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The Law Relating to
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Government Proposals to Change the Law on Home Education in England

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Page last updated April 10th 2010

* * STOP PRESS APRIL 2010 * *

The Children Schools and Families Act 2010 received Royal Assent on April 8th. Nothing about home education survived the wash-up. The law on home education has not been changed. For more information see here and here.

Cabinet Office guidance on the "wash-up" states that "there will invariably be sacrifices to be made. Some Bills might be lost completely, others might be progressed quickly but in a much-shortened form. A lot will depend on where the Bills are in the legislative process and whether or not they are controversial."

Introduction

The law on home education has not been changed. Home education clauses were dropped from the Children Schools and Families Act on April 7th 2010. The Act received royal assent on April 8th 2010 and may be found here.

Background

During 2009-2010, the Government tried to change the law on home education in England by means of the Children Schools and Families Bill. Under the proposed new scheme all home educators would have been required get their home education approved and registered by the local authority. In all cases where home education was not registered, the child would have been compelled to go to school.

In the Bill, the Government provided a sample list of reasons why registration might be refused, which included sweeping subjective criteria such as "failure to co-operate", "inadequate information" and whether the local authority considered it would be harmful to the child's welfare to be home educated.

There was broad consensus that the home education area of the Bill was impossible. Members of Parliament at every stage have said that the home education area of the Bill should be left out.

What about support?

In November 2009 Lord Lucas said:
"We are considering a section of the Bill which will cost £20 million per annum, which is about £1,000 per home-educated child. These children receive no money to help pay the costs of examinations; no money to buy textbooks; no money to buy materials; no money and no tuition to help them over difficulties in education. Now the Government can find £1,000 for each of these children-and will spend it on auditing them. Not one penny will go to help the children; it will all go on auditing them. What have these people done to deserve that?" Lord Lucas

Education Otherwise Position

Education Otherwise issued a Position Statement on January 6th which also saw the first meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education.

Education Otherwise believes that Clause 26 Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill is profoundly flawed and must not pass into legislation. In addition to the devastating effect on home educating families, the proposed measures would be incompatible with existing laws and would have unforeseen consequences far beyond the present target group.

Click here for more from the Education Otherwise Position Statement.

Education Otherwise also warned the Government in Committee not to look to home education support organisations for help in training and implementing the proposed new measures.

"I really believe that you will not find home-education support organisations that will deliver training on how to implement the Bill, so in respect of all those plans for softening the edges and making it palatable and home-education friendly, I cannot see where you will find such people."
Fiona Nicholson, Trustee Education Otherwise in evidence to the Bill Committee January 19th 2010

Home educators' reaction: proposals intrusive and extremely threatening

The proposals caused fear and anger amongst home educating families. Many home educators have repeatedly told members of parliament and civil servants that their children find the proposed new licensing scheme intrusive and extremely threatening.

For more background to this, please read Are Home Educators Worrying About Nothing?.

Home educators engaged with MPs and members of the House of Lords

The home education clause was the most controversial in the Children Schools and Families Bill.

The past year has seen regular constituency meetings with MPs, a nationwide series of not-back-to-school picnics, a mass lobby of parliament, Briefing Events in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and the formation of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education. 331 constituencies returned petitions against the proposed legislation on home education, culminating in a mass presentation of petitions to Parliament on 8th December which can be read in Hansard . In October, a Briefing Event was held for Members of Parliament. Hundreds of MPs have now met with home educators both in their constituencies and at Westminster.

Many home educators also wrote to peers in advance of the Bill reaching the House of Lords. In addition a Briefing Event was hosted for members of the House of Lords by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education.

Read more about getting in touch with your MP here.

New article to share with your MP Are Home Educators Worrying About Nothing?.

Recent Articles from Education Otherwise

Education Otherwise Westminster Briefing Event Session June 17th

House of Lords Minister says LAs will be told about new SEN letter

DCSF longitudinal feasibility study delayed till after Election

Conservative spokesperson in Lords puts amendments to remove home education proposals

Government asks authorities about safeguarding practice in home education

House of Commons Research Paper "Debate was brought to an end, in accordance with the programme order, as the Committee were considering the home education provisions and none of the provisions following clause 26 and schedule 1 was debated."

EO Press Release on the Birmingham Case: "Ofsted has already found that Birmingham is failing to protect children and questions have been raised over the high number of child deaths in the last few years."

EO email to DCSF raising concerns about special needs guidance letter

DCSF announces new research into home education - Objective: "to close the gap in educational achievement for children from disadvantaged backgrounds"

Funding for home educators? Minister Diana Johnson says can't pay because no register. Minister Baroness Morgan says Government won't pay anyway.

MPs can write to Public Bill Office about amendments during recess

Amendments to leave out home education parts of the Children Schools and Families Bill.

Debate and vote in Commons on February 23rd.

Information about writing to members of the House of Lords.

The Bill moves to First Reading in the Lords on February 24th.

Summary of debate from Bill Committee Thursday February 4th

Debate on Clause 26, the home education clause of the Children Schools and Families Bill, took a substantial part of the final Committee session with the Labour Chair unable or unwilling to advance the committee towards scrutiny of the remaining clauses of the Bill.

Both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were in agreement over the unfairness and unworkability of the Government's proposed changes to the law on home education.

Outcome of proceedings from Thursday in Committee

David Laws MP: "It is our strong view not only that the provisions to which amendments have been tabled should be deleted, but that the whole of clause 26 and schedule 1 - everything related to home education - should be dumped before this Parliament comes to its end." Graham Stuart MP: "I also thank my colleagues for making it so clear that, all the way to the wash-up, the Conservatives will ensure that this Bill will never become law."

"Are home educators worrying about nothing?"

Are home educators making too many wild speculations? How exactly did home educators arrive at their worst-case scenario interpretation of the Government's proposals? Where is the evidence?

EO Press Release asks does guidance contradict Minister on funding?

Education Otherwise has located the latest Government guidance on Alternative Provision which is dated January 28th 2010. There is a helpful table on page 17 of the guidance which sets out the criteria for inclusion in the census return. "Pupil whose parents have elected to educate at home. Include? No. Category: Not applicable."

DCSF Position Statement has no legal status and is for information only

Update from Education Otherwise 11-25 January

Education Otherwise Research into Home Education and Social Care

Local authority views on registration and monitoring consultation

NEETs

We are aware of a number of local authorities who attempted to inform the Department in September that it was not possible to give accurate information about home educated young people beyond the age of 16. It is not clear whether Graham Badman studied the raw data or whether he simply signed off the finished letters to the Select Committee.

Anniversary of Badman Review: Fuelling the Anguish

"We have decided that local authorities should visit the place where education is taking place, which will usually be the family home, as part of their monitoring work. If families choose not to cooperate, and as a result are not on the register, local authorities will be able to use a school attendance order to require the home educated child or children to attend school."
MPs speak out against Government proposals for home education

Open letter in Guardian calling for home education clause to be withdrawn

Minority groups affected by Government proposals

Education Otherwise Position Statement

How to get in touch with your MP

Select Committee highly critical of Government plans: EO Press Release

The Select Committee does not endorse the Government's proposals for compulsory registration of home educated children; does not agree that visits to the home are necessary; does not believe it would be appropriate for home education officers to interview children without a parent present; is greatly concerned that home educated children with special needs are not well served by the present system; and strongly recommends that safeguarding concerns should not be addressed by the home education officer but should be passed to the appropriate agencies.

In addition the Committee is not convinced by Government's estimate of the cost of the proposals, particularly with respect to increased contact time with home educators. Nor do members of the Committee believe that the Government has adequately estimated the cost of delivering a comprehensive training programme to local authorities.

Home education Impact Assessment critique

Education Otherwise Briefing Paper

Lord Lucas speaks against home education clause

"This part of the Bill is ill thought-out and unjustified, and I hope very much that we will delete it. In its current form it is a skeleton exposing home educators and their children to the unknown because so much will depend on how the regulations are written."
Impact Assessment published

Home educators in a headlock, Press Release from Education Otherwise

New law announced before consultation response

Questions in Parliament about funding for home education

Submissions to the Select Committee available online

Professor James Conroy from Graham Badman's Expert Reference Group stated:

"In my 30 odd years of professional life in education I have rarely encountered a process, the entirety of which was so slap dash, panic driven, and nakedly and naively populist."
Government Czar uses Birmingham case against home education

The case cited by Maggie Atkinson is not an argument for more statutory powers with respect to home education, rather it is an argument for Birmingham Council to learn serious lessons and to address the urgent issues of recruitment, retention and training of social workers.

Money to implement the Badman Report?

Policy Based Evidence Making

Education Otherwise Parliamentary Event

Sunday Times Article by Alex Dowty

"I donít have a single GCSE or A-level, but Iím in my third year at Oxford University, studying law. I was home educated from the age of 8 until 18. One of the universities I applied to responded by e-mail, saying: "Did you forget to fill the form in?"

Home education is much less drastic than people imagine. Youíre not in your house all day, never meeting people.

People who havenít come across home education before seem to think we have no social skills. I didnít find socialisation a problem - I live in a city and made friends on my street. I also went to a music college and made friends there. You have to be more active socially - it isnít provided on a plate, so it's more like an adult social life.

I donít think home education is perfect; itís just another valid model, though Iíve done well from it. I had a nice education, it landed me a decent place at university and it didnít cause much misery on the way."

Graham Badman makes urgent appeal for extra evidence to bolster his case before the Select Committee: EO Press Release

In a surprising admission, the covering letter from DCSF admits that the evidence on which the 28 recommendations were based was a "small sample" and that they needed to show "more statistically rigorous" information to the Inquiry.

EO meeting with DCSF

EO Youtube video on personalised learning

EO Youtube video : what about qualifications

EO Youtube video: response to Badman Review

EO Youtube video: interview with Lord Lucas

EO Youtube video: interview with Alan Thomas

First EO Youtube video: School is Not Compulsory 1000 hits in first two days

Archived page on the Children Schools and Families Bill January 2010


Food for Thought:
Home Education for Teenagers

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