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Original Letter to TES

This was the original letter which Annette wrote to the TES in response to two articles in the TES March 30th 35,000 Lost to Schooling and Home Truths:
As qualified educationalists AND parents of home educated children we were concerned to read your article 35,000 lost to schooling. TES 30/03/07

The Law places the responsibility for a child's education on parents. Some attempt to fulfil their responsibility through their child's attendance at school.

In schools there is a nationally defined curriculum, age related targets,a testing schedule and the monitoring of outcomes. Schools use public money and have to be accountable to the state and the electorate for their actions.

Most teachers know that this “one size fits all” system has difficulty accommodating some children's personality,behaviour,needs and capabilities. Many in the system are critical of the national curriculum, the testing regime, the targets and are aware of the impossibility of doing their best for all the children in their care.

Parents who choose, or who through force of circumstances ,feel it necessary to home educate are freed from many of the constraints in the school system. Learning and education can be truly “personalised”. There is not the same need for early reading and writing.Learning can be less formal and regimented, less time is wasted on administering an institution and the child can take an active part in shaping the provision. New technology has made resources more easily available and the growth in the number of people deciding to home educate has helped local groups to flourish.

So we have two different models of education.

Sadly, too often those employed by local authorities to “inspect” home education are proponents of the schools model. With closed minds, no training, a poor understanding of the legislation and a great deal of “baggage” they wade in declaring themselves to be the experts.

It does not have to be like this. In some authorities there is good practice and a constructive partnership between home educators and the organisations which represent them.

Your poorly researched, ill informed article gave a very distorted view of home education. Obviously this is to the advantage of those seeking contracts for inspection work in this area but it is unhelpful to families working hard to fulfill their responsibilities.

If you are to continue calling yourself an “educational” journal you should inform yourself and your readers about the whole spectrum of educational possibilities.

Your report sadly fell below the journalistic standards we expect from the TES. We hope the new tabloid format will not be accompanied by tabloid reporting.

Few communities are now expected to tolerate the level of ignorance and prejudice this community sometimes faces. Maybe this hostility is a measure of the insecurity of those with a vested interest in propping up an increasingly outdated system.

Yours faithfully,

AnnetteTaberner BEd Hons
Philip Ford BA Hons PGCE
Lucy Gotts BA PGCE
Dr S Bowlzer BSc PhD PGCE
K Bowlzer BA Hons
Elizabeth Cole BA Hons PGCE
Gary Cole Cert Ed NVQ Assessor
Ilana King B Sc PGCE
Dawn Dingwall
Barbara Raine B Sc Hons PGCE
Kate Pavey BA Hons PGCE
Anthea Tulloch Bisgrove
Stephanie Hafferty BA Hons PGCE
David Bird BA PGCE
Tracey Sunley B Sc Hons PhD (educational technology)
Kay Sheard MA Hons PGCE
Lady Caroline M Praed MIPD BA Hons DMS
Grace Onosanya B Sc Msc
Elizabeth Davies BSc QTS
Evelyn Eagles Dip HE
Ana C Pereira BA Hons NVQ tutor and assessor
Kay Hudson BWY Dip NNEB and teaching assistant
Susanna Matthan B Sc (Ed) Sec Maths ACE(SEN/EBD)
  currently working on MA in ASDs
Chris Rogers Bmus Hons PGCE LRAM
Paula Tardin BA Hons Ad Dip Counselling, Raising Aspies Chairperson
Jo Smith BA Hons MA PhD student and English lecturer

The letter which was published was as follows:

Annette Taberner Sheffield and 25 others from across Britain.

HOME GUARD

"As qualified educationalists and parents of home-educated children, we were concerned to read your article "35,000 lost to schooling"( TES, March 30).

The law places the responsibility for a child's education on parents. Some fulfil this responsiblity through school, where there is a nationally defined curriculum, age-related targets, a testing schedule and the monitoring of outcomes.

Most teachers know that this "one size fits all" system has difficulty accommodating some children's needs. Parents who educate at home are freed from many of the constraints in the school system.

Sadly, too often those employed to "inspect" home education are proponents of the schools model, with closed minds, no training, a poor understanding of the legislation and a great deal of "baggage".

It does not have to be like this. In some authorities there is good practice and a constructive partnership between home educators and the organisations that represent them. "

Jeremy Sutcliffe, the Letters Editor of the TES, contacted Annette and told her that the letter was to be edited before publication. Annette stipulated that the final paragraph about good practice and constructive partnership should remain in the edited text.

The previous week a letter was published from home-educating parent, Peter Darby:

Home educators

Published: 06 April 2007

Tony Mooney and Myra Robinson - both, I understand, freelance elective home-education inspectors - raise concerns about home-educating parents, making vague claims about educational neglect and their apparent powerlessness in the face of parents' rights (TES, March 30).

"Who", asks Ms Robinson, "is going to stand up for the rights of the child?" Actually, as a home-educating parent,I can tell her, although I'm rather surprised she doesn't already know. It's home-education inspectors.

They have the duty to investigate any apparent case of educational neglect and have the power to request school attendance orders. If she and Mr Mooney haven't been doing that, they have been negligent in their duties.

Elective home education (EHE) inspectors require no more powers than they already have to discharge their lawful duties. If the inspectors that Eunice Spry invited into her home twice a year raised no serious objections to her regime, that is their failing, and no amount of rights to enter property will make it any easier to stop such cases happening again.

Peter Darby
Ruthin, Denbighshire


Food for Thought:
Home Education for Teenagers

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