Home schooling in Britain

From The Week:

One effect of schools “off-rolling” low-achieving pupils has been an increase in the number of children who are home-schooled. Almost 60,000 children in England are estimated to have been educated at home last year – double the number in 2014 – though since there is no national register of home-schooled children, the exact figure is uncertain. In some areas, the rise has been staggering: in Northamptonshire, the number of children registered as home-schooled has increased 350% in the past five years. Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, explicitly blames off-rolling for this: while some parents may choose to home-school their child, she says, others have been pushed to do so by schools, preoccupied by results, expelling difficult and unmotivated pupils.

As home-schooling is largely unregulated, there are concerns that the pupils affected – particularly those who may have been off-rolled as a result of having special educational needs – have been cast into a sort of educational limbo and aren’t receiving any sort of proper education. However, the Government is now looking at a plan to set up an obligatory register for parents who home-school so that local authorities know whether and how children are being educated, and can intervene if standards are low.  (The Week 15 June 2019)

My comment:  Some people think that obligatory registration of home-schoolers might impinge on the liberty of parents and deny them the opportunity of teaching their children at home.  Of the 60,000 children being home-schooled there must be a healthy number who are being well taught by educated and dedicated parents.  But there must also be those who do not have the time or skills, will not follow a rigorous curriculum, and will produce adults with few attractions to an employer, let alone a college or university.  What will become of these home-schooled children?  Some will be smart self-starters who will do well; others? ….well… ….  The parents want “liberty”, but  many children must need extra attention, have ADD etc, are quite possibly being denied a good start to life and a career.

Three of my grandchildren are being homeschooled, entirely voluntarily and from the beginning.  Their parents are lovely, loving and educated people, doing their best for their children, fiercely independent, rejecting the big classes, the bullying and other bad influences associated with public education.  The  ultimate fate of the children will be determined by the reaction of future potential employers to their CVs when presented, and this we have no way of foreseeing.  All grandparents can do is help by helping to fund wide experiences and educational encounters outside the home (especially time with children their own ages) and encouraging independent thought and life-long learning.  But not all grandparents have the resources, ability or energy to fill this role..

Meanwhile, the  government want a register and inspections, but to what end?  What will they do with the children?   The perennial hallmark of Conservative government is cutting funding. Period. What is needed is help, and well paid teachers, for weak students to avoid producing a generation of disaffected, deprived and resentful people, with the social turmoil and crime that goes with it.

One Comment

  1. In the United States home schooling, which is very much associated with religious views, is overseen by local governments, who check that in every cases there is a viable curriculum and that the children are getting regular and planned lessons. This is reasonable, although it isn’t clear what happens if inspectors find the teaching inadequate and the parents incompetent teachers.

    In the UK all home schooling is under the radar. I heard of one case, maybe exaggerated, where the mother considers knowing anything a waste of time and spends the days playing Pokemon with her kids. If true, this warrants the children being taken into care. Seems this sort of thing is partly what we have a government for, liberty be damned.

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