Sunday, 13 September 2009

The "S" word

I am always amused when the parents of children at school ask me sadly, "Don't you think that your daughter might have missed out on the social side of school?" Here is an example of why I find this funny.

A few years ago our local council staged a raft of activities during the Summer holidays for children and young people. After all, everybody agrees that there's not much for the kids to do round here over the Summer. That year there was archery, kyaking, assertiveness training; masses of exciting stuff to do and all of it completely free. Needless to say my daughter, who was eleven at the time, booked up for practically everything . Unfortunately, about half the sessions were cancelled because not enough children could be found to make it worthwhile to run them. Odd.

When I asked the children of friends why they had not wanted to do all these interesting things, the response was predictable and depressing. "I won't know anyone there!", "None of my mates are going!" In other words, the idea of going somewhere and doing stuff with young people that they didn't know was anathema to these children.

I have observed this phenomenon over and over again. By the time they reach secondary school at the latest, children start sticking only to their school friends or those in other known groups. They will not generally talk to those older or younger, or socialise with adults. They avoid strangers like the plague. Is this the much vaunted socialisation? There is a pretty lousy college in our area; if you want a decent sixth form you have to go to a school about five miles away. Almost without exception, local school leavers choose the college, purely and simply because that's where everybody else is going.

The phrases, "I won't know anybody!" and "None of my mates are going!" are almost leitmotifs of modern youth. Those two commonly heard expressions of anxiety tell us all we really need to know about socialisation among schooled young people.


  1. anther crushing win by Peter at chess the adult shot out the door real quick after losing and his face was all red! i wonder if he went to a state school?

  2. Thousands of parents are prepared to go to court over plans to limit home schooling, The Times has learnt.

    Parents whose children are educated at home do not have to register with their local authority and are not inspected. But proposals being considered by the Government would change this and threaten parents’ ability to choose the curriculum for their children, campaigners say.

    “We have a lot of problems with inspectors because they know schools and that model of education isn’t very useful when you are teaching a small number of children,” said Leslie Barson, who is organising a demonstration this week against the plans.

    The home-educated child dictated what they learnt, she added. “It doesn’t matter what they learn about, as long as they think it’s a fantastic world out there. The beauty of home education is its flexibility. This would be outlawed by the local authority.”

    Related Links
    There's no education like home schooling
    Home Schooling: 'I could have stopped teaching her and no-one would know'
    The Badman report, published this year, recommends that home educators should be made to register with councils annually and set out in writing their plans for educating the child for the next year. They would also be inspected.

    Graham Badman, the author of the report, said that home education as it stood lacked “the correct balance between the rights of parents and the rights of the child either to an appropriate education or to be safe from harm”.

    Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, has said that he backs Mr Badman’s findings.

    Opponents will gather in Central London tomorrow to demonstrate against the plans and have begun a petition on the No 10 website, which already has almost 3,000 signatories, asking the Prime Minister to reject the proposals.

    They claim that implementing the plans will cost councils £150 million a year and put extra pressure on already oversubscribed schools. Campaigners are also planning to march on Westminster next month.

    “We are hoping to get it stopped at this early stage,” Dr Barson said, “But this is a fight to the death. There are people talking about civil disobedience. We would take it to the highest court that we could,” she added.

    It is not known how many children are home-educated because they do not have to be registered. Supporters of the plans argue that they will help to protect children who are targets of child trafficking or forced marriage.

  3. Being negative - recent survey though when home educators were actually asked whether they would disobey/go to prison/ ect rather than comply - no one said yes!

  4. we will not comply if that helps you? and have never comply in 6 years any help to you?

  5. julie-not heard from you in a while what you up 2? i do enjoy our chats.

  6. I am here - but "term" has hit us -dd has a load of maths to do before she starts college at the end of this week; I am back teaching about 40 home educators children maths and biology (and playing hunt the textbook), teaching various private students A level chemistry for resits...and interviewing this morning the head of 14-16 provision at Fareham College about what she can do to help home educators.

  7. Julie- that all sounds like a lot of work to me maths biology textbooks A levels interviewing college? the head will not help will he? he/she will take orders from HCC?

    i think we will take it nice and easy 2moro no rushing around watch tv or a movie sky HD is really good you got that?

  8. Julie- you got HD Julie? it is really good some very good history programme on in HD. of course if you like sport and i do enjoy a football match the inproved picture with HD is great you can see everything so clear. and with sky plus you can record and pause live tv very handy if phone rings! this blog is great is it not? glad i found it!