What is a Suitable Education?
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In Brief

Welcome

This site isn’t about home education as such. It is about what we know about how our brains work, all the evidence on what helps us to learn and to flourish, about what we know of the wider world of work, and about a school system which is consistently failing large numbers of children. It is about sharing ideas on some of the many wonderful alternatives to how the school system is currently.

This site pulls together evidence and information from a wide variety of sources in order to show the bigger picture about how children learn, the factors which are relevant to determining what a ‘suitable education’ – the legal requirement – is, and what involvement the state should have in that.

In the context of this information we hope to show that home education is a reasonable, logical and very positive response to the challenges and can provide children with a personalised, effective and often truly wonderful education. We are not here to ‘school bash’. There are many schools which manage, despite the many challenges heaped upon them, to do some really good things. There are children who love going to school. There are, however, far too many who don’t. Much of what is shared here about the ways in which the system is broken has been voiced by teachers, by headteachers, by the unions and some of the solutions for a different way of educating children come from them too.  

How things are right now is not good enough. It is time for a revolution in education, and home education is a part of that revolution.

Recent discussion of home education paints the rising numbers as something worrying that needs ‘something doing about it’. There are attempts to change the law, or application of it, and at the same time media coverage has mixed up home educated children, and off-rolled children and children missing education and worries about radicalisation and abuse.

There clearly are great problems and challenges but home education is not the problem. This scapegoating of home education is like sticking fingers in ears and refusing to listen to the cacophony of voices speaking out about the current failures of the school system, the calls for change, for something better.

It is true that Elective Home Education is an issue, but it is one that highlights the failings of schooling and social services. Furthermore, it brings into relief the shortcomings of government bodies that operate without proper care or respect for practitioners and educational research. Educationally, Elective Home Education is one of the most innovative and exciting growing movements of the current time

Dr Helen Lees

Teachers and others working in the education system are giving everything they can with fewer and fewer resources, under increasingly challenging situations. But they are hindered by deep and fundamental problems with the system itself. People are speaking out. From parent groups to business leaders, leading educational experts and teachers’ unions. These voices come from so many different sides.

Scientific understanding of how our brains work and of factors which effect learning has also come a long way in recent years. We know that play is essential to children’s development, there is greater recognition of the role of interest, curiosity and being allowed to make choices as important to learning. While there are some inspirational examples of teaching practices and programmes implemented by schools, they can be piecemeal and are often stymied by the demands of curriculum, testing and targets, and the culture this leads to. There are some examples from outside of the UK, for example in Finland and other such countries, which show how a more progressive approach could work in practice as well as alternative education initiatives here in England. Home educators are able to facilitate an education which is highly personalised and which very much puts the child, their interests and motivation at the heart of their education.

There is also wider discussion about the skills that people need in today’s world, and in the future. Creativity and problem solving are the key skills that organisations such as the World Economic Forum and CBI say are needed in employment. There’s wide agreement – from business and from universities – that school leavers do not have these skills. Neither do they have skills such as digital knowledge or ability to speak foreign languages, which although flagged as vital are not being successfully taught.

Our schools are wildly out of date. English schools are still trying to fill their students’ heads with facts, despite the knowledge economy being well and truly dead, thanks to the ubiquitous and free availability of any knowledge you could ever wish to find online. The school system is the same as it has been since the industrial age, even though much of the rest of the world has changed beyond recognition.

The internet – as well as democratising access to knowledge – has also made it easier for parents interested in home education to talk to each other, to find others in the same situation, to talk to people who are further down the path, to find groups and friends, to share opportunities.

This site pulls together the evidence and information around these areas, to highlight the bigger picture. Home education is a reasonable, logical and very positive response to this bigger picture. It provides children with a personalised, effective and often truly wonderful education.

It cannot be the whole answer though, it doesn’t suit every family and should certainly be a choice, not something forced by circumstance. The whole school system needs to change, in the many ways outlined by so many people and organisations most of whom have gone far beyond criticism and outlined solutions and road maps for change. What is needed, as called for by Ken Robinson and others, is a revolution in education. And home education is an important part of that revolution.

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