Survey report: Home educators' experiences of the health visiting service in Scotland
The Scottish Home Education Forum invited home educating families to share their experiences of the health visiting service in Scotland after observing a steady increase in members’ reporting of concerns about engagements with health visitors, both via direct enquiries and in our members’ forum. These concerns, which were also being raised in local groups, predominantly focused on the quality and accuracy of information and advice offered in relation to childcare, nursery and school options for children, and the lack of openness regarding the voluntary nature of the heath visiting service.
Home educators are exercising an equally valid choice enshrined in law and feel stigmatised by references to ‘unseen children’ and ‘hostile, non-engaging parents’ which have been used by health visitors and fellow professionals to ‘other’ our minority community. This baked-in bias has contributed to the hostile environment described by our members and is, we believe, at least partly responsible for incidences of ‘home-eduphobia’ (hateful conduct towards home educated children and their families), often by those who should know better.
The re-building of respectful relationships will be a prerequisite if mutual trust is to be re-established between home educators and health visitors, and we are hopeful that, by pointing out some of the issues that have arisen for our community, the process can now begin in earnest. Unless the problems are addressed, home educators’ engagement with health visiting services is likely to decline, which will inevitably lead to further conflict and complaints.
We acknowledge that many of these problems are not of health visitors’ own making and lie at the door of government. They have simply been swept along with the GIRFEC policy tide that has sent them perilously close to the jagged rocks of GDPR and human rights
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