Radio Five Live – The AIM Response

May 13, 2007

Dear Mr. Worricker

I am writing to you on behalf of Autism-in-Mind (AIM) a national parent support group. After listening to your show this morning I am both sadden and angry by the comments that Tony Mooney has once again made about home education and the ‘type’ of parent whom he believes is likely to successfully home educate their children. This is discrimination of the worst kind. Parents who have seen their child abused by the system and taken them out of school because of this are committed to making learning not only an enjoyable experience for their children, but one that equips them for life and does not scar them for life in the way our system can and is doing. There was however no mention of children with SEN during this mornings program. There are now a growing number of parents who are home educating because their children’s needs are not being met by the system. A fact I know that you are already fully aware of. I would never allow anyone like Mr. Mooney into my home purely because he has no knowledge of autism and how that is likely to affect my son. There are many sides against his arguments that were not debated.

I am actually quite surprised that your program was so loaded in favour of the state system when I myself took part in a report for your show The Five Live Report: The Curious Battle on Sunday 26th September 2004, where you exposed what was happening to children with autism within the State System. You managed to persuade Lord Filkin, who was then the Minister responsible for children with Special Educational Needs to investigate claims that increasing numbers of parents of children with Asperger’s Syndrome are being falsely accused of abuse.

Debbie Storey almost had both her children taken into care after being accused of consciously or unconsciously using her children to meet their own needs. This claim was made because Debbie, who sadly died on May 24th two years ago, took her two sons who have Aspergers Syndrome, out of the system and was home educating them. She was home educating because her Local Authority was failing to meet the needs of her children. Debbie was a member of AIM and an ardent home educator and campaigner. Debbie fought for the right to home educate her children. After listening to your program today I feel very sad that home education is now being portrayed in such a negative way, by someone who has so obviously embarked on a one man crusade to malign a method of education which has probably saved the lives of many children, my own son included.

I feel that Fiona Nicholson and her son were set up to fail this morning in an argument which was very one sided and weighted in favour of the system. They actually came across as the most informed and coherent during the whole discussion. It would be fine if the system was meeting the needs of all children but clearly it is not. This fact was reported on by the Education and Skills Select Committee only last year.

AIM supports many parents who are now home educating their autistic children, they are not all middle class. They are home educating because the system is failing to provide their children with the support which they require to be successfully educated. In fact Professor John McBeath of Cambridge University stated in a report he co-wrote for the National Union of Teachers, stated that ‘Including children with special educational needs in mainstream classrooms can be “a form of abuse”,

In the light of today’s program AIM is requesting that you revisit home education at the earliest opportunity and give parent who are home educating their SEN children a platform to put right the wrongs of what was stated by Mr. Mooney this morning.

Carole Rutherford – Co-Founder of AIM

Mother of two home educated sons with autism


Tony Mooney – Who is he?

May 13, 2007

Tony Moony is at it again – slagging off home ed and home educators. In the words of someone else who was very much in your face and in your space last year ‘Who is he?’

Good Question and here is a little bit of background to Mr Moony


of a

private tutor

By Tony Mooney, who teaches maths and science to children of the New Labour elite when their independent schools fail to satisfy …

A headmistress of a prestigious private girl’s school recently wrote to parents saying she was concerned to discover the high number of girls at her school receiving outside tutoring. She concluded her very forthright letter by saying, “I would be far happier if no girl from here were tutored.”

To discuss her concerns Libby talks to Tony Mooney, a former head teacher at two boys secondary schools who took up tutoring when he retired 8 years ago…

In many cases, the parents are not equipped to push their child along, especially in the final two years of schooling. Few parents can afford to employ home tutors…The ones who can afford it seek help from home tutors for GCSE work….

Mr Moony had his say about us YET AGAIN on Five Live during the Worricker Program. Fiona Nicholson Chair of The EO Government Policy Group and her son Theo were also asked to take part but clearly the program was loaded in favour of sending our children to school


May 13, 2007

Yes we have a Consultation but it is not the Consultation we were expecting.

On 8th May AIM received the following e-mail

On 8th May the Department for Education and Skills published a consultation on guidelines for local authorities on elective home education. The publication of this consultation follows discussions with several groups representing home educators and with local authorities. Following these discussions it has been decided not to propose any changes to monitoring arrangements or legislation so this consultation is solely on the issuing of guidelines.

The guidelines set out our view on the best approach to balancing the rights of parents and the obligations of local authorities. The consultation will run until 31st July, and the document can be found at or you can reply by email to I look forward to your response.


Helen White

 We can not afford to ignore this Consultation and must make sure that the guidelines are crystal clear and not open to miss-use by LA’s.

AIM intends to question the right of an LA to maintain a statement for a child with SEN – we want the same rights as any other home educator and that is the right to be left in peace to educate our children.

Home Education A Feasibility Study

February 24, 2007

The Prevalence of Home Education

in England: A Feasibility Study

Vicky Hopwood, Louise O’Neill,Gabriela Castro and Beth Hodgson
York Consulting Ltd
Research Report RR827RESEARCH

Read this report here

UK is accused of failing children

February 14, 2007

UK has been accused of failing its children, as it comes bottom of a league table for child well-being across 21 industrial countries.
The Unicef report looked at 40 indicators including poverty, relationships with parents and health. The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and
Finland head the list.
Children’s charities have condemned the findings. The government says it has made progress on child well-being through several initiatives. The
UK rated highly for education but was in the bottom third for all of the other categories.
A spokesman for the
UK government said its initiatives in areas such as poverty, pregnancy rates, teenage smoking, drinking and risky sexual behaviour had helped improve children’s welfare.
Unicef – the United Nations’ children’s organisation – says the report, titled Child Poverty in Perspective: An Overview of Child Wellbeing in Rich Countries, is the first study of childhood across the world’s industrialised nations. Unicef
UK executive director David Bull said all the countries had weaknesses that needed to be addressed.
“By comparing the performance of countries we see what is possible with a commitment to supporting every child to fulfil his or her full potential,” he said. The Children’s Society has launched a website to coincide with the report,, which allows children to answer a series of surveys about their lives. The society’s chief executive Bob Reitemeier said: “We simply cannot ignore these shocking findings. “Unicef’s report is a wake-up call to the fact that, despite being a rich country, the
UK is failing children and young people in a number of crucial ways.”
The Children’s Commissioner for
England, Professor Al Aynsley-Green, said he was not surprised by the report’s findings.
“It’s very much in line with what children and young people are telling me about their lives today, and I think the shocking conclusion is that as a nation we have been failing our children and young people.” ‘Failed generation’ Colette Marshall, UK director of Save the Children, said it was “shameful” to see the
UK at the bottom of the table.
“This report shows clearly that despite the
UK’s wealth, we are failing to give children the best possible start in life,” she said.
UK government is not investing enough in the wellbeing of children, especially to combat poverty and deprivation.”
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne accused Chancellor Gordon Brown of having “failed this generation of children”. “After 10 years of his welfare and education policies, our children today have the lowest wellbeing in the developed world,” said Mr Osborne. A government spokesman said it regarded the improvement of the life of British children as a matter of particular importance. “Nobody can dispute that improving children’s well-being is a real priority for this government,” she said. “We recognise that Unicef does vital work in this area. But in many cases the data used is several years old and does not reflect more recent improvements in the
UK, such as the continuing fall in the teenage pregnancy rate or in the proportion of children living in workless households.
“We are working hard to improve all children’s life chances and the report confirms that children’s educational attainment at 15 in the
UK compares well with many other EU countries.”




February 5, 2007



‘Freedom for Children to Grow’ 

By now many of you will be aware that the DfES are planning to hold a consultation wrapped around home education. The DfES has not released an official title for the consultation and the launch date also appears to have been delayed. This gives us a window of opportunity to inform ourselves as to exactly what might be planned and to act to protect our historic freedoms. Forewarned is forearmed EO has been aware that this consultation was in the pipe line since being asked to attend a meeting with DfES on December 19th last year. At that meeting EO found out that the consultation will is probably going to look at the following three areas, there may be more. 

Compulsory registration of all home educators.  

A definition of “suitable” education [ as per 1996 Education Act Section 7 ] which may move away from what home educators regard as “suitable to the child” and shade into age- specific standards and a broad and balanced curriculum.  

Monitoring of standards and formally introducing measures of “progress” and “educational outcomes”  

If this goes any further than the consultation stage then this has the ability to have a big impact on all home educators. EO is aware that there are questions being asked as to what EO intends to do faced with the threat of this consultation. Education Otherwise are taking this very seriously and during the last few weeks have been building a ‘Campaign’ website, which will enable as many home educators as possible to be kept up to date with any important outcomes or changes. It will also enable all home educators to take an active part in our national campaign. 

EO is thrilled with the new site which will be the hub of the national home education campaign ‘Freedom for Children to Grow’  

http://www.freedomf orchildrentogrow .org/index. htm 

This site is now live and ready to use as a resource for all home educators. It is not exclusively for EO members it has been designed to be a useful tool for anyone who home educates. We are hoping that it will help anyone wanting to be involved in an active campaign to do so. Everyone can play a very important role in the campaign and can add their voices and a wealth of experience to the cause. There has already been a great deal of behind the scenes action taking place. EO now has an active Campaign Team who is hoping to have lots of requests from home educators to join the Campaign.

You can mail the team here he1campaignteam@  

There are also Regional Workshops being organised so that home educators can meet with members of the EO Government Policy Team and find out what the results of this consultation may mean to them and how they can actively participate. The new website is a wonderful resource where home educators can now read letters written and communications to press that EO has already penned since learning about the consultation.  

You may also wish to read the Briefing Paper written by the EO Government Policy Group and published on January 17th you can find it here http://tinyurl. com/3bog2o  

It is very informative and gives a comprehensive background of events leading up to this consultation. 

We would love to hear your comments about the new site, which has been built entirely by EO volunteers who have been working hard to make sure that the site was live by the time EO held its AGM. We made it! We hope you will find the new site both user friendly and informative.      

Special Needs Practice Illegal

January 19, 2007

A council has been told that the way it is treating children with more serious special educational needs is illegal. Surrey County Council has been ordered by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to amend the special needs “statements” it has issued. Parents had complained that the extra help their children should receive was not specified, as it should be. Campaigners say similar malpractice is going on elsewhere. The councils argue they are devolving funding to schools. Parents are said to have made complaints about Hertfordshire, the London boroughs of Ealing and Southwark, Reading, Windsor and
Maidenhead, Kent and Bedfordshire, among others.
Surrey, according to the letter sent to the council by the DfES, had adopted “a blanket policy of never quantifying special educational provision in children’s statements”.
The whole point of a statement, which is issued after an assessment of more difficult SEN cases, is to set out a child’s needs and the special educational provision that will meet those needs. The courts have ruled this must be “specific, detailed and quantified”. The department’s letter said it did not appear that
Surrey was failing in its duty to assess children.
But it was not clear from the statements it was then issuing “how the school and the child’s parents are to know what the authority has determined should be provided for the child”. The letter, from Phil Snell of the department’s SEN division, said the education secretary was satisfied
Surrey was failing to discharge its duty as set out in the 1996 Education Act.
It was dated 4 January and gave the council five working days to confirm it would comply with the law and 15 working days to send amendment notices to parents – explaining to them why it was making changes and what their rights were. Mr Snell asked
Surrey to confirm how many statements would need amending in this way.
Ongoing The department said on Friday it had received “a positive and helpful response” from Surrey County Council to the concerns raised in its letter. It added: “That correspondence is continuing.” There was no immediate comment from the council. Marion Strudwick of the charity SOS!SEN, which helps parents in such cases, said Mr Snell’s letter was useful ammunition. If
Surrey did not comply with the law it could now be challenged in the High Court.
“Phil Snell’s letter is quite powerful,” she said. “It’s an important move to stop this trend of saying, ‘OK we will just give the money to the schools and let them decide what to do with it’,” she said. Legal action She said
Surrey was one of the worst offenders but other authorities had also adopted similar policies.
Instead of detailed statements, they used vague phrases such as saying a child would “have some specialist teaching”, without saying how much or who would provide it. The school might be told it would receive funding for this – but without the amount being specified or ring-fenced. “It’s a practice that local authorities are trying to get away with far too much,” she said.