A letter to the Chief Inspector of Schools from an angry Home Educator

Dear Sir Michael Wilshaw,

I am very sorry to hear that you have found evidence to suggest that hundreds of children in England are being taught in illegal schools. However, I am extremely concerned that you wish that “… the rules around home education need to be heightened because it’s quite clear to me that there’s a correlation between the growth of home education and the number of illegal schools that are now operating” (BBC Radio 4’s Eddie Mair show, 17.05.16).

You see, home education is legal, the schools that you are concerned about are illegal. Can you see my point? No? OK, there are an estimated 30-50,000 home educated children in England. These children are being educated by their parents in a completely legal way, because as you know, a state school education is NOT compulsory. There are many parents who choose instead to pay other people to educate their children in the private sector. The majority of parents who pay for their child’s education do so at Ofsted (but not Local Authority) regulated private schools. In fact most of our current Government seem to have been educated in this way! Parents do this because they do not believe that the local authority schools provide the best education for their child. Unfortunately it is true that there are some parents who, often for religious reasons, choose unregulated private education. These schools are already deemed to be illegal. That they exist is purely due to the fact that the local authorities have not found them and shut them down, not that they do not have the powers to do so. Indeed you said yourself that you “… have the powers to investigate and if necessary prosecute.” Surely then the problem is simply that local authorities need to spend more money and manpower identifying institutions that break the existing law around unregulated schools. How exactly would “… encouraging the government to look at the laws around home education and tighten them up” achieve this end? Surely heightened regulation and monitoring of legal home education will do nothing more that divert already depleted funds away from investigating illegal, and possibly incredibly damaging, schools.

I’m hoping, Sir Michael, that you can see that muddling up ‘Home Education’ with ‘Illegal Schooling’ is rather unhelpful with regards to safeguarding our children. So let’s move on to something which, I have to admit, I find even more concerning. I should imagine that the Chief Inspector of schools has a rather sound knowledge and understanding of education law, is that correct? Well it appears that in your case it is not. During the Eddie Mair show interview you stated that:

“There’s nothing wrong with a parent wanting their child to be home educated, that is something that has been enshrined in statute for a very long time, and if parents want to do that then they’ve got to inform the local authority that they are doing it, and the local authority visits to check that a reasonable education is being offered, and that’s fine”

And also:

“… it is a requirement on parents if they are going to home educate their children to inform someone that that is happening.”

This, Sir Michael, is simply not true. It is very upsetting for me, as a home educating parent, to hear someone in your position spouting such untruths. You see, the law relating to Elective Home Education states that:

“… parents are not required to register or seek approval from the local authority to educate their children at home.”

“… Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis…”

” Some parents may welcome the opportunity to discuss the provision during a home visit but parents are not legally required to give the local authority access to their home…”

(Sections 2.4, 2.7 and 3.6 of the Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local authorities and informed by Section 175 (1) of the Education Act 2002)

I would therefore suggest that you stick with your area of expertise, finding and shutting down schools which are acting outside of the law, and leave the job of home education to those that actually know what they are doing. Oh, and if you are interested in finding out where I stand with regards to mandatory monitoring and regulation of home education, which let’s face it is what you are gunning for, you can read about it here.

Yours angrily, A Home Educator

10 thoughts on “A letter to the Chief Inspector of Schools from an angry Home Educator

  1. Marian Harris says:

    This man unfortunately is like most men in a position of power hit the easy targets. The illegal schools for one reason or another may have implications that the government officials are afraid of and facing up to! !

  2. Lesley says:

    Very well said.

  3. Pete says:

    Ass always with this and previous governments within the UK, legislation it seems must always be regressive and in the negative, Never do we hear a minister put forward the need to congratulate, help or assist home innovation of any kind, at least not before it’s ‘regulated, stamped upon from a great height with impossible hurdles to jump and dozens of punitive measures put in place to ensure that id any such privileged exists, (in this case Home Education, but there are plenty of others) that only the very rich can afford to do so ensuring that legislators of their masters get their pound of flesh.

  4. Lianne says:

    Very well put

  5. Yvonne says:

    Very well written with points well made – I do hope the man
    concerned can read it.

  6. Vicki says:

    Thank you for your comments, I have sent the letter to Ofsted, but the chances of Sir Michael actually reading it are, I should imagine, slim!

  7. Greavsie says:

    Send a copy to your MP with a covering letter asking that Michael responds. He may not, but Ofsted will pay more attention to a letter from an MP.

  8. Karen says:

    Can you start this as a petition to be address by the House of Commons?

  9. […] the process on Radio 4 the other day. (You can read another home educator’s take on that here […]

  10. Wendy says:

    Couldn’t agree more ! Well said !

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