I wrote a few days ago of the fact that home education will ultimately be judged by professionals to the extent that it succeeds in educating children and preparing them for adult life. I want to look today at what we know of the outcomes for home educated children as they become teenagers and adults.
I have in the past been reproached for supposedly being preoccupied with the importance of GCSEs as a measure of education. I want to look beyond this widely used indicator of educational success, but first let us look at how home education does measure up using this criterion. Data are not generally available, but where they are they are not encouraging. In 2009 information became available about the educational attainment of home educated children known to the local authority in Dudley, a town in the midlands. It was revealed that only half took any GCSEs at all, as opposed to the national average of 98% and that 10% of the home educated children had achieved five GCSEs, including mathematics and English, at grades A*-C. This is a fifth of the national figure.
Still, it has been argued here, GCSEs are not everything. Indeed they are not. Many people becoming rich and famous without attending university or indeed gaining any qualifications. Others, while not becoming rich and famous, go on to have careers in any number of fields. If we look at school based education, the great majority of pupils will leave school and get jobs. Many of these jobs will be in shops and offices, factories, warehouses and farms. Some though will become solicitors and accountants, architects and doctors. Still others will have careers as writers, artists and musicians. Is this the same situation for home educated young people?
I am a little puzzled that after the phenomenal growth in home education over the last decade or two, with tens of thousands of young people having been home educated each year; we have yet to hear of a single home educated professional; not one doctor or solicitor, no engineers or architects. Of course, most families lose contact with the home educating community as the children reach sixteen; that is only to be expected. However, I would have thought that at least a few people's outcomes would be known. Depressingly, the few that we do hear of seem unable to leave their parents and live independently. I am thinking of the publishing company in Wales where all the employees seem to be the formerly home educated children of the founder, the family farms where other home educated children end up working. Does anybody actually know of any professionals who were home educated? A few go on to university, but what happens then?
If home education compares favourably to school on a purely educational basis, there must by now be quite a few teachers and nurses, bank managers and surveyors who did not go to school. Can anybody on here tell us about a few of them?