Talking to Assembly Members in Wales
Wales Drops Plans to Change Law This Time Round
Feedback from meeting with Welsh Assembly Govermment, March 2013: The consultation closed with 580 responses. Analysis is almost complete and WAG has no plans to include home education in upcoming legislation. It is advisable to keep in touch with Assembly Members. (Welsh Plans Put On Hold BBC website January 3rd 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-20898475) Minister's statement December 2012 http://edyourself.org/leightonandrewsstatementdec21.pdf
How the Welsh Assembly System Works
The Welsh Assembly is Wales' parliament, comprising 60 members (AMs) elected in 40 constituencies and five regions (North Wales, Mid and West Wales, South Wales East, West and Central). Everyone is represented by one constituency AM and four regional AMs. Assembly members are in Cardiff mid-week, and tend to be available in their constituency offices on Monday and Friday. The Assembly Member website gives full contact details here http://www.senedd.assemblywales.org/mgMemberIndex.aspx?FN=WARD Names and contact details for AMs may be found, using a post code or constituency name, on the Welsh Assembly web site: http://www.assemblywales.org/memhome.htm Photographs and further information http://www.senedd.assemblywales.org/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1 This system has some advantages over the Westminster parliament, in that it enables access to a wider range of members; instead of dealing with only one constituency member (who may or may not be supportive), five AMs are available, often representing a wider range of political opinions.
It should be possible to e-mail all five AMs to ask for an appointment for a small group from your local area. Note that a full postal address within the AM's constituency is required, even in e-mail (they'll only deal with their own constituents). A few bullet points can be sent to brief the AM ahead of the meeting. In one area, home educators are arranging to visit the AMs in multiple small groups (four or five), rather than lots of individual families or one big group; this may help to maintain some momentum, while ensuring that those who aren't so comfortable with individual meetings can tag along with the more confident ones. You might get between 10 minutes and an hour with your AM, so be prepared to make your points very quickly if necessary.
Opening Your Conversation With Assembly Member
1/Our children are home educated because...
2/We have been home educating since...
3/In our home education we have had support from...
4/Our experience of the council has been...[if not known, can say what friends' experience has been]
5/Current Government Guidelines already cover welfare/safeguarding/standards/diversity/
Assembly Members may ask Welsh Ministers at Oral Assembly Questions about any matter falling within their areas of responsibility. Questions are answered on a four week rotation, determined by ballot. Once the Minister has replied, the Member can ask one other question which is related to their tabled question. This is known as a supplementary question. Other Members may also be called to ask a related supplementary question at the Presiding Officer’s discretion. If an oral question is not reached during Plenary proceedings, the Member will receive a written answer on the same day. Members can also table questions specifically for written answer by the Welsh Government or the Assembly Commission. There is no limit on the number of written questions a Member may table.
Read more here http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-home/plenary/business-plenary-information/types-of-plenary-business/questions.htm
Click here for more information about the benefits of asking parliamentary questions.
What the Welsh Government Proposed
http://edyourself.org/walesbriefingpaper.pdf Briefing Paper, Welsh Government Proposals for Home Education, 7 page pdf to print/download. 1 PAGE SUMMARY HERE http://edyourself.org/summarywaleschange.pdf This can be sent to your Assembly Member as a web link and as an email attachment. You can also copy and paste from the web page here http://edyourself.org/articles/walesbriefing.php into the body of your email.
- Changing the law in Wales to permit compulsory registration and routine annual monitoring of home educated children
- Using existing powers to develop statutory guidance on best practice for LAs working with home educating families
- Future consultation on definition of "suitable education" in context of variety of educational approaches used in home education, to be "covered in statutory guidance and consulted on separately."
- Qualified expert assessment of suitable education in cases where home educated child has special/additional needs.
The consultation on registering and monitoring elective home education closed on November 23rd. READ MY CONSULTATION RESPONSE HERE http://edyourself.org/articles/webversiondraftconsultationwales.php OR DOWNLOAD HERE http://edyourself.org/electivehomeeducationconsultationwales.pdf
Notes from North Wales AMs' Meetings
Home educators have been meeting with AMs; in north Wales, we have reports of meetings with: Aled Roberts - Welsh Liberal, and also a member of the Welsh Assembly Children's committee; Llyr Gruffydd - Plaid Cymru; Sandie Mewies - Welsh Labour
- Motivation for the legislation is not clear, but concerns may have been raised by teaching unions as well as the Welsh Children's Commissioner
- It's important to have many individual, differentiated responses to the consultation. Statements that look like cut-and-paste text will be treated as a "campaign response"
- Home educators should try to contact or visit all AMs, and particularly Labour members, to express their opposition and gain support. Some AMs have the impression that this is simply a harmless registration scheme, but once they realise it's effectively a licensing system, they have a better understanding of our concerns
- AMs appreciate the problem with the definition of "suitable education" when this is pointed-out - particularly given that it has been left to future consultation and LA staff are poorly trained
- Most parties don't have a policy or position on this issue yet, but it will be discussed by the party groups if many constituents raise the issue
- Be aware that Home Education might be seen by some as a way of avoiding Welsh language education requirements, although we haven't met this view so far
- AMs are busy people, flooded with email, letters and other documents. They need short, concise reading material. When writing, make points short, and the whole thing should be less than a single page. In addition, AMs are also willing to raise questions if we provide them