Question 26 – Are there any other comments you wish to make…

What’s been said?

The majority of home educating families in England are very aware that the deadline for responses to the government’s Call for Evidence is getting nearer – Monday 2nd July. We have previously commented that given the complexity and length of the documents, doing so will be an overwhelming task for many HE parents, and discussion within the community is confirming that this is how many people feel.

The HE Byte team want to encourage those thinking it is too much for them not to throw the towel in. Whilst we encourage as many as possible to respond to every question, we realise that this is not practical for everyone. If you are amongst those who look at the documents and feel totally bewildered by them, there is still a way you can use the consultation to make the Department for Education aware of your views, and in particular how you feel about being at what seems to be the wrong end of this process. You can do so by answering just one question.

Question 26 (19 in the PDF Call for Evidence) is, “Are there any other comments you wish to make relating to the effectiveness of current arrangements for elective home education and potential changes?” This is effectively an open question, offering every respondent the opportunity to say anything they feel is relevant to the current situation. If you are a member of the HE community – parent, child, previously HE child, grandparent of HE children or “retired” HE parent – we encourage you to answer this one question at least.

Why does it matter?

When the consultation was launched, we highlighted the DfE statement from §1.5 of the Call for Evidence: “We would like all those with an interest in home education to submit responses to this call for evidence so that the department can gather the fullest possible information.” [emphasis added] No matter how negative you are feeling about the way in which this consultation has been conducted or about the complexity of the documentation, we encourage you to make your contribution to the evidence they have to take into account.

Some will remember the Badman Review and Clause 26 of the subsequent Children’s, Schools and Families Bill, which was only dropped because Gordon Brown called a general election. Whilst there was a sense of relief when that happened, many people mistook it for a victory. Since then opponents of EHE have regrouped, used basic propaganda techniques to manufacture a hostile environment towards HE and by so doing dragged us back into the government’s focus. Home educators now face a choice. Do we simply want to see the ball kicked back into the long grass once again, or do we want to win the match?

When Labour lost the election in 2010, it seems many thought that was the full-time whistle, but those who dislike HE went looking for the ball. We now know it was picked up and passed around until it landed in the hands of Lord Soley. In presenting the government with real evidence, rather than the fake news of the lobbyists who oppose HE, the consultation provides an opportunity to tackle them and get the ball under the control of Team EHE. To do so we must also continue to engage with politicians at every level over the coming months. Yes, it will be hard work but, given that we have real facts to support our freedom, we can overcome our opponents. Our aim must be to take EHE off the political agenda for many years to come. If we don’t, the lobbyists will regroup again and again until they prevail.

What can I do?

Respond to the consultation, no matter how negative you feel about it. Respond at the level you feel you most comfortable with. Your options are:

  • Answer just question 26;
  • Answer some of the questions, but not all;
  • Answer them all – this option is for the most determined;
  • Answer the questions collectively, e.g as your local HE group – share the questions out between members and then compile them into a response from the “organisation”.

Whichever option you choose, The HE Byte team want to help as much as we can. We have therefore added some additional resources to our English Consultations page. These new documents are:

  • Our comments on each of the thirty-eight questions;
  • Our suggestions for responding to just question 26;
  • Two-column version of both sets of draft guidelines – putting similar sections side by side;
  • Relevant extracts from the main Acts of Parliament referred to in the consultation documents.

Remember also to take a look at our guidelines for responding to consultations.

If you think there are other ways we could help you, please let us know.

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