Ofsted are conducting a survey about home education in fifteen local authority areas, The ostensible idea being that they wish to see what sort of services local authorities are offering to home educating families. To this end, the local authorities have been asked to distribute questionnaires to home educating parents known to them. Needless to say, this move has been treated with considerable suspicion by some parents. Conspiracy theorists were quick off the mark to suggest that the questionnaires were only being sent to structured home educators and that the aim of this was to give a distorted view of home education by writing out autonomous educators. Even the fact that reference numbers were to found on the envelopes was seen as sinister evidence that Ofsted would be trying to identify individual respondents when they collated the information! (The real reason was just to tell Ofsted which local authority area the response concerned.)
I have to say personally that I am all in favour of more information being gathered about home education. I am fascinated by the whole subject, for obvious reasons and a survey of this sort across various types of district might yield some interesting insights into elective home education as it is currently practiced in this country. Ofsted's role is;
"Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. We regulate and inspect to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages."
Now if parents claim to be educating their children, then I think they must accept that Ofsted will probably end up having a role in their lives in one way or another. A number of parents object strongly to local authorities checking the nature of their educational provision and I would guess that Ofsted is perhaps gearing up to take on some sort of role in that respect. The questionnaire itself is quite unexceptionable, if slightly geared towards a structured approach. It looks to me like a genuine attempt to find out what home educating parents actually do. I cannot imagine what harm could possibly result from telling Ofsted how people home educate.
There has been very little research on home education in this country. For some inexplicable reason, the very idea of systematic and wide ranging research seems to unnerve a number of parents. I am very interested in why this should be. I am aware that Ofsted are far from popular at the moment, due to their ludicrous suggestion of using CRB checks on home educating parents, but I have noticed this reluctance to answer questions as a general thing. Why should this be, I wonder? Surely home educating parents are proud of what they are doing and wish to share their achievements with the wider world?