Narrow minded

24th March 2006 at 00:00
Mike McCabe shows scandalous ignorance of the realities of home education in Scotland, considering his position as a director of education (TESS, March 3).

He suggests that any review of home education should take into account the "research" and "conclusions" of Chris Lubienski. This paper is not based on any research, but is merely a commentary on home schooling in the United States, which has no relevance to home education. Nor does Lubienksi come to any conclusions.

Mr McCabe would do better to study respected researchers of home education in the UK such as Roland Meighan, Alan Thomas and Paula Rothermel, as well as the work of the influential think-tank, Personalised Education Now.

Mr McCabe poses the question: "Surely children have rights too?" The Scottish Executive's guidance states that the child should be given the opportunity to express his or her views. Yet Mr McCabe denies children this right when their parents apply for consent to withdraw from school. Are children in his schools afforded the right to be protected from bullying, are they consulted on what they would like from their education or indeed any aspect of their education, are they informed of their right to choose to be home educated rather than going to school? Of course not.

Where is the evidence that home educated children are at risk? Many home educators remove their children from school in order to protect them from bullying pupils and from teachers who not only fail to protect children from bullies but bully themselves. In every school, there are children whose abuse is going unnoticed and the statistics show that there are teachers subjecting pupils to child abuse. Schools are hardly a safe learning environment.

Mr McCabe states that we home educators "are in a position of receiving no information or advice on educational thinking . . . and cut adrift from the educational community and the advances it makes . . ."

Mr McCabe is plainly ignorant of current educational thinking or he would be aware that home educated teens are accessing the exam system through FE colleges and open learning programmes often a year or more ahead of their school peers. Some home educated teens are completely bypassing the exam system and being accepted into college on their own merits.

At 17, my eldest son was offered a place in third year at university after completing his HND with merits and awards. He gained entry to his HND course without the recommended Highers but based on his portfolio. My middle son is following a similar path.

Mr McCabe is very selective in his reading and application of the national guidance. It says the local authority should provide a named contact with an understanding of different education philosophies to support parents in their decision to home educate. In more forward-thinking authorities which have more productive relationships with parents, home educators are given access to teachers' resource centres, provided with accurate information and engage in discussion about all aspects of education with their named contact.

Doreen Philp Black Road Kelty, Fife

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