ECM: Did it really all come from Laming?
Powers-that-be in the UK would have us believe that the ECM project, including the Contactpoint database and the eCAF [opens pdf] interrogatory process, originated from ideas contained in Lord Laming's 2003 Victoria Climbié Inquiry. Lord Laming's inquiry certainly did contain those ideas, but is Victoria's death the real reason for these unremitting waves of legislation? Many people think not.
I've read that the Government signed up to the reformatory framework at the EU Lisbon Summit in 2000 and were just waiting for a convenient 'peg' to hang it on and thus present it to the British public as if the power had come from London instead of Brussels, or Lisbon. In this way, I can well believe, the British public is being fooled into thinking that their democratic vote for MPs in London is still worth something, when in fact the real power was long-since surrendered along with what remained of UK democracy.
I've read along with such opinions and nodded in agreement, thinking: "Yes, that fits the pattern," but until today I've haven't actually checked it out for myself. What I've learned in the past few days about ECM, however, makes me want to find out for sure whether the programme ever had a shred of political integrity. My job for today, then, is to unearth the origins of the ECM programme, and to try to find out what - if any - international agreements our government has made on our behalf, without bothering to ask us, before coming back to Westminster and pretending to debate them as their own ideas in the daily pantomime at Parliament.
So I've found this document: LISBON EUROPEAN COUNCIL 23 AND 24 MARCH 2000: PRESIDENCY CONCLUSIONS, and I'm just about to read it.
A section on 'employment policy' contains this:
29. ..furthering all aspects of equal opportunities, including reducing occupational segregation, and making it easier to reconcile working life and family life, in particular by setting a new benchmark for improved childcare provision.
30. The European Council considers that the overall aim of these measures should be, on the basis of the available statistics, to raise the employment rate from an average of 61% today to as close as possible to 70% by 2010 and to increase the number of women in employment from an average of 51% today to more than 60% by 2010. Recognising their different starting points, Member States should consider setting national targets for an increased employment rate. This, by enlarging the labour force, will reinforce the sustainability of social protection systems.
- which both look very familiar in the light of the fifth ECM outcome: achieve economic wellbeing.
The European Council invites the Commission to draw up an annual synthesis report on progress on the basis of structural indicators to be agreed relating to employment, innovation, economic reform and social cohesion.
So presumably each country is reporting annually to make sure these planned changes are on track. I just need to find some EU-based definition of exactly what changes to which they're referring. Reading on.
The Union's role is to act as a catalyst in this process, by establishing an effective framework for mobilising all available resources for the transition to the knowledge-based economy and by adding its own contribution to this effort under existing Community policies while respecting Agenda 2000.
There's my next search term: Agenda 2000.
Furthermore, the European Council welcomes the contribution that the EIB stands ready to make in the areas of human capital formation
I cannot stand that phrase, "human capital". That's us: you and me, and our children. Human capital.
Here's Agenda 2000. I hope I'm looking at the right year, but I'm not sure yet. Hmmm.. no, it seems to be dealing with the planned expansion of the Union, to encompass the ex-Soviet countries..
Nevertheless, they must conform to the rules governing prospective members of EMU which means granting independence to their central banks, coordination of economic policies, adherence to the relevant parts of the Stability and Growth Pact and abandoning any direct central bank financing of public sector deficits.
Funny that we were always told the Bank of England's independence was Gordon Brown's great idea, isn't it?
I'm just backtracking a bit, to take a look at the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty..
Wow. It contains the amazing word: Plenipotentiaries. What on earth is one of those? Yes, it is in my dictionary: "A person (esp. a diplomat) invested with the full power of independent action." Reading on...
Here's an early mention of the concept of 'framework decisions'..
(b) adopt framework decisions for the purpose of approximation of the laws and regulations of the Member States. Framework decisions shall be binding upon the Member States as to the result to be achieved but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods.
Honestly, it's hard going, reading this stuff. It's like an inpenetrable jungle of bureaucracy and I feel like I'm just hacking at it with a little penknife and a few mysterious clues on an old map.
OK, this treaty establishes the European Court.. I don't think it's going to spell out the five outcomes or the ECM framework for us though, but I'll read to the end just to check.
..the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States.
Social cohesion is mentioned a lot in these documents, as is Information Technology in terms of education and employment, but that's not really a shock, is it? Ditto 'gender equality'.
Article 51 The Council shall, acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 189b, adopt such measures in the field of social security as are necessary to provide freedom of movement for workers; to this end, it shall make arrangements to secure for migrant workers and their dependants:
This explains our UK immigration policy, but again - no great surprises there. This issue is also covered in the next few pages of the Treaty..
That 'five points' structure comes up again and again. I've just come across two more instances of it in quick succession in the Amsterdam Treaty, relating to workers:
1. With a view to achieving the objectives of Article 117, the Community shall
support and complement the activities of the Member States in the following fields:
- improvement in particular of the working environment to protect workers’ health
- working conditions;
- the information and consultation of workers;
- the integration of persons excluded from the labour market, without prejudice to
- equality between men and women with regard to labour market opportunities and
treatment at work.
3. However, the Council shall act unanimously on a proposal from the Commission,
after consulting the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and
the Committee of the Regions in the following areas:
- social security and social protection of workers;
- protection of workers where their employment contract is terminated;
- representation and collective defence of the interests of workers and employers,
including co-determination, subject to paragraph 6;
- conditions of employment for third-country nationals legally residing in
- financial contributions for promotion of employment and job-creation, without
prejudice to the provisions relating to the Social Fund.
Do they follow the same *Health - Safety - Progress - Inclusion - Economy* pattern of the ECM five outcomes? Possibly. There are at least another two such sets of five later in the treaty.
Article 127 (4) talks about the "..harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.."..
Here's a pdf that might be interesting: Report from the Education Council to the European Council "The concrete future objectives of education and training systems" (Brussels, 2001).
Hmm, I've read this before, I think. It's looking very familiar. It's mostly talking about ICT and 'Lifelong Learning', but there are interesting references to 'quality assurance systems' and 'systems for measuring performances of institutions and the outcome of national policies.'
And look, this:
Everyone accepts that education and training systems must adapt to a world of lifelong learning.
could easily have been written by the same person who wrote this:
The Every Child Matters (ECM) green paper identified the five outcomes that are most important to children and young people.
Swingeing policy change heralded by sweeping statement.
Here's the Early Years Foundation Stage:
It also requires further extension of education towards very young children providing a combination of play and learning opportunities, and providing children with a better social base to move forward effectively into the more formal learning process of school.
And if you thought curiosity was the best incentive for learning, think again:
2.2.2 Making learning more attractive
Individual motivation to learn and a variety of learning opportunities are the ultimate keys to implementing lifelong learning successfully. This means finding ways of supporting individuals in learning through the use of incentives whether in a formal education or work environment.
Here are early mentions of 'citizenship' and 'stakeholders':
In order to develop citizenship through education and training systems, it is necessary to encourage the participation of the various stakeholders.
And the following is one of the most telling statements I've ever come across:
Since education and training are instruments in the hands of society, they should be used to develop the sort of society we want.
Who is 'we', and what sort of society do they want? Education is not - should not be - an 'instrument in the hands of society'! It should be a uniquely personal voyage of self-directed development and discovery on the part of each child. This is one of the faulty foundation stones of our wonky civilisation, if not the keystone itself.
I'm definitely seeing elements of the ECM Framework in this document:
Education and training should provide opportunities to acquire skills needed to set up and run a business.
ties in perfectly with 'develop enterprising behaviour' in 'make a positive contribution', though interestingly there is no PSA to correlate with that.
The article ends thus:
The Education Council stresses that the legal provisions of Articles 149 and 150 apply in these fields, and therefore apply to any work done there as part of the implementation of the "open method of co-ordination"
- which explains how policy becomes law in the EU 'rolling agenda', which is very similar to the process of law making we have here in the UK, post-Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006.
I'm going to have a look at one more document from the EU, if I can find it: the report from the Education Council to the European Council from spring 2002. Then I'm going to leave Europe and do some exploring in the sphere of the UN and associated bodies, looking for clues to the early conception of ECM.
Actually, I'm just glancing through this first: Detailed work programme on the follow-up of the objectives of education and training systems in Europe [Official Journal C 142/01 of 14.06.2002]. It's the same kind of system of objectives and indicators as the ECM framework [opens pdf] and it makes fascinating reading, especially in retrospect. "ICT for everyone" is in there, as is: "Motivating more young people to choose studies and careers in the fields of mathematics, science and technology.." How do you motivate a choice? And if it's externally motivated, is it really a choice? Discuss ;-) And look: from right back then: "Developing the potential of public-private partnerships."
Promoting the role of stakeholders in the development of training, including initial training, and learning at the workplace.
It's a different language to that of home education, isn't it? It sees education as a means to a financial and political end of their choosing. It has nothing whatsoever to do with what our children might want to learn. Following onto this document, part of the plan was to "bring about a substantial increase in per capita investment in human resources every year." Human resources. We are not people: we are 'capital' and 'resources'. It's a wonder they don't refer to us as cattle, though I suppose we should feel lucky they're not calling us 'waste'.
That's enough from the EU for me, for now. I might come back to it at a later date, but it's time I moved on elsewhere today.
UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, and I've just been looking back to see what they were up to in 2000.
According to conservative estimates, more than 110 million school-age children are not attending school.
Not "failing to receive an education," but "not attending school". Its Education For All programme has six goals instead of the usual five, and seems to relate more to Third World development than what we're looking for.
Here's the background for an ECM-type movement in America, in which - coincidentally - "five themes captured the participants' consensus".
The Success for All children Initiative is focused on achieving desired outcomes for all children Systemic Communitywide Responsibility - The initiative will affect all systems that deliver services to children, from birth to age nine, youth and families.
This dates back to November 1992: eight years before the death of Victoria Climbié. It talks about "Identifying gaps in existing services", and "no children falling between the cracks": the whole document looks like a blueprint for ECM.
I wonder if I can find any other examples. There's this from Harvard about extended schools:
At an age when they are beginning to become more independent, teens still need to have some structure and guidance, even as they gain greater independence. Increasingly, stakeholders in the OST arena are coming to see after school programs as an underutilized asset to improve outcomes for older youth in such areas as academics, prevention, and workforce readiness.
The ideas are the same. The terminology is the same.
And of course America has its 'No Child Left Behind' counterpart to our ECM, the Act pertaining to which was passed in 2001, two years before Lord Laming's 2003 Victoria Climbié Inquiry. I haven't got much more time on this today, but at first glance the two projects are remarkably similar and it seems that there is extensive criticism of the American version.
I've got to stop there, having spent eight solid hours researching this. (It's a good job the younger children were busy with other people this morning!)
But to sum up:
I went looking for the origins of ECM this morning, expecting to find them somewhere in old EU documents. I didn't exactly find them spelled out there, but I did learn:
- that getting mothers into the workforce and extending childcare provision was always a long term EU goal;
- that the concepts of frameworks, objectives and indicators were there many years before Victoria's death;
- that the EU refers to 'people' as 'human capital/ resources;
- that EU rules are passed off as our politician's own ideas when they're converted to UK legislation [Bank of England independence];
- that bullet-points in old EU documents [Treaty of Amsterdam and others] often come in fives, and usually seem to follow the ECM-type pattern of *health - safety - progress - inclusion - economy*;
- that the Early Years Foundation Stage predates Laming's Inquiry, and was included in EU documents from nearly ten years ago;
- that the concept of 'stakeholders' in education was originally an EU one;
- The organisation of 'education' for EU ends has long been a stated intention/practice. Pre-Laming again; and
- Specific elements of the ECM framework appear in related EU documents from around 2000.
So you might think I did find it spelled out there after all and in some respects, I'd agree.
It wasn't until I started to look at what was happening in America in the early 1990s though that I finally found an almost-identical ECM-type framework, which was extremely illuminating. I still think, even more than before, that it's an alien system which is being foisted upon us against our wishes, without our consent and not in our best interests.
I'm off to reclaim my life now for the rest of the day, but will be back tomorrow, hopefully with my summary of ECM *for all parents*.