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Education Otherwise is sad to announce the death of Iris Harrison

The older amongst us will remember how the Harrison family’s battle against their local authority for the right to home educate their children became a cause célèbre in the 1970s and introduced many people in the UK to the concept that education could take place otherwise than at school.

As one of the founder members of Education Otherwise, Iris held an honorary, lifetime membership and continued to support the charity until becoming too unwell to do so.

Those of us who knew Iris personally, recall her as a woman of great determination with a lively mind and good sense of humour. Iris was a character much loved in our community and who will be much missed by her friends and family.

Members can read Iris’s story in the Autumn 2018 Member magazine in the member area. An extract of the Harrison’s case report is reproduced below; this is from whence we have the definition of an ‘efficient education’ and confirmation that home education need not replicate school.

‘The appellants’ children are, and have been, allowed to follow their own interests and to investigate subjects largely of their own choice without restriction. They have not, however, so we think, been simply left to their own devices. The overwhelming impression left by the evidence is that the children are always engaged in concentrated and creative activity or study, and that idleness or ineffectiveness would simply not be tolerated. On the evidence, we conclude that, despite the lack of formulation or structure, these children have received and are receiving education capable of informed description as the autonomous method, which can properly be described as systematic and which is certainly “full-time”.

Is that system of education “efficient”? A system in my judgement (and so I direct the court) is “efficient” if it achieves that which it sets out to achieve. By that test, the evidence that the education of these children is “efficient” is all one way’.