The Scottish organization, the Schoolhouse Home Education Association ( http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/ ) and the groups Secretary and Press Officer, Alison Preuss were featured in an interview in the January HEM Support Group News . Alison told us at the time that the education climate in Scotland can get quite hot at times. She wrote:
- We have had a number of battles over the past 10 years as government has tried to impose draconian rules on home educators. Since the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999, education has been devolved from the UK Parliament in London and we have been better able to access and lobby our politicians to support the retention of our rights. The Scottish Executive tried to introduce statutory guidance on us a few years ago and were rather taken aback by the reaction from home educators from across the globe! It was a wonderful lesson in democracy for our children to march (twice!) on the Scottish Parliament and make our case for the government to leave us alone, and we now fortunate to have some strong allies within the opposition parties. We are still working on the government, but there is an election next May.
- The most important development here is that the statutory guidance on home education is currently under review and the consultaton 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 theor 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
Alison wrote me this week to tell me that the Scottish Consumer Council report was released this week and that the media frenzy has begun with a vengence.
Here are a few of excerpts from the news this week:
First, the recently released Scottish Consumer Council Report can be accessed here: http://www.scotconsumer.org.uk
From the Scottsman on 2/16/07
- Parents forced to learn hard lessons of DIY schooling (don’t miss the comments at the end) by Kevin Schofield, Education Consultant
- Although parents in England and Wales can withdraw their children from school if they submit a written request, local authorities in Scotland have to give their permission before a child can be educated at home.The SCC report says the way the rules are interpreted differs from council to council, while some parents also complained about the time taken to process their request.With the most recent Executive figures showing a 39 per cent increase in the number of young people being educated at home, the SCC report also calls for a law change to bring Scotland into line with England and Wales.Douglas Sinclair, the chairman of the SCC, said the right to home-educate was “a fundamental entitlement of every parent in Scotland”.He added: “While some councils approach this in a positive and supportive manner, others are employing a heavy-handed approach, which can be intimidating to parents and, in some cases, their children.”
From the Herald
Children are being damaged by tensions between Scottish local authorities and parents who want to educate their children at home, according to a new report.A study by Scotland’s consumer watchdog found some councils intruded into families’ lives, once they had removed children from school, with unannounced visits
- The SCC survey of local authority practice was conducted as part of an executive consultation to find out whether guidance issued by ministers in 2004 was improving relationships between councils and parents. Campaigners have called for a change in the law to make it easier to home educate.
Another from the Scottsman today, 2/18/07
- Does Home Work? by DANI GARAVELLI
- Alison Preuss, secretary of the Dundee-based charity Schoolhouse, one of several support organisations set up to help those interested in home educating, is putting pressure on the Executive to make the whole process less painful.
- “We think people should be assumed to be behaving responsibly towards their children unless there’s good reason to think otherwise,” she says. “In particular we take issue with home visits and access to children. In a lot of cases, the reason parents choose to opt out is precisely because the school system has failed them.”
I heartily agree with Ms. Preuss. I personally believe home education is a fundamental or natural right no matter what continent we are on.. Others may attempt to control or take away our fundamental right, but they should understand many of us who choose to home educate understand that with all rights come responsibility. Home Educating families that I have known take the responsibility that accompanies their right to home educate quite seriously and remain committed to helping their children to live, learn and thrive as parents have from the beginning of time.