Nowadays, a large number of children are being taken out of school and educated by their parents at home. Nationally, up to a 100 children a month are leaving the classroom because of their parents’ disillusionment with the educational system. Around 15000 families are now teaching their youngsters at home, a rise of 50 percent from last year, according to latest figures.
The popularity of home tuition (home schooling) has traditionally been blamed on the rigidity of the examination system, parents being unable to get their children into the school of their choice, and dissatisfaction with teaching methods. Some parents also prefer to keep their children at home because of bullying and lack of discipline in schools. Academics now claim, however, that a significant proportion of families educating at home do so because they feel that the concept of institutionalized education is a thing of the past. Professor Meighan said many academics now thought schools, as we know them, could become obsolete within 20 years. Instead, children will be taught at home using the internet, computers, and video. He said, “The schools of the future will be small pockets of children, sharing equipment in each other’s homes, with teachers taking on a new role as advisers, sorting through the available information.
Under the law, parents must ensure their children are educated, whether at school or at home. It is the responsibility of local authorities to safeguard their schooling. Professor Roland Meighan, a senior lecturer in education at Nottingham University, said parents were fed up with the constrictions of the existing education system. He said, “Schools have become an outdated concept from the days of the town crier, when information was scarce and a central figure was needed to impart knowledge. Parents are now coming to the conclusion that education is moving on, and they do not want their children to be stifled by conventional methods.
The future institutionalized schooling was recently called into question by Sir Christopher Ball, the director of learning at the Royal Society of Arts. He predicted the education system of the future would include a global curriculum and a worldwide qualifications system. He said, “Some existing marginal models of schooling will move into the mainstream-community schools and home schooling, for example. No doubt, other models yet unseen will emerge.”
How Opting Out Brings O-Level Success at 13
Leslie Barson is already running a prototype of the type of school educationalists predict will educate children in the future. Based partly at a community center in Brent and partly in family homes, the Otherwise Club is comprised of some 35 families around north London. Professional teachers are brought in where necessary to help with more specialized subjects, but for the most part parents and children work together on projects, such as study of the Greeks and the American Civil War, reading up on events, making costumes, and learning how people used to live.
Parents opting out of school claim the flexibility of home learning means some children sit one of two GCE’s by the age of 13. Ms. Barson’s own children, Luis, age12, and 7-year-old Lilly, have never attended school. She pays around 2000$ a year for private tutors to help in specialized areas. She set up the Otherwise Club six years ago with just a handful of youngsters. She said, “The whole idea of educating children should be to develop their self-confidence.Our children do not see adults as disciplinarians.” Her son agrees. Luis, who is currently teaching himself math, said, “I like the freedom to learn things that interest me, particularly music. I don’t feel I am missing out on anything by not being at school because I am a member of various clubs and have friends who attend normal school.
The “Danger” of Isolating Children
Home schooling could affect children’s relationships with their peers and adults because of prolonged periods spent with their parents, educationalists have claimed. Most academics concede that education in the future will be increasingly centered around the home, and they fear children could become isolated and withdrawn, Professor Michael Barber at London University’s Institute of Education, said pupils could spend half their time at school and half at home as a compromise. He said home tuition would play an increasingly significant role in educating children in the coming years. “I believe very strongly that children need to have the experience of school,” he added. “There is the quality control issue of ensuring pupils are taught the basics and assessed. Children also need to spend time with their peers to learn the rules of work in a democratic society and learn to deal with relationships with adults other than their parents.” Margret Rudland, head teacher of Godolphin and Latymer School, Hammersmith, said children needed to experience the “rough and tumble” of peer associations.
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