Mrs Wendy Charles-Warner must surely be one of the best known home educators in the country. An indefatigable, an unkind person might say shameless, self-publicist; she has appeared in many newspapers in support of her chosen hobby horse. In addition to being a representative of the national home education charity, Education Otherwise, Mrs Charles-Warner has remorselessly chronicled in print the lives of the daughter and grandson whom she taught herself. Here is a recent example of her appearance in a national newspaper, in this case The Guardian, on behalf of Education Otherwise;
In addition to these activities, Mrs Charles-Warner runs, under an assumed name, a Facebook group which purports to help home educating parents in their disputes with local authorities. It is popularly known as Help Dealing with Officialdom and may be found here;
So much for the public face of this woman’s activities on behalf of the cause of home education. There is another side to her interest in this subject though and it is one about which she is strangely reticent. It is time now to shed light upon this lesser known aspect of Mrs Charles-Warner’s involvement with home education in this country.
A brief look at the advice given on the Facebook group mentioned above, soon shows that its members are urged to live in a state of virtual warfare with their local authorities; refusing visits and doing their utmost not to cooperate with any requests for information about the education which they are providing for their children. This is because, as Mrs Charles-Warner has repeatedly said, ‘There is no legal basis to monitor home education’. On her Facebook group yesterday, a mother posted, saying that she was happy to have a visit from her local authority to check up on the educational provision she was making for her child. Mrs Charles-Warner thought this a bad idea, saying ‘I would not meet with her because she is seeking work samples and evidence, to which she is not entitled.’
I hope we all have this clear now. Wendy Charles-Warner, who acts on behalf of Education Otherwise and is a militant home educator, advises parents not to meet with local authority officers or provide evidence of a child’s work. One mother who adopted this strategy, received a pretty sharp letter from her local authority last week. They threatened her with legal action. The letter she received may be seen below.
Look now at the lower right hand of that letter and you will see who helped to compose it. It was of course, none other than that same Wendy Charles-Warner who was yesterday urging a parent who was happy to receive a visit and provide samples of work to resist such an intrusion. And yet here she is now, helping and advising a local authority to take action against somebody who follows just this approach! Note that the letter, drafted with Mrs Charles-Warner's help, demands visits and samples of work; the very things which she told another mother that local authorities have no business even to ask for.
I will leave readers to judge for themselves what is going on here. It is however worth bearing in mind that Mrs Charles-Warner and the woman with whom she runs the Facebook group are founders and joint directors of a company which has a commercial interest in education; Heatherside Education Consultants Ltd. Almost unbelievably, after advising the local authority to send this letter, Mrs Charles-Warner then set out to offer her advice to the recipient on how to deal with the local authority! Cynical readers might think all this a perfect illustration of that old saying which mentions those who run with the fox, while at the same time hunting with the hounds.