Sunday, 2 September 2012
Dramatic news about home educated children
Over on Mumsnet, the most popular British parenting forum with five million hits a month, a well known home educator has made some pretty dramatic claims about the academic attainment of home educated children in this country. Her claims are specific, unambiguous and clear. She says that hundreds of home educated children known to her have obtained places at top British universities without taking GCSEs or A Levels and without studying at the Open University;
‘these young people (who played computer games all day if they wanted, and had no formal work, and nothing most of you would recognise as educational, remember)’
Among the universities that these home educated children who did no formal work, nor anything most people would regard as educational, went to were Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and the London School of Economics. They studied things like mathematics, medicine, veterinary science and classics.
Now these are startling claims and, if true, nobody would be more delighted than me. I am always excited to hear of home educated children getting on in this way. I have emailed the woman directly to ask for details of all this, but she has not replied. I am putting the thing up here in order to ask readers if they know about any of this. If there are hundreds of such cases, then I am guessing that some at least must be well known to others. last year I contacted the universities mentioned above and asked about this very question. Not one had given an offer to a young person without any formal qualifications in the last two years. Competition for places at medical school and to study to be a vet is so ferocious that every year teenagers with four or five As at A Level are routinely turned away. Would a university really offer a place to study mathematics to a young person without even a GCSE in the subject?
I am not of course asking for the names of the young people concerned. It would be enough to know the name of the university, so that I could find out more about the process for applying if young people have no qualifications at all. I think that this would be a great help to others who were hoping to follow this route to admission. I was very surprised to see Edinburgh mentioned, because their one, inflexible rule is that anybody applying to them must have at least a GCSE in a foreign language. They make no exceptions at all to this and it is hard to see how you could manage that with ‘no formal work and nothing most of you would recognise as educational’.
It is certainly true that some autonomously home educated children get places at university. Janet Ford’s son managed this, as did Shena Deuchar’s daughter. However, one took GCSEs at twelve and the other studied with the Open University, so these are not the sort of people that we are looking at here. I hope that readers will be able to shed some light on this, because if this is not true, then it means that a deliberate attempt has been made to mislead other parents on the biggest parenting site in the country. This would, to say the least of it, be unfortunate. I might mention that my attention was drawn to this by a friend of mine who is a teacher. Her feeling was that the whole thing is a complete nonsense and that it is all made up. I am open minded for now, but would certainly like a few details before I make up my mind.