Home Educated: Not Hidden, Not Abused, Not Radicalised.

An open letter to Women’s Hour at BBC Radio 4

Dear Ladies,

Before this Thursday’s programme entitled “How can we best safeguard children who are home schooled?” is aired I just want to make sure that Jenni understands the difference between ‘home education’ concerns and ‘safeguarding’ concerns. But before I talk about that, can I point out that here in the UK it is called ‘home education’; ‘home schooling’ is the American term.  It is not used here in the UK as we would like people to realise we are generally not replicating school at home.

‘Safeguarding’ is an issue for the UK’s many social service departments to handle; it is not the responsibility of the LA. When there is any ‘safeguarding’ concern raised for any child in the UK, home educated or not, the responsibility is with the social services department to investigate.  If a home educator has a knock on the door from a social service worker, we are bound, like any other parent, to comply with their investigation.  If we refuse, it is the social workers job to make sure they get access—there are laws in place for this for all children, regardless of where they get their educational provision from. (Section 47 of the Children Act 1989)

The only reason an LA can make an inquiry is if there is a report of an ‘educational’ concern.  As the law states that as the parent I am responsible for my child’s education, unless the LA has a verifiable complaint on my child’s educational provision, I am not bound to discuss any educational issue with her.  If she still feels there is an educational issue, she also has laws in place for her to gain access.

If your new found interest for protecting the ‘hidden home educated children’ is based on the very tragic Dylan Seabridge case—please get all the facts.  The year before Dylan died, it is reported that a welfare concern was raised—why did Social Services not deal with this?

If we are going to use Dylan’s case, why not report on the case of Daniel Pelka? Was Daniel hidden while he was in his classroom surrounded by the other students?  Here is the link for the BBC report on his case: BBC report on Daniel Pelka

Would you like to use the Kyra Ishaq case, where her teachers, the social service and police failed to help her while she was also being starved to death?  She was in school for most of this abuse—and yet the school and social services failed to protect her.

Shall we talk about the thousands of abuse claims every year here in the UK?  How many of those children are home educated?  Does being in school protect any of those children from being abused at home? No.  Nor does being in school keep a child safe, if they were safe places, there wouldn’t be such a huge campaign here in the UK to stop bullying in schools.

Now please—can you please stop insinuating that home educated children are ‘hidden’?  I have taken my children to thousands of places and activities their whole life—they are not hidden. They have even been on BBC TV (Real Rescues 2011).  When they were young and we would go places, they were the only children there.  The other adults couldn’t understand why the children were there, would question us & then smile when they realised what freedom our children had to explore and to be fully immersed members of society.  My children haven’t been shut away for up to 7 hours a day since they were 3 years old.  Nope, they have gone shopping, to the parks, to the museums, to National Trust houses and English Heritage locations, to daytime and evening concerts, to astronomical & scientific lectures, to local reserves, to the local recreation centre and to special classes arranged for home educated children. Hidden?  I’d say not.

If you would like to learn more about home education, we would love to tell you our stories.  There are as many different types of families home educating as there are who use the schools.  And like all the other parents in this country, on the whole we are not radicals, we are not child beaters, we do not neglect our children.  We have dedicated all of our time and effort to our children out of love & respect for our children—we like everyone else, want the best for them.  Please, please stop insinuating to the world that as a group, we are some heinous secret sect hiding our children away to do them harm.  Our children listen to your programme—and I really don’t want to see them hurt or feel the need to defend their lifestyle again.


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19 Responses to Home Educated: Not Hidden, Not Abused, Not Radicalised.

  1. So well said x I’ve just had another “debate” with a good friend this afternoon about this! She’s known me for 15 yrs! Since Sunday I must have had about six conversations about this, even with my own Mum! We are a large family ( five children) they are always outside playing and we are very loud and visable. We also have several dogs and are always about with them. We are well known where we live and a lot of people know we home educate. A lot of parents have said that they would like to do it but always give a reason why they can’t! Like you “hidden” is the last word I’d use!

  2. Nigel Clarke says:

    well said, fully agree. Bloody media, makes the ‘family’ conversations even harder….

  3. Sonia says:

    Great article. I have a farm shop and my home educated child is at the shop most days (when she’s not off galavanting on a home ed expedition or class or some other “non-hidden” activitiy) – and she serves customers and chats to them – helps people find stock,shows them our animals. There was an article about us in a large local glossy mag lately – she featured very prominently – the main photo was of her. Very much not hidden thank you very much.

  4. Donna Range says:

    Well written! I have home schooled ( because I use American Christian based material ) my children for the past 5 years. They are not hidden, abused or deprived. On the contrary. I get glowing reports from various members of the community on how confident, well adjusted and intelligent they are. I agree with the article above, a distinction must be made between a welfare issue and an education issue. As already stated , many children are abused, while under the eye of the school. This is not a home education issue and we should not all fall under scrutiny now. If a parent has a child at home and is not providing education, then of course there must be intervention.

  5. Mummy Tries says:

    Hear hear! It makes me too sad to think that people are saying these things to a wide public audience 😦

  6. Wonderful blog post, thank you.

  7. home-ed and happy! says:

    Couldn’t have put it better myself!well done and Thankyou! Did you get a response from dame Murray? I particularly like you closing comment about your children listening to woman’s hour,we have the radio permanently on,tuned to radio 4,but I turned it off that morning because I didn’t want to listen with my daughter!

  8. Val says:

    I have many friends who home educate their children and as I understand it nothing is done in isolation there is a very good support system where home educators get together, are given help and guidance and share with each other. Their children are happy, well-balanced and have an education which suits their individual needs (not sure the state or public schools manage this for every child).
    Of course there will be the exception to this as in every other situation but please don’t assume home education is wrong because of a tiny number of failures

  9. Well argued! There’s a lot of negative press for home education at the moment and sadly a lot of it does not apply logic or balance.

  10. Jo Lambert says:

    Wow! We home educate and this is exactly how I feel, my kids have relationships with so many adults (from the dentist who took the time to explain my X-rays and point out how they related to my actual mouth, to the AA man who let my daughter temporarily fix my spark plugs to the artist who explained his love for Rothko, and inspired a visit to Tate modern), my kids are VERY visible!

  11. Lesley Blackshaw says:

    Congratulations on writing such a clear letter, setting out just what so many of us feel needs shouting from the roof tops. Did you get a response from them?

  12. oldmanorborn says:

    Excellent post! I have always been frustrated with the “home schooling” references by the media. C is educated not schooled, and although we are increasingly at home now with her wishing to get her work done for GCSE exams, she used to be educated more often out of the home than within it, so I never used to like the “home” bit either!

    However, I have found it to be a useful way for me to understand a fit for us with families in the UK. If the parent/career says they homeschool I automatically think they would not wish to associate with us, so don’t make contact. Saves them the trouble of getting to know us before finding out the approach is very different.

    C also gets frustrated when people say “oh your mum teaches you” and she has to explain not at all. I’ve also felt VERY uncomfortable recently when on a museum trip out and there was a huge discussion about having to learn curriculum content ahead of teaching it to their children, especially wrt exams. I had absolutely nothing to contribute and felt like a fish out of water when I was with other families, all of whom HE.

    The mum of some friends C skypes chemistry with told me when we chatted at swimming, that she listens in sometimes and once the teens were struggling with a chemistry concept. Her teens said they’d ask mum and C said they didn’t need to disturb their mum, they could figure it out for themselves.

    I pointed out that there is a very good reason C never asks me. I never know the answer and tell her to look it up for herself! Her kids can ask mum and get the answer, she can’t!

    Had a very good discussion with her on the ethics of cloning yesterday though. I can discuss issues, I can’t tell her what the examiner wants to see.

    Are you back in the UK now? I wondered if you’d never leave Lick Observatory! Must get that coffee date sorted if you are!

  13. Linda Mcdermott says:

    Well said! Love your clear points and balanced arguments. Hope the BBC take it to heart. We home educated our daughter from 12 to 16…..she posted your letter on Facebook!
    Thank you x

  14. Sophie says:

    Very well written! Thank you!! I’d love to know if you get a reply from them.

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