Parents barred from homeschooling son

The parents of a student in a northeastern Gothenburg suburb may no longer homeschool the child, the Supreme Administrative Court (Regeringsrätten) ruled on Thursday.

Parents barred from homeschooling son
Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP/Scanpix (file)

In its ruling, the court pointed out that the parents refused to cooperate in an investigation. They have homeschooled their son until the fifth grade, during which time he has passed national examinations.

The municipality and county administrative court have previously ruled that parents are unable to provide special skills, training in group work or allow the undertaking of scientific experiments that require specialised equipment. The court added it will not give leave to appeal the decision.

According to a February county court filing, since 2004, the couple has homeschooled their son, born in 1997. They asked for permission to continue homeschooling in the 2009 to 2010 academic year for the sixth grade.

The children and youth committee of Partille northeast of Gothenburg rejected their application. The committee believed that the education their son was receiving at home could be seen as a viable alternative to the education he could get at school.

The couple appealed the decision, pointing out that their son had passed national examinations and pleaded to continue his education at home despite the lack of special circumstances justifying the need to continue homeschooling.

“The committee has not challenged [the child’s] knowledge and his ability to benefit from instruction,” the ruling said. “[He] also has very good social development. Through the family’s large circle of friends, he has many opportunities to meet both adults and his peers in different situations.”

It added that in his spare time, the boy was active in sports and had contact with other adults and children, emphasising that he had social training comparable to that found in school and that it had no objection to his development.

However, the court refused to overturn its decision and the court maintained its position, deferring to the law, which requires school-aged children fulfill compulsory school attendance. One concern is the ability of parents to provide instruction in certain specialised courses.

The parents continued to instruct the child at home in the autumn of 2009 without authorisation. In response to concerns that they were not trained to teach the child at home, the parents pointed out that the mother has post-secondary training as a social educator.

In the end, the court believes that given that the child will soon begin high school, the higher demands on the parents’ knowledge, particularly with equipment required to teach certain subjects, is better provided by subject teachers with special training.

“Although [the mother] has some teaching training, there is reason to question she and [the father] continue to have the ability to provide adequate teaching to [their son],” the court wrote.

The court also ruled that the child’s social development was also important at this stage and that he be given the opportunity for social interaction in a school setting, concluding that homeschooling cannot be considered a good alterative to regular education at an elementary school.

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