Home Education

Lord Soley

The debate on my Private members Bill (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill

https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2017-11-24/debates/141D7347-083E-4EAF-9927-AD5283998B76/HomeEducation(DutyOfLocalAuthorities)Bill(HL)
was completed successfully and the Bill will now go into committee probably in late February. I announced in the debate that I will make some changes to the Bill and that I would be listening to various groups and individuals to make sure I get the Bill into good shape. Please read the debate to see what I was saying.

I have had significant numbers of letters and emails in opposition to the Bill but also some very important ones from people who had been home educated and for whom it went wrong. They do not have an effective lobby group which is a pity but understandable as many of them want to remain anonymous.

Let me make some key points here:
1. I am in favour of home education and have always been in favour.
2. My concern has always been for those who want to home educate but run into difficulties – they need support.
3. I am concerned for the welfare and the rights of those children for whom it goes seriously wrong – especially where it involves abuse or radicalisation.

My aim is for a light touch regulation for those doing it well. One visit a year should be sufficient. For those who take their child out but can’t manage so put the child back into school need additional help. It is not good for the child or for the school to have to deal with this in/out problem. There is a debate to be had around the issue of how best the education authorities, be it local councils or some other organisation, can help.

Most importantly we must have a register of children who are not in school. It isn’t just the children who are taken out of school but also the ones who are never registered in the first place. Estimates of numbers vary and there is very little research in this area of policy. To have no idea or contact with children is a bad idea. Parent’s rights are important here but so are the children’s.

I shall make further entries on this blog in due course.

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30 comments for “Home Education

  1. Dave H
    07/12/2017 at 5:31 am

    The fundamental assumption that the state is always correct and can do no harm is sadly incorrect. Even the President of the Family Court has acknowledged recently that officials have made false statements and abused their position to the detriment of families. (This was made in the context of covert recording of meetings and noted that in some cases the existence of the recording completely changed things to the benefit of the family.)

    It is unfortunate that vulnerable children and those with special needs are over-represented in the home education community, but this is a wider reflection of the fact that the state school system has failed them. In trying to save one child, how many of these children might be traumatised or even driven to suicide by the invasion of their safe space at home by a stranger from the local authority? Especially if the child thinks that the official has come to send them back to the school which was the cause of the problems.

    There is also the strange belief that a child has to be seen by a ‘professional’ in order to be properly safe. This misses the mark on two counts; it ignores the fact that children attend school regularly despite suffering abuse and are not detected, and that all professionals are benign and harmless. Sadly this is not the case, and the list of people in positions of power over children who have harmed those in their care is distressingly long.. Once again, you may save one child but harm many others.

    Then we can move onto the monitoring side of things. If you’re monitoring children then that implies you are doing so against a standard. What standard do you intend to apply? The school standard is not appropriate because many children have been removed from school because that was not working for them, and neither is it appropriate for many of the wide range of educational approaches used by home educators. Following on from this, how do you ensure that local authority inspectors are properly trained to perform assessments, and how do you police the qualifications? This also comes back to the first point about assuming that the state is correct – in practice many local authorities overstep their powers and this is one of the prime reasons that home educators distrust local authorities in general. Some are very good but the list of bad ones is worryingly long. Perhaps you could investigate this issue instead, and if you did you’d find a lot of support amongst home educators.

    Returning to the idea of professionals identifying abuse, if teachers and other school staff can miss this in children who attend regularly, then what chance does an inspector who only sees a child once a year have? If you propose an increase in visit frequency then this significantly raises the cost, and one has to ask whether it’s the best use of all the money and whether it could be better spent elsewhere.

    For those who unfortunately think that home education didn’t work for them,do you propose a corresponding process for those who are being failed by the school system? I think you’ll find many more in that category. In the same vein, asking home educated children what they think of being educated that way should be matched by asking schoolchildren the same thing. I would expect in both cases the vast majority would be happy with their situation but a small number would not. If you propose to help the small number of home educated children in this category, where is the equal support for those for whom school is a problem?

    I (along with others) give general advice to home educators to decline the offer (in some cases a demand) for a home visit because as it stands, local authorities have nothing useful to offer that can’t be acquired from local and national home education groups because they have no budget for it. All that is available is some degree of hassle, depending on the quality of the authority.

    The Bill is the wrong approach to the problem; in attempting to help a small number of children, it risks harming a far greater number. A better approach might be to listen to home educators when they complain about the behaviour of local authorities and correct the abuse of power before giving the abusers more powers.

  2. Sarah
    07/12/2017 at 8:20 am

    Honestly there is no need for a register. Every child is registered at birth, all children who apply for school are in the database so therefore all children born ( who have not sadly died) would be available for a LA if they felt they needed a list.
    I also don’t see what poorly trained in home ed people inspecting families would achieve, apart from causing children lots of stress at being subjected to intrusive questions by random adults with their own agenda, perhaps we should also have adults checking on every child in the school system since so many leave school illiterate or traumatised from bullying whether they would prefer to be home educated.

  3. Roxane
    07/12/2017 at 9:02 am

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

    Then there is the problem of subjectivity of assessment. Given that most home educators do not want to jump through state determined hoops, (often because they recognise them for what they are – a outdated, unnecessarily cumbersome and extremely inefficient ways of acquiring an effective education – using any sort of tool to assess learning is never going to be possible. It will all come down to whether the assessor says “yea or nay” on the day, and even if they are highly trained and experienced in the field, that may well come down to whether they have had enough biscuits or not. http://www.economist.com/node/18557594

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

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

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

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

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

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

  4. Zoe Sadaoui
    07/12/2017 at 9:26 am

    When are we going to see the evidence that home educated children are at risk of abuse or radicalisation? I’m not sure it’s good practice to change British law based on assumptions.

    Giving EHE officers greater powers than the police to enter a child’s home and ask them questions is not a “light touch”, it is invasive and a completely disproportionate response to a non-existent problem.

    This is a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack, by burning the entire haystack to the ground.

    Please don’t act like you are supportive of Home Education. This Bill is nothing but prejudiced and discriminatory in order to exert control over a minority group.

  5. Michelle Eshkeri
    07/12/2017 at 9:58 am

    Dear Lord Soley

    There is still no concrete evidence that home educated children are at any greater risk of harm from abuse, neglect or radicalisation than their schooled peers. Indeed you have now been supplied with recently gathered examples of a range of issues occurring in our nations schools which are forcing more parents to remove their children in order to protect their physical or mental health or both.

    Current legislation is sufficient to give authorities powers to check on home educated children where a concern has been raised and to identify and close any schools found to be operating illegally, returning those pupils to mainstream schooling. No additional laws are needed to protect children from these two potential problems.

    Home educators should not be discrimated against and have their rights to privacy trampled over by changing the law to allow authorities access to their homes unless a concern has been raised. Such a change flies in the face of our legal premise of innocent until proven guilty. Home education per se is not a red flag for raising a concern.

    Local authorities employ staff who have little to no training in, understanding or tolerance of educational approaches which do no emulate school. They are ill equipped to form accurate judgements on how suitable a provision might be for an individual child because they do not know the child, may not understand the impact of any special educational needs or disabilities and will certainly not understand how best THAT child learns. To make appropriate assesssments of provision, significant training would be required as well as employing a great many more officers to make visits. Resources for such an undertaking would be better spent improving schools so that more children can be supported in the system and are not forced into home education by inadequate education, safeguarding issues or unmet SEND which is currently rife.

    If your intention really is to help children to access a good education, then your efforts would be better directed at dealing with all the problems in the state schools.

  6. Simone
    07/12/2017 at 10:29 am

    I don’t see why I need to put my child on any sort of home education register. She was registered at birth and is registered with our GP and dentist if you make that compulsory for everyone then you don’t need to worry about children not being seen. I don’t want an unqualified stranger coming into my home judging my child, she isn’t a performing monkey and her work isn’t mine to show. What about my child’s rights to privacy?

  7. James Edwards
    07/12/2017 at 5:10 pm

    Dear Lord Soley,

    I am thankful to you and to God for your service to our country and its citizens. I commend and share the concerns of this Bill for the many parents forced to home educate without support (or desire, especially when this is forced because a school does not believe it has the resources to accommodate them) and for children mistreated under the auspice of home education. Much of the debate in the 2nd Reading was honourable (excluding the ‘almost hysterical’ language and misgivings of one member); the sense of Lord Lucas’ comments are also not excusive to libertarians and a pray you further allow his council.

    Nevertheless I believe the current governmental failure towards this vulnerable subset is, not significantly, but wholly due to failed implementation of the existing laws and not a lacuna in legislation or the protections it affords. Moreover, as well intentioned as this Bill is, its foundations are totalitarian in nature and a total departure from the current values instilled in our laws giving the benefit of doubt to the individual and the family. Saying that we don’t have existing laws to prevent the harm and mistreatment of children is preposterous, and that the government cannot know the number of children not employed in state education, farcical. We monitor births and deaths (and emigration) and everything in-between involves the sort of maths I’m teaching my 5-year old. Taking the example of Wales this is certainly possible and so this facet provides no supporting evidence for your bill. Also I have not encountered those in support of this bill demonstrating how current laws are deficient in closing down illegal unregistered schools; Ofsted can and has prosecuted numerous illegal schools so grounds here also for the bill are dismissed.

    Historically monitoring was to provide parents with insight to keep the state accountable, not the other way around! All parents already carry legal responsibility for the care and education of their children (The Education Act); for those that discharge this duty to a school, OFSTED provides essential feedback to ensure the schools meet their obligation to the parent(s) and child. Such a reporting mechanism is redundant when the parent is present (unless you want to start thinking of the state as the ultimate parent of our children). Where there is evidence/strong suspicion of wrong, social services and laws already exist to intervene (even if they lack the resources – which would be further stretched with such unfocused legislation). It would, in fact, legislate a presumption of incompetence in parents and a presumption of competence in the government (the seeds of totalitarianism): potentially usurping ultimate rights over ones children even when there is no legitimate concern for harm or safety.

    Please Lord Soley, this imprecise bill founded on an Orwellian premise is not the solution. It is pejorative to parents generally; a serious threat to free thought and diversity where differing ideals – even if innocuous – will be subjugated to the will of the state or the prejudices of the OFSTED inspector. How will the government be held accountable when it has (not to all intents but to all purposes) usurped the rights of a father and mother to raise their family with values that may oppose that of the government? You are giving a green card to every Lord and Politician that follows you; are you genuinely that nonchalant to trust yourselves (and those that wield authority beyond the bounds of their understanding or informedness) this much?

    I fear even our lawmakers (and journalists) have forgotten history, and worse may continue to ignore those who voice its portents. Not OFSTED nor any political entity should be the bedrock of a society. “The family is the basis of society. As the family is, so is the society” – Ashley Montagu

    If I have misunderstood and misread the Bill I would value any insight or comments. I also appreciate that when a Bill such as this is misunderstood by the press (BBC) it can create stigma for those opposed to something purported as an unadulterated good. But be not in doubt that it is adulterated – by mandating that the government encroach on the freedoms and diversities of families.

    Without “radical and extensive amendment” this bill in time is likely to do much much more harm to our society than good. I cannot see how anyone who knows a jot of history could support it unless their motives are insincere. Thank you for your concern and efforts but please heed the warnings of those you have mentioned consider the ramifications of legislating a snoopers charter upon a certain demographic when the solution to your concerns is already within the powers of the state.

    Yours, a concerned parent aware of the harm misappropriated power from the family has inflicted in many past (even well-meaning) societies.

    James Edwards
    Romford

  8. Maya Young
    07/12/2017 at 5:38 pm

    My son was failed by the education system and is now taught at home where he is thriving. I am happy to do my annual report on my sons progress and teaching methods etc however he has Autism and anxiety and my fear is that tests or regular visits would hamper him due to these additional challenges meaning he is not comfortable with strangers coming to the house. I see education my child as a huge responsibility and his success as my prime motivator and would think most parents would feel the same to me regular inspections are the same as going around to people’s houses at meal times to check the children are being fed for no other reason than they are not eating in public. Ordinary parents want their child to learn and have far more motivation to help their child succeed than a paid stranger so why would they need checking up on? My LA is very good and I know should I need support I only need to pick up the phone to the home education department. Making sure all LA’s adhere to the guidelines already in place would be a much better use of resources than bringing in more legislation. My son benefits hugely from not having to follow the nation curriculum meaning he his learning up to gcse standard in some subjects while having the flexibility to still work on the basics in others.

  9. Gill Purchase
    07/12/2017 at 6:46 pm

    Will you be posting all the comments you receive or just a select few?

  10. Gill Purchase
    07/12/2017 at 6:48 pm

    If you are moderating posts and only posting a select few- is that not denying us our right to Freedom of Speech?

  11. Gill Purchase
    07/12/2017 at 6:55 pm

    More presentable facts that schools are no longer fit for purpose and why parents like me have removed my child from the system that failed her. Instead of being applauded I’m being threatened that I will be treated like a criminal.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201612/why-our-coercive-system-schooling-should-topple

  12. 07/12/2017 at 7:03 pm

    What is actually needed is an
    Holistic Health Building and Life-Education Sector –
    for all ages and conditions of people.

    And within this clear-need lies also the clear need to define and name the National Health Service what it factually is
    The National Hospitals & Illnesses Sector
    delivering Primary Medical Care NOT Primary Health Care – a UN title which the UK and BMA usurped under Britain’s long pre-established.Primary Medical Care in 1978, the British National Hospitals and Illnesses sector having already been mis-named “NHS” in 1948.

    Three further points within this Thinking-Orbit also need constitutional correction and updating :-
    (1) The “education” you refer to is actually the equivalent of “schooling” –
    which in turn is “training for working in the Workplace”
    [it has never been education for living in Lifeplaces].

    (2) You are a Public advocate, elected by and for the Public good, not for your own “private” career, protected-memberships, and “private” Bill-concocting.

    (3) The whole top-heavily deluded and deluding civilisational-edifice needs to be brought “down to Earth”:
    the “better” human-being you are, the LESS you should be able and willing to transparently emulably live off –

    no more than one-human-living is all any one-human-being personally “needs” – all your business and workplace expenses are paid by your Employer, and out of our Peoples’ Sovereign Power Taxes..
    Our governors, “leaders” and “betters” should be showing us millions and billions of “ordinary” people how to make our one-human-living (~£300 pw] “go further”.

    Certainly that is what an Holistic Health Building and Life-Education Sector for all ages and conditions of people needs to also bring to us all to start making us truly more sustainworthy than we very deludedly-destructively are “careering” along under.

    And so, don’t you also need to rename “home education” what it factually is, namely “schooling” – –
    “home schooling” ?

  13. Gill Purchase
    07/12/2017 at 7:07 pm

    Why are you not debating ‘why’ are so many children being removed schools, not just SEN but bright, articulate and gifted children too?

    It was blatantly obvious that most of the Peers who contributed towards the debate did not have a clue at the crisis state schools are in. Not only from underfunding but bullying from teachers, abuse and sexual violation. It is a parents job to safeguard their children from these situations, hence we remove them from these places and protect them in our care.

  14. Gill Purchase
    07/12/2017 at 7:18 pm
  15. Linda Adamson
    07/12/2017 at 8:02 pm

    My grandson is receiving an exceptional home education after he was failed by the school system. They are more than managing. He is not been radicalised and safeguarding is certainly not an issue. Why does he need interference from officials to try and make him return to the system that failed him? Parents who decide to home educate deserve support if they wish to receive it but to be left alone if they are succeeding. They are entitled to have that choice!

  16. Linda Adamson
    07/12/2017 at 8:33 pm

    0 comments for Home Education
    Where are they all then?Still waiting for moderation? Really?

  17. Caroline Ellis
    07/12/2017 at 9:22 pm

    Your Bill needs completely rewriting. As it stands it risks depriving children of a truly child-centred education, causing real damage to many kids with additional needs and alienating families from state institutions. If it’s about support then you need one simple clause and ditch the rest that clause should be along the lines of local education authorities MUST a) respect the freedom of home educating families to meet the learning needs of their children free from unwarranted state intrusion b) work in partnership with local home educators and their organisations to develop practical support for all home educated children to enjoy self-directed learning and enriching educational experiences and opportunities. We had started to pursue this kind of agenda in Somerset with our LEA – we’d started to have real trust and positive relations and they had acknowledged this approach was far more effective in keeping children safe and promoting their welfare than some souped up policing approach. Your Bill has thrown that all up in the air – I am incandescent with rage that a lot of hard work is going down the toilet and it’s going to be to the detriment of families and children. I don’t know who is briefing you but they are clearly idiots. You still have the opportunity to turn this around please seize it.

  18. Katie
    07/12/2017 at 9:42 pm

    My concerns with your lasted update. Still there is no recognition for the huge volume of children that are home educated due to a massive lack of training and support in schools. This affects children of all abilities but in our case a very able child who was bored & bullied. Our son wanted to take his own life and no support given. It was like a game of pass the parcel trying to get someone else to pay for support. What will it do to him to have assessments put in place? Put the money into sorting out schools, training staff on gifted and talented policies again (this was cut from training many years ago) & then many won’t have the need to take their children out in the first place.

  19. Susanna Matthan
    08/12/2017 at 1:15 pm

    Quote:

    “I have had significant numbers of letters and emails in opposition to the Bill but also some very important ones from people who had been home educated and for whom it went wrong. They do not have an effective lobby group which is a pity but understandable as many of them want to remain anonymous.”

    Presumably your next Bill will be one asking for those who have thoroughly schooled and for whom it went terribly wrong. They left schooling illiterate and emotionally traumatised. Such a pity. Is there an effective lobby group? It’s not even that they want to remain anonymous! The bullying and victimisation alone, never mind their lack of educational provision, should want you to help them, sharpish. For the sake of the children. Obviously.

  20. Cindy Heaster
    08/12/2017 at 6:00 pm

    What guarantees could you provide that “light touch regulation” will not later evolve to include mandatory assessments? How would you define “successful” home education without the use of standardised testing?

  21. Very Concerned
    08/12/2017 at 9:10 pm

    I strongly disagree with this Bill. Whilst I agree that protecting children and the vulnerable is an essential part of a moral society, I do not agree that a special case exists for protecting a small minority of children who are Home Educated, over and above those children who are educated by other means. A much greater number of children educated within the traditional school system (state funded or privately funded) are subject to abuse and radicalisation. I accept that this is also a minority of children, however this minority contains much greater numbers of children when compared to the minority of Home Educated children exposed to abuse and radicalisation. Thus, our aim should be to protect all children.

    Given the current resources available to councils and schools, the fact remains that children slip through the net within the school system. Teachers are banned from teaching for inappropriate behavior. Councils loose many SEN Tribunals for not following the Children’s and Families Act and SEN Code of Practice, both put in place to protect children, in particular the most vulnerable. It appears common place to excuse a lack of adherence to legal statute and government guidelines due to lack of finance at school and council level.

    Therefore, I would propose that we should make it a priority to correct this situation first, and work to protect ALL children, not just those from a specific small minority. I fail to see how those who charged with the responsibility of protecting the vast numbers of children who are attending schools, those same people who fail these children in so many ways, could reasonably be expected to protect a very small minority of Home Educated children. it is implausible.

    I love and protect my children like no other. Regardless of how they are schooled, no government employed representative has ever offered my children the safety and protection they receive at home. Quite the opposite has been observed.

  22. tizres
    10/12/2017 at 10:12 pm

    “I shall make further entries on this blog in due course.”

    Great news!

  23. Dave H
    11/12/2017 at 3:12 pm

    I have seen various comments along the lines of “most home educators are fine, we’re just after a small minority”. If that is indeed the case then write some legislation that targets the small minority that need it without harming the larger group.

    I also don’t believe that ‘light touch’ regulation will remain light, if only because it is the nature of governments to tinker and add more and more red tape. At some point something bad will happen and there will be a reactive over-response to pile on extra checks and monitoring that probably wouldn’t have made any difference to the sequence of events but makes those in government feel good because they have Done Something.

    The two cases most often quoted when arguing for more regulation, Khyra Ishaq and Dylan Seabridge, are, when properly examined, both entirely due to the shortcomings of local authorities, overworked and not properly understanding the rules. Ishaq was known to the authorities because the school had made several referrals to social services, who failed to act properly. They sent the EHE inspector round when they should have turned up themselves because it was a welfare issue, not an education one. Seabridge was similarly known to his LA, and yet they failed to act. Having one extra annual check by an education inspector would have made very little difference to either of these children, having a social services department that wasn’t already overburdened might have done.

  24. Blaire Palmer
    12/12/2017 at 10:04 pm

    I’m not sure why my comment was not posted. Could you let me know if any part was inappropriate? Thank you.

  25. Gill Purchase
    13/12/2017 at 1:09 pm

    Yet another example that ‘safeguarding’ concerns should be focused on those children in schools and not those that are home educated.

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/12/are-we-ignoring-an-epidemic-of-sexual-violence-in-schools?CMP=fb_gu

  26. Amanda Frier-Russell
    13/12/2017 at 3:11 pm

    If the govt out more effort in making schools better for all & stopped attacking parental rights within school, then fewer parents would feel the need to home educate. Now your trying to make hime schooling as over regulated as actual schools, you never learn! If you want to enforce regulation on home educators then pay them the same pupil premium per home educated child as schools get per child. You cant have it both ways! Just ask yourselves why home education is on the increase, over regulation within schools, class sizes too big, schools dictating far too much to parents, poor SEN provision, ridiculous expensive uniform requests, the list goes on. Try fixing the education system govt broke before interfering in home education.

  27. Nick Johnson
    13/12/2017 at 3:36 pm

    More red tape to protect the children?
    More laws eroding the rights of citizens in the name of protection: sounds like a Nazi state now a days. Parents are no longer able to do what they feel best for their children. Take a look at Finlands education system and it’s success then look at the way you and the cronies who pretend to make legislation for the benefit of others, you guys don’t want to prepare children to become anything other than plebs working to the same standards of the industrial revolution. This will just be another job for the boys and more money wasted and I’m sure someone will earn well while giving free reign access to a home.

  28. tim Rooke
    13/12/2017 at 8:41 pm

    The House of Lords should be addressing the fact that children are going to school hungry and that GP’s are diagnosing Rickets in children, there are bigger issues to be tackling in this country rather than a minority of parents who choose to home educate, maybe its time to prioritise and focus on the key issues parents are facing in this country.

    http://www.itv.com/news/granada/update/2017-12-12/special-report-increased-numbers-of-children-going-to-school-hungry

  29. Blaire Palmer
    13/12/2017 at 9:09 pm

    I will try again!

    Parents who choose to home ed haven’t done anything wrong. Our kids are out in the world at least as much as school educated kids. Their education is tailored to their individual needs. We have access to extraordinary resources and have often educated ourselves about how kids learn in a way that parents of schooled kids have not. We’ve made massive sacrifices and huge decisions in order to be able to home school.

    You may think that I represent the kind of parent who is doing it well and should have nothing to hide. So why would I resist a little visit or registering?

    Because I don’t trust that anyone else knows my kid like I do, no one cares as much as I do. To any state case worker I’m a statistic. If some individual thinks we aren’t doing enough or that my child is “falling behind” (which she was at school anyway) or doesn’t agree with my theories about education they can ruin our lives with one tick of a pen. Please don’t let that happen.

    The real issue in our education system is school. The abuse and bullying that happens in school is well documented. The school system with its hierarchy, disciplines, teacher-pupil dynamic, punishment and reward, tests and streaming was built for the needs of a 20th century industrial society. Our world is vastly different now and I don’t want my child to be squeezed in to the shape that school needs her to be squeezed in to, to conform to make an easy life for a teacher, or to be told she’s good at this and not good at that simply because the government has determined a child should progress at a specific rate and excel at things school says is important. More than that, I think school would make her a less valuable, creative, happy, contributing member of society when she grows up. The idea that I’d have to prove that my choices about my child meet the state’s expectations is ludicrous since I believe the standards the state tolerates in our education system are inadequate.

    I do not trust the state to raise my child or make life changing decisions about us against our will. I think this proposed act is open to abuse by officials who already overstep the mark hoping that parents are unaware of their legal rights and I think the funding would be better directed towards the real problem – the outdated education system and the abuse and indoctrination that happens at school.

    There’s got to be a more clever way to address concerns around child abuse or religious extremism than this. It’s too blunt a tool. Let’s work together to come up with something enlightened and forward looking not simplistic, outdated and based on fear.

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