What is behind the curtains?

24th November 2000 at 00:00
THE media love home education. Every article we have read in the past two years has been overwhelmingly positive with examples of high-achieving children and calm, fulfilled parents. Is this really true of all the 30,000 home-educating families?

Just as school fails some children, surely home education must have its failures too? Your article (TES and Friday magazine, November 10) says "often" these children are two years or more ahead of their age group: is this 25 per cent of them, or 85 per cent? Aren't there at least some children who aren't motivated, or don't develop the necessary concentration skills, or whose parents don't provide a sufficient education to cope in the world?

What about the families under high stress because home-based parents find they can't cope with having their children around so muc or where only one parent wants home education? And surely within 30,000 people there are some, albeit likely to be a small number, who are agoraphobic or just neglectful. We are glad that there is a statutory responsibility to check whether home-educated children are flourishing and happy as a consequence of their parents' choice.

To make an informed choice, we need to know more about what factors make it work. Are they parental personality, level of parental education, parental income, numbers of children, or something else? This information needs to be derived from a much broader base than we have ever seen quoted. So please, somebody, give us a thorough analysis of success and failure, not just good individual examples.

Valerie Smith

Mark Sandler

The Avenue

Muswell Hill, London N10

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