‘Project Fear on home education must end’

Posted 15/02/2019 by randalluk
Categories: Home Education UK

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 ChildrenThe 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 All were relatively new to home educating and three had withdrawn their children from schools due to unmet educational needs.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.”

Read the whole of my article.

‘Most criticism of home education is smoke without fire’

Posted 22/01/2019 by randalluk
Categories: Home Education UK

Tes – 21 January 2019

The state is less likely to fail than homeschooling? History provides evidence to the contrary, writes one home educator

It is almost a decade since then education secretary Ed Balls questioned whether “home education [was] being used to cover child abuse”. There have subsequently been a number of high-profile and tragic cases where claims were made that electively home educated (EHE) children were “hidden” from their local authority. However, in their EHE Call for Evidence earlier this year, the Department for Education twice acknowledged that in such cases EHE “has not usually been a causative factor and the child has normally been known anyway to the relevant local authority.”

Safeguarding concerns remained the chief complaint until November 2015, when Sir Michael Wilshaw, then Ofsted’s chief inspector, linked EHE with “illegal schools”. He was concerned that children were at risk of harm in these unregistered settings, claiming parents were using EHE as a cover for sending their children there. Many of these “schools” were in Muslim communities – though that was rarely stated publicly – and it was not long before EHE was being linked with “radicalisation”.

Most recently, Labour peer Lord Solely echoed these fears whenever he promoted his Private Member’s Bill, often repeating the triple accusation of “radicalisation, trafficking and abuse“. To these have been added more recent concerns about parents being coerced into home education, as schools attempt to off-roll low-achieving and often difficult pupils in order to boost their GCSE ranking.

In view of all the above, it is surprising therefore that at the end of last year the government made a remarkable admission in response to a written question from Tulip Siddiq MP. Siddiq enquired about the DfE’s evidential basis behind the statement in the consultation, “that home education may present increased risk (a) to safeguarding and (b) of radicalisation”. Minister Anne Milton replied that the call for evidence “did not claim to present evidence to show whether this was, in fact, the case,” but provided an opportunity for “respondents to give information on views on these matters”. This suggests that the government had no actual evidence of EHE being used as a cover for radicalisation.

Read the whole of my article.