***Apologies for all the typos. I have mild dyslexia and I wrote this late at night the day after Thanksgiving with 30+ friends and home edders at our house. After taking leftovers out to feed the homeless with one of our home educated little humans. Oh, and trying to clean the whole mess up too. I have edited to my best now…after a good night of sleep.***
There is currently a highly intrusive home education bill in the House of lords. It had its second reading today. I admit I did not watch. I rarely do with these things. I have such a low tolerance for bull shit. But I get reliable second hand feedback that I can manage. So here is my response to lord Soley and his bill…
Dear lord Soley,
You make much ado about nothing when it comes to the UN Convention on the Rights of Child in conjunction with your private members bill on home education.
Yet you completely fail to appreciate the impact that proposed MANDATORY in-home visits by hostile local authority officials would have upon our little humans, especially those with special needs. Many of whom were de-registered after repeated failings of the very local education authorities you would propose to have inspecting our private homes.
Where I come from we have a saying about ‘letting the fox guard the hen house’. That in a nut shell is why most home educators oppose your bill or any other that would allow ‘educators’ who have often failed our children in the first place to then judge our work with them by the same warped standards that were not working in the first place.
But let’s begin with a closer look at the RIGHTS afforded my little human under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Article 2 (non-discrimination) The Convention applies to every child without discrimination, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities or any other status, whatever they think or say, whatever their family background.
How exactly is singling out home educated little humans in keeping with this? By this standard should not ALL homes where little chumans reside be inspected?
Article 3 (best interests of the child) The best interests of the child must be a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect children.
How exactly do you expect Local Education Authorities which I assure you are very prejudiced against home education to place the best interest of the child above the missed income, especially of Additional Learning Needs little humans who bring approximately £20,000 per year to their budgets?
And is it fair to the home educators to subject them to intrusive inspections by the same officials who failed to ensure that the best interest of the child was upheld in their schools?
Article 5 (parental guidance and a child’s evolving capacities) Governments must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents and carers to provide guidance and direction to their child as they grow up, so that they fully enjoy their rights. This must be done in a way that recognises the child’s increasing capacity to make their own choices.
This bill in NO way respects parental rights or the huge responsibilities that we have voluntarily accepted by choosing to home educate our little humans.
Article 9 (separation from parents) Children must not be separated from their parents against their will unless it is in their best interests (for example, if a parent is hurting or neglecting a child). Children whose parents have separated have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this could cause them harm.
This one does not make an exception for school hours. If we and our children desire 24/7 contact, it is our right to have that, regardless of your or the local authority’s view on the matter.
Article 12 (respect for the views of the child) Every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously. This right applies at all times, for example during immigration proceedings, housing decisions or the child’s day-to-day home life.
This is one of the biggest problems with your bill. What about the child who does NOT want to speak with the council representative? What about the child who was bullied so badly by her teacher that she fears anyone from education? What about their rights under the UNCRC? Are their parents going to be subjected to prosecution by the LEAs for not providing them UNSUPERVISED accessed to further bully our little humans? I look forward to testing this one in courts as it is a clear violation of these rights.
Article 13 (freedom of expression) Every child must be free to express their thoughts and opinions and to access all kinds of information, as long as it is within the law.
This one actually makes me chuckle as I imagine my little human bullying the LEA representative with her very forthright opinions upon schools. It almost makes me feel sorry for him.
Nonetheless, without parental supervision, who is to ensure that the LEA adhere to this one? Especially given that schools are some of the worst offenders of Article 13 anyway.
Article 14 (freedom of thought, belief and religion) Every child has the right to think and believe what they choose and also to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights. Governments must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents to guide their child as they grow up.
Article 14 is not limited strictly to religion. The thoughts and beliefs of home educated children in particular and the rights and responsibilities of parents are being singled out by your proposed bill.
Article 16 (right to privacy) Every child has the right to privacy. The law should protect the child’s private, family and home life, including protecting children from unlawful attacks that harm their reputation.
How is demanding private interviews without parental supervision in keeping with the child’s right to privacy? And a government sanctioned search of our homes without cause? Guilty until proven innocent? The potential for attacks that harm the reputation of families and children under this bill are significant.
This is a witch hunt. Persecuting the majority in an attempt to curb a growing trend that frightens the establishment. All in the name of a handful of cases…or supposed ones.
Article 19 (protection from violence, abuse and neglect) Governments must do all they can to ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and bad treatment by their parents or anyone else who looks after them.
Speaking of which…you are voicing outrage over a handful of abuse cases. Yet the number of our children who have suffered abuse at the hands of others while at school is astronomical. Despite supposed Zero Tolerance Bullying policies, many schools turn blind eyes.
In our case, when we complained about our little human being bullied in RECEPTION, we were told ‘your child needs to grow a thicker skin’, ‘that’s how the world works’, and in reference to the policy ‘that’s just political correctness’. Our child’s mental health was affected by her year in your schools for several years. In fact, she still hates schools because they failed in this duty.
So, before you single out home educating families, perhaps you should first ensure that your schools uphold their duties to ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and bad treatment?
Article 27 (adequate standard of living) Every child has the right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and social needs and support their development. Governments must help families who cannot afford to provide this.
Oh, and on another but related subject…where is the outrage and concern for the millions of children who are endangered by this government’s failure to meet its obligations under Article 27? Or perhaps this bill is simply a means of diverting public attention away from the real issues? The millions of children IN SCHOOLS who are being failed on so many levels? The timing certainly bodes the question.
Article 28 (right to education) Every child has the right to an education. Primary education must be free and different forms of secondary education must be available to every child. Discipline in schools must respect children’s dignity and their rights. Richer countries must help poorer countries achieve this.
You may like to use Article 28 as justification of inspection to ensure little humans are receiving education, but I would like to point out that the UNCRC does NOT define specific forms of education. An important point especially in terms of the rights of unschooling families such as our own.
And I would like to point out the failure of schools to respect the dignity and rights of the child. How about the next time you need to use the loo while in session, you raise your hand and ask the speaker’s permission? Is anything more demeaning than requiring humans to announce to their peers that they need to urinate or defecate? Do you realize that some neurodivergent little humans will in fact go all school day without using the bathrooms for this very reason?
Article 29 (goals of education) Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full. It must encourage the child’s respect for human rights, as well as respect for their parents, their own and other cultures, and the environment.
Oh please…most of us home educate for this very reason. No one is a worse offender when it comes this one than ‘one-size fits none’ schools. How can any system whose only measure of success is standardized test scores develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full?
For that matter how can even the best teacher meet that standard for thirty little humans? Heck, large home education families find it challenging to develop EVERY child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full and many of them have two parents actively involved and a vested interest in the outcome that no teacher ever will.
Article 31 (leisure, play and culture) Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.
And if children are in school for eight hours per day for five days a week for forty-four weeks…when exactly do they have the time to relax, play or pursue the arts? Especially when they are expected to do two to three hours of homework each night in addition to those eight hours. And with schools cutting physical education, arts, and music programs, where are they to get this?
So, lord Soley, if the rights of the child is truly your concern rather than the protection of an outdated and often corrupt education system, I suggest you look more closely at your bill and its intrusive and potentially abusive powers. In particular, at how they may adversely impact the most vulnerable our Additional Learning Needs little humans.
And if you are feeling very brave, I’d invite you to spend a day experiencing RadiCool Unschooling with PanKwake. But only if you can respect her rights especially under Articles 3, 12, 13, 14, and 16. My partner and I certainly do respect her rights…and demand that adults who have any contact with her do so as well.
(Oh…and I know that generally speaking Lord is capitalized…I choose not to out of disrespect. Capitals Ls should be earned.)