Tips on Engaging with your MP

What’s been said?

Since the campaign against the Badman Review in 2009/10, the social media landscape has changed significantly. Spread out as they are across the UK, home educators are now in a far better position to communicate via social media, passing on information as it occurs, advising and consolidating strategies. Lord Soley’s proposed Bill has been responsible for the spawning of social media groups and posts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) for the sole purpose of enabling home educators to work against this new challenge.

Many home educators have also been encouraged to set up blogs, Instagram or Twitter accounts and Facebook pages to promote home education as a valid and positive educational option, and to educate wider society on the importance of protecting the rights of children, parents and families from unnecessary State interference.

One example of such a blog is Martine Cotter’s, entitled “Home Education – A Democratic Right”. (See here and here for our previous comments on Martine’s contributions.)

Her latest helpful offering is entitled “Top Tips for Talking to your MP”. Based on her personal experience, Martine provides a list of tips, as well as an example of how a conversation with an MP might be managed with a view to them gaining a better understanding of why regulation of home educators would not be in the interests of the families they represent.

Why does it matter?

Parents choosing to home educate often find themselves in a position of having to defend that choice – to family members, friends, the general public and, in times of parliamentary stirrings, to Lords and MPs.

Presenting a well thought-through, informed and articulate argument can go a long way towards changing perceptions. Arm yourself by reading up on suitable studies and anecdotal examples, and making sure you understand current legislation and guidelines and the impact of any proposed changes.

Changing the perceptions of those in positions of influence is a powerful way to ensure that the right to home educate is properly understood and protected. As Martine Cotter’s sample conversation with an MP demonstrates, it is possible to redirect the train of thought and help an MP to see the issue from a home educator’s perspective. Continued communication – possibly accompanied by further reading or research – may motivate them to reconsider and ultimately change their view on how home educators are regulated.

What can I do?

  • Using well-worded reasoning, write to Lords to argue why changes to home education legislation would be an inappropriate response to challenges within the education system, child protection, and concerns around illegal or unregistered schools, on which much of Lord Soley’s Bill is based.
  • Although the Bill has not yet progressed to the House of Commons, consider asking to meet with your MP to initiate a conversation along the lines of the example on Martine’s blog.
  • Consider joining the Anti-Home Ed Bill group on Facebook (if you haven’t already), and following home education blogs and other social media sites, so that you can be kept updated on relevant information which you can use for such conversations.
  • Think about ways in which you can positively promote home education as a valid educational choice by making use of social media and other platforms.