Chris McGovern: For a balanced education, there’s no place like home

It seems that more UK children are being home-educated as dissatisfaction with the state school system grows.

In the absence of any registration process it is not possible to be precise about the numbers. Ofsted recently acknowledged that a figure of around 30,000 reported in 2015 was a significant under-estimate. It was based on a freedom of information request to local authorities and recorded only those pupils who had been formally withdrawn from school. Since many home-schooled children never start school in the first place, such data is of limited value.

Matthew Coffey, Ofsted’s chief operating officer, has recently admitted as much: ‘We know it's [now] significantly higher than the 30,000, but we don't have any updated numbers.’

A survey of 106 councils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland by BBC Breakfast has discovered a 57 per cent increase over the past five years in children with special needs being home-educated. For England the figure is 64 per cent.

The educational establishment, the Blob, tends to be strongly antipathetic towards home education. It claims, in particular, that children need ‘trained’ teachers to maximise their potential. In addition, it is argued that formal schooling is necessary for socialisation and for the development of inter-personal skills.

Unsurprisingly, not all parents are persuaded. Home-schooled youngsters usually receive a great deal more attention than is available in the classroom. A motivated parent, deploying a bit of common sense and a modicum of subject knowledge, is likely to be far more effective with his or her own child than a stressed-out and over-worked teacher. Moreover, mums and dads are unlikely to have been brainwashed by bogus notions of political correctness through teacher training or feel compelled to use ineffective and undemanding teaching methodologies. High attainment is the norm for the home-educated.

As for socialisation, research in the US, commissioned by the National Home Education Research Institute, found that home-educated youngsters were, as adults, more than twice as likely to be involved in their communities. Tellingly, 59 per cent described themselves as ‘very happy’ with life as against 28 per cent of the general population.

Such conclusions do not go down well with the Blob. Vested interests outweigh the interests of children every time. Home education is an indictment of what is on offer from the professionals. It has to be resisted and denigrated. The Blob knows best!



Unfortunately for the educational establishment, UK law places the responsibility for educating a child on parents. This was reaffirmed by Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act. It reflects how most countries around the world interpret Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948): ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.’

In part, this declaration of parental rights was a response to their loss under the Nazis. Ironically, Germany, with countries such as North Korea, Cuba, Belarus, Sweden and Turkey, continues to outlaw home education. It was judged a form of parental child abuse by a German federal court in Bremen in 2007. In contrast, home education is legal in both Russia and China. In the US a denial of home schooling is widely regarded, especially by Republicans, as valid grounds for granting asylum.

Those seeking asylum to the UK on such grounds, however, should not expect support from our educational establishment. Ofsted has made its position clear. It has described as ‘shocking’ advice to parents on a home education website about how to remove one’s child from school.

Its scaremongering centres on the danger of children being radicalised. I share that concern for a minority of home-educated children. The greater threat, though, emanates from Ofsted’s enforcement on schools of value relativism through so-called ‘British Values’. The requirement to respect the point of view of those with whom you might disagree is the perfect vehicle for promoting ‘understanding’ of extremism and terrorism.

At its worst this translates into the model lesson from the Tes website (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) asking secondary school pupils aged 14 to 16 to imagine they are members of ISIS and to write about the good things that membership brings, such as female slaves. A link to the ISIS in-house magazine was provided. Or how about the recently publicised case of 12-year-olds being required to write a letter to their family explaining why they have converted to Islam? All in the name of promoting British values and ‘in line with the National Curriculum’.

If Ofsted seeks evidence of radicalisation and, indeed, of other forms of indoctrination and brainwashing, it need look no further than state schools. Small wonder that more parents, if they can afford to do it, are concluding that home education is the only alternative. And it was, after all, good enough for Princess Elizabeth!

Chris McGovern

  • KilowattTyler

    The internet and improved education of parents, especially mothers, should enable home education to thrive.
    The internet allows the sharing of tips, distribution of lesson plans, access to vast amounts of information and the organisation of social events,

    • mark taha

      Important thing learned at school-people in authority are often petty-minded,spiteful,arbitrary and unreasonable, have strong tendencies towards paranoia and megalomania, make up rules to amuse themselves,and are impervious to reason.An invaluable preparation for working for bosses, dealing with officials, and living under a government! As long as the kids are literate,numerate, articulate, happy,contented,confident and patriotic, that’s enough for me.

  • martianonlooker

    “are unlikely to have been brainwashed by bogus notions of political correctness”.
    Therein we see the crux of the matter. For whatever reason our politicians do not want us to be off message. There must be Islamaphobia in order to remove the focus from the horrors inflicted by the lack of Muslim integration ; we must all be racists and little Amanda should hang her head in shame for our imperialist past; little Tom must be a girl and encouraging him to mince about in a skirt is to be celebrated. For some weird reason, our elites do not want kids to be educated to question why, what, where, how and when?

  • paul parmenter

    “a 57 per cent increase over the past five years in children with special needs being home-educated.”

    My own autistic granddaughter is one of those 57%. Why? Because the local school had zero ability to cope with her, zero time to attend to her particular problems, and in the end, zero interest in dealing with her at any level. She was bullied and stressed out to the extent that she had fits on school mornings and tried to fight her way out of the car when her mother tried to drive her to school. Her last term, at the age of 11, was spent sitting in a corner by herself playing and drawing, abandoned by the teachers, with instructions to the rest of the pupils not to interfere with her.

    I am not putting a mountain of blame on the school. Her condition and needs are exceptional. But it should be painfully clear why she simply had to be taken out and home schooled by her mother, who understands her far better than anyone else on the planet. Secondary school would have been a nightmare too horrific to contemplate. Some three years on, and she is now making good progress, very artistic, learning Spanish at a rate of knots and a zillion times happier than she ever was in school.

    • Busy Mum

      Your experience sums up beautifully how ‘inclusion’ is actually damaging to special needs children as well as to ‘normal’ children who are not equipped or mature enough to cope.

      It’s another example of how pretending to care for disadvantaged people is anything but…

      • Ed McA

        …. but then many children can’t cope, in this age, because they are so mollycoddled at home and by the media.

        • Busy Mum

          I agree with that. I just worry that children are being forced to ‘accept’ special needs (and a lot of other things) before they are ready and as a result, do not develop the level of compassion they would do otherwise.
          In fact, it works the other way – they can get very resentful of the needy children who take up a lot of teacher time and attention and disturb the lesson. This is not the fault of any of the children – it is the fault of the adults who are determined to make it work despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    • Woman at home

      Thank goodness it is still possible to shake off the system for your children’s sake – although I’m sure it does not provide an easy life.
      A mountain of kudos to the mother.

  • If the UN Declaration of Human Rights says parents have the “right to choose the kind of education”, why aren’t we obeying this, we seem to obey every other directive.
    Presumably if they only want part of the school’s syllabus, they would have a right to withdraw their child from other parts such as lessons on subjects like sex and gender changing.
    The problem with this particular ‘human right’ would, of course, be the Islamic schools.

    • An afterthought.
      Is “formal schooling is necessary for socialisation and for the development of inter-personal skills”? A far as I can see, this takes place mainly on Facebook, children I meet seem to have very poor conversational skills.

  • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    “Children need to attend school with others to aid in their socialisation.” One of the more ironic comments one could ever make, considering the different meanings of that word..

    That one’s school is basically only an eyelash away from becoming Lord Of The Flies, if the kids being “socialised” are left purely to their own devices, is never discussed. Remember, a person will spend far more years as an adult than (s)he ever will as a child/adolescent. I should think that parents would want to have their children exposed to how adults interact amongst each other, in real life as opposed to on a sitcom, and be taught at a young-enough age how to do so, the better to help them in their adult years. Teaching them how to interact with other children doesn’t accomplish that, now does it?

  • Ed McA

    Lots of questions to be asked including;
    How many parents have the ability (or interest)?
    How many parents can take off from work?
    How many parents will not socialise their offspring?
    How many parents can provide soccer, hockey, rugby, basketball………….? (team building…)
    Our three have been high achievers at a state Grammar school and one reason for that is that we continually showed an interest in what they were studying in school and helped them with problems, homework…… I believe this is the way to go but then too many parents appear not to have an educational ethos nor show much. if any, interest in education, expecting the school to do EVERYTHING for their child (as do the media).

    • Busy Mum

      That’s why the state should get out of education altogether – it’s a complete waste of taxpayers’ money and subsidises poor parenting.
      I also have high achievers – some ex-grammar, some still at grammar, some not – but their achievements are largely despite the schools, not because of it. Yet children like ours and yours are being actively discriminated against because they are deemed to be advantaged…..the state is actively encouraging reproduction by those who would never have built dynasties in the past, whilst those who would have done so are facing penalties for even trying to be king of their own castle.

      • Ed McA

        Too true!
        Your comment is bringing back the memory of one of my daughter’s Chemistry teacher who was as boring as hell but I discovered the ‘A’ level text book other schools were using and bought them for her. She was very diligent and ended up top Chemistry student in the school but the teacher got the credit – little did they know the truth!
        What you state regarding reproduction is correct and about 11 years ago there was a film on this very topic but I don’t remember the title.

  • Strangely, I was thinking about this a bit the other night. I essentially enjoyed school, long ago and in America, so your mileage may vary. I learned a fair amount, in subjects my parents didn’t know, like chemistry and physics, although dad had a working knowledge. My chemistry teacher taught me a fair amount about electronics, because he detected an interest, and he was a ham operator, as I am now. Learned quite a lot playing American football, team effort, leading (and following), and such. I learned to deal with bullies during lunch hour – with boxing gloves, a permanent solution, he became a friend. Mom said my (spoken) English was better before, but then she was an English teacher. But you know, I was bored, most of the time, it was far too easy.

    I started working for dad when I was 13, now that was real education, at least in what we called the industrial arts, well the school did, we called it shop, and how to apply it in the real world. That was the real education, and besides, it was the most fun I ever had.

  • Malcolm Jackson

    It is hardly surprising that parents do not want to send their children to state schools to be brainwashed by Tony Blair’s Common Purpose trained teachers.

  • NedofWales

    Having listened to the Lords debate re Lord Soley’s silly bill wanting registration for home educators, I am struck by how little the lords understand about how home education works.

    As well as that, no-one has asked the question why there has been such an increase in parents who home educate, many of them reluctantly

    For the last 20 odd years I have been a volunteer on the Helpline of Education Otherwise. Years ago those who rang the helpline were parents for whom home education was a lifestyle choice, a religious choice or whose children were being bullied at school or whose specal needs were not beng met. Nowadays parents stll ring because their children’s specal needs are not being met or their children are being bullied but for many more it is because their children are suffering from anxiety, depression, are self-harming, or even having suicidal thoughts.

    I know very little about the modern school system but from what I gather on the Helpline I would say there is something very wrong with it.

  • c50

    Not your home obviously as you are so right wing your kids would have to knit their own resources.

  • “Vested interests outweigh the interests of children every time.” Sums up the problem really!

    Parents who care about their kids will always know and do better than the state. For the state everything is about political posturing, for good parents everything is about their kids!