Monday 10:15pm – 11:15pm, Channel 4
In the 1970’s, a fringe pursuit emerged, the teaching of children at home was taken up by a small number of families. In 2016-2017 that number had grown to around 48000 children being homeschooled, this was an enormous jump from 2015-2016 where there were 34000. It is estimated these numbers are actually far higher, local authority’s only keep a register of children who are withdrawn from a public education, children who have never been to school aren’t required to be put on these registers.
Whilst the number of children homeschooled is only 0.5%, the increase in numbers by over 40% has alarmed education experts and raised eyebrows. Education bodies and local authorities have called for more powers to monitor these children. An astonishing 164 local authorities admitted to sharp increases in the past 3 years. The government has pledged to publish guidance on the rights and responsibilities of home education, but not legislate.
Many reasons are given by parents for educating children at home, with mental health issues and avoiding exclusion being given as the top reasons. Many observers also now quote the controversial fining by local authorities of parents for taking children out of school as a contributing factor. Whatever the reasons, it’s the problem and focus of Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield. Her remit is “is to bring about long term change and improvements for all children, and in particular the most vulnerable, with a special focus on those in care”. A former chief executive of the “4Children” charity, her empathy and drive to support children is clear to see.
This documentary investigates all the reasons behind the rise and the hidden impact homeschooling is having on these young people learning from home, it questions whether the rights of parents are being put before the rights to a proper education and in some cases even the safety of the child. The safeguarding methods typically found in local authority schools is missing in home schooling and potentially leaving vulnerable people at risk. On the opposite side of the argument is the rights of parents to give what they believe to be the best for their own children.
An extremely interesting programme which focuses on a somewhat taboo subject which rarely makes the headlines except in extreme circumstances.
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