Another thing that worries local authorities...

A well known phenomenon in schools is the drop in knowledge and skills that typically occurs during the long summer holiday. This has a profound effect on the education of children at school and is why many feel that it would be a better scheme to have four terms in the academic year, separated by holidays of equal length. What happens in effect is that when children do not attend school for six or seven weeks, they forget pretty much everything that they were taught in the previous term. The practical consequence is that when children come back to school in September, a lot of them have lost much of what they learned since Easter and so the autumn term is taken up with repeating a lot of stuff that was done in May and June. If this happens after six weeks of doing nothing much academically, just imagine the effect on the average child of spending nine or ten months like that!

Years nine and ten are popular times for deregistering children from school and educating them at home. Many parents who take this step don’t really know what they should do next and often join internet forums and local home educating groups for advice. I dare say that some readers will know what advice they are offered when they complain that their children are disaffected and will not get up in the morning and study maths, English and so on? That’s right, they are frequently advised to back off and spend some time ’deschooling’. For those unfamiliar with this expression, it is the process of ’allowing the toxicity of school to leach out of the child’s system’. Of course, to normal people, this sounds quite mad, but it is a recognised treatment among some home educators. The idea is to allow the child just to loll about, doing exactly what he wishes and not bothering him at all about schoolwork. The generally recommended length of time is one month of deschooling for every year that the child has been at school

I am sure that readers will at once see the nature of the problem here. If children regress academically after six weeks holiday, what is likely to be the effect of the nine or ten months holiday suggested by certain home educators? This is especially bad news for those in years nine or ten whoc are  embarking upon  intensive study for GCSEs. Taking the best part of a year off at this stage practically guarantees failure.

This sort of thing is very worrying for some local authorities when teenagers are withdrawn from school. It marks the end, in many cases, of any hope of formal qualifications for the children concerned, to say nothing of any progression into further or higher education. One thing which puzzles me is where this whole notion of deschooling for one month for each year of school comes from.  Why a month? Why not a week or two months? Does anybody know anything about this business, for example the rationale behind it and how the figure of a month for a year was arrived at?


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