I sometimes despair of the home education scene in this country. Many parents, particularly those who belong to internet lists and forums seem to be prone to running round like headless chickens at any available opportunity. Once again, my unwelcome views on the latest of these flaps are being censored on the EO support list and so I thought that I ought to reassure those who are genuinely worried and want the facts.
The latest fear centres around a consultation on what the government call raising the participation age and the rest of us think of as raising the school leaving age. As part of this, there is an intention to define just how many hours constitute a full time education. This has nothing to do with home education, but is to prevent unscrupulous employers from pretending to run apprenticeships and just getting teenagers to work full time.
How does this affect home educators? Well, it doesn't; not in the least. The consultation document makes this perfectly clear, when it says:
'it is at the discretion of the home educator as to what form that education takes'
We do not want to set regulations for home education that do not exist pre-16'
In other words, the situation for home educated seventeen and eighteen year olds will not change. Still, what about the whole business of defining full time education? Could that affect home educating parents? Hardly. The favoured figure for the minimum number of hours of education spread over the whole year is five hundred and thirty four hours. Since home education takes place every day, this would mean less than an hour and a half a day!
In spite of the fact that there is nothing to worry about, threads are appearing on various lists marked 'urgent'. Why do people do this? I very pleasantly drew attention to what is actually said in the RPA consulation and my message was not posted, on the grounds that this is 'meta' discussion. This is absurd. Those wishing to spread panic and alarm are allowed to voice their views; it is only when I quoted from the actual document that the discussion apparently became 'meta'. In other words and as usual, facts are not welcome in the debate!
I have remarked before that there seems to be something of a cottage industry in raising fears of this sort and pretending to be working to protect home educating parents from supposed new threats. When I have the time, I shall post more about this.