Friday, 3 May 2013
School as a refuge from violence and fear
For many home educating parents, schools are seen as bad places. They are institutions where their children’s special educational needs are not met or where ferocious bullying drives children to the point of suicide; to give just two examples. There is another side to this though. For some home educated children, school is a refuge; the only safe and stable point in their lives and being removed from it can be a disaster which results in great unhappiness or, in extreme cases, injury or death. I am sure that many readers will be familiar with the death of a home educated child in Barking a couple of years ago. Here is the summary of the Serious Case review:
As will be recalled, the mother was very disturbed, argued with everybody and ended up by killing her child, who was probably on the autistic spectrum, by forcing him to drink bleach.
I draw attention to this case not because I think that a lot of home educating parents are likely to harm their children, nor to appeal for better and more intrusive monitoring of home educated children. Rather, I want to remind people that school is sometimes the best thing in a child’s life and that it can be vastly preferable to what is going on at home. I am not a great fan of schools, but I think that home educators sometimes forget how good they can be for children; providing them with a haven of safety and the bare bones of a stable life. Not everybody is cut out to be a home educator and for those who cannot cope with having their children around too much; schools fulfill a vital role, both for parents and children.