If you watch or listen to the news you can not have failed to hear that Home Education is a hot topic just now. An investigation into the tragic death of a little boy nearly 5 years ago has reignited the debate about registration and monitoring of Home Education families.
I am totally against monitoring, and therefore registration (as without monitoring of families on a register, a list of names alone is totally meaningless). People are quick to ask ‘Why would you be against monitoring if you have nothing to hide?’ This completely misses the point.
It is really quite simple. The law is very clear, the 1944 Education Act states that:
“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable
a) to his age, ability, and aptitude and
b) to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”
That’s right, education is a parent’s responsibility and the majority of families decide to outsource this responsibility to a school.
As a society we outsource in multiple situations to various services, education is only one of these. If we don’t fancy cooking for our family we may outsource to a restaurant or takeaway outlet. If we can not take our dog on holiday with us we might outsource its care to a kennels. If we do not have the time to care for an elderly relative at home we might choose to outsource to a care or nursing home. If we do not wish to educate our children ourselves we might outsource to a school. When we outsource to a service provider we expect that provider to be accountable, to follow laws and guidelines relating to cleanliness, quality of care, health and safety and so on. There are many regulations in place and restaurants, kennels, care homes and schools, to name a few establishments, are required to be registered and monitored.
Now, how happy would you feel if once or twice a year a food standards officer came and swabbed your fridge, asked for your meal plans for the next 6 months, checked your cupboards for out-of-date food or your recipes for their nutritional values? What if you had to take the day off work to meet with a pet care officer who requested to see evidence of your dog’s exercise routine, its vaccination records, evidence of de-flea or de-worm treatments? And that elderly relative you care for, would you be happy to have social services pay you a surprise visit during which you are expected to have at hand evidence of all the enrichment activities that you provide? Could you imagine being asked for details of all the socialisation that your relative has ‘received’ in the past year, obviously with people outside of the immediate family, and preferably with people born in the same year as them?
Would you be unhappy with any of these scenarios? Would it make you uncomfortable if a stranger with very little knowledge or understanding of your personal circumstances could, during a 1-2 hour meeting, decide whether you were satisfactorily feeding your family, looking after your pet, or caring for your granny? If the answer is ‘yes’ then I hope you will now understand why I am not being difficult or defensive by saying that I do not want to be monitored or registered. Our children’s education is mine and my husband’s business, and ours alone.