Friday, 21 October 2011

Should Home Educators get funding?

A question that gets bantered about quite a bit by home educators is: 'why don't home educators get funding from the government?' or, even more commonly from non home educators: 'So do you get allowances to home educate?'.  I'm yet to find one non home educator who isn't completely shocked to find out that we don't receive help financially.

Some might argue we are giving our children a private education and therefore why would we ask for funding when a private school receives none?  A fair point you might say, but surely the more choice the better?  What if you were home educating and the LA was involved, not so private is it?  However, surely those of us wanting more help from the LA financially should be able to come to some agreement. 

Here's some of my thoughts on the subject.  Correct me if I'm wrong but Private schools don't get an ofsted inspection?  Well, not as far as I know.  So, my thinking is if those of us who are having the LA review us, as so many of us are, then surely we should be able to opt for some funding. The reason I say this is, if we are having to prove that our children are receiving an education surely it is the similar to a school ofsted report, no?  They receive financial aide therefore we should?  At the very least they could offer things like book vouchers, home educators public transportation passes, free exams, well, at least for the first sitting?  That kind of thing.  We are saving the government money with each child we keep at home after all. 

I believe I read something about talks of concerns about free exams for the home educated child.  That if free exams were offered to home educators then schools would feel it easier to kick out troublesome children on the grounds and that they would be able to sit exams without school.  I have an idea on that one, although I'm not sure how foolproof it is.  The idea is that the free exam sitting for home educators should be given to those who have been home educating for over a year at least with proof that they have a 'suitable education'.  But then we have the problem that government might then want to define 'suitable education'.  Mind you some people maybe more sceptical and wonder if government keep 'suitable education' undefined, they have loop holes when it suits them.  Is there any feasible way to provide home educators with better funding?  They will also, no doubt, mention the costs of the 'home education officers', if that's what we're to call them, but surely they don't cost as much as sending all home educated children to school?  Well, I wouldn't have thought.

Anyway that's my thoughts on the subject.  Please feel free to contribute your points on this subject.

16 comments:

  1. Private schools are inspected by the Independent Schools Council Inspectorate unless they are v small (in which case I think it IS Ofsted?)
    http://www.isc.co.uk/Inspection_TheIndependentSchoolsInspectorateISI.htm and the Government monitors the inspectors.

    "Getting funding" means different things to different people.

    I think there should be somewhere available locally to sit exams, but I don't call this "funding." MP Graham Stuart made this point at the recent All Party Parliamentary Group Meeting in the House of Commons.

    http://edyourself.org/articles/APPGfeedback.php

    I also think home educated teens should be able to go to college at 14 without the parents having to pay the college fees. This is what I've been doing a lot of work on and the new Alternative Provision guidance now makes it clear that local councils can claim back the money they pay to the college.

    http://edyourself.org/articles/APguidance2011-12.php

    I think that where the families have special needs children, the local authority should be able to pay for services for those children and claim the money back from central Government and again the new Alternative Provision Guidance and supplementary statements from DfE makes it clear that Councils CAN get the money back.

    http://edyourself.org/articles/APfundingSENEHE.php

    I haven't ever campaigned for money to go directly to individual home educating families (either in the form of cash or vouchers) and this is not something I would support. Then again I don't think it would ever happen.

    I must just say though that home educators DON'T have to prove that their children are receiving an education. If you have contact from the local authority (as I did, back in the day though my son is 18 now) then you aren't being "inspected" and you don't have to "satisfy" the LA. You as the parent are responsible for the education provided and the law only requires the LA to ask for information, not for proof. It's hard to describe exactly what the difference is, but it DOES mean that home educating families aren't - or shouldn't be - "inspected." I just commented on this in relation to what Lancs council is saying elsewhere.

    http://edyourself.org/articles/lancsconsult.php#summarykeyissues

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  2. Much as I would like some financial contribution to the expense of home educating I would rather home educate on the shoestring budget that I have now than accept any sort of funding that comes with strings attached. And tbh most government money comes with strings.


    I worry that if Home edders were offered individual funding to home educate it might

    a) attract parents who don't actually care about their kids' education but are just trying to avoid truancy issues,

    or b) cause even more reason for non-home-edders to be antagonist towards home edders.

    and c) give the LAs reason to then tie funding in with 'inspections' and 'targets' to see what their money is being spent on. (blurgh!).


    I think if you have children with special needs, or want your kids to have access to exams and exam centres then this is something else entirely. I don't think children who are home edded should be excluded from being able to take exams because of the expense and some support to enable them to take exams if they wish and increased availability of/finance for exam centres would be good.

    The trouble is that we all home educate for different reasons and there are an increasing number of new home edders who expect funding and resources and groups and activities to be set up for them, compared with the old DIY approach. I do think that for them they will have a very different view to me. Having been home edding for quite a few years now, I realise very clearly the dangers of government funding and intervention.

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  3. I think exams should be freely available, not just to home educated but to everyone Showing my age here, I can remember when you could do GCSEs at evening classes and if your income was below a certain level then you got them free.

    This meant that if, for whatever reason, you hadn't achieved all you could or wanted to at school, or your goals changed, then you could go back and do it later. I knew a number of women who did this while their children were smaller, then went into a new career once they were more independent and I know many now who combine HE and OU and are simultaneously the educator and the educated.

    Something like this would mean that our kids, whose income would almost certainly have been less, could do exams if they wanted to, with very little fuss.


    These days we hear so much about people having to change careers regularly that my feeling is that campaigning to bring this back would be a way forward that wouldn't expose anyone in the HE community to any pressure. As it is, the OU is becoming radically more expensive, so the chances of getting qualifications get slimmer exactly at the time when we need better trained and educated people.

    As for the rest of the issue... well, I've got more sense than to comment these days!

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  4. "I must just say though that home educators DON'T have to prove that their children are receiving an education. If you have contact from the local authority (as I did, back in the day though my son is 18 now) then you aren't being "inspected" and you don't have to "satisfy" the LA. You as the parent are responsible for the education provided and the law only requires the LA to ask for information, not for proof. It's hard to describe exactly what the difference is, but it DOES mean that home educating families aren't - or shouldn't be - "inspected." I just commented on this in relation to what Lancs council is saying elsewhere." -

    Hi Fiona, I understand what you are saying but in when the LA contact 'us' they are asking for evidence of education. This is all I meant. I know we can refuse to see them or refuse to provide our childrens' work as written proof, but are they not 'checking up' on those of us who are registared? Otherwise what would be the point of their job?

    After reading all the comments you and others have made, it does seem a better option to push for free exams I also think the college idea is brilliant. Things I hadn't thought of and I'm so pleased you bought up.

    I, like all home educators, have my own reason to home ed and wouldn't want that freedom compromised. I was just wanting to throw around a few ideas to see what would be the most realistic option for home educators as a whole.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and post on my blog. Your input is really valued and makes a lot of sense.

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  5. Hi Big mama frog,

    Thanks for your response. I love opening up things like this for discussion, because I learn so much.

    You wrote: "I worry that if Home edders were offered individual funding to home educate it might

    a) attract parents who don't actually care about their kids' education but are just trying to avoid truancy issues,

    or b) cause even more reason for non-home-edders to be antagonist towards home edders.

    and c) give the LAs reason to then tie funding in with 'inspections' and 'targets' to see what their money is being spent on. (blurgh!)"

    I hadn't even thought of your point a and that makes me start to worry about half the world becoming home educators and we'll never have all those public amenities to ourself, that would be just awful!

    I also think you are right about the fact they'll ask where the money goes. I still think things like public transport should be subsidised for those who are home educating. It would certainly help towards a greener country too. These are only my thoughts as a carless person of society however.

    Thanks again for posting here x

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  6. Anne that would be a great idea having exams open to all with low incomes. I think the expense of exams is the main issue here really. Thanks for posting. It's really good to hear from people who've been in the HE circle for so much longer than myself. x

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  7. Thanks, Lisa. Any time you want the wheel reinvented, I'm your go-to person! My parents both taught and attended evening classes, and I have taught them in creative writing, so I've seen the exam subjects die off over the last decade and the prices go sky high.


    People mature at different rates and are ready for formal studies at different ages, so it seems so silly that you either do them at 16 or you don't do them at all. Hmm... maybe I should ask my MP to raise the idea as part of the exam reforms cos he's very into education for all. I do like it when people make me think!

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  8. Yes, home ed teens used to be able to go to evening classes. Colleges used to do GCSEs. Home ed teens used to get grants for Open University. And lone parents could get Income Support till their youngest was 16. All changed now! I've been saying on Twitter that there's no way individual families are going to get funding, because apart from anything else, if they did that, the Government would have to fund (or give vouchers) to 1/2 million plus children in private schools.
    http://twitter.com/#!/fionajnicholson

    And yep, thanks to everyone for food for thought!

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  9. Lisa I'm not sure what the point of the home education person's job is. I don't mean that in a snarky way. I think it SHOULD be about signposting to information, offering support if people want it, help with negotiating exams and with local and national bureaucracy. The fact that it is more often about "checking up" on individual families is not something that HAS to happen.

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  10. Anne that is wonderful news. I completely agree, people should be able to take exams when they're ready and not fitted into some silly box. Having the chance to sit exams without the worry of not being able to afford it would benefit so many people.

    I've only just started to look in to the prices of exams to prepare myself and it really is quite shocking!

    I would be very excited to learn what will happen once you've had talks with your MP, I myself might also raise the question to our. Although, I'm not sure how helpful he will be, it will be interesting to see what he thinks. I'm glad you've enjoyed today's discussion :)

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  11. Hi Fiona, I completely get where you're coming from on the private schools getting the same, hadn't considered that before. It's nice to have people post on here who have knowledge in this area. As far as the LA bods I understand what you are saying there too. I think they will always consider themselves inspectors to some degree even if they aren't.

    Thanks to everyone on here and twitter today who contributed to this discussion it has been enlightening! :)

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  12. I emailed my MP yesterday and heard back from him this morning. He is raising the matter with the DfE and will come back to me. He will get a home made Christmas card from my children again this year!

    (Seriously, it is never a bad idea for an MP to receive a home made Christmas card thanking him for keeping an eye out for us. When so many people are being nasty to them, they tend to remember the nice ones and it can only help for them to see us as people and not a movement or a cult or anything.)

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  13. Oh! Well done! Might follow suit there :)

    Yes My girls send them letters (polite ones) but I think the christmas card idea beats that. Will do one this year. A bit of kindness goes a long way as you say x

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  14. Community education providers, such as botanical gardens, science museums etc run many sessions for schools and they are increasingly recogniseing the home edcuation community, places such as think tank in brimingham have special days for home educators and its all on their webiste under education. If organisations like this could get funding to make sessions/days available and specifically targeted at home educators then the LA could provide them with the funding and they could provide the services to us on a first come first served bases. I little way to helping with the costs, whilst supporting both home ed families and the organisations.

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  15. That's a great idea, Cyclecamping. I think we should all be visible in our communities and make it clear that we aren't all that much stranger than anyone else. If enough people ask museums etc what they do for home educators, they will notice that we are a market and provide for us.


    I'm not sure about specifically targeting at home educators. I'd like to see more days etc being run for ALL children. BBC Hands on History, for instance, do a great job, and their 'Bang goes the Theory' and 'Autumnwatch' roadshows are wonderful fun and free.


    Maybe what we need yet again is information about what's on shared amongst us? That's where Blogs like this are so important.

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  16. I will keep me eye out for this kind of thing and blog about it whenever I find anything. Brilliant ideas cyclecamping :)

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