From Mrs Michelle Scott SIR – We have been a home-educating family for getting on for five years now. The philosophical basis of our education here is Charlotte Mason’s gentle art of learning with Catholic home-educating material.
The Government has had a couple of reviews of home education in the recent past and found nothing wrong. It was a shock therefore to see the Badman review (Report, November 13) begin with allegations in the press from Baroness Morgan, the NSPCC and others that home educators were likely to be abusing our children, using them as domestic servants and even forcing them into marriages.
The Badman review was published and immediately accepted by Ed Balls despite the huge number of flaws in the review, the lack of evidence for either abuse or poor educational outcomes and the selective use of quotes in the review itself. Essentially Badman wants to see home-educating parents licensed to parent and offers powers to the local authority to take children alone for interview, because parents are guilty until they can prove otherwise. Parents who refuse to have their rights removed and their children made property of the state will be criminalised.
The Catholic Education Service (CES) wrote a report backing the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ view that the state owns our children. The person who wrote this report on behalf of Oona Stannard had absolutely no knowledge or understanding of home education, and yet felt able to rip away the right and duty of parents to the education of their children. There was strong implication that the CES should be allowed to interfere with family life as well. The piece was finished with the CES view that there was no such thing as Catholic home education curriculum. Apart from the great number of set curriculums out there (mainly American) many of us use a variety of great Catholic resources (mainly American again) to ensure our children actually know their Faith.
While I understand that many people are ignorant of what home education is and how it works, it behoves those who intend to write on the matter, especially to the Government, to ensure they are well prepared. It is very worrying that the mainstream media see the CES as speaking on behalf of our bishops. I am sure our bishops do not want to see the rights of parents and children trampled in this way.
I do not accept that the CES has any remit over family life and the rights of parents to educate their children at home.
Yours faithfully, MICHELLE SCOTT Birmingham, W Midlands