What *is* it that politicians think I’m doing with my children?
I think I’m home educating them. Educating them otherwise than at school, as is my legal right. Well some of them. Tigerboy is too young to count, and Big is now in school, and don’t get me started on that. It is a parental responsibilty to arrange for children to receive an education suitable to age, ability and aptitude, and I choose in the main to exercise that responsibility directly.
But apparently, I could be filling their (child’s) minds with poison
Yes really. So a senior government source says in the Independent today, and apparently it’s already been on Radio 4 as well.
I’m not sure I know what filling a child’s mind with poison looks like, although I understand that the government has a whole strategy set up to Prevent (see what I did there?) it happening.
The strategy risks backfiring at the moment, according to people caught up in it recently, as in this article from Sky News.
We’re told that the concerns are partly because the government doesn’t know how many home educators there are, so it needs to conduct a review, because those children aren’t being monitored for radicalisation.
How come they don’t know how many there are? It’s a good question. Although there isn’t a register of home educators (the labour govt tried to bring this in following the Badman review and failed), all births in this country are registered, and pupils are registered in schools. I’d have thought some fairly straightforward arithmetic could be applied there really. Number of children – number of pupils. Should get us close to the numbers, surely?
The political solution to this problem? From the Independent article linked above
Under proposals being considered in Whitehall, parents and teachers will be given a specific point of contact at local councils in order to raise concerns about a child. Officials will also try to discover how many children are being taught at home, beyond the reach of inspectors.
*all* parents? So basically what we’re going to say is that anyone with suspicions about a child (what suspicions – that they are radicalised? Or just that they’re not in school? Home educators get unnecessarily reported to social services fairly regularly anyway, by people unaware that home education is legal) can call a number. Alternatively, those officials could apply the logic I specified above – I don’t think I’m giving away anything that hasn’t been suggested before.
Let’s expand on the perceived problem a little:
Fears have been raised that parents are claiming their children are being home schooled when in fact they are being taught at illegal religious schools.
Oh no – illegal schools, and home education being used as a smokescreen!
I’ve heard a variation on this theme before, usually associated with Khyra Ishaq. ‘Her parents said she was home educated, so we couldn’t do anything.’
It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. Social workers who think that a child is being neglected can investigate. Should investigate! Illegal schools, are, as it says, illegal, there are already powers to deal with these situations. And if a child is in an illegal school, they are again not being home educated.
Home education is not the problem here, and a register of home educators will do nothing more than add needles to an already overpoweringly large pile of needles. (A needle in a haystack stands out. One needle in many doesn’t, and that is what the govt is trying to build.)
The idea of parents reporting parents, inspectors judging families on their radicalisation levels – that goes far beyond suitability of education. Will this suspicion fall mainly on Muslims? The various documents I’ve been reading tonight imply that being an ecological protester is nearly as bad (it was mention of eco terrorism that triggered the interrogation in the sky article above) – should I have signed that petition against fracking after all?
The thing is, when you start singling people out, telling other people that they are a danger, you damage the communities that are our best defence against the radicalisation everyone is so worried about. It takes a village to raise a child, goes the saying, but the village shouldn’t be Portmeirion. The mere act of observation changes a situation, and adding layers of suspicion in to every day interactions will not help at all.
Why am I against registration – surely it’s not that big a deal? I’ve written a lot about it in the past, and I’ll be going through the blog building some links to that stuff. But for now, here’s an excellent article from Gill – 10 reasons why home educated children should not be forcibly registered with local authorities. (Another thought – given the government’s trend to move educational control *away* from local authorities, is this going to end up being a centralised list rather than local?)
A home education register wouldn’t prevent the abuse that was the last excuse for a governmental review. It won’t prevent radicalisation, *if* that’s taking place. It *will* grossly interfere with my (and your) parental rights and responsibilities, and cost a shed load of money we’re told we don’t have to spend. Please don’t go there.