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To feel a bit sorry for these kids

(107 Posts)
SenoritaViva Thu 07-Feb-13 12:38:25

DC were friends with a family that moved away. They come back regularly to see family in the area and come to play with my DC.

When they moved, last summer they decided to home school their children. They have a Year 3 and Year 1 Child, a preschooler and a one year old.

She has not started their home schooling with them and instead has given them household chores instead because 'having 4 children is an unbelievable amount of work'.

I just feel the children are missing out on their education as a result of her needs for help. I am not disputing that 4 children is a lot of hard work, nor am I against her needing help around the house and I am not against home schooling either. But I also think that if the eldest two were at school and the younger one had her 15 hours at preschool that would free up some of her time. She won't consider it as she has made the decision to 'home school'. I presume their family will continue to expand, she's alluded to the fact that they will due to religious reasons.

I know it's none of my business I just feel a little sad for the children. I should just stop thinking about it shouldn't I? They are still part of a loving home and she cares greatly for them. There are a lot worse off I suppose.

loofet Fri 08-Feb-13 16:07:00

In this country anyone can choose to HE. Don't have to be qualified and you also don't have OFSTED checks, nobody checks on you against your wishes. Sadly this means some children fall through the cracks and end up with little to no education although it is rare because I don't think many people know much about HE plus I like to think most people care about their kids education.

You don't have to follow the curriculum, schools aren't required to do so either. HE is a wonderful thing and, if done correctly, much better than mainstream education imo. Your friend, however, doesn't seem to be doing a good job and is giving HE families a bad name! I don't think learning to do chores is ever bad, life skills are as important imo as reading and writing- I mean we all have to do washing and pay bills! But they do also have to have a real education no matter how you do that.

SenoritaViva Fri 08-Feb-13 15:50:07

Hello everybody

Sorry I didn't come back and post yesterday, things got busy. I will spend some time reading the posts I haven't had time to later this evening.

But as an update (I think I got somewhere on page 3) people really gave me some interesting perspectives and I shall stop being sad about these children. I didn't feel I got a roasting as someone suggested but that people were being challenging in a pretty nice way.

On the getting kids to do house chores front - they are quite a strange family and have brought up their children in quite a specific way. They are all quite responsible and there is no room for bad behaviour of any kind. So I expect they are all excellent at their chores (perhaps I was just really jealous?!) It's not my style of parenting but mine is certainly by no means perfect.

For what it's worth, I'd never have considered reporting them. I was always sure the children would be learning something, they all just seemed quite academic and I was surprised that she wasn't pursuing something a little more planned and strategic.

Jamillalliamilli Thu 07-Feb-13 18:49:10

I am monitored and was absolutely fine with it in theory.

I'm not fine with the LEA providing a junior school teacher (accompanied by an LEA official who had already soured her books with unprofessional rudeness) to assess a child doing 12 IGCSE/GCSE’s.

The teacher did her best, but pointed out she wasn’t qualified for the level of task. She did however go through all the work and the rest of the things being done including remedial work, and praised them highly, saying he was clearly getting an excellent in depth education and would say so in her report.

I cannot have a copy of that report as they then decided she wasn’t qualified to have inspected him, but they had no one who was.

So I can’t have an honest report of where we’re at even in the eyes of a junior school teacher, and ds whose furious, and totally spooked out, now refuses to meet with anyone unqualified to judge his level, leaving a good mum looking not great and what should have been a relieved ds very untrusting and refusing to meet LEA people.

manicinsomniac Thu 07-Feb-13 18:26:22

fair enough. Thank you for answering.

SDeuchars Thu 07-Feb-13 18:14:07

I didn't mean a threat as in that it would close the schools. We reckon that there are about 60-70K children being home-educated in the UK. Most will be primary age, so if we assume 45K at primary and 15K at secondary, that is the equivalent of about 150 large primary schools and 10-15 secondary schools. That is a lot of teaching and admin jobs (not to mention buildings, supplies, inspections, etc.). The "education industry" is huge and affects almost everyone; HEers choose not to use it and this bothers some people.

People have suggested that the HEers on this thread are defensive (not sure why, I thought we were just answering questions) - we often find that articles in the TES (and daily newspapers) bring out really vitriolic and uninformed comments.

Deregistering doesn't (and should not) trigger an automatic welfare concern. If there are existing welfare concerns, they should not be ignored simply because a child is deregistered. There is also a large percentage of HE DC (like mine) who were not registered for school at 4 or 5 and therefore have not been deregistered - their educational provision triggers no automatic check.

Why is a check often seen as negative?

- HE may not look like school and LA officers may object to the way it is carried out
- LA officers may expect the child to "perform", which the child may not be able or want to do (this is completely outwith their remit - any check should be of provision not reception)
- LA officers often want to visit before the family has had time to adjust to the new arrangements
- A family who has deregistered a child in traumatic circumstances (bullying and unmet SEN being the most common) may not feel able to deal with an official coming into their home and judging them (particularly if they are on a low income, live in a bad area or have children with SEN)

- The duty in law is placed on the parent; no authority has a duty to monitor HE

IShallWearMidnight Thu 07-Feb-13 18:11:00

think of HE inspections like this. Someone from the Food Agency has written to you to come and do their annual check that you're feeding your children. They turn up with their folder, and look in your fridge and cupboards. They want to see sample menus, and talk to the DC about what they eat, and what they can cook themselves. Then they give you some recipe leaflets about different ways to cook broccoli. "My DC don't like broccoli" you say. "Ah, but broccoli is good for DC" replies the inspector. "I love it". "They've tried it may times, and don't like it." you say. "No, DC must have broccoli at least twice a week. Follow these recipes, and i'll come back and check. And if the DC aren't eating broccoli, then well, we'll have to send in the Official Broccoli Cook, ad you won't be allowed to cook for your DC any more".

To lots of HEers, inspecting how they live their lives is a massive intrusion (just as the Food Agency inspector would be an intrusion into your life). There's a presupposition that parents can't be trusted to do what's best for their DC, and the Authorities Know Best. Now combine that with a DC who's been taken out of a school (or schools) which have failed to meet their needs, and you can see why a parent might not be happy with the not so veiled threat that if you don't jump through the hoops demanded by an LA official with their own views and prejudices, then it's back to school with you.

manicinsomniac Thu 07-Feb-13 17:55:06

I don't think HE could ever be a threat to schools as such, it just isn't popular enough and, even if it were, most people wouldn't be able to do it. But fair enough, if deregistering is recorded properly and triggers an automatic concern then maybe the article wasn't that accurate and it isn't a problem.

I'm interested as to why an inspection is seen as suche a negative thing to HEers though SDeuchars. Not in a snarky way, I really would like to hear your views. Personally I hate being oberved teaching, it makes me feel sick and turns my head to cotton wool. But I definitely don't think it would be a good thing if nobody ever inspected my standards.

lljkk Thu 07-Feb-13 17:42:39

Sounds exactly like Caitlin Moran was raised & she insists she & her very many sibs all turned out fine.

I'm not convinced either. hmm

Jamillalliamilli Thu 07-Feb-13 17:34:16

Ooops I see I've cross posted with a more articulate poster who's put it better.

Jamillalliamilli Thu 07-Feb-13 17:32:46

Manic That's absolute bollocks! (TES not you) HE'ds are in exactly the same position with SS and CPO as anyone and everyone else, and if there are CP or CIN concerns, social services have exactly the same remit.
It is often the case that de-registering a child to HE is an automatic trigger for concern, even if there haven't been any previously, which some authorities like to twist into X number of HE children are known to SS, of course they are, you automatically are in some authorities if you de-register.

SDeuchars Thu 07-Feb-13 17:29:23

Of course, manicinsomniac, a story in the TES is bound to be true, isn't it? It's not as if it is catering to people who might feel under threat by HE?

Excuse the sarcasm, but this is a constant criticism and it just is not true. If there are welfare concerns about a child, then those concerns are independent of their educational provision and SS can get involved. Where children have been removed from school after welfare concerns have been raised, it is wrong and a failing on the part of SS for them to close the case.

That is what happened with Khyra Ishaq in Birmingham: the education department passed its concerns to SS but overworked and inadequately trained and supervised social workers did not do their job. In fact, a teacher reported concerns about a sibling only 10 days before the child died.

HEers have nothing to fear from being monitored ... to save even one unfortunate child from secret abuse and neglect, OFSTED or some other kind of inspection should be compulsory. It's far too easy to hide children away otherwise.

There is absolutely no evidence that this is true. There is, however, plenty of evidence for inspections being stressful and traumatic for families and children.

SDeuchars Thu 07-Feb-13 17:21:53

VisualiseAHorse, I find it odd that you wouldn't want to teach your kids to write etc.

I don't think there are many people who would say that (including the OP's friend). But it does not mean that you wish them to learn in the same way or to the same timescale as in school. If they grow up to be happy and fulfilled adults who are capable of earning their own living, does it matter if they could read at 7?

And it is difficult to imagine an 18yo who would not want to be able to be independent. My DS took a long time to get there, but he was concerned at 16 when he didn't know what he wanted to do (DD had known from about 14). IMO, school is more likely to produce a young person who sits around doing nothing because it is more likely to have eroded the DC's confidence.

MrsDeVere Thu 07-Feb-13 17:21:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

manicinsomniac Thu 07-Feb-13 17:20:46

I was really shocked when I found out that HEers don't get inspected and monitored. I read an article on it in the TES and the focus wasn't on the children being failed educationally by this system but pastorally. In several cases a school had begun to raise concerns about a child's welfare in their home and, just like that, the parents would whip them out of school to be 'HEed' and were free to treat the child as they wished without being watched by social services.

I'm well aware that most HEers are amazing but they have nothing to fear from being monitored so I think that, to save even one unfortunate child from secret abuse and neglect, OFSTED or some other kind of inspection should be compulsory. It's far too easy to hide children away otherwise.

Jamillalliamilli Thu 07-Feb-13 17:04:03

MrsDeVere Ds has ASD, associated learning diffuculties and serious hypermobility and a very spikey profile, so we're just about managing A level further maths, (but tables aren't happening) and physics, (but alphabet not happening) but very low age innapropriate self care skills, despite appearing bright as a button if odd.

Same end result of low expectations and assumptions about me being common and thick getting in the way, not helped by DS being seen as a package with severly brain damaged sibling by some.

We're all guilty of seeing something and making assumptions without looking harder first.

MrsDeVere Thu 07-Feb-13 16:45:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jamillalliamilli Thu 07-Feb-13 16:37:08

Similer situation of levels of failure and couldn't do worse, here Mrs DeVere, (though I suspect very different types of difficulties) except his safety and well being meant it wasn't a respite.

Jamillalliamilli Thu 07-Feb-13 16:33:39

Visualise frankly it was a huge culture shock and I privately wondered about so much, not least if this apparent laissez faire attitude wasn’t just because all HE’dders apparently owned their own houses so didn’t have to worry about where their children might later live! blush grin

But while we’re mainly –over—structured, (some autonomous) and wouldn’t cope without the constant reassurance of “measure me, grade me, give my life meaning” methods, since I’ve actually been around all these different set ups on a daily level, I’ve really changed my mind, on seeing the outcomes.

There are of course cases of not as good outcomes too, but the same is true of schools. I’m glad I bit back on my opinions and assumptions of what it might lead to, because I’d be looking a fool with what most of the HE’s I know are now up to regardless of where they were at X stage, or how little they seemed to be doing, or how unbothered their parents where.

Many people choose to embrace HE from the start, I’m a back footed into it convert, whose ds was being propelled down the ASDAN certificate of personal competency (very basic skills) route. There are no checks to ensure a child’s needs are being met in school, just checks that the school can talk the talk that justifies whatever the choice is.

There are no checks that when a child is severely behind (in a competition based system) and ought to be put onto SA and SA+ or statemented, that it happens. There are no checks on if a child is being taught to write in school or if they can write functionally, even if the parent is deeply unhappy about it.

Good schools often do of course and often care deeply, but no one checks they do, and education runs on the assumption that the education provider, whoever they are, always puts the interests of the child at heart, (even when they publically say it isn’t in the LEA’s financial interests to do so) unless proven otherwise.

Sometimes the interests of the child doesn’t get put first, but despite the large documented numbers it doesn’t happen for in schools, the great interest is in the minority, HE’dders.

I wonder why we’re fine about the failures we can see, and so worried if there are one’s we might not know about.

MrsDeVere Thu 07-Feb-13 16:15:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

VisualiseAHorse Thu 07-Feb-13 15:58:12

Urm....I find it odd that you wouldn't want to teach your kids to write etc. I think that's what I was going to write!

I'm not against HE by the way, I just think that maybe there should be some checks around what the children are being taught?

akaemmafrost Thu 07-Feb-13 15:37:09

I certainly have a lot of crises of confidence as someone said previously. Some days ds seems to do NOTHING and I feel quite stressed and wonder if I am failing him.

When he WAS at school though he was doing part time hours (mornings only) and it was a rare day indeed when I didn't get a call to pick him up as he had lost it sad. He has ASD, dyspraxia, sensory processing disorder and Hypermobilty. All these conditions combined to make school totally unmanageable for him, where one difficulty from one condition ended another one started. I do feel that I can't be doing any worse than that and at least he is not covered in abrasions and bruises from being restrained every day sad. He lasted only two weeks in a special school so we really have tried all the options.

I believe from the bottom of my heart that SOME children cannot and never will function healthily in a school environment and I have one of these children.

For us, I don't think we actually have a choice other than home educate and this does make me defensive I suppose.

It does fascinate me the strength of opinion when it comes to HE, discussing it really does bring out some very strong opinions (and often the worst in people) and I wonder why that is? Why are strangers so invested in how my (or anyone else's) child is educated?

I believe that my child IS receiving the best possible education FOR HIM and his needs at the present time. I would defy anyone who knows ds and what he has been through to say otherwise, no matter how staunch an advocate of formal education they are.

It's not easy though.

Jamillalliamilli Thu 07-Feb-13 15:30:48

Sorry visualise you do find it.... what please? grin

VisualiseAHorse Thu 07-Feb-13 15:16:50

JustGettingOnWithIt - I think those figures are just as shocking.

I don't know the children I am talking about personally, but I do know there is no SEN etc, they are just two 'normal' children. Their parents choose to let them learn at their own pace etc, but I do find it

I think that if you have taken on the responsibility of teaching your children, then you need to follow through on that. Don't just teach them life-skills, but also the things that they will probably need in order to succeed in life and work.

Jamillalliamilli Thu 07-Feb-13 14:34:11

Eyes up Mrs DeVere suspiciously that we're in the same area!

Mine was illegally repeatedly and frequently excluded from the classroom because they didn't know how/didn't have the time to differentiate so he could access the curriculum. No alternative work was provided. Then they decided he didn’t need to do core subjects as he could do painting instead. (it turned out they had a child needing ‘art therapy’ and she didn’t want to be on her own and I was complaining he wasn’t doing anything.)
LEA came up with the brilliant 'reached the level of his learning abilities' to excuse the lack of education.

Crap or no education can be taking place for many reasons. The real question is what’s the bigger longer term plan, and will taking time out at any particular point have a negative effect on the planned goal? If the answers yes, you are looking at a problem. If the answers no, you’re not.

RunnerHasbeen Thu 07-Feb-13 14:18:52

Whatever the issue discussed, surely people can see the difference between someone executing a well thought out plan in their childrens' best interests and someone who isn't staying on top of things and whose children might be suffering as a result. The OP is obviously worried about the latter, not HE-ing in general and perhaps if some of the posts had been worded less defensively they might have been more helpful.

Perhaps you should make a note of what the people here who HE do (count and organise socks, lego towers etc.) and suggest these to your friend a way to get started, combining the housework with learning? It sounds like she is overwhelmed by the idea just now and perhaps some reassurance and prompting is needed by those around her.

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