Ah, the Times Schools Supplement has done it again. And yes, I have renamed them, I don’t think they’re entitled to call themselves an Education paper, not until they start to seriously acknowledge that there are viable alternatives to traditional schooling, and I suspect that’s not going to happen while their rag is purchased primarily by teachers and local authorities.
This weeks front page headline reads “35,000 lost to schooling”. They then go on to suggest that “As many as” 35,000 children may not be receiving a basic education. Before I go further, two points.
1. Schooling does not equal education (see first paragraph rant). Learn the difference TES, please. It is fundamental to the business you are supposed to be in.
2. TES is like Lidl. Yes, the German supermarket chain. They are currently advertising
ALL FROZEN FOODS
or some such. Gee and gosh, aren’t they clever? They got us thinking that they had slashed all their chilly grub to half price, lets go and fill our trolleys. And look, 35,000 children are definitely not in receipt of an education because the front page of the TES says so in big letters on its front page.
Now I know what you are saying, we are all clever enough to read the small print in both cases, we have learnt to be equally sceptical of supermarket ads and newspaper headlines. Let me ask you this then, why do they keep doing it? Because at some level, it penetrates our subconscious. And we aren’t all that clever really.
So back to the article. As this is front page news, it must be thoroughly researched, balanced and carefully thought through. Oh if only. The main source appears to be “Local authority inspectors”. Which ones, and how many are never mentioned. Two are named and quoted, I hope the TES have a few more than that, but there is no real suggestion of this.
I’m starting to see a pattern here. A few anti Home Education local authorities complain that they need new powers to crack down on home educators. The government say, “Really, oh OK then, lets look at changing the law” the press say “Oh look, local authority inspectors say tens of thousands of children are being neglected and home educators eat their babies, it must be true, hold the front page”. Does nobody seriously question this approach except those of us actively engaged in home education? Has it not occurred to people that these “inspectors” are mostly ex-headteachers or ex-school teachers, who work for the local education authority? They are very often entirely entrenched in the system, and rarely have any training of alternative forms of education – they are trained as school teachers.
Given this, if there is a call for new regulation of home education, can we not take the time to consider, research and make informed decisions, rather than knee-jerk reactions based on prejudice, intolerance and ignorance? As for the TES, what is with the idea of pouring petrol onto teh flames the local authority are trying to fan into life? You have a responsibility for your output, try journalism rather than scaremongering.