All research is in draft format and remains as yet unpublished. Please do not quote this material without contacting Chelle Oldham ( or via the contact form.

In 2016 Routledge published an article by Phillippe Bongrand who argued that there was a large enough connection between the lack of knowledge parents have regarding their lawful option to home educate, and the language and framing that occurred in the French Parliament during educational debates. He called this gap between what parents know and how policy makers have carefully avoided or “eclipsed” the notion of home education, ‘Social Production of Ignorance’.

Daniel Kleinman describes the social production of ignorance as the ignoring of “what we do not know” by those in a position to regulate, legislate and develop policy for change. Garrett M . Broad discusses the social production of ignorance and urges “scholars of communication  and the environment …[to] be interested in in how mediated depictions shape what we do and do not know…” Kleinman introduces the ideas and terminology of Robert Proctor who used the term agnotology to describe the cultural production of ignorance; one of the forces driving the development and acknowledgement of non-knowledge can be the “strategic ploys that actively and often mischievously, construct ignorance” – such as careful language choice during political debates surrounding sensitive topics such as home education.

Going back to Bongrand’s work, it seems obvious that if parents (in France and the UK) remain unaware that schooling (sending children to a school building to be taught by a trained teacher) is in fact not a legal requirement; parents do not have to use schools to educate their children. In France parents are simply asked to provide instruction and in the UK:

‘The parent of every child of compulsory school age has a legal duty to ensure that he (or she) receives efficient full-time education suitable to his (or her) age, ability and aptitude and any special educational needs he may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.’

In Scotland, parents must “provide efficient education for him suitable to his age, ability and aptitude either by causing him to attend a public school regularly or by other means.”

Parents have a legal right to choose an alternative to public or private schooling by home educating their children, however, that right can only be more than Bongrand’s “ghost right” if parents are aware that schooling is not a legal requirement and that they have a choice or option available to them. It is likely, based on the social media responses of parents during the 2020 lockdown, that most parents were unaware of the alternate educational option open to them.

Although home education has been discussed and debated far more often by politicians and policy makers in the past 10 years, the language they choose to use arguably assists in the “eclipse” of home education in favour of school improvements and increased teacher training numbers. It is difficult to find any MP who has debated home education in a positive light or as a real alternative to schooling.

Bongrand, P., 2016. “Compulsory Schooling” Despite the Law: How Education Policy Underpins the Widespread Ignorance of the Right to Home Educate in France. Journal of School Choice10(3), pp.320-329.

Broad, G.M., 2016. Animal production, Ag-gag laws, and the social production of ignorance: Exploring the role of storytelling. Environmental Communication10(1), pp.43-61.

Gross, M. and McGoey, L. eds., 2015. Routledge international handbook of ignorance studies. Routledge.

Kleinman, D.L. and Suryanarayanan, S., 2013. Dying bees and the social production of ignorance. Science, Technology, & Human Values38(4), pp.492-517.


Research Study (PhD) looking at the value of education and the transference of education capital in a home education space.

Participant Information Sheet

Research Title:                   ‘The Value of Education: a narrative of family choices and educational spaces’

Primary Res Question:       Education Capital in Educational Spaces: does it really matter where we learn?

You are being invited to take part in a research study. Before you decide, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish. Please ask me if there is anything that is not clear or if you would like more information. Take time to decide whether or not you wish to take part.

What is the purpose of this study?

The purpose of this study is to investigate any link between how home educating families value education and the level of educational experience and knowledge (Capital) found within a family unit. The investigation will also consider any change in how families value education or in the education capital within a home educating family unit. This will be examined through the investigation of a family narrative.

Why have I been chosen?

You have been chosen to take part in this study because you have experience with Home Education either in the past or currently. It is hoped that you can share some of your experience, ideas and opinions related to your Home Education journey.

Do I have to take part?

It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part. If you do decide to take part you will be given this information sheet to keep and be asked to sign a consent form. If you decide to take part you are still free to withdraw at any time up to 1 month following completion of this study and without giving a reason.

What will happen to me if I take part?

A survey link will be supplied to you initially. This shouldn’t take you longer than 10-15 minutes. If you then choose to take part in the 2nd stage of the study, you will be provided with instructions on how to document your experiences of Home Education through photographs (PhotoVoice). A 1 hour online interview will also be arranged where you will be given the opportunity to discuss the 7 images that you choose to use. Each image should be discussed and agreed with your family and should represent how you and your family value education in Home Education space(s). We understand that you may be unusually restricted by Covid-19 and this can be discussed during your online interview.

What are the possible disadvantages and risks of taking part?

It is not expected that you will be at any risk or that there will be any disadvantages. All of your data will be confidential and you will be instructed as to how you can take photographs without any identifying information within, especially anything that would identify children. There are also a variety of editing tools that you can use prior to submitting any images to the study.

As you will be undertaking your normal Home Education activities you should be at any risk. You will not be required to undertake any activity that contravenes Covid-19 restrictions.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

This study is looking at how Home Educating families value education and educational experiences within non-school spaces. Your data may assist in larger research studies being undertaken that support and encourage the choice for parents to Home Educate their children. The results of this research may also encourage policy makers to see how educational choices, for parents and children, can offer some families a unique opportunity to increase children’s education and cultural capital.

Data Protection Privacy Notice

The data controller for this project will be University of the West of Scotland (UWS). The UWS Data Protection Office provides oversight of UWS activities involving the processing of personal data and can be contacted at UWS’s Data Protection Officer is Emma Cockrow and can be contacted at

Your personal data will be processed so long as it is required for the research project. We will anonymise and pseudonymise the personal data you provide we will undertake this and will endeavour to minimise the processing of personal data wherever possible.

If you are concerned about how your personal data is being processed, please contact UWS in the first instance at If you remain unsatisfied, you may wish to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Contact details, and details of data subject rights, are available on the ICO website at:

What will happen to the results of the research study?

It is expected that the data and results will be disseminated via the initial thesis, journal articles, conference papers and possibly books/book chapters.

Who has reviewed the study?

ESS Ethics Committee

Contact for further information

If you require any further information please contact:

Chelle Oldham

University of the West of Scotland,

High Street,





E-mail address:

Thank you for taking part in this study.

Consent Form Questions (Q1 of the survey)

Please ensure that you have read the participant information sheet and that you have considered the statements on the consent form before taking part in the survey

 Initial below:
I confirm that I have read and understand the participant information sheet.  I have had the opportunity to consider the information, ask questions and have had these answered satisfactorily. 
I confirm that I will answer the survey questions as far as I am able to. 
I understand that my participation in each stage of the research, is voluntary and that I am free to withdraw at any time up to one month after completing the study without giving any reason. 
I understand that the information I give is confidential and any publication resulting from this work will not identify me personally. 
I consent to the processing of my personal information (age, sex, and qualification) for the purposes explained to me.  I understand that such information will be handled in accordance with all applicable data protection legislation.           
I freely agree to participate in this study. 
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