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We Don’t Need Your Education

January 4th, 2010 Posted in UK Politics by

Or more specifically Clause 26.

The right of many Home Educators to continue schooling their children is being threatened by the Children, Schools and Families Bill which is currently being fast-tracked through Parliament. This legislation was based on the seriously flawed Badman Review of Elective Home Education which was recently criticised by the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee. The legislation was drafted before the Select Committee could finish reporting and also before the conclusion of a DCSF consultation on Elective Home Education which drew an unprecedented 5000 responses from the Home Education Community.

This legislation seeks a compulsory annual licensing arrangement for Home Educators policed by an enlarged Local Authority officialdom. The arrangements include provisions for frequent monitoring and for children to be interviewed in their home by local authority officers without the presence of their parents and without the legal safeguards that are currently required in criminal or social-care cases.

The enforcement of the registration and monitoring regime is to be carried out with the threat of the issue of School Attendance Orders: for failing to register, failing to supply an educational plan, failing to cooperate with local authority officers, if for any reason the official disagreed with the chosen educational philosophy, if the child failed to demonstrate the expected progress, etc. This would mean that the child would be forced into a school environment which may not be appropriate.

The cost to the taxpayer is referred to in the Bill as being up to £99 Million pounds simply to set up the bureaucracy. None of this money would go to enhance educational provisions, which Home Educators currently provide at their own expense. To add insult to injury the changes are also likely to include the involvement of Ofsted, which has recommended that Home Educators are CRB checked to care for their own children, presumably also at the parents’ expense.

The proposals have caused an outcry in the Home Education community, demonstrated recently by the record breaking presentation of over 120 petitions to parliament supported by over 70 MPs on the 8th of December.

The Liberal Democrats have not yet chosen to whether to oppose the draconian measures of the Badman Review, however, a number of Liberal Democrat MPs, including Sir Alan Beith and Paul Burstow, have sided with Home Educators. Hopefully it is only a matter of time before we enshrine the rights of parents to educate their children at home as policy.

18 Responses to “We Don’t Need Your Education”

  1. Alex Agius Says:

    This sounds very Labour, a heavy handed and overzealous approach for what is the reasonable aim of measuring (and helping to maintain) educational standards.

    I think we will all agree that the governments approach is wrong here but how should these educational standards be measured in a home school environment is the real question here? Or does this not matter as long as the child is coached to pass the required exams (which are a measure of performance themselves)?


  2. Psi Says:

    I hadn’t realised that these plans were so far advanced. The issue you don’t mention but perhaps hasn’t been addressed is how much will Ofstead charge home educators to enter their homes disrupt their lives and insult thier intelegence. Even when the LEA officials have been in and “checked” then Ofstead will want to do the same and they charge everyone else they intrude on, so how many thousands of pounds will it cost to be a home educator a few years down the line.


  3. Elizabeth Says:

    Alex–the parents are, by law, responsible for their children’s educations, which makes them answerable only to their children. The govt schools are failing tens of thousands of children. No amount of exams or inspections has fixed that yet! In Home Ed, there are no exams, unless the child wants to take them. Home Ed children study a whole host of topics and do so because they choose to learn about the subjects. When you are taught to love learning, and not just how to pass exams, then there is no stopping them from learning.

    If everyone could sign this petition, maybe the governement will stop this madness: http://tinyurl.com/yd7pzcg


  4. Ruth O'Hare Says:

    @ Alex, what exactly would be the purpose of ‘measuring’ the educational standards of home educated children? Parents who home educate already know how their children are doing and since they are the ones who are responsible for providing a suitable education having anyone else involved is at the very least a pointless waste of money.

    Schools are measured and regulated in theory so that parents who use them can be assured that they are doing an acceptable job, those parents still having a legal duty to ensure their children receive a suitable education. Tax payers might also feel that the truly VAST sums of money channelled through the DCSF ought to be accounted for in some way (it is to laugh!)

    Coaching children to pass exams is what happens in schools and is one of many reasons why parents choose to home educate in the first place.


  5. Michael Says:

    Sara,

    Thanks for highlighting our cause.

    I also hope it is only a matter of time before the Liberal Democrats enshrine the rights of parents to educate their children at home as policy.

    Legislation already adequately covers the responsibilities of home-educating families and what is needed is that Local Authorities simply follow the law as it is at present.

    Regards,

    Michael


  6. Renegade Parent Says:

    @Alex – Measuring standards is not the state’s concern when it comes to the private arrangements of families. The law places the duty for providing an education onto parents, most of whom happen (for reasons of convention or convenience) to delegate this responsibility to schools. That is where assessment, inspection and examination is seen to be necessary in order to satisfy the requirements of multiple stakeholders. Home educating families have chosen otherwise. Local authorities should concentrate on improving what is within their jurisdiction; namely state schools that are responsible for churning out at least 1 in every 6 pupils unable to read or write.


  7. Alex Agius. Says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my initial thoughts on this.

    Sara has argued in her article against Labours heavy handed and overzealous approach in the measuring of educational standards in a home school environment from a libertarian and civil liberties point of view and this is an argument that I can agree with and support. But this is not your argument.

    Your argument is that there should be no measuring of educational standards at all for children educated by home schooling, that teachers in a home school environment (not necessarily the childs parents) should have carte blanche to teach what they like when they like with no measuring of the quality of education the child receives and that the child should suffer the consequence of this. That is a much harder sell and it is not an argument I feel inclined to support.

    You are wrong when you say that because the parents are responsible for their children’s education by law it makes them only answerable only to their children. The very fact that it is a law (for which the state can punish parents for not upholding) means that the parents are answerable to the state.

    You may be correct when you say that state schools are failing tens of thousands of children but in percentage terms is this a greater or lesser number than the amount of children being failed by home schooling? In fact how can we know if home schooling or state schools is better for the child if you are opposed to the measuring educational standards in a home school environment?

    I support your right to home educate your child and I support your right to opt out of the national curriculum & exams but after hearing more about what that practically means from you I think that I might have to reconsider if home schooling is an educational option I can support.


  8. Alex Agius. Says:

    Ruth O’Hare – the purpose of measuring the educational standards of home educated children would exactly the same as the reasons why we measure educational standards of state schools, private school, religious schools, academies, grammar schools, etc and that is:

    1 – ensure that the child is in fact receiving an education as is a legal requirement.
    2 – so that the state can intervene if a child is being denied an education.
    3 – to allow comparison between the standards achieved by home schooling and other educational methods to be made (as Elizabeth and other home educators wish to make these comparisons this independent measuring of standards is the only way I can see to do this).
    4 – promote improvement in education standards

    Private schools do not take state funding, allow parents to chose the education that there child has and they can also opt out of the national curriculum, much like home schools, yet we do measure the standards of teaching in private schools and the is no problem (in fact most private schools would say that this benefits them), why would this be a problem for home schools? This is what I cannot understand, perhaps you can help me.


  9. Amanda Newark Says:

    “I think that I might have to reconsider if home schooling is an educational option I can support.”

    Just who are you that anyone, any free person, needs youy ‘support’ to do something that is their right? Or are you one of those pronoun challenged and violent types that believe you and your sick collective ‘society’ have a property claim over other people’s children?

    What you believe or do not believe, how you educate or do not educate your children is your business, and your baseless opinions have no bearing on the rights of others or reality.

    Home educators do not need to demonstrate anything to you or anyone else, to pass any exam or to prove any thing of any kind to any one, to be counted, measured prodded, compared, categorized, interviewed or assessed.

    We have all had enough of this type of illogic and violent control freakery. If your hearts desire is to give orders and be the master of something, get yourself a puppy and leave human beings in peace!


  10. Alex Agius. Says:

    Amanda Newark – You are the ones asking for support, you are asking people to sign a petition to support a cause you care about. And this is how politics works you build support for the issues you care about, not by taking the attack first ask questions latter attitude you have just displayed.


  11. Renegade Parent Says:

    @alex can you give a prescriptive definition of what constitutes a “suitable” education for every child? Regardless of their age, ability, aptitude and any special needs they might have? That every person in this country will agree with? If so, perhaps the existing legislation that protects children *and* their families needs to change. If not, the current legal provision and interpretation in case law seems to me to be wholly reasonable if understood and implemented correctly by local authorities.

    There are some pedagogies (where education may not be a discrete activity separated from life itself, for example) practised by schools and families alike that are not welcomed by local authorities and Ofsted precisely because they are not easily measured and tested. That does not make them something that should be banned in order to make so-called authorities’ lives easier, and indeed research has demonstrated the efficacy of such approaches (if indeed such research was even needed). Love of learning is an intimate and personal experience that can be profoundly damaged by a one-size-fits all approach, which is precisely what any legislative change would be advocating.

    Whereas schools like Summerhill have the funds to fight off attacks made by an authoritarian and uncompromising state and its quangos, I doubt many home educators have the same. You simply have to trust parents, hard though that may be to hear.

    Incidentally, withdrawing your support from a minority group based on the comments of one person would not strengthen your case either.


  12. Amanda Newark Says:

    If after reading a concise, simple explanation of a set of draconian, illiberal, game changing and monstrous proposals, including CRB checking PARENTS SO THEY CAN BE WITH THEIR OWN CHILDREN, you still need ‘convincing’ then I want nothing to do with you, politics or the people who think it is in any way decent. You are the type that would discuss the merits of mass murder as if there are ‘two sides to the debate’. I have news for you ‘mr politics’ ripping children from their parents because they want to educate them outside of government schools is not open to debate amongst decent people; it may be for people who do politics, but for people who know right from wrong it is not, and that is what it comes down to. I am fed up to the teeth with people like you who think this is some sort of game, who think that anything government does is good if everyone agrees. YOU ARE WRONG and you need to get off of your high horse think like a human being instead of a political creature. People are REAL they are not abstract ideas; these laws will hurt and do (in other countries) hurt people, and if you are for them, you are for hurting people, and that is a plain and simple FACT.


  13. Ken Moore Says:

    Irrespective of “rights”, we should all be trying to protect the country from the muddled thinking and incompetence of the DCSF and its minister. The legislation was based on the Badman Review, a much criticised document: it showed serious ignorance of types of home education, quoted selectively from expert witnesses so as to misrepresent their views, and produced draconian proposals based on fudged statistics, the data being derived from poorly designed questionnaires variously interpreted by local authorities (LA).

    The draft legislation shows similar faults, and the Government’s impact assessment, is, if anything, even worse. Its financial calculations are based mainly on guesses for lack of adequate data, and its presumed benefits are based on the implausible idea that school education is superior to home education for children some of whom have been removed from school because it failed to educate them and others because it put their physical safety and even their lives at risk. Moreover, it takes no account of an important likely side effect of the proposed inspection mechanism. LA education visitors are expected to look for signs of abuse of home educated children. It is not yet clear what they are to do if they suspect abuse, but since they are not likely to be trained as social workers, they will probably report their suspicions to their Social Services department. The impact assessment does not include the costs of the additional investigations, which are likely to include cases where observations (e.g. of an unorthodox life-style) have raised unwarranted suspicion (false positives). If social services’ budgets and staff levels are not increased to respond to this, there is likely to be an increase in undetected cases of genuine abuse.


  14. D. Says:

    The fact is that the recommendations to be implemented by local authorities that have been so eagerly accepted by this government are based on a lying, cheating mass of cooked-up statistics and a garden full of prejudices from an expert on ‘school’ and not on education. In other words, the Badman review was ‘sexed-up’ to give Labour an excuse to eliminate home education as an alternative to school.

    Now nNot every child flourishes at school, and those youngsters need to have a bolt-hole if the coercive educational system that this country seems intent on makes them ill or, worse, tries to kills them. (16 children commit suicide a year after being bullied at school)

    I would demand, if I am ever accused of a crime, to be convicted on evidence that is not manufactured by the prosecution, thank you very much.


  15. D. Says:

    I’d just like to comment on educational standards, by which most people mean school standards. Standards are imposed on children for the measurement of schools which are paid for by parents out of their taxes. That is why we have GCSEs (such a sorry excuse for exams) and ‘A’ levels (can’t comment on those because my daughter is passing Open University level courses without bothering with the GCSE and A level. She is home educated and found the work rather boring since GCSEs etc. merely teach to the exam).

    No one knows what kind of education will further our species. Maybe engineers will be kings; perhaps farmers will be the top of the heap. Personally, I believe that learning about what you like and what interests you is the best kind of education you can have. After all, how many people make a success of what they hate and, if they did, they’d have a miserable life.

    There’s room for all kinds of people – creative, practical, thinkers and doers, business people, artists and dreamers, so how can the one-size-fits-all Thatcher-cast-off- curriculum not only fit but stretch all but a tiny few of our incredible children.

    Home education is the education of the future, and good luck to it. Anything that Labour wants to oppose is probably worth encouraging. After all, there’s nothing the ruling class fear more than a logical, thinking, oppositional population.


  16. Ruth O'Hare Says:

    Alex said
    >the purpose of measuring the educational standards of
    >home educated children would exactly the same as the
    >reasons why we measure educational standards of state schools, private school, religious schools, academies,
    >grammar schools, etc and that is:

    To create league tables?

    >1 – ensure that the child is in fact receiving an
    >education as is a legal requirement.

    Let’s make this personal, because actually that’s what it is. So you’re saying that I have to prove that I’m not committing a crime, I have to prove my innocence? Would you be at all surprised if I’m not happy about that? Oh and it’s an education suitable to the age, aptitudes, abilities and any special education needs of the individual child. Something that state schools fall FAR short of. Mote, plank, eye.

    >2 – so that the state can intervene if a child
    >is being denied an education.

    Again, you’re saying that I am guilty of a crime by default and have to prove my innocence.

    >3 – to allow comparison between the standards
    >achieved by home schooling and other educational
    >methods to be made (as Elizabeth and other home
    >educators wish to make these comparisons this
    >independent measuring of standards is the only
    >way I can see to do this).

    Why? Please explain to me why exactly my child’s educational standards are any of your business? Suppose you turn up at my door and say your want my daughter to recite her times tables so you can compare her with other children the same age. She’d refuse point blank to do it! So what gives you the right to even ask? Because you’re an adult and she’s a child? Your nosiness trumps her right to privacy? She has to perform like a trained animal because you like comparing people? Is there some overwhelming ‘greater good’ here that I’m unaware of, because measurement for the sake of measurement is no justification for anything.

    >4 – promote improvement in education standards

    OK, that one is just laughable! So you’re saying that my child’s education is in need of improvement AND that being licensed and inspected by one of the LA’s washed-up ex-teachers will result in such an improvement?

    >Private schools do not take state funding, allow
    >parents to chose the education that there child
    >has and they can also opt out of the national
    >curriculum, much like home schools, yet we do
    >measure the standards of teaching in private
    >schools and the is no problem (in fact most private
    >schools would say that this benefits them),

    You can’t have been following education news recently as private schools are getting really pissed off with the ever increasing levels of state interference. That said, I fail to see how their acceptance or otherwise of monitoring has anything to do with me. Oh, and there’s a massive and incorrect assumption built into your question. Where did you get the idea that home educated children have teachers, that anything resembling ‘teaching’ goes on? The teacher/pupil model is a school model and applies to home education anywhere from all the time to never. How would you propose to measure the standards of something that doesn’t happen?

    >why would this be a problem for home schools? This is
    >what I cannot understand, perhaps you can help me.

    First, there’s the principal of the thing. Principals like presumption of innocence and my child’s education and upbringing being my responsibility. I don’t believe I should be licensed and inspected to carry out the natural functions of parenthood, and for now being a parent is not a privilege granted by the state.

    Second there are the practical problems with the government’s plans. My daughter’s education is child-centred, that means I do not have a plan for what she’s going to learn for the next week, let alone the next year. No LA employee is going to be able to assess the suitability of her education because they don’t know her. I do. I know what she likes, what she hates, what she’s good at, what she struggles with, how she learns most effectively and I can promise you it’s not the way she would be expected to do it in school. Take maths for example, very much done in short bursts of enthusiasm followed by months of no interest at all. The result of following her preferred learning style is that, when she would be starting term 2 of Year 1 she’s just finishing off her last Year 2 workbook. Now you’re going to say that I shouldn’t mind being inspected, but guess what, my head-strong little girl is very clear about who gets to see her work and she does not take kindly to being asked to ‘perform’ for anyone, and I’m not going to ask her to either. Whose benefit would it be for?

    Finally, I have better things to do with my time than humour government officials, and they have better things to be spending our taxes on than harassing me and my child.


  17. Rehena Says:

    Dear Libdem MPs,
    APPG on Home Education will take place on Wednesday 6 January 2010 in Committee Room 10, between 4 and 5pm. Schools Minister Diana Johnson MP will address the group and take questions.
    While the session is primarily aimed at MPs, MPs’ staff, and Peers,I’m inviting you to come to the meeting and look forward to seeing you there.


  18. KNorman Says:

    The body of evidence from the US means that in the States it is widely accepted that home education (home schooling) achieves good results.
    Most recently the Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics included 11,739 homeschooled students from all 50 states who took three well-known tests—California Achievement Test, Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, and Stanford Achievement Test for the 2007–08 academic year.
    The Progress Report is the most comprehensive homeschool academic study ever completed. It found as in previously studies that homeschoolers consistently perform above average – 37 percentile points higher than public schools.

    In the US The level of state interference varies greatly but has been found to have no effect on attainment levels. In other words LA involvement has been shown to have no benefit to a group of children who routinely outperform school based attainment.

    In the UK studies by Paula Rothermel found that home-educated children demonstrated high levels of literacy in comparison to national attainments, and that Home educated children performed above the national mean performance in both reading and mathematics.
    The problem is that home eductors use methods that are very diffciult to use in a class situation and are not amenable to monitoring – informal learning, independent learning and one-to-one conversation. It is a joint venture based on child and parent’s interests. As such it is impossible to plan a year ahead and learning may not be easily demonstrated to a third party because it happens all the time, in individual’s heads.