Educating “Kids”

Baroness Deech

It has been a very bad month for those who care about raising our children in a way that develops their potential to the fullest and equips them for a secure future. (It is always an indication of trouble when the headlines refer to them as “kids”!) First, the extraordinary action of so-called caring parents to keep their children out of school for a strike against SATs. Whether those tests are too difficult or not is open to argument. But the principle that parents should co-operate with teachers and the school in the orderly testing of their children must be beyond argument. It was a terrible example to set to their children – that is, if you don’t like what today holds, or you find it stressful, just skip it. If the children were stressed, it was most likely because of the tension exhibited by their parents, or possibly teachers. The lesson that should have been learned is that every day of life may well present stressful or unavoidable testing situations and one has to learn to cope.

The second bad event was the almost unbelievable decision of the court that it was not an offence to take one’s children out of school term time for a holiday, provided attendance for the rest of the year was regular. Again, a rotten example to set to the children, that their pleasure or their parents’ convenience counts for more than the extra burden placed on the teacher, the need to catch up and the detrimental effect on the rest of the class. Moreover it is hard to argue that there is much educational experience to be gained from the average holiday in Florida or any other regular seaside resort. I know that travel agents push up prices in school holidays, and that is the evil that should be tackled.  Of course there may have to be unavoidable absences due to family situations, but holidays should not count as such in my opinion. The lack of respect for teachers evident in both these situations is worrying; it is shown by the parents’ actions and will no doubt be reflected in the children’s attitudes. It would be interesting to know more about the demographics of the parents who take their children away during term and skip tests.

Third, the report that there are at least 100 illegal schools operating, which offer substandard education, possibly inculcate extremism, and expose children to inadequacies and risks.  This is part of a bigger problem, namely, that after centuries of struggle  to ensure that all young children receive free education from the state, some parents are not letting their children benefit from this. Some may be home-schooling, for good or not so good reasons. This will bring down on my head the wrath of the very militant home-schooling parents (why so defensive?), but there is good reason to expect the government to make arrangements to track every primary school age child and find out whether they are going to school and if not, why not.  Home-schoolers ought to have to provide good reasons and to open their classes to occasional inspection. Maybe even worse is the newly uncovered practice of educating, or more likely brainwashing, little children in religious schools that are unregistered. Getting all our children into school and keeping them there for all the days offered should be a matter of urgency.

44 comments for “Educating “Kids”

  1. Dave H
    17/05/2016 at 8:56 pm

    Just like old times! Not all children derive benefit from the school system. It has been steadily tinkered with by successive governments. The SATs protest shows that more parents are beginning to understand the reasoning of those who’ve chosen to home educate their children and so opt out of a broken system.

    My personal experience is that my father would take me out of school for a day if there was the opportunity for an educational visit. I remember visiting an open cast coal mine in Wales and a few other things that gave me a broader experience than I’d ever get in a classroom. My family often took two week holidays in June or September, which was when my father could get time off work. I ended up with a Masters degree, so clearly it had a huge detrimental effect on my education.

    Since you brought it up, if you’re inspecting a home educating family, against what standard are you measuring them? How do you ensure that your standard is appropriate to the child, given that the school system might already have failed that child? If you look back over the last several years of the home education debate, you will see the common complaint that comes up time and time again is that local authorities exceed their powers, make up rules, inappropriately refer to social services. If you really want to engage with home educators in a constructive manner, how about a proper investigation into how local authorities abuse their powers? The Commons Select Committee failed to properly address this back in 2012 and while LAs keep abusing their existing power, you can be sure there will be a huge fight to resist giving them any more.

    As for illegal schools, I think you’ll find that home educators agree with you about them, but once again, there are laws in place to deal with such establishments, the failure is in not correctly using what’s already provided by legislation.

    • MilesJSD
      19/05/2016 at 3:16 pm

      “Legislation” and UK Law is going to need much cleaning-up, here.

      For instance, did you know that
      “under UK Law, there is no such entity as “Health” ?
      [Source: AgeUK Solicitors in Plymouth when asked to “make our personal holistic health building “legally supported”].

      So when ikt copmes to distinguishing “career/workplace Training” from “Education for Life” there’s a UN Problem too, thjedir “Holistic Living Model” placing Work squarely under the “Social” domain.

      (PS Baroness Deech, I believe you still “champ[ion” “Career-Pyramid Social Mobility Competitivity” too ?)

      • MilesJSD
        26/05/2016 at 3:02 pm

        Further to the inaccessibility of the Constitution and even ‘democraticly’ of “The Law”
        is the sage’s big-question, or “advice” that

        “Your children do not ‘belong’ to you …” ;

        and further incidentally “constitutionally”
        the document ~ 1980 UN Declaration of Child Rights
        contained the folllowing “authoritarianly judgemental” “gaff” :-

        (“) In matters of Religion, the child shall conform to the Parents’ decision(“).

        By 1980 the “Friendly Method III of Cooperative Problem Solving” had been well “taught” in many universities, and in many local communities
        around the world. [Source P.E.T/L,E.T. and Teacher Effectiveness Training by Dr Thomas Gordon; later also by Robert Bolton in universities’ textbook “People Skills”.

        So how did all the world’s experts in, not just the British House of Commons and House of Lords, but in the UN itself,
        so completely exclude or ‘miss’ it ?

  2. Home educating mother
    17/05/2016 at 9:01 pm

    If “Getting all our children into school and keeping them there for all the days offered should be a matter of urgency” is to happen, how are the new school places going to be funded? Where are the government going to find the places for 50,000 plus children? The schools system is already over stretched and unable to cope. There are not enough schools, not enough teachers and not enough teaching assistants as it stands already. They system could not cope with a sudden vast influx. Also what will happen to the vast number of special needs children let down by the education system? It’s really not as simple as “get the children in school”

  3. Rachel
    17/05/2016 at 10:49 pm

    I have children at University, Sixth Form and at home. I would be horrified if any of my adult children were so inept that they failed to comprehend how the changes to school attendance policy have fuelled the massive hike in holiday prices. Perhaps Baroness Deech would have benefitted from a little more time out of the schoolroom?

  4. Sarah Clarke
    17/05/2016 at 11:06 pm

    Oh dear, now the witch hunt against ‘home schoolers’, or shall we use the correct term of ‘home educators’. Home education is enshrined in law. I have successfully home educated a child whom the medics and other professionals said ‘he won’t be able to do much.’
    Sure, there are home educators who mess up, just like the education system messes up.
    When was the last time you heard of a home educated child hanging themselves because of the culture of bullying in schools?

  5. S White
    18/05/2016 at 7:21 am

    I think you have overlooked the law in the matter of EHE (Elective Home Education) as it is called in England. And that is EDUCATION is COMPULSORY NOT SCHOOL. So your last sentence is nonsense. I have done both. Mainly because I didn’t know about EHE. And yes I prefer EHE and wish I had known more about it 30 years ago then none of my children would have gone in to the school system.

  6. 18/05/2016 at 7:36 am

    Some good points raised, but some based on assumptions that are open to question.

    1. The SATs protest. England is a still a democracy and its citizens (including children) are free to protest against practices they disagree with, consider detrimental or that cause them distress. Some might have framed the protest in terms of it being OK to opt out of any stressful experience, but teachers should be in a position to explain to children all the moral and legal issues involved. Let’s hope they have.

    Incidentally, one of my children found SATs very distressing but it wasn’t the tests, it was the two terms of doing little other than Maths, English and Science revision beforehand. This wasn’t a matter of personal opinion, but of fact – in the form of the school’s explicit policy.

    2. Term time holidays. My understanding is that the decision of the court revolved around the meaning of ‘regular attendance’ in legislation. Currently that is a matter of professional judgement on the part of the head teacher. I can see no good reason why that should change. The law cannot rule effectively on every individual case.

    3. Illegal schools. If a group of children being educated meet the legal criteria for being a school, that school is obliged to register as such and to conform to certain legal requirements. We already have the legislative framework in place. Why not apply it?

    Home education is a different issue. The reason home educators are often ‘militant’ or ‘defensive’ might have something to do with the fact that, regrettably, many state schools “offer substandard education, possibly inculcate extremism, and expose children to inadequacies and risks” in the view of parents, and in law, the responsibility for educating children ultimately rests with parents. That’s because, overall, parents have a much better track record in caring for and bringing up children than the state does.

  7. Clover
    18/05/2016 at 7:44 am

    It is you, madam, who is bad for ‘kids’. With your officious obsession for poking your nose into family life, pretending you care about childrens’ welfare to anything like the same degree as their parents. You’re like the creepy aunt who comes over at Christmas and insists on having the little ones on her knee even though they all hate her.
    You clearly know very little about child psychology, and even less about investment theory. Teachers do not care about children the way parents do. They aren’t capable of it, or else the yearly turnover of new faces would take an unbearable emotional toll. It should be noted, I say this as a teacher, so it’s no slight on the profession. What it is, however, is a necessary part of professionalism, and one which makes teachers unavoidably worse at their jobs than any parent is, on average. Teaching a class of 30 also means teachers are ill placed to know what is good or right for children, especially compared to parents who only have one or two to keep track of.
    If a parent decides a holiday is a good idea, that’s their business. They’re the one who has to live with the consequences to their child’s wellbeing and education. Teachers don’t. Lords certainly don’t.
    So stop miming caring, and stop poking your nose into other peoples’ lives. You’re not helping, you’re not wanted, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  8. Jenny
    18/05/2016 at 8:08 am

    First, why can’t you use the proper legal term? In this country we “home educate” which is not “home schooling”.

    Second, Home education is the default in this country, according to law. Parents and carers are free to educate their children “at school or otherwise”, “suitable to their age, ability and aptitude”. There are laws that govern home education, if only they where interpreted and used correctly by local authorities.

    Third you ask why home educating parents are so defensive? As the law stands at the moment, many LAs choose to overstep their legal obligations and make unreasonable and illegal demands on home educating families. It’s not surprising parents are defensive, they have to defend their decision every day, like no other decision they will make, often to complete strangers in the street.

    Forth, as the legal primary educators most HE parents have done just fine until the child is five. No one checks they are teaching the child to walk and talk, why should the child being older make any difference to their ability to continue to teach them?

    Fifthly, do you Baroness, regularly expect the police to pop in to make sure you have not stolen anything? Do you expect social services to call, to make sure vulnerable people like children in your household are being fed “just in case”? With no evidence or wrong doing? No? Well why should HE parents have authorities demanding access into their homes at will, upsetting their children and invading their privacy, to check they are performing education, when these others things are just presumed?

    It is said that HE children are invisiable and no checks are made on their well being. I contest that these children are uniquely VISABLE, they are habitually out in the world when their peers are not. Their parents are continually questioned by the community, by officials of all sorts as these families go about their daily lives, believing as they often do that education does not stop in a book but is found everywhere. There is a legal obligation on everyone in that community, every official that these children come across to report well being issues already.

    There is a large and active community of home educating families in this country. The internet has bought advice and support for them, should they need it,nationally and locally, where many many groups meet regularly across the country. All families use different styles, but all have the same aims. To bring up well rounded, well educated, polite and happy young people who think for themselves. Can they not be left alone to get on with it, rather than redirecting valuable resources from their lives for yet another round of defending their lifestyles and choices on the national public stage?

    • Loopy
      25/05/2016 at 2:30 pm

      Bravo! Well said that woman!

  9. Sally Alexander
    18/05/2016 at 8:20 am

    I read this blog with interest. Having spent five years starting a school, and doing it the right way, with huge amounts of hoop jumping, inspections, paperwork and pain, I am glad to see that you have our priorities right. Obviously as a current teacher in the state system, you know all about the unnecessary pressures that the children are facing, and you’ve probably met that demographic of parent that takes their child out of school to go on a trip. And yes, I agree that trips are a waste of time: why should we entertain the notion of educating the child as a whole instead of ramming tests down their throats?? Exams are the most important thing, after all. It’s people like you that inspired me to open this school in answer to the problems being faced by the whole of the education system: parents, teachers and children, and more and more parents are coming to me; including home educators, who would often be happy to have their children in school, even if only part time, as long as the school was not failing them. Unfortunately that’s an impossibility at the minute. Come and spend a week with me, and listen to some of the pleas for help that I hear….I understand that’ll be difficult though, as you must be very busy working in the teaching profession to have such an intimate knowledge of “front line” teaching work.

  10. Elaine Cross
    18/05/2016 at 9:41 am

    The commentary herein in respect of home educating parents is designed to insult, why? Perhaps to try to trigger a wave of indignation that fuels the misrepresentations of those parents.

    The answer in respect to those home educating parents is often clear cut: state education. Yes it is free, but rather than ‘not letting their children benefit from this’, many home educating parents are protecting their children from it.

    There are significant numbers of children being failed by poor quality delivery in state schools, particularly children with special needs. A significant number of children are let down not only by poor provision, but also by abuse in schools. Bullying is denied or reported as normal social behaviour. Victims are referred to CAMHS, treating that bullying victim as mentally frail, rather than the bullies as wrong. Abuse is not restricted to other children either, many a child has been withdrawn from school because a teacher has assaulted, or otherwise abused them.

    One problem this blog fails to address is lack of school places. We ‘very militant home (educating) parents’ deal on a daily basis with parents desperate to get their children into school, but being denied a suitable place. In many of those cases they are home educating because the Local Authority gives them no other choice. They should not have to.

    I would question what right the Government has to ask ‘why not?’ if a parent chooses not to elect to use free school provision. By way of example, the State offers free medical care, but it is enshrined in law that a patient cannot be forced to accept it and that in refusing, they do not have to state their reasons for doing so. Are we children of a lesser God?

  11. 18/05/2016 at 10:48 am

    Surely the court’s decision was not wrong, it’s the law that’s wrong? Hopefully the government will change the law soon. Other than that, I agree about term-time holidays. When I was a child (in the 80s-90s) we went on holiday in the UK in a caravan. People seem to think a “holiday” has to involve flying to a foreign country. If they can’t afford a particular holiday during the school holidays, they should choose a cheaper one they can afford! Surely it’s time spent together as a family that matters, not going to some exotic location to keep up with the Joneses? And as you say, the idea that a trip to Disneyland is educational is laughable.

    I had many enjoyable family holidays as a child, and I think many of my peers didn’t go away at all, so we were lucky ones. What’s with the sense of entitlement to foreign travel these days? Also, despite the rules being more lax back then, very few people took holidays during term-time. I can only remember one or two children ever doing so in my class, and back then felt really sorry for the classmates who missed lessons. I would have hated to miss a day of school, and dreaded the idea of having to catch up with work. The idea term-time holidays benefit or are good for the child are just retro-fitted arguments to justify a holidays which is primarily for the parents’ enjoyment.

    • Chloe Watson
      19/05/2016 at 12:11 pm

      Say what you like, we don’t need to be defensive. Home educated children go on to be very well represented in the top universities of this country, and we’re only going to do better as the internet democratises knowledge. Your opinion of us is irrelevant, as it comes from an older age, where professors had the power to hand out knowledge only as they saw fit. That isn’t how things work now.
      We’re going to be the leaders of our generation, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I only hope you live long enough to see what that future looks like, in sound enough mind to eat your words, publicly.

  12. Anthea Bisgrove
    18/05/2016 at 12:04 pm

    A short lesson is American English vs. British English:

    trunk=boot of the car
    homeschooling= (elective) home education

    One reason why I do not blog about the finer points of Rugby League, is that I know almost nothing about it. It might be prudent for the Baroness to take the same approach to educational matters — at least until she has read a little more widely.

  13. Anthea Bisgrove
    18/05/2016 at 12:06 pm

    (Post amended for typo)

    A short lesson in American English vs. British English:

    trunk=boot of the car
    homeschooling= (elective) home education

    One reason why I do not blog about the finer points of Rugby League, is that I know almost nothing about it. It might be prudent for the Baroness to take the same approach to educational matters — at least until she has read a little more widely.

    • MilesJSD
      19/05/2016 at 5:40 pm

      Anthea, a successful “snapshot-lesson” that, for every-one, too;

      and thank you that it also “connects” us,
      as well as educationally,
      to the factor
      “Reading about it will not result even in your having started to “be doing” any of it yet”.
      [For more such pithy-sources, see ‘Basics. page in not-for-profit voluntary “towards a sustainworthy Earth citizenship website” – ]

  14. Danae
    18/05/2016 at 12:07 pm

    My daughter went to school. It was a middle school in which she was tortured practically daily by other children who decided that it was fun – in one incident, for example – to shove her against the toilet wall and yank her arms back to almost breaking point. Fortunately, she evaded the tormentors. The teachers’ answer to keep my daughter safe (which is their duty) was to corral my bullied daughter inside during break times and get her to ‘do jobs’ for them. The bullies, of course, were allowed to play freely in the schoolyard. Then, in another incident, children put my daughter’s shoes in the shower during a P.E. lesson and turned the shower on full. My child’s footwear was soaked and she had to wear water-logged shoes all the rest of the day in the middle of winter. Schools either choose to do, or can do, nothing with bullies. So I took my child out. She asked to learn Japanese and is now studying at a Japanese University. She wouldn’t have learned Japanese at school. She told me, shortly after she was rescued from the hell that school was, that, if she hadn’t been home educated, she would’ve been dead. I believe her. Schools are rife with bullying, full of coercion, lacking in the ability to educate or even keep children safe from physical and/or emotional harm. Home education is a wonderful alternative system of education. And, by the way, my children are not YOUR children. And you are proof of the ignorance that is often shown by schooled people. Perhaps, if you are so bothered about other people’s children, you should tackle the daily hell that some poor youngsters go through in the prisons you call schools. That is within the state remit. Either way, you would do well to educate yourself about home education before you make uninformed remarks on something you know nothing about. I don’t mind being called militant. I am a militant who opposes bullying wherever I see it, whether from ignorant commentators, children who love to hurt other children, or the local authority ‘inspectors’ who wouldn’t know an education if it bit them and cause damage by their very insistence on a system that has damaged so many youngsters. I would prefer to defend my children’s right to educate in a peaceful, loving and safe environment to being a mindless drone who allows children to be treated like targets.

  15. Susanne
    18/05/2016 at 12:40 pm

    I don’t usually post on the internet, but decided to respond to your blog, Baroness Deech, as I remember you teaching me at Oxford some thirty years ago.

    Now I am the mother of two children, one at school and one home educated. We decided to home educate our son, who has autism, after he was failed very badly by the state education system. His experience is by no means unique; research by any number of organisations, including the National Autistic Society, has highlighted the complex difficulties many children with autism face in mainstream education. I have met many children with autism, who are now home educated.

    Since we took our son out of school, he has thrived, and now leads a full life within our community. He is being educated for life, with our firm hope that he will fulfil his potential.

    It was interesting to read that you think that home educating families are defensive. I can understand why people can feel defensive, when there still is so much negativity and ignorance around home education (in spite of the efforts of many of us to explain what we do.) We also are often on the receiving end of ham-fisted and insensitive interventions by public sector workers who are much less knowledgeable than we are.

    What has particularly irked me recently has been the tendency in the media to tar all families whose children don’t attend mainstream schools with the same brush. Families home educate for diverse reasons in diverse ways but all those I know would condemn the existence of illegal schools. Those schools obviously need to be dealt with, but any policy response to any perceived dangers posed by home education needs to be clear about what those risks might be. I am sure that you would also agree with evidence based, proportionate policy.

    That said, I would be much more interested to engage in a debate about how our current system of education could evolve to meet the needs of those who are failed so miserably by it. That would be a debate much more worthy of all our attention.

    • MilesJSD
      24/05/2016 at 5:12 pm

      it does appear that along with advances in knowledge and development-know-how for autistic-people is growing both wide neurological knowledge, and individual-human-development knowledge & affordably-accessible know-how.

      That has been happening both for the ‘genius’ & mainstream-normal majority, and for various ‘special’ minorities:
      and, that our Leaders and Governors [and let’s face it, our Educators too] are ignoring most of those advances
      is outrightly malfeasant and [let us face it again] is at root socially-hostile – tantamount to being the “Mother” of all “Anti-Social Behaviour”.

      I wish to ask if you would see the need for two improvements, first to include the Elite-Establishmentarians in the “failure-of-education” you rightly indicate;
      because with clever-genius leader tags like “Education” for “Indoctrination and Brainwashing”, for Ethnic Genocide “Ethnic Cleansing”, and for Accidentally Killed by Own Troops “Friendly Fire”;
      and for many other unpardonable malfeasances, the training as well as the education of our Elite is also still abysmally failing;

      and secondly,
      also badly needed to bring us up to competence in Participatory Democracy,
      to have our Schools and other training, education, and Community places “constitute” and implement,
      priorly before the Debating stages and especially prior to any political-debating (i) fact, factor and all-round-information sharing; (ii) cooperatively-focused conversation (iii) cooperatively participative discussion ?

      Could we also replace that rapidly-monstrosing ‘weasel’ word
      with the correct and responsible term for non-natural, human-civilisational improvement,
      please ?

  16. Dmitry Astapov
    18/05/2016 at 1:00 pm

    “rotten example to set to the children, that their pleasure or their parents’ convenience counts for more than the extra burden placed on the teacher, the need to catch up and the detrimental effect on the rest of the class.”

    On the other hand, is it reasonable to expect that all the family vacations happen out of school term time? After all, parents’ co-workers also have children, and also want to go on vacation, so why extra burden on employers and employees alike (and on economy in general) is not considered here?

    • MilesJSD
      25/05/2016 at 3:37 pm

      Dmitri, right.

      The carefully – and taxes-very-expensively – denied and covered-up governmental, academic, and ‘popular’,

      failures to plan longest-term sustainworthily (1000s), medium-term (100s), short-term (10s), and immediate-term (01) years ahead

      also contains numerous other rafflesian* wastages and destructivities, including this failure to co-ordinate Workplace-timeframes with Lifeplace-timeframes.

      {Another instance: My ongoingly-homeless disabled elderly, “foreign” Australian great-grandmother caree “sofa-surfing” in my housing-association bedsit-flat, has been false-witnessedly driven out of her ‘Council flat’ and ever since has been formally sent weekly notifications of totally unsuitable dwellings to “bid” for, by the government-housing department ‘hand-in-glove’ with the similarly unfit-for-purpose but compulsory “Homes Choice” organisation}.

      You spot that these are unnecessary “extra burdens on employers and employees alike… and on ‘economy’ in general”; and it may be vital to distinguish ‘economy’ from ‘The economy’ and from ‘Economics’ (in the same spirit needed to distinguish ‘economising’ from ‘economics’):
      my point here is taken from up-to-date Economics text-books, and at the Introduction level at that:
      “Economics is based upon certain factors two of which are (i) human-beings are insatiable (ii) Earth’s resources are self-renewable”.

      As WW2 children we’d feel awestruck by the long lumbering goods-trains full of Cornish broccoli, bound all the way up to London’s Covent Garden to be auctioned off,
      then loaded onto fleets of lorries and trucked all the way back,
      as down a fishbackbone, to be retailed off to us hungry customers.

      We couldn’t understand the “Economics” of it; nor were our school-teachers allowed to explain it either.
      [I think that’s a plenty long enough “reply” – thank you;
      and Godspeed]

      [* Rafflesia = an almost completely invisible internalised parasite within trees, that also ‘shows itself’ when breeding briefly, by ‘uneconomically’ and ‘utterly-wastefully’ attracting a few mall flies into a flower so large it is the biggest on the planet!]

      • MilesJSD
        25/05/2016 at 3:51 pm

        … (by attracting a few) small (flies) …

  17. MilesJSD
    18/05/2016 at 5:42 pm

    Especially since the Constitutions, Legislation, Cultures, Establishments and “Lifeplace-Societies” (what’s left of them under the hijacking Powers of Workplace Careers “Social Mobilisation”)
    of both the Developed and Developing Worlds,

    and of the United Nations,

    do not recognise and implement certain vital individual & collective human-developmental advances,
    in both Knowledge and Know-Hows,
    we both as “insiders” and “outsiders” need to extra-proactively make known certain distinctions:-

    1. “Schooling & Training for the Workplace” is a very very different, contrasting and even conflicting Thing
    from “Education and Exploration for the Lifeplace”.

    {JSDM thinks: It will be enormously difficult now to disentangle “Home Education” from “Home Schooling” –

    and impossible to distinguish under the monopolistic term “Education” and “The Education System/Ministry/Sector”
    Lifeplace-Enablements” from “Workplace-Skillings”.

    Just as it is “too late” to rename the NHS what it truthfully is,
    namely the National Illnesses Sector;

    and even to correct misnomers such as “Energetic”
    when the correct term is “Energic”;

    and “Friendly Fire” when the fact is “Accidental Fire from Own Troops”;

    and “Ethnic Cleansing” when the truth is
    “Criminally Bestial Ethnic Persecution”;

    and “Got to let your go” when the fact is “We’re sacking you, you’re ‘fired'”.
    For serious-minded lists of neglected, and many suppressed, human-developmental advances
    see ‘Basics’ page;;

    and other not-for-profit-nor-power-nor-prestige submissions to since May 2010
    (by yours faithfully MilesJSD -“retired impairee”).

  18. Stuart Marshall
    18/05/2016 at 6:51 pm

    Congratulations to the many home educators who have pointed out a whole plethora of valid points.
    I am sure many of the Baroness’s colleagues will have chosen not to send their children into the “wonderful” state system, but instead to private schools, who operate on a wide variety of ethics and curriculae. I note they are not criticised for rejecting the state system…
    Perhaps we should also remember that the Queen was home educated… And she seems to have done OK!
    I had the misfortune to meet Graham Badman a few years ago. He was the stooge employed by the last labour government to “regulate” home education. His totalitarian system would have seen home educators assessed against a set of arbitrary guidelines that didn’t necessarily reflect the education they offered. It would be like assessing a Steiner school to state school guidelines. Ludicrous. What was worse was that “habious corpus” innocent until proven guilty would have been removed for home educators. Parents failing to meet the arbitrary guidelines would have their children forced back to a failing local school…fortunately home educators fought back and this didn’t pass the “washup” at the end of parliament. Ed Balls wasn’t happy and subsequently lost his seat.
    I worked for a number of years in the state sector, before leaving to teach adults. I witnessed the endemic bullying from the top down, bullying designed into the system. Our Prussian system of education was, of course, designed to take rural kids and “break” then to work long days in factories. Only in recent years has it no longer needed to do that as our economy became less reliant on factories.
    Sir Ken Robinson (and many others) have spoke out for educational change. The Prussian system is simply outdated and ineffective. It fails so many children (some of whom leave school without basic reading and writing skills). Yet despite the evidence being there politicians continue not to make meaningful changes.
    Personalised education is the latest buzz word in schools. It’s efficacy is undisputed, yet it is impossible to implement in a class of 30. Yet personalised education is what home educating parents have chosen to give their kids.
    Research a few years ago showed that home education was the only form of pedagogy that allowed children to routinely move upwards out of their social economic grouping. Clearly it works, yet parents are criticised for offering their children the best personalised education possible. Perhaps instead one should ask why some parents continue to inflict a bullying, outdated, failing educational system on their children rather than home educate?

  19. Sophie Weston
    18/05/2016 at 8:48 pm

    Baroness Deach appears to be peculiarly ignorant about home education (it isn’t school at home so we don’t refer to it as such) and has adopted a rather tedious conflation of the freedom to educate with illegal schools and radicalisation. Oh dear. I am sure that a certain demographic will find her argument plausible, but the home educators and indeed those intelligent enough to question the system will not.
    As to the practicalities dear madam. I look forward to your swift provision of enough schools to house the 50 thousand home educated children that you know of. Good luck.

  20. maude elwes
    19/05/2016 at 3:02 pm

    I have read this thread with increased interest. Some long time ago on here I wrote the school system and schools in many parts of the country were and are unfit for purpose. And were this way at least 40 years ago.

    Three distant relatives of mine had to be removed from their schools. Two of them girls who lived in Hackney, Diane Abbots corner. Note she also had to remove her son from one of them in order to educate privately. The emphasis on educate

    Why I mention this is because nearly all the ‘Home Educated’ have not directly addressed their reasons for having to home educate. The reasons I have do indeed cover in city schools but the state of play at those schools was so utterly dreadful, I felt I must tell all.

    Two of these children I write of were removed from a Hackney school and as mentioned were girls. One eight the other six. The school was mixed and a more treacherous school for children you could never imagine. The girls there, as young as eight, hence the rapid removal, in playtime had to suffer lined up gang bangs from twelve years, in what was then called playtime. Now I believe the adoption of the American word ‘recess’ has been taken to make it sound more, well, global. Of course teaching didn’t come into it. That was an impossibility so the classroom was also playtime as the teachers were frequently verbally abused with all kinds of abuse including sexual intonation. They feared for what they ‘knew’ took place at playtime may happen to them should they complain. So, having no other option the grandparents paid for the little girls to go to a private all girls school in Southgate.

    So, instead of these two girls growing up unable to read or write, or, indeed being so emotionally damaged they would never be able to live a secure stable life, they got an education. Now, the eldest being 33yrs, ended up with a doctorate, and the youngest in so called ‘human resources.’ Another Americanism. The school mentioned was finally closed down, after a cover up that would make you gasp with horror. Mustn’t speak of it, politically incorrect you see.

    Now the boy, also eight at the time, lived in the up market location of Chelsea. Not the Sloane Square end the top end called World’s End, and my goodness the end of the world it was for schools. This boy, having gone to school on a regular daily basis from three in nursery, never taken out for a so called holiday, could not read or write a word. He did not know the days of the week, or even how to spell his name. He was being taught to read by carrying a tin around in his pocket with words which he had to keep taking out and looking at to see if he could remember them. He could not tell the time or even add two and two, and believe me, I am not exaggerating. He was not bullied but his friends at school would stomp all over any child who dared to learn at all in class. In fact, they would take you out to the back of the playground, where the after school stayers would spend time until their minder would come to collect them, and beat the muscles loose. He saw this and remembered well you didn’t try to get anywhere as your life would be a misery. This was London, England 1970’s.

    Again, grandparents going out of their mind with worry, tried in every way they could to get the attention of the social services, etc.. And the big cover up began at once and in force. First they tried to denigrate the grandparents for complaining to the school, that was unsuccessful, they had a little money so attack wasn’t as simple as usual. Then same SS tried to persuade the mother, as they were the fathers parents, that she was being attacked by their speaking out and that she must end the child’s contact with them or things would become difficult for her. When that failed, they ended up in court, so, they blamed the boy. He was retarded, they said, with an IQ of only 95 and therefore unable to teach.

    So, grandparents played them at their own game. They took him to a private psychologist who tested him and found that he was indeed uneducated, but not retarded or even of low IQ, but instead he was a bright boy and he had the potential to do very well at school. As, in fact, he had the intelligence of someone who could do well in a university. To cut it short, In then end he was taken out of town and put in a private home counties school, paid for by Granny and within a year had a reading age of 13 and a maths age of 12. His IQ then being 139 and good at Latin to boot.

    That little boy is now thirty nine years old. A very successful London estate agent, who first drove a Porsche, then later married, has a son of his own, settled down and changed his vehicle to a Land Rover with seven seats because they are needed for children’s birthday parties.

    Had he no Grandparents he would not have passed a driving test as he would never have learned to read, write or freely think with logic. So the State school system has been in a mess for a very long time. And not one of them will either accept it or address it. Instead they play politics with out children’s lives. Much worse now of course, but, on the boil for many many years.

    So, my vote goes to the Home Educators here. It is the only solution to political correctness and a government who wants to pretend their policies over the years are right. And that is both sides of the house. Grammar school boys as well.

    You will note MP’s do not send their own children to these schools ever. The PM taking his, so far ‘state educated’ daughters, at schools, picked out as the best, and not in his home catchment area either. He still had to finally submit and send them to independent options. The others in that House pick, The Grey Coat school for girls, in Westminster, or, The London Oratory for Boys. The are state schools supplying a private education for free. Or, almost free. Perks being hidden of course. Failing all else, they have tutors. Which costs money, but, is worth every penny if you have it, in order to keep your job leading all of us over the cliff, akin to the pied piper.

    My feeling is. all politicians should be forced to send their children to inner city co ed schools for at least five years before they can become elected as MP. Just so that they can enjoy the quality of education and the mix of ordinary fellow students for their own offspring in order to be fully indoctrinated with the new Britain and its objectives. The ones in those areas that are considered failing. (That’ll learn em)

  21. Paul
    21/05/2016 at 5:32 am

    While at school I turned to bad behaviour as a way of entertaining myself. I wanted to learn, but the teachers spent time on spelling tests for words I already knew how to spell – I always achieved 10 out of 10. I liked reading and had a good memory. Not so good since the other children introduced my to drugs.

    How could the teachers give me the more advanced work I needed when they needed to concentrate on the children couldn’t spell. Surely they needed the teachers’ attention more than me.

    Similar boredom in other subjects while points were explained ad nauseum.

    Then there was the daily cruel bullying, including physical assault.

    Thankfully I do have some happy childhood memories. My parents mercifully on two occassions took me out of school for 6 weeks at a time, during term time, to travel in South America. This was at a time when schools were at liberty to do what they felt was right and good. They told my parents it would be an education in itself, and that I was more than capable of catching up if that was even necessary.

    I am so thankful to the school and to my parents for the wonderful memories of those, and other, holidays in term time. They are like an oasis in the desert of unpleasant memories from my counter productive school days.

    My parents tell me they had never heard of home education. If only it had been more well known, maybe I could have benefitted from the loving, impartial, and patient undivided attention of my own parents, rather than professionals who were responsible for 30 children, and whose main interest was to earn a salary.

    Parents who sacrifice careers for the sake of their children’s education deserve to be commended. By my reckoning, a below average home education would be far more productive and beneficial than a school which is considered to be successful because they have kept the children attending so that they can be taught how to pass a particular set of tests.

  22. Andrew
    21/05/2016 at 7:11 am

    What an insult – you represent us the people in government and you criticize home educators as if they should be persuaded to get their children into school? Why – what has school got to offer? Home educators fund their children’s education – which is not cheap by any means and at great personal cost in time often because the school system is only partly fit for purpose and failing to give real choice to young people. Try getting the subjects you want for your children at school or sixth form college and wonder why home education produces better more rounded young people who are able to think outside the box. Your insulting position shows a complete lack of understanding of real home education.

  23. Baroness Deech
    Baroness Deech
    22/05/2016 at 9:55 pm

    Most of these comments are, sadly, predictable, and give no grounds to cease worrying about children kept out of school. If there is a good reason for home schooling, eg. special needs or bullying, there should be no difficulty in justifying it to the local authority; but it is not right to have unknown numbers of children absent from school either temporarily or permanently, or on holiday. We need to make sure we abide by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 28:

    1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:

    (a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;

    • Dave H
      22/05/2016 at 10:27 pm

      Your arguments are also very predictable, and I notice that you avoided answering any of the quite reasonable points raised in opposition to your views. A one-track mindset that education=school doesn’t get us anywhere.

      There is more than one correct way to educate a child, and for some children, one way is clearly better than others. By forcing them all into school (with a few narrow exceptions) you are failing to uphold the very UNCR article you quote. Indeed, by only allowing a few limited exceptions, you are then discriminating against those children who would suffer even more exclusion than if they were part of a larger group of children following the same path through childhood.

      I’ll try again – against which standards would you assess home education and why, and when is central government going to act against local authorities who exceed their legal remit on home education and cause distress to children and disrupt their education? LAs have demonstrated that in many cases they are not fit to exercise the powers they have and certainly should not be given more. In my submission to the Commons CSF Bill committee back in 2010 I highlighted the issue of proper training and testing for LA staff. That has never really happened, the usual procedure is someone gets given the job part-time, has an inaccurate briefing from someone else as to the law and procedures and goes out and alienates the local home educators with their attitude and approach. When (if) the LA person finally learns enough, they usually get given a new job and all the effort put in by local families to educate that person is wasted and the cycle starts again.

      Home educators keep getting ignored – we don’t mind provided we’re left alone to educate our children, but when someone in government, who clearly fails to appreciate how it works and persists in believing that it’s only going to work if strictly controlled by the state, turns up and demands regulation, we do unsurprisingly get a bit miffed. We are fighting for our families and so are prepared to go far beyond what you might consider reasonable to defend them.

    • maude elwes
      23/05/2016 at 1:26 pm

      But, Baroness, you are missing the point. The parents here, as well as I, am telling you they are often and more often than not, receiving nothing like an education. Their surroundings, the inability of many of the teachers to teach, the ridiculous system that claims all are equal and so on, is a detriment to the child. Not to mention being so called taught by people with little vocabulary.

      The UN was not addressing the issue you put forward. It was pushing for children in the third world to receive the opportunity of being educated as a rule. It was not accenting failure of first world schools in their lack of ability to teach. It was not relying on any UK government not to be able to succeed in taking responsibility for the educational system.

      And the most dreadful news on this thread is, government is still not ready to accept responsibility for what has happened to British schools, because of their inconceivable lack of know how. And the denial of it.

      As we are presently being led by men who attended very good independent schools how come they are not able to see the offering they have set up for the masses as inadequate? And it ‘is’ directly the fault of successive governments. Not the teaches, not the parents, but their policies.

      If a good education can be had by sending your child to a British ‘fee paying’ school. then, the simple answer has to be see what is different about those particular schools and how it is they manage to turn out children that are educated well enough to bring content to the parents. And please do not say well the children at those schools are bright and come from good homes, as that is a cop out My story will tell you that three bright ordinary children were totally unable to learn in an environment that was so disruptive it was impossible for them to handle. Even if it was purely emotional as a result of the aggressive behaviour of those they were ‘forced’ to be with.

      You know the best thing to do is write to the UN and ask them who voted for them individually and how is it they appear to have no idea what goes on inside British state schools. You may also like to call their attention to how this came about. As it was not always this way. Was it? Look back and take account of how this happened here. Maybe then it will encourage an honest appraisal of the mess and why it is the way it is and do something about it.

      Past times

      How do they manage it here?

    • Nancy M
      24/05/2016 at 8:28 pm

      Your response is, sadly and predictably uninformed and platitudinous I’m afraid.

      As you seem particularly interested in demographics I shall seek to enlighten you somewhat.
      I dared to remove my children from school during term time on several occasions.
      They both had otherwise excellent attendance and attaintment levels where above average. Alas, I was an unwilling single parent at the time; with two children fathered by a gentleman of west indian descent. One of the children was also classed as ‘special needs’ by nature of his disablity.
      I should imagine that as a family we ‘ticked’ a great many boxes. Socially inept, woefully uneducated, no great expectation in posterum.
      I can almost hear your head shaking, “Fie, those poor infants”.
      Cast to the very depths of society, with no hope of ever gaining financial independence from the state or prospects of meaningful employment. Whatever shall become of them?
      It might interest you to know, (and even if it doesn’t I am going to tell you nonetheless) what became of the child with the special needs, for whom the future looked so bleak. (After all, missing a month off school was sure to put the poor darling at a distinct disadvantage?) He became Head Boy of his high school.
      Spurred on by his shamefully ambitious mother he gained a full set of ‘A’ marks and was able to sit his entrance exam for Rugby Boys School; paid for by his doting Grandmother I might add. By jove, do you know he passed, gained several further ‘A’s and won the prize for English Literature for his year, becoming the first day boarder to do so. Golly!
      Emboldened further, he applied to Loughborough University. Where bless my soul, he actually earnt himself a degree. In fact he earnt three of them; one a masters. Well done that chap.
      And now, what does the poor boy do with all that learning you might ask?
      He’s a Paralympian. He represents our Country with our flag on his back.
      He is set to represent Britain in Rio of all places, not quite the colonies but you get the gist. Isn’t that marvellous Madam.

      Do you detect a certain air of sarcasm perhaps? Because quite frankly you are odious in your views and condescending in your tone. And it is not appreciated.

      As to Home Educating.
      Some of us consider it to be Home Tutoring; something that certain classes have sought to undertake for a great many years and we do not and will not take kindly to people interfering in our private business unless they have very just cause to do so.

    • Anthea Bisgrove
      02/06/2016 at 3:30 am

      This comment is rather worrying. Baroness Deech thinks that the Education Act should bow to the U.N.’s ideas. Also she does not understand that education is already compulsory, and must be provided “at school or otherwise”. I did, at first, think that this article was designed as ‘click bait’; I am now of the opinion that the Baroness really believes this nonsense.

      Those who are providing a Living Education for their children are keeping those youngsters *out* of school, but very much *in* touch with learning. It has been noted that the upper classes and the politicians are free to avail themselves of private schools, tutors and home education. I suppose it’s just verboten for the unwashed lower orders …

  24. MilesJSD
    23/05/2016 at 11:05 am

    Evidently the insidiously runaway enormity of this Whole Human Race’s, and our total Lifesupports’, “predicament” on this planet Earth,
    continues to escape our Leaders, Representatives, Advocates and Governors.
    My ‘drowning’ word:
    Try to visit not-for-profit ‘Basics’ page ;

    Copy them all
    then glean what you can
    a propos
    “reliable-knowledge, affordable-know-how, and all-round-education, for a sustainworthy civilisation’s peacefully-revolutionary 128-hours per week Lifeplace .

    [Not much “training” there for the 40-hour a week Workplace –
    but in any case, the Schools and Universities are already over-stocked with such Training [falsely legislated as being “educational”] books and material as they are “Teaching”].

  25. Jaki
    23/05/2016 at 9:45 pm

    It would make far more sense to ensure that if we hand our children over to a school that they will be safe, secure, and learning in a positive atmosphere.

    Instead we hear time and time again that children are not safe, have to ensure all manner of bullying tactics that adults would never have to tolerate – there are laws against bullying in the workplace – but not in schools. Funny that.

    When all schooled children leave school with at least 5 x GCSEs at grades A – C, then and only then, can you sit on your soap box and tell me that school is better

    Instead Colleges are now having to pick up the slack and teach “Functional Skills” – that’s a dumbed down version of English and Maths in case you hadn’t noticed the poor standard of these vital subjects that is now on offer in schools

    Originally designed for less able students to ensure that Special Schools taught more than “Life Skills” – this subject has come to embody all that is wrong with state Secondary Education.

    How on earth can students spend 12 years in school and still fail to pass the exam? Is it all the fault of the student or is the chronic overcrowding in schools, the fast paced curriculum that leaves too many students behind?

    When you allow teachers to teach without the constant meddling – then maybe schools will be seen as a viable alternative to Home Education.

    I wonder why you are so fearful of Home Educators when they make up less than 1% of the school age population.

  26. Allen Roland
    24/05/2016 at 8:32 am

    Baroness Deech , you say ‘Most of these comments are, sadly, predictable, and give no grounds to cease worrying about children kept out of school.’

    Providing such a glib response to people who have taken the trouble to communicate with you is utterly disrespectful. It is not the sort of answer one should expect from an educated person, let alone one who is tasked with making laws, has oversight of public policy and a responsibility for holding our elected government and its agents to account.

    With respect, I ask you, what specifically is sadly predictable about most of these comments?

    It is understandable that it would be worrying for a child registered to attend school if that child was not attending. Their non-attendance may well be indicative of a deficiency in their education. However, home educated children are not being prevented from attending school, they are in fact being educated privately in an environment where the love, support, stimulus and resources necessary for education is provided by their parents.

    Would you care to share the specific grounds that cause you to worry so much about parents taking direct responsibility for the education of their children?

    In your blog posts, including those from 2010 on home education, you never state any specifics to clarify your opposition to home education. Instead you speak in vague generalities, partially quote the UNCRC where it suits your argument and generally denigrate home education by referring to it as home schooling and refer to its practitioners as militant.

    Why is that? Why not simply be open, forthright and honest about your specific concerns? If you wish to engage in a productive dialogue, why not fully engage in it? There is nothing to be gained by categorising home educators as militant or in denigrating home education by repeatedly calling it home schooling.

    Your dismissive approach to the comments that have been made in response to your blog post appears churlish. Why put the blog post up if you weren’t prepared to engage in the discussion that was bound to follow?

    You make no comment about the government’s agents – the local authorities – who routinely ignore the laws we are all obliged to respect and who routinely violate the human rights treaties you are so fond of selectively quoting. As you are aware, human rights cannot be freely exercised except under the rule of law. Where authorities ignore the rule of law, the rights of the citizens are violated. Do you have any intention of addressing that issue?

    • Jane
      24/05/2016 at 5:52 pm

      The only purpose of this blog post, and following comment, is to state a fixed opinion and provoke a reaction. I wouldn’t expect any kind of discussion.

      • MilesJSD
        25/05/2016 at 11:04 am

        How “one-way, top-down-directive, and categorical of you –
        multifoldly opinionated, too !

        More of us should be working through [not only “mindfully-reading”]
        work such as
        “How To Win Every Argument” by Madsen Pirie;

        and the old Englishman Dr Edward de Bono’s thinking-works e.g.
        “I Am Right You Are Wrong”.

      • maude elwes
        25/05/2016 at 3:50 pm

        @ Jane:

        Yes, you are of course right.

        However, it is important to use this blog to make it clear how the public view the performance of those who run this show. It also has the ability to expose the world to what democracy should look like. I bet they don’t have a blog like this in Turkey!

        As discontent with it as we may all be, it opens up a way to the top directly. Don’t for a minute believe they do not know every word written here. It is the one direct place the ordinary citizen can be certain they do indeed hear it straight from the horses mouth. Exposed to all and sundry.

        It is a sad moment when full advantage to rage and reject isn’t used by thousands of us, in order that it becomes harder by the minute for them to pull the wool over the electorates eye when it is time to put our cross in the box that counts every five years.

        I have to admit, resenting having to do so, that, I for one regularly enjoy the opportunity it gives me to voice my views, along with disapproval and occasional approval, here for all to see.

        Unless you use it, you lose it. So the saying goes.

  27. MilesJSD
    24/05/2016 at 3:44 pm

    A group of professors once (in quite recent years) aired on TV that

    “The two most prestigious careers in the world are Medicine and Law.
    You can become the best doctor in the whole world, or the best lawyer,
    or even both,
    without any education whatsoever” –

    “but what you must have is firstly the best Training;
    and nextly the best Job-Placements, successively”.
    There are pages of other foggy, conflated,
    even malfeasantly ‘spin-doctored’ terms,
    desperately needing cleaning-up;
    and surely that is the Job of both Training and of Education ?

    Otherwise “we” are all tarred
    with the same “blindly-sheepish-complicity” brush,
    aren’t we ?

    And as the Human-Race’s “preferred” worldwide language-providers, that makes us …

    { Ugh ! } –

  28. Manchester Mark
    25/05/2016 at 11:00 am

    Baroness Deech you only need to speak with any number of child education experts and they will all tell you that the best way to learn is to put the student in charge of WHAT, WHY, WHEN, WHERE and WITH WHOM they learn.

    If you force a child to sit down and learn what the teacher tells them to the learning process grinds to a frustrating halt.

  29. maude elwes
    01/06/2016 at 2:14 pm

    Are British children being taught in school and college that their chance in some areas of the workforce is not available to them if they are not of suitable heritage? This link indicates that if they are not being advised on this aspect of job seeking they should be, as taking media courses, for example, could be a terrible waste of their time and money.

    This would then tie in with what I have found on the European debating forum regarding EU policy regarding mass integration and its aim. The link is here.

    Apparently Mrs Merkel and Van Rompuy have received awards from this organisation since 2010 for their participation in and progression of this policy. I feel that the young should be informed by their Professors of the movement they are being asked to stand by.

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