ONE of the most puzzling aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic responses is that it was a Conservative government which implemented the authoritarian rule mirroring that of Communist China. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, given that generations have now been schooled in a national curriculum which has been taken over by the secular Left. The last remaining forum for truly independent education is home education, but now the Left is coming for that too.
Discreetly announced this month is a Government intention to legislate for a compulsory register of home-educated children. Full details are not yet available, but this will not just be a simple list because the Government says it wants a ‘comprehensive picture’ of the child on the register with the local authority having a ‘duty to support’ the family. For ‘comprehensive picture’ read surveillance and for ‘support’ read control.
As Ronald Reagan said: ‘The nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help”.’
The prospect of compulsory registration and support is indeed terrifying. The clue to home education is in the name – it takes place in the privacy of the home. I was a home-educated child, and home educated our two children at secondary level. In each case privacy and independence meant the education was tailored to the needs of the individual child. I learned informally and, being brought up on a farm, was self-taught in many things including how to drive a combine harvester at 15! Our children were quite different and thrived on a traditional structured curriculum. Inter alia I taught them Latin – not the modern trendy way but the old way, and they thrived on it. No school could ever have provided the thorough grounding I gave them. There is no way, either as a child or as an adult, that I would have wanted to justify our home life and education to a box-ticking council inspector.
This is not about the 3 Rs – this is politically motivated interference in family life. Both our children, upon entering the state sixth-form college, found that the views and values of their peers were consistently Left-wing and secular. The conformity of thought was alarming, and the Government has signalled its interest in home-educated children being inculcated with the ‘British Values’ and PHSE curricula which are the conduit for the Left-wing establishment’s agenda.
In a remarkable judgement against the Scottish Government’s infamous Named Person policy the Supreme Court in 2016 commented:
‘Individual differences are the product of the interplay between the individual person and his upbringing and environment. Different upbringings produce different people. The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.’
Responding to a Government consultation, 92 per cent of parents and children opposed a home education register, but the state knows better, so family concerns were ignored. Many wrote to the Government citing concerns about human rights and data protection – both vital democratic safeguards for family life – but the Government never responded to these legal points.
If the Government gets away with this attempt to control parents and children, our diversity of opinion, our individuality and our freedom to think outside the narrow box-ticking state will be impinged upon.
Whether our MPs will understand these concerns is a moot point because, after all, many of them are national curriculum products too.
As Ronald Reagan also said: ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for and handed on to them to do the same.’
We have been warned.