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October Blog: A Message from the Co-Chair, Ambroz Neil

We live in a society that is rich in culture, where opportunities are plentiful and freedom and choice are not words that can only be whispered and discussed under the cloak of darkness. This is not to say that things cannot be better, nor that historic and present day deeds across our society have been and are exemplary.

There are and will always be some tensions between individual rights and preferences and the collective needs of society. No person is an island and our society cannot exist without individuals. This symbiotic relationship should not be overlooked.

When it comes to how we choose to educate our children we need to continue to build bridges with those groups that follow different ideological paths. We are strong, able and willing to build these bridges, because our society has ordained that our individual rights cannot be so easily swept aside. We must however remain vigilant.

We must accept that local authorities have a statutory duty when it comes to certain aspects of our children. To turn a blind eye to this could be regarded as unwise because we cannot argue that individual rights rule supreme whilst simultaneously insisting that our society has a duty of care to protect us, to organise and maintain, in broad terms, our way of life. A balance must be struck.

We need to continuously build strong bridges with organisations that have different approaches and ideologies and so educate and be educated. Trust and mutual respect come from the deep-rooted understanding that things that are different are not necessarily better and not necessarily worst; they are just different.

Ultimately home educators and local authority education officers pursue the same basic end goal, namely the education of the child. The fundamental difference is what do we mean by education? Irrespective, we must accept that the universe is sufficiently vast as to readily accommodate a wide spectrum to this definition.

Conflict surfaces when there is little to no trust between home educators and education officers, when there is an insistence, sometimes aggressively so, that all must buy into the same philosophy. However, the only reality that survives the test of time is that no one philosophy fits all. Therefore, to blindly insist that all must follow a single approach, be it home education or school education, is to deliberately create an environment that does not support the overall aim: that of the individual development of our children and therefore our society.

As our charity grows and adapts, we become better organised and therefore better suited to not only support our present and future members but also to positively add to the evolving discussions around what it means to educate our children.