Europe: Recent Changes Regarding Home Education

These 5 short videos below have been extracted with permission from a session entitled “Family Rights Regarding Children’s Education: A Brief Look Into the Most Recent Changes (Europe)” at the Global Home Education Conference, November 2020.

This two hour session comprised reports from several European countries. British home educators will find these videos help them to appreciate the similarity of the issues being faced in other European countries.

The full video can be viewed on the GHEX website – free registration required, which allows access to recordings of all conference sessions.

One of the other GHEX speakers, Guillaume de Thieulloy from France, also provided an update in this session, but the situation there is developing very fast. More recent information can be found on the website of a coalition of French home educators organisations which has come together to resist the proposals to ban home education in France except for exceptional circumstances.

Right to choose the method of Instruction
Right to choose the method of Instruction

Most of the website is in French; non-French speakers may find help from Google Translate, and for PDF files from PDF Translator.

Yesterday (18 Jan.) French news service FRI, published this helpful English language report on a protest held the previous day in Paris – “French families defend home-schooling, under threat in debate on separatism.” The report illustrates the similarities in the arguments being used against educational freedom in France and in Great Britain.

Catherine Sunshine – Republic of Ireland.
Home Education Advocate (particular interest in policy making and Law)

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Jonas Himmelstrand – Sweden/Finland.
Educator and International Speaker in Human Potential. Faculty member of The Neufeld Institute, Canada. Homeschooling leader in the Nordic Swedish-speaking language area.

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Marek Budajezak – Poland.
Dr Hab., Professor UAM in Educational Sciences, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan.

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José Ramalho – Portugal.
Graduate at Law School from 2000; Lawyer since 2001.

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Emese Togyes-Busz – Hungary.
Board Member
Global Home Education Exchange.

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Amanda Spielman – the important roles of education

Today Ofsted published its Annual Report. An initial review of it suggests no direct references to elective home education. However, and accompanying press release contained this comment, which compared to previous comments from Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools seems rather mild:

“Throughout the autumn, Ofsted has been also reporting concerns about the number of children who have not returned to school after lockdown and who are now ostensibly being home-educated. A recent survey of local authorities suggests there are now more than 75,000 children being home schooled – a 38% increase since last year. However, from Ofsted’s visits to schools, it appears many parents have removed their children because of their fears about COVID, rather than a genuine desire to home-school.”

This change of tone is welcome though home educators should not see it as change of heart by Amanda Spielman, just a response to the chaos in schools caused by the response to COVID-19.

Last year (2019) for example, Spielman gave a talk at the Wellington Festival of Education. The full text is available in full on Oftsed’s website. The following paragraphs are taken from a section on “British Values.” Previously she had made reference to “protests at some primary schools” without directly recognising that these on the whole have been led by concerned Muslim parents.

It is important to note the context of her comment that education is “also about socialisation…” This links directly with her later one that “the founders of the common school movement in the United States in the 19th century wanted to mould fine upstanding citizens of the Republic.” There to her and many others “socialisation” is not about if your children can make friends, but if they will go along with the crowd!

“More generally, in education we often talk about preparing young people for life in modern Britain. We certainly use the phrase a good deal at Ofsted. It runs through a lot of what we’re about as an organisation because it neatly encapsulates one of the important roles of education.
“Because education is about a lot of things. It’s about the acquisition of knowledge, for its own sake; it’s about the broadening of horizons through that knowledge; it’s about the development of the skills needed to make a success of adult life; it’s also about socialisation, encouraging harmony between different people; and it’s about the advancement of civilisation.
“Education pioneers across the world knew this as they began to formalise state education systems. The founders of the common school movement in the United States in the 19th century wanted to mould fine upstanding citizens of the Republic
, as much as they wanted to instil knowledge and a habit of reading and learning. Preparing children for life in 19th century America, if you will.
“More recently, conversations with our Ofsted counterparts from France, Sweden and the Netherlands have showed us how the same debates are echoed in other countries.”

Emphasis added

Food for careful thought I hope!