On Friday January 8th 2016 I attended a round table discussion with the NSPCC on the subject of keeping children safe in home education.
I received an invitation, which was the same as this https://www.change.org/p/peter-wanless-ceo-nspcc-please-withdraw-your-report-children-not-educated-in-school-learning-from-case-reviews/u/14554802 . I presume it was in response to my writing an open letter.
Someone at the meeting stipulated that the NSPCC should write it up. I am allowed to report this because the person in question has already revealed it himself. There was an agreement that we would wait for the NSPCC notes, that we would agree them, and then we would share.
There was no mention of the Chatham House Rule this time, which is where participants can reveal what THEY said and also what was said by others BUT nothing should be done to identify, either explicitly or implicitly, who said what.
Opinions differ as to what precisely the other promises were. It remains my understanding that nothing was to be shared BEFORE the agreed NSPCC notes were released but that this did not bind us AFTER the notes were released, although I am aware that this is NOT a view shared by everyone.
It doesn’t really matter either way now though, because three months after the NSPCC meeting there is a stalemate. We received the second set of notes from the NSPCC on February 17th and some people weren’t happy. I can report this without constraint because it has been posted already on the petition site.
For a few days after February 17th it appeared that there might be a way to resolve the situation with a third set of notes but this quickly turned out not to be the case.
Just to be clear, the third set of notes would NOT be anything written by me.
I did say in a couple of places that I was scribbling a lot down at the meeting and subsequently that I was writing up my notes. I also said that once I’d got the second set of NSPCC notes, I’d asked if I could share my notes as well. The majority view was that the ONLY notes allowed were the notes issued by the NSPCC, although the NSPCC itself has not taken a position on this.
I did turn down suggestions that my notes should be adopted by the NSPCC in place of their own notes, partly because I felt it would have been weird and a bit insulting after making the NSPCC go to all the trouble of writing up the meeting twice themselves, only to end up saying “just ditch your version and use this instead” and also because in some ways I actually prefer the NSPCC notes since my official write-up was very circumspect.
In the run-up to the meeting I was very worried. I’d seen the invitation on the petition site and my main concern was that “home education representatives” would be asked for suggestions on how best to update the thematic briefing on home education in serious case reviews (because that’s what the invitation implied to me) and that any subsequent briefing would include some phrase such as “following discussions with some representatives from the home education community…”
To my surprise and initial relief, this isn’t what happened at the meeting. I can’t report what we DID talk about but we DIDN’T talk about a new version or update, and I did want to let people know this. I think the meeting was primarily envisaged as opening a channel of communication which would be more positive and constructive although in light of the above I am not sure how that stands right now.