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 She was withdrawn from school it is true, but concerns were raised with the local authorities by the school promptly and according to school procedures.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.