Friday, 6 August 2010

The Children Were Educated in a School

That is the headline we never see when a tragedy unfolds, ok so it's hardly big news is it? Most children go to school. This is something that social scientists refer to as an "unmarked identity", that is: something which is taken for granted, a social norm. Home educated children, by contrast, have a "marked identity" - something which is defined in my OU text book like this:

"... the marked identity never goes unnoticed and usually carries a negative value."

The BBC, as ever, loves to point out the marked identity of home education, it can't seem to help itself even when other journalists manage to write perfectly good copy without resorting to the spreading of prejudice against a minority group which has had more than it's fair share of attacks in the past 18 months.

Maybe, if every time a child died, the fact that they had attended that great social safety net that is a school was pointed out to them, people might start to question this form of education too. >hollow laughter<

This story is what has prompted this mini rant, if you haven't already seen it. Home Education Forums has an excellent rebuff on it's blog here.


  1. At last, common sense, thank you

  2. I think you're slightly incorrect here. The media, when they report any story involving children, usually say which school they attend. In this case they didn't so home education was mentioned.

    For most children school is a large part of their social circle. It's the law in Scotland that all children must receive a formal education. Where it is privately or publicly is irrelevant.

  3. Taking the first two stories in a google search where children have been murdered by estranged fathers shows up no mention of their place of education.

    Also, I think you will find that there is no mention of *formal* in education law. Here's what Scottish law says:

    It shall be the duty of the parent of every child of school age to provide efficient education for him suitable to his age, ability and aptitude either by causing him to attend a public school regularly or by other means.

    No mention there of *receive* either.

    I'm curious as to why you say the place of education is irrelevant when your own blog post on this subject says the social services should be on red alert when a child is home *schooled*.

  4. The school system has done its job when the majority of the population believe the cover story that school provides an education / 'safety' net for children and that parents can't be trusted. The vested interests can't have too many freethinking plebs falling through their brainwashing net, which is why home educators (like those who support Scottish independence) are ridiculed, vilified and subject to biased media coverage. It's especillay worrying when libertarian bloggers start to peddle state (unionist) propaganda.

  5. I've just been reminding myself of the facts around deaths of children at the hands of their parents from both neglect and abuse.

    About 3 children a week die at the hands of their parents in the UK (I think it's the UK although this figure might be just England - journalism in the UK is a bit thin on factual context these days!)

    Lots of these children are under fives but some of them are older and go to school. It is a tragedy that only certain types of families are picked up by the media.

    And the biggest common factor in such deaths? A step-father. I'm not suggesting that step-fathers should be banned but why target home education? Why not go for something much more common?

    Here's what I found from a 10 minute trawl last night:


    "After details of the tragic life and death of the 17 month-old at the hands of his parent and carers, whilst on the 'At Risk' register of Haringey Social Services were revealed, Ofsted confirmed that between April 2007 and August 2008, 282 children died of neglect, abuse or in the care system. Of that total, 72 died in accidents, stabbings or shootings while in foster or residential care, while the remaining 210 died of abuse or neglect at the hands of their families. This means that 12 children are killed by some form of abuse each month."

    reference quoted is here

    210 child deaths in the period quoted at the hands of their families from abuse or neglect (in England or the UK I'm not sure....) - that's about three per week.

    here's another reference mentioning Graham Stuart:

    And it's still more than 2 per week according to this expert in March this year

  6. I apologise stated a very out of date law which no longer exists. When I studied the subject back in the 60s it was the law that each child had to have a 'formal' education. Don't get me crawling around in the attic to find my papers on the subject please!

    Now obviously times have changed.

    More often than not if children are involved the school they attend is mentioned. You managed to find two MSM reports which didn't state it. The word I used was 'usually'.

    Perhaps is this case home schooling is mentioned because it's alleged that was one of the causes of the acrimonious divorce.

    I've explained why I used red alert to you but I'll do it again here. The mother and children were reported missing the previous week. I would have thought social services should have been involved when children are recorded as missing. That is only my opinion as I thought we had social working departments which specifically protected children.

    In this case it would appear it was only the police who found them and judged the children were safe and well. Would having a child care social worker in attendance have made any difference? Who knows.

    I'm sorry you miss the point of my anger in my own post but I can do nothing to resolve that.

  7. Just to be clear, it wasn't a case of *managing to find* I didn't screen out other stories, I just took the first two I saw and as it happened, they didn't include any information about the place of education - I really didn't want to go trawling through many more such stories, for fairly obvious reasons.

  8. Well.... There may be other reasons "why home educators are ridiculed" ;-)

    The GoodWife's cited figures are for England as they are from the 2007/08 Ofsted annual report...

    The actual passage says:

    "Since April 2007, Ofsted has been responsible for receiving notifications of serious incidents involving children and for evaluating the quality of serious case reviews. Between 1 April 2007 and 31 August 2008, Ofsted received notifications from local authorities of 424 serious incidents, relating to 282 deaths of children, 136 incidents of significant harm or injuries and six incidents of which the outcome is not yet known. Four in 10 incidents involved babies under the age of one."

    But as the Ofsted report notes a large chunk of the reports of serious case reviews were inadequate.

    Ben Goldacre has a piece about the numbers game today...

  9. And we're so lucky that we have you to the ridiculing for us Duncan - sorry, *I* am so lucky that *I* have you to do that for me.

    Nice to see you posting something interesting and useful for a change though.

  10. Duncan - I added the committee evidence as clarification. I'll quote it in full here Where Christine Gilbert categorically answers Graham's question.

    Graham Stuart MP: "Your report covers the period between 1 April 2007 and 31 August 2008. That is where the 282 children are mentioned. So that I can be absolutely clear, you are saying that 72 of the 282 children were not killed as a result of neglect?"

    Christine Gilbert, Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills: "That is right."

    Stuart: "So in other words, 210 were during that period. Is that your evidence?"

    Gilbert: "Yes."

    Evidence to children, schools and families select committee, 10 December 2008

    Sorry - I am misunderstanding what it is about this that is questionable? The author of the report answers a direct question about it, in as clear a mannner as it is possible, in a HoC Committee. Are you suggesting she is lying?

  11. GoodWife take no notice of the resident troll, he's a bit of a *dumbo* bless him. Such a shame, in his hay day he was quite a card, but it can happen to the best of us.

  12. The information from the serious case reviews used for the report covered when a child had died and "abuse or neglect are known or suspected to be a factor in the incident" (my emphasis). I would find it difficult to conclude that 210 children had died as a result of neglect. Stuart's interpretation of Gilbert's "evidence" counters, for example, Pritchard & Williams (2010) figure (for England and Wales) of around 80 a year or Barnardo's around 100 a year. The Gilbert figure is higher than the 130 children killed in road accidents annually. Everything is questionable... apart from Tech's blessing for which I am grateful.

  13. Curiously enough Duncan, I'm about to make use of those very figures.

  14. And somewhere, I can't remember where, there is an explanation (by the NSPCC) of why the figures are so very different. Something to do with one based on SCRs and the other on all child deaths I think. They know their own figures are an under - reporting.