During his review of elective home education, Graham Badman touted around the idea of the "Tasmanian Model". To put it briefly, in Tasmania home education is in effect supervised by home educators themselves, via a council funded by the government. Most home educating parents who reject the idea of anybody inspecting the educational provision which they are making for their children, seemed no keener on this idea than that of local authority officers entering their homes.
The Tasmanian Home Educators Advisory Council was set up in 1993. It has six members. Three of these are home educating parents and three are nominated by the Minister of Education. Together with paid staff, they are responsible for the registration and monitoring of home education in Tasmania. The scheme seems to work pretty well and the monitoring is not at all onerous. they simply seek to establish that some sort of an education is actually taking place. Many home educating parents in Tasmania feel happier having these people monitoring their provision, rather than retired teachers, as is often the case in this country.
Even this modest idea was dismissed out of hand by most of those to whom Graham Badman spoke. For many, the stance was firmly against any type of monitoring at all. I have to say on a personal note that I would rather have dealings with an ex-teacher than some loopy home educating parent, by there that is just me! The whole idea now seems to have sunk from sight. And yet......
The obvious candidates as partners with the DCSF in such a scheme were Education Otherwise. This is because for most local authorities as well as the DCSF, Education Otherwise is home education in this country. As many readers will know, there is a strong trend among some home educators against EO, for reasons I do not feel competent to judge. The idea of having somebody from Education Otherwise coming into their home to judge their educational provision seemed to enrage a lot of parents almost as much as the thought of the local authority doing it.
I have an idea that we have not heard the last of the "Tasmanian Model" though. Graham Badman seemed so keen on it, that I could not help but wonder whether or not somebody had been telling him about it and urging him to consider its merits. I have to say, I have no solid grounds for believing this, although there have been a few curious pointers in that direction. Paula Rothermel, for instance, spent several months in Tasmania a while ago. Spooky coincidence? And of course there is Education Otherwise's curious ambivalence with regard to registration. Everybody else, with the possible exception of the present writer, has damned this idea publicly in no uncertain terms. Education Otherwise however, are playing their hand exceedingly close to the chest on this. Witness Fiona Nicholson's brilliant prevarication when the topic was broached at the select committee hearing last month.
Although not myself a member, I have observed with pleasure how Education Otherwise manages to run its affairs. The gambit of holding AGMs in odd locations which would mean members having to book into an hotel for the night, is not of course an original one. It is the sort of thing that large companies tend to do more, in order to frustrate the provisions of the Companies Act. I have never before seen it done by small charities. Their use of lawyers to try and prevent transparency is also curious and likely to arouse suspicions that something is afoot! We shall see. In the meantime, I hold to my original suggestion that we have not seen the back of the "Tasmanian Model" and that I would not be at all surprised to see Education Otherwise suddenly lurch out of the mists bearing a commission from HM Government to supervise home education in this country.