and media outlets.)
On December 23rd – although I didn’t spot this until after Christmas – the House of Commons Library was already saying that the “clampdown ” story had not been confirmed.
I have to say that when I spoke to the journalist the day before publication he thought he had a scoop but didn’t actually have any concrete information (apart from the thing about numbers and somewhere to report concerns) I did ask if he was sure it was about home education, and not about madrassas and other 6 hour settings, and didn’t feel I got a satisfactory answer.
My own view is that the journalist got the wrong end of the stick. The problem was with the headline CLAMPDOWN and with the fact that it was such a thin time for news that they put it on the front page where it was picked up by all the other papers and the BBC etc.
The alternative explanation which I might have run with if I hadn’t spoken to the journalist is that he really DID have a scoop but that DfE backed down when there was a fuss. OR that he did have a scoop, there was/is going to be a clampdown, a fuss ensued, and…DfE is only pretending to back down.
This was my feeling from reading the original article. I wonder if the journalist realised the consequences that his sensationalist headline and byline would have? We are still dealing with the knock on media interest, much of which has been negative, two months after he decided to run the story in the way he did.
Maybe it was someone else who did the headline?
That all makes sense. Thanks F. Remaining on amber alert here.
Nicky Morgan uses the media differently from ex-journalist Michael Gove.