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Out with the system

James Towers'S article on home education(TESS, Janaury 11) is pure prejudice.

I would ask: why do parents choose to home-educate their children when it is, first, more expensive; second, extremely time-consuming; and third, often a protracted struggle not least because of prejudice such as that expressed by those in authority (who hate anything that does not fit into "the system")?

It is a choice made by parents who feel that the state system either does not provide what they hope for their children, or which downright damages them as in, for example, cases of severe prolonged bullying.

I do not know of any case of parents making this choice lightly; nor any who have not thought long and hard about it before committing themselves to a long and sometimes difficult road.

Unlike the majority, we home-educated our three children from necessity, because we spent seven years going round the world in a horse-drawn caravan. In spite of reading as much as we could about home education, most of which was extremely reassuring, it was not until we returned to Scotland that I was convinced we had not only not harmed our children, we had positively improved their life skills. We had not operated to a timetable or even a scheme, although we did have with us some text books.

I have only two major regrets. The first is that professional music tuition was unobtainable while travelling. The second is the demise of the assisted places scheme just in time to deny our youngest any chance of attending a school where sport and other extra curricular activities formed an integral part of life. Our state schools are just deserts insofar as this is concerned.

Finally, I should like to squash the nonsense of James Towers's argument about parents like myself doing their children "considerable harm." How does being subjected to peer pressure, bad language and bad habits en masse, in the unnatural environment of a school, fit one for life?

Unless a child is locked up, like poor Harry Potter in his understair cupboard, I would suggest that the home-educated child experiences more of real life than his or her fellows. Anyone who had seen two of ours playing hopscotch with a bunch of Mongolian kids in an Ulan Bator street, devoid of a word of common language, would know what balderdash this old shibboleth is.

I devoutly hope that the Scottish Executive will give up its draft circular - aptly described as a "bully's charter" and adopt the English system. For once our southern cousins have the rights of it.

David R Grant Weem Rock Cottage Weem by Aberfeldy, Perthshire

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