Author Archives: Karen Wilkinson

Opinion: Parents want a say on school attendance policy

I’ve written previously (here and here)about school attendance policy. Following the hand in of a 127,000 strong petition to the Department for Education (DfE) in October 2013, Craig Langman and I co-founded the independent campaign group “Parents Want A Say” (PWAS). Craig’s petition called for the reversal of the term time absence regulations and has now grown organically to over 220,000. The group is chaired by John Hemming MP, obtained an extremely well attended Westminster Hall debate in February 2014 and is supported by Liberty, such is the extreme nature of some decisions being made by schools under the new rule. We enjoy significant support in the media due to the feedback from audiences.

The DfE continues to misinterpret the statistical evidence base for the policy, as in Nicky Morgan’s misleading statement last weekend. Professor Stephen Gorard of Durham University confirms this. The attendance and attainment debate is far more complex than Nicky Morgan apparently believes and Heads and parents are deeply concerned at this simplistic approach.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Opinion: We are enablers not dictators

The way to school

My brother has been battling cancer for just over a year, I asked for a week last October to take my children out of school as while he was having a break from his long going chemo treatment as we wanted to go as a family, it was denied even with the detailed letter attached , sadly my amazing wonderful 26 year old brother died this April , thanks to the stupid government rules I will never get to go on holiday with my brother again

photo by:
Posted in News and Op-eds | 38 Comments

Opinion: Campaign against school attendance policy update

With the fining of Stewart & Natasha Sutherland this week, an update on the campaign to reverse the changes to the attendance policy (see my previous article).

Emma Whiting’s e-petition to 10 Downing St gained almost 50,000 signatures and closed before most parents were aware of the forthcoming changes. Craig Langman, finding himself unable to sign it in September, put up a members’ petition on 38 degrees and it went viral, gaining 127,000 signatures within a few weeks without any media coverage or promotion by 38 degrees. It now has 190,000 signatures. We delivered it to a nervous …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 41 Comments

Opinion: New policy on school attendance is illiberal

I owe Labour an apology for labelling the push a few years ago to reduce Heads’ discretion on family holidays as ”Nanny State”: no consultation with parents, just an assumption that only the state & education system could be trusted with a child’s best interests. There was a parent rebellion at our local primary school.

Nanny has now been replaced by the Patriarchal State  in an approach that implies “As some pupils have been skiving, the whole school will be kept in.”

As of this September, approval of all family holidays during term time is banned other than in “exceptional” circumstances. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 38 Comments

Opinion: Aspiration exasperation

inspiration - Some rights reserved by h.koppdelaneyI love Friday nights. They keep me grounded and motivated simultaneously, they’re the week’s reset button. The fact they usually involve the pub and a reasonable amount of alcohol is completely coincidental.

I’ve been um-ming and ah-ing for ages over an article for LibDem Voice along the lines of “Aspiration Exasperation”. Politicians talk about aspiration easily enough but it bothers me. Aspiration for what? What I take from it – and I would be delighted to hear I’m wrong on this – is that they mean aspiration …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Opinion: The hidden costs of pushing parents to conform

I heard odd things yesterday.  Talk of getting women back into the workplace by subsidising childcare for all parents – and this after means testing child benefit.

Then someone proposed that all child carers should have good GCSE Maths & English whilst increasing ratios! How did the human race survive before academic qualifications? Here we have another narrowing of work opportunities for people who are not so hot at academic stuff.

To add to my indignation, I heard someone say on the radio that only working parents provide a positive role model  for children and that “non-working” parents don’t contribute to the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Opinion: Formulaic differentation of the Lib Dems?

In the never ending quest to differentiate the LibDems , I’ve developed the following formula for use in the pub on a Friday night, whilst chatting over the veg in the local shop, or wherever else the question arises (my previous longer-winded attempt on a beach is here):

Labour = social conscience plus authoritarianism

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 22 Comments
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    I sincerely trust that Governance gets the attention it deserves both before the meeting and at it. Our party organisation shows every sign of being...
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    Merel I was commenting on the point you raised on how few women have been elected to the HofC's since 1918. As you know in...
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