Lord Lucas Amendments – 7th March

What’s been said?

We have already commented on Lord Lucas’ first amendment to Lord Soley’s Bill. A week later he tabled two further amendments in what is listed here as “HL Bill 11(b)”. He proposes adding two clauses to the Bill’s second clause. The first requires that any draft guidance resulting from the Bill should have “arrangements in place to provide access to Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) support and facilities such as laboratories, for children receiving elective home education and the costs associated with taking public examinations.” The second is a similar section concerning “flexi-schooling”.

Why does it matter?

Between 2010 and 2015, Lord Lucas worked closely with Graham Stuart MP on the Home Education APPG. At the time Stuart was chairing the Education Select Committee which conducted an inquiry into EHE following the Badman Review. Published in December 2012, their report was entitled, Support for Home Education. In brief it stated that LAs should be more supportive of HE in both their relationships with families and in what facilities they enabled them to access. Very little has changed as a result of that report and one wonders if Lord Lucas is seeking to use this opportunity to remind ministers that there is a need to support home educating families rather than to condemn them, as seems to be the present trend.

Much concern is being expressed about the rising number of children being deregistered from schools. A very significant proportion of these are children with SEND, for whom the state’s provision is increasingly unsatisfactory. Withdrawing a child from state education often results in reduced access to other services such as assessments. Lucas is to be congratulated for drawing the government’s attention to this injustice.

The Select Committee’s report also recommends practical and financial support for HE children to sit public examinations. They were however less sure about flexi-schooling, “which was working well as an option in some authorities. However, a number of concerns existed, including the possible impact on headteachers and other learners in the school, and the cost-effectiveness of arrangements”. It seems Lord Lucas feels differently, as he is proposing that the DfE “support parents who wish a child receiving elective home education to attend a school for a limited number of days in a year.” Flexi-schooling is a difficult provision to legislate for because it requires all three parties concerned – child, parents & school – to be motivated in order to benefit all concerned. Ed Yourself details the current law on flexi-schooling and links to examples of where it has worked well.

What can I do?

Lord Lucas has recently added to his list of amendments, so keep in touch with The HE Byte for further comments. Remember that the government keeps repeating that there will be no change of legislation in this parliament, so this Peer is seeking to use the opportunity to argue for better provisions for families who EHE. Once again, make politicians aware of your feelings by writing to other Lords or by contacting your MP and inviting them to meet your family or attend a local HE group.