Dame Louise Casey: “I don’t like Home Schooling”

Why she’s profoundly worried that your family isn’t being monitored

What’s been said?

Around two o’clock in the afternoon on Friday 29 November, a convicted terrorist, Usman Khan, attacked fellow delegates at an event to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Learning Together scheme. Organised by the Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology, guests included university staff, students, former prisoners and prison staff. The disturbance spilled out of Fishmongers’ Hall onto London Bridge, as staff and others present fought back against the assailant. As we now know, Khan had fatally wounded two people before he himself was killed by armed police officers.

What has all this to do with home education? Occurring in the run-up to a general election, the political debate about how convicted terrorists should be restrained by the criminal justice system very quickly took centre stage. It was inevitable therefore that the news media would focus on what party leaders had been saying, as well as details of the events and the many tributes to those who were tragically murdered.

Radio 4’s lunchtime news programme, The World at One was extended on 2 December to allow for wider analysis. Amongst those interviewed was Louise Casey, who advised governments between 1998 and 2017 on social policy issues. Readers may also recall that for some time now she has been one of the high profile opponents of HE, demanding that the government introduce an HE register.

The full interview is no longer available on BBC Sounds – listen to the relevant excerpt below. In the early stages Casey made several sensible points about the difficulty of knowing what actually works with “deradicalisation” schemes. Shortly afterwards though she stated, “The one thing I feel really strongly about, is people are forgetting that prevention is better than cure.” [transcript]

Criticising both Johnson and Corbyn for over-simplifying the issues, she added “the truth is, these things are much more difficult.” Continuing to steer the interview, Casey commented, “You know, prevention starts right back at the beginning in somebody’s life; it doesn’t, doesn’t happen, you know, on London Bridge.” At this point the interviewer, Sarah Montague, responded with “So are you suggesting it happens at school, if you’re saying you need to go back?” Casey’s response suggested that the earlier in life children meet people who are different to them, the less likely they are to develop prejudices.

For some reason – perhaps reading her mind – Montague then interjected with, “So get rid of private schools; get rid of faith schools and have everybody school together?” Ignoring the political hot-potatoes of banning non-state schools, Casey retorted,

“Well yeah I don’t like home schooling and I think the fact one of my recommendations I made in the integration review, I think in this very studio was, we have to know where children are and the growth in home schooling is a real worry. [emphasis in Casey’s voice] We don’t monitor what’s happening in those places. We don’t monitor what’s happening in those families. And the government hasn’t taken sufficient action on that. So how do we know what hatred is being poured, either far right hatred or Islamist hatred, being poured into children’s minds? We’re sitting here and we don’t know the answer to that question. And that really profoundly worries me.”

The discussion then switched to rehabilitation schemes in prisons.

Why does it matter?

Whilst it’s important to know what people like Casey are saying about HE, it’s even more important to understand as well as possible why they keep returning to the same old theme. This current example of Casey’s continuous lobbying against parental responsibilities sheds some light on why she and other influential professionals are repeatedly crying wolf in regard to HE.

In this instance Casey made clear her belief that all children need to be taught to think in the same way. Montague’s question about abolishing private and faith schools indicates that she at least was picking up such signals from Casey. As we pointed out in two Bytes about the Welsh Consultation, Ofsted Head Amanda Spielman, speaking in June at the Wellington Festival of Education, referred to “socialisation” as seeking to “mould fine upstanding citizens.” This, she said, was the objective of the pioneers of civic education across the world.

Casey and others fear that HE parents are not teaching their children to conform to the educational elite’s agenda, and have therefore turned to disinformation to undermine the human rights of children and their parents. Their clever sleight of hand though, as profoundly illustrated by Sally Holland in Wales, is that their objections are presented in the name of protecting the rights of children! The recent legal opinion on the Welsh draft guidance has demonstrated however, that those who act in this way are very selective about which of those rights they seek to uphold and which, for some reason, they ignore altogether.

It is ironic that in her rush to spread fears about home education, Casey did the very thing which she had criticised politicians for doing a few moments earlier. She politicised these tragic events to further the campaign to place state employees between children and their parents.

What can I do?

First, don’t be discouraged by the seemingly endless barrage of negative press about HE. Yes, it is wearing, but don’t allow yourselves to be worn down by it.

To be able to press on, it’s important for HE families to recognise that the criticism is not aimed at your ability to teach your children to be literate and numerate, to study, to work hard and to have friends. The danger home educating parents present to Casey and her colleagues is that you will teach your children to think for themselves, and therefore not to conform to the mindset being stamped on children in classrooms across these islands and around the world.

If the HE community succumbs, there will be no one left to stand up to these educational ideologues.