Writing to your MP
If you have never contacted your MP before, this is what you do:
- Do some background research on your MP using They Work For You, the MPs own website, and wikipedia, and see if there is anything which could link to your concerns eg has your MP spoken about SEN, bullying etc
- Find out which party your MP represents (ie Government or Opposition)
- Use the Write to Them website (or the contact details for constituents on your MP's website
- When you write to your MP, use "I" and "we" rather than "home educators" or "parents"
- Paragraphs should ideally be very short, no more than a couple of sentences
- The first paragraph could introduce the topic of home education in a personal way (eg "I am/we are parents of x who is home educated/was taken out of school to be home educated" etc)
- The second paragraph could set out what you would like your MP to do
- The third paragraph could spell out why something is important for YOUR family. Make it personal, not academic or theoretical
- If your children were previously at school, you could briefly compare their experience of school with home education
- You might want to consider providing some minimal facts and figures about home education (eg "Latest figures show that there are around 27,000 home educated children across the country")
- Provide full postal address (and telephone number where possible) as MPs are only obliged to respond to their own constituents. A telephone number enables the constituency office to clarify details quickly with you
Visiting Your MP
If possible, please make an appointment to see your MP. Your message will be much stronger and more memorable if you can speak to your MP face to face.
You can find details of the constituency office and surgery hours by putting your MP's name into google plus "constituency office". Alternatively you can look on your local council website. Surgeries are often held at the end of the week, either on Friday or Saturday when the MP returns from a week at Westminster.
MPs generally offer between ten minutes and half an hour for an appointment at the local constituency surgery.
It is very effective if you can get together with other home educators locally and make an appointment for a group visit to your MP.
Why No Template Email
This is why I haven't included a template email:
It's much more powerful to write in your own words, telling your representative about your own beliefs and experiences. We want to make the voice of the individual more powerful, so we block "identikit" letters.
Here's a quote from a Parliamentary researcher:
"MPs rather naturally take a sudden influx of identical or similar messages with a large pinch of salt, since they know that what they are seeing is stuff from a minority of constituents who are either impassioned/neurotic about the topic concerned or who are easily gulled into agreeing with some plausible story and sending the message, since it takes minimum effort to do so.
Given a daily mailbag of (say) 50 individual messages from individual constituents, on a wide range of topics, when the mailbag suddenly rises to 100 a day, 50 of which are much the same as each other, the representative has no way at all of knowing whether the message concerned is representative of opinion in the constituency.
All he or she knows is that 50 constituents have been persuaded to mail them about 'topic X'. Much more notice is taken of trends within the regular flow of messages from clearly identified constituents. If in a month 50 people write in different ways and through different routes with similar views on a subject, this is much more likely to raise the profile of the topic with the MP.
So please don't copy and paste the same message as everyone else. And don't
encourage others to do so. It's worse than useless as we'll automatically stop
your messages before they get through. Ask people to write in their own words.
If they care enough about your issue, they'll do so."
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