Sunday, July 08, 2007

Transcript: Julian Worricker's Five Live Report on Home Education

Sunday 8th July 2007
Julian Worricker on Radio 5 Live
The Five Live Report: Home Education

Featuring:
Julian Worricker [JW]: show presenter
Janey Lee Grace [JLG] (special guest reporter): author, broadcaster, home-educating mother of 4
Tony Mooney, [TM] (Pre-recorded): Home education ‘inspector’, Islington.
Kate, [K] (Pre-recorded): a home-educated child.
Anna [A] (Pre-recorded): a home-educating parent.
Iris Harrison, [IH] (Pre-recorded): a parent who fought her local authority for the right to home educate in the 1970s
Philip Parkin, [PP] (Radio car): General Secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers
Steve Richards, [SR]: Home Service.
Felicity Evans, [FE]: Nature Kids.
Robert, [R]: Kate’s dad.
Judith Gillespie, [JG]: Scottish Parent and Teacher Council

With phone calls from:
Mary in Merseyside,
Nicola in Warwickshire, and
Jill in West Midlands.

And only vaguely-related, incidental input somewhere in the middle from:
Ian Duncan Smith, ex-leader of the Conservative Party.




JW: Now. A couple of months ago we talked about home education and loads of you contacted us, wanting to hear more. So, this week, the Five Live Report investigates whether school is the best place to learn. Do teachers provide the best education? Some parents think not.

JLG (Pre-recorded): I personally don’t believe that 30 children, all of the same age, sitting together, being asked to write something down is in any way social. No-one can convince me that socialisation is being in a school playground with kids exactly the same age, potentially being bullied. It’s nonsense to say that only school can prepare children for life. In fact, I would say really, it’s the opposite.

JW: Well, a record number of children are now being taught at home.

K (pre-recorded) : Well we get up at 9 o’clock, and then.. have breakfast and I usually start as early as possible, which sometimes, hopefully, is about ten or quarter past ten.

A (Pre-recorded) : So she has two worksheets a day to do with maths and English and each one is supposed to take about ten minutes but it can be longer. But she has to do those literally every day, including Christmas Day.

JW: But, the fact is, nobody knows how many parents like Anna are teaching children, like Kate, at home, and they don’t have to meet the same standards as schools.

TM (Abridged, archived section from previous show, Sunday May 13th, 2007): Unfortunately the rules are very very slack. I don’t have the right to see the child or to go to the home. I don’t really have the right to see work that the child’s doing. About 80% of the parents don’t cause me any problems. I do go to homes and see the children. But what I’m seeing is a standard of education which I think would be laughed at in schools but as far as the law is concerned it’s adequate for home education.

JW: Well, you may remember that interview with the home education inspector Tony Mooney, a couple of months ago. Since then we had a lot of emails:

“After listening to the discussion on home education, I cannot believe this Tony Mooney has the job of visiting home education families. I am one of these people he is talking about, as a single parent on benefits, home-educating, following an autonomous approach. This is not an excuse for my children to doss all day. My children have learned more at home than they ever did at school and have now got an ever-increasing circle of friends of all ages who they get on with extremely well.”

That was one point of view. It was not the only one.

“Having just listened to the item on home education, I’m shocked and disappointed at the narrow-mindedness demonstrated. To think that school life is in any way real life would be amusing were it not so tragic. Surely the way to grow and develop in society is to actually live in it, not locked away in groups of 30 same-aged children with the life views of a small number of teachers.”

And one more along those lines:

“Parents should educate their children as they see fit, providing it is of an adequate standard. When the state provides an accepted and efficient education system, people who choose not to use it should not expect support from the rest of society. We will be paying for thousands of people to educate at home at a massive cost to the taxpayer.”

Well, he’s not alone in thinking that there should be tighter regulations. The government has recently launched a consultation on new guidelines for home educators and many parents are worried that this will lead to restrictions on their freedom. Well, by all means, get in touch: 85058 to text. You can email: julian@bbc.co.uk and we’ll try and take some of your thoughts later on in the programme.

For this week’s Five Live Report, we have a special guest reporter, Janey Lee Grace, the author, broadcaster and mother of four who home-schools her own children. Janey, good morning.

JLG: Good morning.

JW: Four children under eight: you’ve decided not to send them to school. We’ll discuss the pros and cons, obviously, after midday. First: I would guess that many people are not aware it’s possible or even, indeed, legal to choose not to send your children to school so let’s start with a few basic facts. How many children are actually educated at home?

JLG: Well, estimates vary widely on this. The government estimates local authorities are currently working with, or certainly are aware of round about 20,000 children, but they do think it’s possible as many as 40,000 could be educated at home which, let’s face it, would give a dilemma to overcrowded schools if they all were forced back in. But you do even see figures quoted as high as 150,000 children educated at home but the reality is that nobody really knows.

JW: Which is… bizarre, I mean, how come there isn’t a known figure?

JLG: Mmmm. Well, the law states that if your children have attended school and you then decide to home educate, then you have to deregister them. But if your children have never been to a school then there’s no obligation for you to register them with your local authority and in fact I do know of families who’ve tried to register themselves, because they really do want to keep everything above board, but the local authorities didn’t actually know which box to tick.

JW: I read those three emails out. We’ve had a number in advance of this broadcast when people knew that it was happening, so it’s a subject that arouses strong feelings on both sides.

JLG: It really does. We’ve already heard from Tony Mooney there, that clip, but on the other side you know, many parents like me, we’re very worried that the local authorities don’t actually trust us to teach our own kids properly - or rather, I would actually use the expression: allowing them to have a personalised, individual education, rather than necessarily using the word ‘teach’. And of course the government are now advocating personalised education, but we did hear Tony Mooney say that he sees standards that would be laughed at in schools. Now I actually wonder how many home education families he’s inspected and what support he’s actually offered to the ones that he feels are failing. But since when, I would ask, since when, across the board, have all children achieved high standards in schools? One of the reasons we home ed is because of children under-achieving in some cases. In Europe we’ve got the worst adult literacy rates and we’ve seen the survey, all of us, regarding competitive schooling, which is said to be accelerating childhood depression, and I think that home edders are looking at the holistic picture. We’re looking differently, really. The reality is: if, by a misguided approach, it was judged that a family wasn’t giving their children a proper education at home, then they do have the power to force them to go back to school.

JW: So there’s an inbuilt tension between parents and the local authorities?

JLG: Very much so. I must stress though: as a community, if you like, home educators are not evangelical and we’re not trying to convince everybody to home educate – it’s a very personal decision – but we’re also not antagonistic and we do want to encourage good working relationships. It is a bit of a postcode lottery at the moment, across local authorities. But let’s set it all in history. One remarkable family went to extraordinary lengths to defend their freedom to home educate. In the 1970s they fought their local authority for the right to take their severely dyslexic little girl, Wanda, out of school. Iris Harrison lives in rural Worcestershire with her husband Geoff:

IH: I would hate anybody to go through the hell that I had to go through. I was threatened that if my daughter didn’t go to school, that she would be put into Care, but not only would she be put into Care, but my six-month old baby and my other two children would also be put into Care. Well I had a friend living in Scotland who said, ‘Right. I’ve got a croft up here - come.” A croft with plastic in the windows, two miles to get water, no electricity, 80 miles to go and get shopping, with a little trip across the sea first. So that’s how I came to go. But the weather got so bad that we had to come south and hence we came here and it was so isolated that nobody could find us and we thought we were safe. But in a very short while, we found that the local authority was being notified we were here, and in the end we had to protect ourselves - we had a flock of geese, because I mean these people would just suddenly arrive and they were like the Gestapo. And my dear daughter was just beginning to read and they came into the house and insisted that she read and from that moment, for a whole year, she couldn’t read. All of her literacy skills just went and I realised that this testing, all of these people coming in, were dangerous to people. Hence, when it came to, the local authority was telling me that what we were doing wasn’t education, I said ‘Right then. Take me to court.’

JW: That’s a remarkable story. I mean, she and her family actually had to go into hiding.

JLG: Yes they did. Finally in 1981 a judge upheld their right to home educate. Despite that ruling though, she says some families are so distrustful that they avoid any contact with the authorities.

IH: That is a danger, that people go underground. And it’s not an easy life to lead because it means you don’t get your money, you don’t.. I mean, if they can’t register with a doctor, they can’t go to a dentist, they can’t go to an optician, I mean, all of these people link up so all these things are out for these families. It’s a very painful place to be, when you go into isolation like that.

JW: So she’s saying that people are so worried, they’re effectively going off-radar?

JLG: Yeah, as I said before, it can be a bit of a post-code lottery, with local authorities. Some are very good and they’ve established excellent relationships with home-educating families. There are some models of good practice and as home educators we want to actively encourage this across the UK. But sadly there are cases of.. well, really, it’s almost like bullying, quite frankly, which I reckon stems from a bit of an ignorance about the law in some cases and about how personalised home education works. One family that we spoke to was so wary that they wouldn’t even risk doing an anonymous interview today, and what’s really put the cat amongst the pigeons recently is this government consultation on the new guidelines. Now I’ve just spent a very windy week with hundreds of other families at the Home Educators’ Seaside Festival near Colchester, (What a week to decide to go camping!) but people were talking really about nothing else. There was even a notice pinned up in the ladies’ loo giving advice, and collectively we’re worried that it could undo all the hard work that’s been done by people like Iris Harrison. We do, after all, have a right to choose how we want our children educated, so long as it is full-time and it’s suitable to their age, aptitude and ability, and we’re concerned that this could put unfair restrictions on our freedom.

JW: Let’s speak to Philip Parkin in Derby, the General Secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers, he’s in our radio car there. Philip Parkin, good morning.

PP: Morning, Julian.

JW: Your union is calling for the registration and compulsory monitoring of families who home educate. Why do you think that’s the right approach?

PP: We think it’s the right approach because of the issues that Janey raised earlier, which was the fact that we don’t know how many children there are out there and although we fully support parents’ right to educate at home, we need to know the reasons, I think, why apparently so many more than we’re aware of, are doing it. And I’m quite sure that there are many many thousands who are doing it for good, positive reasons in the way that Janey’s described but there may well be many others who are effectively hiding their children away.

JLG: I think that’s interesting you say that because I wonder why, what would you do with the numbers? I mean, interestingly in 2008 the – is it called Contact Point? The database which is going to give the numbers anyway, so you’re going to have the numbers, but in terms of looking at welfare issues, which is really what you’re talking about, that’s an entirely separate subject and I think there would be absolutely no reason whatsoever to assume that just because a child is home educated that there are child welfare issues, any more so than a child in school.

PP: I think you’re right, but we just don’t know how many there are, and it’s not just a welfare issue, it is an education issue as well, because we know that every child has a right to an education and I think we need to be sure, as a society, that all children are receiving their right to an education.

JW: Won’t you drive some families, or children of some families, underground by taking this route, Philip Parkin?

PP: I would hope not. I would hope it would be the reverse. I mean, Janey’s highlighted the varying practices across the country, with different local authorities, I mean what we really want is local authorities and home educators working together in partnership so that those feelings of fear and distrust and not registering.. it’s all out in the open and we don’t need to have those concerns. And of course clearly, there’s no increase in the amount of money that local education authorities – local authorities -have got to spend on monitoring home educating parents and children and so clearly some in some areas are quite stretched, and the practice of inspection, visits, varies from authority to authority. Some are annually, some are bi-annually, some are random. There’s no pattern, there’s no structure to this.

JLG: Well I absolutely applaud your suggestion to work with the authorities in harmony. That’s exactly what we want to do, I mean, as home educators we feel we have a common aim with schools in that we want children in our societies to be confident, happy and well-educated but your point about children having the right to an education, home educated children absolutely do have an education, they have a personalised, individual one and I think it’s – clearly, education can’t only mean being in a school building from nine to four with 29 other kids the same age, that can’t possibly be the only definition of education.

PP: I’m sure your children, Janey, do have an education, but what I’m worried about is the 20,000 or the 130,000 out there who we don’t know whether they’re having any kind of an education at all.

JW: Let’s also bring in another voice. Steve Richards from the home education support network, Home Service. Steve, good morning to you.

SR: Good morning.

JW: As I understand it you’re opposed to registering home educated children. Why is that?

SR: Well I think it’s quite simple. I think that at the moment we’ve got a situation where the current legislative position is quite clear: home educated families, as Janey has said, are obliged to provide an education which is suitable for a child’s age, ability and aptitude. Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to ensure that that happens. The legislative framework is there. It’s not the fault of home educators that local authorities, for whatever reason, are not taking their responsibility seriously. It seems perverse to me that because local authorities are not taking the responsibilities seriously in the current legislative framework, what Philip is suggesting, that we reward them by giving them more power and more responsibility. That surely can’t be right.

JLG: Well what I would say as well is, you know, one of the issues as well is that if we give them more power and if we give inspectors power to come in and inspect in whichever way they choose, I mean for starters it’s my personal belief that you can’t measure home educated children against children in school anyway, you know, against their peers, but the other fear is that, let’s take, for example, people who decide to home educate because of reasons of Special Educational Needs, they’re going to have to put an awful lot of money into providing frontline staff who are really well-trained and they’ve already said they don’t have any extra money. I mean, in a sense, we are doing them a huge favour by getting on with this and we’re not actually taking any resources. In fact, more home educators have to make quite large sacrifices in order to do so.

SR: Oh absolutely, I mean I think that, we are tax payers, after all, and we get nothing financial out of the system, not that many of us want to take anything financial out of the system, but it’s not unreasonable to expect our local authorities firstly to be sympathetic and understanding and secondly to be as supportive as they possibly can given, as you’ve said, Janey, that we both want the best thing for our children.

JW: Steve, what about the point of monitoring a child’s progress? Surely, at school.. in the office.. we all need standards to make sure we’re making progress and the trouble with this conversation to some extent is that we’re hearing the stories of the parents who are doing the right thing, how do we make sure that we’re keeping tabs on those who aren’t doing the right things?

SR: Well I must confess that these mythic families who are not doing the right thing…

JW: Well, there are bound to be some. We’re not living in some sort of panacea, are we?

JLG: Well also there’s bound to be some schools that are failing.

PP: I think that one needs to put this in context..

JW: Sorry, go on Philip?

PP: I’m sorry, but the thing about schools, and there are schools, undoubtedly, that are failing, but schools are staffed by professional educators, who are monitored very closely. We’re talking about children who are being taught by people who haven’t been taught to teach and who aren’t subject to statutory monitoring.

JLG: Well I really do feel that’s a non-starter because we all are our child’s first teacher, effectively, as the phrase goes. Who else teaches your children to speak initially, tie their shoelaces, eat their food? It’s all a learning process. That’s what life is. And I can’t accept that just one teacher for 30 kids has to be the absolute parameter for good practice.

SR: I think, as well, it ill-behoves professional educators to be shining a light on apparently failing home educators when we know full well that something like 39% of children in school obtain that magical number of 5 or more GCSEs. Schools are not successfully educating large numbers of children in the first place. Until they actually put their house in order, I’m not even sure that this debate should be going on.

JLG: Yes, I would agree actually. I must say I’m…

JW: Yes, go on Philip?

PP : Can I say that I’m not shining the light on failing home educators simply because we don’t know how many and if there are any. I suspect there probably are in the same way that, across society, there’s always people who fail to carry out their obligations, but we don’t know that and that’s why I’m asking for registration of all these children, so that we do have a clear picture. I’m not quite sure, apart from what we’ve heard about home educators being worried about the relationships with some local authorities, I’m not quite sure what home educators are frightened about in terms of registration, what they’ve got to hide.

JLG: I don’t think we’ve got anything to hide. That’s exactly the point. We have nothing to hide, we’re not antagonistic, we want to work closely - if the guidelines were clear and you understood our rights and you didn’t try to measure us against the school kids, then I don’t think we’d have any problem with it either.

JW: I know we’re going to continue this debate after midday, ladies and gentlemen, so I’m just going to draw things to a close at this juncture but I’ll do so with some comments that people who have been listening to it have already come in with:

“I think the woman who says that school isn’t the best education is totally right. 30 children in a class is crazy. Scotland and private schools go for 15 or 18, for good reasons. Parents and teachers in England should be campaigning for change now. After all, we pay most taxes.”

Ann writes:

“Thank goodness for school. My daughter and I are on our own. We have no family at all. My parents are dead and there is no-one else so my daughter learns all her social and interaction skills at school. She excels there and is very happy.”

Andrew in Berkshire:

“I agree with the option to home-educate but not every parent has the intelligence or education to sufficiently well-educate their children. There must be a check mechanism for the benefit of the child.”

85058, julian@bbc.co.uk if you want to contribute to this debate and as I say we’re going to talk about it more after midday with the guests you’ve heard from today and some more from Janey Lee as well, so thank you very much for the moment.

-------------------------------------------


[Got to include the last few words of the previous piece… ;-) ]

Ian Duncan Smith: We’ve taken 2000 single episodes of evidence-giving from over nearly 3000 different groups, we’ve travelled to different countries, we’ve visited the inner city areas of Britain and talked to the voluntary sector.. so the paper is not just about drugs and alcohol, it’s about family breakdown, debt, worklessness, dependency, it’s all about – you know, educational failure, and its also about how to help bolster the voluntary sector, doing so much good work in this area. So we think this is the way to look at what’s going on, but Britain is unique in this sense: that we top the scales for the worst performances in all these areas, the highest number of drug addicts, some of the worst alcohol abuse, biggest number of family breakdown, highest number of lone parents, you know, some of the worst levels of educational underachievement for low income groups – all of these, I’m afraid Britain is at the top of the scale, so that makes us rather uniquely dysfunctional in many senses.


JW: We will have to leave it there, but thank you very much for talking to us, Ian Duncan Smith, former leader of the Conservative Party. 17 minutes past midday.

[Jingles…]



The Five Live Report: Home Education
2nd part [after midday]:

JW: Now the Five Live report this morning has been whether school is the best place to learn. The numbers of home educated children have trebled over the past 8 years. It seems more and more parents think that they can do a better job at home than teachers in schools.

A (pre-recorded): The amount of time that they were basically in the school was from something like quarter to 9 until quarter past 3 and then I subtracted all the time when they weren’t being taught, in other words: the lunch breaks.. the playground time.. the registration times.. the assemblies.. and I came up with, it was actually only about 3 and a half hours a day I think, and then I divided that amongst the number of children in the class and I came up with the idea that they would perhaps get five minutes a day, individual attention from the teacher and then I just was saying this to a friend who was classroom assistant, and she shocked me by saying, ‘Well oh no it wouldn’t be five minutes a day,’ she said, ‘Perhaps they might get five minutes a week,’

JW: Well that was Anna Christianson, she and her husband Robert homeschool their 9 year-old daughter. We’ll hear more from them later. Our guest reporter this morning is the author and broadcaster, Janey Lee Grace. We heard earlier calls to monitor home education. Well, let’s step back for a moment, Janey. Why can you do a better job than the school down the road, to put it bluntly?

JLG: Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a better job, I would say it’s different. It’s an education tailored to the individual really, so nurturing their creativity and you often see home-educated children who absolutely blossom in many skills - certainly communication and emotional intelligence, way ahead of their peers sometimes. We do know that the recent Nesta report shows that UK employers have said that the so-called ‘soft skills’ are very much in shortage and the personal skills: initiative.. communication.. school leavers and even graduates are going into the workplace without being able to communicate effectively and you know, we need an economy based on creative skills and my feeling is that, as we heard Anna saying, it’s about the individual and the ratio can be one adult to 2 kids. That’s got to be good, hasn’t it? And I spoke to a teacher myself who said: across the course of a week, she only felt she could facilitate about 15 minutes’ learning and the rest was being a policewoman, really. But let’s just go back for a minute if we may and we did talk earlier about standards and the possibility that we might be trying to – possibly be measured against children in schools by inspectors and Felicity Evans is a former headteacher. She runs Nature Kids, which is specialist, home-from-home education. It’s a mix of academic tuition and outside activity, taking very much a holistic approach. Some of the children have Special Educational Needs.

FE: How can you measure a child who was violent becoming a very caring child? What they really need can’t be measured. They need self-esteem, and it’s very hard to measure self-esteem. And self-worth and self-creativity.. how are you going to measure these sort of things, these caring signs? I can measure them by watching them every day. You can’t walk in and measure this. It’s the getting away from doing a certain thing at a certain age. I think that’s what the home educators really want to go away with and that’s why they don’t want to be measured against school children.

JLG: Yeah. It can be a real issue, as Felicity says, and particularly if testing was to be introduced, I mean, we know the General Teachers’ Council are calling for tests to be scrapped for under 16s anyway. We know they put stress on pupils and teachers and there’s that fabulous phrase: ‘Weighing the pig doesn’t make it any fatter.’ You know, that’s one of the reasons I hate the whole idea of testing at a very young age. But we heard, just a couple of minutes back, from Anna, and Kate, as Kate was having a maths lesson, Robert, who’s a qualified teacher, explained why they home school.

[Pre-recorded section begins.]

A: OK so your first question.

K: One. What is the enclosure’s perimeter?

A: OK, so do you know what the perimeter was?

K: Is that the inside, or..? It’s the fence.

A: It’s the fence, that’s right.

K: That’s round the outside.

A: So, do a rectangle…

K: Where?

A: Just on there’ll do..

[Maths lesson continues in background..]

R: The whole idea of a school being more like a factory where you’ve got all the children of the same age group at the same level.. that’s very convenient for teaching. I think it’s designed to make it easier for the teacher, so you can have one adult teaching 30 or so children - all at one go. So it’s like a sausage factory, isn’t it? And I don’t think, necessarily, that’s the best way to learn.

JLG [live]: But despite the strong criticisms they do admit that home education can have its drawbacks and in fact Kate is probably going to go to school when they emigrate to Australia at the end of the year.

[Pre-recorded section continues]

K: I think I wouldn’t feel so left out, because people say, ‘Well, I want to not go to school as well, if you’re not going to.’ I think I’d feel a bit normal if I did go to school since most people I know, do.

A: I mean, I suppose part of what I hope Kate has got from these few years of home education is just being able to be different and not feel bad about it particularly. You know, by the time she does go to a school, that hopefully she’s sort of developed that little bit of strength of will and independence..”

[Pre-recorded section ends.]

JW: Well, if you were listening an hour ago you will have heard two voices. We will bring them back. Philip Parkin of the Professional Association of Teachers and Steve Richards of the home education support network: Home Service. Also joining us on the phone from Argyll, Judith Gillespie from the Scottish Parent and Teacher Council. Judith, good afternoon.

JG: Good afternoon.

JW: I don’t know how much of our discussions you’ve heard, but where do you stand on this and how do you respond to the current suggestion that the system is designed for teachers rather more than it is for the children?

JG: Well I think first of all I have to say I come from Scotland and the Scottish education system is remarkably different from the English education system and I’ll just leave it at that, because that’s an important background point. I did hear quite a lot of the discussion this morning but the thing that I would like to make is: I accept that there can be good reasons why youngsters should and need to be educated at home but I think that the arguments for sending them to school are actually extraordinarily powerful and I pick up on the wee lass’s comment recently about being like her friends. I think one of the most important aspects of school is actually the social aspect of school. I mean, I hear everyone measuring in minutes how much individual learning they get, but there’s an awful lot of benefit from learning in a group. When people grow up, what they have to cope with is society and society is not always a very pleasant place and one of the things that youngsters learn at school is not just how to relate to their friends but actually how they deal with people they don’t like and with situations they don’t like. And this is a very very important skill to take forward as they become adults. So I think that’s a very very important argument for youngsters going to school, quite apart from: I mean, I’m the mother of 3 youngsters who all actually turned to the sciences, so I actually listen with a degree of worry about the kind of professional and technical teaching that they might get because who can judge whether a youngster might want to grow into an engineer? And can you have the confidence to teach them calculus so that they could fulfil that ambition?

JW: Janey?

JLG: I mean, there’s lots of points there, but just taking your point first of all, you know, about confidence and dealing with awkward situations, I think you would find that most home educated children are absolutely adept at diffusing awkward situations because of their sense of self-worth and their inner self-confidence. School children are in a classroom with perhaps 30 others the same age and that’s slightly unusual, it doesn’t happen in real life. In a home ed community – I know sometimes the perception is we hot-house our children, but that’s entirely untrue. Most home educators mix with lots of other children. My own children mix with school children too, of all ages, in their drama club, their tae kwando lessons, their music.. most home ed kids are very very adapt at mixing with adults and children of varying ages. So they actually get a very good real life picture which equips them for real life and doesn’t often lead to peer pressure or bullying and because they interact with all ages they don’t have that hierarchy thing of teachers against pupils which can occasionally happen.

JW: Mmm. I’m going to bring 3 callers in because a lot of people have wanted to get in touch via email and text, but also via the telephones. Now I’m going to invite each of you, if I may, to sort of race through what you wanted to say for time reasons. Mary’s in Merseyside, first of all. Mary, good afternoon.

Mary: Good afternoon.

JW: What’s your point here?

Mary: I understand what that lady is saying about children, home educated children learning to mix with other children, but in those things that they are involved in, music lessons. Tao Kwando, sort of thing, it’s from a similar social background. What they don’t learn is how to cope – well, even to cope with bullying, to a certain extent, because that doesn’t occur just in schools, and as for saying, they don’t mix in the real world in a group of 30, I’ve worked in an office with 60 peo.. 60 other people, and there were some I liked, some I disliked, and by home education, they don’t learn to work as a team, with..

JW: Alright Mary, I’m going to move it on, simply because I want to get the 2 other voices in and some final comments here as well, but thank you for the call. Nicola in Warwickshire. Hi, Nicola.

Nicola: Good morning Julian. Yes, I sent quite an extensive email because I was very interested in the discussion and two of the points I made. One was that, even if children are at school, there’s a phenomenal amount of time, I think it’s something like 1400 hours at school and about 3000 at home, when the children are awake and with their parents, so it’s not simply an issue of comparing home education and school education. My child has more time being home educated than educated at school, albeit not formal: she’s currently watching them making hay bales over the road and we’re talking about the difference between hay and haylage and all sorts of issues like that.

JW: Glad to hear that, thank you. And Jill’s in the West Midlands. Hi, Jill. Your point?

Jill: Morning. I’ve actually worked in primary and I’ve worked in Special Needs in secondary and what became apparent to me was when my son hit secondary age – he is autistic – there was absolutely nowhere for him to be that would be suitable for the way his autism works. We decided there and then when he reached senior age that we would take him out. As it came, it actually happened before that because he went into his primary school – it was a school that had nursery, infant and primary, so they knew him well, so more and more pressure was heaped up on him to be totally integrated with his friends. He just – the pressure made his autism far worse and the day we took him out, he was a changed character and he’s told me he never wants to go back.

JW: Jill, thank you very much. Janey, back to you for some final thoughts on those and then we’ll get some very brief comments from our two guests.

JLG: Ok. Well I thought it was excellent what the 2nd caller said, I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten her name..

JW: Nicola.

JLG: Yes, Nicola, she was basically pointing out this thing, and so many children say this as adults, they say ‘Well I went to school but actually I was educated at home,’ and of course that’s the case. Many people whose children go to school, of course they still work with them, of course they still teach them and do lots of homework, they do lots of interactive skills. So, you know, it really is just one stage further. This socialisation thing, I must just pick up on this quickly, I know this is something that people always throw at home educators: ‘Oh, how can your child be socialised?’ Absolutely they can be socialised. I’ve just been at HESFES, the home educators’ festival – 600-odd kids from around the world. Teenagers, adults, they can mix with whoever they choose, pick up whatever philosophies they want to do, many go onto college. Many home educated children are equal with their peers, if not even outweighing them. They do go onto colleges and universities and do become very successful. And the great thing is, they do have that inner self-confidence and self-worth that actually does mean something.

JW: Sure. Philip Parkin, final thought from you. Keep it brief if you would, apologies for restricting you on that, but what are your thoughts on the broader context of what we’ve been saying this morning?

PP: Really concerned that the negative aspects of school seem to be emphasised by our contributors who are home educators. Schools have been described as sausage factories, that school isn’t a reflection of real life, which it clearly is. The classroom is real life, a teacher who says she’s a policewoman… This isn’t a picture of school that I recognise. In this week I have been to 2 teacher award regional ceremonies where teachers have been complimented for the excellence and the creativity of their work. The teaching awards have receive 6500 nominations this year, of excellent, superb teachers who are doing brilliant work and I just want us to have a positive view of what is taking place in schools.

JW. Alright. I’m going to have to draw things to a close at this juncture, but thank you all very much indeed for taking part. Janey, thank you very much.

JLG: Thank you, I think he’s right, actually that just one size doesn’t fit all, but he’s right, we’re not trying to dumb down schools.

JW: Right. That’s – broad agreement. We like to end on a kind of a broad agreement. Thank you all very much as well who got in touch as you were listening to that discussion. You are listening to Five Live. The time now: 12:31.

13 Comments:

Blogger Elaine said...

Gill that is brilliant thank you so much for all the work. looking forward to the next installment

9:31 pm, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

No problem Elaine - I had to type it out so that I could get irate at the right bits! Planning to comment on it all next - sometime ;-)

10:12 pm, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Ruth said...

Thanks Gill:) I, as per, missed it.

10:32 pm, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

NP Ruth - I listened live and still missed half of it! Gotta have a transcript. ;-)

10:34 pm, July 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha i didn't know you were doing this so have just got to the same point in my transcribing as well ! it takes forever !

err will you be doing the second half as well, i ask hopefully ( thinking i could have a rest...)

love ,fiona

10:49 pm, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL Fiona, I was just wondering the same about you!

I'm on with part 2 now (actually transcribing that priceless bit by IDS just before it) so will carry on if you like.

And yes it does flipping take forever! Easier with a tape recorder than realplayer - wish mine had worked.

10:52 pm, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

thanks for putting this up, Gill, I missed it too. Really appreciate your hard work in transcribing it.

11:10 pm, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

You're welcome Sarah, glad it's useful :-)

11:11 pm, July 08, 2007  
Blogger 4kids&adog said...

Thanks Gill :0) I missed it too.

12:00 am, July 09, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Phew, done.

1:52 am, July 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you !

i wouldn't know HOW to do it with real player anyway...

janey made the point on mail to EO list that it was so WEIRD doing this all from wimbledon...i thought it was just my recycled tape had strange background noises

steve richards lives locally and came round yesterday afternoon,he was v interested in transcript ( thought i was mad !)i'll send him a cut n paste of part two from here if that's ok

love, fiona

love, fiona

8:26 am, July 09, 2007  
Blogger Elaine said...

Gill you are a star I really appreciate this

9:43 am, July 09, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Fiona, cut & paste at will :-)

Elaine, you're very kind xx

9:55 am, July 09, 2007  

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