I recently went to a talk at the Institute of Education given by Barry Sheerman, the former Chair of the Children Schools and Families Select Committee.
During his talk, which ranged over a wide variety of topics including career advice, autism, cuts at Kirklees Council, faith groups, banter with the formerly home educated Caitlin Moran, the Trojan Horse inquiry in Birmingham, scruffy back rooms and so on, Barry told us he’d met a Hungarian lady recently who had 2 children she was going to home educate.
Barry was confident the audience would agree that this is simply not right.
I’m still puzzling about this.
Maybe the Hungarian lady had only recently come into the country and Barry was worried that the children wouldn’t be integrated into society?
Maybe there was more to the story than we heard on the night, for example that there weren’t enough school places or the Hungarian lady couldn’t navigate the admissions system or sort out buses to the schools?
I thought at the time that he was implying that the children wouldn’t learn English, but when I thought about it afterwards I realised the mum must have talked to Barry in English.
Unless Barry Sheerman speaks Hungarian?
Barry said numbers had risen dramatically and home education now wasn’t just confined to a few middle class families. It seemed to prove to Barry – in a most worrying way – how far the news about home education had spread, if even this Hungarian lady had found out about it.
Barry’s talk seemed to be pretty much whatever popped into his head at the time, but much of it seemed familiar and when I googled Barry Sheerman + scruffy back room afterwards I found this from September last year:
“In my constituency and others, I find a lax attitude to home schooling, and the ease with which people can say a child is being home schooled is dangerous territory. When it was confined to a small number of middle-class families who thought their child might be bullied at school and needed that home support, it was perhaps something we could tolerate, but I always thought that we ought to know where every child is in this country … how it is being supported, how it is being stimulated and how it is being treated … I am also worried that people from a strong faith background are choosing to use home schooling. I have a lot of evidence that the home school is not genuinely in the home, and the children are ending up in scruffy little back rooms being taught in a way that I do not approve of. I believe that we should know what children are being taught and how they are being taught”