Grammar School Headmaster Defends Home Education

Posted Mar 31, 2009 by A Newstead
A British Grammar School Headmaster today spoke out against what he sees as the demonising of home educators by the UK Government's current Independent Review.
Safe and happy at home
Safe and happy at home
Education Otherwise Association Ltd
In an article in today's Guardian newspaper, Dr Bernard Trafford, head of the Royal grammar school, Newcastle upon Tyne, and chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, gave his personal support to home educators beleaguered by the current Independent Review into Home Education.
Dr Trafford said that the Review resulted from paranoia about the "systemic failure in safeguarding" shown by cases such as the tragic case of Baby P and that the motive for turning attention to home educators was unclear.
When the Review was launched it provoked outrage from home educators across the UK who called it "offensive". Nearly three thousand signed a petition calling for the Review to be scrapped, a call which seems unlikely to be heard by the Government.
"The suggestion is that only if children are in schools can we be sure that their parents are not abusing them, but the smug moralising is unjust and inaccurate" Dr Trafford wrote today. "Perhaps a tiny minority of home-educators is abusive. Statistically, a minute percentage of judges, politicians, doctors, lawyers, church leaders, teachers, and even social workers must also abuse children, but we don't proscribe those jobs."
A local contact for Education Otherwise said "I have received 5 calls today from families who have deregistered a child from school in the past week either because their child was being bullied or because their special educational needs weren't being met. One parent told me that they had removed their child from school as it was the only way they felt they could ensure their safety and well-being. That's ironic considering the allegations contained in the current Review".
Home educators welcomed the show of support. One parent from Kent said "I, like many other home educators, feel incredibly persecuted because of the recent goings on. It's nice to know that there is someone out there batting for our team."
Surprisingly perhaps, Dr Trafford is able to speak from experience, revealing that his two daughters were educated at home for five years whilst he was a secondary school headteacher. During that time, which he describes as "some of the happiest we have known", he was regarded as odd by many around him.
It seems this basic lack of understanding and awareness amongst the general public and practitioners alike is fueling much of the current distrust being shown towards home educators. It is that lack of awareness that led to a decision by Education Otherwise to take a more proactive attitude towards the media resulting in a growing number of positive articles in the British press about home education over the past two years.
In the UK an estimated 50,000 children are believed to be educated otherwise than in school. A Report based on the findings of the Review is expected to be published some time during May.