Dear Mr. Worricker
I am writing to you on behalf of Autism-in-Mind (AIM) a national parent support group. After listening to your show this morning I am both sadden and angry by the comments that Tony Mooney has once again made about home education and the ‘type’ of parent whom he believes is likely to successfully home educate their children. This is discrimination of the worst kind. Parents who have seen their child abused by the system and taken them out of school because of this are committed to making learning not only an enjoyable experience for their children, but one that equips them for life and does not scar them for life in the way our system can and is doing. There was however no mention of children with SEN during this mornings program. There are now a growing number of parents who are home educating because their children’s needs are not being met by the system. A fact I know that you are already fully aware of. I would never allow anyone like Mr. Mooney into my home purely because he has no knowledge of autism and how that is likely to affect my son. There are many sides against his arguments that were not debated.
I am actually quite surprised that your program was so loaded in favour of the state system when I myself took part in a report for your show The Five Live Report: The Curious Battle on Sunday 26th September 2004, where you exposed what was happening to children with autism within the State System. You managed to persuade Lord Filkin, who was then the Minister responsible for children with Special Educational Needs to investigate claims that increasing numbers of parents of children with Asperger’s Syndrome are being falsely accused of abuse.
Debbie Storey almost had both her children taken into care after being accused of consciously or unconsciously using her children to meet their own needs. This claim was made because Debbie, who sadly died on May 24th two years ago, took her two sons who have Aspergers Syndrome, out of the system and was home educating them. She was home educating because her Local Authority was failing to meet the needs of her children. Debbie was a member of AIM and an ardent home educator and campaigner. Debbie fought for the right to home educate her children. After listening to your program today I feel very sad that home education is now being portrayed in such a negative way, by someone who has so obviously embarked on a one man crusade to malign a method of education which has probably saved the lives of many children, my own son included.
I feel that Fiona Nicholson and her son were set up to fail this morning in an argument which was very one sided and weighted in favour of the system. They actually came across as the most informed and coherent during the whole discussion. It would be fine if the system was meeting the needs of all children but clearly it is not. This fact was reported on by the Education and Skills Select Committee only last year.
AIM supports many parents who are now home educating their autistic children, they are not all middle class. They are home educating because the system is failing to provide their children with the support which they require to be successfully educated. In fact Professor John McBeath of Cambridge University stated in a report he co-wrote for the National Union of Teachers, stated that ‘Including children with special educational needs in mainstream classrooms can be “a form of abuse”,
In the light of today’s program AIM is requesting that you revisit home education at the earliest opportunity and give parent who are home educating their SEN children a platform to put right the wrongs of what was stated by Mr. Mooney this morning.
Carole Rutherford – Co-Founder of AIM
Mother of two home educated sons with autism