Home truths on home learners

19th March 2004 at 00:00
Home educators have praised the Education Minister for admitting that the first draft of new guidance for parents who teach their children at home was botched.

Schoolhouse, the national campaigning association, has now given a "cautious welcome" to the final guidance for parents and local authorities.

Jennifer Laing, its convener, said that it had taken more than three years to entice a "reasonable, hopefully workable" document out of the Scottish Executive.

"Only time will tell whether it will achieve what it set out to achieve and we will reserve judgment until we see how it works in practice," Ms Laing said.

"Although a number of councils have consistently demonstrated their commitment to improving relationships by working with local home educators and support groups, Schoolhouse still hears on a regular basis from families who report unacceptable treatment at the hands of education authorities.

"It is therefore reassuring for these families to know that they can now expect some degree of consistency across Scotland."

She added: "We have frankly been appalled by the reaction of some councils and organisations which have stooped to alarmist innuendo and smear tactics to suggest - without a shred of evidence - that home educators are more likely to abuse their children.

"Thankfully, the Scottish Executive did not bow to the ignorant prejudice of vested interests, but chose instead to listen to reasoned arguments from the home education community."

Schoolhouse attacked the draft guidance in 2001 as a "bullies' charter" and warned that it would be open to legal challenge.

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