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Getting a risk-free trial during COVID: Accidental and deliberate home educators, responsibilisation and the growing population of children being educated outside of school

   | 27. Juli 2021


Numbers coming out of education departments in Australia suggest that, even though most Australian schools are open, and families are able to send their children to them, increasing numbers of parents are deciding to keep their children at home for their education (Queensland Government: Department of Education, 2020). It may be that, as the president of Australia’s home education representative body stated during the pandemic, Covid school closures offered a “risk-free trial” of home education (Lever, 2020) by providing an a-posteriori experience of education outside of schools. Building on the Covid experiences, this paper suggests that ‘accidentally falling into’ home education may be significant in understanding parents’ home education choices. Using numbers of home educators from Australia, and the associated data on their location and ages, this paper argues responsibilisation (see Doherty & Dooley, 2018) provides a suitable lens to examine how parents may decide, after an a-posteriori experience such as Covid school closures and previous, often negative, experiences of schooling, to home educate in the medium to long term. This paper proposes that increasing numbers of home educators will be seen in various jurisdictions where families perceive themselves responsibilised to home educate due to Covid as an a-posteriori experiences of home education. The paper proposes these families are ‘accidental’ home educators (English, 2021). By contrast, much more stable is the ‘deliberate’ home education population, those whose choices are based in a-priori beliefs about schooling. The paper proposes that the accidental home education category may be better able to explain the growing numbers of home educators in Australia and across the world, providing a means for governments to respond to the needs of this cohort, and the policies required to manage this population.

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