Education and schooling - the differences

13th April 2007 at 01:00
In his comments which you reported last week, freelance school inspector Tony Mooney failed to provide any evidence to substantiate his claim that 35,000 homeschooled children in England are not receiving a basic education - probably because none exists.

While bullying and unmet special needs are undeniably drivers for often desperate families, research findings do not support the contention that parents deregister children at the behest of league-table obsessed schools, or to avoid prosecution for truancy. Research evidence has also debunked the myth that there are 150,000 home educated children in England - 60,000 is a more realistic estimate.

The case of Eunice Spry, an approved foster carer who was regularly visited by education officials, is another red herring. Like most abusers, she concealed her sadistic activities. Any curtailment of parents' freedom to educate their children on the basis of an isolated case, when adequate statutory interventions are available, would be a disproportionate over-reaction.

We know that middle-class children do best in state schools, and the problem of under-achievement by pupils from poorer backgrounds continues to defeat the efforts of politicians and educationists. Instead of tinkering with the sausage machine that is the school system, they might find enlightenment by looking at home education, in particular Paula Rothermel's research. She found that these same poorer children, when home educated by "unqualified" parents, consistently outperformed their middle-class schooled counterparts in standard school tests.

The outcome of the Scottish Executive's guidance review is keenly awaited and will hopefully be based on hard evidence, such as that provided by the Scottish Consumer Council, rather than unsubstantiated opinion from those who have failed to grasp the differences between education and schooling.

Alison Preuss Sparrowcroft, Forfar

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today