Monday, 29 April 2013

Bad publicity for home education...

Readers who are absolutely sure that home educating families should be left to their own devices, might care to read this case:

Obviously, it is not typical of British home education, but it is the sort of thing which makes many people stop and think about the possible disadvantages when a child does not mix regularly with others.


  1. Interesting theory, Simon. Can I extrapolate from it a little? Mick and Mairead Philpott killed their children in a hideous way. Therefore, all parents of children attending the school that those children did need far closer supervision just in case they might be planning to do the same. Or maybe that area would be better? Or the whole county? Or maybe even the whole country? After all, if it saves a child's life it's got to be worth it, hasn't it?

    Can you imagine the outcry if that was suggested? Well, I feel much the same way about this. I am no more responsible for what other home educators do than the parents of other children at that school were for what happened to those children.

    Home education is simply a method of education. It does not make me a homogenous member of a particular tribe or grouping, any more than my child going to a particular school would.

    For me, the underlying fact is that, yet again, concerns were raised with social services. Yet again, they failed to investigate them properly, this time on four separate occasions. Yet again, people go looking for a scapegoat and seize on home education rather than admit that it could have been stopped, but wasn't. Still, we needn't worry, because 'lessons are being learned.'

    I don't see why the judge raised the supervision of home education at all, because this isn't about education, it's about welfare. These are two separate issues which are covered by two separate sets of legal powers. The mother was within her legal rights to refuse the EWO, but when welfare concerns are raised she does not have those same legal rights. The fact that it was uncovered after the midwives got involved shows that there were powers available to use, but people decided not to use them. My personal feeling is that when it got to the fourth report, someone should have used them, especially when it seems to have involved children being left alone for a month.


  2. 'I don't see why the judge raised the supervision of home education at all'

    Because this was an integral part of the process of abuse. By preventing the child from having friends of her own age, the mother was better able to hide what was going on. I have an idea that most fourteen year-old girls whose mothers forced them to rinse out their vaginas with vinegar or lemon juice and then inject themselves with a stranger's semen, might possibly mention this peculiar undertaking the next day at school. It was the very fact of home education which enabled the mother to isolate the children from normal society.

    1. If the children were isolated from normal society then neighbours wouldn't have raised concerns about them. Which they did, repeatedly.

      I'm afraid I wouldn't be so sure about the girl talking about what had happened if she had been at school. I'm thinking about children who are sexually abused within the home and who stay silent out of misplaced love and loyalty, and, overwhelmingly, through fear. Far too many of those go to school without ever mentioning it to anyone, I'm sad to say, and no one blames the school for that.

      The responsibility for the action lies with the woman who is now in prison. The responsibility for stopping it lay with the social services who did have the power to intervene and didn't, even after her GP raised concerns.

      According to the Guardian, the judge's comment was "The judge also noted that no checks were made on the children regarding home schooling after the mother refused to allow an education welfare officer to visit. The only contact was by email, so "the approval [for] home education was given without anyone ever setting eyes on the children". "

      It is, perhaps, telling that the judge seems to believe that in law it is necessary for home education to be approved. No comment was made about the quality of the education received, which, given the Guardian's readership and views on HE suggests that there was nothing to criticise about it.

      What he isn't saying is that this was a contributory factor. He 'also notes' it.


  3. The full case is here:

    The mother appears to have been a raging narcissist, and the children were isolated from society, and indeed most of their family. The neighbours intervened because they heard noises through the walls, that concerned them.

    Interestingly she seems to have been active in home education circles:

    "There is indeed a body of evidence that speaks positively of the mother as an energetic and lively person who was deeply involved in her children's lives and very active in setting up specific networks involving people who had adopted or wanted to adopt from X, and people involved in home education. This view is echoed by a number of witnesses and referees."

  4. Of course! We should all be monitored every day, and then nobody would ever do anything wrong and no child would ever suffer at the hands of his or her parent or carer. Utopia.

  5. Apart from being home educated, the children were adopted and without any biological connection to the abusive adoptive mother.

    Specifically, the children were adopted from outside of the UK; perhaps the bad publicity should focus on that issue - particularly the way in which the adoptive parent was investigated - at least as much as home education.

  6. 'Specifically, the children were adopted from outside of the UK; perhaps the bad publicity should focus on that issue - particularly the way in which the adoptive parent was investigated - at least as much as home education.'

    Good point. There have been a number of cases in the USA of parents adopting a number of children from abroad and then both home educating and abusing them. Interestingly, the mother in this case was American and the children were adopted abroad. I wonder if this is of the same pattern.

  7. Errrr....buying sperm over the internet? No one think that's a bit deranged?