Another Year of Consultatation Draws to A Close

NSKA HEdNI Drama Group Christmas Performance
Making Gift Tags at the North Down Christmas Co Op

When the draft policy first emerged last April as (apparently) a single local consultation under the NEELB we had little sense of how long and hard we would have to work to prevent the damage it promised... and there’s no end in sight yet!  Over the last year and a half we have been encouraged and touched by the open-mindedness, interest and support of so many people and organisations - to them we give our most heartfelt thanks. 

We are pleased to be told that the Education Authority 'do not intend to progress this draft' and we have been told that they would like us to be involved in the working group for the next round... what we haven't yet seen is a formal announcement that the draft is no longer under consideration, or a statement that they do not actively seek a similar scheme for the future.  

We do not hope for an apology, or want someone to be scapegoated for the dreadful errors in that draft, but we do need some sort of assurance that lessons have been learned from the experience.  It is essential that we move towards a better relationship with the Authority from a firm evidential and legal basis, and we cannot do that while we suspect that they hope to correct the procedural errors of the consultation process, rather than the fundamental problems with the project.

On a happier note: through the publicity around the draft policy we have also seen the numbers of families in touch with HEdNI grow - we've met more families, seen the start of more groups and co-ops and have offered many more exciting events and opportunities than ever before.  The support of this vibrant community, both in combating the draft policy and in creating a wonderful environment for all our children to grow and learn, has been amazing.

We have shown that our diverse community can work together over the long haul, that we are committed to our children, to learning to home education and to each other.  We have learned about subjects from willow weaving and wattle and daub to marine biology and politics - we've explored farms, forests, supermarkets and Stormont itself!

In the festive spirit we hope that the eventual legacy of this year of worry, anger, meetings, freedom of information requests, legal advice, writing and proof-reading documents will be a good relationship between our active and exciting community and a supportive and informed Education Authority (who act only within their legal powers and duties!).

HEdNI wishes a Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and a Happy New Year filled with learning and delight to you all.