Good grief, Mr Mooney has been putting himself about a bit over the weekend. On Saturday he could be found on Radio 4, contributing to the misunderstandings that persist in the public mind about home education; and it materialises that he was at it again on Sunday, this time on the Eddie Nestor show on Radio London.
From 49 mins into the show, a transcript of Mr Mooney's section:
EN = Eddie Nestor. TM = Tony Mooney.
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EN: I'm joined on the phone by Tony Mooney, a LEA inspector for homeschooling. Good morning, Tony.
TM: Good morning.
EN: Thank you for joining us. So give us an idea then. Does home schooling actually work?
TM: It can in some cases. But there's a lot of effort has to go in. I notice that those children who were being interviewed were up to the age of 10. I do secondary home education and I tell you, even the most committed parents who've got money and time find it very difficult to sustain up to the age of 16. Um, it's really hard work.
EN: But we hear all the time, I mean we did a feature on Friday about 9 year olds who get a levels in Maths, and you can imagine that lots of them are home tutored. If you do get it right, is it not the cure-all?
TM. Well it is not the cure all because, I mean you are talking about 9 year olds who get A levels, who is teaching them, the parents? I mean, I am a maths and science teacher. OK, I could get them through maths and science, but the other subjects that I think youngsters should be taught, I just wouldn't have the expertise or the confidence to teach them.
EN: OK, give us some idea of what the rules are in terms of being monitored then.
TM: Well, they are very lax indeed. I think it is actually a national disgrace. I quote for you, Lord Donaldson said in 1980 in the case of Philips v. Brown that of course, a request that we make which is going to be informal, which is going to see them, or see the children, it has got to be informal, and parents will be under no duty to comply. However, it would be sensible for them to do so but then if they do so, there is no right for the inspector to go to the home, or to see the children. They can write a report about what's happening, and some examples of work, but we don't really know what is going on.
EN: yeah but, you sound really doubtful about this. What evidence do you have that people perhaps keep their children at home just not to do anything as opposed to doing work and trying to give their children the best possible start.
TM: Well, my experience is that I go to homes where youngsters have been pulled out for bullying, as your report said, or because the parents not happy with the school. But then, they don't know what to do. In fact, I find myself giving advise to them, telling them which books to buy, how to study it, and then....
EN: is that not your job though?
TM: No, that is not my job.
EN: Oh right. Your job is not to help and support.
TM: No. My job is to report to my education authority that the progress is satisfactory or not satisfactory as the case may be.
TM: If it is satisfactory then I don't have to go back for another year.
EN: That's a long time when we are talking about a child's education.
TM: A very long time, and I have seen youngsters being educated one year. It's OK, because the parents are keen and enthusiastic, but the next year the parents have run out of time and patience and the youngster is getting a bit stroppy about it. So the education, I have to report, is unsatisfactory; and then I go back within the next six months.
EN: You know what did scare me about the report that Anna brought us, it did sound as if the children were in control...is that wrong of me?
TM: The children are in control, yes. That's my experience. They are dictating how their education should go and what they want to do and what they don't want to do.
EN: That's not a child's place though is it?
TM: I don't think it is. I think when youngsters get out of the primary stage should be following a logical, structured course of study and it's not the case in many of the families I go to.
EN: Do you think it is increasing, that many more families are choosing to do it?
TM: It is increasing. I mean your report said that the government report said that there were between 7.5k and 35k, Education Otherwise a group of people or a body that helps parents
who are educating at home say it is nearly 200, 000.
EN. Certainly the figure that I had. It was over 100k. In my head in terms of the people I talk to about doing this. Can I just ask one question as we have the news coming up soon, in conclusion, are there particular types of children that you think fare better being taught at home?
TM: Yes, parents who have got lots of money, lots of time, lots of books around the house, who are educated themselves, those are the ones who provide in general the best home education, but a lot of the families I see are on working class estates who have been pulled out of school for bullying or truanting and it is nothing like that at all.
EN: Tony, can I say thank you very much for speaking to us.
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At the very least, someone from EO should be putting Mr Mooney and Mr Nestor right on the matter of numbers. As for correcting all the other errors, members of Action for Home Education are already writing a full complaint to the BBC about his other piece on Radio 4. Looks as if they may have to be getting on to Radio London as well.