23 January, 2009

Home Schooling

I was reading one of NHS's facebook notes and so have directly stolen the following from him, needless to say, I like it. for those of you who do know him, the link is here . EDIT: Forgot he has a blog, the original post can therefore be seen here.

The government loves micro-managing classrooms in the state sector. And why not, you might ask? It's their money, and if they want to decide what consitutes great literature, a major historical event or the right way to introduce literacy, then who are we taxpayers to quibble?

But the government often tires of its own toys and experiences an irrepressible desire to reach out and play with the education of children who don't use state schools. This would seem not to be their business, until you remember this is the 21st century and they hold both the rights'n'responsibilities card and the child protection card.

The latest finger-dipping is yet another review into home education, the Elective Home Education Review, which will be the fourth review into home education since 2005. Education, education, education, education: if only reviews were outcomes...

Headed by Graham Badman, the EHER will consider
1) Whether local authorities and other public agencies are able to effectively discharge their duties and responsibilities for safeguarding and ensuring a suitable education for all children.
2) Whether home educating parents are receiving the support and advice they want to ensure they provide a good, balanced education for their children.
3) What evidence there is to support claims that home education could be used as a ‘cover’ for child abuse such as neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.

Allow me to translate.

1) In 2006, The Education and Inspections Act placed a duty on all local authorities to make arrangements to identify children not receiving "a suitable education". Without knowing what happens in your living room, they can't make that judgement. So inspectors need to be sent into people's homes to gather that information. But we don't know how many children are home educated - between 20,000 (DCSF) and 50,000 (Education Otherwise) - so expect a policy requiring parents to register their home-educated children with the local education authority.

2) Home educating parents often do not want or seek advice from the LEA: it is, after all, the organisation whose schools they are avoiding. Nor are they under any obligation to receive such advice. But as Mr Badman reminded the BBC "Legislation affords every parent the right to choose to educate their child at home but with those rights go responsibilities, not least being to secure a suitable education." Expect the word "suitable" to be defined by Mr Badman and the inspectors to have a strong mandate.

3) The child protection card. If the government can find a single example of neglect or abuse, it gives it the green light to investigateand regulate the lives of all home educators. You can only find a bad apple by checking all your apples. The government hasn't yet given an example of alleged abuse - Education Otherwise asked for the evidence and none was provided - but making the claim means that a claim has been made and must, therefore, be investigated.

Parents have a right to educate their children privately or using the state system. This private education can be in a school or at home. Parents who choose home education are often helping their children to escape the abuse of bullying, or get out from the anti-learning culture of their LEA schools. The government is heaping review after review on these people and branding them as potential abusers.

The government wants to control and regulate the education of every child. How else can it guarantee every child an equal start in life? Parents may play the freedom card, but rights'n'responsibilities and child protection will surely beat it.

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