Tuesday, 8 September 2009

But You Could Be Hiding Your Children And Teaching Them The Wrong Things!

"Oh but you could all be child abusers, you need checking up on." "Schools have to have inspections, why shouldn't you?" "Who's to know if you're teaching your children the right things?"

Well thanks government and national press for casting home educators as child abusers, and social deviants! We appreciate the slur, it's really helped us and our children feel good for exercising a perfectly reasonable, and lets remember LEGAL, choice.

So, our children are *hidden*. OK, let's break this down, sensibly. If you've read the other posts you'll have realised that home education doesn't mean chaining your child to a desk, never letting them see the light of day. It involves being out and about in the real world - something I want to come back to in another post.

Home Education makes you MORE visible in the community.
"Sorry? MORE visible, but you're all hidden away aren't you?"
No, when you home educate the world and his wife wants to know your business. If we had a pound for every time we've been asked the question "No school today then?" we would be able to afford to pay the fees for Eton by now!

Your neighbours will question you, they will gossip about you, the local children will whisper to their friends about these children they know who don't go to school. Relatives will ask questions, shopkeepers, bus drivers, doctors, dentists, nurses, the milkman, posty, parcel delivery driver, librarian, will all suddenly take a great interest in your life. Yes, being hidden would be a nice option on the days when you really don't want to have to explain your life to A N Other, on the number 52 bus, for the umpteenth time!

Our family had been happily getting on with life for several years when one day a letter dropped through the door:

"We have been informed that your children are being home educated."

How nice, some kind person thought that the local authority needed to know our business. We didn't do a very good job of staying hidden did we? Not that we had ever tried to.

We have friends who have been reported to social services because their children aren't in school, or because the doctor or health visitor didn't like the idea of home education. It's very common for people to think it's their business to inform "someone in authority" about home educated children, so that really blows this hidden lie that the government has propagated out of the water doesn't it? OK, there might be someone somewhere who has totally dropped out of society, isn't seen by anyone at all, ever. I'm struggling to see how in this day and age this is likely though. We have CCTV cameras on practically every street corner. We have databases left right and centre tracking us. Our phone calls and emails are logged. It's becoming ever harder to live without credit/debit cards and bank accounts. Seriously, just think about it for a minute and you will see through the spin.

Now just think for another minute about all the high profile child abuse/murder cases you know of. How many of them were completely unknown?

For the record, AHEd have a piece of research which shows that Home Educated children are actually half as likely to be abused as the general, school going population. Which is hardly surprising when you consider these statistics:

Each week: 450,000 children are bullied in school

Each year: more than 360,000 children injured in schools
Each year: at least 16 children commit suicide as a result of school bullying
Each year: an estimated 1 million children truant
Each year: more than 1 in 6 children leave school unable to read, write or add up
Every Child Matters?

Moving on to the question of inspections. Do you know why schools have to have inspections? To make sure they are doing their job properly. Who needs to know they are doing their job properly? Parents. Why? Because parents are delegating their own section 7 duty to schools - ie they are employing someone to provide their children with a service. Home educating parents are not delegating their section 7 duty, they are not employing a third party to carry out their duties on their behalf.

How much sense does this scenario make?

I decide to paint my front room myself instead of employing the local painter and decorator. When I've finished I write a report to the local decorator, informing them that I have decided to paint my front room myself, that I have used Crown Emulsion in Perky Peach for the walls, and Crown Gloss in Dull as Ditchwater for the woodwork. That I had to use 2 coats to cover the walls, and that I sanded and primed the woodwork before applying 1 coat of gloss.

This is exactly what parents who home educate are doing when they are asked to report on their child's education to the local authority.

"But who's to know if you are teaching your child the right things?"

Who gets to decide what the *right* things are? Well, currently Ed Balls if your child goes to school. Ed Balls.... the same Ed Balls who was caught fraudulently claiming expenses. Ed Balls, married to Yvette Cooper who, in a national newspaper, admitted to putting a telephone call to a radio station above her own toddlers health and safety.

" I was frantically looking for the number of the studio, and I got through just in time. Then I heard a thump. It was my daughter, who had fallen out of bed, and was coming howling down the corridor. I had to leap up and slam the door in her face, and then put the duvet over my head so the listeners couldn't hear her."

Oh yes, these are the kind of people I want to decide what the *right* education for my children is!
In an earlier post you might remember me saying that no one knows everything, so how can anyone decree what is important to learn and what isn't? Surely the only person who ultimately knows what is *right* is the learner? Obviously there are certain things that are standard - the three Rs for instance, but when we are all wired differently, have different interests and skills, how can a one size fits all education system like the national curriculum possibly expect to help parents fulfil their section 7 duties?

In my opinion it can't, and by the seems of things, employers from right across the board are finding that it's not equipping people for the world of work either.


  1. Fantastic post Tech, more proof here of the national curriculum failing the very people who are going to have to deliver it. http://m.telegraph.co.uk/article/6142519/

  2. Excellent post.

    David Spiegelhalter, (Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge)

    who recently wrote this:

    "Perhaps the greatest danger of overreaction, though, happens when a government feels it must respond to popular clamour after a high-profile event involving an innocent or vulnerable victim. When a baby is killed, or there is a murder by someone identified as mentally ill or someone on probation, people are reasonably shocked and feel that "something must be done" to prevent such things happening again.

    Why do they think that extra bureaucracy will help? While the causes of individual tragedies may be apparent, this does not mean that similar events can be easily prevented in future. That's because they are essentially unpredictable: the underlying problem is that the most shocking "bad" things happen to, or are done by, people deemed to be low-risk, and so attempts to prevent all "bad" things often have a high cost for little apparent gain. This idea is probably best explained through an example.

    Let's consider what are officially termed "serious further offences" (SFOs) in the UK. Suppose 1 in 1600 of the total number of people on probation commits such an offence, but that some are more likely to offend than others. These high-risk people offend at three times the rate of the low-risk. Suppose 7.5 per cent of probationers are classified as high-risk. If you locked them all up, what might be the consequences? It is counter-intuitive, but you would make very little impact, and all for considerable cost and loss of liberty.

    How so? Imagine you had 8000 people on probation. Of these, 600 (7.5 per cent) are high-risk, and 1 of them commits an SFO. The other 7400 are low-risk - only one-third as likely to commit an SFO - and 4 of these offend. Overall, by locking up all high-risk cases you will prevent only 1 out of the total of 5 offences: 80 per cent of the SFOs will still occur. So what appears to be a reasonable policy could be an overreaction."

    at http://www.newscientist.com/article/...-business.html



  3. That's a very interesting article, thanks Ronnie.