I get enormous pleasure from listening to the supposedly disinterested and objective criticism of home education by those who have a professional and financial interest in its abolition. In 2009, for example, the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers said:
'The NASUWT maintains the existence of a right to home educate is
anomalous with the clear emphasis in Government policy of ensuring
that all children and young people can benefit from educational
provision where teaching and learning is led by qualified teachers in well
resourced and fit for purpose modern educational settings.'
This is shamelessness on an heroic scale! If we accept that there are currently eighty thousand children in this country being educated by their parents out of school, then this means in effect the loss of a hundred schools, with all the associated teaching and other posts. By the way, those of us who have regular involvement with schools might laugh a little hollowly at their being casually described as, 'well resourced and fit for purpose modern educational settings'! The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has stated much the same thing as the NASUWT;
'The ATL believes schools are the best place for a rounded education - including social education'
Now this does not of course mean that the NASUWT and the ATL are wrong about this; merely that they have a stake in the matter which is not immediately apparent. Eighty thousand children is not really that many, but there are indications that the numbers are still rising steadily. In the USA, the number of children being educated at home, according to some reports, now exceeds two and a half million. See;
The American National Education Association, the union which represents teachers and professional educators and incidentally the largest and most powerful union in the country, has raised a number of objections to home education. Among them are some with which we are all familiar; concern about socialisation with those of other races or faiths, the potential for the development of religious extremism and the possibility of poor academic achievement. They are also concerned about 'reduced funding for public schools'. Home educators in America view this anxiety as meaning that teachers are worried about the loss of jobs.
None of this means that teachers and their unions are not genuinely concerned for the welfare and academic attainment of home educated children. I think that they are. But since those opposed to the practice of home education are so ready to seize upon any minor points that they feel are not being fully considered in the debate on home education, I think it only fair that we should look at their own motives in context and see if they have any reason for being generally against home education. When investigating a crime, the ancient Romans would first pose the question 'Cui bono?'; who benefits from this thing? In the case of home education, the beneficiaries from its curtailment would in the first instance be local authority staff, including teachers themselves. Brand new pupil Referral Units, more Educational Psychologists, thousands of teaching posts, there would need to be a huge cash boost to pay for all the new resources needed if eighty thousand children, many of them vulnerable and with special educational needs, were to be returned to the school system. As I say, I do not for a moment suppose that this is the only or even the main motive for opposition to home education by teachers, but it must surely have some bearing on the matter.