The reality is that all our children begin their life as being home educated. This means that Local Authorities (LA) and Governments, are confident that parents and guardians are able to educate their child in their own style without the need to register. During these formative years, from birth to five, it is universally recognised that children learn the most and at the fastest rate compared to any other time in their life.
In reality and in law, the ultimate responsibility for the education of a child rests with parents, as it should, because we live in a free society governed by law and where democratically expressed majority views are not only sought but used to create and shape the laws of the land. After all, only a dictatorship masks itself with the public illusion of practising democracy and the rule of law. Why were the views of the majority of the public plainly and purposefully ignored even though these views were sought through government consultation? This can only be because they do not support and thus confirm the required narrative. As remarked, a public illusion of practising democracy.
Come the age of five the state offers schooling; a range of institutes where children can be schooled in a variety of skills. Given the structure of our society, various forms of centralised education are a logical means of educating the many. However, the masses are comprised of individuals who have different learning needs and whose parents have different views about how their child should be educated.
The state, through the respective LAs, offers an education provision and has a legal responsibility to ensure that all school aged children receive a suitable education be it at school or otherwise.
Like a commercial venture pursuing a monopoly, LA educational provisions are marketed as the only legitimate provision. Further, any person who takes a different view is victimised, shamed and chastised until submission. For some LAs, there appears to be no such thing as ‘choice’.
Even when the LA educational provision fails spectacularly; 43% of children leave primary school without adequate reading, writing and maths (Education DataLab, 2016); the Department for Education figures showed the number of SEND pupils without a school place last year had more than doubled from 1,710 in 2016; in 2018/19 Government figures report that almost 500,000 children were either suspended or permanently excluded from school and 92% of school children report witnessing or suffering from sexual abuse. Despite these and many other failings, like a monopolistic creature determined on domination, the drive for all to attend school remains relentless and the plethora of school failings are attributed to student inability to adapt to the institution; after all, parents provide students in order to service schools!
One way to ensure that one’s services are used is to provide a good service; this is a no-brainer.
‘Suitable education’ remains a buzz phrase as does ‘in the best interest of a child.’ The former is littered throughout the Bill and is defined by legal precedent as education which equips a child for life within the community of which he or she is a member. Despite this, far too many Local Authorities have taken it upon themself to weaponise their corrupted definition to the detriment of children. Why do our law makers continue to permit LAs to jig their merry dance when they confront parents, without reference to the legal definition of suitable education, with a statement that the education being provided is not suitable? Not surprising therefore, that trust in LAs continues on an exponential decline due to their propensity to shape-shift in their ambition to make school the only medium for children.
Our law makers cannot seriously buy into the rhetoric that there are thousands of unknown home-educated children and these thousands are being mistreated, in one form or another, and/or are not in receipt of a ‘suitable education’. They have the evidence that this is not the case. This sham Bill is therefore nothing more than a determination to impose a narrow prejudicial belief system onto a minority group. Could it be that the architects and supporters of such a Bill are confident enough to practise their special type of intolerance in plain sight!
Imposing compulsory registration to a minority group has never boded well because those with nefarious intent have always, under the cloak of acting in the child’s best interest, produce heinous results for the targeted minority group. Why therefore is it shied away from to ask about a potential employees’ race! Are we now of a mind to celebrate when:
· The Australian authority forcibly removed registered First Nations children from their families as part of a policy of assimilation, based on the misguided assumption that the lives of First Nations people would be improved if they became part of white society.
· The U.S. government, under the slogan of “Kill the Indian and save the man,” removed tens of thousands of registered Native American children from their families to be instructed in English, Christianity and the benefits of “civilization.”
· Unmarried mothers from Australia through to Ireland were coerced to give up their children because it was ordained that procreating out of wedlock marked mothers as irresponsible, lacking in judgment and unfit to raise children. Removing the child was seen as preferable for the child, who would be better off in a normative family.
Is this really the path that our elected officials wish to follow; coercion by imposing record fines, by separating parents from their children for up-to 51 weeks, over-riding double-jeopardy and frustrating parental choice? These coercive sweeteners have bitter additional after tastes given that LA schools fail far too many of our children. Or are these children simply acceptable casualties, in the eyes of the LAs, of their schooling ambitions?
It is accepted that one has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. Unjust laws lead to conflict between those elected to lead and those who did the electing. This invariably result in local and national social unrest of various intensity. One thing is however certain and that is the blunt corrosive nature of this Bill will only cause disarray and upheaval to the very group, children, whom are supposedly at its heart.
It beggars belief that despite the facts, despite all the data, it is still being pushed that registration will solve all the ills that are allegedly caused by a child being educated by parents at home. So once again for the record, more children suffer abuse, discrimination and are poorly cared for in institutions where they are registered (schools, social care etc.) than when home educated. One would have more respect for those who are pushing registration if they were to come clean and be honest about their real intentions.
Local Authority staff are often not competent to review home education due to not being qualified, lack of experience, or because they possess a singular personal desire to enforce their rigid school-based approach irrespective of the needs of the child. LAs routinely use school-based criteria for assessing home education which are irrelevant. LAs view parents who elect to home educate as irresponsible, lack judgement and are therefore unfit’ or should we say LAs will kill a child’s educational prospects (the Indian) in order to save the school (man)? This Bill will exacerbate this overall situation.
So yes, there is widespread misunderstanding within Local Authorities about how a child’s potential is supported by alternative approaches to education. This Bill actively supports this degree of close-minded ignorance. By definition, home education must differ from school education, otherwise, there will be no alternative when school fails a child. After all, is not the welfare of the child paramount?
This Bill achieves nothing when it comes to advancing the education of children for whom for many reasons, schooling just does not work or the quality of school on offer is below par or is simply non-existent.
What this Bill single-handedly achieves is a united opposition from home educators (parents and students), children’s organisations, parent organisations, tutors, businesses that provide non-school education, those LA education officers who have worked tirelessly to foster good working relationships with home educating families, those who cherish our system of choice within education, legal bodies who question the intention to ride ‘rough-shot’ over the law regarding ‘double jeopardy’ and members of the public who are proud of, and value the fact that our society will not entertain tyrannous Big Brother, be it overtly or covertly.
Good practices, trust and respect by Local Authorities are by far more productive than presenting an ill-thought-out Bill that blatantly ignores evidence sought and provided in spades.
Dr Fe Mukwamba-Sendall (President)
Dr Ambroz Neil (Co-chair)
Wendy Charles-Warner (Co-chair