This page is the second of three sections looking at why action is needed, what is being said about home education and suggesting a variety of possible responses. All three sections can be accessed directly from the drop down Action menu above, or by use the link at the bottom of this page to read the final section.
Whilst Balls and Badman failed to change the law in regard to EHE, they did change the narrative concerning it, as previously noted. We now know that those who wanted to see restrictions placed on elective home education regrouped and have since been lobbying behind the scenes for radical changes, which would ultimately transfer more and more responsibility from a child’s parents to the State.
These introductory pages cannot answer all the issues raised by those who seek greater State oversight of home education, but the purpose of The HE Byte is to comment on new and repeated charges as they are made. Our aim is to help others in the home education community to be informed and equipped to protect our families from unwarranted and unlawful State intrusion.
Here are some commonly stated reasons for concern about home education, followed by possible basic responses.
The best people to safeguard children are normally their own parents. The State should only step in as the parent of last resort.
- Children unknown to the State:
As has been widely acknowledged, where parents are determined to keep their children unknown to the State, no registration scheme can prevent them from doing so. The majority of EHE children are known within the community where they live, by health professionals, for a start.
- Significant increase in number of children being deregistered from schools:
If the State is failing to fulfil its contract with parents to provide their children with a suitable education, it should not be surprised when parents end that agreement. LA’s should be providing support for such families, rather than treating them as a problem.
There are several apparent reasons why schools are coercing parents to deregister their children, including enhancement of the school’s exam results & league tables and avoiding the need to cater for pupils with challenging behaviour. The Government needs to put its own house in order and sanction schools which practise off-rolling.
- Unregistered/illegal schools:
Where institutions meet the legal definition of a school but are unregistered, they are illegal and authorities already have powers to prosecute the proprietors.
- Radicalisation – particularly religious:
This claim is essentially scaremongering – using a matter of genuine public concern to generate suspicion and mistrust of people who have no sinister intent. Governments should resist such tactics.
- Children unprepared for life in modern Britain:
Usually combined with the previous two concerns, and aimed particularly at religious communities holding more traditional values. The real danger of this argument is that it seeks to override established Human Rights law protecting parents’ freedom to bring up their children according to their own religious or philosophical convictions.
The threat to regulate home education is increasing all the time and its scope is expanding rapidly; the LibDems, for example, have proposed two annual visits to children educated outside school. Integral to these visits would be checks to ensure that children are being educated in accordance with the National Curriculum.
It is a concern to many in the HE community that schools are encouraging parents to deregister their children when they are ill-equipped for the task of teaching them. When national governments and local councils seek to protect parents from being steered into reluctantly taking up full responsibility for a child’s education, they should be supported. However, authorities should also be reminded that such situations arise not because of a problem within home education, but due to shortcomings in the their own systems.
The HE Byte Team believe that the elective home educating community will be better equipped to protect its freedom if it is able to keep up to date with what is being said and understand the underlying issues. That is why we have decided to provide a space where long and often complicated documents can be presented in bite-sized portions. We hope readers will find the articles helpful.
The next section suggests a variety of responses individuals, families and groups within the home educating community could consider taking.