What’s been said?
Alex Cunningham MP (Lab, Stockton North) did the EHE community a great favour by submitting a three part written question about the forthcoming government consultation on the guidance on home education for parents and local authorities. He wanted to know when this will take place, how long it will last and what is the expected time frame for the government response.
Anne Milton, Minister of State (Education), responded on 29th March 2018. She began with the words, “We aim to start the consultation process within the next few weeks, once the necessary documentation has been prepared,” and went on to say that the consultation period would be “proportionate”, as per Cabinet Office principles, which also stipulate that a response to consultation will normally be made within 12 weeks. Anne Milton said the final version of the revised guidance would be issued as soon as responses had been fully considered.
Another question was submitted in the House of Lords by Conservative Peer Lord McColl of Dulwich, requesting the government’s views about “reports that some schools are encouraging families to home school children with complex difficulties, possibly with an eye to those schools’ performance statistics”. He also asked how the government intends to ensure that such children benefit from the services of the proposed mental health support teams.
Lord Agnew of Oulton acknowledged in his response on 29th March that the DfE shared concerns that “some children are potentially being educated at home as a result of pressure by schools”, adding that they were “not a position to confirm how far these concerns are justified by actual cases.” Referring to the Pupil Registration Regulations 2006, Agnew spoke of the lawful grounds on which a pupil’s name could be removed from the admissions register, then enlarged on several unlawful situations where schools were not permitted to exclude pupils. In outlining the duty of parents to ensure the receipt of a suitable full-time education, Agnew pointed out that this does not have to be at a school, and added that the government would be testing how the new mental health support teams could “provide support to all children in an area, including those not at school.”
Why does this matter?
The fact the questions were asked highlights that the level of awareness and interest in the topic of home education in both Houses is comparatively high. Mr Cunningham did the HE community a service by asking the question everyone has been wanting to see answered for several months. It may be of course that the answer he received was nothing more than parliamentary speak for “When we are ready.”
Lord McColl’s question demonstrates that some Peers at least are aware of the problems caused by off-rolling, which has left some parents reluctantly home educating by default.
What can I do?
If you live in the Stockton N constituency, thank your MP for asking a very pertinent question.
As you investigate which Peers you might write to regarding Soley’s Bill, consider thanking Lord McColl for bringing the government’s attention to the negative press which the practice of off-rolling brings upon elective home educators.