Dear Channel 4 Why do you hate us?

Dear Channel 4,

Watching your dispatches program last night made my heart sink and my eyes bleed. The way you portrayed home education families was appalling. You flip-flopped around, one moment seemingly accusing us for over protecting our children, the next implying that our children are at a higher risk of abuse at our hands.

There have always been home education families quietly getting on with things, they are generally passionate and devoted parents who either simply want to have more say in their way their child is educated, or feel school can not meet there needs either because they are exceptionally gifted or have SEN or sometimes both. In general these parents are well organised, are members of education groups or attend education camps, share advice and information and the vast majority have nothing but their child’s very best interests and outcomes at heart.

These days however there is also a growing number of children that are in home education simply because school has failed them as schools are being squeezed to the point of strangulation by funding cuts, these were mainly the type of families that were shown in your film however you totally missed the point.

You skipped over the fact for many SEND children there are no appropriate school places. You failed to check just how many home educated children have serious mental health issues due to school related issues such as bullying or having unmet or unrecognised SEND. You covered off rolling but it was jammed in the middle between home educated parents are raising snowflakes and HE homes are dangerous places where children are abused so the horrific 88% of LAs that are concerned about it went almost unnoticed.

For some bizarre reason you went to an unauthorised school, I feel sorry to have to have to point this out to you but being taught in a school, authorised or otherwise is NOT home education (if you are unsure the clue is in the title HOME education). The only reason I can see for doing so was to back up the anti home education feelings with a healthy dose of anti immigration feeling by harnessing the hatred for those in certain religious groups further ramping up paranoia and suspicion.

I felt enormously sorry for those families you used (and I do mean actually used) in the program. The heavy editing to show what you felt viewers wanted to see rather than reflecting a full picture was obvious and I know some have already spoken on social media about their disappointment in the way they came across. Lilly’s mother in particular was so obviously a devoted, educated and concerned parent who clearly wanted to show that she desperate for her child in school and that Lilly was desperate to to be there and it seemed the children’s commissioner was allowed to completely skip over the point THAT THERE WAS NO SUITABLE school for her to go to as is the case with many HE families with SEND children.

This would of been a golden opportunity for you to investigate this and see what the options were for a highly intelligent autistic child with school related anxiety. If you had of done you would of found virtually none and parents clambering for what there were.

Well done you managed to make a documentary where the causes where not explored and nor were any solutions. Sensationalising is not informative. I can only guess you were led by the children’s commissioner who clearly had her own agenda, and that was not so much helping children as getting everyone to tow the line in an ordered fashion and stop showing the government up by increasing HE figures thus highlighting the failing education system.

This program was no more than government biased propaganda when there was a real chance to highlight the tragedy of a crumbling education system and the damage it is doing to our children, their mental health and opportunities.

Yours,

One very visible and angry home educating parent.

21 thoughts on “Dear Channel 4 Why do you hate us?

  1. It was shocking. I’m thinking of home schooling and have to say that programme was so badly produced that it actually swung my thinking towards the home. Unfortunately it will put some people off and will play into the hands of the scare merchants. How about first looking at the inflexibility and broken school management system. How about first looking at how the government has adopted a draconian education policy which is anti autism.

    As annoyed as you….

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    1. Exactly! I tried absolutely everything to keep my son in school, as an ex teaching assistant I believed in school and though that with the right support that my son would be able to thrive but it was not forth coming and the total inflexibility of the system almost broke him and me. I had to sell my business when I had just expanded, losing thousands in order to home ed but I love it now as does he and it has not just changes my view of education but of the world at large. If you are still considering here is the blog I mentioned on your previous comment. https://thelearningcurvepda.wordpress.com/2018/09/20/home-educating-your-send-child-a-quick-guide/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ashley Studholme Feb 5, 2019 — 11:45 am

    I couldn’t have said this better myself! I was completely appalled at the way this was edited and not really getting to the point of anything! I was actually looking forward to this programme as well. My daughter 14 very much like Lilly. Fell apart after the transition to secondary school and since diagnosed with ASD and PDA. Hasn’t attended school for 2 yrs. No alternative out there that would suit her needs. However, we are not officially home schooling as she is still on roll call at her secondary school. But I’m the one who has left my full time employment/career and educating her every day while they receive funding for her and do nothing! We finally have an EHCP in place after 18mnths fight altho not sure how much help this will give as the specialist schools we have visited in our area would not suit her needs. Extremely academic but socially struggles. Well done dispatches for looking like complete idiot’s!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your child, like mine and Lilly’s are exactly the ones being most commonly failed because there just isn’t the provision for them. Why does no one understand this?

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  3. I haven’t watched, but the ‘school caused mental issues’ you discus hit a nerve here, 12, 3 years in 3 placements, Complex-PTSS, Bipolar (not caused by school, but not helped) ASD, ADHD, tics, speech disorders due to c-ptss, anxiety, 9 suicide attempts, 6 medications a day and a family utterly changed forever due to ‘school’ damn right we home ed and he is NEVER going back, I don’t care how hard our LEA push us and lately they have, telling me he is ‘wasting away his education’ and trying to talk me into Blended learning and such, they don’t seem to realize, THEIR staff, THEIR schools has almost cost me, my beloved middle boy, they don’t get to get him back for their stupid statistics (he is very gifted, he would probably boost whatever schools stats) so they can finish the job and leave us with a huge hole. They robbed us of a happy life, happy child, i don’t trust anything they say. She can put THAT on her stupid Channel 4 show too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t watched, but the ‘school caused mental issues’ you discus hit a nerve here, 12 years old, 3 years in 3 placements before he was 7, Complex-PTSS, Bipolar (not caused by school, but not helped) ASD, ADHD, tics, speech disorders due to c-ptss, anxiety, 9 suicide attempts, 6 medications a day and a family utterly changed forever due to ‘school’ damn right we home ed and he is NEVER going back, I don’t care how hard our LEA push us and lately they have, telling me he is ‘wasting away his education’ and trying to talk me into Blended learning and such, they don’t seem to realize, THEIR staff, THEIR schools has almost cost me, my beloved middle boy, they don’t get to get him back for their stupid statistics (he is very gifted, he would probably boost whatever schools stats) so they can finish the job and leave us with a huge hole. They robbed us of a happy life, happy child, i don’t trust anything they say. She can put THAT on her stupid Channel 4 show too!

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    1. I really feel your pain. They broke my son and left him in a catatonic state and then tried to prosecute me for none attendance despite a diagnoses of autism dyslexia and anxiety. If you haven’t watched it then please don’t, I wish in many ways I hadn’t but then again at least I was able to reply. I will also be making an official complaint and urge others to do the same. Hugs to your son, I hope he is healing now x

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  5. I to was disgusted at the way home education was portrayed. I know first hand that the problems sometimes comes from the schools . I have a son on sen support who was refused an ehcp because the school said they could meet his needs and arnt he hasn’t even had a whole term where they have managed to keep up with his learning interventions. Which has impacted on his progress or lack of it and his behaviour. We have had so many occasions where we have had to go up to school to get him back in lesson etc which we shouldn’t have to do if they say they can manage him his been excluded 4 times in which the last being a week and wasnt even sent home work to do an already struggling pupil on Sen support and making less than expected progress this is absolutely disgraceful. And have found aproching the school an all together bad experience and have even been told that it’s down to our parenting and yet we have completed numerous parenting courses including two adhd ones as our son is diagnosed with adhd and is medicated for this . We have thought about home education as a means for him to be able to get the help and support that he is clearly lacking at school . We think its disgraceful to tar home schooling parents the way you have as at the end of the day they are parents who just want the best for there children .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Lou, you are not alone, so many parents in similar positions. The program was awful and bias and I hope that the reasons for this came across in my reply. Schools are failing our children, the system as a who,Ed is failing our children and that is why home ed has increased. Don’t let the program put you off home ed if that’s the path you think is best will you?

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  6. Deb (MumForAutism) Feb 5, 2019 — 2:29 pm

    I agree with everything you say. I felt extremely uncomfortable the way she manipulated the families particularly the family who were under scrutiny of the social services (and who were later cleared). It was quite clear to me that the programme and the Children’s Commissioner have an agenda and that they were going to twist any evidence to support that. Disgraceful reporting. To others considering home educating, please don’t let this rubbish put you off. I home educated my autistic daughter because after several failed placements she was too frightened to return to school. Though I had no choice, it was still the best thing I ever did for her. Being at home, free from pressure, gave her the space to recover and slowly she began to reengage with learning at her own pace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Deb. What you say about your daughter and home ed is very much my experience with my son and home ed. It was never something I wanted to do and it took great sacrifice to do it when I was forced into it by lack of support for my autistic son but it has been life changing, inspiring and truly wonderful. I hate to see it sullied by the program in this way.

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  7. Really well said!! I could not even finish watching the programme- it made me furious and I felt really sorry for the families who took part in good faith. What a complete disgrace , shame on channel 4. The children’s commissioner is a very scary woman.

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    1. Thank you. I only carried on watching because I thought it could only get better and then it only got worse. I felt like I was on the receiving end of aggressive discrimination by the time it finished.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. ASingleHomeEdMum Feb 5, 2019 — 5:25 pm

    I can’t cope with all the debates I’m seeing online today about the documentary. Every article/piece of write up I am reading just rings bells in so many ways. Triggers off even more thoughts and I’m struggling to keep up. I tried to stay positive throughout the who documentary, especially when they covered the issues of children being pushed out of school for all the reasons a majority of us Home Ed have experienced. School failed my 8 yr old and tried to spin the blame onto me, several times over the years from reception up until year 3 (when I finally de-registered) I had raised many concerns; from safeguarding issues through to bullying! The anxiety that it caused my little one is still having an impact. I’m struggling to get a diagnosis as I’ve always had concerns she is on the spectrum, where exactly on it I don’t know.. but because I can’t place her it seems no one else is willing to help. (That’s the shambles of the Health System too)
    All I can say is that since de-registering it has been a struggle to get my child to engage in any learning that reminds her of school. It’s almost like she freezes, like she is afraid incase she ‘can’t do it’ which I believe is the way she must have felt when being ‘forced’ to do learning at school. Loosing so called Golden Time if she hadn’t managed to learn a certain *times table. (It’s making me feel cross just thinking about the issues she had encountered while at school)
    Some days I worry ‘am I going to fail her’ but then I’ve taken quite a laid back approach, letting her enjoy just learning what she wants to learn.. at the same time I too have learnt so much about Home Education; it’s a bigger community than I ever imagined. I didn’t know much when I de-registered, I just know that I were doing the right thing at the time to solve the problem. Six months in and we’ve just recently had a break through ☺ She is actually engaging in English lessons. That just shows we are working on building her confidence back up. Not all children develop the same as others who are the same age, for various reasons or the fact that we are all born individuals and are all different, she never met her ‘milestones’ when younger. Was delayed in them all, so why did the school system expect her to meet the targets for ‘that age group’
    Home Ed is on the rise because the Education System is failing our children. Just like all the other systems, Health system, justice system…
    There are lots of ‘invisible children’ right under the authorities noses!! The justice system is failing our children (anyway that’s another debate!!)
    I just know my child is safer with me, than in the hands of those that were supposed to be educating her in a school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely relate to everything you say here. I am glad your daughter is beginning to relax into home Education now and heal from the experiences of school, it takes time. School is losing the trust of so many children, damaging their self esteem and mental health. And then the ask why are so many families deserting it!

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  9. FYI
    Proper-gander -> Propaganda
    Not fault-finding; someone’ll miss the point of the article, and pick up on it.

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  10. I am unable to view the program here, but this letter is brilliant and should be in all the papers. Are you able to get it out to mainstream media? xx Well done.

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    1. Thank you, your lucky you could see it, hugely offensive and upsetting. I don’t know how I’d go about getting it in the media? It had 5000 hits yesterday and not one person disagreed with it. Just shows how wrong they got it.

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      1. I would contact all the papers directly, local and mainstream, whatever you can get to. I forget how it is the the UK as its so easy to email top people here, I could probably email our PM if I needed to, everyone is available here in NZ. But if you can strike while the iron is hot, its worth trying. It would also be great publicity for PDA and your work.

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      2. Ok I am giving it a go, hugely out of my comfort zone but that seems to be the story of my life the last few of years! Thanks so much for your support and suggestions. X

        Liked by 1 person

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