Home Education – Round Two!

Lord Soley

An interesting aspect of my post below and the one by Baroness Deech is that they attracted few responses from many of our non committed bloggers. I would like to hear their views.

There is nothing wrong with a lobbying group of strongly committed people – they are essential to the democratic process but I do not believe that my concerns about this issue are not shared by many others in society.  I have met and know families who home educate. I remember discussing these very issues when a parent at my son’s school was taking her child out for home education. She understood the need for some method of checking and recognised that if it became very common it would inevitably attract people who might want to take their child out for other reasons.

I think part of the problem here is the distrust in institutional systems of government but what I would like is some more recognition that children have rights as well as parents and that some parents fail, for many and varied reasons, to provide protection and minimal standards for their children. This happens in all walks of life and is not special to home educating parents.

Those who want home education must surely also want to ensure that parents AND CHILDREN who need help get it. Yes, it is and always has been a difficult judgement about how government at all levels can and should intervene but look at the background to the great educational reform Act of 1870. Opposition to state education in the 19th century reflected some of the complaints being voiced now. Home education without some protection of the rights of the child risks taking us back to the pre 1870 position.

There is another point I want to emphasise here. It is that we all refer to ‘our’ children or ‘my’ child. They are our children but they are not our possessions. Some of the comments do speak about the child as though they are born dependent and will stay dependent.  All of us know how quickly children develop  and express their own personality. Society’s ability to intervene to protect is not a safeguard we should casually throw away. Children have rights and we have a duty as a society to ensure those rights are respected.

81 comments for “Home Education – Round Two!

  1. Dave H
    10/02/2010 at 4:43 pm

    You do touch on one of the important points – as a group, home educators distrust government. The conduct of the current one has reinforced that opinion, with highly unsatisfactory responses from DCSF to anything that doesn’t fit their Master Plan, and whoever is in power come June is going to have to do a lot of work to restore any degree of trust. Look at Schedule 1 of the CSF bill and see if you think that what’s there has the best interests of the children at heart because to me it can be interpreted otherwise, and that is wrong.

    Don’t forget that many home educators have withdrawn their children from the state system because in their opinion, the state has failed to provide an adequate education. Therefore it is not unreasonable that attempts by the state to intrude on the alternative provision is unwelcome.

    As has been said before, the state does have powers of intervention if it has reason to believe that a suitable education is not being provided, but many local authorities fail to understand and implement the rules correctly. Some just don’t bother, others act as if they have absolute power and attempt to force home educators to do things that are not legally required. A large county in the north west has been mentioned in this context recently.

    As for needing help, there is nothing to stop individual home educators asking their local authority, although given that central government made it clear some years ago that there is no money for support, most of us don’t bother.

    I hope that you will come to the APPG on home education meeting next month where you can meet home educators who will be able to answer your concerns – we have had much practice at answering questions by now, and that’s why you will find that you get a standard set of answers – because there’s a standard set of questions that invariably come up.

  2. Senex
    10/02/2010 at 4:55 pm

    Point of Order! I must point out that whilst some of us are committed or in need of being committed the noble Lord by virtue of his longevity in Parliament is not only committed but also institutionalised?

  3. Croft
    10/02/2010 at 5:20 pm

    I thought I saw many of the regulars (non-committed) even if they did get lost in the rush of new posters – the latter of which can hardly be seen as a bad thing as the Lotb is about engagement!

    I have no doubt that ‘distrust in institutional systems of government’ is part of this issue but it is a self inflicted wound. Governments with large majorities are apt to treat consultations over policy as a nuisance that gets in the way of doing what they intended in the first place. To the extent that I’ve watched this debate (having no personal involvement in HE) the government has been pretty indifferent to the concerns of the HE community.

    ‘children have rights’ ‘They are our children but they are not our possessions.’

    I suspect everyone thinks children have rights but that’s a motherhood and apple pie statement everyone can sign up to not exactly an argument for this policy! Children aren’t possessions but that cuts both ways they don’t belong to the state either. I think what jars with many people outside of the HE community is that there seems no proportionality in these proposals. Promises of light touch inspection is not likely to inspire much confidence.

  4. Morgan Gallagher
    10/02/2010 at 5:25 pm

    Children are not possessions of the State either.

    What I find fascinating about this blog, is that it is a reactive post to reactions to another blog. And so clearly displays the laws of diminishing returns… and that of Chinese whispers.

    The fact that there is both pathways for checking the educational standards of those not in the State school system, and there are already rigorous child protection measures for all children… really has passed you by, hasn’t it?

    It would be so nice if some of you up there in Parliament, actually understood both the current legislation, and the principles under discussion. I know that’s a lot to ask.

    I know merging Education and Child Protection into one mega-department allows you all to think you can move from one to the other seamlessly, but it doesn’t. The issue of a child’s educational standard is utterly separate from the issue of a child’s safety.

    And the issue of a child’e educational standard is already well covered in the current legislation. Safeguards do exist, and do already work. We do currently have adequate legislation on educational standards of those not in the State school system.

    Something which you seem to occurred in 1870.

    What you fail to recognise is that home education is protected under the Rights of the Child. All children have the right to be educated in the way best suited to them. And all children have the right to be protected from State interference in their childhood. It’s you who are the problem. You who are not respecting the rights of the child.

    The concept that we, the parents, are arguing about throwing away protection is just so back-assed to be difficult to understand. We are fighting against YOU imposing levels of new interference in our children’s lives, that are intrusions upon both family life and the Rights of The Child.

    Whilst you all refuse to hear the civil liberties issues here, we’re all just going to speak louder. Sticking your fingers in your ears and ignoring us as we’re all so ‘new’.. very much the politics of the school-yard. Don’t let the new boy talk – he doesn’t know who is in charge here and how things are done! Silence until you’ve learned your place!

    There is an old adage that you should be very careful what you wish for – you just might get it. The children you are currently alienating and talking down to, will one day be the electorate. They know how it feels not to be listened to… be careful they don’t afford you and yours the same privilege when they have grown up and taken control of the reins of power.

    • Twm O'r Nant
      10/02/2010 at 8:42 pm

      “Children are not possessions of the State either.”

      The more you use the facilities of the state the more you ARE the possession of it; lock, stock, neurone and synapse.

      Parents usually refer to their own children as “mine”, unless of course they want to lose them!
      “Nooh! Not mine Nooooh! Whatever gave you that idea! Never seen ‘im before!”

  5. 10/02/2010 at 5:28 pm

    The point is that we have duties towards our children of a different kind than our duties towards others’ children. It’s axiomatic that we’re responsible for our children’s upbringing but it often crosses a line to make decisions on other children’s behalf. I am uncomfortable with the notion of rights as a genuine ethical concept and see them as a legal fiction, but i’m prepared to go along with some account of them as part of a social contract, without getting too bogged down in jurisprudence.

    So, the point is that the use of “our” expresses inalienable possession – i am my children’s parent just as much as they are my children, but that expresses a natural relation, part of the description of the child. It does not express the non-natural property of ownership, which adds nothing to the description of an item but supervenes over a legal or cultural base.

    Beyond that, the fact remains that children’s needs are often better understood by the people who know them best. A teacher, or for that matter an EWO, educational psychologist or social worker, will almost always begin as a stranger to the child and so will have to get up to speed before they can help the child. They may also generalise because of the numbing effect of seeing a long sequence of children. This is a problem of scale. By contrast, parents, though they bring their own prejudices about their little darlings, do generally know their own children, and hence also their needs, better than teachers, at least initially.

    Concerning the 1870 Education Act, history is written by the victors, and this is a fortiori the case with an act which established an educational system. What do we really know about the efficacy of dame and ragged schools? We may have learnt something in particular in the educational system with its vested interest in telling a particular story, but we also know that in the case of the dame schools and the scornful and sexist attitude taken towards women at the time, that they were unlikely to have been assessed fairly. Another example was the Treachery of the Blue Books, which was frankly racist against the Welsh.

    The fact is that we just don’t know how effective education was before the 1870 Act. All we know is the opinions of the people in positions of power at the time.

    The fact is that as parents we have the duty to provide our children (natural property, inalienable possession, _not_ the non-natural culturally mediated property of ownership) with a suitable education, and it can be demonstrated pretty clearly that this can be done more efficiently out of schools than it currently is within them.

    In order to justify their existence as actual educational institutions rather than childcare institutions, which is a valid role, state schools need to be able to provide resources which cannot be reproduced elsewhere, and these have to be something other than books, ICT (public libraries), sports facilities (leisure centres and the like) or socialisation (happens all the time). Until they do that, and their role in that area is smaller today than it ever was, there needs to be a compelling reason for children to go there, such as both parents doing worthwhile work outside the home. Right now, that’s simply not the case.

    • Heidi de Wet
      11/02/2010 at 12:52 am

      “The fact is that we just don’t know how effective education was before the 1870 Act.”

      We don’t have any useful records in the UK, but interestingly there is hard data on the subject in the US, where the Army applies basic literacy tests to all recruits.

      According to John Taylor Gatto, in the 1840s US census data showed literacy rates between 93 and 100 percent. The various US states enacted compulsory school attendance laws between 1852 and 1918. In the 1930s, voluntary US Army intakes had a 98% literacy rate (adequate literacy for army purposes being a fourth-grade reading level). Between 1942 and 1944, the conscripted intake had a literacy rate of 96% – possibly explained by the different demographic being recruited, possibly not. By 1951, the start of the Korean War, literacy among the conscripts had dropped to 81%. The army hired psychologists in 1952 to find out how the conscripts were faking illiteracy to dodge the draft, and the psychologists confirmed that there was no faking involved – these were genuine illiterates. By the end of the Vietnam War in 1973, the literacy rate had dropped to 83%. (For more detail, including an eye-opening look at what was considered ordinary literacy in the 19th century, see .)

      It may be tempting to think that US figures are irrelevant to educational debates in this country. But remember that every time someone in government decides the time is ripe for another all-expenses-paid jolly – sorry, fact-finding mission – to another country to get ideas on fixing our education system, the US is the destination of choice. We seem intent on following the US to hell in a handbasket.

  6. Anna
    10/02/2010 at 5:38 pm

    Again I would like to ask if you have had time to read the transcript of the committee debate? And if so, what are your thoughts on the submissions made?

  7. jilly_uk
    10/02/2010 at 5:55 pm

    “Schools have not necessarily much to do with education… they are mainly
    institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the
    young. Education is quite different and has little place in school.”
    Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

    Our children are not our possessions no, neither do they belong to the state. You will find that the CSF Bill is draconian and does not put the needs of the child first. It is all about state control.

  8. Bedd Gelert
    10/02/2010 at 6:17 pm

    “There is another point I want to emphasise here. It is that we all refer to ‘our’ children or ‘my’ child. ”

    The state doesn’t raise children – parents do and the buck stops with them. I recognise that New Labour detests that and would like to put their oar in and interfere at every possible chance.

    The DCSF and Ofsted are about as much use in protecting children as a chocolate teapot.
    ‘Baby Peter’ anyone ?? There are dreadful parents who don’t care for their children, but they are thankfully the exception.

    It should be made far easier, with much less box-ticking and red tape to look out for children at real risk, and get off the backs of home educators and ‘free schoolers’. At present DCSF are spreading themselves too thinly, interfering where they don’t need to and thus being completely ineffective where they do.

  9. David L Brown
    10/02/2010 at 6:18 pm

    I read your blog with interest.

    I am afraid that you have monumentally failed to grasp the difficulty with the regulation of Home Education. This is that it is a solution where there is no problem.

    Despite the best efforts of Mr Badman, and his discredited statistics, there is no evidence whatsoever that 1) Home Educated children are at any greater risk of harm than school educated children from parental abuse. 2) Home Educated children overall receive a worse education than school educated children. 3) Home Educated children have any problems with socialisation and integration into a wider culture.

    This being the case, and their being already provision for intervention under existing legislation, why such a draconian legislation is being suggested baffles me.

    Finally you criticise what you perceive is the seeing of children as the possessions of the parents. It is a great pity that you regard children being the possession of the State as being more acceptable. Why is not the same regard for the rights and wishes of children in schools being advocated. Why do you believe that the monolith of State education is more beneficial to the child than Home Education. The facts say otherwise. Unfortunately those who advocate an extremely restricted right to Home Education seem to be driven by fear, prejudice and ideology, and have no regard to facts, reliable academic research, and the truth.

  10. Naomi
    10/02/2010 at 6:18 pm

    Can you please point me to the part of the Bill where it will benefit home educated children ?
    Where does it put the childs needs first? Not just resources ? Funding? Support? But the childs desires and preferences?

    Especially for those children with special educational needs, such as autism ,ADHD, dyslexia, etc
    Those children who were failed by the state school system are often home educated.
    So where is the area of the bill dedicated to those special children ?
    Where is it written in the bill that there will be specialist knowledgable support and help from TRAINED professionals for every form of SEN? Not just from any LA official, with his or her inbuilt biases as to what a suitable education ‘should be’, not one who may or may not have any indepth knowledge of Aspergers, Dyslexia and a wide and complex range of other learning difficulties . Can you find it?

    There really is nothing of any benefit to home educated families within this bill!

    They offer the possible use school of libraries! Yet we already have access to far superior public libraries , we already go to museums, our children already have music lessons, we already use sports facilities and share science resources etc.
    We have been left without support and funding for so long that we have actually benefitted from it.
    We have the world as our classroom and far more diverse subjects available to our children . There are no constraints.

    In fact the majority of Home educating families do NOT actually want funding or support. The vast majority want to just be left to get on with teaching, facilitating learning, without interference from those who do not understand what Home Education actually is about.

    We are saying very politely, en mass “No Thank You ”
    We do not wish to cost the state anything. Keep your money and aim it at children KNOWN to be at risk..please!

    Yet no one listens to us.

    Do you not understand how the threat of SAO for not regitering a child with the state, will FORCE children back into a system that has FAILED to educate them and it will do this regardless of what education they are getting ‘at home’ ..even if it is extremely successful and the child is thriving and learning well at home .
    No registration = No Home Education! Full stop!
    Yes failure to register will be enough to put them back into school. Even if the child or their parents do not wish this to happen!Even if that school has failed their child before.

    The school system fails to cope with special needs children .We all know it.
    They are deemed too individualised to be taught in a way that REALLY suits their complex needs.Mainstream schools are for mainstream kids..whatever they are!!

    SEN children have to blend in with the class and for some it simply is impossible. Some are lucky to get 15 mins a day ‘one to one’ support from a classroom assistant (more often untrained in that child’s SEN) and those children with conditions that affect their behavior are simply classed as dispruptive and their condition/behavior can then be seen to be affecting the education other members of their class get too. That doesn’t please the school or the other parents.

    Parents who choose to teach their special needs children at home are doing the state a favour!! They lower class sizes and reduce the amount of SEN children in schools and yet are deemed potential abusers or failures for doing the very best for their children.

    How nice of the state to spread these lies..for that is what they are!

    How can we respect or trust a government that tarred ALL our names?
    We have put up with being considered, religious freaks, abusers,to be seen as parents who lock our children away from society, to be not giving them the same ‘opportunities’ as those children in school…..oh the list goes on dear Lord and to be honest, we are all a bit fed up of it!
    Wouldn’t you be if we constantly accused you of failing your child or of being a potential abuser , even without ANY evidence to prove that you were?
    It has been extremely unfair.

    To be honest I am amazed at how home educators have remained so polite and still take the time to communicate eloquently about home education with those tarring our names and making incorrect assumptions.

    But you see , we love our children, just like you love yours. We know we are doing the best for them.We know them better than anyone else. Can you understand that?

    Parents of SEN children have often had long frustrating battles to try to get statements for their children within schools, only still to be failed by the system. The choice to home educate is often precisely because their children require a very individualised form of teaching, that the schools simply cannot give .

    The children get 24hr ‘one to one’ when *’home educated’.. not 15 mins!

    Yet this bill threatens to send those very children back into school, if their parents do not comply with what the state classes, as a ‘suitable’ education.
    What is a suitable education? The bill does not define that either.. But then can anyone? Every child is different..one size does not fit all.

    How can parents now be expected to accept the state intrusion into their homes and way of life and way of educating ,when it is the very state that often forced them to make the choice to home educate initially!

    They have been failed by the system and yet are now expected to allow the state system to tell them how to do things.Even when the state couldn’t do it right for their children initially.

    It makes no sense to anyone with any understanding of how children learn ….and it is no wonder why so many parents feel there is no trust/bond between them and their local authorities anymore!

    Also you say that we mustn’t class our children as possesions.I agree , my child is her own person…..and yet confusingly that is indeed what the state aims to do.
    The state aims to be the one who decides what is best for the child. It wants to own that right to decide what’s best for a child that I nurtued in my womb for 9 months, a child I gave birth to,a child I cared for when poorly, a child I taught to speak, a child I toilet trained, a child that I brought up fed and cared for.

    Why should the INCREDIBLY important decision as to how she learns suddenly be handed over to the state as soon as she is 5?

    If the state has no evidence of wrong doing ,failure to educate or abuse by the parents at all ,why should the state be the one to decide how the child is educated, when it has been me that has been trusted to bring her up without suspicion or interference from anyone until school age??
    What happens when children reach 5 yrs of age? Do all parents suddenly become abusers or unable to know what is best for their children?

    This Bill needs to be understood for what it really is.It is NOT about education or the childs needs, it is about mistrust of parents and that in itself is why so many home educators opposed it.

    Accusations and mistrust are not the way to forge working ,trusting relationships.

    A vast majority of Home educators oppose this bill and I am one of them.

  11. Thecountrysfinished
    10/02/2010 at 6:24 pm

    Interesting repost Lord Soley. So the replies to your previous blog were from your “usual” bloggers (suspects). I find that hard to believe. As I’ve never commented on here before, pray tell what category I may fall into?

    Couple of comments as it is becoming obvious that the truth will never get in the way of ill-informed opinion.

    To quote for point 1 “Those who want home education must surely also want to ensure that parents AND CHILDREN who need help get it”. Nothing in this illiberal Bill will do anything to rectify this situation unless you count the offspring of the hoards of new box tickers who will happily be kept in McDonalds and new games for their computer game console.

    To quote for point 2 “There is another point I want to emphasise here. It is that we all refer to ‘our’ children or ‘my’ child. They are our children but they are not our possessions”. If they are not my and my wife’s who’s are they or is there something you should tell me? Is she keeping a secret from me? Perhaps the most interesting point about this is they, as a result of this bill will be in the fullness of time. They (my children) become the property of the state in terms of assessing what is right and best for them. We “parents” or should that now be unpaid state childminders, will have to cowtow to the petty diktats of whichever minister happens to be in charge. You want to own all the children then you can bloody well look after them.

  12. Carl.H
    10/02/2010 at 6:33 pm

    Some great Parents/Teachers in the previous thread and I salute you all. Well done.

    Not all education is the same, between schools, area`s and indeed Countries.We tend to push our children too young in this country into formalised learning and I would like to see the more relaxed way`s I believe they have in Scandinavian Countries. Even in formal education where we constantly hear the bleats of more “A” grades this year I find actual education is less than when I left school at 15.

    Government schooling is not the panacea it was expected to be. Inner City schools are failing and anyone who deals with youth in cities may state that most seem uneducated. I know of more young people who can barely read or write than ever, they barely manage their Income Support forms. Please ask the relevent depts., for proof. No,I agree it`s not in all cases but it is a lot more than when I was their age.

    The teachers and schools are under Government pressure to produce results, I believe they often cheat. They do not and cannot deal with bullying successfully and it is happening on a large scale at present especially with out of school internet bullying. Results of bullying can be seen often when the child that is bullied often cracks and hits back. Too often this results in the bullied being punished and the bully getting away with his/her crimes. The current street image of Gangsta kids, hoodies etc., means they are not worried over exclusions etc., which only amounts to a few days off anyway.

    There are of course schools,teachers who get it right but they are under duress from ever increasing legislation and parent pressure. I have found personally a lacking in parent/school communication in some cases where the school/head feels that the parent is superfluous to any situation. In that situation I changed my daughters school.

    Home Education

    I want to relay my own personal experience here and it no way takes anything away from all those wonderful parents who wrote in part 1.

    In 1995 my 15 year old daughter became pregnant and wanted/needed to be home educated for personal reasons. I agreed and the school was helpful in getting me started with some educational books etc. I had the best intentions but was a single Father at that time and tobe honest both selfish and clueless. We had initially one education dept visit and a couple from a teacher who liked my daughter. After that nothing happened and I mean nothing, I didn`t educate or very much try. I was under no pressure to, my daughter was about to be a full time Mum and no one was chasing me up. If there had been a checking scheme I would have done something but there was not at that time. This may have changed already, I don`t know but this is my shameful testament.

    At that time I failed my daughter in a number of ways,education was one, not that she isn`t bright or intelligent, she`s still far more intelligent than a lot who`ve left school recently with lots of bits of paper. The bits of paper I`m not sure count for much nowadays.

    I think home education can be a success, I don`t think it needs the rigid structures the Government seem to insist upon in establishments but I do feel help should be available. I don`t think it should be inspections where parents maybe forced to conform to educational structure but in a similar way a midwife comes around after a baby.

    To those who home teach and do really well, I am sorry I failed and in this post let you down. I possibly won`t be alone.

    The amount that do fail, like myself, will be far less than those whose children are in formal education and still fail. Which appears to be many more. As far as abuse goes, that can happen anywhere. I was in formal education and abused over a number of years, school doesn`t help. Nor do checks as we`ve seen recently from Baby P, the West`s etc., abuse seems to have been put in as emotional leverage.

    The one thing I have found with my younger children is schools seem to be very dictatorial and when they are wrong applying pressure to get justice is difficult. The Local Authorities have little power where schools are concerned it appears. School Governors appear biased and I do think they need an independent body to oversee them.

    • B. Lynn
      11/02/2010 at 1:59 am

      Let me get this right, your daughter was in school for ten years, resulting in an underage pregnancy. You then took her out of school to home educate for one year, supporting her while she coped with the physical and emotional stresses of pregnancy. You assisted her to learn what she needed in order to become a full time mother, as she intended to become (education to be considered suitable must fit the needs of the child to enable them to function as an adult, which her education seems to have achieved).

      And you think YOU are the one who failed?

      • 11/02/2010 at 11:05 am

        I agree with B.Lynn and would add this present Bill offers nothing at all to children in your daughter’s position.
        In fact I would say the opposite is true.

        I am afraid to say that children get sucked into a toxic culture at school too often.

  13. Jo
    10/02/2010 at 6:54 pm

    Parents “rights” only exist because of their duties to their children. They come about to allow parents to act in the best interests of their child because it is recognised that in the vast majority of cases it is the parent and not the state who will have the best interests of that individual child at heart.
    Parents “rights” do not exist independently of, or in opposition to, their child’s rights.
    To not bring in the legislation will not take us back to the pre 1870 position – it will keep the current position where safeguards already exist.
    Often when a parent first removes a child from school they are still seeing things from the point of view of the state education system and it is only after home educating for a reasonable amount of time that they start to realise why such models of inspection, that they first believed would be necessary, are in fact inappropriate.

  14. Annette
    10/02/2010 at 7:01 pm

    “some parents fail, for many and varied reasons, to provide protection and minimal standards for their children”

    To provide protection to ones children is one of the fundamental responsibilities/instincts of any half decent parent.

    This is THE reason I am AGAINST the proposed bill on home education.

    Why as a responsible parent should I allow anyone into MY home and have UNLIMITED and worse still UNSUPERVISED access to MY children (I also beg to differ here, they are MY children, not YOURS and certainly not the property of the government)?

    So, if this bill comes into force, the choices I will be faced with when the LEA person comes knocking at my door is:
    1) Go completely against my instincts and my rights to protect MY children, and ALSO against the rights of MY children to be protected, or,
    2) Go against the law and refuse to comply.

    I don’t have to think very hard to know what my answer to that one would be.

  15. vinny
    10/02/2010 at 7:21 pm

    They might not be my possessions but they are my responsibility; it is my duty to make sure they are fed and looked after and warm and educated.

    *I* love them and *I* see them every day, *I* live with them and *I* listen to them – the State does none of these things, and it never will, whether they are in school or not. It is *my* duty, in law as well as in my heart, to provide ‘my’ kids with the best, the most whole, the most happy, environment, life, diet, and education, that I possibly can.

    The children with the worst ‘outcomes’, the most disadvantaged children in our society, are the ones in the full time care of the State. That is an undeniable fact. We can all tell stories of times the State got involved, or was asked to get involved, with families and not only did they not help but *they made things worse*.

    This Bill contradicts itself in many ways, but here is a biggie – in schools, it claims it is the responsibility of parents to make sure their children are educated (so it is parents who can be punished – not schools, not teachers, not civil servants – if children truant, for example) yet at the same time, for home educators, the Bill makes the responsibility for children’s education lies with the Local Authority.

    My local primary school has a ‘pass rate’ of 23%. The secondary is not much better. Imagine any civil servant telling me that my kids would be better off there than at home with me! It’s laughable.

    It gets tiring having ignorance and insults thrust at us because we are home educating, and then we’re expected to say nothing about the terrible things we have seen in schools, the terrible news that comes out of schools. I went to school for more than a decade and I wouldnt wish what I saw and experienced on the people I love and take responsibility for. Some of the people who posted comments here in the past few days made it clear that their children suffered in schools, they were abused in schools, they are safe now *out* of those schools. It is beyond offensive the way some folk insist on repeating that these families need to be ‘monitored’, by the State, to make sure these kids are safe, when it was in the State’s care within schools that they were being abused! And noone from the State ever did a stuffing thing about it.

    The State has already failed these families, no apology could be enough for what those kids went through on the State’s lookout – and yet no apology is even offered, we’re supposed to invite it in, ask it permission to look after and nourish our own children! I don’t flippin think so.

  16. Firebird
    10/02/2010 at 7:34 pm

    The law ALREADY gives LAs all the power they need to intervene where there is REASON to believe there is a problem with either education or welfare.

    The system of licensing and regulation being put forward will by its very nature discourage parents who NEED help from asking for it.

    It’s not rocket science.

  17. Max
    10/02/2010 at 7:46 pm

    A very nice effort at purposely muddying the waters of “debate”. Congratulations, I salute you.

    However some issues …

    Where is this “democracy” you speak of?
    Where is the so called “democratic mandate”?
    Which “democratic majority” of people called for this legislation?
    Which “democratic majority” even supports it?
    Which “democratic majority” has been consulted?
    Which “democratic majority” even knows it is being implemented?

    The fact is, this legislation has been steamrollered through by a minority group with vested political interests for absolute social control. There’s no aspect of “democracy” in it at all, other than the fig leaf of consultation to discuss which particular flavour of tyranny parents would like to be subjected to. Not to mention some thoroughly dispickable and reprehensible techniques of guilt-by-associatin as an enabler.

    Nevertheless your esssay was quite enjoyable and worth reading through…

    I’ll give you marks for the following techniques in advanced diversion:

    Para 2. The implication that lobbying is a part of a (so called) democracy which merely needs to be tolerated instead of being a core part of it – 10 points.

    Para 2. Neatly slipping in “guilt-by-association” with child abusers. Very nice touch there, well done – I’ll give you 50 points for that – 10 points

    Para 3. The almost subliminal implication that those performing said lobbying are “distrustful” and therefore irrational or, at worse possibly paranoid. Although it’s often overdone it’s nicely woven-in. Good effort – 20 points.

    Para 3. Unfortunately a failure to recognise that “rights” are inaliendable and don’t require “recognition” either by yourself or the state to have effect. Black mark – minus 20 points here (Avoid discussing the law and rights, stick to propaganda, it’s safer ground)

    Para 4. The presumption and preemption of the needs of home-educators. Very nice touch there. This will be difficult for them to argue against unless they can work out where their rights arise from and how they’re lost. 10 points

    Para 4. Extending the above very neatly to craft-in the presumption that the state has the moral right to intervene and the implication that civil rights are granted within such acts (let’s leave the legal issues of acts and statutes aside) – good extension technique, nice way of tranferring perception away from common law into statute law as a default – 20 points

    Para 4 You were clearly on a roll so I’ll congratulate you on this paragraph. An admirable implementation of guilt-by-association with the unedicated classes of the late Victorian era. Categorisation, improvisation and stereotyping. I’ll hand you 40 points for this.

    Para 5. Sadly, you let it all down rather a lot by encouraging casual enqury by the Home Education riff-raff into the concepts of “chattel property” and the lawful and legal aspects of registration of marriage and live birth. One really do NOT want them to start finding out that far from being “Our” property (is this the Royal “Our”?), that the legal rights of the state come from transfer as chattel property to the state. A definite no-no – they might start asking awkward questions. I’d keep well away from such areas in future. I feel I must deduct 90 points here.

    All-in-all an excellent and rather entertaining hatchet-job on Home Educators.

    I’ll give you a total of [0] points overall but it was a good effort.

  18. Dave H
    10/02/2010 at 8:14 pm

    If you don’t moderate your own comments then I think you probably owe a big box of chocolates to whoever got landed with the job. By now you might have gathered that home educators are annoyed, upset and are prepared to fight this odious legislation to a finish.

    I don’t suppose you know how many days/hours of committee time are planned for the Bill? Quite apart from the home education clause, there are about fifty other clauses, many of which are dealing with new stuff that has had very little previous scrutiny. The Commons committee got about half-way through in the time they were allotted, so I would hope that the Lords will be preparing to go over it all with a fine toothed-comb. I know that teaching unions are upset about the proposals to require them to have a licence to teach and be monitored, although strangely they seem quite happy that home educators should be put in that position.

    • lordnorton
      11/02/2010 at 10:53 am

      Dave H: When it comes to moderating the comments, I normally draw the short straw!

      We don’t yet know the schedule for the Bill. It will be one of several Bills vying for time between now and the end of the Parliament and there is not going to be time to get them all through, so some will fall or get through in condensed form in the ‘wash up’ period.

      • Dave H
        11/02/2010 at 1:50 pm

        Who decides the schedule? Is it handed down by the government (as they effectively do in the Commons) or is it a case that committee time is allotted as needed, so if you managed to do a clause a day, it would take fifty days? I’ve been concentrating on the Commons up until now, seeing as that’s where the Bill has been, but it is clear that procedures in the Lords are different in many respects and seem to be less under the direct control of the government (which is as it should be in order to provide the checks and balances). Is there a Lords Primer somewhere, or do I need to watch a bit more coverage on TV and work it out?

        I would like to see the CSF Bill either run into the election endstop, or be amended to drop clause 26/schedule 1 because the government has done a dire job in drafting those provisions.

        Is there an easy way to get amendments tabled in the Lords? Is it a case of writing to as many peers as possible in the hope that one will agree and draft an appropriate amendment for discussion in the chamber, or is there an easier way? If you know of someone, I have a list of changes I’d like to put forward 🙂

  19. Mieke Tennant
    10/02/2010 at 8:25 pm

    Lord Soley, Are you implying that “society” entrusted these children to their parents?? And/or that you and your fellow peers are representatives of that society – or of whoever you believe entrusted these children to their parents?
    Are you genuinely saying that the children that we brought into this world come first and foremost under the responsibility of “society”? Are you actually saying that parents by themselves are not capable of bringing into this world, caring for and taking responsibility for their children, but that they need the consent of whoever you believe represents the power of whoever entrusted these children to them?

  20. Thecountrysfinished
    10/02/2010 at 9:23 pm

    Can we look forward to round 3?

  21. Tech
    10/02/2010 at 9:30 pm

    It’s this self serving, supercilious attitude that will increase the numbers of previously law abiding citizens choosing to go down the route of civil disobedience. Bravo!

  22. 10/02/2010 at 10:05 pm

    If Lord Soley is so concerned about the rights of children, then I would urge him to listen to the voices of home-educated children, which he can do by contacting this organization: the Home Educated Youth Council: https://heyc.org.uk/

    As a Canadian I must say that I am deeply offended by the bigotry shown regarding a minority group in Lord Soley’s and Baronness Deech’s blog posts. I have blogged my full response here: http://kellygreenandgold.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/aristocrats-or-autocrats/

  23. Ria
    10/02/2010 at 10:31 pm

    Dear Lord Soley,

    I was born in the UK and spent the majority of my life growing up in Australia, but have more recently been living again here in the UK. I have home educated all 5 of MY children from the very beginning and other than a period of 6 months where my eldest boy went to high school before moving here, they have always been home educated.

    I have lived and breathed a registration process as I was a registered home educator in the State of NSW. Bi-yearly I would submit my intended plan of work for my children, and be inspected by a representative from the Board of Studies. In the end I no longer required a visit and my monitoring was done via the postal service who kindly delivered a stack of papers on my behalf to the BoS.

    I think it is fairly safe to say that I have had first hand experience of a registration process as a long term home educator.

    There is no fear involved in my dislike of a registration process. For the most part, my experiences were pleasant. I had a very kindly and supportive inspector (unlike some of my friends) and my children warmed well to her.

    My opposition comes because I believe the process is a farce, and I believe it to be so on several fronts. I also believe that all you need to monitor a home educator is already present in society and it does not require additional resources (much in the same way as New Zealand and Canada have concluded).

    I believe in my experience for it to be no more than a box ticking process that did not really reflect the ‘true’ goings on. I believe that any family who wanted to ‘hide’ something could and would, because I believe any family that has something to hide would go to great length’s to do so.

    I also believe that the paper work involved, while looking good and was full of educational goals and objectives, wasn’t always a true indication of what would happen either. Families change, life changes, by the very nature of home education, methods change. It is not a stagnant process. Families are living breathing organisms and home education best works when the dynamics of family are taken into account. Home education works around the family, not the other way around. So days are not ever the same despite good intentions, or the best of planning. Children get ill, have appointments, new babies come along, deaths occur, people move houses, move countries and life goes on and becomes a huge part of the learning journey. Education becomes an integral hands on experience within a family rather than an addition to it and can not employ the same methods of school nor need to because they are dynamically different.

    Yet statistics world wide show, that in-spite of this, children graduate from their home educating journey with equal to, or better grades than State provided education.

    Some would say the proof is in the pudding.

    I think all a registration process really does is bring a host of bureaucrats a false sense of security, and allows them to tick a box for another year. Probably in a similar way some of Baby Peter’s home visits did. Because at the end of the day, abusers abuse whether their children are in school, or at home and whether they are known or unknown to authorities. We should not have to live in a society where everyone is considered suspiciously until proven innocent because of the evils of few. Especially when the few are often known through other sources and monitoring systems.

    On the issue of rights, I am fully aware as a parent of MY children’s rights. And their wishes regarding their education have always been sort out, and honored (thus my son’s stint in school).

    In fact I think, that despite my own convictions which I have often pushed aside, in order to ascertain from my children what they want to do. I have always respected their right to choose and have accommodated their choices.

    But does the average family, who decides to send their children to school do the same and why are they not required too? Are the rights of the child taken into account then? Do the majority of parents bother to seek out the opinions of the child before they enroll them? Would they honor them, if they had to make major life choices often sacrificially for the sake of home educating their child?

    And why is it ok for a parent at the school gate to talk of their child and the decisions that they make for them daily with language such as MY son, My daughter or MY little Jonny?

    When did going to school, become the prerequisite for the types of semantic banter we are allowed to participate in? My children are my children- there are no two ways about it, legally or biologically.

    Children are not property despite what many divorce cases might suggest, they are not assets to be divided between spouses or the state for that matter.

    And I think you would find most home educating families might grasp the concept of ‘rights’ a little better than you give them credit for. It is because of ‘rights’ most of them choose to home educate. Things like the right to be educated without being bullied. The right to access services for special needs which they haven’t had access to in school. The right to be good at things other than State required curriculum. The right to hold views different to what is deemed necessary or correct. The right to religious and political freedom, the right to be educated in a learning style that is more suited to their personalities, gifts and talents.

    I am truly sorry your regular contributors have dropped off, and you are stuck with those who are passionate about this debate. But I also thank you for the opportunity to be engaged, as I do believe that was the very purpose of this forum, after all.

  24. Kellyi
    10/02/2010 at 11:09 pm

    I could pick any number of holes in your post but will limit myself to two:

    “what I would like is some more recognition that children have rights as well as parents”

    You are absolutely right, children DO have rights. One of them should be not to be inspected by some one they don’t know. However, if, under the new proposals, a child exercises their right not to be interviewed by a stranger, then the parents will be penalised.

    “All of us know how quickly children develop and express their own personality”

    Yes, and all of us know how quickly traditional schooling can stamp out personality, and force children to conform.

  25. 10/02/2010 at 11:11 pm

    Children are born dependent, they are our children and we will protect them. There are already measures for society to intervene to protect, although you seem determined not to hear this. This bill seeks measures to intrude where no protection is required. It seeks to impose the states idea of education should be on people who have chosen another way. It seeks to control and force conformity. It seeks power for its own sake just because it can.

  26. Jem
    10/02/2010 at 11:15 pm

    “some parents fail, for many and varied reasons, to provide protection and minimal standards for their children”

    And for those parents and children there is already a perfectly good system to deal with them. So what is your point? Do you know of children which the current system doesn’t help, because not one has been produced so far in the past year’s worth of reviews, consultations, committees and so forth. Not one. The best that can be put forward by proponents of this legislation is that there might be some somewhere if only we were allowed to check everyone. That’s a really bad basis for sweeping changes to the legislature, and I truly despair of a state which seems to not only base its proposed legal stance on ‘maybes’ and ‘what ifs’, but also can casually cast aside the principle of innocence until guilt is proved as something inconsequential in the quest for these unknown victims.

    Remember, I’m talking about children and families which cannot be helped under the current system. Not ones which were known and individuals or departments failed to help. Not ones who were not known of because the proper procedures were not followed. And please, not more of this ridiculous, insulting and dangerous ‘we know we could find them if only we could come and root through everyone’s homes’ Gestapo mentality.

  27. 11/02/2010 at 1:07 am

    “Home Education – Round Two!”

    Sorry, Lord Soley, this is our life – not a round of boxing. You really have no idea, do you? I can see we are wasting our breath here.

    The offer to meet with you still stands. Please contact me if you really want to interact in a more meaningful way.

  28. victoria
    11/02/2010 at 2:22 am

    I am entering this discussion rather late, however I am disgusted with the way that my reading of the extensive diaries of the DCSF, and the government have treated the home educating community, in England.

    I trust the Scottish and Welsh Governments wont be as ignorant.

    Why is this even being discussed?

    Britain is in the middle of one of the worst recessions its ever had. Our schools are FAILING 100’s sorry no 1000’s of children EVERY WEEK. Abuse on CLASSROOM scale seems to be in the news every week. yet the government is ignoring its own elephant and attacking, a MINORITY group who are doing a fantastic job at looking after and educating 1000’s of children day in day out, with minimal support from the government.

    Only last week there was reports of a LEA inspector being charged for abuse : http://www.sundaymercury.net/news/midlands-news/2009/11/08/west-bromwich-nursery-schools-inspector-charged-with-child-sex-offences-66331-25115626/2/ and yet you are more concerend with the very public home educated children…

    From my experience of home educated children, they are know in community, local libraries, museums, play grounds, rivers, lakes, even schools.. Yes some even attend brownies, guides, and such activities at local schools!

    LEAVE home educators alone, and concentrate on what the ELECTORATE of great britain is asking you to concentrate on.. MAKE schools somewhere we WANT our kids to be.. Not somewhere, we leave 5 year olds SCREAMING of a morning because they want to be at home with mummy. They only stop, crying because Mummy is told Not to worry, and to go home!!! Eventually the child realises that crying dosnt help.. so they stop… Its the same in war zones… a baby will cry.. but if there needs are not met they stop!!!

    • 11/02/2010 at 3:23 pm

      The Scottish Government has more sense and is fortunate to have an SNP Education Minister (Mike Russell) who is willing to engage meaningfully (but always robustly) with home educators.

      Scotland also has clear statutory guidance on home education which works well, but which was inexplicably ignored by Graham Badman when he was allegedly looking at other models. We can only assume that the Scottish example didn’t fit the policy based evidence he was commissioned to produce.

      Like many other posters, I have found the Soley & Deech blogging double act over the past two days profoundly offensive. Scotland extends a welcome to all English home educating families who feel forced to flee their once free homeland which seems intent on adopting a Nazi law (ironically with the help of Scottish politicians whose own constituents will be unaffected).

      • Concerned Home Edder
        11/02/2010 at 5:08 pm

        I was against Scottish devolution. How wrong could I have been. The Scottish simply needed to escape the draconian laws this crazed English Parliament inflicts on it’s own people. Scotland will most likely be the place I flee if this law comes in. I have also checked to see whether I could emigrate – luckily I could go to New Zealand as I have enough points. Lord Solely, can you not grasp how bad this law is when people are considering emigrating because of it?

  29. Sue
    11/02/2010 at 2:41 am

    My children are MY children! I carried them for 8 months for one and 9 months for the other. I fed them myself as well after they were born. They are PEOPLE not chattels, however, they make up MY family.

    We live in a home together! The State is NOT part of MY family and their patsies will not be welcome in my home!

    Of course I distrust the government, even when my child was in the state school system I didn’t trust the government! I have lived in three countries and have not trusted three countries’ governments.

    I don’t need to be micromanaged. My children don’t need to be micromanaged, nobody in this country needs to be micromanaged and that is the problem.

    The government, or state feels the need to stick its ugly face where it doesn’t belong, in MY home!

    You state:

    “All of us know how quickly children develop and express their own personality. Society’s ability to intervene to protect is not a safeguard we should casually throw away. Children have rights and we have a duty as a society to ensure those rights are respected.”

    How is having social workers who by their very presence are threatening to take these children away from their parents respecting children’s right to privacy in their homes? How is this not bullying children and parents?

    When can we come to your house Lord Soley? Are we allowed to interrogate your significant other? Are we allowed to inspect your cupboards? You probably say ‘He** no!’

    That’s how we feel, we don’t want children being interrogated for up to 8 hours alone in a room with a social worker, we don’t want said social worker prancing around our homes poking in every cupboard, and we don’t want this social worker in our homes period!

    They are not welcome there.

    If this Bill does become law, whoever has the misfortune of coming to my house for their 8 hour visit better have a leg bag because they aren’t going to be using MY toilet (that IS my property)!

  30. Merry
    11/02/2010 at 5:09 am

    Sigh. No children are not the possessions of their parents. But we ARE responsible for them. If my child were in school and truanting, i could go to jail for not fixing that problem. So what exactly is the problem with me choosing to take responsibility for my child’s education by home educating?

    Could i argue successfully in a court of law that my child is not my possession therefore i should not go to jail if she truants? Could i argue that where a parent fails, the state is responsible and therefore her head teacher should go to jail in my place? I suspect not.

    My children are my responsibility but what i teach them is that they and their parents are in partnership, that we are working together towards a goal of being them being happy, successful, accomplished and able as they grow and mature, so that they can see clearly how to direct their lives as they move into adulthood, having had an active part of that process from childhood.

    This doesn’t seem to me to be a bad thing, it seems to be an empowering thing – and it certainly appears to be be good for them. What i am doing is taking the weight of responsibility, which i took willingly on the day they were born and handing it to them gradually so that it feels a safe and right thing for them to hold for themselves, so they reach adulthood feeling ready to stand alone. They are not my possessions; what i possess is the duty and the joy of watching them and enabling them to become who they desire to be.

  31. Rossi
    11/02/2010 at 9:16 am

    The problem is you assume that school provides a good education and parents do not, ‘some parents fail, for many and varied reasons, to provide protection and minimal standards for their children’. Perhaps in your privileged world, where you can afford to choose where your child is educated that is the case. Our local school was judged as failing by ofsted, the majority of children there do not achieve government minimum standards, and yet the government who are failing children in schools like this feel they are the experts with the right to judge parents like us who are trying to do the best for their children. When every school in this country is supplying a safe, happy, good education then maybe the government can comment.

  32. Concerned Home Edder
    11/02/2010 at 10:00 am

    “but I do not believe that my concerns about this issue are not shared by many others in society”

    That is because they do not know enough Home Education to know any different. They, like you, think everyone and everything should be regulated because they have been programmed by school to think that.

    Yet many people home educate because they do not like state interference in education and want something better for their children.

    But I see you are a former Labour MP which explains a lot. The Labour party seems to want to dumb down everyone to the lowest common denominator.

    Your mind will no doubt be set against anyone who wants to be different, which is, I believe one of the aims of socialism.

    I was brought up to believe that the House of Lords was a common sense wake up call to any HoC’s Bill. How annoying to have that illusion shattered.

    I can see any argument with you will be fruitless because no doubt you have fallen foul to the Labour Party whip.

    • 11/02/2010 at 11:35 am

      MY children do not belong to the State like some kind of slave.
      They are PERSONS in their own right.
      Now I know Socialists Govts of the past (and obviously present) have tried to avoid the notion of Personhood because of all those inalienable rights that go along with that- but as a parent I will fight to protect my children’s rights.

      You talk about children’s rights while being quite happy to see them removed by this Bill.

      You have posted twice on this and yet have nowhere shown how this Bill will support or help anyone. Instead you make vague accusations about “abuse” and “wrong reasons”.

      I too expect you have fallen foul of the whip. God forbid there be real independent thought.

      I will continue to home educate my children as is best for them.

  33. Annette
    11/02/2010 at 12:49 pm

    and another thing…

    Perhaps you could explain to me how on one hand the bill is attempting to pass legislation on school/parent contracts (research shows that the more engaged a parent is in its childs education, the better the child will do – may be not the correct words used, but that’s gist). Then on the other hand, the very parents (HE parents!) who engage wholly in their childs education, are told that they need monitoring, supervision and permission?

    I can’t be the only person that thinks it is rather ironic and a huge contradiction, surely?

  34. 11/02/2010 at 12:51 pm

    “An interesting aspect of my post below and the one by Baroness Deech is that they attracted few responses from many of our non committed bloggers. I would like to hear their views.”

    Maybe your ‘committed bloggers’ do not share your views on this subject…?

    “I do not believe that my concerns about this issue are not shared by many others in society.”

    Perhaps you should rethink your ‘concerns’ in light of the responses that you HAVE received…?

    “…what I would like is some more recognition that children have rights as well as parents and that some parents fail, for many and varied reasons, to provide protection and minimal standards for their children. This happens in all walks of life and is not special to home educating parents.”

    Please re-read the above part of your own statement in light of the points made by the previous commenters.

    “Society’s ability to intervene to protect is not a safeguard we should casually throw away.”

    Nor is it a ‘safeguard’ that we should just as ‘casually’ impose.

    “They are our children but they are not our possessions. Some of the comments do speak about the child as though they are born dependent and will stay dependent.”

    Please research the terms “CHILD” “PARENTS” & “FAMILIY” & realise they ARE dependent & will always remain dependent upon each other.

    The State will not take possession of the CHILD because PARENTS will rightly fight that in order to protect THEIR FAMILIES.

  35. lordnorton
    11/02/2010 at 2:15 pm

    Dave H: Time is allocated following discussion between the parties (through ‘the usual channels’). They have to estimate the time needed (for example, four days for committee stage), but more time sometimes has to be found. There is no such thing as a guilloltine or timetable motion in the Lords: debate cannot be closed off and debate continues as long as peers have something to say. Unlike the Commons, every amendment that is tabled is debated, so debate can take considerable time. If it runs beyond the days allocated, additional time has to be found.

    There is some material online – if you look at the material available on the Lords, such as the booklet ‘A Guide to Business’, on the Parliament website, you may find this offers some useful information. The Guide to Business can be found at: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/HofLBgEnglish.pdf

    For getting an amendment tabled to the Bill, it is a case of finding a peer who is interested and willing to pursue it. I don’t know if you have access to a copy of ‘Dod’s Parliamentary Companion’: this lists the interests of peers. You can also look at the interests of peers on their profiles on the Parliament website. I am not sure who would be best suited for your purposes, but I would have thought you would find a sympathetic response from a good many peers. You may find it useful to look at the names of peers who have signed up to speak in Baroness Shephard’s debate on teaching on 4 March: the names are on the Government Whip website: http://www.lordswhips.org.uk, under Speakers List.

  36. 11/02/2010 at 4:14 pm

    I do hope a positive of this blog is that you will have had certain misconceptions about HE addressed and been given pause for thought. There are common questions that people raise about HE (which may be why the answers start to sound similar…), and as you’ve seen there are good answers that allay these concerns. Of course, we asked ourselves these questions before making the decision!

    We (home educators, generally) are not a lobby group. Many belong to local or national groups or email lists, blog extensively, network well, share resources, and we do so so as to best meet our obligations to our children. As said already, the very reason many people come to be home educators is after negative experiences in the state schooling system. I’m not school-bashing, many do fantastic work, but the point is that the responsibility for the child’s education lies with the parents, not the state, and amongst countless other flaws in the Bill it will create a situation where an inspector can force parents to make choices contrary to their child’s best interests (for example issuing an SAO for not meeting certain administrative requirements), a legally and ethically untenable position for parents.

    Others have battled to get the raw data of Graham Badman’s statistics out into the public domain, and they really do show the concerns are not backed up by the evidence. Concerns were raised about NEETs, when in fact simply not opting to use Connexions’ services can class one as NEET – as for example happened to Chloe Watson, the eloquent 17-year-old home educated Chair of HEYC, who spoke at the recent Bill Committee. Claims of a high rate of CPPs were made, at 0.4%, but this is if the home educating population was limited to the 20,000 known families, when the DCSF themselves estimate up to 70,000, putting the rate at approximately half the national average (0.12%).

    We are passionate about our child’s education, no-one steps outside of the ‘norm’ lightly without being sure of their decisions. Everything points to home educated children being overall safer, better educated and better socialised than their peers (and this is not arrogance, I mean on average). The legislative discussion keeps returning to the ‘it’s not you, it’s those home educators over there who may be a risk’ argument, but the evidence just doesn’t show there to be problems in any significant numbers, that could be dealt with under the proposed legislation, but which couldn’t be dealt with using existing legislation properly and consistently applied by trained staff. *We* are the home educators, we’re not a vociferous minority or a lobby group, we’re parents who don’t want vast sums of public money to be spent looking in the wrong direction when there are real problems elsewhere to be dealt with. Of course there should be safeguards, and there are safeguards in existing legislation, LAs can act whenever there are concerns, a far more efficent use of resources than being bogged down with families with no problems.

    Another glaring problem with the legislation is that it is (I think I may be paraphrasing Graham Stuart here) a skeleton to be fleshed out at a later date. We’re being asked to sign up to a scheme whereby we’ll meet a definition of ‘suitable’ to be determined (when the existing case law definition of ‘achieving that which it sets out to achieve’ works well), providing information to be decided (with much scope for subjective prejudice – this already happens), we’re told autonomous approaches are accepted but we have to provide a statement for the plans for the year ahead (showing a lack of awareness woven into the legislation, let alone its application on the ground by staff with little funds for training), and with nothing to ensure actual concrete support of the sort HEers might want – exam entrance, IT equipment (we were ruled out of the Home Access scheme). We are hard-working families who aren’t prepared to stand by while hundreds of millions are spent on monitoring us, rather than offering *actual* support or focussing funds on actual problems.

    Please do take us up on the offer of discussing the issues either virtually or in person. And please do come to the table with open minds.

    • Dave H
      11/02/2010 at 4:58 pm

      For a group of individuals, most of whom didn’t know each other this time last year, you have to admit that it’s been fairly effective, with the mass petition in the Commons, many articles in the media, both print and broadcast, a huge response to both the consultation and Commons Select Committee, a hugely disproportionate number of amendments raised for the Commons Scrutiny committee (over 90 out of 350 for the whole Bill containing 50 clauses), and I have no doubt that the Lords are finding out that we exist as well, not just those who post to this blog. Much of this is being done by individuals who have their own views on the proposed legislation and only really need to be given contact details by whoever’s looked them up. There is no real central organisation, it’s all done with people passing on snippets of information (which is why so many found this blog so quickly) through a network of home educators and people taking the action they consider necessary. We are a diverse lot – I don’t agree with everything that is done, and no doubt others don’t always agree with what I do, but we are all aware that there can be more than one right way, and that every child has different needs.

      Remember, this is a group who value their independence from the state system, are used to fighting hard to get the best for their children and are really good at looking up and finding out information and sharing it with other like-minded parents.

      • Thecountrysfinished
        11/02/2010 at 6:39 pm

        Exactly, Dave. I have to the best of my knowledge never met you. I don’t presume to know what you do and how you do it, and that will work exactly in reverse. However we have one major belief in common. Our right to liberty and freedom. That is why, two complete strangers are engaged on the same side fighting the same battles.

        LONG LIVE MY LIBERTY AND FREEDOM!

        Oh and the right for mummy and daddy to decide what is best for their children, obviously with their input into it at times, but they really do need a bath tonight once they get back from Rainbows.

  37. Carl.H
    11/02/2010 at 4:26 pm

    The outcry from the home educators here in the blog is interesting and informative.

    We`ve had some fairly heavy bills debated here in the last few months, Prostitution, Policing, The Digital Economy Bill and they did not produce the amount of debaters or comments this has. I might add they all seem educated people with good manners.

    I wonder if we were debating local comprehensives if we`d had the same results, I doubt it.

    I don`t know a lot about this bill and no time to go into any depth with it but I am tending to side with those home educators who have taken the time to post here. We cannot go on intruding into peoples lives further and further, legislating everything. Our Government schools are failing, thousands of children are being let down by them in many ways and yet we want to set up an Authority to oversee something we don`t know much about and put it right. We don`t know that it is wrong.

    The leverage being used, abuse and childrens rights is absurd. Abuse happens irrespective of where the child is schooled and also it appears of if they are on a Social at risk list. As far as what children want, their rights, most don`t want schooling at all especially in a situation where they are allowed to be bullied by people that are supposedly in place of parents. Do they get heard in a large comprehensive when they need help ? Are they allowed by their peers to be geeky and studious ? We cannot get our schools system sorted and now it appears we want to interfere in one that seems to work FOR THE CHILDREN.

    Baroness Deech appears to aim for the Islamic side of the argument, where a few, very few, believe girls don`t need education because they will become wives. I say look around at the Asian Community whose children generally excel at education then look to the inner city schools where our white children are getting pregnant and spend their lives on income support.

    Most people appear to home educate not because it`s easier but because the school system has failed. Now it appears the bill wants to apply the same failed system to them.

    The main concern seems to be some children will fall though the cracks but that will always happen anyway, travellers children being one I can think of. We don`t take cars off the road because some children will be run over!

    The intention to implement an authority from a failing one, at great cost to the Nation, to oversee and legislate parents who only have their childrens interest at heart who are able to give a great deal more time individually to their children is preposterous.

    Before we go telling others how to get it right we`d best be able to get it right ourselves…We`re not at present.

    You will find irresponsible parents in our school system, where children are are abused, where Parents use the system as a babysitter, where teachers DO NOT LISTEN forcing the good parents to take them out of the system to home educate. Look at where YOU are failing not at these parents who are involved daily with the children they know and love.

    Look on your street corners every evening at the hoodie gangsta`s and ask them if they`re home schooled ? I somehow doubt it.

    • Tech
      11/02/2010 at 4:40 pm

      Thank you Carl H! You have got it spot on, now let’s hope that the Lord and Lady do too, and perhaps show a little humility and circumspection before launching into *round three*.

    • 11/02/2010 at 5:03 pm

      Just an aside here: it happens that i feel strongly about the Digital Economy Bill and think there are links with the CSF Bill, but it also happens that i’ve not commented on it here. You have to pick your battles.

    • bettycake28
      11/02/2010 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you so much for that enlightened response. You are obviously a wise and clear headed human being, unlike some, lol.

    • roadslesstravelled
      11/02/2010 at 6:03 pm

      Carl…

      Can I hug you?

      I know that is not very PC but it is all to rare I meet someone these days who is able to keep their mouths shut long enough to actually HEAR our side of the debate.

      Thank you.

      x

    • 12/02/2010 at 12:03 am

      Many thanks Carl.H 🙂

      A straw poll of children with ASBOs would do nicely too. In all my years as a home educator I am yet to meet an electively home educated child with an ASBO. You’re right, they’re not hanging around street corners wondering what to do with their lives….

      Home educated young people grow up with vision and a desire to achieve something positive in life. If only we could spread and share this more widely, giving all young people the same vision for good, this country would be a much better place.

      • Carl.H
        12/02/2010 at 8:57 pm

        HI Billysu,

        I cannot give you a poll of ASBO`s but I can give some American data :

        “Purposes to determine if outcomes of home educated students were commensurate with the religious objectives given by many as reason for choosing home-based education by comparing responses to the instrument entitled Daily Challenges Inventory. Significant difference between homeschooled and conventionally schooled youth was found on 14 items of the DCI. The homeschooled group was significantly less likely to watch MTV; use drugs; lie to a parent, teacher, or other older person; attempt suicide; drink enough alcohol to be legally drunk; or gamble. Homeschoolers were also significantly less likely to describe themselves as too busy, stressed out, angry with life, confused, or always tired. Conventionally schooled youth were significantly more likely to describe themselves as upbeat, encouraged, and seeking answers.

        T. Wayne McEntire, Ph.D., Volume 16, No. 2, 2005, p. 13-18

        http://www.nheri.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=category&sectionid=9&id=91&Itemid=27&limit=25&limitstart=0

        And of Course the Paula Rothermel Study in the UK.
        “Overall, the home-educated children demonstrated high levels of attainment and good social skills. Common to all families was their flexible approach. The children benefited from parental attention and the freedom to develop their skills at their own pace. Families enjoyed strong bonds and parents were committed to providing a nurturing environment for their children”

        http://pjrothermel.com/Research/Researchpaper/BERAworkingpaper.htm

      • Merry
        13/02/2010 at 11:52 pm

        Carl H -thank you 🙂

  38. bettycake28
    11/02/2010 at 4:34 pm

    Do you know I am absolutely fed up with hearing chapter and verse from the likes of politicians, Lords etc about what is in the best interest of, dare I even say this, ‘MY child/children’. Let me tell you a story of a little boy. You see he is quite little even though he is nearly 11. He is high functioning autistic and therefore has issues and needs that require some thought and consideration. Nothing much beyond common sense mind you as he is high functioning and as such quite capable (of most things) and very intelligent. However, this little boy would cry himself to sleep most school nights. He would come home nearly every day angry, aggressive and obstinate. I knew he’d been having a tough time at school and many a time I had banged my head against proverbial brick walls in an attempt to get the teaching staff to understand his needs and give him just a little bit of encouragement and support. Yet this little boy constantly had to endure being shouted at every time he couldn’t cope with a situation. He was made an example of in his classroom in front of all the other children. This made him feel stupid and incapable and as an autistic child drew torturous attention to him from a group of noisy children who’s constant noise would almost drive him crazy. When he responded by not coping again, yet more punishment!
    This continued until one day a supply teacher, who had not even had this boy’s condition explained to her, decided to humiliate him once again. He put his head down into his folded arms, his common coping strategy and because he ‘refused’ (you gotta love that word)to stop this the head teacher was called in. To cut a long, rather too often told story short, she proceeded to get hold of this upset little boy by his shoulders and drag him out of the room. This was followed by more telling off, two teachers dragging him around the school and finally, the SENCO (the very member of staff that should have understood his situation)following him into a room where he had gone to feel safe, mimicking his afore mentioned coping strategy and audibly laughing at him to a CA. The whole event traumatised the little boy and only a very hard hearted parent would have not felt morally obliged to do something about it. Well, Lord such and such, I AM that parent and that little boy IS my child. Not in a material possesion kind of way but in a ‘I brought him into this world, I am charged with safeguarding both his emotional and physical well being until he is of an age (though an indeterminate one due to his ASD)where he can look after himself’ way!
    As a single parent that lives in a rural area with only one school having funded transport and not being able to drive I had just one option once the school Governors refused to even believe any of that days events had occurred at all. I have 3 children and after that days events had no faith that they where safe, emotionally or physically in that school and therefore I was left almost forced to home educate. I’m not a idealistic fanatic or religious fundamentalist I am simply a parent who cares enough to protect MY children MYSELF. No I have no problem with registering with the LA. I have no issue with government knowing who we are and what we do but I will not be assumed guilty until proven innocent and I will not be accused of thinking only of myself and not considering the needs of my kids. I am not an abuser or a control freak. However should the relevant part of this recent bill become law, some over-zealous council official ‘could’ decide to force me to send that little boy, who is now happy, thriving and no longer crying himself to sleep each night, back to school. Tell me who is going to pick up the pieces in later years when he is a depressed, anxious, ill-adjusted, perhaps even suicidal adult. The NHS? You?
    No, probably me actually, the parent that according to you isn’t allowed to call those that I carried for 9 months and gave birth to MY CHILD/CHILDREN!

    • Concerned Home Edder
      11/02/2010 at 5:00 pm

      Bettycake28, your story is exactly the sort of story Labour MP’s know about, but still voted to pass this Bill. They should hang their heads in shame. They care more about their party than what is best for the people of this country, which is exactly the reason why so many people despise politicians.
      Bullying by teachers comes up again and again as reasons why parents have decided to Home Educate. What do the Lords propose to try and stop that?

  39. Dana
    11/02/2010 at 6:43 pm

    My child was roundly bullied during her stay at two schools, and for four years. The schools did nothing. On one occasion, for an example, my child was manhandled and pushed, face first, into an artexed toilet wall while her arms were wrenched backwards by two feral kids. Nothing, of course, was done.

    My child is intelligent and hard-working and, now she is home educated, she has embarked upon a law course at Open University and studies Japanese which she intends to study further at University. Before she left school, my child was losing weight and desperate. She had lost her intense desire to learn – her eyes looked dead and her face was thin and pale. She tells me that, if she hadn’t left school to be home educated, she would be dead now.

    How can you possibly consider monitoring and persecuting and slandering and libelling home educators when schools are responsible for the following disgusting statistics?

    Each week: 450,000 children are bullied in school

    Each year: more than 360,000 children are injured in schools

    Each year: at least 16 children commit suicide as a result of school bullying

    Each year: an estimated 1 million children truant

    Each year: more than 1 in 6 children leave school unable to read, write or add up

    Who should be monitored? Schools who receive money from the public purse (my money)? Schools, the bastions of coercion and bullying, rife with kids out of control and warehoused simply because their parents ‘have to work’?

    Who should bow their heads in shame?

    The likes of you, Lord Soley and your Labour friends in Parliament.

    If this heinous excuse for social control called the Children Schools and Families Bill with the Home Education clauses becomes law and local authorities send already damaged and beaten children back to school, you and your Labour colleagues will see trapped and hopeless children committing suicide.

    Fortunately, my children are old enough not to be of interest to an LA that never protected them when that LA had a duty of care towards them.

    Some local authorities behave like Nazis towards home educators now, even when the law restrains them so I dread to think what will happen when the law is weighted on their side.

    • 11/02/2010 at 11:56 pm

      Facts

      Each week: 450,000 children are bullied in school

      Each year: more than 360,000 children are injured in schools

      Each year: at least 16 children commit suicide as a result of school bullying

      Each year: an estimated 1 million children truant

      Each year: more than 1 in 6 children leave school unable to read, write or add up

      Lord Soley

      These figures are so shocking that we demand an inquiry. Why is no one listening? My daughter is not a bully, truant or illiterate and you have the temerity to pursue us rather than the state! She is safe from aggression and violence. As a parent, hat is my ultimate responsibility. Oh, and she is getting a top quality individualised private home education. And, it costs you NOTHING. NADA. ZILCH. We are paying for it. In fact, we get to pay TWICE – as tax payers we get to pay for your children then we get to pay for our own child. Something not quite right here.

  40. Thecountrysfinished
    12/02/2010 at 12:58 am

    Answer the questions. Defend yourself or rather your ill-informed opinions. Bring on round 3.

  41. Jacquie
    12/02/2010 at 1:07 am

    I posted this on the latest piece by Baroness Deech, and thought I would do the same here for Lord Soley – equal opportunities and all that. Our friend Adolf had the right of it ey Lord Soley?

    “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”

    Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf.

  42. Mum
    12/02/2010 at 1:30 am

    You are right, children do have rights. My son (last time I checked he was MY son) has the right not to be overwhelmed, scared, confused and bored. He was all these things whilst at school. He was only there for half a term when grandparents commented that the life had been sucked out of him. My son has high functioning autism and because of this we had already researched home ed. We decided we want to give the state a chance, we did, the state failed.
    My son also has the right for his home to be a safe haven, not somewhere strangers come in and question him. He has the right not to be questioned about returning to school. This has happened once already and he sobbed for 20 minutes and had nightmares for a week. No home ed was done for a few days because he could not focus as he was terrified that he was going to be sent back to school.
    My son has the right to receive an education appropriate to his needs and abilities something the state are totally incapable of providing.

  43. Susan Gould
    12/02/2010 at 2:34 am

    I was very pleased to read Lord Soleys comment.”children have rights and we have a duty as a society to ensure those rights are protected.” For I am passionate about protecting my childrens rights. Their right to a happy childhood, free from bullying,violence and intimidation.Their right to a personalised education, tailor-made to their ever changing individual needs. Their right to express their own veiws and wishes. Their right to be heard. Their right to feel safe, loved and valued. My children have expressed that they would feel deeply anxious about an inspector not only having a right of access to their home but to themselves, and then having to demonstrate to that inspectors satisfaction that their mother is not guilty of a crime she was never suspected of in the first place,their penalty, should they fail in this task, being to be sent to school. But having read Lord Soleys comments it looks like the new Bill (I haven’t actually read it myself) is all about childrens rights so presumably it will make sure that that would never happen. So we’ve got nothing to worry about then. Don’t know what all of the fuss is about. (I’ve never done this before because its taken me all these years to save up for a home computer, but thats another story…)

  44. Twm O'r Nant
    12/02/2010 at 6:04 pm

    The existence of well organized back up groups for Home Educators should guarantee good use of Internet educational services.

    The Oopen university has come on in leaps and strides in the last ten years since they were able to send all the learning material by email and e docs.

    For mathematics there are effective programs for Home educating parents to download at any time.

    DE-SCHOOLING society is a possible ideal in the modern world of Internet technology.

    Children helped effectively at home by their parents/peripatetic instructors should be able to learn far more and far more effectively than they ever have been able to before.

    Powerful home educating groups with clear cut goals and wise principles of learning, should allow an organizing framework far better than the bullying ethos of the
    state school, as it has always been.

    The government becoming involved in Home educating is no more objectionable than the government being involved in Private schooling of any sort, and 10% of the population at some time or other do get that private schooling at great cost.

    If that is what you want , do it! Make sure that you are well organized through out the country from the point of view of CONTENT of learning and how to get it to your own child’s desk top in his own time and in the child’s own place.

    The one place to learn is in silence and on your own in a quiet place; the best place for it, is your own study at home.

    • 12/02/2010 at 6:44 pm

      Its good to get advice from those in the know, thanks.

  45. 12/02/2010 at 7:08 pm

    “what I would like is some more recognition that children have rights as well as parents”

    I’ll think you find that home educating parents do recognise their child’s rights. The right to be safe, learning and happy. In fact many parents home educate specifically for those reasons, in a shockingly high number of cases this is because these fundamental rights of a child have not been recognised at school.

    I know many HE families and that number is growing daily, I do not know a single family that DOES NOT involve their child in discussion and decisions about their education.
    I have consulted my daughter about her education and what she wants to do, what her interests are, etc. since she could communicate those wishes to me, which was from around the age of 2, likewise with my son. I am also very open with them about my thoughts on their education. As a result I have a 6 year old and 4 year old who have an incredibly mature outlook on their OWN education and an absolute passion for self motivated learning! If that is not recognition of a child’s rights I don’t know what is! And it is my duty as a parent to respect their rights and wishes, what frightens me is that my children’s rights will not be respected by State intrusion, by what ‘standard’ are they intending to judge us by?
    The wishes regarding their education that my children communicate to me changes daily, how on earth can that be measured?

    Clause 26 is also something I have discussed with my daughter (many people seem to forget that young children understand much more than we give them credit for) who was very concerned at the thought of someone coming into our home and the possibility of being interviewed alone. She clearly said to me that this is not something she would be happy with, it is something she has clearly said she DOES NOT WANT, whatever my wishes, my husbands wishes, after weighing up the options she has independently said NO! So if the State sees fit to force an interview without a parent present would this not be going against her rights?

    While we’re on the subject of a child’s rights… while children are in the care of the State ie School, who considered and recognised the right to being safe and happy of the 16 children who tragically committed suicide last year as a result of school bullying?

  46. The Sewist
    12/02/2010 at 10:13 pm

    I have a child in school as well as two home educated children. I do not home educate because I have a mistrust of the state and its institutions but I have to admit that a mistrust is growing and with good reason.

    Little by little the government is intruding into the lives of individuals with policies such as progressive universalism and socio-economic duty.

    The idea that people will do right when encouraged to do so has all but disappeared now that the government does not trust us to do right unless we are given laws to guide us.

    The state may well be concerned with children’s rights but what evidence do you have teat children cared for by the state are doing well? The statistics on children in HMYOI who were also in care at some point are a shocking indictment of the state’s ability to nurture children.

    I accept that I am only a guide for my children and I do not pretend that I own then in any way. My seven year odl is the child she is today becuase she DIDN’T stay in school, HAd she stayed in school she would have lost something of her self and this would have been to her detriment. Our choice to home educate her was about HER, not about US. We are helping her towards a life that SHE wants and attempting to nurture her as a whole person not put her in a passive box as would have happened in school.

    Don’t lecture me on how to raise my children.

  47. 13/02/2010 at 8:01 am

    Had a chat to my 6 year old – and her response was ‘I’m your child, and you are my mother’. To her it is self evident. How can a child value itself if its parents don’t value that special relationship!

  48. Beth
    13/02/2010 at 11:58 pm

    When, oh when, will people in Parliament listen to what so many caring, intelligent, parents and their children are trying to tell them? I have read so many shocking stories of why children need to be home educated (without the threat of an SAO hanging over them) and I have my own to add to them. I am ashamed of this government and cannot understand WHY they will not listen.

  49. isolde
    14/02/2010 at 5:08 am

    I have to say that I agree that there is no “ownership” of children. You only have to walk down the street with a young baby to realise that.

    However, although children need guidance and support and protection to some degree, I find it infuriating that the are always referred to as incomplete human beings. Yes, they have rights, but consider the way some people treat new born babies – locking them in a room whilst they cry themselves to sleep, leaving them strapped into car seats to stop them misbehaving, all methods of assimilating a new baby into one’s life that is never investigated, never examined, never scrutinised, and to some degree comes with governmental blessing. Now imagine if that baby was an old person, or a disabled prson. People would be prosecuted (one hopes) should such methods of control come to light.

    My point is this: children have their own minds, their own abilities, their own views. I know grown ups who are less wordly wise than my 5 year old, who use less sophisticated language, who are far less emotionally capable. Yet in your eyes, these people’s lives are not under scrutiny, whereas my child’s should be.

    But she is not a lesser person. She is fully capable of making her own decisions. She was born with a personality and she continues to find ways of expressing it.

    The growth of a child is not just about cramming them full of knowledge, not just about getting them through exams and into the adult world. Unfortunately, school rarely has the facilities to cope with the other. So should we be required to neglect that, by law?

    Many of the same people who are so happy to use the control techniques I mentioned earlier are the ones rejoicing when the child is old enough to spend the majority of the day away from them in schools. Perhaps the scrutiny should land on these parents, rather than the ones willing to nuture and send time with their children, to educate them and enjoy their lives together.

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