What’s been said?
We have commented previously on the current situation in the Isle of Man and aspects of what has happened since the government there published the results of a 2017 consultation prior to proposed changes to the current Education Act. In March the Department for Education, Sport and Culture [DESC] published a draft of new EHE Procedures.
The situation for HE families on the Isle of Man [IoM] is significantly different to that in the rest of Britain. Since 2009 there has been a requirement for parents to notify the DESC if they elected to educate their children at home. Whilst the HE community did not oppose notification, they did present legal advice in 2008 that monitoring HE did not comply with Human Rights legislation. Tynwald conceded the argument and the offending clause was removed.
The newly proposed changes recognise that there is no duty for the DESC to monitor (4§7), but they are unclear about the difference between notification and registration. On page 5 it cites Section 24A of the Education Act 2001, and explains how notification should take place. In contrast to this, Appendix 2 (p13) is a flow chart of actions which the DESC should follow if “it appears a child… is not receiving a suitable education.” The phrase “Log/Note on register…” can be found in six different places on the chart.
Why does this matter?
Across Britain home educators are resisting every attempt to force them to register with LAs. Why then did parents on the IoM not object to being required to notify their government? Though the words may seem similar, they are very different in meaning. It appears that neither those who designed the flow chart, nor in fact the Island’s government understood this difference. There is a single page on its website dealing with EHE and whilst it says very little, it is clear that parents who choose not to use a government school, “are required by law to advise the Department via the Home or Private Education form“. So far so good; both notify and advise mean “to inform”. However the heading on the form has a very different emphasis. It reads, “Home or Private Education Registration Form”.
One may notify a neighbour that they are going to prune one of their trees which overhangs the the first party’s garden, but they do not have to gain their permission first. Registration implies that the party holding the register has de facto authority over those who are named in it!
The draft document acknowledges the help of the English DfE, various LAs, “particularly the Lancashire local authority”. One wonders whether the staff member from Lancs LA was the same person who is a member of AEHEP which has been advising Lord Soley? Given the hostile atmosphere towards HE which has been nurtured over the last decade, it is very difficult for LA staff to remember that parents not the state are, according to international and domestic laws, responsible for the education of their children. This is true whether they attend school or are educated within their family.
It is to be hoped that parents on the IoM have raised this confusion in both existing and proposed documentation. What the DESC should maintain is a list of children who are educated at home or privately. The flow chart need say no more than note or record the place of education.
What can I do?
All parents, home educating or not, should recognise that responsibility for their children’s education rests with them, not the state. All parents therefore need to be proactive in ensuring that each of their children is receiving an education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs they may have.
HE parents, wherever they live, should be reminding politicians and LAs that the state does not have reason to register HE children, because parents do not raise their children on the behalf of the state. This is why IoM parents resisted the practice of monitoring home education, as we all should.
Now that you are more fully aware of the difference between notification and registration, you may wish to discuss with others if either or both should be resisted and if so, on what grounds.