Well, the dear old Times Educational Supplement has begun a new assault on home education with the load of complete old tennis balls being served up here:
It begins, charmingly, with this:
"As many as 100,000 children may be in home education; the true figure is not known. The vast majority are in the charge of loving and conscientious parents, but hundreds are at risk of abuse and neglect."
You can fetch the sick bag now.
As to the number of home educating children, you can probably easily find that out if you check the list of juveniles on the database of the local library. Most home educating children fetch books from said library. In fact, after my children began home educating, we took a little schooled friend of Y's along on one of our visits. You could've knocked me down with a toothpick when she told me that it was her first time there. I thought I had misheard her.
"You've forgotten your library card?" I asked S in all ignorance and disbelief.
"No, I haven't got one," said my daughter's friend.
"You mean it's at home?"
S started to look uncomfortable. "No, er, this is the first time I've been to the library..."
The child was eleven years old. She promised to demand that her parents help her to procure a library card as soon as she went home, and I'm pleased to say she got it. I felt as if I'd run a marathon and won it twice.
Hundreds are at risk of abuse and neglect. Hundreds out of a possible one hundred thousand.
Er, statistics? Where are they? Are you going to produce them? Eh?
Leaving aside the fact that countless professionals charged with children's welfare were informed and reinformed of the strange home situation that Khyra Ishaq was unfortunately subject to, little LA visitors are empowered to pass along information to social workers if they are alarmed about a child's welfare. The poor child would have been starved over a long period of time and during that time she was, supposedly, safe in a school.
The sensible comments following that piece of bog roll journalism are worth reading.
And, from Dr. Helen Lees, comes this follow-up letter:
'Having just been awarded a PhD for research on the discovery of elective home education (EHE), I can unequivocally report that your cover story "Out of school, out of sight" (4 November) is rubbish. Not only does the article rehearse old and dismissed arguments, but it also provides no new ones. It does not even offer an accurate and balanced portrayal of the Khyra Ishaq case as it relates to EHE, nor about the Badman review and the subsequent cross-party enquiry that found it had substantial failings. The article attempts to cover the complexity of the issue, but ends in a state of ideological bias against EHE as a valid educational choice.
You failed to consult academic or EHE organisational voices. Why? There are plenty of scholars and home educators who see things very differently from the article's single narrative of doom.
It is true that EHE is an issue, but it is one that highlights the failings of schooling and social services. Furthermore, it brings into relief the shortcomings of government bodies that operate without proper care or respect for practitioners and educational research. Educationally, EHE is one of the most innovative and exciting growing movements of the current time.
Alas, even the miserable black and white pictures are misleading and full of prejudice. Think on it TES, and think again.'
Dr Helen E Lees, Research fellow, School of Education, Stirling University.
Ah, Dr. Helen. I think I love you.
Now why did I just embolden a few sentences? The whole letter should be in bold... Where's my blue pencil?