Most of the time I’m happy to talk about home education. I love to chat about the different ways children learn to read. (Phonics. Picture books. Reading eggs. Montessori materials. Osmosis.) I can enthuse for hours about following interests, the value of playing online games, how great the world of nature is and so on.
And other times, it feels like I’ve said it all before, and that I’m banging my head against a very big, very solid brick wall.
When I go on facebook and the home education groups are full of people pulling their year 6 children out of school because they’re fed up of stressed children who aren’t being children, and yet some Baroness feels she can blog about parents feeling entitled, and failing their children by taking action to protect them from that stress.
But the principle that parents should co-operate with teachers and the school in the orderly testing of their children must be beyond argument. It was a terrible example to set to their children – that is, if you don’t like what today holds, or you find it stressful, just skip it.
(You’ll want to sit down before you read the rest of that article. Or even better, protect your blood pressure, and don’t go there)
Yes, that definitely feels like a very solid brick.
No, Baroness Deech, it is NOT a principle carved in stone that parents should cooperate with teachers and schools in the testing of their children. Perhaps you could explain to me how testing enhances the educational process? Because I don’t remember that research. Or perhaps you could point me to the national agreement that shows precisely *how* learning archaic language terms will help our children reach their full potential, because I must have missed that one too.
Another set of things I seem to have missed are the law changes that require home educators to register with their local authorities. They much have happened, surely, given that Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted, pontificated about the process on Radio 4 the other day. (You can read another home educator’s take on that here .)
No, they haven’t happened. Sir Michael is either badly informed, guilty of wishful thinking, or just completely misspoke.
Hard to tell which.
As a home educator, if your children have never been registered with any school, you don’t have to tell anyone that you are home educating. You just carry on with the education that you’re offering.
If, and only if, your children are in school, then you need to inform people. The process differs in the different parts of the UK, but in England, in a mainstream school what you do is deregister by informing the headteacher. It is then UP TO THE HEADTEACHER to inform the local authority.
Not the parent. And the local authority do not have to follow up on it – they have powers to make informal enquiries IF it appears that no (suitable) education is being provided. Many local authorities overstep this line, and many home educators spend a lot of time supporting newcomers through this minefield. I do a fair bit of it myself, in the online world.
It’s another tick for home education bingo.
Along the path to home education, it’s almost impossible to escape conversations about socialisation. It’s difficult to know what this refers to – for some people they are talking about friendships, for others they are talking about children acquiring the unwritten rules of society. Here to tell you that both of those things can and do happen out of school, so it’s kind of a red herring either way.
Another topic that will probably come up is neglect – you can reply that home educated children are subject to exactly the same oversight as every other child, with local authorities social services departments having perfectly adequate powers to investigate. In fact, many home educated children are referred to social services just because of people’s ignorance around home education. Education is not a welfare issue, no matter how many times people talk as if it is.
Tomorrow I will probably bounce back and be my usual cheerful and patient self regarding all of this nonsense. I’ll paint, sew, cook, explore nature, read books, troubleshoot computer programs and assist my children with all their home education activities, just like I am doing today in and around this rant. I’ll do it with a smile, probably.
It would really, really help if people like Baroness Deech and Sir Michael could get their facts straight and stop spreading misinformation in the meantime.