It is now some years since our two daughters finished their home education, and we had few problems. However, we know that some home educating in other parts of the country had great problems with their LEAs (local education authorities) many of whom did not understand the laws on compulsory education and often thought that it was impossible to educate without a timetable!
We chose to home educate based partly on our own experiences of school and partly by meeting the children of other home educating families and being amazed at their maturity and balance compared to other children of their age. While we made an explicit decision, others are forced into home education, sometimes through learning difficulties or dyslexia, sometimes through school phobia.
One woman I knew eventually decide to home educate her son when he was 14. At 10 he became school phobic due to a teacher, who was notorious for making his children unhappy; for four years she cooperated with the local authority as they tried to get him back into school, including being sent into short periods of residential care. It was only when it was clear that he was going to get to 16 with no GCSEs and no future that she reluctantly took him out of the school system and he eventually obtained several exams studying at home with her help.
My wife and I were fortunate in our dealings with authorities as we were obviously well educated, could write fluently and persuasively, and knew the law and our own rights inside out (and were helped enormously by the support group Education Otherwise). However, not all home educating parents have our advantages, and the difficulties and costs of home education are exacerbated by sometimes intimidating demands from education welfare officers or LEAs.
My impression was that, during the period of our daughters’ education, things improved and LEAs better understood home education. However, I recently heard (due to a petition on the Downing Street web site) that, I guess as part of the interminable re-hashing of all sectors of education, things are being made more difficult again by repeated reviews of the legal status of home education.
There are numerous examples of public figures from artists to US presidents1 who have been home educated and all the home educated children that I have known, although having all the pressures and problems of any child growing up, are in their various ways successfully following their chosen paths. When so many aspects of our education system are under threat, I wonder why on earth government feels the need to meddle with things that have and continue to work well.
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to to remind his government that parents must remain responsible in law for ensuring the welfare and education of their children and that the state should not seek to appropriate these responsibilities.