Thursday, January 22, 2009

There’s no abuse in home education

The liberty to choose: parents who home educate their children, in most cases, do a very good job

Jason Ward, from Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, wrote to the Times Online:

Sir, What a wonderful advert for state education the logical powerhouse Baroness Morgan of Drefelin is (report, Jan 20). In some “extreme cases”, I’m sure home education could be a cover for not just abuse and forced marriage, but for child experimentation, low-cost manned Moon missions and possibly even cotton mills. Oh where, Baroness, is the evidence for this massive flap you are in? One or two cases where you suspect children may have been pulled out early and not taught?

Thankfully, she notes, as did we before making our decision on home schooling, that most parents choosing to educate their children at home did a good job. Actually, what swung it for us were the factual statistics that not only did they do a good job, but also a very, very good job indeed.

Please, can we not give up the liberty of being able to choose between a great state system, a private school or the joy of teaching at home, simply because it is hypothetically possible that a bad person somewhere might one day conceivably manipulate the system, or there might be an “extreme case”.

If the authorities know where the abuse is happening, they have other instruments for investigating, outside of any Education Acts, and if they don't know, then it is pure speculation, and could therefore amount to prejudice and discrimination against Home Educators.

Home schooling enriching

Dr Ian Walkington from Cheshire wrote to The Telegraph:

SIR – Baroness Morgan, the children’s minister, says that, in extreme cases, home education could be used as a cover for abuse, neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude (report, January 21). There are absolutely no statistics to back up this claim. It would seem that the Government just wants to regulate home education in its typically heavy-handed manner.

The studies into home education tend to point to the fact that, on average, these children do better academically than state-schooled children. They also have more rounded characters, as they are able to interact outside their peer groups.

This Government held a consultation on home education in 2007, but apparently it now needs another one so urgently that it can only provide four weeks for it. Is it because they did not get the result they were after the first time?

If you ask home-educated children, they would tell you how enriching it is.

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