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.
One very visible and angry home educating parent.