Homeschooling communities have to be organized and ready to defend their freedom because, as our guest puts it: "We are often the first ones under the steamroller."
Join Mike Donnelly and Scottish homeschooling parent and advocate, Alison Preuss to talk about her homeschooling journey in Scotland, and what it takes to defend homeschooling freedom!
[00:00:00] Mike: Greetings homeschool heroes! This is Mike Donnelly, Senior Counsel with HSLDA coming to you with Homeschooling Around the World. Well, if you've listened to the podcast before, you realize that I said, “homeschool heroes”, not “homeschooling friends” because you are homeschool[ing] heroes. Every single one of you out there who are homeschooling your children or who are involved in supporting the homeschooling community, you are a hero. You are doing something that is really significant and valuable, and I want to acknowledge that.
[00:00:41] Mike: To me, every homeschooling parent is a homeschooling hero. And yes, I hope you are also willing to be called my friends, but I'm going to start saying homeschool heroes. And it’s my show, so guess what? I get to do that. So, thanks. Haha! But it's great to be with you today.
[00:00:55] Mike: Thank you for joining me on Homeschooling Around the World where we are [00:01:00] bringing you exciting, interesting, inspiring, and encouraging stories about what is happening around the world in homeschooling, and there is a lot happening around the world in homeschooling. I am super excited about our guest today who is from Scotland. And yes, you’re gonna get to hear a little bit of the Scottish accent and I'm not going to do it much, myself, but yeah. And isn't it fun to hear the accents, the different language accents that we get on homeschooling around the world? I mean, I have to say, I really enjoy that. I don't know. It's just one of the little things I like about our show here.
[00:01:38] Mike: But Alison Preuss who is, got an incredible story. I mean, just going back to the ‘60s and coming forward, starting [a] homeschooling association in Scotland, fighting the Scottish government on the Named Person campaign, which was something that people [00:02:00] who were paying attention to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child debate here in the U.S., and what Scotland was doing and how this, they fought the law and they won. They fought the Scottish government and they won. It's a great story and a significant victory, I think, and Alison's going to be talking with us about her journey in homeschooling.
[00:02:23] Mike: As we were talking, afterwards, she used a term that I just want to talk about here a little bit. She used the term ‘dangerous prey’ and apparently, it's a movie. Apparently, it's a book. Apparently, it wasn't her invention. Somebody else used that in connection with homeschooling, but I thought to myself, there's something to that, because we, the homeschool community should think that we want to be seen as dangerous prey. We don't want those who want to go after our freedom to think that they're going to be able to get it without [00:03:00] a fight.
[00:03:01] Mike: I think there are some communities that may wonder about that. ‘Oh, that sounds like a really conflict-oriented and confrontational and all. We just want to get along and we can work with the government, and…”. I mean, okay. Yeah. I mean, we have to do lots of different things when we're advocating for homeschooling freedom. We need to advocate winsomely. We need to advocate persuasively. We need to be nice and not just…tell people they're being foolish when they come up with crazy ideas like, ‘What about socialization?’ Right? And just be like, ‘Come on. What rock did you live under?’ I mean, socialization. Really? That's the best you can do?
[00:03:48] Mike: But we need to be thinking about how we are going to be dangerous prey, so that if government wants to [00:04:00] come after us, and not just government in the form of administrative agencies like ministries of education or departments of education…we need legislators like…legislators to think that they don't want to mess with the homeschool community. That's how come, I believe, in the United States, homeschooling has continued to become more and more free over the last 22 years or so. Because one, we have developed a very substantial track record of success, academic success, socialization type success.
[00:04:43] Mike: We've got millions of young people who have graduated from homeschooling who are doing extremely well. We have research that shows that that works, and so we've got a great track record that that shows, yeah, I mean, come on guys, homeschooling, it works. You can’t come after us anymore about academics and socialization and that kind of thing. [00:05:00]
[00:05:00] Mike: But they do still want to come after us. Because why? Because they want to control. Because they don't like having this huge population outside of their indoctrination center, whether you like the indoctrination or not. Parents and families are the ones who should be teaching children basic values about life, not schools, which, anyway, we don't need to go too far into that. But the point is that…that's one of the reasons why we have the freedom we have in the United States, partly. Because the homeschool community here has been willing to organize; has been willing to sacrifice; has been willing to get involved and has been willing to support organizations that do those things.
[00:05:45] Mike: The story of homeschooling freedom in the United States is a grassroots story, but it's a story of organization, and HSLDA is part and parcel in that conversation. We got started in 1983. [00:06:00] In 1980, only six states recognized homeschooling. Okay. By 1996, every state recognized homeschooling. We do not take credit for that ourselves, but we were part of the fight, and the fact is, we were serving individual families who needed support, which we still do today. And that is true in any country.
[00:06:24] Mike: For example, in Brazil, they're hopefully going to have homeschooling legalized in the next few months. But even though it will be recognized by the Congress as a legal right, explicitly, there are going to be local prosecutors, local authorities who don't like homeschooling. They don't like it now, and I am hearing from my friends in Brazil that there is increasing prosecution of homeschoolers because more people are doing it because they're hearing about it. And that's what happened here in the United States.
[00:06:55] Mike: And so, that kind of conflict is always going to happen. It's going to happen everywhere. We see it [00:07:00] everywhere, and there needs to be organizations like HSLDA to defend those families, to help those individual families, [and] at the same time, creating this idea that homeschoolers have someone that they can go to if they are in trouble. That's us.
[00:07:15] Mike: When a legislator introduces a bill that's going in the wrong direction on homeschooling, they need to know that they're going to pay a price, a heavy price for doing that. They're going to get inundated with email. They are going to get phone calls. They are going to receive attention and, by large, a lot of politicians don't like that kind of attention.
[00:07:42] Mike: They like people to like them…and they don't like it in that kind of negative attention. So, they have to be really motivated, and we want them to have to be really motivated if they want to try and go against the homeschool community, and we've seen that this year. We saw that here in the United States in Maryland. [00:08:00] Maryland introduced some laws that were not really super favorable. In Colorado, I've just been fighting a battle in Colorado. It takes an entire community to organize, and it's a privilege for all of us here at HSLDA to do that – to serve individual families, to serve the whole movement at the local state and national and international level, which is what I do.
[00:08:23] Mike: And we're going to talk with Alison about what that means and what does it mean to be connected to a larger community and how important it is for people like Alison and others to step up and participate and organize and exercise leadership and galvanize the community with vision, with argumentation, with energy to motivate the community and to help the community take action when needed. And so, by doing that, we can be seen as dangerous prey, and we're not offensive-minded. I mean, we want homeschooling to [00:09:00] continue to be free and freer, meaning more accessible to people with less restrictions, less burdens, less unreasonable intrusion into people's families.
[00:09:08] Mike: I mean, we believe that parents fundamentally have the right to direct the education [and] upbringing of their children. We believe that families make better decisions than government bureaucrats. We believe that families should be left to make those decisions for themselves, and the government should stay out of it unless there is some really relevant, appropriate reason to believe that a child is at risk of harm otherwise, right?
[00:09:39] Mike: And homeschooling, and even issues of education, whether our kids going to school or not going to school isn't really harm. Some people would quibble with me or argue with me, I suppose, but whether a kid is absent five or 10 days, the child is not being harmed.
[00:09:52] Mike: That's not the kind of thing that social services should get involved with to remove children or get the police involved to arrest parents, [00:10:00] right? I mean, if the kid's supposed to be going to school and there's a law that says, ‘Hey kid, go to school’ there are ways to deal with that without having to traumatize the family with the social services investigation, which does happen!
[00:10:10] Mike: Which is why you need organizations like HSLDA to help families who encounter those things, which is what we do on a regular basis. So, let's talk with Alison about what's going on in Scotland and let's talk about what it means to be dangerous prey. So, thank you for listening to Homeschooling Around the World. Mike Donnelly here, and you are my hero!
[00:10:37] Mike: Well, it is really a privilege to be joined by Alison Preuss, and I'm not sure if I pronounced that correctly because my Scottish accent isn't the best in the world. [Alison laughs] But I can talk a very good Irish accent if you know. I know the difference between the two. [Alison laughs] So, Alison, welcome [00:11:00] to Homeschooling Around the World.
[00:11:01] Alison: Thank you, Mike. It's a pleasure to be here.
[00:11:05] Mike: [Chuckles] Well, we like to have some fun on Homeschooling Around the World, and I'll just be honest with you. I've been excited. I've really been looking forward to this conversation with you and not only because I love the Scottish accent, but that I have to admit is part of it, and it's one of the things that we do on Homeschooling Around the World. We bring interesting people from other parts of the world. We want to share encouraging and inspiring stories and I think you have a very interesting story that I think is going to be very encouraging to our listeners. So, let's jump in and [crosstalk]…
[00:11:38] Alison: Okay.
[00:11:39] Mike: …tell us a little bit about who you are. You are in Scotland right now. Is that correct?
[00:11:45] Alison: I am indeed. I am in Forfar in Angus. Very close to Glamis Castle. I come [crosstalk]…
[00:11:52] Mike: So, is that the Highlands or is that the Lowlands?
[00:11:54] Alison: It's kind of the middle. It's North East Scotland between Aberdeen and Dundee. [00:12:00] So, I come from this area originally, although I was away for a long time, I've come back to my roots. I am the co-founder of the national Scottish Home Education Forum, which we set up in 1999.
[00:12:13] Alison: So, it's been going for quite a while…and a founding member of the No to Named Person campaign, which was a major campaign in Scotland, which involved home educators and lots of other groups joining together to take the government to court. [Inaudible] We’ll [chuckles] talk about that in a bit.
[00:12:30] Mike: Oh, yes, we will. [Alison laughs] That's going to be fun. Looking forward to talking about that.
[00:12:33] Alison: Yeah, I'm a freelance writer and researcher and a home education advocate. I have been, because I've been home educating since the mid-90s, I have been around the block a few times. My children are now grown, but it's actually very difficult to retire [laughs] because I keep sort of getting bounced back into campaigns and various things that are going on, but that's basically my story. I have an e-commerce [00:13:00] business as well. I have a business as the day job, if you like; I've done that for 15 years, and before that I was a parliamentary researcher for seven years. So, I kind of, I'm quite familiar with the political scene in Scotland as well.
[00:13:13] Mike: Well, you have done a lot and so you're, you've graduated from homeschooling [Alison laughs] because all of your kids are graduated from homeschooling, but apparently you can't quite get out of it, which I think is good for the homeschooling movement in Scotland and probably in other places.
[00:13:27] Alison: You can never quit [laughs].
[00:13:28] Mike: Well, you're passionate about it, but can you just share with us a little bit about how you came to connect with and hear about homeschooling. Tell us a little bit about that story, and I know that there's a bit of a story there, so I appreciate it if you might be willing to share that with our listeners.
[00:13:44] Alison: How I started, well, I've always known that it was legal. It always has been legal in Scotland. I've always known that it has been because I once wrote an essay about it at school, [Alison laughs] in the ‘60s or the ‘70s.
[00:13:57] Mike: You wrote an essay about [crosstalk]…
[00:13:58] Alison: Yes!
[00:13:57] Mike: …homeschooling in the [00:14:00] ‘60s?
[00:14:00] Alison: Yeah. Yes, because there was a, quite an important case. I think it was in the media and we were asked to write about it, so I've always known that it was legal. I was never a big fan of all the regulations of schooling. I did very well in the schooling system. [I] went through [and] got good qualifications, went to university, that's a story in itself. I went to study law, to start with in Edinburgh and became a dropout, but my big claim [chuckles] to fame was being in the same class as the, now, Lord, President of the UK Supreme Court. [Laughs] He was in the same class.
[00:14:33] Mike: And let me see, what was it? This is the new Lord Reed?
[00:14:35] Alison: Yes, Lord Robert Reed. Yes.
[00:14:37] Mike: Reed. Lord Reed. Yeah, okay.
[00:14:38] Alison: He was in my class in 1974, but I didn't stay. It wasn't really my thing at the time, so I transferred and did a different degree. I kind of, I was into reading Elesion Holt and these people and, actually not two miles from where I'm sitting, A.S. Neill taught in a school, the [00:15:00] A.S. Neill from Summerhill, the famous [crosstalk]…
[00:15:02] Mike: Oh, Summerhill. Okay.
[00:15:04] Alison: So, he taught in a village school just two miles from where I am right now.
[00:15:07] Mike: Wow.
[00:15:08] Alison: So, I almost kind of knew about these alternative education things. When I was working in London for a while with quite vulnerable children and lots of them who really just didn't go to school, I was involved in a project that was an alternative education project.
[00:15:24] Alison: So, interestingly I had been set up by parents in a very disadvantaged area of South London and the kids were on the streets, and the parents just said, ‘Come on and we'll show you how to read and do various things’ and that actually worked very well. I saw that work much better than schooling.
[00:15:42] Alison: So, I realized there was much more to this, to education than schooling, if you like. So, that's kind of how I came to think [crosstalk]…
[00:15:48] Mike: So, this was before...[crosstalk]
[00:15:49] Alison: …this was before I had children.
[00:15:50] Mike: …this was before you even had children.
[00:15:51] Alison: Yeah. Before I even had children, so I knew about it. We had children. Our first started school when we lived in Germany [00:16:00] and she did incredibly well. She was quite academic. We came back to Scotland in the very early ‘90s and she went to school here for a while, and my second daughter also went to school, in a rural school, and we did okay there. But we moved into the city into Dundee and it just, the school just didn't seem to tick the boxes for us.
[00:16:22] Alison: Although my son by that time had started, and he enjoyed it. So, we decided, or I decided and persuaded my husband, that we should experiment [chuckles] and see how it went [crosstalk]…
[00:16:31] Mike: Oh, I want to hear a little bit more about that [laughs].
[00:16:34] Alison: …see how it went [crosstalk]…
[00:16:34] Mike: How did you persuade your husband? Because this is, this is a story I often hear [Alison laughs] in the U.S. Homeschool moms often have the vision for homeschooling and it's often the dad who doesn't quite get on board with that vision. Sometimes it's the other way around, but usually it's more the mom who's like, ‘Hey, I want to do this’ and the dads are like, some dads are like, ‘Sure, whatever’. Some dads are like, ‘Hmm I don't know [00:17:00] about this’. Tell us a little bit about that.
[00:17:02] Alison: He was pretty good about it because he worked in the youth service and community education service, so he was very much into informal education on how children learned and things. He was pretty much on-site, but I taught a bit of French privately to young children, and three of them were home educated children. I remember being incredibly impressed by them. Their social skills and their just keenness to learn. They were super kids.
[00:17:30] Alison: I thought, I think we can try this out. So, I spoke to their mother and said, ‘How do we go about this? What’s it all about?’ She put me in touch with the, what was the UK home education support group, Education Otherwise, got in touch with them, learned about the law, thought, this is what we'll do.
[00:17:49] Alison: So, we went ahead with it. Didn't have any real problems withdrawing them from school but realized afterwards we were very lucky in the area we lived, [00:18:00] the people we knew, the fact that we were university graduates, and lived in a decent area of the city. There was definitely a divide in terms of how people were treated by local authorities. So, we went ahead and did it, and it was great [laughs].
[00:18:17] Mike: So, now, this is now…and so, now we're in the ‘90s. Is that correct?
[00:18:20] Alison: We were in the ‘90s. We had telephone trees [Alison & Mike laughs]. We didn't have [crosstalk]…
[00:18:25] Mike: We had telephone trees too, back in the ‘90s [Alison laughs].
[00:18:28] Alison: We didn't have the Internet. We did have, eventually, by the time my son was eight, he was building websites on a dial-up connection. But yeah [crosstalk]…
[00:18:37] Mike: Wow.
[00:18:37] Alison: …we were doing that. He actually stayed in school until he was eight. He chose to stay, but then he chose to leave again, and we just continued. We did the first year, it seemed to work very well. Met lots of people who were home educating, went to various events across the UK, and it worked well. The children flourished, [00:19:00] and we started out fairly structured, as is common, but we soon sort of loosened [laughs] the strings a bit and they followed their own interests, really. So, they're now in their 30s. They've all been to university.
[00:19:15] Alison: My eldest is, I have to count. I think she's 37 [Alison & Mike laughs]. She did a psychology degree and then a master's in counseling and she now works with survivors of rape and sexual assault, a very, very harrowing job, but she's highly regarded in what she does by her clients and things. Home education didn't do her any harm in terms of understanding how the world works.
[00:19:41] Alison: So, she's fairly local, which is great. My second daughter lives in Glasgow. She got married last year. She went to Glasgow School of Art and is now a head buyer for a major international company, so she travels around the world and things. So, she's done okay for someone who couldn't [00:20:00] do times tables or math.
[00:20:02] Alison: She's running budgets of millions [Alison & Mike laughs] in spreadsheets. It's amazing, really, when you have to do something, how you can learn to do it. My son is the youngest and he has, I must admit, fairly checkered…checkered kind [Alison & Mike laughs]…he was very, very into tech, always, and he was always going to do it; ran up massive telephone bills on dial-up for the Internet.
[00:20:29] Alison: But he went off, eventually, to do an ethical hacking degree, so he understands how all of that works. He now actually works in telecoms and he's fairly senior and is often asked how he can solve all these problems when he didn't go, he didn't sort of do the traditional route. But as I've discussed with him, he thinks that home education actually provided a much better grounding so that he could go off and do his own thing.
[00:20:58] Alison: And the funny story was, [00:21:00] when he was about eight or nine and learning how to do these things for himself because he outsmarted us immediately…we had a [Mike laughs] snail mail letter from our professor from the U.S., I think it was from Georgia, asking our permission to correspond with our child online because he kept sending him emails, asking him how to [laughs], he said he was such a smart kid. He wanted to do that, so he always did that sort of stuff, and he was mining Bitcoin from the very earliest days [crosstalk]…
[00:21:30] Mike: No! He must be [crosstalk]…
[00:21:32] Alison: …yes.
[00:21:33] Mike: He must be a billionaire.
[00:21:34] Alison: No, I don't think so. I think he made a mistake in selling them when he did [crosstalk]…
[00:21:36] Mike: He sold them? He sold them too early [laughs].
[00:21:39] Alison: So yeah, but he was quite good. He was very careful and very sort of calculated, but sadly, his dad became very ill in 2013 and died. It was very sad, and he became his [caretaker] and really stepped up. He was a super kid, so we had all that to contend with. Eventually, I said to him, [00:22:00] ‘Maybe a proper job would be a good idea’ [chuckles]. So, [Mike laughs] he went off and has built a career on that and seems to be doing quite [laughs] quite well. So, they've all kind of flown the nest now, but they were all happy with their home education and have nothing really bad to say about it, so it's good! [Chuckles]
[00:22:19] Mike: Well, that's a good thing. I mean, we like it when the homeschool graduates feel good about their education [crosstalk]…
[00:22:25] Alison: Yup.
[00:22:25] Mike: …and in fact, most do, as the research shows.
[00:22:28] Alison: Yes.
[00:22:28] Mike: 90, over 90+ percent of children who, at least in the U.S., who've been surveyed, who were homeschooled, say that they would do it with their children, so [crosstalk]…
[00:22:39] Alison: Yes.
[00:22:39] Mike: …I think there's a lot…that to me, that's very affirming. Well, thank you so much for sharing that. It sounds like they're all doing well [Alison laughs]. That's, good job homeschool mom! But you've been more than a homeschool mom, and let's talk a little bit about that because you've been really an activist as well as an advocate.
[00:22:58] Alison: Yes.
[00:22:58] Mike: So, tell us a little bit about, [00:23:00] how did you get involved? I mean, you only had three kids, so it's not like you had 12, so…[crosstalk]
[00:23:07] Alison: [Laughs] That’s true. Plenty of time.
[00:23:08] Mike: Some moms with 12 somehow find time to get involved with all kinds of things. I don't know how they do it, but…anyway, even with three you're very busy, and even if they're autonomously learning and self-directed, and that kind of thing, they still need a little bit of supervision.
[00:23:22] Alison: Yes.
[00:23:23] Mike: How did you find yourself getting involved in advocating for homeschooling? You said you started the Scotland, Scottish [crosstalk]…
[00:23:31] Alison: Scottish Home Education Forum. Yeah.
[00:23:33] Mike: …association, and let's start with that. When did that all happen and how did that come about?
[00:23:38] Alison: Well, it kind of happened because we got a bit angry, basically, about how people were being treated. We also felt that the UK umbrella group didn't particularly reflect the needs of people in Scotland because the law and education system have always been different here. We also call it ‘home education’. We’re quite insistent [00:24:00] on that, and not homeschooling. We see homeschooling as a subset of home education. So, we found that people were being treated unfairly, unjustly. Mostly people, mostly on socioeconomic grounds. It was kind of, if you're not, I had one councilor tell me that ‘we only allowed intelligent people to home educate’ in his area, and believe me, he [crosstalk]…
[00:24:24] Mike: And how did they figure out who the intelligent people were?
[00:24:26] Alison: Well, he wasn't particularly intelligent. I can assure you. But we got involved in these advocacy things for parents who were struggling to get fair treatment out of local authorities. We founded a charity first called Schoolhouse. It was the national charity for a while. It's still going, but I'm not involved anymore. But the forum was set up as a kind of an online network, basically, and then people could get together. We actually organized and ran campaigns through it, which [00:25:00] was great. So, we were very much involved in lobbying parliamentarians.
[00:25:05] Alison: When Scotland got its own parliament back in 1999, it meant that it was much more accessible. The legislature was much more accessible, so we could actually use it as a learning tool for children so that they could speak to the politicians; they could march on the parliament; they could go to meetings with them. In fact, Nicola [laughs] Sturgeon, who is the first minister of Scotland, you may have heard of her, used to be the opposition education minister in Scotland before the SNP came into power. So, I have several pictures of her in my elevator [laughs] discussing home education [crosstalk]…
[00:25:42] Mike: I want to stop you for just a second, just to remind because, remind my listeners, our listeners…we've talked with some of the home educators out of the UK, and I know about this home education, homeschooling thing [crosstalk]…
[00:25:53] Alison: Yeah.
[00:25:53] Mike: …although, in the U.S., homeschooling is just [crosstalk]…
[00:25:55] Alison: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.
[00:25:55] Mike: …it's everything. It's a little bit, it's a little bit different, sort of like lorry and truck, [00:26:00] I mean [crosstalk]…
[00:26:00] Alison: Yup.
[00:26:01] Mike: …it's the British, Scottish English. It's all that, but…we've talked with some of the English homeschoolers and so we've explored a little bit, this idea of devolution and the United Kingdom, and let's just remind our listeners here. Scotland is…is it a country?
[00:26:20] Alison: Yes.
[00:26:20] Mike: Is its own country? How does Scotland fit into the United Kingdom? Help us out a little bit here.
[00:26:25] Alison: It's one of the constituent nations of the United Kingdom. There's Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. We have always had a separate legal system, a separate education system. Our Declaration of Arbroath our Declaration of Independence, in fact, I think informed the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It’s interesting [crosstalk]…
[00:26:48] Mike: Well, we were both kind of agitating against the same [crosstalk]…
[00:26:52] Alison: We were indeed.
[00:26:52] Mike: …authorities, right?
[00:26:54] Alison: When we invited John Taylor Gatto over, we had a big thing at Arbroath Abbey where that [00:27:00] declaration was signed. But Scotland has always been very precious about its education system, which was always seemed to be superior. I think things have gone downhill a little bit [chuckles] since then, but we've always been quite precious about that. So, what tends to happen as people conflate the UK and England, and English law tends to be quartered whenever we're talking about education, or people call it British law, British education law, that doesn't exist.
[00:27:33] Alison: You have to look at the differences. Now, since 1999, when the Scottish parliament was reconvened after 300 years, we've had quite significant divergence of policy on sort of social things like social work, education, children's services. So, they've all gone in quite different directions, and we've kept strong tabs on things [00:28:00] that are happening in Scotland because Scotland is small. I mean, it's a very, very small country [crosstalk]…
[00:28:04] Mike: Well, what's the population of Scotland?
[00:28:06] Alison: It's less than 6 million.
[00:28:07] Mike: Okay, [crosstalk]…
[00:28:08] Alison: So, it is small.
[00:28:09] Mike: …so it’s about the population of Massachusetts here [crosstalk]…
[00:28:11] Alison: Probably.
[00:28:11] Mike: …in the United States.
[00:28:12] Alison: We have 129 members of the Scottish Parliament, and we have 32 local authorities who are in charge of education, running schools, and education policy. So, it's manageable to keep in touch with them all. It's annoying because once you get one, it's a bit like whack-a-mole. Once you get one sorted out, the other one pops up.
[00:28:34] Alison: But we have been able to have very, very good relationships with the Scottish government. The team who [has] home education as the remit. Relations were very strained and chilly for a while, but since about 2018, we've actually managed to maintain a pretty cordial dialogue with them, and things are looking reasonably okay.
[00:28:56] Alison: We're not complacent, but they're currently reviewing [00:29:00] the statutory guidance on home education in Scotland, and we know they're not going to go down the same route as they're trying to do in England where they're trying to impose quite draconian measures. Don't think that's going to happen here.
[00:29:12] Alison: They've promised us they will not be changing primary legislation, so that's fine. We're fairly content with that. There are [crosstalk]…
[00:29:18] Mike: So, when you say, ‘primary legislation’
[00:29:21] Alison: Yeah.
[00:29:18] Mike: …so, is Scottish home education law different from English home education? How is it? What is it like in Scotland?
[00:29:30] Alison: We have the Education Scotland Act of 1980. That has not been changed. That is the one that says parents have a duty to educate their children, but how it is defined is, parents have the duty to provide education for their children of school age, either by sending them to a public school, which is a state school or by other means. The wording is different from England.
[00:29:58] Mike: It's very, but it is similar [00:30:00] because [crosstalk]…
[00:30:00] Alison: It's very similar, but [crosstalk]…
[00:30:00] Mike: …it says that ‘or otherwise’, but it also has this, in the UK, it has this suitability stuff.
[00:30:06] Alison: Yep. Yep. Yeah. Parents have to provide a suitable and efficient education much the same way, but [crosstalk]…
[00:30:11] Mike: Is that also in Scottish law?
[00:30:12] Alison: Yes, but it's ‘provide’. It's not cause to ‘receive’. So, it's the provision that counts and that is fairly [a] key point. We've argued that in court before. That's a key point, but also the other means includes, in Scotland, independent schools, which it doesn't in England. It's quite different that way. The other main difference is that if you send your child to a state school in Scotland when the child is at school age, that's the August after the fifth birthday…if you send your child to school and he or she attends on one occasion or more, you then need to get the local authorities consent to withdraw the child [laughs] from that school, which may not be unreasonably withheld according to the law. But in practice, some of them drag their heels and put obstacles [00:31:00] up.
[00:31:01] Alison: There are exceptions to that so that, if you move out of the area between primary and secondary age, obviously, if you never send your child, you don't need any consent. But they try to construe it or misconstrue it as permission to home educate, which it is not. The only consent required is to remove a child from a state school that the child has gone to on one occasion or more.
[00:31:23] Alison: So, those are the differences. We don't have deregistration in Scotland. They have that in England, and they do that on written request. I think that's why there have been issues there and that they're saying it's far too easy, people can just take the kids out of school, and all the rest of it.
[00:31:39] Alison: We've always had this anomaly and it is an anomaly. We've tried to get rid of it. We almost succeeded in 2000. In fact, Nicola Sturgeon supported us in that, but it wasn't, we didn't get the votes [crosstalk]…
[00:31:53] Mike: …and when you say ‘anomaly’, you're talking about this ability to withdraw a child needing consent, but the [00:32:00] consent cannot be unreasonably withheld and also, clearly you have a right in Scotland to provide other means of education, which means home education [crosstalk]…
[00:32:09] Alison: Indeed.
[00:32:10] Mike: …so, there are some really important differences between Scottish [crosstalk]…
[00:32:12] Alison: There are.
[00:32:13] Mike: …and English law as it relates to homeschooling. Well, I appreciate you pointing that out. There is quite a row happening in England
[00:32:21] Alison: Yes.
[00:32:21] Mike: …and it's very sad to me what's happening down there, and it doesn't look good for [crosstalk]…
[00:32:29] Alison: No, it doesn’t.
[00:32:21] Mike: …English homeschoolers. It doesn't look good at all, but let's come back to Scotland because you were telling us about how you got involved in advocating for home educating families because there was this injustice that you saw happening, and how people were being treated differently. You kind of just explained how the authorities were getting away with that because there was this hook in the law that allowed them [crosstalk]…
[00:32:51] Alison: Yes.
[00:32:52] Mike: …to say ‘no’ to some people and ‘yes’ to other people. So, let's continue that discussion about, how did that all happen [00:33:00] and then, that led, I think [laughs] that led to other things, which we're gonna [crosstalk]…
[00:33:04] Alison: Yes, it did indeed.
[00:32:52] Mike: …we're definitely going to get to talking about the Named Person Act.
[00:33:07] Alison: But we did enough, a lot of lobbying. We spoke to a lot of members of the Scottish Parliament, to councilors. We did a lot of awareness raising, had lots of events, and things, and also provided backup for the families who were struggling to be treated properly. And what was good was, we followed a lot of these families over the years, and they've all done really well.
[00:33:30] Alison: A lot of the kids have done exceptionally well, considering they had special needs or disabilities or whatever. The parents were perhaps single parents. They were living in difficult circumstances. We kind of, we usually won all the cases [laughs]. In fact, I can't think of any, I can think of maybe one or two where it didn't go well, but we usually managed to win these cases, and there were a couple of exceptions where [00:34:00] particular councils [crosstalk]…
[00:34:00] Mike: So, were you actually advocating in the court for people?
[00:34:04] Alison: No, it usually didn't get that far. It was usually at [crosstalk]…
[00:34:07] Mike: Cause, barristers and solicitors in Scotland, is it the same kind of system as in England? Or how does that work?
[00:34:10] Alison: We have solicitors, and we have, a barrister in Scotland is called an advocate,
[00:34:16] Mike: An advocate.
[00:34:27] Alison: …but it's a different sort of advocate from what I do as an independent advocate. A professional advocate works in the courts and has an audience in the court of sessions, etcetera, but we tend to advocate on behalf of families at things like attendance panels at local councils. So, we would argue there, and councilors would make decisions, and they could send families to the shed of court and fine them for not sending their children to school or whatever. But generally, that didn't happen.
[00:34:51] Alison: We did relatively well in keeping a lid on that. There were a few exceptions and quite often, and we have something called the Children's Hearing System in [00:35:00] Scotland, which is designed not to criminalize children and to have juvenile justice, which is much more rights-based, doesn't particularly work well, in my view, but it's said to be said to be a wonderful alternative. But generally, we kind of managed to make quite a dent and we were fairly well-respected. I mean, I would say that we made a lot of contacts. We held a couple of big national conferences, invited people to, and actually went out of our way to find allies outside the community. Maybe in academia, people in social work, people in education who came on site and, we're still sort of quite close to some of them to this day.
[00:35:47] Alison: They're very helpful. Acted as advisors for us. Obviously, we knew quite a lot of politicians, and by this point I was working in Scottish Parliament for MSP [laughs], so it was quite handy, really [laughs].
[00:36:00] Mike: So, by this time you're working as a researcher [crosstalk]…
[00:36:02] Alison: Yeah.
[00:36:02] Mike: …for one of the [crosstalk]…
[00:36:02] Alison: Yeah.
[00:36:03] Mike: …so this was actually in the Scottish Parliament, not the English [crosstalk]…
[00:36:02] Alison: The Scottish one. Yes.
[00:36:07] Mike: …the British, the UK, when the Scottish went back in Scotland. Okay.
[00:36:09] Alison: I was actually based in a local constituency office, but I worked first for a Scottish national party, MSP, who was in fact the children's spokesperson at the time and Harb Bolson, I suppose, my boss, was the education minister who was very good and very supportive of what home education was about, so that was helpful. I learned a lot about how the policies were put together and things. I then moved. My boss, unfortunately, lost her seat [laughs] in 2002, so I ended up working for a Green, Scottish Green politician in the northeast of Scotland, and the Greens were certainly, at that point, fairly supportive too of home education.
[00:36:54] Alison: It was quite useful to be able to have access to the [00:37:00] parish structures basically and work out what was going on and what the thoughts, the thought processes were in terms of education policy. But we've always, I think since 2004, when we had statutory guidance issued on home education, things settled down quite well. We had the executive in 2000 try to introduce very draconian regulations, and we ended up having massive rallies and marches and demonstrations, and eventually they withdrew it and reconsulted, and issued something that was reasonably okay.
[00:37:35] Mike: So, that was kind of like the [crosstalk]…
[00:37:36] Alison: That was, that was a big fight.
[00:37:38] Mike: Well, that was a big fight and also that was kind of like a precursor to what happened [crosstalk]…
[00:37:41] Alison: It was.
[00:37:42] Mike: …in England with the Badman report back in 2009.
[00:37:44] Alison: Indeed. Indeed.
[00:37:45] Mike: Very interesting. I never knew that. Let's just take a quick stop cause I want to [crosstalk]…
[00:37:49] Alison: Okay [laughs].
[00:37:50] Mike: …you're talking about homeschooling in Scotland. How many children do you think there are that are homeschooled in Scotland and how would you know? And [00:38:00] what's it like to homeschool, home educate [Alison chuckles] in Scotland? What's the community like?
[00:38:07] Alison: Well, the short answer is we don't know how many there are. It's very difficult to say because there's a lot of fluidity. People come in and out of home education. Some children go to school and for a while and try it or whatever. We have, our forum has five or 6,000 members, I think. They're not all home educating. Certainly, not all home educators belong to our forum. So, there's a good few thousand children [crosstalk]…
[00:38:31] Mike: 10, well, 10, 20, 30, 50,000. Maybe?
[00:38:35] Alison: No, I would say [crosstalk]…
[00:38:36] Mike: That might be a little bit high?
[00:38:37] Alison: …between, maybe between 10 and 15,000 families.
[00:38:38] Mike:10 to 15,000 families?
[00:38:39] Alison: I wouldn't necessarily say anymore. Since the pandemic, it has increased quite a bit, but I'm going to say, it might be, sound a bit harsh, but we've got a lot of homeschool tourists.
[00:38:54] Mike: Homeschool tourists [laughs]. That’s great.
[00:38:54] Alison: People who have…people who’ve kind of come in and want [00:39:00] like a package deal, whereby we're expected to provide a way of home educating and online schooling and things that, they haven't got their heads around the fact that home education is not that [laughs]. So, we've been quite kind and said, ‘Well, this is what you do’. You’re a parent. You decide how to go about home educating your child, and they want templates and lesson plans, and we have to explain that children are not templates.
[00:39:31] Alison: They're kind of [Mike laughs], they’re kind of individuals and you look at what your child needs and you kind of work out how to do it. That's where our guidance comes in quite handy because although we resisted it at the time, the government put in some suggested characteristics of a suitable education and that turned out to be quite useful in terms of outlining what you're going to do with your children when you remove them from school. But yes, we've had loads come in and also a lot [00:40:00] of children who have disabilities and additional support needs, and they are really not being served well by the school system.
[00:40:08] Alison: It's, I think it's a lot worse in England, and that's why there's been this massive row about special educational needs and off-ruling so that schools don't want to deal with children with these needs. It's a very difficult situation, so additional support needs are very highly represented in our community, which is great, and everybody just rubs along quite nicely and supports each other.
[00:40:35] Alison: We rely on the peer support model. We don't do things for people because if you're a home educator, you're taking responsibility for your children. That's how we see it. So, it may sound harsh, but a lot of the people who've come in have really embraced the whole idea of autonomous learning and self-directed learning and have seen their children flourish. So, lots of them have not sent the children back to school and are [00:41:00] not going to.
[00:41:01] Alison: Others are wanting online schooling, flexible skilling, part-time, or whatever, which is not really what we do. So, there's a little bit of friction from time to time, but generally our community is very, very well-networked. We work a lot with people in England as well. In fact, we were very much involved in the [laughs] Badman campaign too because we were supporting our colleagues south of the border. I'm not sure how organized the resistance is there at the moment, all these years later, but we have certainly [crosstalk]…
[00:41:35] Mike: Well, I will tell you. I have tried to stay close to it and it is…I think there was an opportunity missed [crosstalk]…
[00:41:42] Alison: Yeah.
[00:41:42] Mike: …after the Badman report by the home educating community [crosstalk]…
[00:41:45] Alison: Yes. Yes.
[00:41:46] Mike: …in the UK [crosstalk]…
[00:41:46] Alison: To push on.
[00:41:46] Mike: …to continue and push on and I don't know, I mean…who knows how or why or what, but it doesn't look, like I said, it's not looking great [crosstalk]…
[00:41:58] Alison: No.
[00:41:58] Mike: …for the [00:42:00] community there to resist what the government is saying they're going to do in terms of imposing registration requirements and other things. I'm really encouraged to hear that you in Scotland have been able to continue and be organized and that you have had such a robust community that has been so [crosstalk]…
[00:42:16] Alison: We have [laughs].
[00:42:17] Mike: …so active and…from an advocacy perspective, really, fighting the fight, and that's great. That's really important. Some people from other countries may be listening to us, and I hope that the leaders of these organizations are listening to what you're saying because it is absolutely essential for the homeschooling, home educating community in any country to organize and stay organized and to not let the Parliament or Congress or government just kind of go off and do whatever. We have got to be proactive in
[00:42:16] Alison: Definitely.
[00:43:00] Mike: …staying close and like what you were saying, looking for allies. I love what you said about [00:43:00] that. We have to find allies wherever we can because you never know when you're going to be called upon to defend your freedom.
[00:43:08] Alison: Absolutely. It can change overnight. Look what's happened in France. Look what's happened in parts of Europe. It's really quite, quite scary. But building these alliances is something that we've always done. We've always spoken to people. We'll say, ‘Look, we don't have two heads. We're just ordinary parents like you, doing the best for our children’. I think stories, podcasts, and research, and books, and building up that sort of repository of knowledge and awareness, really, all helps, but you can't be walked over. You really have to sort of stand firm, but also, I would say you have to pick your battles.
[00:43:48] Alison: There's no point in taking cases that are just not, not really, [crosstalk]…
[00:43:53] Mike: Winners?
[00:43:53] Alison: …not really. Yeah. Well, yes, you’re a lawyer. You know that.
[00:43:55] Mike: Not winners. I mean, trying to figure out the difference is sometimes the challenge. But when you [crosstalk]…
[00:43:59] Alison: Well, it is when you need to.
[00:43:56] Mike: …[00:44:00] figure, when you find a loser or, you gotta be real careful, so that is true. But tell us a little bit more about the homeschooling, home educating community in Scotland, and also just a little bit about Scotland. I mean cause, I [Alison laughs] find Scotland to be such an interesting country, nation. I read G.A. Henty books to my kids. Okay? So, I don't know if you know, G.A. Henty, but Henty wrote a lot of books about Scotland and England and the wars and [Wallace and Bruce], and so I I've enjoyed reading and learning the history of England and Scotland, and it's just fascinating. We don't have time to unpack that [crosstalk]…
[00:44:37] Alison: No [laughs].
[00:44:37] Mike: …but tell us a little bit about Scotland as a country and the people of Scotland because Scottish people, they're not English, they're not Irish [crosstalk]…
[00:44:44] Alison: No.
[00:44:45] Mike: …they're their own people. How would you describe the Scottish people? The Scottish culture, and Scotland?
[00:44:52] Alison: Oh, I mean, that's a big one Mike [laughs].
[00:44:54] Mike: Well, I mean, just help an American understand a little bit.
[00:44:57] Alison: Yeah. Scotland is, [00:45:00] it's a very diverse country. We've got all sorts here, plus it's a very, very, it's a country with quite a lot of immigration, but everybody gets along incredibly well. There's a great sort of…a great spirit, a great sort of welcome here for people from all over the world. So, there's lots of people, really. Lots of Irish people in Scotland. I would say that we're kind of, quite [crosstalk]…
[00:45:26] Mike: Now, why in the world would someone want to leave the Emerald Isle to come to Scotland?
[00:45:29] Alison: I can't. I can’t imagine, but they do. There's an awful lot [Mike laughs] that come to universities here and, indeed, I love Ireland too. But we are a sort of Celtic race as well, but what has happened since we had an independence referendum in 2014, and people chose to stay within the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, that's caused quite a bit of division in the country and lots of things are seen through that, the constitutional lens now, [00:46:00] whereby every policy, if you don't agree with…the SNP position, you must be unionists and really, it's quite unfortunate. Because it has had an effect on the sort of cohesiveness of the population, I would say, and it's terribly sad.
[00:46:18] Alison: We have a lot of social problems in Scotland. We've got a major problem with alcohol and drugs like anywhere else, but we are a small country and we do try to sort of find solutions that fit our communities. But as for home educators, we are the same, the world over, I think. We want to do the best for our children. Very family orientated. Very proud of our culture, our sort of celebrations and our buns and all this sort of stuff.
[00:46:50] Mike: Haggis!
[00:46:50] Alison: But, huh? Haggis? I guess I hope you've had some. Deep fried Mars [crosstalk]…
[00:46:54] Mike: No, I’m afraid to say I've not had any haggis, so [crosstalk]…
[00:46:56] Alison: Ah, well.
[00:46:56] Mike: …you'll have to invite me to Scotland someday to [crosstalk]…
[00:46:58] Alison: Will do. Indeed.
[00:46:59] Mike: a homeschool conference, [00:47:00] so I can try some.
[00:47:00] Alison: Yes, with [Mike laughs] deep-fried Mars bars, all sorts of things like that. But, yes, it's great, but you can travel, from the top to bottom within a day or something. When we did the NO2NP campaign road shows, we were traveling [laughs] all sorts of areas of Scotland [laughs] [crosstalk]…
[00:47:20] Mike: Okay, so [crosstalk]…
[00:47:21] Alison: …all the time.
[00:47:22] Mike: …you just said NO2NP, so let's go there.
[00:47:25] Alison: Alright.
[00:47:25] Mike: Let's go there now because I try to keep our podcasts to under an hour [crosstalk]…
[00:47:30] Alison: Oh, yes, yes. Of course.
[00:47:31] Mike: …and, I mean, we could talk forever about [crosstalk]…
[00:47:33] Alison: I think we could [laughs].
[00:47:34] Mike: …all of these things. I know we could. I know we could, but the Named Person, NP, No to Named Person, so this is something…when Scotland first came out with this Named Person law, Mike Farris, who was the founder of HSLDA, he hit on that, and we're like, ‘That's why we didn't sign the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thank you. Because we don't want that kind of stuff here in the [00:48:00] U.S.’
[00:47:57] Mike: Can you help us unpack this a little bit? What was the Named Person law and what was the tie to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child? And also, what I'm trying to figure out is, what in the world? Why is Scotland so big on this whole child's rights movement? And I'm not necessarily saying it's a horrible thing, but I'm just trying to figure out. Scotland seems to be like this galvanizing place where you guys have this gear GIRFEC campaign, ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’ thing [crosstalk]…
[00:48:36] Alison: But that’s all part of it.
[00:48:38] Mike: Right. So, help us understand this from an American perspective, what's the big deal? What's going on in Scotland with this?
[00:48:43] Alison: I think when I spoke at the Global Home Education Exchange thing, I did a presentation on that thing. So, any of your listeners can probably tune into that or look on our website [crosstalk]…
[00:48:53] Mike: So, okay. So, let me just tell them how to get there. If you want to listen to Alison's presentation, go to [00:49:00] ghex.world and click on, I think it's ‘Events’ [and then] ‘Conferences’ and it's the 2020 Global Home Education Exchange Conference [also known as ‘GHEC 2020’], and you'll be able to search for Alison's name on there, and it's definitely worth listening to if you want to get into it. So, give us a summary.
[00:49:17] Alison: I went through the background there, but basically this is a policy that was derived from a policy brought in by Tony Blair in England called, Every Child Matters, allegedly, because a child was killed by, it was Victoria Climbié, that they charged a case of a child murder. They tried to smear home educators though the child was never home educated.
[00:49:42] Alison: They used it to, as a vehicle to actually introduce a policy that was already planned to gather information and share it on every single child and family in the country, so that they could plan [00:50:00] interventions to ensure that children behave [laughs] properly, [and] met state outcomes. So, I was kind of involved in that with a campaign called ‘Action on Rights for Children’, and this was a child rights organization. We saw that what they were doing was nothing to do with children's rights. It was to do with the state infiltrating into the family and actually wedging between children and families. We knew that was going to happen. What they were waiting for was a similar case in Scotland, so they called it something else.
[00:50:31] Alison: They just basically put a kilt on it, called it, ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’. So, there was a tragedy of a child module in [inaudible] and they used that to say that this is why we need to have information and share it on everybody. But what they didn't, what parents had been asking for is a single point of contact so that they could access services for their children.
[00:50:55] Alison: So, about 20 parents had asked for this in the Highlands region of Scotland. [00:51:00] They said, ‘Right, that's great. This is what we want to do. We’ll have a named person for them’. Now, nobody ever had a problem with that. It was mainly children who had disabilities and complex needs, and they needed somebody to try and coordinate services. Nobody ever had a problem with that.
[00:51:14] Mike: Okay, so in this situation, what you're saying is, people who needed some help from the government [crosstalk]…
[00:51:20] Alison: They were asking.
[00:51:20] Mike: …wanted to have just a person that they could go to that could help them navigate [crosstalk]…
[00:51:24] Alison: Yes.
[00:51:25] Mike: …the system, the government system. Okay.
[00:51:27] Alison: That was what everybody was very happy with. But when it proceeded into legislation, it became collecting information on every single child from pre-birth right through, plus all the associated adults, parents, siblings, everything, joining altogether, putting on a database, running it through, and basically profiling children and families, so they could intervene in their lives at an early stage to prevent problems escalating. All sounds great. Doesn't it? Well, it doesn't because it was unlawful. We knew it. They [00:52:00] preached Article 8 of the ECHR right from the very start as Every Child Matters did. They had a database called Contact Point. That was abolished in 2010 after a big campaign by parents and our rights groups.
[00:52:14] Alison: So, essentially, it is sold as a children's rights policy, but it is not because it's a state outcomes policy. What they want is to enforce outcomes that they decide on every child and every family. Rights are self-defined. It's not up to them to decide what my rights are, but what they've done, the UNCRC, the Convention is not…it's not a bad thing. I mean, I'm quite a fan, actually. I did say that at the [GHEX] thing, but I understand the dangers. I see where it's going because we were very skeptical when they brought in the bill and to the Scottish Parliament, which has been passed, but has now been sent back [laughs] by the Supreme Court because the provisions [00:53:00] went beyond their competence to legislate.
[00:53:02] Mike: So, let's just unpack that for just a second. So, Scotland passed some legislation that was a data collection scheme, really [crosstalk]…
[00:53:10] Alison: Yeah, that was the [Children and Young People] Act 2014. Yeah.
[00:53:14] Mike: Right, and that's, and so you were involved in challenging that legally in Scotland and, just so people understand, it went to the United Kingdom Supreme Court because the United Kingdom Supreme Court sits over all four of the countries [crosstalk]…
[00:53:33] Alison: Absolutely right. Yes.
[00:53:34] Mike: …including Scotland, and you challenged it and you won.
[00:53:39] Alison: And we eventually won. It was a long campaign.
[00:53:41] Mike: Yeah, tell us about how that happened and what it was like to win that case.
[00:53:45] Alison: Well, as I've said, we've been keeping an eye on all these developments over many years. Home educators have to have these on tab. We have to know because we're always first under the steamroller whenever a policy comes in. They're blind to the needs of home educators or maybe not, they [00:54:00] have an agenda.
[00:54:02] Alison: So, we knew that this was coming. We'd written position papers and briefing papers and tried to get allies together, written submissions…took part in the consultation when the bill was going through, but we knew it would just get nodded through. They all called it. It’s all about child protection. Yet it wasn't. It was lowering the threshold for intervention and family life. That was what it was about. We knew that. We'd known it for years. We'd seen it happen. So, we'd done all these submissions and what happened was we had the knowledge, we had the understanding, I've got a whole timeline on my website of how it came into being.
[00:54:38] Alison: We knew what was going on, the whole chronology. So, we'd done this, and we had a phone call from the Christian Institute and, in fact, I think I spoke to you roundabout this time as well. It would have been about 2012, but after that we had our sort of contact from the Christian Institute saying, ‘What about this then? We're maybe looking at putting [00:55:00] together a coalition of interests. Would you be interested in being involved in this?’. And there were several lots of people that I knew – independent social worker that I know, university lecturers, charities for disabled children, they were all interested too.
[00:55:15] Alison: So, we all kind of got together and thought, yes, this is a good idea. We came from very, very widely different perspectives, but it kind of worked. We put it together, the CI had the budget to be able to fund this challenge, but what was very good was that they didn't control the campaign. Although they bank-rolled it,
[00:55:40] Alison: and we were very grateful for that, the rest of us had the knowledge to input. So, decisions were made very cooperatively and collaboratively, and it worked incredibly well. I think it was the first time it was ever done. This diverse group of people came together and took on the government, so we had to go to [00:56:00] the Court of Session in Scotland.
[00:56:02] Alison: They have an Outer House, which you go to first. Well, we lost there. We went to the Inner House. We lost there, and some would say that the Scottish judiciary is perhaps captured and got it, so wisely wrong. Even, the people, the solicitor, we commissioned to write a submission to the government consultation, or the parliamentary consultation on the bill, actually, practically wrote the Supreme Court judgment in his submission and said, well, we can't do this because, because, because. He even cited the same case precedents, so we had to do that. Cost a huge amount of money to go to [laughs] [inaudible], so we went to the Supreme Court. We had our couple of days there. I had just loved it. I love being involved and [crosstalk]…
[00:56:51] Mike: Well, having, being a law school dropout, this was like [crosstalk]…
[00:56:53] Alison: Oh, yeah. It was a privilege!
[00:56:55] Mike: …right? I mean [crosstalk]…
[00:56:57] Alison: Yeah!
[00:56:57] Mike: …when would you have ever been able to do that even as a lawyer?
[00:57:00] Alison: I just loved it, and the people who were involved at the, the barrister that we had was superb. I mean, the government were just on their knees because we'd done a whole load of road shows. 20, 30 road shows all around the country. I used to speak at a lot of them and I wrote the Named Person pantomime, just taking the mickey out of everything that they done, but, because they just kept shooting themselves in the foot. I couldn't get anything right. So, it was, it was good fun as well as anything else and we thought, win or lose, we're going to go for this, but it was a calculated risk.
[00:57:35] Alison: It could have gone wrong. We could have lost, but no, we didn't, and that is now a definitive judgment. They really can't do anything about it. It wasn't appealed. They can't do anything about it. The problem is, Mike, that even after the judgment was handed down, the government said they hadn't lost [laughs]. They still don't seem to, they're still in denial to this [00:58:00] day.
[00:58:00] Mike: But this, and this is where GIRFEC, Getting It Right For Every [Child] comes in because, and this is the thing, we as home educators have to remember and understand, they never will give up, which means we cannot ever give up, and [crosstalk]…
[00:58:14] Alison: We can’t.
[00:58:15] Mike: …and what you're doing, and people like you who are organizing, serving, advocating, defending all of the things that you're doing, even as you're a homeschooling parent, is so important and so needed, and under-appreciated, probably, by many; underpaid by far [crosstalk]…
[00:58:38] Alison: Not paid at all [laughs].
[00:58:39] Mike: Well, I, yeah, I know. That's what I, that was a joke, ‘underpaid’. Listen, I wish I could, wish we could double your salary [Mike & Alison laughs], but the thing is home educating communities need to support organizations like just, and frankly, there's nothing wrong with paying our people. I’m paid. I mean, I get paid to do this work and that's how I'm able to do [00:59:00] it.
[00:59:00] Alison: Yeah.
[00:59:00] Mike: This is part of my job and I love doing what I do, advocating for homeschooling, home educating, homeschooling freedom, all around the world, and we've got to get together. I guess, as we're kind of wrapping up here a little bit, I want to ask you just a couple of final questions.
[00:59:13] Alison: Okay.
[00:59:14] Mike: What does it mean to you and or to anyone in the home educating community in leadership or not to be connected to a larger global kind of movement? I mean, you participated in our Global Home Education Exchange Conference. I don't know how else you've been benefited or if you have by what we're trying to do here to network and mutually support. How does that help you and how do you think that helps the community?
[00:59:44] Alison: I think it's massively important actually to be in touch with people globally and across the UK, Europe, globally. Because you can actually share experiences, share campaigning tactics, and support each other [01:00:00] really, and also accept refugees where we have to. Because we've had some from Sweden. We've had some from France but be very conscious that things can change overnight.
[01:00:11] Alison: We really do need to kick back. We need to stay, state the fight, so we’re always happy to hear from people. We have lots of people who drop into our community who are perhaps visiting Scotland for a month or two and we welcomed them along, and conferences that the [GHEX] one on Zoom was great because it meant so many more people could participate.
[01:00:35] Alison: So, I'm in touch with quite a few people. Catherine Sunshine who's been on the podcast before and is doing great work in the Republic of Ireland. Loads and loads of people, so I think it is important to share these experiences, but also make sure that people are aware that you must take calculated risks, and not actually do things that could make things worse for [01:01:00] other people.
[01:01:00] Alison: I think ‘first do no harm’ is my kind of advice. Make sure you take lots of advice. Get the right cases to take to court if you're going to do that. Form the alliances. Make sure that you meet people who are not just from the home education community