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Graeme Miller, SCC chairman
"Councils are providing poor and misleading information"
 real 28k

Danny McCafferty, Colsa
"Children are consumers, and the consumer council has not taken into account the interests of children"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Councils 'failing' home educators
Home learning
The SCC was uncompromising in its criticism
Scottish local authorities have been accused of putting "barriers" in the way of families who choose to educate their children at home.

The Scottish Consumer Council (SCC) said some councils had demonstrated "we know best" attitudes towards parents and were guilty of "harassment".

However, its research has prompted a fierce reaction from local authorities, who accused the SCC of issuing a "flawed report".

The SCC said it based its report on a postal survey of councils and discussions with home education organisations.

Higher figures

It alleged that the number of children being educated at home in Scotland may be more than 10 times higher than the official figures.

This would mean 4,000 children undergoing teaching at home as opposed to 300.

The SCC said that many home learning families had not told local authorities of their decision because they were not confident that councils would act in their best interests.

The report pointed to:

  • Poor advice and information given to parents

  • Inflexible attitudes by local authorities

  • Authorities exceeding their powers in relation to the monitoring of home education

  • A lack of good practice

    SCC chairman, Graeme Millar, said: "Some local authorities have a disgraceful 'we know what's best for you' attitude and some behave in ways that can only be described as unacceptable harassment of consumers.

    "It is a fact that parents sometimes find that home education is the most appropriate for their children.

    "They should not face barriers such as we have found in our report."

    Danny McCafferty
    Danny McCafferty: Report "flawed"
    Danny McCafferty, education spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), said he had yet to see the report but that the SCC should have approached the organisation before it was produced.

    He said: "First, it appears that the SCC have ignored the rights of children by focusing on the views of parents. Children are also consumers.

    "Second, both central and local government policy is focused on social inclusion.

    "Local authorities are being encouraged, for example, to ensure that as many children and young people as possible with special educational needs receive their school education in mainstream settings."

    "The SCC appears to take a one-sided view which is not only unfortunate, regrettable and unhelpful but based on a flawed perspective of the issues."

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    See also:

    19 May 00 | Education
    PCs 'reinventing' teaching
    11 Oct 99 | Features
    When the classroom is at home
    21 Sep 99 | UK Systems
    Parents' rights
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