Jeremy Yallop is a home-educating parent who thinks attempts to intervene are based on faulty evidence, and says ‘No, learning is both more enjoyable and effective without coercion’
Some parents, we are told, believe that their children should be free to follow their own interests at their own pace. Mr Webb finds this “bizarre”; he apparently prefers to force them to learn things of no interest to them at a pace outside their control.
In fact, the autonomous educators so despised by Mr Webb simply practise what most people know instinctively: that learning is both more enjoyable and more effective without coercion. Every teacher knows the impossibility of teaching disaffected pupils; anyone with a hobby knows the joy and effortlessness of learning when the interest is engaged. Such learning may involve teaching, books, conversations, experiments and whatever else proves helpful. Extensive research by Dr Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison at the Institute of Education in London has shown the autonomous approach to be “astonishingly effective”.
Chris Ford, now completing a biomedical research PhD, was autonomously educated from birth until he went to college, aged 14, to take A- levels.
Alex Dowty, autonomously educated from the age of eight, decided against GCSEs and A-levels; instead, he took Open University courses in politics and humanities, which led to an unconditional offer to read law at Oxford. So autonomous education does not bar children from the professions, as Mr Webb fears.
Graham Badman’s review of home education is a striking example of what happens when there is no interest in the subject studied. He has produced a pitiful excuse of a report, the shortcomings of which include an embarrassing failure to understand the existing law. The confusion between rights and duties that Mr Webb rightly deplores does not reside with home educators but with Mr Badman, who assures us that he will not argue against “the rights of parents as set out in section 7 of the Education Act 1996”, although he does imagine a need to balance these with the rights of children. In fact, the passage he refers to does not confer rights at all; instead, it imposes a duty on parents to provide a suitable education. The propaganda about “balance” fails in the face of this simple truth. Nobody will believe that parents’ duties are incompatible with children’s rights.
Mr Badman wishes to appear very concerned for children’s rights, especially their right to have a “voice”. Strangely, he did not consider giving them a voice in his report. There are quotes from vested interests (teachers’ unions) and irrelevant campaign groups (the British Humanist Association). There is a quote from the Church of England’s submission, carefully cropped to conceal the fact that it opposes the report’s recommendations. Yet, although he received about 2,000 submissions from “home-educating parents or children”, Mr Badman fails to mention the view of a single child. The charity Education Otherwise surveyed 588 such children, who overwhelmingly rejected Mr Badman’s proposals.
What are these proposals that children reject so strongly? One of the most shocking gives local authorities the power to enter the homes of every home-educating family and take children from their parents for interrogation. A second abolishes the freedom to educate at home without official permission. Instead, a licence is required, which may be refused.
Politicians of all parties are joining home-educated children in condemning the proposals. Fifty-six MPs have signed early day motions expressing concern. A parliamentary inquiry into the review is already under way.
Mr Badman was tasked with linking home education and child abuse in order to justify a change in the law. He failed spectacularly, producing only a single sentence of evidence, which falls apart under scrutiny: “the number of children known to children’s social care in some LAs is disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population”. In fact, talk of proportions is meaningless, as the number of home educators is unknown, and the statistic itself is irrelevant, since children may be “known to social care” because of poor health, referrals by neighbours alarmed by children not at school, or many other reasons. Freedom of information requests submitted to all local authorities by Action for Home Education reveal that abuse is actually significantly rarer among home educators than in the general population.
Ill-informed prejudice and shoddy statistics are poor grounds for changing the law. Mr Webb’s and Mr Badman’s failed arguments only confirm there is no convincing case to be made.
and that, my friends, is what we call ‘total pwnage’.
Despite the unprecedented outrage, universal condemnation, and being proven wrong, they still plan to ‘legislate in the autumn’. If they dare to do so, everyone will call on the Tories to undo this utter nonsense after the general election, where Neu Liebour will be wiped out. I imagine that the Tories will use the instrument of a single act to erase the total evil that has been unleashed upon Britain; ‘The Restoration of Liberty Act’, which will at a single stroke, remove from the statutes every ill conceived, fascistic, totalitarian pice of garbage Bliar and Brown and their corrupt cohorts brought in. It will simultaneously remove:
the ID Card the National Identity Register ContactPoint the ‘anti paedophile database’ RIPA
Not surprisingly, we have been over this before on BLOGDIAL, 2006.
In the meantime, if they dare to enact any legislation to try and control Home Educators, they will create a new class of criminal – up to 120,000 of them – who will all refuse to allow the state to interfere in their rights and duties. Many who do not want to be criminalized are already planning to escape to Scotland and places beyond this beleaguered place.
And there you have it. No matter what evil the dying scorpion manages to squirt out of its bladder before it is crushed under foot, no one is going to obey it, and the Tories are going to erase it.
Translation… YOU LOSE you swines!