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The exodus of home-educating families from England seems to have begun, with Scotland apparently the favoured destination. The Guardian today carries a report about one family who have decided to head for Ayrshire without waiting for Ed Balls to put the Badman proposals into law. This is of course just one family, but from the tone of the article it does seem as if this does represent the tip of an iceberg.

An influx of free-minded people into Scotland could be an important opportunity. It is quite possible that the majority will end up in the central belt, simply because this is where the jobs and housing are. Families will also want to maintain their links to England and travel is obviously much easier if you can get to Edibburgh or Glasgow. If a concentration of home-ed families does develop in the central belt it could have some rather profound consequences.

For a start, HE would become much more likely to be something that ordinary people came across in day-to-day life. It would become much more normal. People would be much more likely to consider it as an option for their own families. Normalisation would remove a huge barriet to the HE movement and numbers could swell accordingly. This growth would then feed back on itself and boost numbers still further. The effects of this movement on the idea of schooling would also be interesting. Several people around the blogosphere have discussed the idea of denormalising the whole concept of schooling and a growth in HE could cause just this.

Another impact would be that a concentration of HE parents would have much more influence on local authorities. Having fled government intrusion in England they would presumably be vigorous in protecting their rights once safely installed north of the border. And this would not only apply in the education sphere. An influx of people who cared about civil liberties and the right to be left alone might also have an important influence on the wider political landscape. Many readers here will know of the Free State Project, a plan to "invade" the American state of New Hampshire with large numbers of libertarian-inclined people. It would be rather exciting if Ed Balls inadvertently diverted Scotland from its socialist path through a piece of socialist legislation.

Clouds do have silver linings.


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    Very informative post and very helpful for people like us. I am writing my desertation on the Hotel industry in the United Kingdom and I am thankful that I stumbled on your post. Will come back to check if there are any updates and also any comments from other people.

Reader Comments (25)

We are planning to move to Scotland, should the proposed legislation come into force. We will refuse to register and accept monitoring. If this is a problem, we will simply move to somewhere less draconian. It's simple in theory.

The practicalities however are more daunting. Leaving a well paid career in London for a job north of the border will necessitate a large drop in salary; the recent loss of our home whilst in negative equity adds to our financial burdens; moving children, even when young, is not to be considered lightly when the upheaval will break ties, friendships and so forth for them as much as for their parents. And just the simple cost and hassle of moving the contents of a 3 bedroom house 500 miles or so carries its own terrors.

I believe a lot of people are expressing this intent to move, but when it comes down to it a large proportion will be unable to, or will weigh up the costs against benefits of all kinds and will decide to stay in England with the devil they know.

Aug 11, 2009 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJem could not do worse than move to Morayshire. Good links via air and rail, fast growing economy, low property prices, superb micro-climate equal to Cornwall & Devon, wonderful blend of hill & mountain, valley and moor, forest and farm, beach and crag....We've been here since 1987 and not one regret. You'll find the relatives coming to stay with you in your large cheap 5 bed home.

Aug 11, 2009 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave E

Jem, you should also consider the possibility (probability) of Scotland enacting similar Fascist laws. If this were to happen, even in four or five years, you will have moved for nothing.

There has to come a time where people stand up for their rights in the face of encroachment like this. It feels to me like this might be one of those times.

If you move, be sure that you are not giving up everything just to be made to submit in your new place.

Aug 11, 2009 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Tolhurst

Whilst it is true that similar practices may be enacted in Scotland in the future, having any number of extra years of your child's life lived without such interference, is not to be sniffed at.

Aug 11, 2009 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTechla

Exactly, Tech, a few more years freedom would be worth a lot. Also, the Scottish Government has recently stated that they do not intent to carry out another review or consultation into HE in the foreseeable future. We are moving to Scotland as soon as we possibly can because we are just not prepared to accept the invasion of privacy and suspicion of guilt that the introduction of Badman's recommendations would mean. Why should we? It is discrimination, pure and simple.

Many home educators in Scotland have been fighting the recommendations alongside English and Welsh home educators. When we get to Scotland we shall also continue to fight for the freedoms and civil liberties of home educators south of the border. Moving to Scotland does not mean running away and not fighting, and indeed it is a protest in itself.

Also, thanks for putting a positive spin on the whole situation, Bishop Hill - I hope you're right!

Aug 11, 2009 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDebs

Thanks for the pointer Dave! Basically we will move wherever the work is.

William: The fundamental difference in attitude between Scottish and English governments is embodied in their writings, statutes, and guidelines. Whilst the English government plans to "eliminate child abuse and suffering" the Scots point out that this is impossible, and seek instead to minimise it. Further, they add that seeking to eliminate abuse is bound to affect the private lives of law abiding children and parents in unacceptably draconian ways - as we are obviously keenly aware! I'm not saying that this attitude will not change in 5 or 10 years; who knows. But it is a refreshingly realistic point of view right now, speaking as someone living under New Labour's dogma of "children aren't safe with their parents unless we are involved."

Aug 11, 2009 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJem

The situation is definitely better NOTB however there is no room for complacency.

Scotland's national home education support organisation Schoolhouse began to research the amount of information which was being gathered about children purely from a self-preservation point of view when it appeared that proposed changes to the education and social work systems might directly threaten fundamental freedoms for home educators.

It soon became clear, however, that the issues uncovered should be of concern not just to home educators but to all families... continues here...

Aug 11, 2009 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterSheila

The short and probably best answer to the BadBalls situation is for all English HE'rs simply to refuse to conform to any legislation that is passed. They are not going to jail at least 20,000 people! Or fine them, because they must and will refuse to pay. I get this figure from the oft-quoted 80,000 home educated chidren and have arbitrarily assumed HE families tending to be slightly larger but also allowing for some being one-parent. It is a guesstimate at best - it could well be much higher!

Aug 11, 2009 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Thanks for the suggestion of Morayshire Dave, it sounds lovely. Ideally I don't want to move, we have such a lovely HE community locally not to mention most of my family being here, but there's no harm in giving Plan C some serious consideration. Plan A is to defeat B&B and prevent any changes in the law. Plan B is civil disobedience.

Aug 11, 2009 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterFirebird

I am with you David. I am not going to register, and I am not going to obey anything to do with any of this. I am also not going to move. I have had enough of these people, who were intolerable when they were bothering other people but who are now crossing a line that makes them quite a different thing entirely.

I really do hope that other HE families have some backbone and are willing to stand firm. One thing is for sure; this is not going to last forever. It might take some time for freedom to be restored, but eventually it will be and the evil people who hurt so many people will be made to pay a high price. The universe will not allow them to get away with it.

Aug 11, 2009 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Tolhurst

Excuse me William, are you implying that by moving we are lacking in backbone?

Aug 11, 2009 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTechla

William, although I do intend to stay and fight in the first instance I will not sacrifice my child's education. This evil may not last forever but it doesn't have to, to ruin her life and that's just not a price that I'm willing to make her pay.

Aug 11, 2009 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterFirebird

Hmmm... I'm quite willing to admit that I put my children's welfare above my own desire to stand square against this injustice. I actually feel it would be a bit selfish of me to do otherwise. I'd never imply that of you of course William. We each do what we think is best, and should not judge each other harshly for our decisions. Holding others to one's own political principles is also a form of fascism.

Aug 11, 2009 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJem

Interestingly, William's point about this state of affairs not lasting is probably quite correct (though phrased in some depressingly religious terminology which I find a bit distracting). These things tend to be cyclical and flip every 15 to 20 years. Unfortunately, like Firebird I think that this will be too late for my son's and daughter's childhoods.

Aug 11, 2009 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJem


I admire your fortitude. However I tend to agree with Techla that making a stand while responsible for your children is not necessarily a good thing. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that children of dissenters will be taken into care. That being the case, passive resistance might be wiser.

Aug 11, 2009 at 10:18 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

"making a stand while responsible for your children is not necessarily a good thing. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that children of dissenters will be taken into care."

This is why this particular situation is so sick, only those with their children's childhoods in the balance can choose make a stand on this. They will have us over a barrel if they succeed.

Aug 12, 2009 at 5:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterelizabeth

Techla, If you do what is right for your children, you are moral and have a backbone by default. If you choose to move, or to stay or to submit, and you are doing this for the good of your children, then you are in the right. No one has the right to judge you or to tell you what to do. This applies across everything; the people who send their children to school are acting by the force of the same motivation that moves Home Educators; to do the best for their children. They are all good, and I do not have a problem with any of them, no matter what they decide to do.

Firebird, You are completely correct. Fighting in the first instance is what you should do; in the long run, we all want our children to grow up in a country where they have liberty. If we all give up, cut and run, cave in, then our children will have nothing but tyranny in their futures. Clearly the point at which you decide to retreat is a personal one, but the decision to fight (and by 'fight' I presume you mean simply not register or cooperate in any way) is laudable in my eyes. I am with you 1000%.

Jem, the thing we all have in common is that we all want the best for our children. How we go about it is our own business. I suspect you need to grow a thicker skin; stating an opinion that no one is compelled to follow is in no way 'fascism'. What the STATE is doing IS fascism. We agree on one thing; even though the situation may turn around in a decade or more, this will be far too late for the children of today, and I am with you in that I am not going to wait for everyone to wake up and get some sense. I will do what I can, but if there is no motion, or a threat to me and my family I am going to pick up and leave without notice, and Britain and its brainwashed unthinking masses be damned.

Bishop, I am only talking about passive resistance; i.e. not registering or cooperating. I'm not sure how you came to any other conclusion. Britain will never have a bill of rights, or guaranteed liberty if no one is willing to risk everything to make it happen. History demonstrates this. In my case, my perception today is that the majority of people in the UK are now so inured to being slaves that trying to do anything here to restore liberty would be like trying bailing out the Titanic with a teacup. The universal cry of 'don't make waves' and 'think of the CHILDREN' makes it impossible to get anything done; you cannot even discuss anything seriously without some lilly livered, weak minded, brainwashed jellyfish admonishing you for being 'forthright'. Quenching of discussion and opinions outside of the groupthink is part of the problem - people cannot even form the thoughts they need to define and defend themselves.

Aug 12, 2009 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Tolhurst

Refusing to register will be rather more difficult for those of us who are known already to the LAs of course. My family was *grassed up* some years ago now, so we will not have the pleasure of being beneath the radar, and will presumably be first in line for the testing out of any new powers.

Aug 12, 2009 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterTechla

Techla, Now we are getting to the meat in the sandwich. What are people like you to do? If the law passes and all the recommendations are put into place, you will have two weeks notice in writing before a compulsory visit. That means that you can ignore all their letters except that one. When that one comes, its time to take the next step which is to either fight or flee. This legislation will not affect the rich obviously. If you are an autonomous learner, you will be forced to stop that practice, knuckle under and structure your learning or send your children to school. Not much of a choice is it? This is the true horror of these proposals. Home Education is being outlawed right before our very eyes.

Aug 12, 2009 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Tolhurst

This is why it is so ridiculous. Those families in a similar situation to mine, who have been known to the LA, not seen as a concern, and have been providing a suitable education in the eyes of the LA, will now have our lives turned upside down for no good reason. Why would the situation in our family suddenly warrant such abusive treatment?

Those families looking to deregister their children from school will be made to jump though unreasonable hoops, right from the outset. They won't have the benefit of a deschooling period; they won't be able to relax into a new way of life; they won't be able to explore different educational philosophies to see which one best suits their individual family.

Those families who are unknown will be looking over their shoulders, and many will feel forced to go underground to protect their families, which make them look very suspect when they are caught up with.

Meanwhile, those who aren't educating their children, heaven forbid are abusing their children, will carry on as they are and will more than likely be the last to be picked up.

Within a very few years you will see the total eradication of home education because they will have made it totally prohibitive without actually banning it.

Freedom in education is being threatened across the board by this government - look at what they are trying to do to private schools and professional informal educators - home educators are the tip of the iceberg.

Aug 12, 2009 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTechla


What are they doing to professional informal educators? Can you direct us to the challenges facing them?


Aug 12, 2009 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterelizabeth

It's rather difficult to summarise Elizabeth, but in a nutshell, government policies generally are seeing informal educators being undervalued, and treated as the poor cousins within education. The way they work with young people is threatened by government policies that insist on information sharing and deliverable outcomes. The INFED site has a debate section with a few pointers:

Aug 12, 2009 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterTechla

Ahh Deliverable Outcomes!!

We need to get away from the idea that education should be funded by the Gov, or is it is to be funded that way that the individual drives the education not the funder.

Aug 13, 2009 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterelizabeth


That's what the voucher debate is about, isn't it? I think, however, that you are never going to get away from "he who pays the piper", so it's probably better if government restricts itself to funding the few who can't afford to pay themselves.

Aug 13, 2009 at 2:26 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Yep I have seen that thanks Bishop. But I guess people will only accept these things in steps. People think they have a right to state provided education. They think it is a good thing.

Vouchers might improve things then people would see the greater benefits in complete freedom of education and push for that.

A safety net for those who need it makes total sense, but help must vere towards being the help they want not the help the gov thinks they should have.

Aug 15, 2009 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterelizabeth

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