Last week a British Court of Appeals ruled against a homeschooling mom trying to get her 18-year-old son home. He’s forced to attend a specialty school 100 miles away, while being cared for in a nursing home. Living in an adult nursing home while having to attend school past the compulsory attendance age seems quite conflicting.
Mother loses fight to home-school disabled son By Sam Marsden
The woman claimed that her son, who is 18 but suffers from cerebral palsy, was being “deprived of his liberty” by being forced to attend the school.
She described how she had home-schooled him for ten years, along with two of her other three children, and said he was clever enough to study Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
However, a court ruled earlier this year that the disabled teenager, who can only be identified as “T” for legal reasons, lacked the mental capacity to make decisions about his welfare and should be enrolled at a school a long way from his family.
Home Education UK‘s Mike Fortune-Wood gave News & Commentary some feedback pertaining to the judge’s ruling and compulsory education laws.
I’m unclear about what legislation the judge is referring to in making these decisions but it can’t be anything to do with either the Education act 1996 or the recent extension on compulsory education since they relate to people under 17 and 18 respectively. This must be something specifically to do with the young man’s disability and is likely to be the result of an intervention by social services who, as we know, understand very little about home education and what it can achieve.
The paper misunderstands the law referring to the 1996 act WRT monitoring, the Education departments normally have no role after the age of 18, this would, I suspect, have been a social services issue although for the last few years the education department has been linked with child welfare in new departments called children’s services. This has led to no end of confusion since it’s now unclear who is who and what powers it is that they possess. However since he is no longer a child I don’t think this applies here.
She may have been more successful if she had been able to get legal representation. Fighting your own corner at a court of appeal is extremely difficult, if not impossible. It’s likely that she took the case herself because she could not raise funds and could not get legal aid due to the new rules.
The Telegraph also offered the mother’s feedback after the decision to keep her son away from the family’s home.
Speaking outside court, the mother said she would fight on, adding: “Home schooling is a better method to meet individual needs.
“We have home schooled him for 10 years. My son is a unique individual and his cognitive ability far outweighs his physical abilities.
“He was learning Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet last year – how does that fit in with him not having capacity to make his own decisions?”
It’s sad that legal representation was the possible reason she lost this case. Often, lawyers and government agencies need home education laws (or lack thereof) explained to them by homeschool advocates. One has to wonder if judges have the same problem.