'There is not a broad public understanding of home education: its strengths, weaknesses and, on rare occasions, dangers.' Mr Badman.
Oh, Mr Badman! Come thou hither to grit's day.
Here you can learn of the strengths, weaknesses, and dangers of home education. But you will surely tremble to hear the woeful chant of perils, hazards, and horrors that befall the poor, weak, abused home educated offspring!
Can you hear them mewling in piteous lament? Hear their innocent voices now, cry, Save me! Save me from these home educating dangers!
For you, Mr Badman, I list them, sorrowfully, here.
Danger 1: The Mother. See her, arranging a house of certain death. Slippy carpets! Gas cooking! Sharp pencils! Obviously the house is composed with abusive intent. She is certainly mentally ill. Possibly with Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy. I recommend separate mother and child with all haste! Three days with her is three days too long!
Danger 2: The Father. Absent or present or just popped down to the grocer's? Watch him here, slumped in the arm chair, crawling with babies. Know him by his unstable stagger on the landing at 4am tripping over the Tankertop truck. Hear him yell blasphemies when the 5-year old wakes him up at 6 in the morning singing the Octopus song. Oh, poor unschooled infant, to have such feckless parents!
Danger 3: Siblings. Terror! A 'fun game with my sister' is to carve knives, spears, and pitchforks, then lay into each other! Children must desist from this dangerous sibling activity. Adoption is the only route. For this sorry state of play you can blame Michelle Paver. In fact, she is so dangerous, I give her a bullet point all of her own.
Danger 4: Michelle Paver. Her, and all her wolf-bothering books set in the stone age. Yes, add Morpurgo, Pullman, and the rest. Throw on the fire all authors and books referencing all child hazards - water, sand, sea, bikes, trees, outhouses, peanut butter sandwiches. All becomes threat in the impressionable minds of the innocent! Unable to separate fact from fiction, the unguarded home educated child sets about nailing together a unicorn from an old brush and shovel because they read it in - the horror, the horror - a book.
Danger 5: The library. Common home educating haunt. But a child's head has been known to literally explode on entering this disturbing space! Close them all down.
Danger 6: Countryside. Have you seen the perils in this risk-filled place? Have you? Grass! Electric fencing! Agricultural machinery! Staring cows! Diseased soil! Zombie-death-killing sheep! Crows! With beaks! Bushes with sharp pointy bits! Trees! More tetanus than your local A&E can cure! Did anyone ever, ever conduct a risk assessment? The only safe solution is to concrete the lot.
Danger 7: Local museums in old houses. They look safe, but you and I know these places can kill. The hazards are countless. Stone steps. Rickety doors. Little old ladies in the foyer fixing themselves with PG Tips. We must allow school visits only where CRB-checked staff and safety officers can hold fire extinguishers and rubber batons at all supervised viewing points.
Danger 8: The High Street. Is there any circle of Hell more malign? Filled with the swill of all humanity? Anyone could be here! Control these places of dangerous assembly. Inspect all haunts of commoners and home educators: stick up CCTVs in swimming pools, theatres, art galleries, community spaces, scout huts and worst of all, that den of vile vipers, the village hall.
Danger 9: Words. They are all around us, these shifty slippery things with their tricksy ways. And these untrained parents, not a PGCE between ten of them, blithering nonsense on Chemistry, Maths, Physics and Art? Using our fine scholarly words unsupervised, as if all was spillage and slop! Language must be controlled, Mr Badman. We must know what is said, to whom, at what point, about what content, for what mark, and this must be approved and rubber stamped for meaning.
Danger 10: Family culture. But this is the Devil's arse, is it not? This is what causes you sleepless nights. Feckless parents passing on suspect cultural values to their offspring unsupervised by any inspector. We could be teaching the innocents that dinosaurs are chickens, that God is a woolly mammoth called Nigel, that plastic crocodiles run the Isle of Wight. We could be saying anything.
Finally, I would just like to point out, in the interests of balance, that:
There is no statistical evidence to support your assertion that home educated children are at a greater risk of harm than any other child who attends flexi-school, school, or any form of alternative educational provision. Indeed, the numbers of children who attend school with domestic problems and home difficulties suggests that 'being seen' by an employee of the state does not in any way prevent sexual abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, psychological attack, bullying, or any other perils of humanities that you can find in the general population.
Second, causing thousands of home educators to register, be monitored, approved or inspected is to increase surveillance and knowledge control on the family; it will not find the child you claim to be seeking who is at risk of abuse by their parent. There are already many routes in existence to find that child, but the problem seems to be that Local Council staff do not use their powers wisely, with competence, or indeed, in knowledge of the laws they already have. Take, for example, the case of Khyra Ishaq, known to child protection teams long before her withdrawal from school. Local Council staff knew of her plight yet failed to protect her. Home education cannot be blamed for their failure to take appropriate action using the powers they already possess.
Oh, and another thing. Baby P was not home educated.
Now I am so glad you are still here Mr Badman. Without you, today's blog post might have been a photograph of Shark's dinner.