The Law Relating to
What Your Local Authority
Can Do For You
What Your MPs and Local
Councillors Can Do For You
What The Media
Can Do For You
Background to Consultation on Guidelines
for Local Authorities announced on 8th May
News of Consultation Leaked in November
At the beginning of November the Department for Education & Skills (DfES) Public Communications Unit began to "leak" the news that DfES were planning a full public consultation in the new year to review the regulations for home education.
The DfES at that time said that the planned consultation would be looking at anomalies in the way that home education is treated, when compared with independent schools (for whom standards for education provision exist) and when considered in the context of Every Child Matters (a set of policies which seek to promote the welfare of children through provision of services to children in need).
Meeting with DfES 19th December 2006
Education Otherwise (EO) were invited to a meeting with DfES on 19th December. Following the meeting a Briefing Paper was written to give a wider background to what the DfES was planning at the time. The following may be taken as a summary of EO's position:
"The evidence base that there are real problems underlying local authorities concerns is very poor, and was acknowledged by DfES at the pre-consultation meeting to be limited. The studies are neither impartial nor objective. There is no evidence base for concluding that new legislation would improve educational outcomes. Nor has there been any comparison of the education outcomes recognized by home educators, and how they differ from local authorities expectations. EO will advise DfES throughout any consultation that the existing legislation is perfectly adequate. Introducing new regulations will seriously damage outcomes for a proportion of home educated children, and put others at increased risk. It would not offer any significant positive benefits, and the cost of monitoring and of prosecution when provision is deemed unsuitable will be enormous."
Determined lobbying by home education groups combined with a powerful grassroots movement speaking against any change to monitoring arrangements (for example the 1,600+ people who signed the Downing Street e-petition against more interference from the Local Authority) plus the financial burden at local level over extra duties for LAs, all combined to persuade the DfES to abandon plans for radical changes.
Instead on 8th May the DfES launched a full public consultation into written Guidelines for Local Authorities on home education.
The DfES website says the following :
"We are consulting on issuing guidelines on home education. These guidelines represent our view on the best approach to balancing the rights of parents and the obligations of local authorities. We want to hear from all interested parties, in particular home educators and local authorities. "