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Source: (consider it) Thread: Homeschooling pros and cons.
anoesis
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
If those of us who have the ability to leave the system opt to do so, rather than stay and fight for a better system, then the people who lose out are the most vulnerable-- the poor, single parent families-- those with no other options.

Sadly, this happens anyway, homeschool or not. State schools in this country have a zoning system in place, but they are widely gamed by parents who ‘just want the best for their children’, and assume that a school where 25% of the children are Indian/Pacific Islanders cannot possibly be a good option for their children (I’m not making this up – I have actually had people say to me – ‘I can’t have him go to the local school, it’s full of Indians’) – and thus perpetuate the problem.

quote:
Originally posted by Beeswax Altar:
Local schools are not microcosms of society in its area. State and federal governments have too much control over what can and can't be taught as well as how it is taught. Homeschooling and private schools are the only ways parents can instill the values of their real local communities into their children.

[emphasis mine]

With respect, bollocks. My ‘real local community’ was a typical provincial rural NZ 1970s/80s one – hard work, rugby, and beer, casual racism and benign ‘live-and-let-live’ secularism. However, I saw very little of it during the time I was kept at home with my brother and my English immigrant, non-drinking, non-sporting, end-times obsessed only-socialise-with-other-fundamentalists parents. However, my local school probably was reasonably representative of it, seeing as the parents of the majority of the children would have fitted that bill.

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anoesis
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quote:
Originally posted by Think2:
Conversely, as an adult, one of the things that is a slight social hinderance is not having a similar experience of childhood to my peers. It gives you a kind of nostalgia bypass.

I have always, and continue, to stick out like a sore thumb in some ways. Being perceived as different is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be lonely and can be somewhat isolating. It has taken me along time to get comfortable in my own skin - and I have remained single almost my entire adult life.

Oh God, I feel your pain. In addition to not having friends as an adolescent, we didn’t have a TV. I arrived at University (having picked one about 1000km from my home), and in addition to not having sampled a banned novel or an alcoholic beverage before, I had also not: heard of Monty Python, seen any Star Wars movies, or watched a game of rugby (a fairly big deal, in NZ, anyway).

(I am pleased to be able to say that many years later I got in the last word on the ‘Well I’ve never’ drinking game with ‘Well, I’ve never seen any Star Wars movies’, so it wasn’t all wasted) [Biased]

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The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

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Niminypiminy
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quote:
Originally posted by justlooking:

You are not responsible for all kids. They have their own parents and do not need you to make any choices for them. My choices were based on what was best for my child. I found I couldn't support a system I thought diminished children. But I was responsible only for my child and other parents made their own choices.


I'm sorry to have missed the debate that's raged around posts I made. Just to backtrack a little and explain myself. But first two caveats: I have no doubt that home schooling can give children a very good education ( pace points made by Anoesis and Chive); and when you see your child seriously unhappy in school your most immediate responsibility is to them.

What I think I am trying to articulate (probably not very well) is a conviction that education is not merely a matter of the development of a single person, and not merely the preference of a single family. The discourse of 'choice' which has become the controlling language through which we think about education (it underpins much of the debate on this thread) implies that 'your choice' is for you alone to make on behalf of your child, and that everyone else has exactly the same ability to make choices for their own child. justlooking expresses that perfectly in the quotation above.

But what about if we see education as a social good (I think this is what tclune was referring to in an earlier post where he talked about education as a state function)? Our individual choices don't have no impact on others. If I remove my child from my local school, it would have an effect. I would no longer be a parent governor, and although I could stay on as a community governor there would be less reason for me to do so. One of the things I do as a governor is take a special interest in SEN and child protection -- that is, in the provision for the most vulnerable children in that school, many of whom have parents who could not or would not be able to have any significant involvement in their child's education. Those people are not going to be home schooling their children: they don't have the capacity or desire. But do their children deserve any less than the best -- do they deserve any less than their home-schooled or privately educated peers?

If all of those people who could home educate, or send their children to private school, or to some other alternative, were to do so, what would be the combined effect of our choices? Who would come in to read with children, run the PTA, be governors, push for the school to improve its provision for all? And a currently very diverse school population would end up being monocultural: made up of the most vulnerable, those with poorly educated, disempowered, apathetic or bewildered parents.

If I were to remove my children from the school, they would be removed from a situation where they must rub along with a lot of people who don't live like we do. I'm not talking about knowing a lot of people through church or any other kind of self-selecting group. I'm talking about knowing people their parents don't know, seeing a world of difference from their own class and cultural background. The world isn't just full of 'people like us', nor should school be. My children go to school with children who live in families where no-one works, where children sleep four or more to a room, where only the children speak English, where children are cared for by grandparents because the parents are incapable. I hope they will come out of it being able to get along with all sorts of people, not just people from a similar background. I hope to be able to say, as Boogie does about her children, that they've done fine in the end, and that they wouldn't change anything.

That's what I mean when I say that our individual choices have broader ethical implications. It's not that I don't worry about my children, particularly one of them. If it came to it, we might in the end have to say 'enough is enough'. But I try to think about what can help my children that can help others as well, and the way my choices affect what others are able to choose. Because we're not simply independent, free agents, choosing only for ourselves. What I do affects you -- even if I never know what those effects are.

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Curiosity killed ...

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I also did a lot of work to change from within - on two out of three primary PTAs (we moved house twice) and as a school governor, technically the community governor although I was also a parent. And with a few others from the town church chose to send my daughter to the local state secondary school. Her secondary school was in special measures for a few years while she was there and my daughter did get to have experiences that she would no doubt have preferred not to have.

However, as a single parent, it was better by far for my daughter to spend time away from me and get to do things without me. For that reason too I worked in schools in the next town. Relationships can get too intense, and I want my daughter to be her own person, not a vicarious extension doing the things I wanted to do and didn't. So for us home schooling wasn't ideal, but necessary. I'd have to ask her what she thought of it now, she's almost certainly got some opinions.

I think the experiences of sink state school have really helped. She is another who has come out with a Masters and I suspect that is partly through having to be self-motivated and organise her own learning, which she would not have learned in many schooling situations, particularly with the hothousing that goes on in many schools. Her job now is project engineer and I was so proud of her comments when she was talking about having to work with the guys on the factory floor - about having to be sensitive to their knowledge and experience, that they have children of her age, when she is technically several rungs above on the management ladder.

And anoesis - the time we were involved in home schooling was when I introduced my daughter to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert! Very much out of step with the prevailing culture in a different way.

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Beeswax Altar
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quote:
Originally posted by Think²:
quote:
Originally posted by Beeswax Altar:
quote:
originally posted by Antisocial Alto:
The fact that "organic" social groupings tend to segregate themselves by race and wealth? Take churches for example- very few, especially in rural areas, are truly diverse.

So?

I don't value diversity for the sake of diversity.

Now this I find strange. The narrower ones experience then, I think, the risk is the narrower one's mind.

More broadly, the less involvement you have with "the common herd" the less you are likely to care about their fate. Ultimately, that leads to a looking after number one, devil take the hindmost society the gradually becomes more fragmented and divided.

Well, if I decided that what was good for the common herd was good for my children, I wouldn't care about the variety of their experiences because what was good enough for the common herd was good enough for my children. Wanting to provide a variety of experiences to one's child might be one of the reasons parents don't send their children to public schools.

As to racial diversity, if my wife and I continue to live in the same house we live in now, our daughter would attend a more racially diverse school if we chose the most popular private option rather than sending her to public school. Besides, just because children attend school with people different from them doesn't mean they will come to care about their well being. Demographics will not be much of a factor in where my wife and I decide to send our daughter to school.

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Beeswax Altar
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quote:
originally posted by anoesis:
With respect, bollocks. My ‘real local community’ was a typical provincial rural NZ 1970s/80s one – hard work, rugby, and beer, casual racism and benign ‘live-and-let-live’ secularism. However, I saw very little of it during the time I was kept at home with my brother and my English immigrant, non-drinking, non-sporting, end-times obsessed only-socialise-with-other-fundamentalists parents. However, my local school probably was reasonably representative of it, seeing as the parents of the majority of the children would have fitted that bill.

Again, it depends on how community is defined and what values you think are important. Sounds like your parents didn't have much of a community period. I hate to break this to you but children who attend public schools can be just as isolated only in a different way.

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la vie en rouge
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Justlooking, here's what I think you're not getting, and the reason that people are getting frustrated - you're coming to this from the point of view of an interested parent doing the best for your child. With a parent like that, I think most children will generally do ok whatever they choose. Your child is educated well because you give a damn.

Trouble is, though, that too many parents don't give a damn. On the sink estate where my Dad was a primary teacher for 20 years, a considerable proportion of the parents didn't. So the only hope for those children to get a good education was other people, like their teachers and school governors, and indeed the parents of other children in the same school.

You (and Beeswax) seem to be taking the attitude "well, they're not my children, so why should I care?", which sounds (a) selfish - as if you don't care about any children not in your own immediate family and (b) shortsighted - because it's for the good of society as a whole for all children to be given the best possible education.

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Enoch
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Parents have, and are entitled to have, different ideas as to what is the best education for their children, which parameters they rate or don't rate and what's practical for them and what isn't. But it seems to me that anything other than 'what's best for our child/children' is high-minded tosh.

Perhaps I have misunderstood what is being argued in some posts. Nevertheless, you do not send your little dears to school, however lovely they are to you, to bestow the wondrous gift of their personalities on the other children. Nor are either you, nor your better education and organising skills, a special blessing that is your gift to bestow upon your fellow parents or the PTA.

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Beeswax Altar
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If being concerned first and foremost about my children makes me selfish, then I'm selfish. I don't suffer from liberal guilt. As for shortsighted, the rest of society can only do so much to overcome the effects of bad parenting. Every child gets a free education. Those who put any effort into it at all can attend college and at minimum get need based financial aid.

Tutoring and other after school programs might also help. Adults can volunteer to help with programs of that nature without having a child in the schools primarily served by the program. I bet most of them wouldn't exist at all if only adults who had children in the school or even just lived in the school district participated in them. Chances are the adults who participate do so because of an affiliation with an organic social group such as a church or service organization.

[ 12. June 2012, 15:00: Message edited by: Beeswax Altar ]

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justlooking
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anoesis's comment, "Obviously I did not get any choice in the matter" is the starting point of where it all goes wrong. Whatever choices are made, the child needs to be involved in the decision-making processes.

UK legislation which involves providing services to children, including education, will have some reference to the duty to:

(a)ascertain the child’s wishes and feelings - regarding the provision of those services; and
(b)give due consideration (having regard to his age and understanding) to such wishes and feelings of the child....

This seems to be well-embedded into medical services and social care. There are procedures for ensuring that children are part of the decision-making processes which affect them.

With education it's more difficult. The ultimate legal responsibility lies with parents and the law assumes they are discharging their duties unless there are grounds for believing they are not. This thread is about the pros and cons of home education - the delights, the difficulties and the dangers. A major danger is where children are not party to the decision.

My child's right to be consulted and involved was always a guiding principle for me. So when he started at primary school at a time when teachers could still hit children, I told him about the STOP campaign and he was in full agreement with me serving the notices. When school reports came, with a space for parents' comments and a dotted line for signature, I added a dotted line for pupil's signature and he would write his comments and sign. His comments were invariably positive but I know it annoyed the school. However, my duty was to ensure that my child knew his feelings mattered and had a place. Things that upset him about school were rules for the sake of rules. He had no problem with rules he could see the purpose of but some were irrational and I couldn't make them rational for him - certain rules about dress for example. There were issues with the secondary school he would have attended and challenging these when he was a pupil would have put him in the centre of a battle. He loved the idea of home-based education and the whole EO environment. The final decision was his. I continued to be involved in campaigns around children's rights and education but not at the expense of my own child.

A key phrase from an enquiry into the way social service and medical staff had responded to allegations of widespread abuse in one UK town was “Children are not objects of concern". I think this understanding needs to be at the heart of all decision-making about children. It can easily be overlooked when adults are discussing their concerns about children's education. I also get uneasy with some discussions around poverty and vulnerability which turn people into "The Poor" and "The Vulnerable".

cliffdweller: you've made impassioned pleas for those who opt out of the state school system to maintain contact and fight for improvements but you haven't identified any practical ways of doing this. A few examples of what you are doing or what you think others should be doing would help to make clear what it is you are fighting.

The desire to help those we see as less fortunate can be expressed in ways which diminish them.

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justlooking
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Plus, what Enoch said, especially this:

" ....Nor are either you, nor your better education and organising skills, a special blessing that is your gift to bestow upon your fellow parents or the PTA. "

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Soror Magna
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There can be many reasons to home-school that aren't due to "problems" in the school system and that parents are under no obligation to try to fix. Examples: my parents wanted me to be educated in English, and they did not want me to attend religious education. Would it have been reasonable to ask a public school in *Mexico* to set up an English program for me and perhaps a handful of other ex-pat kids? Would it have been reasonable for them to tell a Catholic private school that they should accept ATHEIST students? OliviaG

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Beeswax Altar:
Every child gets a free education. Those who put any effort into it at all can attend college and at minimum get need based financial aid.

I gather this is true in the UK. fwiw, it is not true in the US, and has not been true for at least a generation.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by justlooking:

cliffdweller: you've made impassioned pleas for those who opt out of the state school system to maintain contact and fight for improvements but you haven't identified any practical ways of doing this. A few examples of what you are doing or what you think others should be doing would help to make clear what it is you are fighting.

(sigh). Why do you so wish to prolong this, yet take so little time to actually listen to what others are actually saying???

I have addressed this at least four times-- long before you raised the question. You may have missed it because the answer is not the one you're expecting-- just as you've missed many, many points I and others have made that weren't the antagonistic barbs you are poised to defend against.

This is what has been frustrating about this conversation-- not that we disagree, but that you continue to argue points where we are in agreement, posting stats to support premises not in dispute, angrily answering charges no one is making. You claim to be dispassionate about the whole thing, but you are acting like a wounded bear. Perhaps there is some reason for that, perhaps not, you don't want to share that so we'll never know. But it might feel really, really good to just put down the shields for a moment. To consider the possibility that the entire world is not a battlefield, and there just might be one little corner somewhere where you are not under attack. Yet I'm sure this suggestion will appear "patronizing". Ah, well.

Just a possibility.

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Beeswax Altar
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I live in the United States.

Who gets charged tuition to attend public schools?

Do you not know how easy it is to get into community colleges and even most state universities?

Between in-state tuition and federal, state, and institutional financial aid, getting a bachelor's degree is affordable and student loans are subsidized. For instance, if you go to community college and do work study, you can get an undergraduate degree and come out with less than $20,000 in student loans. Most students who come from a poor family and did well academically could come out with much less if any student loan debt.

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TurquoiseTastic

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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
quote:
Originally posted by justlooking:

cliffdweller: you've made impassioned pleas for those who opt out of the state school system to maintain contact and fight for improvements but you haven't identified any practical ways of doing this. A few examples of what you are doing or what you think others should be doing would help to make clear what it is you are fighting.

(sigh). Why do you so wish to prolong this, yet take so little time to actually listen to what others are actually saying???

I have addressed this at least four times-- long before you raised the question. You may have missed it because the answer is not the one you're expecting--

I've got to say I've missed it too. I've looked carefully through the thread and I can't see you addressing it anywhere.

Unless you mean the bits where you say "this is all liberal guilt and I don't really know *what* to do". Is that the "non-expected answer" you mean?

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Beeswax Altar:
I live in the United States.

Who gets charged tuition to attend public schools?

Do you not know how easy it is to get into community colleges and even most state universities?

Between in-state tuition and federal, state, and institutional financial aid, getting a bachelor's degree is affordable and student loans are subsidized. For instance, if you go to community college and do work study, you can get an undergraduate degree and come out with less than $20,000 in student loans. Most students who come from a poor family and did well academically could come out with much less if any student loan debt.

Actually, I know the system quite well. I teach in the university system. Most state universities and particularly the community colleges are desperately underfunded and overcrowded, meaning that it may take 4 or more years to complete a 2 year program, just because you can't get into the required courses. Tuition is rising. Federal and state scholarships disappeared a generation ago for anything other than athletic scholarships. Institutional aid is available at most private colleges. Indeed, many students are finding it cheaper to attend a private school w/ tuition upwards of $20K a semester because of the availability of financial aid.

Subsidized student loans ended this year. Most students are currently graduating with far more than $20K in debt, and little chance of paying it back. This is a concern that is being discussed at every level of higher ed. right now.

I went through college on a free ride due to government financial aid. But those programs are all history now.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseTastic:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by cliffdweller:
Unless you mean the bits where you say "this is all liberal guilt and I don't really know *what* to do". Is that the "non-expected answer" you mean?

Pretty much-- although that isn't precisely what I said (not quite that passive). I made the same exact admission (almost word for word) that justlooking accused me of, only a few posts prior to the accusation. And a few posts prior to that. Some were more specific than the one you're referencing here. I also affirmed the things justlooking is doing and those others mentioned as the sort of thing I'm talking about. But that's par for the course here.

Honestly, it just seems this conversation has gotten so personal, so painful for folks (oh, but not justlooking, of course) that we're not hearing each other. I keep trying to leave the conversation but justlooking appears to be a very angry dog with a very big bone to pick.

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PerkyEars

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I don't think that many state schools are full of parents who are apathetic about their children's education. I think that's a typical bit of middle class snobbery tbh. I live in a very low income community and I don't know any of these parents. It's a typical bit of liberal arrogance, believing there's a need to save those hapless people over there who don't care like we do. But then I'm a member of the working classes, so I can easily percieve the amount of patronisation that gets thrown in our direction.

Badly educated and lacking on self-confidence, perhaps. But where did these parents who are 'badly educated' come from then? We've had compulsory education here for decades. So logically it's the schools that are churning them out. These same schools that for decades have had well meaning, 'engaged' parents being govenors and volunteers and 'fighting for improvement'.

I think it's well meaning but delusional to not realise that it's not always about good schools and bad schools, it's that for a lot of children, the school system per se doesn't work well, and no amount of effort is going to fix that. One way in which it doesn't work is that it supposedly spends 10 years teaching people something, but ends up sending many of them away with the message that they are a bit thick, that they are not high flyers, and that they certainly don't know anything well enough to teach it to their own kids. I think this is sad.

quote:
What I find astonishing (and I’m not directing this at you, because I know nothing of your background), is that parents with no training for the job imagine they can do a better job than those who have been trained.
People have been teaching children and young people what they know for thousands of years before it was thought that teaching was something that needed teaching in it's own right.

I do believe their are areas of life where having a piece of paper to say you can do it doesn't count for much in my book. I've supposedly been 'trained' to look after small children in my capacity as a childminder, but what I've really been trained in is to jump through the paperwork hoops required. My actual, valuable, training in doing the job is entirely hands on.

Off the top of my head, I would say a teacher needs knowledge, an enjoyment of conveying it, a willingness to learn, create and try out different methods of teaching something, and an ability to get to know and inspire their student. They need to be ready to learn alongside their students. I'm pretty sure they do not need a PGCE.

quote:
I would have hated to be homeschooled since despite the bullying or the boredom I had the opportunity to decide who I wanted to be in the world away from the person you feel compelled to be with/for your family.
This wasn't the case for me. I felt compelled to fit into a certain mould by my peer group. It wasn't until I got out of school and went to uni that I found the confidence to discover who I was and feel there was permission to be it.

(I've more to add but now I'm getting kicked off the PC by my child... [Big Grin] I do think a lot of the stories of isolation and bad relationships with family are cautionary tales for homeschoolers. I hope I'm not sticking my fingers in my ears and pretending it can't happen to us.)

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Niminypiminy
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
But it seems to me that anything other than 'what's best for our child/children' is high-minded tosh.

Perhaps I have misunderstood what is being argued in some posts. Nevertheless, you do not send your little dears to school, however lovely they are to you, to bestow the wondrous gift of their personalities on the other children. Nor are either you, nor your better education and organising skills, a special blessing that is your gift to bestow upon your fellow parents or the PTA.

Well, fair point. But last time I looked, the school was not overwhelmed with people rushing to do the work. AFAIK the only regular helpers are from the educated middle class.

Also I didn't say that I send my children to school to bestow the wondrous gift of their personalities on other children. I would never say that -- especially as one of my children has severe social difficulties. I tried to say, perhaps badly, that everyone benefits when there is a true social mix.

It may all be high-minded tosh on my part. I tend to think of it as living out Christian values.

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Niminypiminy
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quote:
Originally posted by PerkyEars:
I don't think that many state schools are full of parents who are apathetic about their children's education. I think that's a typical bit of middle class snobbery tbh. I live in a very low income community and I don't know any of these parents. It's a typical bit of liberal arrogance, believing there's a need to save those hapless people over there who don't care like we do. But then I'm a member of the working classes, so I can easily percieve the amount of patronisation that gets thrown in our direction.

Badly educated and lacking on self-confidence, perhaps. But where did these parents who are 'badly educated' come from then? We've had compulsory education here for decades. So logically it's the schools that are churning them out. These same schools that for decades have had well meaning, 'engaged' parents being govenors and volunteers and 'fighting for improvement'.


(apols for double posting - x-posted with my previous)

I do think these are really fair criticisms of views I have voiced. It's very easy for educated, articulate middle class people like me to believe they are god's gift to others. I accept that the activism of people like me can disempower others.

But I do know people who are apathetic about their children's education. I know families who keep their children of school for two days a week or more, every week. I know parents who have assaulted teachers because they have been asked to abide by school rules. I know children whose parents are drunk most of the time. That's not true of all the parents at my children's school, but it is true of some.

It's as much a falsehood to say that no working class parents are like that as to say they all are. (And I do know that not all the parents I am talking about above are working class.)

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Beeswax Altar
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quote:
originally posted by cliffdweller:
Federal and state scholarships disappeared a generation ago for anything other than athletic scholarships.

Stand and federal governments still offer grants.

quote:
originally posted by cliffdweller:
Most students are currently graduating with far more than $20K in debt, and little chance of paying it back. This is a concern that is being discussed at every level of higher ed. right now.

Yes, my wife has a ton of student loan debt from her undergraduate degree. She didn't spend two years at a community college and then go to a state school. We both have debt from seminary and graduate school.

Is sending our child to public school going to somehow improve the state of higher education in the United States?

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Beeswax Altar:
quote:
originally posted by cliffdweller:
Federal and state scholarships disappeared a generation ago for anything other than athletic scholarships.

Stand and federal governments still offer grants.
Really quite little. Especially compared to the heyday of the 70s.


quote:
Originally posted by Beeswax Altar:
quote:
originally posted by cliffdweller:
Most students are currently graduating with far more than $20K in debt, and little chance of paying it back. This is a concern that is being discussed at every level of higher ed. right now.

Yes, my wife has a ton of student loan debt from her undergraduate degree. She didn't spend two years at a community college and then go to a state school. We both have debt from seminary and graduate school.

Is sending our child to public school going to somehow improve the state of higher education in the United States?

Not at all. This is a tangental discussion. Feel free to steer us back on track.

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justlooking
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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseTastic:
quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
quote:
Originally posted by justlooking:

cliffdweller: you've made impassioned pleas for those who opt out of the state school system to maintain contact and fight for improvements but you haven't identified any practical ways of doing this. A few examples of what you are doing or what you think others should be doing would help to make clear what it is you are fighting.

(sigh). Why do you so wish to prolong this, yet take so little time to actually listen to what others are actually saying???

I have addressed this at least four times-- long before you raised the question. You may have missed it because the answer is not the one you're expecting--

I've got to say I've missed it too. I've looked carefully through the thread and I can't see you addressing it anywhere.

Unless you mean the bits where you say "this is all liberal guilt and I don't really know *what* to do". Is that the "non-expected answer" you mean?

Thank you TT.

So he's not doing anything himself because he doesn't know what to do. He's sent his kid to a ee-paying school and feels guilty about it. This much I understand. I had hoped, with all the ferences to fighting for change, to glean some notion of what changes are envisaged and how they might be fought for.

What I can't follow, and there's more than cliffdweller promoting this, is the line of argument that sees a decision made in the best interests of one's own child to be a decision made against the interests of other children.

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PerkyEars

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quote:
It's as much a falsehood to say that no working class parents are like that as to say they all are. (And I do know that not all the parents I am talking about above are working class.)
True enough, sadly. I'm not sure what the answer is.
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LutheranChik
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Bitching about public schools is, in the US, as old as public schools themselves. (About a hundred years ago, in another part of Michigan, one irate taxpayer was so angry at being asked to help finance the local school that he blew it up -- with about 40 kids, several teachers and himself in it.)We just don't have a mentality in this country that there's value in doing anything in a collective way, except maybe waging war. (One of my friends suggests that since most of our ancestors were disgruntled non-conformists, most of us are genetically selected for rugged individualism.)

The conservative party line these days is that creating competition with local public schools -- charter schools (publicly funded schools, sometimes in partnership with business, often with a particular curriculum focus), homeschools, vouchers parents can use for private school tuition -- will somehow raise the bar for the public schools: "Oh, no...we're losing all our kids to School X. We'd better step up our game." What actually happens, though, is that the public schools, which receive money on a per-pupil basis, lose even more money as parents go elsewhere.

That's one thing. Then there's the assortment of good ol' boys and gals who make up the school boards of some school districts. When I was in high school I was appointed to some sort of sub-committee involving a couple of these folks; our charge was to revisit graduation requirements, but instead of making them more rigorous the adults, unlike the student committee members, wanted to make them less so: "After all, most of ya are gonna wind up pumping gas or workin' in a beauty shop or cashiering or some'in...why ya need to know all that stuff?" Apparently the whole omigod it's a Cold War/we have to beat the Russians in science and technology thing never percolated down to the community leadership of central rural Michigan. [Roll Eyes]

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by justlooking:
[QUOTE]
So he's not doing anything himself because he doesn't know what to do. He's sent his kid to a ee-paying school and feels guilty about it. This much I understand. I had hoped, with all the ferences to fighting for change, to glean some notion of what changes are envisaged and how they might be fought for.

Think how much longer you could have savored that win had you been engaging mindfully in the conversation two days ago when I first mentioned it.

(she, btw)

[ 12. June 2012, 21:29: Message edited by: cliffdweller ]

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ianjmatt
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quote:
Originally posted by anoesis:
What I find astonishing (and I’m not directing this at you, because I know nothing of your background), is that parents with no training for the job imagine they can do a better job than those who have been trained.

I'm going to call BS on this. The PGCE qualification is all about teaching a group of 30 kids of varying abilities in a way that helps the majority of them. It is essentially 8 months shared between work experience and some theory - and it does not contain any study of educational pedagogy or the history of educational theory.

In reality, it is a year learning how to crowd-control.

How that applies to someone using their existing (and equivalent knowledge) to teach their kids escapes me.

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Jengie jon

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Forgive me IanJMatt but don't most* Primary School teachers have a B.Ed? I think a four year degree, part practical part theoretical taught largely at new Universities.

PGCE are usually for secondary school where people have a first degree in the subject speciality.

Jengie

*Well aware it is most and not all, I know someone with a primary PGCE, she is a gifted teacher but her kids go to the LEA primary school.

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anoesis
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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie Jon:
Forgive me IanJMatt but don't most* Primary School teachers have a B.Ed? I think a four year degree, part practical part theoretical taught largely at new Universities.

PGCE are usually for secondary school where people have a first degree in the subject speciality.

Jengie

*Well aware it is most and not all, I know someone with a primary PGCE, she is a gifted teacher but her kids go to the LEA primary school.

Yes - same here in NZ. In fact, many early childhood teachers have degrees also.

--------------------
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ianjmatt
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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie Jon:
Forgive me IanJMatt but don't most* Primary School teachers have a B.Ed? I think a four year degree, part practical part theoretical taught largely at new Universities.

PGCE are usually for secondary school where people have a first degree in the subject speciality.

Jengie

*Well aware it is most and not all, I know someone with a primary PGCE, she is a gifted teacher but her kids go to the LEA primary school.

You could be right - fair enough.

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anoesis
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quote:
Originally posted by PerkyEars:
People have been teaching children and young people what they know for thousands of years before it was thought that teaching was something that needed teaching in it's own right.

If you mean that children learned, alongside their parents, how to plant seed and harvest things, how to skin a rabbit, etc., then I agree with you. If you are talking about the school system teaching children 'what they needed to know' before there was much in the way of educational theory, or 'teaching of teaching' then I don't think I do.

quote:
Originally posted by PerkyEars:
I do believe their are areas of life where having a piece of paper to say you can do it doesn't count for much in my book. I've supposedly been 'trained' to look after small children in my capacity as a childminder, but what I've really been trained in is to jump through the paperwork hoops required. My actual, valuable, training in doing the job is entirely hands on.

Obviously there are areas of life where having a piece of paper saying that you can do it (or you have achieved it) are not the most relevant thing. But let me beg and plead with you, for your children's sake, don't cut them off from options which involve pieces of paper! You cannot (and should not) practice law, medicine, accountancy, engineering, gasfitting, physiotherapy, heavy goods transport, and other careers too great to number, without a piece of paper which says you can. Although I have not studied any of the above disciplines myself, I suspect that most of them use educational techniques which build on skill sets the candidates are assumed to be familiar with already.

quote:
Originally posted by PerkyEars:
Off the top of my head, I would say a teacher needs knowledge, an enjoyment of conveying it, a willingness to learn, create and try out different methods of teaching something, and an ability to get to know and inspire their student. They need to be ready to learn alongside their students. I'm pretty sure they do not need a PGCE.

I think you have done a good job of identifying the qualities of a desirable teacher. However, if there were no requirement for any training at all - even a PGCE - what sort of screening process would you propose? I realise that posession of a PGCE does not therefore imply enthusiasm, creativity, a love of learning, etc., but at the very least having SOME sort of standardised hoop through which candidates must jump should do MORE to weed out a.)total incompetence, and b.)craziness than nothing at all.

(Please note, I am NOT trying to imply that you are either incompetent or crazy, merely saying that although a system which requires teachers to have a certain qualification will not guarantee they are great, I am a lot more comfortable with it than the idea that anyone with spare time on their hands could just rock up to a school and apply to teach my kids!)

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The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

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Niminypiminy
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quote:
Originally posted by anoesis:

(Please note, I am NOT trying to imply that you are either incompetent or crazy, merely saying that although a system which requires teachers to have a certain qualification will not guarantee they are great, I am a lot more comfortable with it than the idea that anyone with spare time on their hands could just rock up to a school and apply to teach my kids!)

I'm a teacher, though I don't teach school age children. In HE, where I teach, universitites now require lecturers to take a PGCE on the job (I never had to do this, because it only came in a few years ago). I'm struck by how much better, more imaginative and resourceful my younger colleagues (who have been through this training, and thus had to spend quite a bit of time thinking about how to teach) are as teachers than I am.

Because we've all been taught, most of us think we know a bit about how to teach. But doing it is a lot harder than it looks. If anything, I wish there were longer teacher training.

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justlooking
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Given anoesis' experiences I can understand concerns about having some kind of 'screening'. In the UK most home-educators are not qualified teachers but a large proportion are - more than you'd find in the general population. I found it was a question people often asked and it seemed to reassure people if they knew I was a qualified teacher. It also helped in dealing with LEA officials. But I don't think it had much bearing on my own child's learning.

Learning within the school system is a different process. Children have a natural ability to learn and a natural desire to learn which they have to adapt when they get into the school system. The research involving baseline tests and literacy tests shows a huge difference between home and school educated children. This kind of research has been going on for a long time. I can remember discussion within EO in the late 1980's when some families were involved in comparative tests and they were stunned by the results. For people used to the school system and judging by test results it might look as if the EO children were all exceptionally bright but in reality it shows the results of a natural learning process. It also explains why people who may have had no formal learning at all and taken no public exams are still able to apply themselves to formal study and gain qualifications when they want them.

As for screening parents, UK law works on the assumption that parents are fulfilling their duty unless there is evidence to show they are not. There is no legal definition of what constitutes a suitable education. The first legal interpretation came from appeal case in 1981(Harrison and Harrison v Stevenson) when parents appealed against a conviction for failure to comply with school attendance orders. The Court ruled that education is suitable to a child’s age, ability and aptitude “if, and only if, the education is such as:

i. to prepare the child for life in modern civilised society, and
ii. to enable the child to achieve his full potential”.

Another case in 1985 (DfES, ex parte Tallmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School Trust) provided this definition: “education is ‘suitable’ if it primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so”.

I think there could be scope for education authorities when they ask parents for information to include a question about how they are fulfilling their duty with regard to consulting the child and taking the child's wishes into account. This is as much a part of a parent's duty as the duty to ensure the child is educated. I know some parents strongly disagree but I think it's reasonable for an LEA to make periodic visits and to see and speak with the child. The general advice I remember from EO was to respond in a reasonable way to any reasonable request. Just because the LEA has no legal right to visit and to see the child doesn't mean that it's unreasonable for them to do so.

Of course none of this applies if parents haven't notified their LEA that they're home educating and no-one else has told them. Should there be a legal duty to notify?

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ianjmatt
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quote:
Originally posted by justlooking:

I think there could be scope for education authorities when they ask parents for information to include a question about how they are fulfilling their duty with regard to consulting the child and taking the child's wishes into account. This is as much a part of a parent's duty as the duty to ensure the child is educated. I know some parents strongly disagree but I think it's reasonable for an LEA to make periodic visits and to see and speak with the child. The general advice I remember from EO was to respond in a reasonable way to any reasonable request. Just because the LEA has no legal right to visit and to see the child doesn't mean that it's unreasonable for them to do so.

Of course none of this applies if parents haven't notified their LEA that they're home educating and no-one else has told them. Should there be a legal duty to notify?

Up until last year we had a great experience with our local authority home education people. We had a former headmaster who would spend half a day a year with us and the kids and we always found it helpful and instructive (and we always had decent reports afterwards). The children would look forward to showing hi what work they had done that year, reading extracts, some maths stuff etc.

However, the LEA decided to get rid of its two inspectors and pass the responsibility on to the Educational Welfare Officers. The problem with this is that these people are not there to help you in the choices you have made, but to check up on you. The whole emphasis has shifted from positive to negative and frankly makes us a lot less willing to be as open as we were before.

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justlooking
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It's probably to do with money. EWOs are cheaper and this kind of cost-cutting is going on in schools especially since they can now use unqualified staff. An EWO can fulfil the LEA's basic legal duty but it's shame if you're used to having someone who'll take an interest in the details of what you're doing.

We had an education advisor who would stay for around an hour just going through a kind of checklist. I recall him once asking my son about whether he followed any kind of timetable and after thinking for a bit he was told "I do try to watch Neighbours at 1.00 o'clock if I'm in." I did wonder what he'd make of that in the report and I can't remember the exact wording but it was along the lines that my son was following a self-determined and largely unstructured timetable.

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PerkyEars

slightly distracted
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quote:
You cannot (and should not) practice law, medicine, accountancy, engineering, gasfitting, physiotherapy, heavy goods transport, and other careers too great to number, without a piece of paper which says you can. Although I have not studied any of the above disciplines myself, I suspect that most of them use educational techniques which build on skill sets the candidates are assumed to be familiar with already.
Well true. But this is all a long way from what a primary school age child needs to know. Those things build on physical coordination, and basic numeracy, literacy and curiosity which I would like to think most people can pass on.

I don't think it's realistic to claim any family can, without any outside input, teach any subject to A-level standard, that would be silly. Parents should know their limits, and look to tutors, colleges, teaching swaps in the community, to supplement what they can teach, and I'm guessing this gets more neccessary the older a child gets and the more focused their interests get.

Perhaps for a lot of families homeschooling in the primary years and school in the secondary years or sixth form is the best model and it's my understanding that some families do this.

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PerkyEars

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quote:
I'm struck by how much better, more imaginative and resourceful my younger colleagues (who have been through this training, and thus had to spend quite a bit of time thinking about how to teach) are as teachers than I am.
That's interesting. At the moment I can't see much discussion in the home ed world about what skill set parents need, and how to develop parents as teachers/facilitators of learning. Perhaps there should be, although I don't think a mandatory qualification is neccessary.
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Enoch
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Is an Education Welfare Officer the same as what we used to call a School Bobby, and later a School Attendance Officer - i.e. a person whose job is to go round making sure children don't bunk off school or work under age?

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Curiosity killed ...

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@ Enoch - yes EWO is an old style School Attendance Officer, but that role now exists in a different format

@PerkyEars - in my experience, the local primary school tends to be more a part of the community and less stressful for children. The children I'm aware of being home-schooled have been more often of secondary age. Secondary schools being far more challenging places for many children.

Similarly, quite often I've come across families who have sent their child/ren to the local primary school until they were 7, then into private school.

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justlooking
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Is an Education Welfare Officer the same as what we used to call a School Bobby, and later a School Attendance Officer - i.e. a person whose job is to go round making sure children don't bunk off school or work under age?

Sometimes they're known as Education Social Workers. I think the main role is still to do with school attendance and with helping to resolve any problems. For instance a child may be absent to look after a parent who is ill and the EWO would help to get alternative care. They can instigate legal proceedings if parents are faling to ensure the child attends school.

Their role with home educating families is to check the child is receiving an education and that there are no problems preventing the child learning and no sign of neglect or abuse. So if they meet a child who looks cared for and happy and who can talk about what they're learning then everything's fine. Parents may have already given a written account of education provision to the LEA and I suppose the EWO might look for confirmation of that.

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by PerkyEars:
I don't think it's realistic to claim any family can, without any outside input, teach any subject to A-level standard, that would be silly.

I assume you mean teach "every" subject rather than "any" subject? I mean the parents might be A-level teachers already.

Or even if not teachers, people who know about the subject. I'm pretty sure I could teach Biology to A-level to one or two interested students, as well or better than most schools do to two-dozen bored ones. (And if home-schooling and the student is not interested, why are you doing it?)

And I could probably handle Chemistry as well, though some of the laboratory resources might be hard to come by. Perhaps I flatter myself but I think I might make a good stab at English, though it would be, as the cliche goes, a "learning experience" for me as well as the students, more a matter of working through it together than passing on what I know. History and Religious Studies the same.

Maths on the other hand would be a very bad thing for me to try to teach. Ditto Physics, because you need so much maths to do it. And as I know no languages other than English I'm hardly likely to teach them. I got kicked out of school Geography after the age of 13, though I imagine I might be able to catch up enough to teach at least adequately - same goes for Computer Science which I have never studied in my life but suspect I could cope with. Whoudl the same be true of Economics or Psychology? On the other hand I have no illusions whatsoever that I could cope with teaching A-level Art or Music or even passing them myself.

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Ken

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PerkyEars

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quote:
I assume you mean teach "every" subject rather than "any" subject?
Yes...I mean 'any' as in 'any subject their child might want'. Obviously lots of people can teach various things to A-Level standard.
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justlooking
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By the time people are at the A level stage, and often long before, the parents' role is likely to be more facilitator than teacher. In fact that's what it is a lot of time with younger children. It's often more about providing resources and supporting and encouraging learning than school-type teaching.

Home educated teenagers, depending where they live, can access much of what is provided for post-16 and adult learners. I know of many, including my own child, who from the age of about 14 were following their own curriculum using local resources such as FE colleges, community centres, sports facilities, evening classes, drop-in workshops and libraries.

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Jenn.
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isn't that prohibitively expensive for many? Certainly when I was unwell and looking to do courses to keep my brain working, only very basic courses were affordable.
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justlooking
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Most of it's free for people under 20. FE colleges receive funding for every student on roll and they have discretion to admit under-age students. Some for example provide access for school students who want to follow a course they can't take at school or who may be so disenchanted with school they cause problems and can cope better with the more adult environment of a college. There was DofES advice about this at the time my son and a few of his EO contempories wanted to take courses and an LEA had queried the legal and funding position. The advice was that the colleges had a discretion to admit home educated under 16's without losing their status or funding as 16+ providers.

It may be different now but a lot of the community education provision was free for everyone. There were drop-in workshops for English and Maths where people could work at whatever they wanted, including GCSE preparation. At 14 my son was spending one day a week at FE college on a 2-year course designed as a day-release programme for engineering apprentices. He was also using drop-in workshops for English and Maths. I can remember an EO girl of 13 who enrolled on a course of evening classes leading to a GCSE in Design Technology and no-one knew her age until it came to filling in the paperwork for exam entry at the end of the course. They'd assumed she was 17.

[ 14. June 2012, 12:27: Message edited by: justlooking ]

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Curiosity killed ...

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The FE scene has changed in the past few years. There is no longer funding for under age students to access vocational courses, certainly in this area. The schools were working on that one too - sending year 10 and 11 students (age 14-16) to learn things like motor vehicle maintenance, bricklaying and/or hairdressing. That's gone.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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PerkyEars

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quote:
The FE scene has changed in the past few years. There is no longer funding for under age students to access vocational courses, certainly in this area. The schools were working on that one too - sending year 10 and 11 students (age 14-16) to learn things like motor vehicle maintenance, bricklaying and/or hairdressing. That's gone.
That's a real shame. [Frown]
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justlooking
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I think it may depend on LEA policy for a particular area. Some recent discussion has been about whether 14 - 16 year-olds should be able to attend as full-time students. This 2010article from the Guardian discusses proposals about extending the current provision for 14-16 year olds who are registered as school studentsd but attend part-time college courses. There's also been some recent research on the impact of 14-16 year olds in colleges which indicates that on the whole they've fitted in well with older students.

I'm not sure how it works but I suppose the school pays the college from the funding they receive for each pupil. For home educated teenagers the college would get funding from the same source as for its older students. Access to education is free for all 5-19 year olds. Parents can pay for private education of course but it doesn't affect the child's right to the free provision.

Ianjmatt will be more clued up about what the current situation is with EO teenagers.

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Curiosity killed ...

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But it won't be available for 14-16 year olds. They'll be reserving it for all the 16-18 year olds who have compulsory education until they are 18, and college is one option, but it's not going to work for colleges if they have to contain some of the sort of student I've been teaching from 14 to 18. The current year 9s, I think, are where this particular change kicks in.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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