*More* at risk of not receiving suitable education?
I suppose it depends on your definition of a 'suitable education'. The legal definition, as set out by the Judge in the case of Harrison & Harrison v Stephenson (appeal to Worcester Crown Court 1981) is as follows:
A 'suitable education' is one which enables the children ‘to achieve their full potential’, and is such as ‘to prepare the children for life in modern civilised society’.
(Although to me this looks oxymoronic, since life in modern society seems to demand that we do anything but achieve our full potential.)
Does sitting in a school classroom for 14 years enable children to achieve their full potential? It might, if they were allowed to study those subjects they were passionate about. On the other hand, if they were forced instead to follow a one-size-fits-all National Curriculum then I doubt very much whether many of them would achieve their full potential.
I'd like this 'full potential' test to be applied to school students, if it's to be applied to home educating ones. I'd like to see some proof that home educating students are "more at risk of not receiving suitable education" before the statement is carelessly bandied around in draft documents any more. Research by Paula Rothermel (Durham, 2002) proves in fact that home educated children are less at risk of not receiving suitable education than their school educated peers:
The results show that 64% of the home-educated Reception aged children scored over 75% on their PIPS Baseline Assessments as opposed to 5.1% of children nationally. The National Literacy Project (Years 1,3,5) assessment results reveal that 80.4% of the home-educated children scored within the top 16% band (of a normal distribution bell curve), whilst 77.4% of the PIPS Year 2 home-educated cohort scored similarly. Results from the psychosocial instruments confirm the home-educated children were socially adept and without behavioural problems. Overall, the home-educated children demonstrated high levels of attainment and good social skills.
Terms like 'vulnerable' and 'at risk' (as people have pointed out in list posts about this) are potentially dangerous ones with which to be tagged - ask any parents of children with Special Needs, or those who are unfortunate enough to have come to the attention of Social Services. They are gateway terms, which expose families to an avalanche of paid 'experts' with licence to provide 'help', with all its associated checks, structure, tick-boxes and sanctions. A legal minefield. An emotional nightmare.
I think this threatened change to our status will be resisted by home educators most robustly - and rightfully so.