Read the following response to the sham consultation, and the voice of a third year student in Oxford:
First the law undergraduate:
What it feels like: to be homeschooled
I don’t have a single GCSE or A-level, but I’m in my third year at Oxford University, studying law. I was home educated from the age of 8 until 18. One of the universities I applied to responded by e-mail, saying: “Did you forget to fill the form in?” It’s tricky and expensive to get GCSEs and A-levels if you’re home educated, especially if you want to do lots of them — it can cost more than £100 per exam. And there’s no incentive for schools to assist non-pupils. Oxford was marvellous, though — it was very open-minded and accepted my qualifications from the Open University.
Home education was never the plan. My school closed down when I was 8, at an awkward time of year. Knowing that we would need to make some provision, my parents asked me if I’d like to give home education a go. I agreed, and I always enjoyed it. My father is a barrister and brings in the income, and my mother runs a children’s rights organisation, but was at home all the time for us. She had done a bit of teaching before, although she isn’t qualified.
Home education is much less drastic than people imagine. You’re not in your house all day, never meeting people. Other children are only in school for six hours a day. The only difference is that for those six hours, you are not in school, but around the place — it’s quite possibly less sedentary.
My parents allowed my younger brother and me to take an autonomous approach. The parental input was hugely irregular — we were supervised, but it was very informal. We never had deadlines, exams, homework or even a timetable, but I don’t have a problem applying discipline. I might do nothing on a Wednesday, but work all weekend. I’d go through phases of hiking through Snowdonia or reading in a corner for two weeks. In the beginning, however, I did spend a few months watching appalling TV and playing computer games. Had it gone on, my parents would have acted, but I got over it. There’s only so much daytime television you can watch.
I became fascinated with Antarctica, so my mother persuaded me to look at it in more detail. She would also take us to museums. The national curriculum only applies in schools — and my parents certainly didn’t follow it, although they did nudge me into subjects that I’d need, such as French and maths, and we had a French tutor who came weekly, over an extended period. Education is much broader than someone sitting you down and telling you things. Mine was a question of working out what areas I was interested in, then finding the relevant book, website or museum.
I discovered that academic institutions — the British Antarctic Survey and the Science Museum, for example — are incredibly willing to respond to an interested 10-year-old. I appreciated the freedom — I am interested in politics, and I was allowed to study that to a greater extent than the national curriculum would allow.
“I was allowed to study that (politics) to a greater extent than the national curriculum would allow.”
That is not by accident of course.
And now the HEYC chimes in with the sort of language and insight that makes me have hope:
Question 1: Do you agree that these proposals strike the right balance between the rights of parents to home educate and the rights of children to receive a suitable education?
There is no imbalance between parents’ and childrens’ rights at the current time. Any changes would cause an imbalance, though not between the rights of parents and children. Rights are given by nature, as well as law, and are immutable, hence the word ‘rights’. The proposed changes would allow the government to take more power from parents, but would not increase the power of children – the power to ‘protect’ the child’s rights would remain with the government.
Question 2: Do you agree that a register should be kept?
Any home educating families who are not in contact with their LA probably live within the jurisdiction of an LA ignorant or hostile towards home education, and wish to avoid interference. Additionally, those parents who are malicious and abusing their children (if such parents exist) would not bother registering, as they are already breaking the law in a much more serious manner.
Question 5: Do you agree that it should be a criminal offence to fail to register or to provide inadequate or false information?
This could provoke interference beyond the state’s justifiable jurisdiction. It should not be a criminal offence to educate your child in the way that seems best. Under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996, parents have a duty to ensure their children receive a suitable education, and so have a duty to educate their children away from school if they believe that to be the best course of action. Many home educating families try to avoid contact with their LA because they are afraid of interference with that duty. Parents could be branded as criminals for complete adherence to primary law. This proposal would not stop child abusers, who could simply stay under the radar, or stay hidden in some other way, but it leaves law abiding parents with a stark choice: to follow the proposed legislation, and avoid being branded as a criminal, or to be prosecuted for adherence to primary law, and doing their duty to their children.
Question 7: Do you agree that DCSF should take powers to issue statutory guidance in relation to the registration and monitoring of home education?
Here the DCSF is attempting to assert authority over parents, which misses the point that government are meant to serve the people. The DCSF is a government department and could not always issue appropriate guidance for local operation, especially something as varied as home education, which should be dealt with on a case by case basis.
Question 8: Do you agree that children about whom there are substantial safeguarding concerns should not be home educated?
Education is nothing to do with safeguarding. This blurs the boundaries too far, education is education, and child protection is child protection, it is illogical and counterproductive to combine the two. Measures are already in place to ensure that children educated at home receive a suitable education, and that they are not being mistreated. If there are any ’safeguarding’ concerns, these should be referred to Social Services, rather than applying an arbritrary and pointless measure against a parent who has been presumed to be guilty. If the inspectors see that a child might be being mistreated, they could revoke registration and leave them no alternative but to go to school. The idea originally behind this proposal is that children are seen in school, so signs of abuse could be spotted. This is a serious misconception; children educated at home are seen plenty, definitely enough for signs of mistreatment to be spotted, just as effectively as they would be in school, via contact with their community, doctors, and friends. This proposal is not even true to its ideology; if an inspector has sufficient concerns about the welfare of a child to revoke registration, they should follow it up, rather than forcing the child into school–where they would supposedly be seen more than at home–if concerns had already been raised.
Question 9: Do you agree that the local authority should visit the premises where home education is taking place provided 2 weeks notice is given?
The logical reason for LAs to inspect schools is to allow them to truthfully tell parents that their children are receiving a suitable education. If children are educated at home, this would be an unnecessary job for the LAs; parents would see their children and be able to satisfy themselves that their children are receiving a suitable education. An inspection of this sort in a private residence would be totalitarian. LAs also inspect schools so that the government can see whether or not it is achieving it’s goals, in terms of schools’ achievement levels. The government does not have any goals in terms of home educators’ achievement levels, so inspections would be a waste of time. On the child protection issue, measures are already in place to ensure that children are not abused. No additional measures are needed for home educated children, especially given the evidence that they are less at risk, as found by AHEd through FOI requests.
Question 10: Do you agree that the local authority should have the power to interview the child, alone if this is judged appropriate, or if not in the presence of a trusted person who is not the parent/carer?
No authority is allowed to see a child alone, without the parent present, in present law. To change this is actually a move against children’s rights, as in the case of a child who does not wish to be seen, it contravenes UNCRC articles 2 (by discriminating against home educated children), 9 (by removing a child from their parents against their wishes), and 16 (in that this process is arbitrary). Also, this power would not have the ability to force a child to speak, and children will not open up to untrusted strangers identifying themselves as authority. It would also be an opportunity for renegade inspectors–especially dogmatic believers in the school system, or paedophiles who have infiltrated children’s services–to make a some sort of harmful move on children, when they would not be able to protect themselves, and would not be seen by another adult who could help them. This proposal conflicts with parents’ biological instinct to protect their children, which must not be ignored.
Question 11: Do you agree that the local authority should visit the premises and interview the child within four weeks of home education starting, after 6 months has elapsed, at the anniversary of home education starting, and thereafter at least on an annual basis? This would not preclude more frequent monitoring if the local authority thought that was necessary.
Aside from the point that local authorities should not even be entering private premises without willing consent from the owner, most children need time to be able to settle into home education before the local authority even considers the quality of their education. The frequency of the LA’s inquiries should be determined by the deemed quality of education in previous years; if a parent is providing good quality of education over a consistent period of time then there is no reason to continually monitor that parent.
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I’m Lovin it.
These are the enemies of the state, the threats to the current authority that I have been talking about.
One is an autonomous learner that is a lawyer. Once he starts practicing law, he will NEVER turn against Home Education, and in fact, he could quite easily run for and be elected to parliament. He has explicitly said that he is interested in politics.
If this were to happen again and again, the ‘establishment’ would face being co-opted by Home Educated free thinkers, short circuiting their corruption at every level.
This is why HOME EDUCATION MUST BE STOPPED.
The HEYC group is another perfect example. They are ruthlessly logical, well informed, organised and able to respond to the totalitarian ideas of characters like that creature of the night Ed Balls.
HEYC is a GROUP of young people, and for every one of them there are many more who for whatever reason are not connected to HEYC, but who are similarly well informed and free thinking.
These people are a CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER to the status quo; what the government cannot afford is ANY MORE of these people being produced, which is why the rate of increase of home educators needs to be curtailed right now, through a carefully coordinated plan of stigmatisation, character assassination, restrictive regulation, press smears, conflated horror stories and whatever other dirty tricks they can come up with to convince parents that only schools can teach, only the state curriculum is valid and everything else is PAEDOGEDDON.
The truth about Home Education, when you see it in these two forms is breathtaking in its attractiveness; what parent would not like their child to behave and function in the way these young people are doing?
Note also that the parents of Alex Dowty were both highly educated professionals. This is precisely the sort of story that should be told in every newspaper and lifestyle magazine to once and for all, dispel the idea that Home Education is in any way abnormal, or connected to anything abnormal.
These people WILL enter government and when they do, if there are any laws governing Home Education, they will be removed. It might take ten or twenty years. The question you have to ask yourself is this, “why should I wait for everyone else to catch up to the rightness of what we are doing?”. The answer is, “you should not”.
The people of the Soviet Union had to wait seventy years for the penny to drop that socialism was unworkable. Generations of people had their lives destroyed. The same goes for the people who had to suffer miscegenation laws. Their lives were blighted for no good reason, and now that these evil laws have been repudiated, all the people who suffered their lost loves are either dead or very bitter that their lives were spoiled by the pig ignorance of a minority of swines in power.
There is absolutely no reason why you should be interfered with in ANY WAY with your Home Education. You should not stand for it, tolerate it, accept it, be resigned to it or cooperate with it, should they dare try to legislate against it.