By Mike Fortune-Wood
Educational Heretics Press in Association with Personalised Education Now
It's within the nature of home-based education that it's difficult to pin down. There's no compulsory registration, and practice varies hugely.
Estimates of how many children are being home educated vary between 50,000 and 100,000 (and some put it much higher). As the numbers grow, it's important to have the facts and figures ready to answer questions, guide good practice and counter criticism. This report from Personalised Education Now is the first to emerge from a lengthy and far-reaching research project.
Starting with a sample of 111 families, the book tells us something about the who, why and what of it all. We learn that 62 per cent of home educators never consult the national curriculum, for example, and that they use a rich and varied range of "out and about" resources - libraries, museums, sports and arts centres.
What could be important about this research is that it will encourage schools and teachers to find out, and learn from, what's happening in home education: "Home based educators are, on a family by family basis, creating innovative, highly personalised programmes of learning."
But how willing are teachers and local authorities to take this on board? The report tells us that some LEAs, instead of listening and learning, try to judge home-based education against the national curriculum. Given that, as the report tells us, the national curriculum is the reason why many families reject school in the first place, this is about as misconceived an approach as you could possibly imagine.