I am curious, do they need ‘safe guarding’?
Plans for a new register in England for children learning at home has me twitching and I know I am not the only home educating parent that is full of angst at the prospect right now.
Supposedly a register will help local authorities intervene surrounding at risk children and poor standards of education.
How do we define poor standards of education, particularly for those of us seeking an ‘alternative education’?
Using myself as an example, I would not say I was particularly ‘out there’ with my educational philosophies but needing permission to go to the toilet as an infant and minimal outdoor play sitting down for long periods of time is certainly the opposite of my personal views on the way childhood years should be spent.
My guess is text book standards will be used to score home educating families on a cut and dry sliding scale and yet education is not cut and dry and cannot be measured in a way that removes the culture, demographic, beliefs, circumstances and liberty of each individual family, each individual child.
The complexities are too vast to fully cover, from the SEN child to the bullied de-registered teen how can such a register effectively monitor variable standards without generalising the criteria?
Even more of a concern, who is qualified to sign us off as outstanding (highly unlikely in my case!), good, requires improvement or inadequate to quote Ofsted.
Three of my children went to school and the youngest three have never enrolled.
My teen son was a great example of how school does not serve every child with an education to suit them and was very much better home educated despite being told that children have to suffer school despite their incompatibility to a system that is grade based and conformity (not to be confused with decent human behaviour) is rewarded or ignored depending on the individual teachers competency, personality and personal views within the school setting framework.
Yet if all children were ‘in school’ you are assuming a teacher can effectively and consistently monitor approximately 30 children for any safe guarding ‘red flags’. In that case I sincerely feel for the heavy burden on a teachers shoulders, I was under the impression they are there to teach.
In fact my son, in school, did not flag up and yet academically and emotionally was falling through the cracks, a term used to justify said proposed home education register.
The phrase concentrate closer to home springs to mind, just looking at the increasing amounts of children embracing home education and thriving points to the benefits, whilst also indicating a possible issue with educational standards within schools, not out.
Of course safeguarding children is a priority.
Which leads me to question, who’s job is it anyway?
When my children were born, the healthcare service was involved and we were in fact ‘signed off’ by a satisfied midwife thanks to no safeguarding issues. I am assuming this is the standard procedure for most mothers post partum.
When my toddler was admitted to A&E two consecutive nights IN A ROW recently we were thankfully discharged once her condition improved, as a former nurse I am also assuming with no concerns surrounding safeguarding issues.
My children visited a family member yesterday, someone who has a very traditional view on reading, writing and numbers and yet despite my girls not reading yet, made no comment about any concerns arising surrounding their wellbeing AKA no safeguarding issues or poor educational standards.
My neighbours, despite my children diving and squealing during ‘school hours’ on the trampoline or during various activities in the house and garden at odd hours, have yet to report me for child negligence, so far!
I am hoping this is due to no safeguarding issues or educational standards concerns…
So what would a register and monitoring actually look like?
How will it be implemented?
I am going to take a guess you, home education register official, will want to visit us at home so I am going to make some confessions in advance.
My house is messy, between juggling more than one business from home, so that I can home educate AND pay my bills and ensuring my children are fed, exercised and ‘educated’ I have to be honest, you may disapprove of the toys, books and various household pets strewn left, right and centre.
I often look dishevelled, as a freelance mum and trying to at least survive motherhood, let alone thrive, I will probably tick your ‘damn hippies’ checkbox.
We do not follow the National Curriculum, which was kind of the point for me personally, but hey ho I can appreciate your disapproval seeing as you will be monitoring me within a static framework of what consists of a ‘good education’.
I am an ex teenage mother, in fact at a time when the local authorities may have done a better job in offering support and resources, again I did not draw up any safeguarding issues.
Now of course I get the logic, I believe every child should be safe.
It is everyone’s duty to make sure our children are protected.
The answer does not rely on a register, it lies in something that already exists.
We are all responsible for ensuring the safety of ALL children.
Your neighbour, your shop keeper, your youth worker, your family, your friends, your GP, your place of worship, your dentist, your gym.
My children are not registered but they are not invisible.
From the local health club for swimming and a class on a Monday we are SEEN, to home education opportunities with other children most days and regular family visits we are HEARD.
We are not under the radar.
My children are not falling through the cracks.
All children should have a right to a safe, happy, educational childhood.
My argument is, how can a register define what this should look like?
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