To lie to one's child, or tell the truth? Home education post-Badman
..through exhibition or other means .. demonstrate both attainment and progress in accord with the statement of intent lodged at the time of registration
Otherwise we're not likely to be allowed to register in the following year and she must attend school full-time, or I will face charges under the Truancy Act, punishable by imprisonment.
In realistic terms, if the Badman recommendations are enacted, this will mean some schooling, to which she may be resistant. I would go so far as to say that she is likely to be resistant, as she'll naturally pick up on my resentment of the whole process no matter how hard I try to suppress it. This (as I found in the early days of home educating the older three, when school was the only kind of education I knew about) will present us with a serious problem, because I will have to somehow coerce or persuade her to undertake the work.
When she asks me why she has to comply, will I lie to her and say: "You must do it, because I think [for example] that it's vital that you be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding through the study of the locality of a local school and a locality either in the United Kingdom or overseas that has physical and/or human features that contrast with those in the locality of a local school"? [Source: National Curriculum Key Stage 1: Geography]
Or will I tell the truth, and say: "Well, it's just something we have to do in order to be able to stay at home. If you refuse to do it, you could be ordered into school and if you refuse to attend school after that, I can be imprisoned." I've discussed it with the teenagers and some other family members and so far everyone thinks it's best to be honest with her, but I think she'll very quickly grow to hate the compulsory element of her learning, to the extent that the optional element shrinks into non-existance. It's what happened with the older three before deschooling, and was definitely their problem at school.
It reminds me very much of the imposition of the National Curriculum in schools, which happened after the Education Reform Act of 1988, just as my stepson was beginning his school life. I think we had one or two years without it and then it came in, and the teachers were hugely demoralised by the restrictions it placed on their creativity and ability to do their job well.
Then came the enforced Literacy and Numeracy Hours in 1998, which finished off my younger son's faith in his teachers and interest in his school education. "Why must I do this boring work?" he asked them. "Because the government says so," was his teachers' reply. He opted out at that point and set off for home in the middle of the day, aged 9, which is why he ended up being home educated and having free choice about his learning for the ensuing decade to date.
The naturally evolving curriculum he chose was far from being broad and balanced. A natural linguist, he first mastered Japanese, then a range of Internet coding languages and is now intensively learning Russian, as well as building his own house on our land. As I type this he's attending a Russian Club in Leeds, a weekly arrangement he made via some friends. Who knows where it will lead? I don't, and I don't care as long as he's happy and as safe and fulfilled as possible. I know that he has no resentment towards either me or society, because he lives life on his own terms.
This kind of a happy outcome is looking increasingly unlikely for my younger two children, aged six and two, as the options available become closed to us and we're 'brought into line' like so many toy soldiers. Personally I despair of finding a good solution for them now, but I am a little bit heartened by the news that, in a friend's office of half a dozen or so very conventional people who usually think I'm somewhat weird for home educating, there was nevertheless universal shock and outrage on Thursday at the Badman recommendations.
So, maybe this is - finally - what it will take to wake people up en masse to the progressive loss of their civil liberties.