Saturday, January 30, 2010

This week on the news

So, what's on the news this week?

In London, a 9 y.o. boy hanged himself after being told off at school. He wasn't the only one: in a Texas school another 9-year-old boy was found hanged. In Mumbai, a 12-year-old, ashamed of failure, hanged himself too.

In Scotland: 500 kids kicked out of school each year over drink and drugs; fears over rise in violence at schools involving weapons; PE teacher cleared of kiss and in Castletown parents want to sack the head teacher after girls one to five had their underwear checked.

In North wales a primary school teacher was suspended for ridiculing pupils; in Wiltshire, a maths teacher groomed pupil before having sex with her in school cupboard and in a top public school in London a school teacher 'fondled pupils'.

In Cheshire, the PE teacher who punched special needs pupil escapes ban but Pembrokeshire sex assault head teacher lost his appeal. A teacher in Hull has been jailed after a traumatised teenage girl he sexually abused called ChildLine for help. In Nailsea, a 12 y.o. boy is given hardcore porn at school.

In Sudbury pupils are to be given talk on knives and in Gloucestershire a school bus driver over alcohol limit crashed vehicle. I also found out that in England smacking is allowed in certain schools. Despite all this, the crackdown on school truants continues because school is were children should be!

In Germany, an elite school reports sexual abuse cases but everything is OK now that rector has apologised. In Vietnam, a wartime shell explodes at schoolyard and in Haiti 50 bodies are found in a school.

In South Africa, a pupil kills herself after a grade bungle, a pupil has died after being stabbed in the grounds of his school, and a 12 y.o. pupil is shot dead at school. In yet other school of 1 200 pupils, 100 per class, one toilet! I think I'll stop now...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Home educators' house swapping holidays

11-year-old Ruaridh finds the whole experience exciting:

“Well, if you think that it’s hard, its not,” he said. “You just forget what you did at home and consider it as something new and something different. Home education really does teach you that you can make your own decisions about that, you’ve just really got to think what you want to do; it gives you an opportunity to do anything you want to do.”

Read it here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Homeschooling Family Granted Political Asylum

“This decision finally recognizes that German homeschoolers are a specific social group that is being persecuted by a Western democracy,” said Mike Donnelly, staff attorney and director of international relations for Home School Legal Defense Associaton.

“It is embarrassing for Germany, since a Western nation should uphold basic human rights, which include allowing parents to raise and educate their own children. This judge understood the case perfectly, and he called Germany out. We hope this decision will cause Germany to stop persecuting homeschoolers,” he added.

Read more here. The story also appeared on the Guardian, the Deutsche Welle, the Local, and in spanish here.

UPDATE: Commenting on this, Ed West says here that the British Government is trying to make homeschooling even harder because he suspects many of the parents are religious.

NAS position on home education clause

Proposals in the Children, Schools and Families Bill implement the recommendations of the Badman Review to register and monitor home educators:

Research suggests that children who are home educated are nearly twice as likely to have statements of SEN, and children with autism are heavily represented within this group. A lack of understanding of autism means the school experiences of children with the condition are frequently marred by misunderstandings, inadequate support and often bullying. Some parents are, consequently, left with little alternative other than to home school in the best interests of their child's education and mental and physical well-being. In some of the worst cases we also hear that parents are placed under pressure by schools to remove their children under threat of permanent exclusion or prosecution.

Far too many parents of children with autism who home educate are simply left alone 'to get on with it' without any support at all or say their local authority has been unhelpful and even hostile to their attempts to provide an appropriate education. This is particularly where the relationship between the parents and the local authority has broken down, during parents fight to get the right support for their child.

It is vital that the proposals in the Bill take into account the needs of this group of children. We want to see local authorities who have the training and resources in autism to be able to work in partnership with parents and give them the support they need to home educate their children. It is absolutely essential that this is a two-way relationship with an emphasis on support and not monitoring alone.

Mark Lever, chief executive of The National Autistic Society, here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dealing with truancy, the american way

Simple! Tag the children with GPS Tracking Devices!

More here and here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wales Environmental Home Education Camp

30th Aug – 5th Sept

This is the fifth year that the camp has been running at Pengraig. A beautiful farm set in 78 acres of countryside near Carmarthen in West Wales. The farm is home to the Majical Youth Theatre Group external link image who have more than 20 years experience in running and organising events of all sizes, for kids of all ages.

Cost: Early bird tickets are available at the cost of £150 per family. This offer is available until 1st April 2010. The price from 1st April will rise to the full tariff of £200 per family. Limited concessions are available for single parents with proof of benefits.

Find out more here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

CSF Bill House of Commons 2nd Reading

Michael Gove

Mark Field

You can also watch here Mark Field highlighting the concerns of home educators with regard to the recommendations of the Badman Review in a Westminster Hall debate he tabled on 9 June 2009.

Continue watching...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

NH Home Schoolers Protest!

"New Hampshire home educators protesting proposed government regulations making NH the most difficult state to home school. It is a short account of why these ordinary families came out in frigid New England weather to voice their concerns to the New Hampshire legislature. A suprising mix of people with differing political, religious and social views gathered in a unified stance against their representatives."

N.H. Homeschoolers Praise Vote Against Tighter Regulations
The N.H. House of Representatives rejected a bill that would tightly regulate homeschooling. The state House voted 324-34 against changes to the current law.

A Libertarian Perspective on Home-Ed

Sophie Robbins (Home Educated Student; blogger, ValleyForge) talking at LIBERTY 2009: the Annual Conference of the Libertarian Alliance. Oct 2009, London.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On the news...

Children's Secretary Ed Balls has defended plans to force home-educating parents to register with their local council as "very light touch indeed" [dismissing] Tory claims that the plans would "alienate and antagonise" home educators. Read more...

Here, Lord Lucas shares his "close interest in home education, in the Badman Report, and in the bill now before the Commons, which sets out to demolish people's right to educate their own children" and his difficulties when trying to get answers to his questions.

Meantime, in the USA, home schooling soars in Central Florida
... the number of kids sitting for lessons in their kitchens and living rooms surged 20% last school year. Read more...

While in New Hampshire home school proposal too strict
Parents portray the legislation as state interference in family affairs. "Some people think the government knows what's best for everyone, and that's not always true," said Pam Altemose, who brought three of her six children to the State House last week. Altemose, a Rochester resident with a master's degree in education, said she first chose home schooling so she could work individually with a son who has special needs. Read more...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Consultation Results

Home Education - registration and monitoring proposals
can be found here.

Home education and the children, schools and families bill

* The Guardian, Monday 11 January 2010

We believe that schedule 1 of the children, schools and families bill represents an unacceptable imposition of state control over families. Although it is aimed at children educated outside the school system, it has implications for all families.

Most parents would not make home-based education their first choice; but any family might need it if school seriously failed their child. Currently, this choice is lawfully available to all parents. If enacted, the bill would – for the first time – transfer responsibility for a child's education from the parents to the state. We believe this is a matter which should be of great concern to everyone.

A change in the law is unnecessary. Parents are already required by law to provide an education suitable to the age, aptitude and ability of their children, and to any special educational needs they may have. Local authorities already have the power to take action if parents do not do this.

Evidence indicates that home education is highly effective. Many home educating families use child-led educational methods which lie outside the prevailing educational paradigm. Diversity in education is precious in a democracy, and we need the law to protect it, and to protect the best interests of each individual child.

The interests of children are strikingly absent from schedule 1, which is concerned mainly with setting up a bureaucratic system administered by local authorities. They would be given the power to deny parents permission to home-educate, at any time, unless parents adapt their educational approach to fit in with the requirements of the system. The resulting insecurity would be damaging to many children, especially those with special educational needs.

Schedule 1 contravenes two principles of the government's own children's plan: that families bring up children, not governments; and that services need to be shaped by and responsive to children, young people and families, not designed around professional boundaries. Given the controversy surrounding this section of the bill, and the serious criticisms made of it by the children, schools and families select committee, we call on the government to withdraw schedule 1 of the bill, and the accompanying clauses.

Ralph Lucas House of Lords, Oliver James, Child clinical psychologist, Anne Fine, Dr Frank Furedi Professor of sociology, Professor Anna Craft University of Exeter, Michele Elliott Founder of Kidscape, Professor Roger Scruton, Graham Stuart MP Chair, all-party parliamentary group on home education, Michael A Peters Professor, educational policy studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Professor Brian Thorne Fellow, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Professor Emeritus Janet Moyles Early years and play consultant, Tricia David Emeritus professor of education, Canterbury Christ Church University, Professor Andrew Samuels University of Essex, Professor Tony Kouzarides Cancer research scientist at Cambridge University, Professor Ian Cunningham Chair of educational charity, Dr Sacha Powell Acting director, Centre for Research into Children, Families and Communities, Canterbury Christ Church University, Dr Felicity de Zulueta Consultant psychiatrist in psychotherapy and honorary senior lecturer at King's College London, Fiona Carnie Vice-president, European Forum for Freedom in Education, Dr Alan Thomas Visiting fellow at University of London Institute of Education, Harriet Pattison Research Associate, School of Education, University of London, Dr Richard House Senior lecturer in therapeutic education, Roehampton University, Peter Humphreys Chair, trustee, director, The Centre for Personalised Education and Personalised Education Now, Veronika Robinson Editor, The Mother magazine, Sue Palmer Literacy specialist and author of Toxic Childhood, Dani Ahrens Open letter co-ordinator, Badman Review Action Group, Roland Meighan The Centre for Personalised Education Trust, Dr Teresa Belton Educational researcher, Dr Ben Anderson Department of sociology, University of Essex, Melanie Gill Forensic psychologist, Claire Fox Director, Institute of Ideas, Vincent Nolan Trustee, Synectics Education Initiative, Dr Marilyn Fryer, Director, The Creativity Centre, John Harris Professional storyteller/children's author, Norman Wells Director, Family Education Trust, Derry Hannam Researcher/adviser/trainer in education for democratic citizenship to Council of Europe, UK government and NGOs, Liz Steinthal Educare Small School, Dr L Safran Educationist, Chloe Watson Chair, Home Educated Youth Council, Cathy Koetsier Media officer, Home Education Advisory Service, Kathleen Thompson Committee member of Education Everywhere helpline, Annette Taberner Trustee of Education Otherwise, Kelly L Green Founding member of Freedom and Choice in Education, British Columbia, Wendy Priesnitz Founder of Canadian Alliance of Home Schoolers, editor of Life Learning magazine, Beverley Paine Editor Home Education Association Australia publications, Deborah Markus Editor, Secular Homeschooling Magazine and more than 1,000 other signatories (for a full list see

Friday, January 08, 2010

Homeschooling couple arrested for not registering

In a move designed to send a message to parents, a New York couple were arrested and ticketed for homeschooling their children and failing to register their them with the school district. Read more here.

Watch more on the same story here.

Home-ed 14 y.o. offered place at Cambridge

Cambridge University offers place to home educated 14-year-old - find out more here.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

New Hampshire restrictions on homeschooling

New Hampshire lawmakers are moving ahead with a bill to restrict home schooling. More here.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Home-ed voices from the Cotswold

"The Government wants to change the law so that inspectors can come into our own homes, test our children and interview them on their own. We are being made criminal in our own country."

"I have home educated my 14 and 22 year old from scratch with no interference from the state. My eldest gained a first class honours degree from Imperial College in Computing and Maths and now has an excellent job with a local games development company."

"Quite a lot of children are withdrawn from school because they have learning difficulties that the school cannot deal with and some because they have been abused and bullied by other school children. Without the freedom to home educate these children would have a very unhappy childhood."

Read it here.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Unschooling for Social Change

The Freechild Project defines unschooling as the process of learning through life, without formalized or institutionalized classrooms or schoolwork. Unschooling relies on interpersonal relationships and natural learning progression to have effect on learners, instead of textbooks and classroom teachers. Self-education is the liberating practice of teaching yourself.

Freechild believes that deschooling is also anti-formalized and anti-institutionalized education of any sorts. However, this process deliberately emphasizes the absence of the systemic approach to learning, and negates the need for schools. Some homeschoolers use a "deschooling" process to get ready for learning at home.

Check it out here.

"Your life, time, and brain should belong to you, not to an institution."
Grace Lwellyn in The Teenage Liberation Handbook

Friday, January 01, 2010

Home-ed news links

North-East and North Yorkshire parents fighting a town hall crackdown if they choose to educate their children at home have won support from MPs after an investigation. Read it here.

South Yorkshire parents who educate their children at home gathered in Sheffield city centre as part of a national protest against proposed 'big brother' reforms which could become law next year. More here.

In Northumberland, MP joins condemnation of home-education red tape. Read it here.