By vice-convener Mark Nixon
In December 2019, Ally MacDonald (HES convener) and I attended Adoption UK in Scotland’s annual conference, which had the theme of ‘Thinking Differently About Education’. We were there at the invitation of AUK in Scotland to deliver a workshop for delegates – including adoption and fostering professionals, education professionals, and parents – on home education.
There was a great deal of interest in home education among the delegates, many of whom admitted that they knew very little about its practice or the law around home education in Scotland. Many told us that they see home education as a viable option for their children or the children that they work with but wouldn’t even know where to start or how to advise adopting or fostering parents.
It is noteworthy that these parents and professionals have in their care some of the most vulnerable children in Scotland, many of whom have additional support needs, and that it was because of these issues that they recognised home education’s value as an approach that can give a child the opportunity to receive a personalised, one-to-one education that can help them, in their particular circumstances, to reach their full potential.
After the workshop, we fielded dozens of questions about home education, and were approached by both social workers and education professionals about the possibility of providing further training in their workplaces and/or information resources for their colleagues both in their own departments and associated departments with which they work. We are now following up on some of those approaches. It is clear to us that while there is an obvious lack of knowledge, understanding, and training, that lack is acknowledged by many professionals, who want to become better informed about home education.
Part of HES’s raison d’etre is to support these state and third sector organisations to become better informed about home education, to be able to support home educating families better (when they want or need it), and to remove some of the prejudice that some services and professionals have shown towards home educators.
With a better understanding of home education, of why parents and carers choose to home educate, and of how we go about home educating our children, we think relationships between services / professionals and home educating families can become more positive and more fruitful for all involved.