ERG SES H 05, Parallel Session H 05
This paper discusses the processes of researching home education, with an emphasis on the difficulties of gaining access to ‘hard-to-reach’ communities in a political arena. Home education or home-schooling is a topical issue in the UK and internationally, with governments, local health and social service departments, as well as the media, becoming more interested and involved in this area. While home education is not legal in Germany and the Netherlands for example, and families who pursue it are liable to incur heavy penalties and criminal prosecution (Monk, 2003; Spiegler, 2009), it still remains a politically charged issue in countries where it is legal, despite its apparent popularity (see Fortune-Wood, 2005; NCES Report, 2003). While my research focuses on Britain, home education is a contentious subject in many countries, and literature from across Europe, as well as the US, Canada and Australia is utilised. Contributions to this field are of particular current importance, as the recent Badman Review (2009) highlights the need for more research in this area.
The aim of this research is to explore the views and experiences of home-educated children and young people with regard to education, schooling and learning. This is because while home education in the UK is generally under-researched, the voices of young people are particularly under-represented: To date, most of the research has focused on parent's views and their motivations for home-educating their children (DCSF, 2007). This has provided insights into the range of families who home-educate for a variety of reasons, and highlighted a number of frequent rationales including dissatisfaction with schools and schooling, bullying experienced by children, lifestyle, cultural values as well as children's requirements based on their special needs.
However, focusing particularly on the experiences of the children and young people from home-educating families will address a major gap in the research currently available. This is important if home education is to be properly understood, contextualised and evaluated. Moreover, providing awareness about home education is also important for social justice related reasons as it involves ideas about the right of the parent to determine the best educational provision for their child, but also the right of the child to have access to broad and balanced curriculum and educational experiences, and to develop the skills that are needed to become a socially and morally responsible citizen.
This study is informed by sociological, educational and political theories about the practice and regulation of home-education, and includes ideas about parental rights and choice in education. Furthermore, my work also draws on aspects of philosophy of education, as home education raises questions about the role and nature of schools, education and learning.
Badman, G. 2009. Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England: http://publications.everychildmatters.gov.uk/eOrderingDownload/HC-610_Home-ed.PDF [accessed October 2009] Fortune-Wood, M. 2005. Questionnaire 1 – Who and Why? In The Face Of Home-Based Education 1: Who Why And How, Educational Heretics Press: Nottingham, pp15-37 Monk, D. (2003) Home Education: A Human Right?!, Evaluation and Research in Education, 17 (2&3): 157-166 National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES) Report into Home Schooling in the United States. 2003: http://www.nces.ed.gov/pubs [accessed June 2010] Ray, D., B. 2002. Homeschooling on the threshold. National Home Education Research Institute: http://www.nheri.org/content [accessed October 2009] Rothermel, P. 2002. Home education: Aims, Practices and Outcomes. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the British Educational Research Association, University of Exeter: 12-14 September 2002 Spiegler, T. (2009) Why state sanctions fail to deter home education, Theory and Research in Education, 7 (3): 297-310
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