Thursday, June 11, 2009

Church of England's Response to Consultation

1 Church of England - Education Division

The Church of England Education Division is a provider of statutory education in over 4,500 Church of England primary schools and 220+ secondary schools and academies and of voluntary education and training of children and young people and adult learning.

2 We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the independent review of Elective Home Education. We believe in the absolute value of each child and young person as being made in the image of God, and that we have a responsibility to safeguard the vulnerable, whilst offering the freedom needed for growth and development.

3 We also believe in the importance of relationship within families and within communities, and that children and young people need to encounter a diverse range of people to enable them to
learn to live in community and communion and to develop relationships outside their own family and close community.

4 Children and young people need to be equipped to challenge oppression and injustice and where they are the victims of such oppression and injustice and have no voice that is heard, the Church should be advocates for them.

5 As Christians, we cannot condone the use of home education as a cover for any form of child abuse. We are not aware of any research that shows how prevalent this is or whether it is widespread. Prevention of abuse under the cover of home education seems to be the main reason for this review, and in making it so, has the effect of tarnishing the reputation of the many parents who choose to home educate their children from the best of motives.

6 Parents are in the vast majority of cases the best people to decide what is appropriate and best for their children, and those who choose for whatever reason to educate their children
outside the state or independent system do so for many reasons.

7 Our main concern about home education lies in (3) above: that children and young people not in formal education are missing the benefits and challenges of learning in community with their peers. Children who do not go to school may not experience the social and cultural diversity encountered there; they will not learn how to deal with the rough and tumble of everyday life; they may never meet people with different faith and values systems. All such encounters, even the difficult or painful ones, are enriching.

8 We are concerned not only with the five Every Child Matters outcomes, but also with the spiritual well-being of all children and young people. Spiritual well-being arises not only from being cared for in a loving family and/or in a faith community, but also in encounters with people of different opinions and backgrounds; in learning to listen to a variety of opinions; to encounter diversity and the riches and life-enhancement it can bring. Spiritual well-being depends on living and taking a full part in community life.

9 Children and young people in schools learn about and from the five major religions. This may be a difficult part of the curriculum for home educators to provide, yet it is vital for the Government’s community cohesion agenda that all children learn in a balanced way about the variety of religious values and practices, and to be encouraged to question their own beliefs and practices.

10 We have seen no evidence to show that the majority of home educated children do not achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes, and are therefore not convinced of the need to change the current system of monitoring the standard of home education. Where there are
particular concerns about the children in a home-educating this should be a matter for Children’s Services.

No comments: