"For example by the age of eight, I think they should be autonomous learners, able to read."
Here's how that word looks in my dictionary:
autonomous adj. 1 Having self-government. 2 Acting independently or having the freedom to do so. [Gk autonomania f. autos self + nomos law]
But in his report, Mr Badman seems unsure as to what autonomous learning actually is, and whether he is in favour of it:
What constitutes ‘autonomous’ learning[?] Could it be, as many home educating parents have argued, it defies definition but provides the ultimate opportunity for children to develop at their own rate and expands their talents and aptitudes thought the pursuit of personal interest[?] Or, does it present a more serious concern for a quality of education that lacks pace, rigour and direction[?]
At least he admits that he doesn't actually know, which is further proven by his statement about reading, above. Yes, the ability to read gives a child more independence in learning and is a great thing. But coercing someone to master a skill when they might not be ready for it or might have other preferences would be to breach their autonomy.
Some children are naturally early readers, others are not. To set an arbitrary age by which all chldren should be reading is damagingly and unnecessarily prescriptive. My older son, diagnosed severely dyslexic aged 9, could barely read at 8 despite having been at school for four years - something that he soon fixed of his own volition with the freedom of home education.
This report seems to be trying to set up a state of opposition and coercion between home educating parents and children, as illustrated in my previous post. It puts us on the same footing as parents whose children attend school against their wishes: "Do this, or else.." which isn't a stance I could ever take with my children, with whom I have an excellent relationship. Even if the recommendations are enacted I won't fall out with them over it: I will help them to explore the options, the various alternatives and the risks of their choices as I always have done. In my house, the structure of power will not be state + local authority + parent against child. Instead, in common with every other home educating parent in the country, I'll have to use everything available to me to protect and defend my child's best interest against that which would threaten it.
I suspect that many Local Authority employees whose jobs would be affected by the enaction of these recommendations, won't like them either. Only the sadistic, the rabidly ideological and the hard of heart would actually want to force their way into a child's home to question and test them. The rest - the majority - will be acting under sufferance because their jobs depend on it, as with so many other issues now. The recommendations go far too far in their intrusiveness into family life, and this is causing concern to people who don't home educate, but who can see the direction of travel of such policies.
So, let's see...
Many local authority employees won't like these recommendations. Many non-home educating parents won't like them and every home educating parent deplores them. That's potentially a lot of opposition, isn't it? I wonder how it could be successfully organised.