Burdens and disadvantages of children in the school system in connection with home schooling

Despite all the advantages of the well-established Austrian school system, it also has disadvantages which can lead to parents withdrawing their children from schooling as a stopgap measure. The annual external examinations held in public schools also burden these children in several ways.

However, in an annual school external exam, which children from home schooling have to take, only cognitive abilities are tested. The emotional development of feelings cannot be recorded in such an examination setting. In order to check whether the children are developing well overall in-home schooling, examination criteria would be needed that provide social-emotional and cognitive diagnoses, as well as an examination setting appropriate for children.

Children who take an external exam are not like pupils of a school in the traditional sense. During the annual external exams, the school authority assumes the function of „checking learning content“. This „functional relationship“ frightens children. Unlike adults, children need a trusting relationship so that they can show what they can actually do. In an annual examination setting, no relationship of trust can be established with the teacher during the examination. The annual external test is therefore not suitable for children.

Similarly, this determination of cognitive performance by such a single examination per year is a disadvantage compared to pupils whose learning objectives are regularly, practically continuously, reviewed at school. While in school a pupil has many opportunities to show his or her abilities, a candidate from home schooling has just one chance to show his or her abilities.

Children in home schooling are burdened by the annual examination in three ways:

1. By the examination setting,

2. By the fact that their marks are used to grade their parents as their teachers, and

3. By the fact that their marks have to secure them home education system.   

Children who are taught privately face a dilemma in the annual examination. On one hand, parents may teach their children solutions that are not usually taught in school, on the other hand, these children are examined according to internal school logical criteria.  However, these school-logical examination criteria are not necessarily logically comprehensible for examinees from private teaching systems.

A certificate also has an education-selective function. The above-mentioned burdens and disadvantages in such a test mode may result in the child not being able to demonstrate his or her actual abilities and therefore receiving lower marks. Poorer grades can have an educationally disabling effect, especially when transferring to another school system (Primary and upper primary) or to a tertiary school.

The children’s positive marks are used as proof of the quality of the home schooling. Positive grades are therefore considered the best possible development of the children. This is an irresponsible fallacy and also violates children’s rights. Children with learning disabilities such as reading and writing difficulties can achieve positive results for a long time without their learning disability becoming visible through an annual assessment. Many learning disabilities could be alleviated or even eliminated by individual learning support, as is the case in a school by participating in remedial teaching. Children who are taught at home rarely or not at all benefit from such support measures (not to mention special educational needs), which can also have an educationally disabling effect.

There is a basic right of children to be heard and to have a say in their personal affairs – this basic right is disregarded in the case of older children or adolescents in domestic education. They usually have no influence or choice regarding school forms nor does the fact that a court order for home schooling allows the child to be taken out of class during the school year without being asked, does not comply with the fundamental rights of children.

If school children chronically refuse to attend school, parents are asked to pay a fine for each truancy. Under certain circumstances, the lack of money drives parents to cancel their school attendance; in this case, economically disadvantaged parents would be tempted to deregister their children, who does not want to go to school anyway. The reasons for absence from school (family problems, but also various problems at school) would not be dealt with in the case of a registration in home schooling.

In some federal states, there is no possibility of an extended kindergarten year. Especially for children with disabilities, parents would be more willing to sign them off for home schooling rather than having the children attend a pre-school for a year and then switch to a „special class“ anyway. In order to spare these children, the „stress“ of a new system that is only temporary and could possibly overwhelm them completely, many parents are prepared to keep their children at home for an extra year or have them looked after by daycare staff rather than „putting them in a preschool class“.

Basically, it can be assumed that parents who sign their children off from a public school to home schooling are convinced that they are doing their child „good“ by doing so, our grown school system has its weaknesses, and these weaknesses are noticed above all by affected pupils in the classes. If a pupil has massive problems in class, it is not always possible to find individual and satisfactory quick solutions for the individual affected pupils due to official formalisms which a large organizational form such as school in itself also needs in order to be well managed. Occasionally, pupils suffer from „bullying“ for too long and develop psychological symptoms such as fear of school, for example, without the responsible school reacting sufficiently to this, so that parents, out of necessity, change their child/children’s schooling to home in order to protect them from further harmful bullying influences.

Students with rare diseases still pose serious problems for schools if they cannot cover the medical needs in class due to resource constraints. Signing a child off for home schooling due to lack of medical care at school would mean solving a school issue with the child unlike in normal situations where the school itself would be forced to provide the necessities to keep the children in school.

Note: schools and teachers only quickly reach their limits of action due to unresolved questions of liability for necessary supplies such as tube feeding, administration of anti-allergic, anti-epileptic medication and the like in school lessons or during excursions, school project days, sports weeks etc.  If such children are homeschooled, schools would have fewer problems.