Posts Tagged ‘school’

“Welsh Not” for English bright spark kids?

October 31, 2007

I’ll start with this little gem which I discovered tucked away on the Families Link website.

According to court expert Mr Woodhouse, only intelligent parents (whatever that may mean) are capable of home educating their children and even intelligent parents can be expected to fall short of what’s needed to provide suitable education for a secondary school aged child. One would hope that experts called in to advise and assist in Family Courts might be expected to actually have some relevant expertise to offer. Would it be unreasonable to expect that an expert making pronouncements about home education might have even the briefest acquaintance with relevant research? Paula Rothermel’s research clearly states “parental level of education did not limit the children’s attainment”.

Lack of any relevant knowledge of the field, however, does not appear to deter this “expert”. Whilst freely admitting “I’m not an expert in Welsh medium schools”, Mr Woodhouse also claims that Welsh medium education could be expected to result in “retardation” of intelligent English pupils. It is deeply worrying indeed when the court engages an expert whose research appears to be 150 years out of date . Then again, perhaps Mr Woodhouse simply felt more comfortable with the views of fellow mis-informed mono-glot “experts” than with the Welsh Assembly Government’s bold vision for a bilingual Wales.

Relevant research that might have better informed Mr Woodhouse would include the work of Prof Colin Baker, University of Wales which refers to the benefits of bilingualism as:

* Communication with the whole family and community
* Access to two cultures
* Security in identity
* Tolerance of other languages and cultures
* Benefits for the brain
o Creative thinking
o Sensitivity
o IQ
o Reading
* Educational benefits
* Third languages easier
* Employment advantages
* Raised self-esteem

Strangely, there does not appear to be any reference in Professor Baker’s work to “retardation”. Perhaps Mr Woodhouse would care to put the Prof. straight on that score?

One might also expect that an expert would trouble himself to interview a child he is commenting upon in his role as expert advisor to the court – yet Mr Woodhouse admits he has never even met the child he proclaims too intelligent to be educated either in Welsh medium education or through elective home education. One can only hope that District Judge Godwin threw this patently incompetent buffoon out on his ear. Sadly, I rather suspect not.

If this transcript is at all indicative of the levels of competence of experts advising family courts in Wales then there are clearly grounds for much concern about the safety and appropriateness of the decisions courts are making.


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