I have been accused of neglect.

Again.

Oh no, it’s not the first time.

No, it’s not me personally. It’s worse than that in a way. It’s yet another invidious slight against the home education community. This time at the hands of the TES (times educational supplement) who have as their cover story the article Collateral Damage. Neglect and abuse under the cover of home education (Bizarrely that isn’t it’s title online. Unless of course I’ve linked the wrong one, and I should have linked to From the Editor – Parental rights, and the wrongs of the wicked few Not one but two articles slating home educators in one week!)

We should be used to this. At one point during the Badman review the NSPCC were quoted in the Independent referring to Victoria Climbie as home educated. She wasn’t. The foundation set up in her name responded to say as much. (There was no apology. Which is why you’ll rarely find a good word about the NSPCC on here.) But you may say, what of Khyra Ishaq? Wasn’t that poor little girl starved to death under the cover of home education? No. She was not. She was withdrawn from school it is true, but concerns were raised with the local authorities by the school promptly and according to school procedures. It was the local authorities who failed her – who did nothing to get proper access to her and keep an eye on her wellbeing, later claiming that home education regulations meant they couldn’t.

Poppycock. Balderdash. Home educators are *just* as subject to child protection procedures as the rest of the population. We can (and do) turn away educational officers who have no right to demand we produce a scheme of work or barge in to our houses. But we know perfectly well that social workers are a different kettle of fish altogether. And that neglect and abuse are overriding concerns, and that social workers have a right of access if that is the case. If the social worker doesn’t do something about it, to put it plainly, that is not my fault.

And I do not deserve to be tarred with this brush, repeatedly, at leisure, because of it.

Many of you have met me. Home educators have met me, and my children, at days out, at camps, at parties, at groups. But bloggers have met me and some of my children too. I’ve brought them to Build a bear workshop parties, taken Smallest all over the place to events, dragged them to Butlins, had Smallest with me at two cybermummy days and two Mad Blog award dinners. Does this strike you as the action of an abusive and neglectful parent? Or more likely the behaviour of an attached and loving parent?

Which is usually the point that someone says oh, but it isn’t you. Not home educators like you. It’s the other ones. Let me give it to you straight – if you insult home educators, you insult me. If you insinuate home educators are abusing children, you are accusing me. Replace the term home educators with something you identify with and see how you feel about it.

This isn’t about education. This is about control. The editor’s article above starts “Ask teachers what they think of home education and most will respond with a raised eyebrow or a snort of derision. It’s akin to asking most doctors what they think of homeopathy, or anyone with a science degree their opinion of Prince Charles. It is the confident sneer a professional bestows on misguided amateurs.”

Actually, I’ve spoken to a lot of teachers about home education. I know quite a lot of teachers who home educate themselves. I’ve yet to be sneered at by any of them, and I don’t think it’s because they are being polite. And I’ve never had anyone describe me as a misguided amateur before, when it comes to my children I am the only professional. (Well, OK, dp too, but poetic licence folks.) I am the only person who has been there through ever single one of their development stages, who knows how they learn, what they like, what they dislike. Who knows what drives them and what demotivates, how to tempt and how to entertain. I taught them walking and talking, and yes, when Small lagged behind in speech I did indeed bring in a specialist. I’m not arrogant, I know that if my child has a particular special need that there are ppl better equipped to deal with it. I just don’t think mainstream education qualifies in that way.

So yes, tonight I’m ranting. Tonight I’m really rather cross. Tonight I’d like to know what other community would stand for this kind of treatment. Because quite frankly, I’m fed up.

Note: this article is being reshared as of 7 December 2014 in response to the Sunday Times latest slur on home education which can be found here. Home educators knew this attack on educational freedom and family privacy was coming, and we are ready.

About Jax Blunt

I’m the original user, Jax Blunt I’ve been blogging for 14 years, give or take, and if you want to know me, read me :)

Oh, and if you’d like to support my artistic endeavours, shop my photographs and art at redbubble

Comments

  1. Oh Jax. I hadn’t seen those articles, but I will read them tomorrow.

    I just wanted to say I have the utmost respect and admiration for those that choose to home educate – I know that’s probably not what you want to hear either. Your choice, your family and why should you give a damn what anyone thinks.

    But hey. You don’t deserve to feel like this. *hugs*

  2. After experiencing our first summer break after one year at nursery, I’d say you were a saint for not sending your children to school. Seriously though, I find it strange that we can choose all sorts of lifestyle models for our kids without comment – some go to every activity and club on offer outside school, some do nothing apart from school, some play musical instruments, some don”t, wall-to-wall TV, no TV or computers in the house, family holidays all over the place, never leave the neighbourhood, vegan, Junk food every night, live in a small inner-city flat, live in acres of countryside, pets and horseriding, no animals allowed, local school, home education. Wait! What was that last one? – sorry but that’s neglecting your child. Why exactly?
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted…Lest We ForgetMy Profile

    • thank you – precisely that. And I’m not about to pretend that we’re all saints, but I strongly doubt that there is a higher percentage of cases of child abuse and neglect inside the home education community than there is out of it.

  3. I am absolutely sure that your children are receiving a high level of education, and that the government simply doesn’t understand people who go against the grain – ie against mainstream education. I have a friend who has voiced similar frustrations and is home-educating too. I really hope that home-eds get the respect & support they deserve at some point in the future. Hopefully soon. xx
    kay wilkinson recently posted…Overlept!My Profile

  4. Deep sigh ~ I don’t think I can even face reading the articles ~ let’s PRAY it doesn’t trigger a chain reaction ~ I really don’t want to go that route again!!
    Caroline recently posted…Frogmum Doesn’t Blog Much Anymore…My Profile

  5. I think my favourite line – amidst all that vitriol – was “Even if we accept, for argument’s sake, that home-educated children are no more likely to be abused than those educated in school” from the editorial. The assumptions and implications in those few words alone flabbergasted me. Gerard Kelly’s replies in the comments thread are delightful as well.
    Alison recently posted…*insert title here*My Profile

  6. Both the article and the editorial were so outrageous, I didn’t know where to start with it.
    Jan recently posted…Sore throat MondayMy Profile

  7. I’m going to keep pushing Kelly to explain how his scheme will improve things. He’s already wimped out of producing any sort of statistics to back up his cause.

  8. Oh Lordy me…

    I’m not going to bother reading the articles, I’m afraid. But – as a teacher (and a partially home-ed’ed child myself) I’ll just say this – the whole thing strikes me as a rather desperate attempt to defend self-interests. The TES is a trade paper, after all, and the teaching profession can be very defensive.

  9. I’m a teacher and I home educate. No raised eyebrows or snorts here!

  10. Oh Jax,

    You have done such a good job putting into words how so many of us feel. It is exhausting some days just ‘living’ the life that we have chosen (and lovingly embrace), let alone justifying it over and over again to the world around us.

    Thomas Paine says:

    He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.

    I wish the ‘world’ would remember that, when they rest secure in their ability to make their own choices for their children.

  11. As an (ex) teacher I would just like to state for the record (again) that the majority of people in the staff room are there because they are too stupid and dull witted to do anything else. If you are seriously asserting that I am too stupid to educate my children and that I couldn’t give them what they would get at school then you are actually calling more stupid than a dull witted idiot. The only difference is that I would take a bullet for my kids and the local dull witted civil servants who like to think themselves as in the league of ‘professionals’ (and believe me when I say that barristers and brain surgeosn do not rank teachers among their clan) and who get paid by the hour whether your kids live or die don’t.

    The insinuation that I must be weird for wanting to live with my children or worse a pervert offends me. Would you like it if I asserted that I think you are guilty of child neglect for farming your babies out from the age of 3 and that I think your standard of parenting is inferior to any homeschooler I’ve ever met? No? funny.

    And the fact that paedophiles actively seek to become teachers and club leaders because they are a predatory bunch of sick sub humans doesnt worry you I suppose?

    The state does not own my child and just because you would rather farm your kids out to state funded day-orphanges doesn’t mean I’m a paedophile for not thinking the same.
    Debbie Qalballah recently posted…They Like to HelpMy Profile

  12. (((((((((((((((((((((()))))))))))))))) I agree – the problem is not how the children are educated it’s about the child protection procedures not being used properly when they are needed. I also think that lots of teachers I know would understand why people opt out of the school system.

  13. I wish I had the courage and the knowledge to home educate, hats off to you for doing it. The article you’ve mentioned seems somewhat uninformed. With the way school places are allocated currently and so many ‘full’ schools you’d think there would be more support for home education and much more positivity surrounding it. I hope you share this post (and comments) with the TES so that they can see the other side.

  14. Jude Murphy says:

    Thanks for alerting us all to another sneaky little smear campaign. My daughter’s seen both sides of the fence and I can tell you several appalling examples of neglect and irresponsibility within the school system. Of course, teachers would point out that these aren’t the norm, they’re aberrations. Funny that, considering how quick they are to point the finger at those of us who educate otherwise!

  15. Hello Jax

    I hear ya. Annoying and insulting articles by uninformed people will always be written… But…. Johann Hari apologised…. Maybe one day this author will too?

    We are all ignorant and misinformed in our different ways about different subjects – being given the lob of writing about subjects these authors are misinformed at is much like giving teachers subjects to teach they didn’t train in?! At least home educators don’t pretend to know everything from scratch!

    I guess the thing to do is correct the factual errors in good humour, and leave it there. What more can you say?

    All you can do is live a life you are happy with, and be grateful for your choices and blessings

    🙂 x
    PaulA Cleary recently posted…We heart Tony Hart and the boy who bit Picasso!My Profile

  16. As an ex Pawn Of the Opressor (teacher) In both primary and secondary, full time and supply, all I saw from one end of the country to the other was weary, downtrodden, disenchanted, disconnected, stressed out people losing their way in life, both in the staff room and outside in the playground ( no conkers please ). The fact that They are sitting in an office somewhere pointing fingers and shouting, “They’re witches!” is nothing new, we’ve seen it from every ‘profession’ for hundreds of years and its all about control. slavery is banned, women have the vote, so who else is there to pick on? Really, is there anything lower than teacher-turned-journalist?

  17. I’ve had the same experience as you in regards to teachers opinions about home education. I plan to home educate when I have children and the amount of negative press home educators get astounds me.

    I’ve met so many people who believe every word the press says, or who know people who know people who HE and the child turned out to be an uneducated delinquent. The rubbish that is spouted by people unwilling to open their eyes. Surely if they spent five minutes in a school setting they’d understand why people HE in the first place. Not that schools are bad on principle, but it’s easy to see that all children cannot get what they need out of a school environment. For some it doesn’t suit, others need extra attention that cannot be given in a classroom and others still just need a different approach which again, cannot be given in a classroom environment.

    It also amazes me how reporters can get away with such lousy, lazy journalism.
    Nikki S recently posted…Busy timesMy Profile

  18. I like the way you point out the distinction between home educators and people who take their children out of school. It’s really not the same thing at all, is it?

    I don’t have any plans to home educate if I can possible avoid it, but that is to do with my own inadequacies not because I don’t think it’s a great way to bring up a child.

    I’m sorry you are threatened by other people’s lazy thinking.
    Solnushka recently posted…On marking time.My Profile

  19. Thanks Jax. As a teacher in my twentieth year and as a full blown home educator (DD14 has never been to school) I cannot recommend school. Ever. End of. Especially if your child is young and unable to stand up and defend themselves. There is no way a child can be fully ‘safeguarded’ (sick term) within the system. Fact. Home education OTOH is probably the safest way for a child to develop into the person they are meant to be. I will defend our right to HE regardless of these attacks and personally appreciate your posts that present the case so eloquently.

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