Homeschool under attack in the U.K.

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

In the U.K. Telegraph, an article about homeschooling in the U.K. recently ran. Here’s the article, and then my comments:
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New legislation is required to close a loophole which means that councils have no idea how many school-age children are being taught at home, the report advises.

While schools generally alert local authorities when a child is withdrawn from formal education, there is currently no way of knowing how many young people have never been enrolled at a school.

The report by Ofsted, the education inspectorate, also says that councils should do more to help parents whose children are being bullied at school keep them within the system.

Although some parents opt for home schooling for religious or philosophical reasons, the majority of those interviewed by the inspectors said they decided to act out of concern for their children’s education and wellbeing.

The report recommends: “Local authorities should ensure that when parents express a wish to withdraw their children from school to educate them at home, the reasons for the decision are explored and that support, advice and mediation are provided to retain the child in the school if this is the parents’ true preference.”

Between 20,000 and 50,000 children are thought to be taught at home in Britain, with numbers growing amid concern about failing state schools.

The inspectors found that the nature of the education they received varied greatly, with some parents enforcing school-style timetables while others took a more flexible approach, giving children freedom to choose what they studied.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said that local authorities could only ensure that the teaching was of a reasonable standard if they had a database of all home schooled children.

She said: “The report found that current legislation around elective home education means it is extremely challenging for local authorities to meet their statutory duty to ensure children have a suitable education.”

As well as obliging parents to register their intention to home-school, Ofsted also called for legislation enabling local authority officers to undertake annual home visits to monitor the children’s progress.

The report was based on interviews with more than 250 parents and children with experience of home schooling, and consultation with schools and local authorities.

Fiona Nicholson, trustee of Education Otherwise, a home schooling charity, described the report’s main recommendations as intrusive and unnecessary.

The independent Badman Report, published last summer, had also called for a register of home schooled children but its proposals were not passed into law under Labour after savage criticism by MPs.

Ms Nicholson said: “This report seems an irrelevance. I don’t think there’s the political will to push the changes through.

“We have always said that obliging parents to register for home schooling would be the first step towards forcing them to ask for permission.”
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Okay, my comments: Required registration of every homeschool student? WHY? Why would it matter how many people are homeschooling, unless schools were concerned (as they are) with their classroom head counts – as they get paid by the student?!

Why should regulation of homeschoolers be necessary? As the article states, state schools are failing. Homeschoolers could not possibly do a worse job than a school that has failed or is failing. Those failed schools were run by the state, and they used state mandated requirements. They’ve failed or are failing. The requirements were an instrumental part of those schools failures – yet the government would consider enforcing them on others? Why – must failure be universal?

The state has once again proven that it should not be in the education game, not at all. Yet parts of the British government insist on their right to register homeschoolers, to regulate what homeschoolers are taught – and to even step into the private residence of homeschoolers to police their activities? Bless the MPs who screamed “no”! The Magna Carta lives (for a while longer, anyway)!

The government inspector, in looking over 250 homeschool situations, found that “the education” of homeschoolers “varied greatly”. Yes, that’s because children vary greatly, as do their individual needs and wants. Education should vary greatly from child to child. Homeschoolers can tailor their efforts for their children. Schools cannot, and instead must rely on incredibly limiting generalities. In simple terms, a school needs to make a child “fit in” to a set and rigid pattern. If they fail, the teacher cannot handle the 30-40 students in their classroom, having only about 1 minute or so per student per school period. But a homeschool family can tailor their curriculum and methods precisely to the needs of a growing individual. Of course, whether or not government wants true individuals is a matter for a real discussion.

Schools live and die by the numbers, and your children are their numbers. Schools get paid by a head count; this is true of public and private schools. And if they ever claim otherwise, then they are lying. Hence schools must kill homeschool to get paid for the students who have fled their clutches.

Look at the reasons parents cited for homeschooling, folks! They were afraid for their children’s safety, and for the education (or lack thereof) that their children were receiving. And they have every reason and right to fear. Their schools have failed them, and this is not the case only in the U.K. – this is an almost universal malaise. As schools fail worldwide, more and more people determine to go the homeschool route. As they do, more and more governments attempt to intrude and force children back into failing and dangerous schools!

Do you see something terribly wrong with this picture?

Shouldn’t a government long for its young to be superbly educated, as a guarantee of the nation’s survival? And if schools have failed to deliver such a product, shouldn’t government be the first in line supporting those going another route, those families willing to work and walk the extra mile to see to it that their children will be an effective part of their nation’s future? Instead, we see many governments treat homeschool with distrust – homeschool where students almost uniformly score better on every test – and support schools that they fund and that have failed so many. The ultimate cost of this back-asswards approach to education will be (and often already is) a nation in education ruin.

Recently, I understand there was an interesting election in Australia. A very contentious vote was taken regarding schools. But it did not focus on the educational needs of the students there – it focused on school uniforms. Uh-huh, right – uniforms – that’s where we want our attention and resources dedicated. Not on improving in some substantive way the educational experience received by our young – but on what they wear to school.

Really, we don’t need to worry about public schools. They are run by governments. And nearly all government is clueless when it comes to education. They invariably lock onto the wrong issues – such as uniforms, or the constricting of the last bastion of educational freedom, homeschooling. If you are waiting for political answers for your children, political solutions to the education disaster of our times, then please, for the sake of your children, stop waiting and start homeschooling. And INSIST, with as many homeschoolers as will unite in the cause, on your right to homeschool without government oversight. This is probably our last, best hope to educate our children.

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As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.

But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.

In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.

CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)

Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.

Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.

Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.

Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.

Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.

For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.

We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!

3 comments on “Homeschool under attack in the U.K.”

  1. As parents we all need to step up and let all governments around the world know our children are not political pawns that they control. They are our children whom we love dearly and are willing to fight for to keep them safe from government controls that threaten to destroy our families. Our children are the most precious resource we have as a family and society and they deserve to be educated by those who truly care about them and not used as a statistic in the politician’s political games.

    Sincerely,
    Kim Kelsey


  2. FromAcrossThePond says:

    May,12,2011

    As I read what you said, my eyes pricked with tears as I saw our plight reflected in your eloquent words.

    Here, in the United States (“across the pond”), we too see a war of kinds between the government’s control of education and those brave souls that wish to home school. We are not offered any guidance though the muck of legalities they have created to dissuade us, but instead we are made to believe that we have no choice but to register in(and attend)public schools to comply with the law, which is a lie.

    Those that find their way on their own wind up basically being harassed by the system with truancy officers and some insane need of the system’s to categorize and grade everything. The heaps of useless paperwork they require is a job and a half in itself, and suddenly I see “recess” or “play time” becomes “Physical education” on paper and reading the newspaper becomes “political Science & current events”. The system doesn’t care if things are actually helping the children or if what is taught is worthwhile, as long as it sounds good on paper and fits some clueless requirement by the bureaucracy.

    In the schools, they don’t teach information – They teach “the test” (standardized testing for school ratings). They don’t allow the children things that would develop critical reasoning skills and leadership qualities, but instead seek to homogenize entire generations into mindless “sheeple” that will be good drones in the workforce, if not well educated ones.

    I also see how the system is trying to discourage and destroy home schooling as an option here for their own profit – per head. Even so, they still have managed to loose over 50% of the public to private and home schooling groups, who are all out-preforming them on every level, despite their attempts at “spin doctoring” the numbers to the contrary.

    The entire Educational system is failing miserably and more concerned with saving it’s own tush then doing it’s job – which should be helping the children. The latest numbers for the public schools show that over half the kids graduating from public high school can’t even write in cursive or read at grade level. It’s really not surprising since the schools decided that they could score better (and earn more money) by “teaching the test” so that the school would look good rather then “waste” time teaching them how to write (since the tests are all multiple choice). Penmanship and cursive are have not been actively taught as a class in schools for over a decade, so it’s amazing to me any kids knew how to write at all.

    I grieve for others out there just trying to do what it right by their children and for all we suffer through at the hands of those failing us. Perhaps if we did all band together – the Good Parents against the System – we could make a change.

  3. Yup, I agree, as you will see in many of the articles here, and in my book, Poor Cheated Little Johnny. Thanks for writing in! And yes, we had BETTER ban together. As an American Patriot said at the signing of the Constitution – (paraphrased) we had best hang together, or we shall certainly each hang separately.

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