Once in a while one encounters something in the world of British home education which makes one feel like shouting; 'For fuck's sake! What is wrong with these people?' Readers will be relieved to hear that, as usual, they will be spared such vulgarity here. Instead I intend to discuss this matter in the calm and rational manner which has ever been my trademark; merely limiting myself to offering a few words of wise and good advice.
Staffordshire County Council, whose approach to home education has left somewhat to be desired in the past, has announced that they intend to start a support service for home educating parents. It is described like this in a local newspaper;
'Home-Educated children in Staffordshire will soon be able to get resources, tips and other support with their studies from a new online learning service.
Staffordshire County Council is planning to launch the 'Learning Platform' in the summer, initially through a pilot scheme.
It will also include a forum so young people and parents can chat online to other families who educate youngsters at home instead of school.'
I might remark that I advocate something of this sort in my book, Elective Home Education in the UK (Trentham Books, 2010). I said;
'A good many home educating parents would welcome practical help and advice from experts such as teachers and psychologists. Teaching one's child can be a lonely and on occasion unnerving process. Most parents, even the most confident, need reassurance and support from time to time....
Parents with questions about anything from the legal position surrounding home education to the age at which a child should be reading independently could be sure of hearing views from teachers and from other home educators. However, Several of the most popular existing support groups on the Internet bar professionals from membership. So myths, half truths and outright falsehoods proliferate.'
There now, I couldn't have put it better myself!
The news of Staffordshire's new scheme is being described on the HE-UK list as 'registration through the backdoor'. It is worth pointing out that when people are trying to do something 'through the backdoor', they seldom advertise the fact by sending a press release to the local paper. The person who first posted about this, says that it is a 'carrot and stick'. I am baffled as to what the stick might be. We don't even know that those joining this scheme will have to identify themselves to their local authority. In some areas, Hampshire and North Yorkshire for example, it is possible to join in activities and obtain information from the local authority like this without being officially 'known'. Others commenting on HE-UK express the hope that this will be boycotted.
Try as I might, I am unable to grasp the objection to this, although judging by the response it is certainly regarded as a bad thing by some people, including Mike Fortune-Wood. Here is an opportunity for parents who might be isolated, to ask questions of professionals. Perhaps they might want to know what children the same age as theirs who are at school are studying. They might have questions about GCSEs. Maybe some readers here could help me to get a handle on this and explain why anybody in their senses should oppose this enterprise?