Could free schools help the home ed community?

This article in the Catholic Herald this weekend is interesting. On the face of it this looks like a good idea and a perfect way for children to have access to better tailored education. Could home ed groups like mine apply to be a ‘school’ and get a little funding—-without too many strings attached?

What would the strings be?  Balls said he is worried about slashing rebuilding programmes, but then showed his true colours by saying the “academies” were the way forward. Obviously he has never tried to teach or be a pupil in one.

One of the things I have found from friends who have access to little village school is that there is more community and family involvement. The schools might not have much money, but they make up for it with good learning opportunities-especially in Wales where the National Curriulum (at least in Primary schools) doesn’t seem to have such a strangle hold. But it still isn’t home education-it still has a school pedagogy which simply isn’t how home education works.

Could a group like the one I am part of expand a little and retain the home ed approach while being a “free school”? Could this mean more children who might otherwise have to stay in school could get the chance of an education that truly suits them? It is how Catholic schools began in this country with the communities gathering together to educate the children in the presbytery or church hall. Unfortunately the Government got their claws into them.

I can’t help feeling a bit more caution than the bishops on this one.  With politics there are always strings attached. The carrot of breaking free from LA control where the education must fit the officer and not the child looks great, only who will decide what is a suitable education for a ‘free school’? Just how free will a free school be? While it is stated that the ‘experiment’ is working very well in Sweden I can’t help thinking that Sweden is doing everything it can now to abolish home education. Would the argument be, “look at these lovely ‘light touch’ free schools; no more need for home education at all.”?

The question of these free schools did come up during the Select committee meeting and Barry Sheerman asked if the home ed panel thought this was home education and was told no. However in theory there is no reason it couldn’t be. In theory those of us who meet together on a regular basis for our children to learn together could do so and be called a ‘free school’. It is what would happen in practice that worries me.

When it comes to the money side of things dear ol’Ed is being rather silly and perhaps needs to come and join us in a few Math U See lessons. The cost of his Bill with its draconian approach to home education will be over £99million it is estimated in bureaucracy alone. NOTHING for the children’s education there. So, in theory that money (which I am not convinced exists) could be used to actually educate children by giving it to the families. I just can’t see any Government having the courage or will to fund children in this way. The Tory record of education isn’t good after all.

Meanwhile Carlotta posted a link to Graham Stuart’s excellent article in the Guardian. Mr Stuart has been a great defender of us home educators and genuinely seems to get it. Sadly many of those who left comments have absolutely no idea what home education is, what the LAs role is and what this Bill says; didn’t stop them giving out opinions though. Of course the horror of horrors religious home educators got a beating as usual. Bigots rule methinks. *sigh*. Of course the whole way this Bill was put together has made it clear that Christians in particular and any religion not approved of…like Christianity and possibly Islam, are BAD, really, really bad.

I was particularly saddened by apparent EHE people saying it was a good idea to be monitored, but who really couldn’t quite explain WHY. I might come back to some of the comments at some point.

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