Memorandum submitted by Carol Gray
I understand that the Badman Report, regarding new monitoring of HomeSchooled children recommends:
· that we need to state what we aim to achieve over the next 12 months. This is even in the very short time of beginning HomeSchooling. Also that we will be judged on the statement that we make of their expected achievements.
· that officials will have access to the home and will have right to speak to the child alone 'if deemed appropriate' or without the parent to ensure the child is safe and well
· Compulsory registration scheme to be carried out at a school or SureStart children's centre
I believe the above recommendations are not only completely unnecessary, but are wrong and will badly affect the great education that Home Schooled children currently receive, with the freedom we have to pursue current interests and being able to freely adjust to children's own abilities and speed of learning.
Please ensure that these recommendations are REJECTED.
1. We HomeSchool our two children (aged now 10 and 12), and have done for nearly 4 years.
2. We are very disturbed at some of the recommendations made in the Badman Report regarding changes suggested for the 'monitoring' of HomeSchoolers.
· The Badman Review, I understand, says that we need to state what we aim to achieve over the next 12 months. This is even in the very short time of beginning HomeSchooling. Also that we will be judged on the statement that we make of their expected achievements.
3. This has with it a few very real problems, very damaging to our children's learning.
4. HomeSchooling our children, it had been a pure pleasure to teach our two children at their own speed, and at their own level.
It is simply cruel and quite ridiculous - for us to have to state what we think they will achieve over a whole year.
5. Almost by definition of the freedom the children have to learn at their own pace, I do not know the levels that they will reach in a year's time - being slightly special needs, one child finds the work slightly harder than most, the other child finds it far easier than most.
6. I do not want to have to pull some arbitrary figure out the sky for their expected achievements over the year!
7. They work hard each day, each week, and they achieve their potential with their work being aimed at their individual level, with no worries if work needs more time for either child the extra time, or vice-versa.
8. Being HomeSchooled, it is an absolute pleasure that we can be free to learn what we want to learn, we can suddenly start a new project if the children develop an interest in a particular area, we can stop a subject if it becomes too much for one or both children, we can choose to begin then stop and later continue a subject at a later stage if this may be appropriate, or we can develop a project further if the children desire to do so, etc.
9. Having to state our expected achievements and be judged against them is very cruel. It will take away our freedom to follow the children's interests as and when they appear, to change direction when it is necessary - in essence it will take away allowing the children to learn about things they are excited to learn about at the time when they are excited to learn about them.
10. I think everyone knows that the best time for anyone to learn something new is when they are interested in the subject and want to.
11. Our examples -
12. We have started to learn Latin - at the request of our slightly special needs child, amazingly, who asked some time ago if we could learn Latin. She even started to learn it in her own time she was so keen on it.
13. A year ago I would never have guessed that we would be learning Latin - so it would not have gone down in any achievement statement.
It clearly takes the place of other learning in our school day, so I would have been 'down-marked' since we would not be doing the other subject so much and thus not achieving as much as 'expected'.
14. Even if I had have known a year ago that we would be starting to learn Latin this year and was able to put it into my statement, I have no idea how long we will continue to learn it.
Am I to be down-marked because I do not know how long our slightly special needs child will be able to learn and enjoy the Latin for?
15. Isn't it a very good thing to learn some Latin when a child wants to and stop when it becomes too much for the child, perhaps to restart it when the child is ready for more at a later stage?
But this would not be possible under these new Badman recommendations.
16. A year ago, I would have had no idea that we were to start doing a vegetable patch this summer. We started it suddenly, as the idea took hold, and it has been a great success, teaching the children so much.
17. Would I have been down-marked again for doing a different project on the spur of the moment, when it took time away from other work in our school day?
18. Surely, everyone would agree that it is far better to start a project suddenly when everyone is interested and wanting to do it, rather than to wait a whole year or more so it can go on the annual statement of expected achievements?
19. The children are learning about the English Monarchy (from the Anglo-Saxons to the modern day) - yet I did not know that we'd be ready to start this work a year before we started - it has taken time for me to find the resources, feel prepared and feel ready to start teaching it.
20. I have no idea how slowly or how fast we will get through it - not having HomeSchooled before, it's the first time I have taught children this subject. As with all our other subjects- we go through it at the speed we are able to in amongst all our other work and we get to wherever we get to in a year's time after a year's good, solid, hard work.
21. The Maths the children do - our slightly special needs child goes slower, our other child goes faster. Will I really have to pull some 'level' out of the air after this November's legislation goes through, when I will have to pretend that I can guess what and how much they will both have learnt in a year's time? I hope not.
22. It surely is very detrimental for the children's learning to have these 'targets', particularly for those who find learning harder. It is so nice for the children to learn without artificial targets from which they may feel that they are failures, or not very good at something. They learn, they see themselves learning, they have a healthy idea of their own abilities, they know their own difficulties - but they are never failures since they really do achieve so much of their potential.
22. The art, craft and design work the children do is done from the children's own inspiration, rather than " a teacher's plan" which must be one very good way of learning. How am I to know what will inspire them in the cause of a whole year? Yet they do lovely work, so much the more precious because it comes from their own inspired ideas, from their own minds developing.
23. We started to learn French and German a couple of years ago, yet had to stop it recently. We may well restart it again in the future.
But am I to be down-marked because we stopped those lessons (and, of course, did other things in its place)?
24. But, according to the Badman Report and its recommendations, we are to be judged according to our statement of expected achievements, made over a year before.
25. It is quite wrong.
26. In English, it was so wonderful to see our children starting to write poetry out of their own choice, NOT when I thought they ought to be doing it, when they were clearly loving doing it, having been inspired from activities outside school. Isn't this far better than sitting down and having to do poetry whether or not they are inspired to, just because I have to do it because it is on my annual expected achievement?
27. Our Geography - and we have done lots of it - is inspired by what we see and hear around us, our travels and days out, what we see on television and what we hear people and friends around us talk about, etc.
This is thus very relevant and practical Geography.
How am I supposed to know what we will see, hear, where we will go, what interesting things we'll see on the television, etc. in the coming year?
28. Our science too - we started a Chemistry Kit, having finished going through an Electrics kit. A year ago I was not to know that we'd actually end up doing a second Electrics box, before going on to our Chemistry box. Nor would I have had any idea that this box would have taken us onto the learning that we ended up discussing and going through. This work is both very new to the two children - one cannot go very fast with it, I can't predict how difficult she might find new areas of work and how slowly we will have to go through the work, nor how much further I will be able to take the work.
29. But, as with all our work, the children work hard, and (for almost all their subjects) at their own level and at their own speed. Projected levels of achievement are entirely unhelpful and completely detrimental to the children's learning.
30. Judge us on the work the children do and on their actual achievements - not on some enforced projected guess.
31. In addition, we are being asked to do something with no training, and something I believe that teachers in state schools DO NOT EVEN DO as a norm themselves, only doing it if particularly asked to by a child's parent. This recommendation is even more unreasonable then.
32. Additionally, having to make this statement even within a short time of having taken a child out of school is cruel.
33. We took our child out of school suddenly, since things got very bad very quickly. We did not have time to plan out a year's work. Nor would our child have been able to work to the letter of the plan either. She needed time to recover after having got quite traumatised form her time at school, then we needed time to see what we wanted to do, and how.
· Officials will have access to the home and will have right to speak to the child alone 'if deemed appropriate' or without the parent to ensure the child is safe and well
34. Are all HomeSchooling parents now being accused of Child Abuse? It is quite laughable in a way since many of us have taken our children out of school because of the poor time they were having there and how terribly it was affecting them, sacrificing extra income, a career, an outside life, etc. as a result - all to help our children.
35. We are not criminals, no more than any other parents may be, and should not be treated as such.
I believe that not even police have the power to have automatic access to a person's home.
36. It is quite wrong to recommend this.
37. As things are now, relations with our LEA inspectors are fine, they are welcome to come and see us, look through the children's work and chat to the children. It is all very amicable - how it should be.
38. You threaten this good natured relationship with the above recommendations.
39. If LEA officers now come to our home with right of access, etc. this good and healthy relationship will not be able to continue. This alone will negatively affect the children's learning environment.
40. Regarding an officer's right to speak to the children alone - This is unacceptable. No-one speaks to our children in private - they're our children, they have needs, and I know those needs, no-one else does half as well. We are responsible for our children, they are in our care, and until they are old enough we have the born right to be there for and with our children.
41. It is not, and must never, be acceptable for HomeSchoolers to automatically be seemingly accused of Child Abuse, and treated as such.
· Compulsory registration scheme - This will be carried out at a school or SureStart children's centre
42. I must say that I have always been astounded that the Government has not had a scheme to know details of which children are being HomeSchooled.
It makes sense to have some sort of scheme for this.
43. However - to do any 'registration' in a school or school setting is very cruel. Very many HomeSchooled children have had such traumatic times at school, sending them back there is just plain cruel.
44. If nothing else, do this 'registration' at some LEA centre or Local Council centre.
45. In addition, it does sound as if this 'registration' is more of application for a 'licence' to HomeSchool for a year, needing to apply every year and not automatic - rather than just give details of HomeSchooled children.
46. This is not right either.
47. Please, for the sake of our children, reject the above recommendations made in the Badman Report.