Following last year's stories that Islamic extremists set up schools to create mini jihadists, then home education inevitably can become swept up in a general air of Are they brainwashing the kids as well?
Frankly, it's been difficult to decide what to make of the Government response to the issue of illegal schools. November, we had the Government consultation: Out-of-school education settings: call for evidence.
'The 2011 Prevent strategy first made clear
that, over the lifetime of the strategy, the government would work to
reduce the risk that children and young people are exposed to harm and
extremist views in out-of-school education settings.
Does my home count as an 'out-of-school' education setting? If it does, then your home too could fall in that definition if you've been teaching your child how to cook scrambled eggs or read their own name.
But then again, the consultation refers to intensive tuition, training or instruction. Nope. Home education does not do this. We can only do intensive tuition, training or instruction if I set up a timetable and invite your kids round to be subjected to my intensive instruction. Then you might be able to argue that I am exposing your Tinkertop, in my front room, to extremist views. That's an unlikely scenario for a genuine home educator to be creating. We have enough work getting our own kids out of bed.
But something needs to be done. If radicalisation is happening and kids being brainwashed, then it's an issue which needs attention, and I wouldn't necessarily argue with that.
'Extremism poses a serious and unprecedented threat to our country and the Counter-Extremism Strategy, published on 19 October 2015, sets out the government’s comprehensive approach to tackling extremism in all its forms.'
The government clearly want a registration and monitoring system.
'Specifically in relation to out-of-school settings, it confirms the intention to introduce a new system to enable intervention in such settings with the broad aim of keeping children safe generally from the risk of harm, including emotional harm, and promoting their welfare.
'This followed an earlier commitment by the Prime Minister to introduce a registration and risk-based inspection scheme for out-of-school education settings providing intensive tuition, training or instruction to children.'
But does this mean me? Bog standard home educator? My reading is, this approach is not aimed at us. That reading is supported by 3.2:
'Such settings are sometimes called supplementary or complementary schools (i.e. those offering support or education in addition to mainstream or core learning and which operate after school hours and on the weekends). They can also take the form of tuition or learning centres (which could often be used in place of mainstream education and support home education and which can operate at any time of day), part-time schools, or clubs.'
Yet I have a horrible feeling that we'll be caught up in the wide sweep that follows.
First off, it's hard not to believe that the government and corporate collusions want every one of us eventually on a database and under
perpetual monitoring so they can better intrude on me and shape me the
way they'd like. Bastards.
But, if there are crazies running faith schools - of any religious flavour - under the guise of home ed, then we need to kick them out. They are nothing to do with home ed. If these gits are hiding under our name, then we have to scream and shout them out. Sadly, I think I now recognise the tactic. The crazies hide in our houses and then all society swings against us.
Then again, my poke-you-in-the-eye side says perhaps I am teaching 'extremist views'. After all, we have a
society that is seeking to endorse a particular set of normative
behaviours while rejecting even academic opinion as outrageously
off-the-scale. (Thanks, Rachael Melhuish!)
But I'm trying to bring up confident, independent-minded girls able to
think critically for themselves and question authorities at every turn. I need to be able to be free to do that. It'll help ya'll, honest!
What will happen next? Will we, home educators, be collateral damage, caught up in the registration and
monitoring that inevitably goes ahead? I'm guessing that when procedures are set, lines are drawn, guidance is given, then yes, home ed will be next; some Local
Authorities will act like we are included, regardless of legal guidelines and, if they choose, they'll simply lie to parents.
Now the upshot of my thinking is, it's going to be fairly straightforward to bring in legislation for registration and monitoring in such a way as to make it life worse for home educators.
And we'll have to work harder to explain to Joe and Joanna Public that in the happy land of home ed, National Curriculums don't apply; autonomous education works; home-education does not mean school-at-home; you do not need to justify your parental decision-making to the state; teaching your own kids at home does not equate to emotional damage or psychological harm, nor represents exclusion from society; and that difference in learning and in learning approaches is a healthy creative approach to building a society.
Wish us luck.