Friday, December 08, 2017

Responses to Lord Soley's Blog

Clive Soley's Lords of the Blog post about the Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill naturally attracted the attention of home educators, a number of whom tried to make use of the comment section, but, as yet, to no avail - their comments appeared to be held up in the moderation process. Perhaps it was a busy day for the moderator.

In the meantime, here's a taster:

One of the many problems home educators have with an LA official coming to assess their educational provision is that they worry for the entire year that what they are doing will not be understood, appreciated or passed as acceptable, and this because the education they provide is so vastly different from school education with which most of these assessors are familiar. We wouldn’t expect the work of doctors, lawyers, nurses, financial advisers, teachers etc. to be assessed by someone who had no first hand experience or real understanding of the field and yet this is something that home educators must endure all the time.  

Then there is the problem of subjectivity of assessment. Given that most home educators do not want to jump through state determined hoops, often because they recognise them for what they are –  outdated, unnecessarily cumbersome and extremely inefficient ways of acquiring an effective education – using any sort of tool to assess learning is never going to be possible. It will all come down to whether the assessor says “yea or nay” on the day, and even if they are highly trained and experienced in the field, that may well come down to whether or not they are having 
 a bad hair day. 


Home educators feel very vulnerable when it comes to this sort of assessment. LA officials can say pretty much anything about them in their reports, and HEors are up against it if they need to prove that LA assessments have been unfair. HEors do not have access to endless resources with which to defend themselves against the state machine, and they do not trust social services or the family courts, with their reputation for back-covering and secrecy. Camilla Cavendish, with her 
previous engagement  on the subject of problems with family courts, should surely understand this. 

The prospect of assessment can also easily be hugely damaging to educational provision. Many HEors understand that helping the child pursue their interests is the most efficient and suitable form of education, and yet they worry that this may well not pass muster with the assessor and they therefore alter their educational provision, thereby make it far less effective. Children also often become demotivated at the prospect of assessment.


Then there’s the problem of the fact that many HE children will not want to see the assessors or show them evidence of their work. One of the main arguments in favour of registration and monitoring is that the state should be able to hear the voice of the child. Given that many HE children are saying that they don’t want to have to be seen by an official or produce their work, how can the state be genuinely taking the voice of children seriously, when they have ignored it as soon as they step through the door?  


Many home educators also feel strongly that a double standard is being applied in asking only home educated children where they want to be educated. When school children are asked where they too want to be educated, then perhaps it would feel like a fair question.


It feels all the more ironic that it should be the voice of the HE child that is sought, when it is actually the case that many home educators spend their entire family lives working consensually and respectfully with their children, not invading their privacy, not demanding to see work that isn’t freely offered, and generally doing their best to respect the human rights of their children.

Another significant factor that must be considered in regard to protecting children and promotion of long term mental health is the fact that many HE young people are being home educated because of severe problems with the schooling system which have impacted negatively on their mental and often physical health.  Home education can currently provide a wonderful opportunity for these children to recover.  If these young people are to be put through as assessment which could lead to them being returned to school, it is likely that this will be experienced as very traumatic.

This may seem an inconsiderable issue to some, but it is not.   At least half of the suicides of young people are related to bullying but that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other people who suffer long term consequences from school related stress, bullying etc.

This is on top of a load of other arguments about ECHR infringements, the problem of a state determined education undermining democracy, the state appropriating parental responsibilities, and therefore later being held to account etc, etc.




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