Home educators failing children

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PARENTS who take their children out of school have been accused of "kidding themselves" they can educate their children from the kitchen table.

In a hard-hitting statement a teaching union leader claimed home educators are jeopardising their children’s future.

And, in a separate attack, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) has accused ministers of putting children at risk of abuse and poor teaching by agreeing to cut down checks on those who are not enrolled at school.

Revised draft guidelines from the Executive propose dropping a number of controls for children outside the education service.

The Executive is expected to announce definitive guidelines in the next few weeks.

The original proposals, which were sent out for consultation last year, caused protest among parents who choose to teach their own children. They said the new checks represented unwarranted interference.

Yesterday, Pat O’ Donnell, a Scottish official of the NASUWT teaching union, insisted that the Executive should adopt a strong line on home education.

He said: "Gone are the days when well-educated parents could do at home what teachers do at school. They’re kidding themselves they can educate their children from the kitchen table.

"This is a movement driven by romantic anti-establishment views of the world."

Highlighting the potential for abuse to go undetected, the SPTC calls for a register of home-educated children. Estimates of numbers vary between 350 and 5,000. Edinburgh officially records only 18 children.

Ronnie Smith, the general secretary of the EIS, Scotland’s main teaching union, said school allows children to interact with peers and teachers, which plays a major part in pupils’ social development.

But Alison Sauer, of the home schooling group Education Otherwise, rejected the criticism. She said: "If you are a professional teacher you don’t know what you are talking about when it comes to home education. We don’t do any teaching. Our philosophy is self-directed learning.

"They can say what they like until they are blue in the face but the evidence shows that home education is the most brilliant thing."

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