HED0140

Written evidence submitted by a member of the public

[Note: This evidence has been redacted by the Committee. Text in square brackets has been inserted where text has been redacted.]

 

Home Education

 

I am a retired teacher. I worked in state and private schools for over twenty years. As a child I attended state and private schools (I was state funded to attend a private school).

While I acknowledge the effort made to improve discipline and raise academic standards over many years, I would encourage any parent to consider home schooling.

I believe that modern school education is detrimental to the well-being of children. I believed this before my own daughter [personal information] at a state school due to the nature of modern education. From being a high-achieving student, she has now been at home for nearly [years], shunning contact with her peers. Her grade 9s in her GCSE mocks are a memory and she is officially Not in Education, Employment or Training. This is an increasing reality in our schools. It is a reality in schools elsewhere, too. I was informed at the weekend of the [personal information] of a [age] year old girl, the daughter of a friend in [country] due to issues around her schooling.

The move toward larger and larger schools has destroyed teacher/student relationships. Common areas are ‘owned’ by the students. How can relational discipline take place when the teachers do not know the names of the children? In schools of over 700 students the head teacher cannot even recognise the students that belong to the school.

Rather as prison for a first time offender holds the prospect of training for a career criminal, schools now operate according to the lowest cultural denominators. Being ‘cool’ is more important than working hard; being fashionable is more important than being polite. Enthusiastic and motivated students disappear due to the culture in our schools, as well as due to the culture that surrounds them. I watched the ‘age of enthusiasm’ become lower and lower during my career: the age at which the majority of children have lost that natural inquisitiveness about the world around them.

Home education offers a way out of this hell for many parents and children. In a free society the right to choose MUST belong to the parents in consultation with their children. The state is not relational; the state is not a fit judge of what is right for an individual child. The state is largely incompetent in these matters, despite all its regimes designed to oversee the well-being of children. I worked at a school where inspectors awarded the school ‘excellent’ in all areas of inspection, apart from governor oversight. I laughed. The report was far from reality. No inspector even spoke to me about what was happening in the school (I was [teaching role]). I left the school shortly afterwards, and shortly after that there was an emergency inspection following the [personal information].

Home schooling offers parents and children hope and choice. It also offers scope for intellectual development far beyond normal schooling – any study of the lives of great scientists, artists, composers, etc, will demonstrate this.

State education has done much. My great grandmother was illiterate. I was the first in my family to attend university. But the state must acknowledge the need for diversity of approach. Humans are not all the same. These days I regard modern schools as factories, places that damage and dehumanise young people.

My [relation] home-educated her children. She withdrew her daughter from primary school because she was [personal information]. She and her husband made great sacrifices to home educate their children. I do not think the state could have done a better job. Unfortunately, the state, in the form of the attitude of its teachers and students, hindered and abused the daughter when she took her exams at a state-registered facility: the invigilating teacher was deliberately unpleasant and students in the school were able to bang on the outside of the windows during the exam.

I have little faith in the state’s ability to ‘do good’ in these matters. As a teacher I was expected to be silent about my own opinions, thoughts and beliefs, because I was to create a ‘learning environment’ where the students would not be unduly influenced by such things. But children are influenced all the time, and where there is no relational contact between teachers and students; where teachers cannot relate to the students because they don’t know who they are; where students have little continuity of teaching (in [school year], my son experienced numerous changes of staff during his exam year as teachers left or became too ill to continue: three English teachers, three Science teachers, two Maths teachers…).

Something is rotten in the state of school education. I believe this push to ‘regulate’ home-schooling is a response to the masses of students leaving schools. If education is to offer some hope for families away from the state educational factories, home-schooling must be left alone. It is time that the problematic issues prevalent in modern schools, particularly the impact of school size, were addressed instead.

It is time that the state educational authorities showed some humility.

 

October 2020