Commenting here yesterday, somebody suggested, perhaps not entirely seriously, that parents who wish to home educate should first be tested on their literacy and English. This was prompted by an exchange with Peter Williams, whose semi-literate ravings are not perhaps the best advertisement in the world for unregulated home education.
It is an interesting idea, whether meant jokingly or not. After all, the child is entitled to an efficient education; what if a parent is incapable of providing such an education? There can be no doubt at all that providing a full-time education for a child is a hugely demanding task. Common sense tells us that not everybody would be up to this and if parents are not very well educated themselves, then their children's education is bound to be scrappy and ineffective. This is hardly satisfactory. Local authority officers often encounter parents like this, mothers and fathers who are barely literate and seem to believe that the Internet can provide all the education their children might need. As things stand, there is little that can be done about this, even assuming that something should be done.
This idea can of course easily turn into a slippery slope. Some states in America require home educating parents to have a qualification in teaching and I don't believe that anybody in this country would be in favour of such a scheme. It seems odd though that a parent with a very low IQ and restricted literacy skills should be regarded in law as being just as competent to educate her child as a university professor! Many ordinary, non-home educating parents are shocked to hear that anybody at all can just take their child from school and educate the kids themselves. I think that most people would think it quite reasonable that some sort of assessment of a parent's ability were to be undertaken before home education began. Devising a method would be tricky though. I don't think that it would be right to deny the opportunity to home educate to parents who did not have a degree or the correct number of GCSEs. On the other hand, a broader and more informal assessment would almost certainly militate against working class parents and in favour of those speaking RP and reading the Guardian rather than the Sun. I shall give this matter a little though and report back. In the meantime, I wonder what readers think about the notion of preventing illiterate fools from being allowed to home educate?