Memorandum submitted by Pamela Stott

Summary

Introduction: Background of Home Educator

Overview of the Report

Analysis :Evidence submitted

Recommendation analysis

Points to Consider

Conclusion

 

1. Introduction

1/1 I feel that I am an 'expert' witness to raise issues concerning the Badman Report. I was educated under the state system but chose to educate my three children at home for over 20 years. I was supported by Education Otherwise, of whom I was also, an Enquiries Secretary.

1/2 Although, a lot of time evolved around the home, my children had contact with many adults and children of different ages, through social events, theatre clubs, guides, swimming clubs, dancing, and playing with their friends who did go to school, as well as relatives. They were encouraged to be interested in all things, and visits to the library, bookshops, interesting places, museums etc developed these interests.

1/3 Opportunities for communication with different age groups enabled them to develop confidently and broaden their horizons. The style of learning, informal, but with educational opportunities in abundance around the home and elsewhere, it was not difficult to learn about new and exciting things every day .It did include a French lesson once a week from a native speaker. They could all read 'Lord of the Rings' by aged 9 /10.As teenagers, they attended adult courses of interest; one had a pet care business; one created a weekly newspaper. They helped in both parents' businesses in small ways, which developed their business knowledge. We had visits on occasions from the Local Authorities to establish they were being given a 'suitable education'. They have had jobs since 14 years of age, and have never had a 'handout' from the state, or any financial help, except to have their fees paid for at University .The formal requirements were obtained through access to post 16 Educational Centres/6th Form College, taken over two years to acquire 2 GCSE's, and the appropriate A Levels necessary for University.

1/4 In studying Film and Scriptwriting at Bournemouth University, one was awarded a top prize to attend UCLA for a period in her second year; is a free-lance writer and journalist, including working for the BBC, ITV and major newspapers. One teaches teachers how to make their lessons more interesting through Drama, and Performance and Media in a large secondary school; the third is Press Officer for a large publishing company. (She took 5 A levels in two years and has grades A for all of them including English, Politic, and Philosophy Ancient History etc and chose not to go to University).

1/5 Being given an opportunity to learn in this environment encourages an active interest in the world around. This is not always apparent in the state education system, with its prescribed formula, as the situation is totally different when considering the learning needs of thirty children in a class of the same age group.

1.6 As an Enquiries Secretary for the home education support group Education Otherwise for over 20 years, I had contact with many parents who were dissatisfied with a variety of situations associated with state school. Throughout this time, parents were encouraged to think seriously about taking responsibility for their child's education, were give support as to the Law, and methods of education they may want to consider. As members, they were given entitlement to free admissions to Museums etc, and local networking groups to join, examination advice. This support group has been established for around thirty years, and is manned by a team of dedicated volunteers, and is a registered charity.

 

2. Overview:

2.1 According to the Terms of Reference, and throughout the reports' introductions, including the Questionnaires to L/A, it states the main issues concern the safety of children who are home educated, and the L/A's ability to establish this. However, the focus of the report is on defining 'suitable education' through the principles of curriculum adopted by schools.

2.2 In doing so it has failed to give clear representation to home educators, and to many aspects of 'suitable education', and to show any evidence of home education.

2.3 Home education is given negative connotations, throughout.

2.4 Many statements made by the report are not substantiated, and there is a lack of statistical evidence from the responses given by Local Authorities, and other agencies mentioned.

2.5 Identification of sources is omitted, yet their hearsay evidence is given credibility.

2.6 Fails to consult expert educationalists in the field of alternative education and child development, on the issues of 'suitable education'.

2.7 Three quarters of the responses came from 'numerous' home educators, defined as so diverse as to warrant no definition.

2.8 No home education organisations have been listed.

2.9 A distinction between Elective Home Education and Home Tuition is not always made, the latter being that which is offered by the state for those unable to attend school, and in particular, with regard to the L/A questionnaire.

 

3. Analysis of Evidence Submitted

3.1 No statistical evidence of L/A questionnaire

3.2 No statistical evidence of 1500 responses from Home Education sources.

3.3 Much evidence not subject to scrutiny

3.4 Only 12 Local Authorities listed in the Annex

3.5 No evidence to substantiate figures of 40,000 or 80,000 home educated children, and even 20,000 figure does not show a clear difference between Elective and Home tuition.

3.6 Education Otherwise listed a set of proposals and Badman gives no indication of what these were.

3..7 Although he shows those L/A's that support home-educators in a satisfactory way, he does not include those that don't, yet mentions their input in the passing, therefore, these are not subject to scrutiny.

3.8 Fails to understand why people might feel angry when the state wants to control the way they bring their children up, yet he defines the rights to be free in society.

 

4. Recommendations

4.1 Recommendations 1: Defined as a process of registration to establish safety, yet it is redefined in the Summary of Recommendations to include a planned system of education along the lines of the state school system that should be implemented by the parents, with guidance and support from schools and other organisations.

4.2 Recommendation 3: The role of Unions is fundamentally to protect workers' jobs...Obviously, those not attending school, presents a risk to the status quo, and it is not relevant for their viewpoint to be stated here.

4.3 The British Humanist Society state ... 'may not be providing schooling' ... clearly know nothing of home education, nothing of the law and are purely been given an opportunity to comment.

The Church of England suggestion that children may never meet people of different religious faiths is totally irrelevant to this paper. To suggest that formal learning within the confines of school, only provides the opportunity to listen to different points of view, and to meet those of different backgrounds, is absorb. The concept that the real world exists in school is totally misconceived. There is an implication that home educated children won't meet anyone if they don't go to school. The Church of England is obviously not in the real world.

4.4 Recommendation 7: In recommending the L/A have a right to interview a child without their parent being present on the grounds of 'suitable education', will give the state powers over and above that existing for a suspected criminal, who has the right to a legal representative.

L/A Have a right to intervene if education is deemed 'unsuitable' and they can challenge this in the court. under existing law.

4.5 Recommendation 10: Only through demonstrating the preparedness through routine monitoring of a home-educated candidate, does the report recommend free entry to public examinations, applying unwarranted conditions. Meanwhile, the cost that has been saved to the public purse by home educators has been given no consideration.

 

5. Points for Consideration

5.1 Registration should not include any references to 'suitable education'. This is a separate issue.

5.2 'Suitable education' is defined in law.

5.3 L/A has the redress of the courts should the parent fail to co-operate

5.4 Parents should be encouraged to engage with the L/A, as indicated by the response shown in the L/A listed in 'Current and Future Roles of L/A)

5.5 Educational Vouchers issued to home educators to access resources.

5.6 L/A should be knowledgeable in aspects of education given in the home and its outcomes.

 

6. Conclusion

6.1 I believe that every child should be given a happy and contented life, shared with its parents and siblings and with those of society that surround it. It is important for a child to spend the majority of its time in the real world with all its diversity, which schools cannot offer because of the responsibilities placed upon it. In choosing to take responsibility for their child's education, parents should be given support and respect from the L/A, with a positive approach and appreciation of all the aspects which encompass education. Parents should also, understand their obligations...

6.2 It may be necessary to make a legal requirement to register all children in order to establish their safety.

6.3 In order for parents to show their provision of 'suitable education' it may also be necessary for arrangements to meet with the L/A with their children. This is my personal viewpoint only, and is not indicative of any home education organisation.

September 2009