Dear Editor… HE in the Tes mailbag

What’s been said?

Alongside a plea for better support for pupils with SEND and a discussion of the pros and cons of mixed attainment classes, eighteen parents who are home educating adopted children saw their joint letter to the Tes published on 13th Sept.

With six short, succinct, calmly reasoned paragraphs and submission timed for maximum effect at the start of another school year, every sentence counts towards the impact of their concluding statement: “Children who have had a tough start in life deserve an equal chance to learn.”

Readers are reminded that most adopted children “live with a legacy of learning, developmental and social challenges” owing to “traumatic experiences in their early childhood”. Some adoptive parents therefore opt for HE as the most suitable means of tailoring provision to their children’s particular needs.

In other cases, parents were “quietly told” that HE was “the only way to avoid a permanent exclusion”. Who among us realised that adopted children are twenty times more likely to be excluded than their peers?

Why does it matter?

These parents do not blow their own trumpets with regard to the sacrifices they have made by giving up work or meeting the costs of tutors or teaching materials. But particularly those who have come to HE as a last resort clearly feel some injustice about schools receiving “thousands of pounds… to support adopted children”. Is it too much, they ask, that “families who home educate should be supported with funding and with a constructive relationship with local authorities?” According to The Good Schools Guide the DfE gives an annual grant of £1,900 per adopted child to schools, and says “teachers and schools have a vital role to play in helping adopted children socially, emotionally and educationally.”

Some HE parents may feel cautious about funding featuring in their relationship with a LA, aware that their independence could easily be compromised, but in most cases involving adopted children, the children are likely to be already known to the LA, who may have even been involved in discussions about starting HE.

Nevertheless, in the compilation and publication of this letter we have a fine example of what can be achieved by joint working, when parents make common cause to raise the profile of an issue dear to their hearts.

What can I do?

If an opportunity presents itself to speak up for home education, remember the issues raised by parents in this particular sector of the HE community and advocate for them.

On an individual level, share this letter with any parents you know who home educate adopted children.

Remember that not every parent who is currently home educating has made a proactive decision to be in that position. Some have come to HE not of their own volition, and after difficult experiences. They may welcome some encouragement from those who are more settled in HE and who can share their lives and experience in a warm and friendly manner. An outward-looking and inclusive local HE community can be a much appreciated lifeline for those who have come to HE as a last resort.