"One side of A4, on my desk, first thing Monday morning." "Please Sir, sorry Sir, the dog ate it.."
Lots of people email me about my blogs - mostly about this one - in response to the 'email me' plea that's dotted around my various blogs in various places. At the moment I'm managing to study and answer most of them, though it sometimes takes me a week or three to put the spare time aside. And when I do, as on Saturday, I feel incredibly grateful, informed and inspired. I've now got a long list of material and ideas for new posts.
But first, our homework: the invitation for us all individually to submit the electronic equivalent of one side of A4 to the review team, all of which Mr Badman has promised he'll read, though I think my son Ali should be writing our submission. I want to try to convey to him the difference between on- and off-syllabus learning (as if he doesn't already know) to explain the damage that will be done to our children's education if electronic or any other kind of monitoring/registration systems are implemented. Not that I think he probably cares about this, but according to his position and his CV, he's supposed to care, so I'll work on the unlikely assumption that he does.
Ah I've asked the older children now and Zara volunteered, so my 'side of A4' will include a quote from her instead of Ali, as well as those blue skies ideas. Didn't Newton say something about equal and opposite forces..? Here's a draft version, anyway. All comments, as usual, gratefully received:
Dear Mr Badman,
Re: Home education Review
Please consider the following points in making your recommendations to DCSF about elective home education:
1. Too many children are stuck in a school system that doesn't suit them. They might be being bullied, not learning and/or deeply unhappy. This could be fixed if Local Authorities complied with their legal duty to inform parents about the option to home educate.
2. Many Local Authorities make it difficult for some families to home educate without official interference. If the current Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities were made statutory, this might remedy the situation.
3. The government is phasing out Income Support, which means that some families will be financially excluded from the option to home educate. This will create a biased situation, which could be remedied by the provision of a realistic rate of Child Benefit payments for all families. This would enable those parents who choose to devote their time to their children to reduce their working hours accordingly.
4. The ECM framework is problematic for home educators and needs to be changed as per my ‘Précis on our specific problems with the five outcomes’
5. The forced implementation of electronic or any other kind of monitoring/registration systems will render the autonomous learning method, as practiced by many home educating families in the UK, impossible. We have found that our children learn best when they are completely in control of their own education, and that even pre-negotiated learning contracts are detrimental. As explained by my sixteen year-old daughter:
A programme of constant external evaluation of my education would have been a disincentive for me to learn, because it would have killed my intrinsic motivation. When I want to learn something I have to completely own the process, or I'm not interested. Being coerced into studying something against their will just makes young people angry, as I can easily verify by talking to my schooled friends on a regular basis.
So I think it would definitely not be in the interests of home educating families if such a system were to be recommended.
(A home educating parent from 1992-95, again from 1999 until the present day and hopefully for a further sixteen years hence, until my youngest child reaches maturity.)
It wasn't until I typed those words under my signature there that I realised I'll have been home educating for a total period of nearly 30 years by the time I've finished!