One of the most depressing things about the world of British home education is that year after year, the same nonsense is endlessly recycled; the same fundamental misunderstanding of the law perpetuated, to the confusion of new home educating parents. Take the constant talk about the ’right’ to home educate. There is of course no such thing; the child has a right to an education, while the parents, alas, have only duties. This is one of the commonest myths in home education; that any attempt at monitoring is somehow infringing upon the rights of the adults involved. It is in fact aimed at securing the rights of children.
This basic error of perception has had the most unfortunate consequences for some home educators. Because they get into the habit of thinking about their ‘rights’ and not their duties, they lose sight of what those duties actually entail. Despite what some people tell them, there is far more to their duty than at first meets the eye. Let’s have a look at one or two of the things that home educating parents must do to abide by the law. The first thing that they must do is actively supervise and teach their children. It is not enough from the law’s point of view just to let their children pick up things in their own time and at their own inclination. There is a legal obligation too, to follow a curriculum. This curriculum will have certain minimum standards that must be adhered to. Any parent not taking active steps to ensure that the child acquires literacy and grasps the basics of mathematics would be in breach of the law.
These are just a few of the things that home educating parents must do to keep within the law. Many parents do not bother to find out about such duties, because they are instead preoccupied with their imaginary ‘rights’ in the matter.