I’ve written to my MP. I don’t usually like to get involved with politics but the proposals in the School’s Bill are so horrendous I guess any voice will help. So I thought I’d post it here in case anyone wanted to use, share, lift bits or quote from it. Feel free to do so. The further it goes the better.
Also, at the bottom, I’ve put a couple of links to articles much more erudite than mine you might find useful. Plus the link to the petition in case you haven’t signed yet.
Meanwhile, this is the bulk of what I’ve said:
I am deeply concerned by the proposed School’s Bill, because of its many flaws, and would be most grateful if you’d take a moment to give your attention to the points below.
It’s obviously going to impact on all families with children in school, or otherwise, consequently a huge percentage of the population. But it appears to be based more on blinkered and biased assumptions rather than well researched facts, by people who have little understanding of education, learning, or children’s needs, which is not what I would expect from governmental proposals. And more worryingly, if implemented, could cause irreparable damage to thousands of children and consequently the education of our society.
I’m particularly worried about those children whose needs, through no fault of their own or their parents’, are unmet in school.
The proposals in this Bill are based on the misconception that all children can thrive in school, without regard for neurodiversity and the fact that all children are different, and some not at all suited to a school environment. For these children the choice of parents to educate through other approaches, has been a life saver – literally – for some who are suicidal. Through varied approaches, often via home educating, these children have had their failures and their ill health turned round into successes and well-being. Fact.
But the snag is that most people – including many MPs and decision makers – are ignorant, or blinkered, about this and about other approaches to learning and educating than those familiar through schooling. And reluctant to acknowledge their successes. As a result the Bill proposes to measure the performance of those children educated out of school, by the very same structures that failed them in the first place. And consequently make judgements about the parents. Just like Sats tests fail to give accurate indications of true progress and achievement, (ask any teacher), using school standardisation to measure alternative approaches will fail to realise the longer term benefits of home education and other methods of learning. Then, is in danger of criminalising parents with children not in school.
Some children are NOT fine in school, do NOT thrive in school, achieve and progress perfectly well OUT of school, as many graduating home educators are now proving. It is shocking that this basic truth is being ignored and unacknowledged. Parents who turn to alternative approaches to learning are not doing so to threaten the status quo; but to meet children’s basic needs where the system failed to do so. And are doing so successfully. Fact.
To restrict parent’s choice in the education of their children, to homogenize children’s abilities as identical, measure all approaches by the same (failing) bench marks, or fine parents whose children cannot attend school for personal reasons (usually their mental health) is nothing short of discrimination. And NOT of benefit to the children themselves.
What’s even more alarming is the danger that most of the staff who will be making decisions about the education of children out of school have absolutely no knowledge or understanding of school refusal, school phobia, mental ill-health caused by school, home education, or the very successful approaches to learning that home educating parents use. Surely this is no more acceptable than a doctor’s ability to manage their own child’s health being judged by any man on the street? It just wouldn’t be considered appropriate.
To fine and threaten parents, most of whom want to do the best by their children, is in no way helpful or supportive of those families who are already suffering because of their children’s issues and unmet needs in school. As a member of the home educating community myself, I have always felt that the term Elective Home Education is a complete misnomer. In fact home education probably wouldn’t exist if parents were confident and happy with what schools provide, that their children would thrive there, and that it would meet their needs. For most home educators it is not really ‘elective’; they had no choice, not if they wanted their child to thrive and achieve. Have you ever considered that? And have you ever considered why there are so many teachers among the home educating community now? It’s not because they think they know how to educate. It’s because they have seen what goes on in schools and know that it is unsuitable for so many kids because of inappropriate structures imposed there.
The rights and wishes of children, which is supposed to be the point of the Schools Bill, are in no way evident in it. This is more about the wishes of the government wanting to control what parents do, irrespective of the individual needs of children. And it will create more damage, more special needs, more mental health issues, more misery, and in the end a far less educated society than is already the result of a school system which is broken.
We need alternative methods to mainstream schooling. We need alternative opportunities for those neurodiverse children who cannot thrive in a uniform system. We need to acknowledge and embrace the pioneering methods both families and professionals are evolving that are enabling children with different needs to succeed where they didn’t in school.
No one would dispute that all children should be well cared for and given a suitable education. But this Bill is in no way going to implement that, especially if people continue to think, wrongly, that this can only result through governmental intervention.
It is a common scientific fact that our species will only survive, our planet will only survive, through the opportunity to diversify. It follows then that we should allow and encourage educational diversity in order to enhance our species’ evolution. And support those who need to diversify away from the stultifying systematic processing of the young, which schooling is in danger of becoming, towards approaches where they can succeed. This bill is a threat to that happening.
Finally, I’d like you to consider this; what if your child was being bullied or unhappy at school, was not achieving to their potential, had emotionally based school avoidance issues, or if the school was not meeting their needs, or the child was failing to thrive? What would you do if you then faced fines and criminal charges when you tried to opt out of state education – the cause of their problem – to pursue alternative approaches to their education, in an attempt to do the best for them? Which is what most parents want. As I imagine you do.
I’m asking that this has your attention. That you extend your own education by learning the truth about alternative approaches and successes, home educating included. By acknowledging the obvious fact that schools cannot possibly meet all needs and parents require support in attending to that, rather than criminalising. Please represent my concerns at every stage of the Bill’s development by raising the issues I’ve discussed here and listen to the voices of the thousands who are opposed to it for all the varied and valid reasons.
Thousands of children educate out of school successfully, that is a fact. There are thousands of young adults who have been alternatively educated, without governmental interference, now working and contributing to society in productive ways. Fact. To ignore or fail to acknowledge that, as the Bill appears to do, is morally wrong, disrespectful, discriminative and consequently, surely, in breach of the rights of the young.
And sign here;