I see home education was in the news again yesterday.
It’s about the sad and tragic case of Khyra; a child abused by her parents, who had removed her from school to home educate, who tragically died as a result of being starved. You cannot believe that such a thing could ever happen, it angers me beyond expression.
But what’s also sad is that home education only ever seems to be in the news when something awful has happened, when it can be used for blame and illustrated therefore as something bad.
Home education is something good; it is good for thousands of children who would otherwise be suffering in school in a situation which truly does not suit them. But we rarely get to hear about those – they’re not newsworthy! What sells papers more are the gruesome details of shocking cases like Khyra’s. Which also gives officials an opportunity to cover up their neglect by blaming home education.
Long before this family home educated staff at Khyra’s school had expressed concern about her as had other members of the public. This child was already being abused before home educating came into the picture. If those concerns had been followed through by the appropriate agencies then Khyra could have been saved whether home educating or not. But many people are already suspicious of parents who home educate and like witches in the past, people who are not understood are made into scapegoats. Home education is a useful scapegoat for those who neglected Khyra.
I recognise that there does need to be some kind of appropriate and empathetic way of making sure children who are home educated have other people, as well as their parents, looking out for them. It’s just that providing it seems to push agencies into a kind of Big Brother approach that is quite rightly unwelcome. Let’s hope an approach can be found where home educating families are respected but in extremely rare cases like Khyra’s children can be saved.