Tes – 13 February 2018
In Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’, Anne Longfield set out the dangers of home education, but she is wrong, insists one former home educator
Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, recently published a report entitled Skipping School: Invisible Children. The same evening, she hosted an episode of Channel 4’s Dispatches, which featured four home-educating families. All were relatively new to home educating and three had withdrawn their children from schools due to unmet educational needs.
In July last year, Longfield told the Observer that she was “conducting an urgent analysis of confidential government data” to “establish how many off-roll children are drawn into gangs”, adding “some are educated at home while others go to pupil-referral units (PRUs) – both are associated with worse educational outcomes”.
Strangely, Skipping School makes no mention of children being drawn into gangs. Questions about this are absent from the research data. Neither was there anything specifically about PRUs’ educational achievements.
Longfield’s concerns are confusing. In May, the education committee heard evidence that “children in AP [alternative provision] are saying it is better provision because they feel it is more geared to them as a human being”. Schools minister Nick Gibb agreed, saying “When I meet young people in alternative-provision settings, you can see that they do enjoy the small classes. It is right for those children.”