Steve Beegoo, Christian Concern’s Head of Education, speaks to Molly Ashton, author of a new book on home education, and highlights the importance of a Christian education.
There has been a huge rise in Christians and others deciding to home educate in the last few years. This has often been prompted by real disturbance at what is being taught to our children in the state schools, especially since the introduction of Relationships and Sex Education.
According to research by the BBC, the numbers home educating rose by 75% in 2021/22 academic year. After so much education was delivered at home during the Covid pandemic, many parents discovered the benefits of home education or found their children were much happier and better learners out of school.
Due to this interest, Molly Ashton, an inspiring home education advocate and supporter of Christian Concern, has gathered a range of excellent authors and experts to provide a new resource, which will be launched this September. It is entitled Another Way to Learn.
The website summarises the chapters and introduces the authors who come from a variety of backgrounds.
Chapters include practical advice on every age group, and inspirational stories of those who have lived the adventure of home education.
Why home education?
I asked Molly why she thought so many are considering home education at this time. She explained:
“The answer to this is multifaceted and includes the desire to prolong and protect childhood, to enable our children to play, explore, have fun and be curious; the conviction that education at home can be better tailored to children’s individual needs, interests and strengths; the intent to build and strengthen the family unit, invest in relationships and simply enjoy life alongside our children.
“In addition, there are increasingly parents who make the decision to home educate by default. Maybe their child has additional needs, is bullied, or experiences anxiety from the test-driven nature of state education.
“However, I believe there is another, deeper calling which is prompting Christians either to home educate or to seek out Christian schools. As we watch the rise of Cultural Marxism and its infiltration into many areas of our society, not just RSE, the conviction to give our children an education based on a Biblical worldview becomes ever stronger and irresistible. Thus, this grass roots movement is steadily gaining momentum as we seek to build up the foundations of the next generation with beauty, truth and courage.”
Safeguarding concerns have been consistently used to stir distrust as to those home educating. This was evident again in the recent School Bill proposals. However, the evidence is that whereas Ofsted require all schools now to assume that sexual abuse is going on in their schools as they form their policies and strategies, the parental home remains the safest place for the vast majority of children.
The perception of risk is demonstrated to be false by the research, which indicates that home educated children are between 350 – 500% less likely to have a referral lead to a Child Protection Plan, than are schooled children aged 5-16, and 500 – 700% less likely than children aged 0-4 years who are normally in child care or school. The risk of a home educated child being subject to abuse is lower than the risk of an educational professional employed in a school being found guilty of abusing a child or children in their care.
Where are children most likely to remain safe? In the local state school?
Concerns from those challenged by the counter cultural choice to home educate have often proved a huge discouragement to the home education community. Sometimes even from within the Church. But it seems that attitudes are changing.
As we engage at Christian Concern with increasing numbers of church leaders and concerned parents, we are seeing a reawakening of vision about the calling we have as parents and church communities to live according to His ways and His patterns, and not just go along with the cultural norms around us.
Alongside the rise of interest in home education, so there are an increasing number looking to start their own independent Christian School – an equally counter cultural approach. An increasing confidence is being found from courageous church leaders and parents who are making prayerful choices which may be very different from those around them.
In speaking directly to parents, Jessica Girard, who authors the chapter on Early Years, explains: “You are a child’s first teacher. You are their best one. You taught them to walk and you taught them to talk. You taught them how to love and how to play and it needn’t stop there. For there is no one better equipped to love and teach your child than you.”