Observer magazine on home education

There’s a lengthy article in this week’s Observer Magazine about home education, A class of their own. The article is balanced (noting that some kids don’t learn much from home schooling, according to some experts) but generally positive. The reasons for home schooling are varied - in the US the main advocates for home-schooling seem to be evangelical Christians, but here they tend to be dissatisfied with schools for such reasons as bullying and over-examination.

In America, there is a long tradition of home educating. They are mostly either evangelical Christians or secular families unhappy, for different reasons, about the way religion is taught. In Britain, the motivation is rarely to do with faith. Bullying has traditionally been a catalyst. But increasingly it’s a reaction to more regulation in schools, from Sats tests to literacy strategies. Home education experts cite the turning point as the 1988 Education Act, which introduced the National Curriculum. Anecdotally, I hear of a local education officer whose caseload has increased by 800 per cent in two years.

Further on, she notes that while many (perhaps most) have gone on to university, some haven’t and one has been convicted of robbery - as with the school-educated, there is a wide mix - not every home-educating parent has their children’s best interests at heart. “I heard of one adult who would have liked to become a scientist, but his father simply wanted an extra pair of hands on the farm,” she says - but surely the law already states that the children get an education, at school or otherwise, allowing parents to home-school but not to deny their children an education?

But apart from this, it’s great that home education is seen as a viable choice for positive educational reasons - reading some websites which present themselves as the voice of home-schoolers, you’d think it really was the preserve of the evangelicals.

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