Concern over home-education nationwide register
Parents studying at home have raised concerns about the government’s plans for a national registry for out-of-school children.
The concern comes when Commons Education Committee MPs said in its report on strengthening home education that more data needs to be collected to ensure that all out-of-school children receive an adequate education.
It added that the government does not collect national figures on how many children are voluntarily home-educated and parents do not need to register this with councils.
In May of this year, Norfolk County Council (NCC) announced that the number of home-schooled children registered had increased by 33 percent and that between November 2019 and November 2020 the number of home-schooled children in Norfolk had increased from 1,439 to 1,925 .
Mandy Betts, with her husband and two children, who she homeschools.
– Credit: Debbie Hallsworth of Sunray Photography
Mandy Betts, 42, of Taverham, who homeschools her nine- and six-year-old sons, said a register would create resentment in the home education community as it might contain connotations of a list related to child abuse.
She said, “The thought of a register annoys me. Every child is registered at birth. When our children are three or four years old, we receive a letter in which parents are asked to register for the school, a register if municipalities should tighten their own regulations. It should be about closing the loop when the letter is sent to a school place. “
She said there are sometimes reminders but they are not always followed up and authorities may not be aware that children are being home schooled.
Ms. Betts and her husband decided to give their eldest, who is waiting to be diagnosed with autism, home tutoring after looking around the schools before he started school. They carried on with their younger son.
“We didn’t have the feeling that a school could support him. The best we can get out of home schooling is that we can tailor it to suit their interests. My oldest son can’t work in a group and my youngest is similar with things helping with learning, “she added.
The therapist, who fits into work evenings and weekends, said her children and other home-raised children are well socialized through networks meeting for outdoor sessions that had to stop due to Covid restrictions.
She believed that more people would keep their children if more schools focused more on SEND support.
Ms. Betts, who had to prove that she had adequate training, had to complete training as a protection officer and is visited by the council once a year or sends a report.
She said, “Legally, all parents are responsible for their children’s education.”
Health workers said there was an increase in people in Norfolk taking their children out of schools at the start of the lockdown over fears that children, some of whom had health problems or lived with people with health problems, could contract Covid could.
There is also a wave of parents taking their children out because they don’t want them to get the vaccine.
Another parent from Norwich, who teaches at home, said: “Any child who has previously attended school or even a playgroup is already automatically registered with the local council and connected to the local home education support department, and these are the children, which seems to the government the most Parents who choose not even to enroll their children do so because they want to follow an entirely different philosophy.
“Forcing these parents to adhere to government surveillance is potentially very harmful to our society as a whole and will not work for children with special needs or gifted children.”
– Photo credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto
A spokesman for the Ministry of Education said, “We support parents who want to study at home. It is absolutely important that any decision to raise awareness is made with the best interests of the child in the forefront of parenting considerations.
“We continue to advocate a registration system for children out of school that will help local authorities carry out their existing roles and protect all children.”
NCC was asked to comment.
Schools that work with home teachers
– Photo credit: Martin George
According to a school principal, teachers want to work with parents who want to teach at home.
Scott Lyons, Norfolk Joint Division Secretary National Education Union (NEW), which represents 6,000 teachers, said many elementary schools in the county worked tirelessly to offer blended learning, where children attend school intermittently and study at home.
Mr Lyons, himself a teacher, said: “We must respect parents’ wishes if they think their school environment is not the best place.”
He said the educators would also like to support parents who taught at home, but he believed schools were the best place to support people’s mental health, protection and social skills.
Mr Lyons added, “It makes sense to keep a register where schools know every child in the catchment who is not going to school so they don’t fall through the net.”
The teacher said Norfolk is well positioned to offer SEND children special school offers and all schools are working on emergency procedures for future Covid outbreaks.
No need to keep children out of school, experts claim
– Credit: Archant © 2013
An infectious disease expert said there was no point in keeping children out of school as the coronavirus won’t go away.
Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia said, “Whether you have kids in school or not, they will get infected with Covid. This is a virus that will be with us forever. There will be no benefit in keeping children with you September home. “
He predicted cases would increase across all age groups this fall, but the virus looked more like a cold and the introduction of the vaccine would reduce hospital stays and deaths from Covid-19.
Prof. Hunter acknowledged that there was still “a huge amount of misunderstanding about infectious diseases” and that the different views of experts in the media were confusing.
The expert added: “Children will not receive the vaccine. There are currently no plans to vaccinate children between the ages of 11 and 18. The exceptions are children who would be seriously ill.”
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) has recommended that children at increased risk of developing severe Covid-19 disease be offered the Pfizer vaccine.
The vaccination is to be offered to children aged 12 to 15 years with severe neurological disabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression, and multiple or severe learning disabilities, as well as young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunocompromised person.
However, the JCVI does not currently recommend routine vaccination of children outside of these groups based on current evidence.
Prof. Hunter described the anti-Vax lobby as “deeply criminally misguided”.