Aug 11, 2009
Bishop Hill in Children, Education, Home education

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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