Home education has been in the news again. Unfortunately this only seems to happen when there are sensationalist and negative headlines to go with it. Unfortunate because home educating is a successful approach that thousands of families choose for their children and it’s unhelpful to see inaccurate and biased reporting.
Such was the case recently with Channel 4s programme Dispatches about so-called ‘invisible’ children, which discussed the Children’s Commissioner’s call for home schooled children to be monitored.
This issue has been raised numerous times before and for the thousands of parents who have conscientiously educated their children without state intervention for years it’s hard to accept that the intrusion of it is necessary. (More here)
What also upsets the home educating community is the fact that it masks the real and growing issue of schools off rolling students they prefer off their stats. For it’s not the need to monitor home educators that’s the real issue, nor the fact that none of the children of conscientious parents are invisible anyway as the programme title suggests, but the growing trend of off-rolling and genuine home educating families being lumped under their umbrella.
Off rolling is a practice by schools whereby challenging children are informally and illegally excluded from the school’s books, often by suggestions they would be better off being home schooled or educated elsewhere. And it is this growth in numbers of off rolled pupils which has directed attention back to home schooling and its possible flaws.
We probably accept that we are all different and even go so far as to acknowledge that all our children are different too. Therefore it stands to reason that not all children will thrive and achieve in the environment of a school. Youngsters have a whole range of needs and clearly not all of them can be catered for. Some of these may require special provision, others just need a different climate in which to learn like children who do not perform well in bustling, noisy, crowded environments for example. And we would be failing as parents and educators not to accept that other provision is needed in some cases.
As schools become ever larger and more stressful and the curriculum ever more structured and prescriptive, many parents have found that home educating suits their child far better. In fact it has been a life saver in some cases where children have become almost suicidal through bullying or other unhappy school issues.
The organisation ‘Not Fine In School’ is testimony to that. Reading through their website, there’s a range of reasons why other provision should be made, some turning to home education to do so.
Obviously not every family is suited to home educating. But thousands successfully do. So despite negative press such as that recently, parents should not be put off looking at home schooling as a choice for their child should they not be thriving in school. There are many, many home educated young people who are graduating to Uni and work without ever having been to school who are testament to it as a workable alternative.
Meanwhile, ministers would be better employed deciding what to do about off rolling, rather than attacking those who make home schooling a success.