Home educators should monitor the government-not the other way round!

Here we go with another attempt by the government to bring home educators in line. This time using poor Khyra’s death as an opportunity:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/aug/03/michael-gove-ed-balls-home-education

I’m so infuriated I’ve just sent them this response:

I am angered at the implication of Balls and others that home education is partly to blame for the awful death of Khyra Ishaq. Whilst I agree it is true that as Khyra was at home full time it was more difficult to assess what was happening to her, but to focus on the fact that was because of home edcation rather than the fact that the services completely failed in their duty, is to use home education as a scapegoat to cover up that failure.

Both Khyra’s school and other concerned adults had already registered their alarm over Khyra’s safety before Khyra was home educated, but attention has been cleverly deflected away from that fact. And other children have died at the hands of their parents like baby P (http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/190364/How-many-more-dead-children-haunt-us-) where home education had nothing to do with it. It’s just that in this case home education is a convenient target and opportunity for the government to get more control over parents who are basically criticising the failure of their education system by opting out.

The government have long wanted more control over home educators and last year’s suggestions for monitoring was an attempt to gain that control. They are doing it under the guise of ‘support’. But in reality there is no support for parents who choose to home educate whatsoever. Officers come into parents’ homes with a superior and judgemental air that is more to do with steering parents back to school than supporting their commitment to their child’s education, and most parents ARE committed – why on earth would they choose this route if they weren’t? There is no tangible support, there is no guidance. There is absolutely NO money to help children take exams as independent candidates. If the government were honest in their wish to support they would surely see that parents and children had access to funds to enable them to take their qualifications. I see the reccommendations for monitoring as nothing more than a sham. An opportunity to gain control over something MOST politicians have NO first hand experience or understanding of at all and are peevish at parents’ success in managing without state schools.

By applying the same rigid structures that they have in schools – failing schools – to monitoring home education the government would be ruining what is so special and successful about it; its diversity, its individualism and tailoring to suit the needs of the child, the failure of which in state education is the very reason parents home educate in the first place.

I agree that there does need to be some kind of system in place for families who home educate, but this should be a system of SUPPORT not a system that oversees rather like Big Brother. If EAs were supporting home educators they would naturally be visiting families in their homes, like family support workers do, and therefore able to spot cases like Khyra’s. If EAs were supportive most home educators would welcome them into their homes. Has the government ever asked why they are not welcome now? The answer is because many are offensive and abusive and downright rude in their approach!

Khyra’s death was NOT because of home education. It was yet another failure of services put in place by the government but not funded properly to do their job. Ministers should stop using home education as a scapegoat.

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