British Educational Research Association

  • Martin Myers (Presented paper)
  • Kalwant Bhopal (Presented paper)

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    Description of Activity

    Muslim families, home education and risk
    This paper examines the experiences of Muslim families who choose to home educate their children. Drawing on 10 case studies with Muslim families from a larger study exploring the experiences of a diverse range of home educating families (including middle class, those who had children with special educational needs and different ethnicities). The work of Ulrich Beck (1992, 2006) is used to discuss how ‘risk’ is understood in relation to home education generally and Muslim home educators specifically.
    Many families choose home education in response to identifying risks associated with schooling; simultaneously home educators themselves are often identified as putting their children ‘at risk’ (Bhopal and Myers, 2018). These already ambiguous patterns of risk, sit within more complex narratives in which different types of family are identified as being more or less likely to put their children ‘at risk’ depending on their class or ethnicity (Bhopal and Myers, 2016). Muslim home educating families were identified by OFSTED (2016) as putting children ‘at risk’ of radicalisation.
    Our findings suggest that Muslim families chose to home educate for a number of reasons including an awareness of their communal otherness and difference; and the identification of risks related to this positioning within British society. For example, all the Muslim families in our research described examples of racism encountered by their children in school. Home education was often a strategy to minimise such risks and to protect their family and community. By doing so, Muslim home educators were characterised in OFSTED and media accounts as potentially radicalising their children and their communities. A vicious circle emerges in which Muslim children encounter racism and bullying at school because of their religious background, this causes families to withdraw children from school, which feeds further narratives in which Muslim communities are demonised.
    In many respects Muslim home educators mirror the reflexive cosmopolitan identities identified by Beck (2006). They are framed by global understandings of Islamic radicalisation and terror as a threat to the non-Islamic, western world. This poses risks to the individual, to families and communities; which need to be managed at the very local, family level. We argue that policy making should consider the wider context of how home education is understood in terms of citizenship, belonging and difference. Furthermore, we argue that a consideration is needed on how risk is racialized and assigned differently in relation to marginalised communities who choose to home educate.
    Period12 Sept 2018
    Event typeConference
    LocationNewcastle, United KingdomShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionInternational