UNCRC incorporation into Scots law: trick or treat?

Having co-founded the kick-ass children’s rights group ARCH in 2001, I’ve become used to banging on about how the UNCRC  resembles a box of Quality Street, where the hardest nuts and caramels are downgraded in favour of the palate-pleasing soft truffles and strawberry cremes.

Article 16 (right to privacy) is one such hard nut that is always left languishing at the bottom of the tin because none of the highly-paid cheerleaders, including the children’s commissioner who has a particular fondness for all things sweet and gooey, wants to risk breaking their molars on it.

Those of us who reject this pick-and-mix approach to the UNCRC, the conflation of rights with state dictated wellbeing outcomes, and the hierarchy of rights and rights-holders that has been permitted to emerge, are invariably the only ones who have been prepared to wield the toffee hammer and crack the toughest nuts.

As a quick aside, here are three of the four ARCH founders (the other one was a bashful barrister) cutting our teeth on the UNCRC in an Education Now special edition back in 2001 (sorry about the poor scan quality and the remnants of the squashed fly, but the original copy has been at the back of my filing cabinet for 18 years, like a long forgotten sweetie).



But back to the point of this post, namely:

Children’s Rights: Consultation on incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into our domestic law in Scotland

Despite being well-known members of the nut-cracking awkward squad, representatives from the Scottish Home Ed Forum were invited to meet with the government team undertaking the consultation. I admit to having had low expectations, but it would have been churlish to turn down the opportunity to discuss such ambitious proposals for the new tartan-liveried UNCRC sweetie tin, so two of us went along to make a robust case for protecting the ‘seldom sampled’ (think Article 16) from being buried by the soft-centres at very bottom of their ‘Equality Street’ selection box.

Although the meeting was both cordial and constructive, our line in the sand has remained unmoved since 1999. If only some children’s rights and right-holders are deemed worthy of defending, as is currently the case in Scotland, incorporation will be just another exercise in job creation for already-overpaid vested interests.

For those who have not yet lost the will to live, the Scottish Home Education Forum has commented here and their consultation response can also be read here.



Home-educators ‘face an overtly hostile environment’

Published in TES Scotland, 29 June 2019

Home-educators ‘face an overtly hostile environment’

Home-educating families are being unfairly treated through Scotland’s health-visiting service, writes Alison Preuss

New research by the Scottish Home Education Forum on families’ experiences of the health-visiting service in Scotland will make uncomfortable reading for service providers and the government alike.

It was prompted by an increase in members’ complaints about the quality and accuracy of information and advice offered by health visitors in relation to childcare, nursery and schooling options, and a lack of transparency regarding the voluntary nature of the service. Continue reading “Home-educators ‘face an overtly hostile environment’”

Schooling and the cult of presenteeism

Earlier this month, Leicestershire Live reported on the case of a parent who was prosecuted and fined for failing to ensure her school-refusing teenage daughter’s regular attendance at school, despite having made valiant efforts to get her there and fully co-operating with the authorities in the face of the child’s outright defiance.

Readers proceeded to express their collective outrage that the mother should have been punished for the actions of the truculent teen, bemoaned (in varying degrees of authoritarian-speak) the breakdown of discipline in ‘schools and society today’, and berated both the council for bringing the action and the magistrates for convicting her. Continue reading “Schooling and the cult of presenteeism”

Parallel Lines: my tribute to Kenneth Roy

Published in The Spirit of Inveramsay: ‘Utopia’, R.F. Mackenzie & a tribute to Kenneth Roy (edited by Neil McLellan)

inveramsay spirit kenneth roy

Parallel Lines: my tribute to Kenneth Roy

In October 2010, an email from a senior Scottish politician landed in my inbox asking ‘Did you put Kenneth Roy up to this?’ The ‘this’ was a three-part Scottish Review investigation which had just debunked the government’s flagship GIRFEC (‘Getting It Right For Every Child’) policy as a surveillance scheme in woolly wellbeing clothing.

Read the series: Big Brother ScotlandIn the nightmarish world of mass snooping on children, Scotland leads the way; In Scotland’s new world of electronic child surveillance, debased language conceals what is going on

Continue reading “Parallel Lines: my tribute to Kenneth Roy”

Manx home education proposals breach human rights, say lawyers

In a legal opinion [pdf download] published today, top Manx lawyers have cited the Scottish ‘named person’ judgment handed down by the Supreme Court in 2016 as an authoritative legal precedent that serves to uphold the rights and freedoms of families who choose home education over state schooling.

Following a crowdfunding campaign by concerned parents, Douglas-based Quinn Legal has assessed proposed new legislation by the Isle of Man government as being non-compliant with several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It also points to likely breaches of the Equality Act when it comes fully into force on the island. Continue reading “Manx home education proposals breach human rights, say lawyers”

Dear Children’s Commissioner for England

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, seems to believe she knows better than a UN Special Rapporteur on Education. I have previously quoted Katarina Tomasevski on the schooling industry’s hijacking of education which has led to the conflation of self-defined rights with state-dictated outcomes. Like school and education, these are not synonymous and the notion of a rights-respecting school is, frankly, an oxymoron.  Continue reading “Dear Children’s Commissioner for England”

Parity and partiality

No sooner had the Ashers ‘gay cake’ judgment been handed down by the Supreme Court yesterday than all hell broke out online, signalling a new wave of Twitter trench warfare. Never mind that most of the outraged brigade had not even read the ruling, let alone grasped the legal principles behind it, the ideological battle lines had been drawn and social media snipers’ ad hominem attacks inevitably dominated the discourse.

Since the justices unanimously upheld the Belfast bakers’ appeal on all grounds and exonerated them of claims of unlawful discrimination on the basis of a customer’s sexual orientation, questions have been asked about the partiality of Northern Ireland’s  Equality Commission, which bankrolled the complaint  against holders of equally protected characteristics who had sought to exercise their own right to freedom of expression.  Continue reading “Parity and partiality”