Category Archives: Government Attack on Home Education

Home Education; Study looks at why people choose to do it.

Over the years there have been a number of studies asking home educators/homeschoolers why they do it. In the past the American results have had religion either number 1 or 2 but over here it comes much lower down the list.

A recent study reported HERE shows that reasons are shifting in the USA as well. Now school environment is the number one reason to homeschool and standard of academic instruction comes in at number 2. That matches up closer with UK studies.

ITV Wales recently produced a fairly long report (not sure how long this link will be live) about families choosing to home educate. The title question “Can home education ever make the grade?” made me laugh.  Studies have shown over and over again that homeschooled/home educated children do better across the board than their schooled peers. When you consider that the HE community has a much higher number of children with learning problems (who have often had to be pulled from school) then I don’t think we do too badly.  In fact when Ed Balls came after us, his side kick Badman had to make up statistics to try and make us look bad.

For me, I think the biggest advantage home education has over schools is that our children get to read whole books and are encouraged to read every day. In teaching them to read I listened to them one to one every day. No school can do that unless they a) have hardly any children or b) have an army of volunteers.

The other massive advantage we have is not being tied to a curricula or methodology or philosophy of education. We are free to adjust to the child’s learning rather than forcing the child into a pre-packaged box.

Most importantly of all, many home educated children are taught how to think and how to learn, not what to think and what to learn. Schools are far too prescriptive and narrow.

And finally, socialisation. Yup. It’s much easier to get your child properly socialised in the natural community of home education than in a classroom with one or two adults and 29+ other children, all the same age.

What about religion? Doesn’t it count? Well, for a lot of home educators it probably doesn’t. For us it does, of course. Having the freedom to choose an orthodox and well written religious curriculum has been very good.  I want them to have access to their Faith, history and heritage that sadly even Catholic schools don’t seem able to offer.

The bottom line is that parents have an intrinsic right and deep responsibility to the proper education of our children. Our children do not belong to the state or to teacher’s unions. They are free persons belonging to a family. If, as a parent, you choose to delegate some of that responsibility to a school, then you are still the primary educator and are obliged to ensure the education is best for your child. Overall, although home ed is very hard work at times, I think it’s easier than trying to keep on top of what happens in school.

Will there ever be TV news stories questioning whether schools are good for our children? Why is Ken Robinson so roundly ignored?

The idea that home educators should be monitored by the people who can’t provide a decent education in schools is never going to wash.

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Will the changes in GCSEs help home educators?

The Conservatives Hold Their Annual Party Conference - Day 4Michael Gove is setting about changing the way GCSEs are done. My dh says one of the changes will be that pupils will be reading whole books for English. That has to be a change for the better – if it happens.

Gove is ditching course work and continual assessment, probably, in light of the unsurprising news that parents and even teachers were doing the coursework for pupils, on a rather embarrassingly regular basis. So, those who cheated were getting better results than those who did the work for themselves.   Gove is moving to an exam only GCSE. Is this a good thing? Umm, I don’t know, but it might make life just a tiny bit easier for home ed children.

If this actually happens then I wonder if home educators might feasibly have an easier time accessing exams.

As it stands most people seem to either send their children to school or college for GCSEs or they (like us) go through the IGCSE route with the massive exam costs that go with it.

There had been some colleges willing to take pupils at any age, so long as they were ready, but that door got slammed when funding changes ensured that pupils able to take GSCEs at 13 or 14 would not be able to and would therefore have to wait until they were of a bureaucratically acknowledged age. I can’t help wondering, sometimes, if Gove et al actually want children to be educated.

Gove has also announced that GCSE exams will be harder. I wonder if this means GCSE and IGCSEs will now be on the same level. At the moment it is generally recognised that IGCEs are harder and therefore of a higher quality.

While on the surface these changes might look good, I’ll wait and see. It’s under this Government that UCAS as ditched equivalencies making Open University points worthless while easier exams are accepted.  It is going to be a massive shift in emphasis from getting an education to jumping through hoops and I am yet to be convinced that this will happen.

It is very frustrating to see that in America many universities are welcoming homeschooled students with open arms because they have noticed how much better educated they are, on average, than schooled children; that over here doors that were open or opening have been shut. UCAS needs scrapping completely, as it’s nothing more than a tick box machine that rejects well qualified students simply because there isn’t a box to tick.

American universities have a massive advantage in that they still meet with would-be students and actually interview them. This helps form a view of whether a student can actually do the work of the degree. Having a box ticked that shows a student has a good memory, is hardly a ringing endorsement as far as I can see. Having a folder full of lovely exam results but an inability to work independently or treat other people with respect is not a good start in adult life.

I am glad I don’t have children old enough for any of this right now. Whether it will be better or worse by the time they are old enough I don’t know.  I did think the children could get work and do a part-time degree with the Open University but they have jumped on the “charge excessively” bandwagon and their courses are simply no longer affordable.

As things stand I would prefer my children to do one of the very good quality homeschool Highschool Diplomas, but as UCAS narrows it’s boxes this might not be the right choice – unless they don’t want to go to Uni over here or at all.

As more distance learning is launched I’ll be keeping an eye on what options the children might have.

Home Education; navigating the exam hoops.

The age of my children means I have a sort of respite in the exam world. The older three are aged 23, 21 and 19 while the younger ones are nearly 10, 8 and 5 and a half. So you see it’s a bit different for us.

Let’s take Josh. He went through the school system right to the end. He came out with 13 GCSEs grades A to C and two A’levels in English and Drama. He wants to be a paramedic. If he can’t do that, and it seems he can’t, he’ll be a nurse. Now you would think he would walk into a nursing degree thanks to his Open University points in Biology and health care as well as six years as a care assistant.He’s never been out of work since he was 18 apart from the time he was seriously ill while his type 1 diabetes was being dx and getting under control.

But those things don’t count, it seems, so he is now doing a Diploma (old NVQ 3) to get the right points in the right place. Thankfully his workplace are supportive.

GCSE-exams-Maidstone-Gram-001Over the last few years I’ve seen many home ed articles and blogs saying that home educated children don’t need exams to get where they want to go and if they do they can do them later when the need arises. This may have been true some time ago, but I am increasingly worried that it is less true now.

If this was America where the universities have realised the high standard of homeschooled children and offer places based on portfolio work I would agree, we shouldn’t need exams. I did think that as the research piles up that shows home educated children are better educated over al,l that universities over here would follow suit. So far the only Brit Uni’s I know of who accept students based on what they have actually achieved, rather than on a tick box system set up with UCAS (the most pointless organisation under the sun), is the Open University and Oxford University. That doesn’t leave many options does it.

Neither Josh (school) nor Alex (school and then home ed) have ever been unemployed. They have both worked very hard and yet both are facing huge obstacles in their chosen career routes. Partly (with Alex at least) the broken economy is to blame, but I also think the bizarre lack of human contact plays a role. Everything must be done by a tick box read by a machine.

But there are no doors opening to easy careers for either of them. What about their schooled friends? Life is just as difficult for them. Ah well, a home ed parent and child might be tempted to say, if exams don’t help either what’s the point?

It seems very strange to me that instead of making collages more accessible for adults who wish to sit GCSEs or A’Levels, the system from this Government is actually shutting down access for adults wanting these exams.(It’s a money thing apparently – of course). IGCSE’s have never been available unless you pay a huge amount for them. (Thank God for credit cards when it comes to paying off exam and travel costs!)

I had thought for the younger three that I would put them through the American High school Diploma either via Seton, as we use their curricula anyway, or via St. Thomas Aquinas. Both are accredited.  It’s interesting to see that Catholic Heritage has set up a non-accredited High School curriculum pointing out that quality homeschoolers don’t need accreditation

If we could move away from computers and robots deciding on who gets onto what course, we might have a chance over here. Bypassing the computer either for education or healthcare, seems beyond the capability of “real people” who hide behind the machine’s like stunted wizards of Oz.

But then perhaps the machines will work in our favour as time goes on. Just as more of us can access high quality American highschool diploma’s thanks to the internet and Skype, perhaps our children can access degrees in the future from American Universities who are willing and able to offer high quality degrees to those who are capable, rather than mediocre degrees to those whose boxes can be ticked by a robot.

I am keeping an eye on developments and of course will see how older home ed children fare in this country.

Sir Ken Robinson speaks on the need for a learning revolution.

This is a continuation of the excellent talk Sir Ken gave a few years ago about how schools were destroying children’s creativity. His critique of the massive use of Ritalin for children stuck in my mind from that one.

This speech is just as good and just as true and will be just as ignored. I was interested when he commented that people in the audience were from various places, including industry.

I would love to believe that this means a change in tack from industry and they are actually, genuinely, appalled by the standard of education and instead of using it as a great excuse to push for slavery by the back door – bringing in lots of people from Eastern Europe and paying them £2 a hour or less and saying it’s because home grown kids won’t work. Do I sound a little cynical? Sorry, seeing what is happening around me is making me feel like Cassandra and there isn’t even a Greek gift!

It is good to see that Sir Ken recognises and supports the place of Home Education. It would be nice to think that the youngest MIT Professor having been homeschooled might be a plus for us too.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suddenly saying that home education is to ensure more and more prodigies. No. Children can grow and learn to be all sorts of people; so long as they are good people, moral thoughtful, discerning people. But the occasional MIT Prof from our rank is good too 🙂

If you have the time you can watch the first speech on education illustrated wonderfully by RSA Animate.

The more I talk to people who work in schools, or have children in them the more I am left wondering why we keep doing this to our children.

Real Education is a dangerous thing for some

This article via Nonna reports that the German minister Norbert Blum has spoken out for intrinsic family rights.

In Germany parents are not allowed to decide for themselves what is the best form of education for their children. They are forced, violently at times, to send their children to school, no matter how bad the school might be.

Parents who have removed children to home educate – which is an intrinsic right – have been persecuted, their children forcibly removed, and parents threatened with prison.

Sounds like a Nazi regime doesn’t it? And that might be because the law against Homeschooling dates back to 1936. It’s one of the few Third Reich oppressive laws that wasn’t repealed.

from the article:

Michael Donnelly, GHEC2012 secretary and director of international affairs at Home School Legal Defense Association, the world’s largest home education organization, underscored this impact.

“Norbert Blum has said what no one else in Germany has been willing to — that Germany’s iron-fisted monopoly on education is unhealthy for children and families. I hope Angela Merkel and others in her party will listen to the wisdom and advice of this German statesman and take action soon so that parents in Germany can homeschool like millions around the world,” Donnelly said.

The German government have received heavy criticism from those fighting for human rights over the years. unfortunately they are somewhat sheltered from proper condemnation by the strange anti-family culture of European power bases.

I am sure the nod-wink of European politics to family oppression is why Ed Balls and his strange sidekick Badman felt comfortable in citing German law as a reason to come after home educators in this country.

One of the primary goals of most home educating parents (as far as I’ve seen locally and internally) is to teach our children how to learn. We want them to be able to make their own discoveries, to discern right from wrong, truth from twaddle (as Miss Mason would say). We want our children to learn to think critically and be able to understand language use and misuse.

The Taliban are quite right to be deeply afraid of a well-educated populace. They are even more right to be terrified of educated women. It has been shown in missionary work that when the woman and girls are educated they educate the men and boys. Then education spreads from families to local communities and out there. A real education is a genuinely empowering thing.

People who want to bully, control and oppress don’t want people who can think for themselves. Spoon fed education and mass dumb media are great tools for them.

I am grateful I can still home educate my children.

Home Education; Government want to “support” us??? I doubt that.

Local Authorities are still breaking the law on Home Education. I personally wouldn’t mind being “monitored” nearly as much if there was any real support for families who home educate and any real care for children in school who are being seriously abused either at school or at home. The fact is, I am not alone in having seen Social Workers, Local Authority staff and even the police betray seriously abused children and children in extremely difficult family situations simply because of being idle, while these same people are all too willing to bully innocent families. I can’t even blame it on lack of training any more. It’s a basic lack of decency and integrity.

So, it would be good to think the present Government might have some kind of committment to cleaning house in Local Authorities, Social Services and the police, especially where children are concerned.

Well they haven’t. Instead they are coming after Home Educators again.

The Education Committee have announced a new inquiry into Home Education looking at what “support” we receive from Local Authorities. The short answer is “NONE AT ALL”.

I would truly like to believe that this “inquiry” really was a way of trying to clean house, but I simply don’t.

It’s  time they just left us alone.

Vatican spokesman speaks out for the rights of parents to home educate

A Vatican Spokesman has called on the UN to respect the rights of parents to choose the education of their children, including the right to home educate.

Many European countries are draconian in their treatment of home educating families. Germany and Sweden are perhaps two of the most tyrannical when it comes to the rights of families. More than one family has fled Germany to find asylum in a country that respects their rights.

Actually the way German authorities behave towards families whose children are having serious problems in school make our social services look almost professional.

It’s concerned to see that the fight goes on in California. It was lost, it seems to me, in New York, but there are plenty of genuinely free states left – Texas stands out as one of the best.

We must pray and fight for our freedoms and rights to care for our children properly.