The Januaray HEM Support Group News featured The Schoolhouse Home Education Association and the group’s secretary and presss officer, Alison Preuss. In part of that interview, Alison expounded on a recent headline in the UK Herald that read, “39% rise in home education” in the UK Herald.
Ms. Preuss wrote:
The most important development here is that the statutory guidance on home education is currently under review and the consultation period will run until mid February 2007. Meanwhile Schoolhouse has been working with the Scottish Consumer Council www.scotconsumer.org.uk as a follow up to their “Homeworks” report (2000) on research into the implementation of the guidance which was first issued in March 2004. Our interim findings indicate that local authorities are failing to follow it and have mostly failed to update theory policies in line with it. We are holding a seminar in Glasgow on 15 January, which will be attended by home educators and local authority officers, to discuss aspects of the guidance review.
This morning I read that Schoolhouse and Scotland’s Homeschoolers are remaining steadfast at the Dare to Know Blog:
SCHOOLHOUSE SLAMS COUNCIL IGNORANCE OF THE LAW ON HOME EDUCATIONThe national home education support organisation Schoolhouse has reacted angrily to comments made by Highland councillors who have inferred a direct link between home-based educators and ‘dysfunctional families’. In the wake of representations from its members and the wider home education community, Schoolhouse is now considering making a formal complaint to the Standards Commission, the body which investigates alleged breaches of the code of conduct for elected members.
Here the response issued by Alison Preuss:
Schoolhouse spokesperson, Alison Preuss, said:
“Schoolhouse invites Highland councillors to withdraw the comments they have made about home-based education being a cause for concern and would remind them of their duty to respect and uphold the law at all times. According to Scottish Executive guidance (1), home-based education is a key aspect of parental choice and parents do not require the local authority’s permission to educate their children outside the school system. The only consent that parents in Scotland currently require is for the withdrawal of their child from a state school, and this may not be unreasonably withheld by the council.”Highland councillors have evidently expressed grave concern at the number of children in the area who are being home educated, describing it as ‘scary’. But it should come as no surprise that parents are bypassing a school system which is no longer fit for purpose and is widely held to be failing countless youngsters.”Highland councillors also seem to believe that parents need a reason to remove their children from the school system when, legally, the provision of education is a parental function. Schools are there to serve families and should of course be subject to a rigorous inspection regime so that parents can have confidence in those to whom they entrust their children’s education.
“Our own grave concern is that some elected members are misrepresenting the legal position, deliberately or otherwise, and inferring that parents are generally not to be trusted with their own children’s education. In reality councils already have adequate powers to intervene if they have evidence that suggests a failure on the part of parents, and claiming that the law is
about to be changed to suit their Big Brother agenda is disingenuous. We are now considering whether to make a formal complaint to the Standards Commission about a possible breach of the councillors’ code of conduct as it is unacceptable for elected members to seek to mislead the public in this way.
“Home educating families in Highland have been asked to speak to the media about their experiences, but none we have contacted is prepared to do so in the light of such irresponsible comments by people who should know better. Research evidence is stacking up that home educated children are more socially adept than their schooled peers and that they consistently
outperform them in standard academic tests. The bad news about home-based education is very hard to find, and a deliberate smear campaign against law abiding home-based educators will not be tolerated.”
Schoolhouse met with representatives from the Scottish Executive last week to discuss aspects of the statutory guidance on home education which is currently being reviewed. There are no plans to amend the primary legislation in which “education by other means” is enshrined as an equal choice to state schooling. (2)
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
(1) See http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/education/gcech.pdf (PDF)
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/education/gcech-00.asp (Online)(2) Education (Scotland) Act 1980, s30
It appears that those promoting their rigorous standards, which attempt to force all children through a cookie cutter mold, have a universal following. Kudos to Schoolhouse and Scotland home educators for their steadfast efforts to protect home education.
Scotland home educators, home educated children, Scottish Consumer Council