Home educators are finding themselves under increasingly more pressure in recent times as various politicians and officials have declared their intent to make it compulsory for home educators to be on a register.
The Evening Standard reported on 23 June 21: “Speaking to MPs on the education committee, Gavin Williamson said he is “absolutely committed” to creating a register of home educated children and its introduction is “imminent”.”
Home educators writing or meeting with their MPs have reported receiving “copy and paste” responses simply restating the government’s position (See Baroness Berridge letter)
It is unfortunate that home educators have so little support from politicians, but at this stage we can still push back, lobby our MPs, and talk to the media. You can refer to our article on talking to your MP, and also make sure you stay updated by following sites like The HE Byte , and relevant Facebook groups.
You may find the following comprehensive list helpful in shaping arguments against a register:
- Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that “The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable (a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.” The responsibility for children’s education therefore rests with the parents, and they have the right to choose to educate their children at home. A register implies that parents need permission to execute their legal responsibility.
- There is no research-based evidence to indicate that home education is a problem. Current reports and enquiries have failed to produce actual figures to support claims that home education in itself is an issue.
- A register would foster a culture of parent-blame and would not be in the spirit of the law.
- A compulsory registration penalises law-abiding citizens and is completely at odds with the spirit of the law. It would be considered highly irregular if the government set up registers for people on the grounds of their religious, political or philosophical beliefs or because of sexuality.
- A notification system could provide the data needed, and would maintain the balance between citizens and the State
- What steps are being taken to ensure that all children in school are receiving “a suitable education”? If children’s needs were being met within the system, less families would choose to home educate.
- If off-rolling and unregistered/illegal schools are the problem, measures should be put in place (or enforced if they already exist) to deal with these more appropriately.
- Many children have been failed by the education system, yet authorities want parents to answer to them for removing them from what might be a toxic situation.
- Reports and enquiries patronisingly suggest that parents may not have their child’s best interests at heart or do whatever it takes to help their child receive “a suitable education”.
- It is insulting and offensive to imply the State can do a better job than a parent when recent headlines show that this is clearly not true.“Children in council care subjected to ‘cruelty and sexual abuse hard to comprehend’, inquiry finds”
- 76% of the published responses to the Inquiry by the Education Select Committee were against registration and monitoring, yet it is the main recommendation of the committee’s report. The committee are refusing to respect the opinions of home-educating experts who are better-informed than any other witnesses.
- The current checks and balances work well and were designed to ensure an appropriate balance between private life and the State.
- No current home educating parents or children were called to give evidence to the Education Select Committee. (See also point 11, where the majority of views have been ignored).
- There is much academic research on home education available, which politicians and officials are refusing to consider (when it has been made available to them
- There is no legal backing for interfering with private family life without reasonable cause
- A register won’t find those who can’t be found currently or those who choose not to come forward, so it won’t achieve its stated objective.
- Children are the responsibility of parents and not “state-owned commodities” Section.9 of the 1996 education act stipulates “children should be educated in accordance with parents’ wishes rather than the state’s”
- Parents who choose to send their child to schools can be confident that (in theory) they will be taught and assessed by qualified professionals and that there is a clear complaints policy in place to be followed when things go wrong (again, in theory). Parents who elect to home educate have no such assurances. EHE staff do not have to have any training or reach a minimum standard of qualifications before being allowed to see a child. Most EHE departments do not have a clear, publicly accessible complaints policy, never mind independent arbitration.
- The Education Select Committee complains about lack of home education data, whilst ignoring its own data.
- The rise in numbers they cite as a concern is actually much lower. However, home education is a legal and valid choice – why should it be a concern at all? Latest research: Education Otherwise – Home Education Trends: The Covid Effect
- A social worker cannot interview a child on a Child Protection Plan without the consent of the parent or a court order and yet this report recommends empowering education staff to do just that. How is that reasonable? Even the Ofsted Handbook states “This does not mean that individual pupils are required to speak to inspectors. Neither the school nor inspectors can compel pupils to give their views to inspectors if they or their parents refuse permission.”
- The Education Select Committee report justifies assessing home educated children, while stating that 9 million adults who attended school are illiterate, innumerate or both – this makes no sense, other than supporting the reasons why parents might choose to home educate?
- Registration will drive an even bigger wedge into the relationship between local authorities and parents.
- If parents are implementing alternative approaches to education, a request for “work” may be entirely inappropriate.
- For some children, an education suitable to their age, aptitude and ability would mean that any form of assessment would be inappropriate.
- Registers of school children are to justify the school’s budget and facilitate fire evacuations etc, all things that are irrelevant to home educators.
- Children should not be coerced into performing for LAs with the threat of being sent back to school if they don’t have/choose to share written work. School children are not threatened with expulsion for poor academic performance.
- Off-rolled children are often very low achievers (which is why schools want them off the books), so demanding they suddenly achieve average literacy and numeracy levels when educated at home is preposterous. Fully half of school children are below average in these areas, by definition.
- Individual children in school are not inspected for achievement because individuals vary in ability too much. See Ofsted Inspection Handbook
- We teach our children not to talk to strangers and this report proposes mandating that a stranger can interview children. How can that be acceptable?
For other suggestions, please read: