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Biased Media Report Complaint

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 5 months ago

Biased Media Report Complaint.


In which AHEd members complain about unchallenged prejudice and biased comments by an LA employee, in the wake of the York Consultancy Report on their sample study. Posted:06.03.07


What with this and the comments of a DfES spokesman that children are better off in schools, it is beginning to look like a campaign to smear home educators!


re: Today Programme, Saturday 3rd. Subject: Home Education. Listen Again: http://tinyurl.com/2m3kz7 From 1 hour 46 mins.



Dear Sir/Madam,


We are writing to complain about the second part of the piece on home education broadcast on Saturday March 3rd. The piece was badly researched and the interview was unusually unchallenging. This had the result that the piece overall served to reinforce several myths about home education. There is no evidence for any of these myths, and several are demonstrably false.


Myth: The law says that parents have to send their children to school


Fact: This is not true. The law (Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act) says that parents must cause their children to receive a suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. Parents who choose to home educate are taking up a perfectly legal option. John Humphrys should have known this, and not repeated the myth of compulsory school attendance.


Myth: Working class parents are not capable of providing a suitable education for their children


Fact: This is not true. Paula Rothermel of Durham University has done research on this issue. Her conclusion was that home educated children from working class families outperformed both school educated working class children, and home educated middle class children, on academic tests. While performance in tests is not the only measure of a suitable education, this research indicates that Mr. Mooney's assumptions based on the educational background or social class of home educating parents are not supported by any evidence. Again, John Humphrys should have been aware of this research and should have challenged Mr. Mooney's prejudiced statements.


Myth: Parents are pretending to home educate in order to avoid prosecution for truancy


Fact: Children whose school experience is unbearable because of bullying or inadequate provision for their particular needs, understandably, experience problems with school attendance. For many of these children home education is literally a lifesaver. Sadly, Parents are left to struggle with the system because they are not aware that home education is a legal choice that could save their child. We believe it should be incumbent upon the local authorities to provide the relevant public information that would help these families, rather than information partial to school education and enforcing school attendance only; but they do not often do so in our experience. It is grossly unfair to characterise these parents, whose children have been hurt by the state schooling system, as merely trying to escape the further persecutions of that system. Parents who refuse to override their children's clearly expressed wishes, and instead take direct responsibility for their education, are doing nothing wrong and do not deserve prosecution. Prosecution of parents should be a last resort, as it is in itself deeply traumatic for the families concerned.


Myth: Local Authorities have no responsibilities towards children who have not been registered at school.


Fact: This is untrue. If Local Authorities have reason to believe that any child is not receiving a suitable education, they have a duty to act. This applies to home educated children as well as those registered at schools. Local Authorities have additional powers to informally question home educating families about their educational provision even where there is no reason to believe that their children may not be receiving a suitable education. Local Authorities may make such enquiries of any home educating family.


Myth: Home educated children do not have wide ranging opportunities to socialise


Fact: Home educated children mix with children of all ages and adults, at a wide range of groups and activities, and in the course of their daily lives. They are not expected to socialise only with people of their own age. Paula Rothermel's research found that home educated children were socially adept in a range of situations. Many home educating parents believe that the social model experienced in schools is unhealthy.


Myth: Home educating parents need to know about all kinds of subjects in order to 'stay ahead' of their children


Fact: Home education is very often a process of discovery for parents alongside their children. Parents may act as facilitators of their children's learning and not necessarily as schoolteachers following the restricting didactic, authoritarian and transmissive model practised in state schools. Families make use of libraries, the internet, and other sources of information available to them to research relevant subjects.


We believe that home educators themselves are the real experts on the issues of home education. We find it offensive that the home educating family in the piece was used to illustrate the subject matter, but the actual discussion was held with someone whose views are known to be hostile towards the whole concept of home education.


Your programme was broadcast at a time when the DfES are purportedly about to conduct further consultations with a view to curtailing existing freedoms in this area. AHEd has made an official complaint about the DfES failure to follow the code of practice during a series of these consultations because of widespread institutionalised prejudice about home education and bias in favour of state schooling. Recently, we were also forced to complain about discriminatory public comments made by a DfES spokesperson with reference to home education. We wish to complain in the strongest terms that a subject in which a legal freedom is under attack was addressed in a wholly one-sided way, without adequate research and without any effort to engage with at least one of the groups who represent home educators (for example, AHEd, www.ahed.org.uk, or Education Otherwise, www.education-otherwise.org.)


We hope to see this matter put right at the earliest possible opportunity - a correction should be aired and a balancing interview with a representative from a home educating group should follow immediately.



Yours faithfully,


(AHEd Chair) for the committee and membership of AHEd.


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