Home education

Lord Soley

I have received a number of letters and emails expressing concern about Schedule 1 of Clause 26 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill which sets out the Government’s scheme for compulsory registration and monitoring of all home educated children in England. 

The Home Education Advisory Service believes that the proposed powers of local authorities to check on children being educated at home are excessive.

I am not convinced by their argument. Of course we want to allow parents to educate at home but there are risks attached to that and in one of the letters to me they hint at that difficulty. They say:  “It is unacceptable for public servants to undertake routine intervention on this scale in the lives of private individuals when it is acknowledged that the majority of parents are providing satisfactory educational arrangements”. The five words that worry me here are ‘the vast majority of parents’ . Of course the majority are good but by implication they accept there maybe a problem with a minority. Many of our laws would be unnecessary if it wasn’t for a minority. Only a minority of parents abuse their children and only a minority of home educating parents won’t teach their children necessary basic skills but they are the problem.

Problems can arise in a number of ways. It maybe extreme battering or cruelty where the parents are anxious to keep the child out of site of any authority figure. Or it maybe parents who believe that a girl should not receive education because in their view the role of a girl is to be trained as a mother and housewife. Or it maybe because the parents are providing a level of education that fails to enable the child to learn basic skills like reading and writing. So if we are to protect the minority we will need some power of intervention. I’m not sure if the Bill has the right safeguards in it but that is why we have Parliamentary scrutiny. To claim it is excessive for the state to have a checking role here is I think wrong.

Imagine the headlines when a case first appears of a child grossly abused and hidden from authority by the home educating parents. I don’t think the Home Education Advisory Service knows what will hit it if that should happen. 

107 comments for “Home education

  1. Troika21
    08/02/2010 at 11:02 pm

    Keep your noses out of peoples business.

    Yes, some terrible things might happen. But state intervention to prevent such a tiny group from causing harm is unjustified. However well intentioned your moves might be, they will end up causing more harm than good.

    When will politicians learn that there are some things that the state should not do, political interference in the very homes of the citizenry is not something that should be taken lightly, and if the only way you have of making it acceptable is to claim your protecting children from abuse then you have a poor argurment indeed.

    There seems to be no piece of legislation that cannot be passed if it is tied to child protection, nothing is so intrusive it should not be done to protect the children.

    • 09/02/2010 at 5:06 pm

      Troika –

      Surely there is some middle row to hoe there. Parents are not and should not be given carte blanche to do whatever they like to their children, and part of the duty and point of the state is to protect the defenseless, surely.

      It seems there is a trade-off to be made here. Either we completely respect the privacy of home-schooling parents, in which case there is a guarantee that some abuses will go undetected, or we can allow that the government has a right to intrude. Personally I don’t see how, in principle, allowing the state some degree of monitoring power is the worse option.

      Whether the bill contains the correct balance is open to debate, but I think if you’re coming at it from the notion that the state has no business monitoring such children whatsoever that you’re fundamentally in the wrong.

      • Troika21
        09/02/2010 at 7:44 pm

        I’m not actually that upset over the intrusion into the home schoolers activities, I recognise that precautions should be taken.

        What set me off was the ‘WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!’ attitude about preventing child abuse.

        Once you start arguing that your actions are necessary to prevent harm to children, then it seems like a free pass to get whatever you want into law.

        And starting from the premise that ‘home-schooling is a good excuse for child abusers does not fill me with confidence about the measures proposed.

        I’ve also got concerns about how this will be funded and enacted, no doubt it will fall upon already overworked social workers.

      • Dave H
        09/02/2010 at 8:54 pm

        As taxpayers we should be objecting to the home education provision in the Bill. Much better value for money could be had by channelling the funds where they are needed instead of setting up another chunk of useless and unpopular bureaucracy.

        Note that New Zealand recently gave up routine monitoring and inspection of home educators because they decided it wasn’t cost effective.

      • Jill Harris
        09/02/2010 at 10:55 pm

        You seem to be suggesting that additional monitoring of just specifically home educators is reasonable and would be effective, when the statistics all show that the risk of abuse is actually lower than amongst children in school – and that doesn’t even take into account the additional abuse, bullying, suicide rates etc associated directly with schools.

        This legislation would reverse the burden of proof and require LAs to routinely and regularly monitor *all* home educating families, in order for these families to prove that they are *not* neglecting their children’s needs. LAs already have powers to intervene, and if necessary monitor families if there are specific concerns, but routinely trawling will simply divert much needed resources from children where there are genuine, and specific concerns.

        Given the evidence of a reduced risk of abuse amongst home educators, there is no logical argument for introducing such monitoring, and it should therefore be either dropped, or introduced across the board for all families – after all the highest risk group of all are the under 5s. Clearly no government would try to introduce such widespread routine monitoring as it would cause a public outcry. The only reason this is not happening here is because most people are suspicious and ill-informed about home education, and seem oblivious to the dangerous precedent it will set.

        We don’t routinely search houses for drugs or stolen goods “just to be sure” -perhaps you think we should? If so then presumably you would introduce this either across the board, or where the evidence indicates the most likelihood of finding these things? The effect of this legislation is equivalent to focussing such searches on the areas known to have the lowest incidence of drugs and stolen good.

        Does that help clarify our objection? Perhaps this link would help explain it further http://www.uncharted-worlds.org/blog/2009/12/to-trust-or-not-to-trust/

  2. Bedd Gelert
    08/02/2010 at 11:28 pm

    Sorry Lord Soley, but I just don’t agree with you. There are of course many advantages to the education system offered by the state. But I’m afraid that the DCSF under Ed Balls is, as far as I can see, wanting to make this option all but impossible.

    They have already made voluntary organisations all but impossible to run with the draconian rules for the Indepdendent Safeguarding Authority. And their social engineering on the national curriculum and ‘having their cake and eating it’ when it comes to faith schools is well known.

    For all my qualms about independent schools, I should hate for them to be illegal and for parents to be forced down the state route against their will. Children don’t belong to the state, they belong to their parents. The fatuous idea that their views can always be over-ridden when it suits the Labour Party is one which is going to have to be reviewed when they lose the General Election.

    The ‘shroud-waving’ over abused children is just a smoke-screen. That abuse might take place even if the children were sent to boarding school for most of the year. And if the parents weren’t doing the abusing there is a small chance of that taking place in any school.

    Neither the Independent Safeguarding Authority nor the DCSF can legislate risk out of children’s life, which is probably just as well. A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are made for.

    • 09/02/2010 at 5:09 pm

      “Children don’t belong to the state, they belong to their parents.”

      Children don’t belong to their parents, they are in the care of their parents until such time as they become legal adults. There is a fundamental difference. Perhaps this was just sloppy speaking, but children are not anybody’s property, and the idea that they are is a dangerous road that can lead to the overlooking of a multiplicity of abuses.

      • 10/02/2010 at 10:00 pm

        McDuff,

        You may wish to be pedantic over the question of whether children belong to their parents or are in their care, but either way:

        a) They are first and foremost the responsibility of their parents;

        b) They neither belong to or are in care of the state until they become adults.

        Mr Balls gives the impression that they are the responsibility of his agents until they can vote him out of power.

        Is he right?

  3. Enest
    08/02/2010 at 11:30 pm

    So, the greater good, outweighs individual freedom and privacy. The legislation is again, a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

    The problem with the government is that it wishes to smother every single freedom, thought or action of individuals in legislation to produce a voting public who confirm and toe the PC, Party line.

    To much, to late – change is coming and the sooner the better.

  4. kizzy
    09/02/2010 at 12:22 am

    “Imagine the headlines when a case first appears of a child grossly abused and hidden from authority by the home educating parents. ”

    Substitute “home educating parents” with “member of parliament” and now let us all in your homes to interrogate your children on their own, because “if it saves one child”. How would your child feel if they had to be interrogated just because one of your colleagues turned out to be malevolent? You should not be presuming everyone guilty just in case someone *might* commit a crime. And you certainly should not be basing laws on what people *might* do. That is not proportionate.

    Your logic could lead us to all sorts of infringements of civil liberties. People might use their homes to hide immigrants, so we had better search everyone’s home. people may be using being a teacher to photograph small children, so search all their computers. None of this sounds reasonable does it?

  5. Firebird
    09/02/2010 at 1:07 am

    Your argument fails on many points but here are a few:

    1) Local Authorities ALREADY have all the powers they need to intervene “to protect the minority”.

    2) The measures in the CSF Bill will NOT prevent the things you say you fear. They won’t even make them less likely. They will make some of them MORE likely by diverting resources from children who actually are at risk.

    3) When has fear of what could, possibly, in theory, happen been good grounds for legislation? You can’t legislate away all risk, any attempt to do so is doomed to failure and comes at a terrible price to society.

    I fear that your mind has already been made up for you by party allegiance and that is sad. As for “Parliamentary scrutiny”, I watched the Bill Committee. Clause 26 was ripped to shreds by Conservatives, Lib Dem and even one Labour member stood up and spoke against it! But did ONE amendment pass? No, the bill carried on unchanged. “Parliamentary scrutiny”? Ha! Don’t make me laugh.

  6. anastaisia
    09/02/2010 at 1:10 am

    Lord Soley,
    Can I please ask if you have read the transcript of the committee debate about the clauses in the Children, Schools and Families Bill which relate to Home Education?

    Could you tell me why you feel this legislation, in its current form is the correct approach to the perceived problem of ‘a minority’ of parents failing in their legal duty to provide a suitable education for their child?

    I would be interested to hear your perspective on this as you hold a different view to the thousands of people and organisations who responded to the consultation on the Bill, to the Select Committee who were tasked with reviewing it, and to a number of MPs, including Labour MP Caroline Flint, who have looked into this on behalf of their constituants. Could you tell me if we are missing something that would help us to understand why such an intrusive approach is to be take when, for example, a minority of people deal drugs, but we don’t give police right of access to everyone’s homes just in case.

    I would also be interested to know why you feel home educated children would not be afforded the same protection from abuse that all children in Britain have – given that Social Services can already obtain right of access to a home and child under current legislation.

    Thanks

    (A home educator has helpfully set out MP3 files of each MPs contributions if anyone prefers to listen than read the transript of the debate on Hansard
    http://northshropshe.wordpress.com/100204/ )

  7. 09/02/2010 at 1:12 am

    The HEAS, in suggesting the powers are “excessive”, appear to be questioning the degree of power, perhaps, rather than the principle. Could the powers be draconian?

    The European Convention and the HRA may throw up some interesting cases here. Article 4 states: “…In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions.”
    http://www.hri.org/docs/ECHR50.html

    Which would presumably be pertinent in the case of a subculture believing girls should be brought up as mothers and housewives?

  8. N. Lighten
    09/02/2010 at 1:41 am

    Quote: “Or it maybe because the parents are providing a level of education that fails to enable the child to learn basic skills like reading and writing.” Unquote
    These are the parents you really have to clamp down on, really you must. Did you know that in some schools there are as many as 25% of pupils who can’t read and write properly? These parents are failing miserably in their duty to ensure their children are educated. If you change the responsibility of education to the State, prepare for an avalanche of law suits for the failure to provide a proper education. Most children don’t sue their own parents you see, and currently the blame lies with them.
    Beware of what you wish for, it may come true!

  9. Dave H
    09/02/2010 at 2:16 am

    Perhaps you would like to re-introduce the Red Flag Law for motor vehicles?

    It may not be politically-correct to say it, but freedom has a price, paid in lives. It has always been so. We are free to drive our motor vehicles around and society, while being horrified about casualties, is unwilling to take the restrictive steps needed to stop these casualties because as a group, we consider it would impinge on our freedom.

    Another example is airline security, which ratchets up to some ludicrously high level when there’s a scare, but people eventually object to the examinations and so it drifts back down to where we perceive the risk to be acceptable.

    So it is with home education, where to save one life with registration and monitoring, you may blight thousands and possibly kill others who were near-suicidal when withdrawn from school and may be driven over the brink if they think they might be forced back there.

    How likely is it that an inspector visiting a child once a year is going to spot anything untoward? There are too many cases already where social services, with full knowledge of problem cases, have failed to save a child, so a one-off visit is unlikely to produce results.

    Yes, there is a sensible balance which legislators must attempt to strike, but please do it with a view of the overall picture, not just the blinkered “if it saves just one life”.

    Think of it another way – we choose not to register at the moment because there is nothing in it for us. All that happens is that there’s time to be spent with an inspector, who is poorly funded and poorly trained for home education by the government and no benefits or useful services. Spend a few years demonstrating that there is a consistent and fair approach over the whole country and provide services (none of which exists at present) and you’ll find that home educators will be more willing to engage. It will take several years after the actions of the current government with its review and rushed legislation (which is more concerned with enforcing cooperation with authority than with the best interests of the child).

  10. Jill Harris
    09/02/2010 at 2:59 am

    “To claim it is excessive for the state to have a checking role here is I think wrong”

    I don’t think anyone is arguing against a role of checking where there are specific concerns, but this Bill introduces a role of routine intervention in the *absence* of any such concerns. There are already powers for investigating and acting on specific concerns, but by requiring *all* home educating parents to routinely and regularly prove that they are not neglecting their child’s educational and other needs, this Bill reverses the burden of proof, and gives the Local Authority offices more powers (in the absence of any concerns) than the police and social services have when there is evidence of a crime having been committed.

    I think that part of what is happening here is that because we are retaining direct reponsibiblity for ensuring our children’s education, we are being treated as schools rather than families. Education is a parental duty, and it is perfectly legal to choose not to sub-contract this duty out to a school.

    It’s really important to remember that research shows home educated children consistently achieve better results than school children, and that the governmnet’s own statistics show that 1 in 6 school children leave functionally illiterate and innumerate. Of course it’s possible that some home educating families might not focus on academic education, or might not make any attempt to actually “educate” their children at all, but their are a few points to consider in this :-

    1) Those children may well have been withdrawn from school precisely because an academic or formal approach was not suitable for them
    2) Not actively “teaching” a child does not prevent children from learning, as they will naturally process everyday experiences, events and activities in a way that will add to their understanding of the world around them, and that therefore contributes to their “learning”
    3) Autonomous education, where there is often no formal teaching, and the focus is on facilitating independent learning is acknowledged as a highly effective educational approach
    4) Children are surrounded by educational opportunities, and there is an inherent danger in regulating it to the extent that the government has absolute control over who is allowed to teach, and what they should teach.

    • 09/02/2010 at 5:17 pm

      In the absence of the child’s presence at a public school, where and how do you think concerns would be observed and raised, in the event of an abused child?

      Abuse at home can often be picked up and observed by teachers, which is how concerns are raised. For children who don’t have that outside network, who is going to be there to raise concerns?

      • B. Lynn
        09/02/2010 at 8:02 pm

        “In the absence of the child’s presence at a public school, where and how do you think concerns would be observed and raised, in the event of an abused child?”

        If all abuse WAS observed and raised by teachers you might have a case, but the fact is that abuse is often missed by teachers, even though they spend more time in close contact with a child than anyone else – sometimes more of a child’s waking hours than the parents themselves do.

        In most cases abuse is observed and raised by the child’s family, friends, neighbours, doctor, Health Visitor, ballet teacher, Scout Leader or the child themselves and teachers notify in a far smaller proportion of cases than would seem reasonable given the much larger opportunity for them to do so.

        Your argument also assumes that abuse of a child is likely to be perpetrated by the parents, yet abuse by another family member is more common – and parents are better placed to spot and prevent such abuse when they spend more time with their children. The argument also ignores abuse as a result of school attendance, the most common form of abuse but from which home educated children are completely safe.

      • Tech
        09/02/2010 at 9:31 pm

        LOL but of course only a small minority of children in this country attend a public school. 😉

      • 09/02/2010 at 9:48 pm

        Abuse is sometimes missed by teachers, and sometimes it is not. They are, nonetheless, a potential safeguard. With one potential safeguard against abuse gone, I see no reason it can’t be replaced with an alternative.

        And I find the idea that the most at risk children would have access to ballet teachers and scout leaders is somewhat perplexing. We aren’t talking about your well rounded, middle class children who are dripping with extra-curricular activities. If a family is keeping their girl at home because it’s not her place to learn maths, why should we believe that they’ll give her ballet lessons?

      • Dave H
        09/02/2010 at 10:10 pm

        The sort of parents who would keep their girl at home because it isn’t her place to learn maths are not likely to be the sort who would bother to register her with the authorities in the first place. Therefore you’ve caught all the law-abiding parents and missed your target.

        The government already has all the information, it doesn’t need yet another database.

      • D Dhorne
        09/02/2010 at 11:29 pm

        Hi McDuff,

        It is a fact that abuse is often inflicted BY teachers. There is a bullying hotline for adults in the workplace and it records that it is used more by teachers who are bullied by other teachers than any other profession. They bully each other so hardly surprising that the people trapped in their classrooms often against their wills might get the same treatment.

        Admittedly any person in a position of power over a vulnerable and/or dependent person, is potentially likely to abuse. At least, however, whilst some parents obviously will be abusive (schooling parents even more likely than HEers) this situation is less likely than that in which a stranger (who has no vested biological interest in protecting or loving the dependents) has power. It is a well known fact that abusers seek such positions. I am far from suggesting that this is true of all teachers of course. Many children are failed by school for a lot of different reasons. If the government made the education system considerably better than it is, concerned parents (who are responsible – not governement or schools – would be more likely to consistently choose the system on offer).

      • 10/02/2010 at 10:18 am

        I was a psych nurse for over 16 yrs and worked with women and youngsters who had been raped and sexually abused a well as working in CAMHS for a few years. My huband still works in CAMHS.
        In all that time I don’t remember one case of abuse reported by a teacher. Most cases were self referred and the rest were a mixture of other family members and GPs.
        Teachers don’t notice unless someone tells them up front. They don’t have time in a class of 30 kids.
        I might also add that in all the years of working in CAMHS (25 yrs for dh) only one abuse case involving an EHE child has been seen by either of us; the child needed support from CAMHS thanks to the abuse she suffered in school.
        It might be worth noting that not so long ago even the MSM was complaining that teachers don’t pick up on abuse.

        If there were home edded people coming through mental health and prison services then there might be something in all this. But they aren’t are they.

      • vinny
        10/02/2010 at 12:39 pm

        We aren’t middle class, we’re on an extremely low income, and our home educated kids still do lots of activities – swimming, drama, kickboxing, rollerskating, and dancing groups several times a week ; on top of meeting with other home educators, walks out in local woods, beaches, and beauty spots, visits to zoos and aquariums, museums and libraries, cinemas and theatres, going on camping trips, growing things on our allotment, etc etc etc.

        There are always activities that are free or cheap, and saving up for memberships (good birthday presents) can get you a years worth of activities.

        We don’t really go out without the kids so we don’t spend money on babysitters or pubs or clubs or any of that sort of stuff, and we don’t miss it because we enjoy our kids company and we have a lot of fun doing the activities we do together. Really it’s all about choosing how we spend money *sensibly*, so we all benefit.

        So far this week our two have been to the park, met with their local HE group, been to the aquarium, and been to see Avatar in 3D, as well as done a bunch of science experiments at home, including making their own bath bombs, and theyve read comics and books and magazines, done some drawing and colouring, and a lot of playing, including on the computer. And it’s still only Wednesday morning.

  11. B. Lynn
    09/02/2010 at 3:13 am

    You seem to be under the impression that this legislation is necessary, but let me set your mind at rest. There is ALREADY legislation allowing authorities to make enquiries about children about whom there are concerns. Authorities can investigate, involve Social Services if there are signs of abuse and issue a School Attendance Order if there is a seriously lacking education. All they need in order to do this is reason to believe that the law is being broken – just as all authorities need to be able to show reason to act. Parents have the right to defend themselves in court from accusations of criminal activity.

    What this new legislation will do is force Local Authorities to look for potential lawbreaking without any just cause to suspect wrongdoing or criminal activity on the part of the parents. As a result parents will be denied the presumption of innocence and lose the right to defend themselves in court. LAs will be denied the right to use their own judgement but will instead be forced to visit and monitor all families even in cases where they consider it to be a waste of time and public money. The lack of funding for the scheme means that LAs who run short of money for monitoring will either have to deny parents their most ancient right – the right to act in their child’s best interests – or divert money from essential services such as child protection or from schools.

    I still struggle to understand why it is assumed that parents who have successfully, for five years, hidden a child from everyone – family, friends, neighbours, Child Benefit, Doctors, Midwives etc.; who have hidden a birth and not registered their baby – will trot along dutifully to register their child as home educated.

    Any child whose birth HAS been registered, whose existence is known by the local community, the Health Service and the Inland Revenue, is NOT HIDDEN – even if a bloke down at the LA offices doesn’t know exactly what form of private education they are receiving.

  12. 09/02/2010 at 3:26 am

    Terrible things can and do happen. All the time. Just look at the shocking statistics for schooled children. What has the government done? Has it taken any responsibility? Are children really protected? No, no, no.

    With all the legislation in the world, governments can never ensure or guarantee the universal protection of children. And this new CSF Bill will be no different.

    You fail to acknowledge that there are already sufficient legal powers in place to safeguard children. The fault does not lie with families but with the authorities, in their failure to use existing powers judiciously. Why on earth would you give the incompetent MORE powers?

  13. 09/02/2010 at 9:25 am

    I think Lord Soley has missed the point HEAS were making. Nobody is arguing that there should not be powers for local authorities to take action if there is a problem with either the welfare or the education of home educated children. Such powers (in fact, duties) already exist.

    What home educators are angry and fearful about is a system in which *all* home educating families would be treated with suspicion and subjected to intrusive questioning in their homes.

    Imagine taking a similar approach to other potential crimes committed at home, out of sight of the authorities. Let’s take hiding stolen goods, for example. The vast majority of people do not do this, but a minority do. Does Lord Soley think it proportionate for the police to routinely visit every home to check if there are stolen goods in it? No, because this would be intrusive and would be a big waste of police resources. The police search for stolen goods only in homes where they have reason to believe they might find some.

    All we are saying is that the same principle should apply to families who choose to home educate. Local authorities should use their existing powers to intervene where they have reason to believe there might be a problem.

    The system proposed in Schedule 1 is a steamroller to crack a nut. And there is no evidence that the nut even exists. Please take a look at http://tinyurl.com/HEtruth to see how facts have been misrepresented and twisted by Graham Badman, Ed Balls and the DCSF.

  14. Merry
    09/02/2010 at 10:05 am

    “Problems can arise in a number of ways. It maybe extreme battering or cruelty where the parents are anxious to keep the child out of site of any authority figure.”

    I suggest that you encourage someone to provide evidence that this is happening in the home education community. So far there has been NO evidence of any such thing. Not even the NSPCC who started this sorry attack and vilification of a minority community of the UK could provide any. In fact, on the very first day the review was announced, they admitted they had no statistical evidence of it, on national radio.

    And when someone can provide the evidence, please prove that being in school 100% protects children from being harmed or battered by their parents, never mind being harmed or battered while actually in school.

    I can only assume that if, after a year of scrutiny by the media, politicians and the like, there were cases that could find their way into the Daily Mail of HE children being abused in this way, we’d have seen them. As it is there has been nothing more, in all that time, than slurs and assumptions that it is possible.

    Well yes it is – it is possible in every household – but politicians wouldn’t decide to investigate a skin colour group or religious group merely on the assumption it was possible by virtue simply of a difference, so why are we having to put up with being attacked in this way?

  15. 09/02/2010 at 10:20 am

    I hope that Lord Soley and his colleagues are reading the many submissions from home educators and others to MPs, the CSF Select Committee and the CSF Public Bill Committee.

    Lord Soley says, “we want to allow parents to educate at home”. It is not in Parliament’s gift to allow or refuse. In this country, we have a tradition of assuming that people are carrying out their legal duties unless there are grounds for reasonable suspicion that they are not. Parents have a duty to care for and educate their children; that duty is imposed by nature and by law (Section 7 of the Education Act 1996). Lord Soley suggests that the government needs to impose an expensive and intrusive system of registration and monitoring in case some parents may not be fulfilling their duty. That is analogous to giving the police powers to search homes in case people may be storing stolen goods. Just as the police need grounds for a search warrant, so authorities should need grounds to inspect home educators.

    If Clause 26 and Schedule 1 were to be passed, it would introduce a fundamental shift in the balance between the state and the people. The scheme outlined by the government is not one of registration but of licensing. Parents would have apply every year to their local authority for a license to continue educating their child. All the “evidence” and “statistics” used by the government to justify this licensing scheme is demonstrably false; the Badman Review collected flawed statistics, applied inappropriate analysis to them and then extrapolated unreasonably from them. The DCSF has made unwarranted financial assumptions to justify the costs of a scheme to solve a problem for which there is no proof of existence.

    Lord Soley says, “only a minority … won’t teach their children necessary basic skills but they are the problem”. Where is the evidence for this “problem”? NO evidence of it has been placed in the public domain. LAs assert that there are cases but they do not use their powers under current laws to solve it so how can we believe in these assertions? Incidentally, the Treasury says that 1 in 6 leave school functionally illiterate and innumerate. Should their parents be forced to home educate? Many young people are deregistered after they have been failed by school. Home-education support groups are littered with stories of children who do not learn to read by age 6, are written off by the school system, become home-educated, learn to read (usually by 12 or 13) and then pursue higher education.

    Lord Soley says, “I’m not sure if the Bill has the right safeguards in it”. I can assure him that the Bill has no safeguards for families. To quote Graham Stuart, MP, speaking at the CSF Public Bill Committee last Thursday just before 4:30pm, “It is absurd that our law says that if someone home educates without being registered, the quality of the education, the needs of the child and so on are to be disregarded. … the court would be told that it must disregard the quality of the education and the interests of the child, because the law says so.” It is very clear that the purpose of the bill is not to improve the education of children but to increase state control of families.

    There are many home-educating families around the country who would be delighted to meet with Lords and discuss their fears and anger over Clause 26. If any Lords would like to meet them, you can contact home educators by emailing any of the support groups or through Graham Stuart or Lord Lucas.

  16. Heidi de Wet
    09/02/2010 at 11:59 am

    Inspections of home educators’ homes and children are utterly ineffective in detecting child abuse. Eunice Spry was approved as a foster carer, then adoptive mother, and inspected twice a year as a home educator – she received glowing reports about her provision all the time she was abusing those poor children.

    The vast majority of children abused and killed by their parents are under a year old, and the incidence drops off steadily with age – by the age of compulsory education, the incidence is very low. Anyone who was genuinely desperate to save “just one child” would be proposing a draconian licensing and inspection scheme for babies and toddlers. Parents who can’t provide detailed feeding, clothing, socialisation and education plans for each child twelve months in advance, or who fail to carry out those plans to the letter, or who object to having their homes thoroughly inspected and their babies interviewed alone once a month (or twice a year after they’re a year old), would have their offpring removed and brought up in 24/7 nursery care.

    Ridiculous? Then why is a similar scheme even being taken seriously for a minute when it’s aimed against a community where there’s absolutely no evidence of any problem? In fact, there’s copious evidence that home education is producing substantially better educational and welfare results than school, and it’s not doing so *in spite* of the lack of state oversight – it’s doing so precisely *because of* the lack of state oversight. Adding the dead hand of the state apparatus into the lives of every home-educating family will substantially damage most of those lives, and drop educational standards to the minimum required to satisfy the inspectors. If what you want to see in a few years’ time is the following statistics with “state” replaced by “home”, please do vote for the CSF Bill:
    * 17% of children leave state education unable to read, write or add up (contrast this with a possible 1.8% of current HE children)
    * over 50% of children in state education fail to receive a suitable education, defined by the state as 5 good GCSEs (contrast this with the hotly disputed figure of 20% given by Graham Badman regarding home education)
    * over 50% of children in state education report being bullied, both inside and outside the classroom, by classmates and by teachers (consider how pressure to “perform” regularly for inspectors will create stress amongst HE children and parents, and change the family dynamic from cooperation to control)
    * dozens of cases every year of sexual abuse of pupils by teachers, social workers, policemen, and other state employees (consider how forced access to HE children’s homes, and interviews without their parents, will provide grooming opportunities for would-be abusers)

  17. Gareth Howell
    09/02/2010 at 12:23 pm

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Lord Soley and B Deech!

    How popular you are with your opinions about home edu!

    Not a single letter in agreement with what you say!

    Leave Home Edu alone. Leave it to OTHERWISE!

  18. Croft
    09/02/2010 at 12:44 pm

    As Kizzy said the point at which you start deploying the ‘it saves one life’ argument you know how weak a political position really is. As others have suggested if a family has managed to convince all the other arms of the state (health visitors, doctors etc) that the children are healthy then an annual/biannual visit by the education police is not going to find much. It will be a unrepresentative a snapshot as the farce that is the school inspection system.

    I find the policy depressing in it’s undimmed conviction in the need for the state to have everyone on a database and inspected by the state. You would do far more good spending the £1k cost on books or exam fees or other things that actually help home educated children do better. This is just sucking more money out of central funds for a miniscuse potential gain.

    stephenpaterson: The ECHR has rejected actions brought on the basis of the quote you gave by German parents where home schooling is illegal.

    Where’s Lord Lucas when we need him!

    • jken146
      09/02/2010 at 5:38 pm

      Yet, interestingly, a home educating family fled Germany for this reason and was granted asylum in the United States.

  19. Jem
    09/02/2010 at 1:13 pm

    If these measures are brought in, and an inspector has to sign off the children on their register as being safe and well and receiving suitable education, I look forward to seeing the government try to bring in the complementary legislation whereby teachers will sign a similar piece of paper regarding children in their care. Not to do so would be descriminatory. So when is that planned for? And have the teachers been told yet?

  20. Jem
    09/02/2010 at 1:32 pm

    It is accepted that the state has an interest in our children. After all, these children grow up to be adults who will be a boon to, or a drain on society. The question really though is whether, just because there is a reason for state to want to monitor or control children (educationally or otherwise), it should have a right to do so. Rather than balancing children’s rights against parents’ rights, which is a government line which I find rather divisive and sinister, what this is really about is balancing the family’s right to act autonomously against the state’s right to have influence.

    Now, to assess this we first need to agree on what we would expect to be a ‘good’ outcome for the education of a child. Of course, we cannot know what qualities will be beneficial to the state in 10 or 15 years’ time, once a child has passed through the system from beginning to end. We have no real idea what the world will be like, or what specific skills will be needed in order to help the UK economy grow (if that is still desirable) and the country be competitive and successful within the global free market (should a global free market still exist). So we have to instead consider what would be beneficial from the child’s point of view.

    It would be fair then to presume that a good education would be one which enabled literacy and numeracy. It would provide skills and tools to enable the child to direct their own learning through their teens and on through adulthood, and foster a desire to learn. It would promote creativity, emotional literacy, security, curiosity, adaptability and independent thought. It would develop social skills and an awareness and compassion towards others and a knowledge and understanding of the world in general. It would help develop a facility for critical thinking. It would lead to a certain level of self-knowledge and self-understanding which would take the child forward into adulthood knowing to a large extent their strengths and weaknesses, passions and talents and what they want to do with their lives from that point on. It would develop and enhance those most sought-after properties of a successful life: happiness and contentment.

    Notice that I am looking at outcomes here, not methods of achieving those outcomes as these are many and diverse and fashions in pedagogical practice and theory seem to change with every new piece of research that appears. Happily, these outcomes are of benefit of all parts of this triangular relationship between child, parent and state.

    Now to the acid test. Whether you believe in this depends on whom you consider to have primary responsibility for a child: the parent or the state. With a few notable exceptions (Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong…) most of the human race has concurred that the parent is the prime party with responsibility for their children and this has been enshrined in English law for centuries. As such one has to see the parent-child relationship as the natural situation and test any intervention by the state to see whether it should be allowed. This is incidentally the fundamental thing which defenders of state-interference in the raising of children misunderstand: state must prove it is necessary that it interferes, and that it is competent to do so.

    To see whether the state should have a leading role in saying, through monitoring and subsequent adjustment, how home educated children are able to reach the above outcomes, it is useful to look at the 98% of children of this country for which it is directly responsible and has complete control of their educational provision. This is where the argument for allowing the state to exercise its interest in our children falters. Given that this and previous governments have spent billions of pounds over many decades in various, often conflicting initiatives to improve the way they themselves educate children, the fact that a high proportion of children leave schools seriously deficient in many of these areas throws into doubt the competence of the state to judge whether a particular educational method has merit. Indeed, many of these outcomes don’t even appear to be a part of their planning for the education of the children they have been trusted with. To be concise: if state schools were a glowing success it would be hard for home educators to argue against their progenitors having a hand in the education of their children.

    Now, that so many children are failed by the state school system says to me that one of two things is true: either the state is incompetent, and despite all the money and the advice of experts and learned institutions over many many years, it has somehow still managed to make a mess of things. Or the state is actually messing things up on purpose for some reason. In either case, it seems foolish to say that the managers of an educational system with such a high failure rate should be allowed anywhere near the children of parents who have opted out of it.

  21. Tech
    09/02/2010 at 4:12 pm

    It isn’t your place to *allow* parents to home educate – that is the whole point!

  22. Su
    09/02/2010 at 5:43 pm

    Lord Soley, you have just proved our point. This Bill has nothing to do with EDUCATION (as this government keeps repeating ad infinitum) but is all about SAFEGUARDING. You are a very deceptive and spurious bunch!

  23. 09/02/2010 at 5:54 pm

    The “equivalent to checking on your house to see if it contains stolen goods” thing has cropped up a couple of times here – which makes me suggest there is a network of home educators with talking points who are lobbying here. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it’s definitely worth noticing when people say there’s “nobody” in agreement.

    As someone with home educators in the family whose attitude to their special needs child is troubling to say the least (“it’ll be OK” is not an educational strategy if your child can’t read at age 9), I can’t say I have a vast amount of sympathy to the notion that requiring registration and an annual visit is an onerous burden. Your child is not your property to do with as you like, it is your responsibility, and shirking that responsibility is equivalent in my mind, albeit not in the law for various procedural reasons, to child abuse. I am not saying that all homeschoolers shirk that responsibility, but some certainly do, and it’s not a place I think we need to just say “oh it’s ok, some children will fall by the wayside but that’s the price we pay for parental freedom.”

    • Dave H
      09/02/2010 at 7:02 pm

      You’ve seen it before because invariably the uninformed come up with the same set of questions every time and home educators get tired of having to counter the same things over and over again.

      I am interested to know whether you’ve seen the proposed legislation and analysed it to see what is proposed. Also look back at the history behind the legislation and you’ll understand why home educators are so outraged. The only acceptable way forward is to drop the whole thing (a course of action supported by the Conservatives and LibDems in the Commons) and do a proper job of understanding everything. The government has admitted on several occasions that the do not have all the facts, all the evidence, so why are they persisting in legislation when they don’t know what they are legislating for?

      If you are pro-registration then fair enough, we can agree to disagree, but understand what is being registered and ask that it is properly defined, instead of what we have in the CSF Bill, which effectively says “we’d like a load of powers over home education so please vote for this blank cheque and we’ll fill in the details later”. That is not how laws should be made and I would hope that the Lords will do the necessary on the Bill, give it an E- and write on the Commons Report Card “could do better”.

    • Emma
      09/02/2010 at 7:47 pm

      McDuff – there is any amount of evidence of children learning to learn to read successfully at 9 or older.

      It is JUST like potty training.

      1. Parents can agonise over promoting literacy from the cot onwards, teachers can devise strategies, educationalists can write books about the best ways to teach reading. Everyone can get their knickers in a twist, put children under immense stress and pressure if they aren’t ready when the school system thinks they should be

      2. Parents can back off. show the benefits of literacy by using it themselves. Help their child by reading to them/scribing for them until child’s desire to learn to read matches their cognitive readiness.

      The age at which independent literacy is established is only crucial for children who spend their days in an institution where independent literacy is a central part of communication, because there aren’t enough adults for the children to actually TALK to!

      • 09/02/2010 at 9:29 pm

        I can only go off my experience, and in my experience the Home Educators that I know are doing it because they wish to avoid certain aspects of education – notably, they are creationists who wish to avoid tainting their children’s innocence with any inclination that evolutionary biology is true.

        Let us just say that I have no real inclination that there is a genuine desire to ferment knowledge there. When the purpose of such homeschooling is the denial of knowledge, basically making it easy for the parents to deal with tough issues that happen when children turn into independent thinkers, I find it hard to believe the children in question are getting a fair shake of the stick.

        It could well be that the children I know would not do better in public schools. I don’t think it’s a terrible hardship for parents to have to justify their educational choices to show that they’re doing what’s best for their children, though.

        All the Home Educators here are, I am sure, dedicated parents who want nothing but the best for their children. But at the risk of probably alienating every one of you here, I don’t see why it should be taken as read that what a parent thinks is best for a child is what is best for that child.

      • Dave H
        09/02/2010 at 10:14 pm

        I wouldn’t take it as read that what the state thinks is best for a child is what is best for that child. Given the proportion of children in state care who do very badly, I’d say that the parents stand a lot more chance of being.correct.

      • Tech
        09/02/2010 at 10:44 pm

        By the same token, how can it be taken as read that what the government says is best for a child really is best for a child?

      • 09/02/2010 at 11:07 pm

        Children in state care have already been let down by their parents — unless you believe that the state selects children at random, one can only assume that those in state care do better than they would be if left with their parents, because in those specific cases their parents were failing to take any care of their kids.

        It is, of course, not the case that the state, or the community, knows what’s best for children. But there is a role to be played by those structures, and assuming that parents have a “better chance” does nothing to address those cases where they get it wrong.

      • Jill Harris
        09/02/2010 at 11:41 pm

        @McDuff I think it might be helpful for you to compare education with other parenting duties, such as feeding their children – there is ample evidence of widespread inadequate diets which will have long term health and financial implications, and in some cases can lead to death or terminal illness. It would not though be acceptable for the government to introduce a requirement for parents to be routinely and regularly monitored for their provision of food. And who would decide what was a “healthy” diet? Meat eaters and vegans would no doubt completely disagree – should either have the right to impose their diet on the other?

        Given the government’s own statistics of 1 in 6 leaving school functionally illiterate and innumerate, why should home educators be compared to, or compelled to adhere to the same approach, when all the evidence shows that even a complete lack of formal teaching is more effective!

        In terms of your concerns about creationist based education, perhaps you should bear in mind that this is specifically protected by human rights laws, and is nothing to do with the current Bill. Human rights laws also specifically instruct Government to recognise that parents have primary responsibility for their child’s upbringing and development, and that that the best interests of their child is the basic concern of parents. Parents know their child the best, and are far more likely to be able to accurately judge what is best for their child than a stranger from an LA. There is no evidence of benefit of forced compliance to a one-size-fits-all approach. As Dave H has said, who can know what is “best” anyway? We can only guess, so this is no basis for changing from the current system of the LA not being invovled unless there are concerns about actual harm, or significant risk of harm.

  24. Clive Soley
    09/02/2010 at 7:11 pm

    I think McDuff is right about the lobby response but it’s good to get this out for debate. I also think Tech sums up the position of many when he says: “It isn’t your place to *allow* parents to home educate – that is the whole point!”

    Tech. You are going to take us right back to the 19th century with that philosophy. Remember that was one of the arguments against compulsory education. The principle of home education is fine. The problem is how to ensure children do have the right to an education and how you protect that right. Most of the entries here seem to acknowledge that there can be problems but then try and avoid the difficult issue of how you ensure good standards.

    I notice also a desire to duck the difficult problem of girl’s education for some groups who do not believe that they should have the same educational rights as boys. How do you answer that?

    This legislation may need improvement so lets start from the right of parents to home educate and the question of standards and children’s rights. I am assuming that most of you believe that children do have rights. If you don’t please say so as that will clarify the position

    • anastaisia
      09/02/2010 at 7:48 pm

      I think you’ll find that children ‘have a right not to be DENIED an education’

      And the is an important distinction to make because nobody can force somebody to learn. If you could, no pupil would leave school after over 10 years of education without having acheived competency in whatever the education system teach them. Yet they do.

      LAs own figures state that they have concerns about the suitability of the education of 5.3% of home educated children. If we use the government estimates of how many home educated children there are in total; this expensive, time and resource consuming legislation is being brought in for between 1000 and 4000 children. Is that really worth the millions (billions?) it will cost the state?

      I am confused about your points about the education of girls? The Badman Report found no evidence of problems like these; perhaps because the inital remit was to look for the possibility of home education being used as a cover for abuse, worth noting he also found no evidence of this. Perhaps if the government could present the home educating community with some raw data which shows these problems exist we weill be more understanding of the need for some changes to the law. However even then I think you will find that few home educators would support THESE changes which are not at all proportional to the possible problem.

      Have you read the transcript of the debate? What do you think about the submissions to the committee?

    • Tech
      09/02/2010 at 8:06 pm

      Tech is a she and she would say that the whole idea of compulsory education is part of the problem with education generally. All the HE children I have known have been naturally curious, and don’t see education and learning as separate from the rest of life. The removal of compulsion tends to make people more inclined to do something which they otherwise resist when forced, I have found.

      The children’s vs parent’s rights angle has been completely skewed by government in this whole sorry episode. For every single home educating family I know (and that is not an insubstantial number) their child’s rights are of paramount importance. What is laughable about the contents of the CSF bill is that gov continues to try to spin it as being about children’s rights, when it quite clearly (if you dig a millimetre beneath the surface) is nothing of the sort.

      There are already systems in place to check that a parent is educating their child, HE is not the unchecked loophole that some people seem to think it is.

      McDuff there are many children with special needs being HEed who would not be able to read at age 9, the point is that they are able to attain these skills at their own pace. We have one friend who could not read at 10, at 11 was starting to make progress and now at 12 can read confidently. Her mother would have made the kind of remarks you dismiss, to questioning family members too, it doesn’t mean that there is something untoward going on. Of course if you have serious cause to believe your family member is failing in their duty, then you have a duty to do something about that.

      • 09/02/2010 at 9:35 pm

        It’s rarely as simple as that, Ms Tech. The current laws around what rights children have strike me as fuzzy enough that I could risk causing a crisis in my family with potentially limited or negative benefits to the children I’m worried about. I am not convinced that the family members in question are technically shirking their legal duty of care, which is part of what bothers me.

      • Tech
        09/02/2010 at 10:35 pm

        McDuff: No, it rarely is as simple as that, in the same way as what this bill proposes is not as simple and harmless as some of you people seem to think. I would never have believed, until I witnessed it first hand, that the laws of this country could be made based on nothing but prejudice and ill informed opinion, but that is exactly what is happening here in 21st century England. I find it absolutely staggering and deeply disturbing.

        I am open mouthed at your comments re your family members – it makes me very thankful that we have a supportive family!

      • 09/02/2010 at 11:01 pm

        Perhaps your family members are happy that you’re a good Home Educator? Perhaps you’re open mouthed because you believe it’s prejudice, rather than significant worry and a sinking feeling in the gut at not being able to do anything because keeping kids from learning things is not *technically* considered abuse.

        I’m very open to the idea that the law as written is bad. However, I’m also suspicious of the notion that HE is full of goodness and that there isn’t a place for regulation. Seeing what my family members can get away with *not* doing with both their children, it feels to me like the system is failing them.

        I am no fan of the “something needs to be done, this is something, therefore let’s do this” school of thought, but nor am I particularly a fan of the “just leave us alone and it will all be fine” arguments.

      • Jill Harris
        09/02/2010 at 11:48 pm

        “I could risk causing a crisis in my family with potentially limited or negative benefits to the children I’m worried about”.
        That is exactly our concerns about the powers that would be conferred by this Bill. There is no evidence of either need or benefit.

    • Dave H
      09/02/2010 at 9:39 pm

      I don’t know where McDuff has been, but for home educators, this debate has been running for over a year now, we have been fighting and arguing and putting up facts and figures, and showing up government numbers as dubious, and have been largely ignored by DCSF. They sound like a stuck record, repeating the same thing over and over again, while trying to push things through without following proper procedures.

      The difficult problem of girls’ education is solved by local authorities using the powers they already have: if they have reason to believe that a suitable education is not provided then they can make enquiries and ultimately serve a school attendance order.

      As for improving the legislation, the best thing to do is shred Schedule 1 because it is based on a pre-conceived notion of what should be done, backed up by evidence that has been shown to be in error (even the Commons Select Committee agreed with that) and has not been produced in accordance with the best practice code to which DCSF is a signatory.

      Home educators are a diverse bunch, but we are pretty much united in opposition to this legislation for the reasons I’ve described. 95% of the consultation responses were opposed to it.

      I understand that there’s a meeting to be organised so that home educators can brief members of the Lords on the subject, I very much hope that you and your colleagues can attend.

    • Jill Harris
      10/02/2010 at 12:15 am

      “Most of the entries here seem to acknowledge that there can be problems but then try and avoid the difficult issue of how you ensure good standards”
      I’m not sure whether you have any specific circumstances in mind that would not be covered by existing legislation? I can’t think of any.
      In relation to standards, evidence shows that they are much higher in home education, but in some cases not as easily assessed in the earlier stages as a system that prioritises preparation for exams (demonstrated by interim exams). I remember reading a great quote once about a rosebud never being able to reveal it’s true beauty if it is opened every day and “checked”. Children who are compelled to learn to read at whatever current trends determine to be the correct universal age, are inevitable going to simply be split into 3 groups – those that *are* ready, those that are nearly ready, and therefore able to make some progress, and those that are *not* ready and will therefore both internally and externally be labelled as “below average”.
      On what basis can this be imposed on home educators?
      In all skills, there will be a range of abilities, and trying to impose a minimum skill set, and minumum standards is meaningless. There is no evidence that this will be beneficial – either to the individual or to society as a whole.
      “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” –Albert Einstein

  25. Roxy Featherstone
    09/02/2010 at 7:19 pm

    Despite Diana Johnson’s repeated assurances that the impact of Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill upon the lives of successful home educators will be minimal or “light touch”, there are sound reasons to think that this is far from the case, and that in fact home educators’ lives will be monumentally and almost entirely changed by the Bill and further that many of these families will actually be hugely damaged by it.

    I am not exaggerating. The implications of Schedule 1 would be monumentally life-altering for home educators. Home education is embedded in our entire way of life. We do not have set hours when we educate. It happens spontaneously, at any waking hour of the day or night. If we are required, as a result of the often ill-informed judgement of some LA inspector, (and there is a new one practically every year round here, so little chance for useful training and education of said officer and no hope of any certainty about how the next meeting will go), to perform to his or her standards in order that we may continue to HE, we will have no choice over the matter, and may well have to give up upon a form of educational provision that has served our children so well. This will alter our lives entirely and may well damage the education of our children.

    Nationwide, home educators will be required to tailor the education of their children to fit the prejudices and assumptions of the LA inspector, rather than the needs and interests of the children.

    At present, our LA inspector sees herself very much in an advisory role. Give her far greater powers, such as the automatic power to decide whether or not we can continue to home educate and I fear terribly that we will be forced to forego our entire way of life and perform to her often ill-founded assumptions about the form and content of an education.

    Currently, if an LA officer thinks the educational provision is unsatisfactory, she/he can issue a School Attendance Order and the home educating family have a defence in court where the quality of the educational provision may be considered by the court.

    However, if Schedule 1 of CSF bill were to be implemented, home educators would have no such defence. The LA inspector’s judgement would be all powerful and the courts would be expressly directed not to consider the quality of education.

    This represents a ridiculous and dangerous measure of state control and we can only hope that the judiciary will do the right thing in coming to the defence of the people here in order that families may retain normal freedoms that have been enshrined in previous legislation, and which expressly allowed for parents to perform parental duties where it has not been shown that they are not already fulfilling them.

    As others have already explained, the proposed legislation is hugely disproportionate, and further, it changes the relationship between person and state in a fundamental way by appropriating what should be parental responsibilities.

    Further, the foundations of democracy will be undermined since democracy is predicated upon the idea of an informed, free and critical populace which is capable of holding government to account. This conceivably could become completely impossible should everyone receive only a state-mandated education.

    The Bill will also not work as really abusive parents (should they exist) will not come forward to register, for after all, what will they have to lose by not doing so? Only well-functioning families will therefore have to put themselves on the line like this.

  26. Jem
    09/02/2010 at 7:51 pm

    “In the absence of the child’s presence at a public school, where and how do you think concerns would be observed and raised, in the event of an abused child?”

    This question would be more pertinent if we didn’t have a history of every neighbour, shop keeper and police officer we come across reporting us to the local authority because our children aren’t in school. A child not in school during school hours is very obvious. The problem is not that concerns are not expressed, but that when there are concerns expressed and they are justified, welfare officers are so understaffed, underfunded and overwhelmed by the number of false leads that they have little time and patience left where their help is actually needed.

    We also have to ask what actual protection presence in school is. Would teachers sign off their students as safe and well and learning? I think not, because they know that the presence in school is no guarantee of the protection of children in the home. I would like to see figures on what proportion of abuse is spotted exclusively in school. I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of cases are known about by social services, the police, or health professionals already.

    Our children are not hidden away. They are out in the community. We have friends, colleagues, neighbours, families. We go to libraries, dentists, doctors, shops. We have relationships with many people and so do our children. If there are genuine reasons for concern there are many people there to observe them, with far more opportunity than a single inspector once a year for a couple of hours.

    As others have said, if a person is intent on harming their child they won’t be put off by a registration process they can avoid. The people registering, or being forced to register, will be the ones who are ‘seen’ in the community anyway and therefore are not those at whom this legislation is aimed anyway.

    In the meantime, the process of registration and monitoring will vastly increase the workload of those who should be dealing with the real cases they know about. I draw your attention to the remarks of a home education officer for my county who says that, should the Bill become law, her increased workload will necessitate an extra seven staff to deal with, but she will have no funding to employ and train such extra staff. The government says that the “vast majority of home educators are doing an excellent job.” To me it makes no sense then to introduce those tens of thousands of “excellent” families to the workload of education welfare officers who are already overstretched with the cases they have.

    These measures will cost, by government estimates, half a billion pounds over the next ten years, at a time when they are announcing cuts to university funding of around £450 million for the next two years. This is certainly an underestimate, probably a large one. Not one case of abuse has been raised to justify it which would have been prevented by the proposed measures. Nothing has been said to show that the existing powers of Local Authorities are insufficient when used properly. In all cases of abuse, without fail, the problem has always been the inexperience, inaction and confusion of social services workers and not a lack of knowledge of the child or their situation, and that is the one thing this legislation avoids tackling.

  27. Su
    09/02/2010 at 7:51 pm

    Lord Soley

    The only way you will know what our children think is to meet them? How about it? We’re up for it!

    By the way, I’m not part of any lobby group. I am a mum, wife and home educator. I belong to no party or pressure group. My child is my responsibility, and this family takes care of all her needs. Like Tech says, it is not for you to ‘allow’ us to nurture and love according to your transient laws.

  28. Jem
    09/02/2010 at 8:21 pm

    Clive Soley wrote:

    “I think McDuff is right about the lobby response but it’s good to get this out for debate.”

    I think that a large number of nome educators feel strongly about an issue which directly affects them, and talk to each other and read the same commentaries on the same blogs. At what point does a large number of people with similar points of view, all with a willingness to express them, become a lobby? There were 5000 responses to the Consultation on the Badman recommendations, mostly against them. 5000 is a quarter of the known home educating population. Is this a lobby, or a community giving voice to its feelings and trying to take part in this supposedly democratic process?

    Which is of course part of the reason why this legislation is wrong headed. Home educators network extremely well. We support and encourage each other. We each know some people who know some people who will know the answer to whatever comes up. If there is a problem with a particular family or child, we will help. If the problem proves insurmountable, we will point the parents at appropriate formal sources of help. Now that this legislation makes such sources of help gateways to, in many’s eyes, a destructive and bureaucratic system which threatens children’s welfare, many will think twice before suggesting such routes.

    What is needed is a genuinely supportive, knowledgeable, non-political and sympathetic social service which people may approach without fear when they need to – either to ask for help for themselves, or to express concerns about others. This seems to be too much to ask, possibly as government realises how long it would take for the home education community to trust such a body given the dirty tricks they’ve played on us over many years, the number of Local Authorities that *right now* are acting outside their powers towards us, the insulting terms with which the Badman Review was announced, conducted and reported, and the vindictive and sneaky way in which the current Bill is being rushed through. So instead we have the blunt instrument of licensing and inspections which will beat the heads of the innocent in order to subdue the (theoretical) guilty. We also have a skeleton framework which can be extended at the whim of future governments to prescribe curriculum, teaching method, hours, etc.

    “Tech. You are going to take us right back to the 19th century with that philosophy. Remember that was one of the arguments against compulsory education.”

    It was one of the arguments against compulsory *schooling* actually I think.

    “I am assuming that most of you believe that children do have rights.”

    It is not the idea of children’s rights that is the issue. The issue is who is best placed to protect children’s rights: the parent or the state? Which do you think Clive?

    • 09/02/2010 at 10:47 pm

      The issue is who is best placed to protect children’s rights: the parent or the state?

      Depends on the parent, and in the event the parents (and the extended family and the wider local community) can’t protect those rights, it is the duty of the state to step in. It’s not an either/or.

      • kizzy
        09/02/2010 at 11:37 pm

        It also depends on the state. Would you want the state wholly in charge of the curriculum with no option to opt out?
        Do you trust the state implicitly not to sneak any of their own agenda into the curriculum? The state is very powerful in relation to the individual. Our legislators should make sure that when they legislate, their laws always protect the individual from a over zealous state. Section 7 of the education act is a very brilliant piece of legislation. It has always left us with that option to say “no”. Don’t be too eager to throw it out.

      • Roxy Featherstone
        10/02/2010 at 8:19 am

        “Depends on the parent, and in the event the parents (and the extended family and the wider local community) can’t protect those rights, it is the duty of the state to step in. It’s not an either/or.”

        Yes, this is how it must be. The state, in the absence of all other sources of help, should step in as protector of children’s right – as the last resort.

        However, the CSF bill will change this since it will mean that the state will become the protector of children’s rights of first resort, for all parents everywhere will now be forced to submit their families to state inspection and must conform to state standards in order to pass muster.

        Of course this means that parents, in no longer being free to determine how their family lives, can no longer be held responsible for it. This will mean that should it all go wrong – should, for example, the state-mandated education prove unsuitable, then the state must be held liable for this failure.

        Currently parents are deemed responsible for educating children and this is why few law suits go through. This will change when the CSF bill becomes law.

  29. Emma
    09/02/2010 at 8:30 pm

    Lord Soley – thank you so much for engaging with us. It’s not exactly a “lobby” response. What you are seeing here is just the tip of an iceberg of thousands of ordinary families who are about to lose the presumption of innocence. We are absolutely terrified of the consequences of this legislation. For those of us who have children with special needs, the demands of registration and monitoring are IMPOSSIBLE to comply with – those of us with children who have meltdowns if strangers come into the house are going to have to leave the country or enter into civil disobedience. Those whose children develop in quirky non-linear ways, or who follow a child-led model of education – we simply cannot produce plans a year ahead. We cannot countenance complying with this legislation because of the harm it will do our children in both education and welfare terms.

    The bill is being pushed through because of anxieties about putative harm being done to vulnerable children. The bill as it stands WILL DO HARM, without any doubt, to some of the most vulnerable children in the country, whose parents already make considerable sacrifices to give them the best possible care.

    “The problem is how to ensure children do have the right to an education and how you protect that right.”

    How do you protect that right? You make the assumption that parents act in the best interests of their children unless there is evidence to the contrary, in exactly the same way as you do for nutrition or health. Home EDucating families are massively more likely to become known to children’s services because of ignorant or malicious referrals – children are not a common sight in day time in the UK. If a neglectful family could fall through the net now, they will fall through the net AFTER the bill. the only people whose lives will be adversely affected by the bill are the innocent.

    The question is: do you really believe that a family that has been neglecting or abusing its children up to the age of 5 is going to magically get discovered when the children start school? How good is school, actually, as a place where abuse is spotted and prevented? Do you believe that noone except school teachers is likely to spot and report suspected abuse? Because the ONLY safeguard school children putatively have that HE children don’t is school teachers.

    “Most of the entries here seem to acknowledge that there can be problems but then try and avoid the difficult issue of how you ensure good standards.”

    You can’t. You can throw money at state schools and still not all of them have good standards. You can inspect schools to within an inch of their lives, you can have massive grade inflation at GCSE and A level, you can have national curricula, SATS, EYFS, national literacy strategies… it’s all just window dressing because it is top down. Knowledge is created by the learner. You cannot control or predict what a child will learn. Any teacher with an uncooperative year 10 set knows this. Horse, water, lack of drinking.

    The very best person to know what sort of educational progress a child is making is that child. The very best person to know whether the educational facilities and resources and people to whom they have access are “good” is that child. And the person who is most likely to recognise that child’s educational satisfaction or dissatisfaction is the child’s parents – they know the child best and, even if they are B- parents, they still are likelier to have the child’s interests and prospects at heart than any other person on the planet. And yet this bill proposes to assume that a LA staffer – a complete stranger with whom the child may not even be willing to communicate – is going to know best what educational provision that unique child would flourish under.

    The bill betrays a naive trust in the benevolence of the state and an unnatural suspicion of the family unit, in my opinion.

    “I notice also a desire to duck the difficult problem of girl’s education for some groups who do not believe that they should have the same educational rights as boys. How do you answer that?”

    This sentiment places you in very dangerous territory. Some cultures do indeed consider that the education of boys and girls should be differentiated, that boys and girls best fulfill different roles in adult life and that their education should prepare them to take the appropriately gendered roles as adults in the community to which they belong. To claim that girls and boys must have the same educational opportunities is thus discriminatory against gypsy/roma communities, muslims, certain christian groups. How does this discriminatory position sit within the left liberal multicultural agenda?

    “This legislation may need improvement”

    You have no idea how good it is to hear a labour peer say that!

    We need the detail to be in the legislation. The amount you Lords are being asked to take on trust – it’ll all be fleshed out later – is unacceptable – it is yet another manifestation of the increasing power of the executive over the legislature. We do not trust Ed Balls and the DCSF to flesh out the detail in proportionate or effective ways. They have not demonstrated sympathy for or understanding of this unconventional way of life.

  30. D Dhorne
    09/02/2010 at 9:19 pm

    You say:
    ‘Many of our laws would be unnecessary if it wasn’t for a minority. Only a minority of parents abuse their children and only a minority of home educating parents won’t teach their children necessary basic skills but they are the problem.’

    This is not an adequate reason for justifying an invasion of privacy and introducing the draconian measures recommended in the Badman report. Your argument is not meaningful or logical. A tiny minority of the population murder but the government don’t therefore call for the right to be allowed to enter any one’s house in order to verify there isn’t a planned murder or any weapons.

    • 09/02/2010 at 10:45 pm

      A minority of the population cheat on their taxes, and the government do have the right to audit your tax return. Perhaps different things require different levels of regulation?

      • D Dhorne
        09/02/2010 at 11:16 pm

        The reason given in the Badman report for the interference into the private lives of home educators (not really the same as an audit!) is that such parents are likely to be more abusive *because* they home educate. However, the facts contradict this ‘belief’ of Badman’s. In fact, the facts indicate that these parents are less likely to abuse – obvious really as they are demonstrating a greater than average concern for their children’s welfare.

        It would not be deemed acceptable for the government to walk into any home in the UK to interview the children and check for abuse, so why should it be acceptable that they do this in the homes of people who choose to educate otherwise than at school? There are already adequate measures in place to safeguard vulnerable children that just need to have more money invested in them. It won’t help any parent in this country to introduce new laws that are extremely expensive to implement and that threaten civil liberties. Money should be spent on properly implementing the measures that already exist.

      • Su
        09/02/2010 at 11:48 pm

        Are you for ALL our financial records and personal bank information being checked as a matter of course simply because a minority are cheats? That is what is being proposed for home educators. We will ALL be subject to scrutiny just because we choose to home educate. Are you going to let me into your home?

      • Jill Harris
        10/02/2010 at 12:30 am

        Yes, but I don’t think this would contravene the right to family privacy protected by human rights laws 😉

      • Heidi de Wet
        10/02/2010 at 11:28 am

        Su has the key. The Local Authority already has the power in law to check up on home educators for educational purposes, or on any parents for welfare purposes. All they require is “reason to believe” that the parents are failing in their duty.

        The CSF Bill overturns the presumption of innocence and requires detailed checks on every home-educating family, all the time.

  31. nineteenthly
    09/02/2010 at 10:18 pm

    It’s perfectly simple and i refer you to the comment i made here under my name, Mark Ure:
    http://lordsoftheblog.net/2010/02/08/schoolgirls/

    In addition, fairly straightforward mathematics should indicate that the risk from school is greater than the risk from home. I was abused by my schoolteachers, though not sexually. I was locked in a cupboard all day for several months by one of them and made to stand in the snow in my underwear by the same teacher. Other teachers engaged in other pieces of behaviour of which i would be ashamed. However, i don’t judge them because i recognise the brutalising nature of the institution. However, consider this:

    Various notorious people would have passed undetected through a CRB check, for instance i personally believe that Harold Shipman would because he had no criminal record. The system cannot be perfect.

    Here’s the maths. Suppose a home educating parent has twenty children and proceeds to abuse all of them. That is a truly extreme case and would of course never happen, but for the sake of argument, suppose it has. Compare that to an adult such as a teacher who has contact with children in a school. Maybe thirty a year over even a short, twenty year career. Without accusing or stigmatising them, clearly there are people in all walks of life who do abuse children in one way or another. A teacher in that position has SIX HUNDRED opportunities to do that, assuming them to be in a primary school and to have an unusually short career.

    So, my question is, in utilitarian terms, isn’t the major problem, in structural terms, in the schools and not among the small minority of families who do not send their children to schools?

  32. Kellyi
    09/02/2010 at 10:41 pm

    “Of course we want to allow parents to educate at home”

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t get past this sentence. Allow? As the law currently stands I, as the parent, am responsible for my childrens education, in school or otherwise.

    So you don’t get to “allow”. It’s my right, and one I will continue to defend for as long as I can.

    Can you provide evidence of a home educated child who has been abused, who was not already known to Social Services whilst being abused?

    No. Thought not.

  33. Su
    09/02/2010 at 11:04 pm

    Oh yes, the state as a perfect paren! Let’s ask all the children in public care, shall we?

  34. Vanessa
    10/02/2010 at 12:11 am

    “Problems can arise in a number of ways. It maybe extreme battering or cruelty where the parents are anxious to keep the child out of site of any authority figure.”

    So why blatantly discriminate against home educators? Why not implement these proposals (inspecting the home and children) across the board, including children between the ages of 0-5 and children outside of school hours and during school holidays.

    Statistics show that the majority of children abused by their parents are under the age of 5. So I iterate, why discriminate against the home educating community where there is a lack of evidence of abuse!

    • 10/02/2010 at 2:16 pm

      What part of the bill constitutes discrimination, in your opinion?

      To return to the tax thing: If you work for an employer on PAYE, you never deal with the IR. Your employer deals with the paperwork and sorts your tax out for you. If you are self employed you have a duty to register and prepare your own paperwork. Is this “discriminating” against the self employed?

      If we assume parents have a duty to educate their children, the state or its duly appointed subsidiary bodies has a burden of picking up the slack, and thus of working out where the “slack” is. In public schools this work falls to teachers and administrators. At home, you are the teacher and administrator of an educational establishment. The burden is on you as a matter of course, it’s not discrimination, it’s work.

      As I have said, the particular shape of the work in this bill may be too onerous. But in general, the fact of the work’s existence does not seem at all discriminatory to me.

  35. YouMustBeJoking
    10/02/2010 at 1:39 am

    I notice with interest that the good Lord (and I don’t mean that blasphemously)and one McDuff (is the clue in the name?) bang on variously about ‘those few’…

    Tax returns and stolen goods aside, lets look at what they are really saying. The good Lord writes about girls education being curtailed for example. Now as we all know, that only happens in ‘certain sections’ of society. There seems to be a consensus that this often happens in the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, in some Asian communities, in some Muslim communities … and in some cases in fundamentalist Christian communities. What the good Lord and this Labour government can’t do, is openly say that this is where most of the problems lie, because then Miss Chakrabarti and her earnest hand wringing colleagues at Liberty would have them in a half Nelson up at the now Supreme Court.

    The fact that these population groups represent a tiny fraction of the general population as well as the EHE population, is neither here nor there … all home educators will have to take the fall for that tiny (ethnic/cultural/religious) minority. It just wouldn’t be PC or cricket, to point any fingers at minorities.

    While it may sound crass, I don’t see why the majority of home educators should be persecuted because some sections in society belong to a culture where young girls are routinely forced into marriage. I am not saying that these sorts of things should be ignored when found to occur in great democracies like our own (it is all I can do not to choke on that). I abhor any form of abuse, including abuse by the State. When this once great country cannot even have the courage of it’s convictions to expose these things where they really lie – then democracy is indeed dead.

    If this load of old tosh becomes law as Herr E Balls would have it, then I will be forced to either break the law, or to leave England, depriving my children, yes MY children, of their country, their heritage and their freedom. Be that on this good Lord’s head.

    • 10/02/2010 at 2:10 pm

      Why is it better to discriminate against an ethnic or religious minority than against the minority of Home Educators? Especially since it’s a lot trickier to work out who is a fundamentalist, white, middle class Christian in this country than it is to work out who’s a Home Educator.

      You have, though, hit a nail on the head, and it’s a significant problem in our liberal democracies. There is a fine row to hoe between allowing freedom of speech and religion and conscience, and protecting the rights of minors and other dependents. I am open to be convinced that this law is inappropriate to address the needs, and many of the specific arguments made here are compelling in that regard. Certainly I can see the argument that this government has a history of meddling and getting things wrong, which leads me to be sympathetic to those who perceive this as being more of the same. But I am unconvinced by the position that the status quo is the best that we can do, or that Home Educators are discriminated against if a burden of registration and inspection is required.

      Perhaps this burden is too onerous, and the bill should be amended to reflect that. But any burden of accountability cannot be discriminatory on principle, surely?

      • Dave H
        10/02/2010 at 3:29 pm

        The bill should be amended to remove the home education provision. Given the amount of time left to consider the bill (which contains a lot of other important provisions), the scale of amendment to the home education part would effectively rewrite it. I would hope that the response to the two home education posts in this blog has highlighted that actually, government (both Commons and Lords) is ill-informed on the subject and is producing legislation in an area in which it should take the time to learn more before committing pen to legal paper.

        The status quo may not be the best option, but the evidence so far produced in support of change has been shown to be fundamentally flawed and it’s a disgrace that legislation based upon it was produced.

      • Jacquie
        10/02/2010 at 5:08 pm

        @McDuff … apologies, this is going to be long.‎

        It seems to me that we have become so far removed from democracy in this country ‎that we no longer recognise our liberties or rights when they stare us in the face. When ‎did we forget that the State works FOR US? Politicians are elected BY US, to work on our ‎behalf, and in our interest.‎

        If I decide to have a child, it is MY duty and responsibility to care for, nurture and ‎educated that child. If I feel I am incapable of doing any of those things, I can, in a ‎nanny state such as this, ask ‘society’ to help me where I am unable or unwilling. For this ‎privilege, we pay taxes to fund just such an eventuality.‎

        The argument here pivots around the words ‘incapable or unwilling’. I have not ‎relinquished my duty or responsibility to these officials (elected by me) to raise, nurture ‎or educate my child. I have taken this responsibility seriously, and am carrying it out.‎

        I have chosen not to ‘out-source’ educational provision for my children, therefore I am ‎only answerable to myself. Unless our civilised society decides and can PROVE that I am ‎in some way failing in my duty and thereby have defaulted to ‘help from the State’. ‎

        The very fact that we have clauses in legislation like “as far as is possible”, underlines ‎the fact that no government can account for every child, abused or otherwise, neglected ‎or otherwise, educated or otherwise. It is the job of the State to take up the slack where ‎some parents fail, as far as is possible to do so given its resources, because we as a ‎civilised society consider that the right thing to do. That is how a nanny state works. This ‎is the crux of the matter! In no other part of our society, are the State allowed to ‎interfere in the daily lives of citizens, without clear evidence of wrongdoing, and even ‎then the burden of proof is on the relevant authority.‎

        This governments own figures have shown that the children most at risk are the under ‎fives. But you don’t see them rushing to monitor and register all parents with children ‎under five who may not avail themselves of nursery provision.‎

        It is ludicrous that home educators should have to make up scenarios to try and garner ‎some understanding about Schedule one. But here is another one that I will make for ‎you that I have also read somewhere else before.‎

        Let’s pick on another minority. (Though home educators are not officially recognised as ‎a minority because that would give us certain rights under the Human Rights Act.) The ‎majority of convicted paedophiles are men. Should we register and monitor all men on ‎the off chance that they may have unspeakable intentions towards children? The ‎majority of male paedophiles are homosexual. Should we register and monitor all gay ‎men on the off chance that they may have the same intentions? Horror I hear you cry! ‎But what if it saves just one child? ‎Imagine how you would feel as an innocent man. I totally get YouMustBe’s point!

        Discrimination against home educator lies in the fact that we will all be considered guilty ‎until WE can prove that we are innocent. Even the vilest mass murdering criminal has ‎more rights than home educators will if Schedule 1 passes into law.‎

        I think your mistake is in claiming that this is or should be a ‘burden of accountability’ ‎when it is in fact a ‘burden of responsibility’, which I for one have not abdicated. Schools, ‎local authorities and government are accountable to parents with regard to the ‎education they provide to our children, because we have PAID them to do a job.‎

        The same goes for nurseries, play groups, after school activities. If I hire you to be a ‎clown at my child’s birthday part, then you had better be a damn good one or you will not ‎get paid. When it comes to a child’s education the buck stops with the parent. ‎

        As the law currently stands, parents are still responsible for ensuring that children ‎receive a suitable education, regardless of whether or not they are in schools. What this ‎CSF Bill in its entirety does, is shift that responsibility from parents to the State. I ‎imagine that there will be a slew of lawsuits where schools have failed. This Bill makes ‎the State the parent of first resort rather than last resort. It is that erosion of our liberties ‎that home educators are arguing against – and that affects all families, not just home ‎educating ones.‎

        Finally, in reference to your first paragraph, are you agreeing after all that this is ‎discrimination? ‎

        ‎“Why is it better to discriminate against an ethnic or religious minority than against the ‎‎minority of Home Educators? ‎”‎

        Because only applying this legislation to those communities where forced marriages, say, ‎are prevalent would not be discrimination if it could save just one child right?‎

        ‎”Especially since it’s a lot trickier to work out who is a ‎fundamentalist, white, middle ‎class Christian in this country than it is to work out who’s ‎a Home Educator.”‎

        Legislation is meant to be passed only if there is a pressing social need in a democratic ‎society; it is NOT meant to make authorities lives easier. It is most certainly not meant ‎to be arbitrary, or disproportionately impact on one sector of society over another. In that ‎vein then, all parents should be subject to the registration and monitoring intended for ‎home educators, if there is really such a pressing social need.‎

  36. Heidi de Wet
    10/02/2010 at 12:38 pm

    McDuff writes, “As someone with home educators in the family whose attitude to their special needs child is troubling to say the least (“it’ll be OK” is not an educational strategy if your child can’t read at age 9) …”

    Thank you for articulating very clearly the sort of poorly informed prejudice that home educators commonly have to deal with. As others have already mentioned, it is very common outside the school paradigm for children to learn to read long after the age of 9. Typically they do so suddenly and almost effortlessly, when they are developmentally ready for it. Trying to force them to do so before they are ready only creates anxiety and defiance. Once the skill has “clicked”, however, within a few months the child will typically be reading at or above their “reading age” – Harry Potter, Tolkien, Nietzsche, whatever floats their boat. By 16, you can’t tell from the child’s “reading age” whether they started reading at 2, 7, or 14 – but late readers who started of their own accord often read for pleasure, unlike those who were forced into it.

    Of course, children learning outside the artificial school environment don’t need to read in order to learn – everyday life is stuffed full of educational opportunities through direct experience (observation, conversation, manipulation), as well as through textbook-like audiovisual means that don’t require reading, such as watching TV programmes or DVDs. Children learning with their families don’t need to write in order to record their learning, either – if the parents feel the need to find out what the child knows, they can do so through observation or discussion. A 9-year-old non-reader simply isn’t educationally handicapped in home education.

    So “it’ll be OK” is in fact an eminently sensible educational strategy for a 9-year-old non-reader. But people who know little about how home education happens tend to get terribly worked up about it, and unfortunately for us this includes not only family members and members of the public, but the majority of Local Authority officials, who have been trained up on schooling and cannot comprehend any form of education that doesn’t mimic school. These very people will, if this Bill passes, be the gatekeepers of the Home Educating Licence. So instead of trusting in the child to perform the miracle of reading when they’re ready, these officials will force the parents to institute harmful reading schemes, or more likely simply deny the parents of any non-reader over 7 a licence, and force the children into school.

    The tragedy of this (setting aside the incredible harm to the child and the family of having the state overrule the judgement of the parents) is that a 9-year-old non-reader in school really is the educational disaster that the officials think it must be at home. Schools and teachers’ minds are structured around the child being able to read and write at a very early age, and especially with today’s huge class sizes, reams of pointless paperwork and overstuffed National Curriculum, the poor teachers, however willing, can’t prevent non-readers falling by the wayside. So this Bill will be the direct cause of children like McDuff’s relative becoming another school failure, where they could have been another glowing home-educated success.

  37. 11/02/2010 at 1:08 pm

    @RandallUK

    You may wish to be pedantic over the question of whether children belong to their parents or are in their care,

    It’s not pedantic. It’s the difference between having a slave and a dependent. It’s rather a large difference. Children are not property, the same as every other person in this country. That’s not a nuanced piece of legalese, that’s a pretty important thing to bear in mind.

    a) They are first and foremost the responsibility of their parents;

    Agreed

    b) They neither belong to or are in care of the state until they become adults.

    The state may not be the principle agent of care, but since the children are citizens of the state, and since the state is responsible for the protection of the rights of every citizen, the state is responsible for protecting the rights of every child. It is not an either/or. The child is not solely the plaything of the adults until the very moment the state snatches it into care.

    This line of argument is what worries me most. Dave H’s points ring worryingly true given this government, and he may be right — this bill may be inadequate to address the issues. But a worrying number of home educators here seem to be under the impression that the state does not have a responsibility to look after their children’s rights that can and should overrule their rights if their method of parenting damages their children. This apparently philosophical objection to any supervision until things are going visibly wrong is what concerns me most.

    Is there any legislation which would allow any organisation a regulatory role of Home Educators that would not result in outcry? This is not, after all, some hobby, where if it turns out that you’re a poor judge of your own performance you just make an ineffective wicker basket.

    Nobody is qualified to be a parent. Anyone can do it. The state has systems in place that help with the health of the child before and after it is born, because they quite rightly see that as something which most parents can’t and should not be expected to manage on their own. The educational burden doesn’t strike me as being radically different enough to declare the state as a non-interested party until the child hits 16 and turns out to have no knowledge of why 2x-4=y is the same as x=(y+4)/2 because the parent didn’t understand why it was important or why they should explain things like that. That seems to me to be the kind of thing that the state has a very real interest in finding out.

    • jilly_uk
      11/02/2010 at 7:51 pm

      McDuff

      It has already been pointed out numerous times that Home Education is already regulated, for most part by badly trained Local Authorities.

      • Alison Sauer
        25/02/2010 at 1:25 am

        “McDuff

        It has already been pointed out numerous times that Home Education is already regulated, for most part by badly trained Local Authorities.”

        I’d like to amend that – the majority of Local Authorities are not badly trained, they are untrained.

        In the last 6 years approximately 10% of Authorities have had whole department training (some more than once) – a further 5 % or so have sent staff along to training days at other Authority’s training days.

        In addition a handful of individuals have been along to training conferences

        Some will tell you they have had training when in fact they have been to regional LA home ed conferences – some of these conferences sadly serve only to encourage bigotry and spread bad practice, others offer support to those officers who feel very badly supported by their Authorities.

    • 12/02/2010 at 11:43 am

      McDuff,

      Thinking about your assertion:

      “The state may not be the principle agent of care, but since the children are citizens of the state, and since the state is responsible for the protection of the rights of every citizen, the state is responsible for protecting the rights of every child.”

      You don’t explain on what basis your belief is founded. Or to put it another way, on what authority you claim that the state is responsible for the protect of the rights of every citizen including children? As Jacquie has already stated above, is not the state responsible to its citizens for its own conduct? If it is ultimately responsible _to_ its citizens (and this is what democracy means), how can it claim an ultimate responsibility _for_ protecting their rights?

      Apart from the word ‘worrying’ you are generally correct when you say:

      “But a worrying number of home educators here seem to be under the impression that the state does not have a responsibility to look after their children’s rights that can and should overrule their rights if their method of parenting damages their children. This apparently philosophical objection to any supervision until things are going visibly wrong is what concerns me most.”

      And in return your philosophical belief in the responsibility of the state to monitor its citizens concerns me most.

      My question remains therefore what is the basis, the authority from which it is derived, for your belief that the state _is_ responsible for the protection of every citizen.

      You may wish to put forward an historical argument, but families existed before tribes and certainly before states, so the state may be nothing more than the invention of families. I was going to allow you to exclude religious authority, because Britain is increasingly a secular society. Then I remembered that as recently as the 25th January, Vernon Coaker the minister who guided the CSF Bill through the Commons committee stage, said about Britain, “we are a Christian country”. So it seems you can appeal to Christian doctrine should you wish to. Alternatively, you may simply want to appeal to a higher authority like the UN but if you do, please explain where its authority comes from? The people, from the collective will of states, or from wealthy power brokers?

      Unless you can justify the final authority of the state, you cannot condemn parents when they believe that _their_ responsibilities to raise their children overrule the perceived rights of the state to determine what, how and when children are taught.

      Do I need to remind you that the State is failing large numbers of children in their education? Nick Gibb summed it up in the recent Second reading debate on HE:

      “Local authorities should be focusing their efforts on the one in three schools judged not good enough by Ofsted, the 40 per cent. of 11-year-olds who leave primary school still struggling with the basics; and the 8 per cent. of boys and 4 per cent. of girls who leave primary school completely illiterate.”

      That is not the quality of education I want for my children or grandchildren, but with this Bill the state is seeking to take away my responsibility to protect them from it.

      These are the philosophical issues which underlie the reasons for Clause 26 being out forward and the out cry from the home educating community against it. Questions about numeracy, multi-cultural practice and of course the DfCSF playing fast and loose with ‘safeguarding’ concerns re all leaves on this tree. Perhaps therefore we should debate if the State is the servant or the master of its citizens and once that is openly the topic, we may begin to understand how everyone’s beliefs (including yours) influence what they think about home education and who has supreme responsibility for the welfare of children.

      [With comments I cannot embed links so here they are to two Hansard quotes referred to above.]

      Coaker
      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm100125/debtext/100125-0002.htm#10012516000080

      Gibb
      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmpublic/childsch/100204/pm/100204s06.htm

  38. 12/02/2010 at 3:21 pm

    on what authority you claim that the state is responsible for the protect of the rights of every citizen including children?”

    What an odd question. Do you believe that the state can pick and choose which people rights apply to? It’s the state’s responsibility because that’s where the state comes in the order of things, it’s part of the social contract.

    The conceit of the democratic state is that it is our servant. Of course this isn’t true. Democracy is a whip and a chair in the tiger’s cage, useful for keeping the beast at bay but still not preferable to being elsewhere. But the reason we’re locked in here with the state, or with any higher powered body in a rule-of-law based society, is that tolerating the beast is better than tolerating society without it.

    If you fail to feed your child, and the family doesn’t step in to protect it from neglect, it’s the state that steps in. If you beat your child, it’s the state that steps in. Should either of these things not happen? Does your right as a parent extend, in your mind, to exacting any physical abuse or neglect of your child’s basic needs you see fit? I would hardly imagine so. And who else but the state is equipped to be the last resort when all else fails?

    There are many things that you could do in your child’s education that would be harmful. Failing to provide it entirely would be one. Teaching your child history from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and maths from the Bible would be another. The state is equipped, however, only to deal with the first one. I wish, in my perfect world, that I could say that bringing your child up racist was equivalent to child abuse, because I think it is, but we put limits on the state because if I get to say that then there’s no saying whether when racists get into power that they might not say otherwise. But, as a general rule, we in this society have decided that it’s better if parents have to let their kids learn something basic as well as whatever else they get at home. You can do what you like, short of deliberately crippling their minds. It’s not an arduous level of responsibility.

    Now, it’s true that there are children who fail in the state school system, but with very little variance these are children whose parents have failed first. They haven’t failed to be literate because the big bad state snuck into the homes of otherwise loving parents laden down with textbooks and press-ganged them into a life of dull drudgery in a grey classroom. Almost invariably they are children from the depths of poverty and from genuinely broken homes, i.e. not homes with divorces or conflict, since most homes have some of that, but homes that fail to function as homes. The state has limited capacity to protect from every dark eventuality. But it does have a responsibility to at least try to protect against neglect and mistreatment of those who cannot protect themselves.

    In taking your kids out of school because some at the bottom fail, you’re committing the same category error you’ve levelled as an accusation at the government. Some kids in state school fail, but if you’re a concerned and loving parent it’s not going to be your kids leaving as illiterates, is it? You don’t want to take the risk, so you’re taking preventative steps.

    The state does not have a right to intrude on every little aspect of a personal life. But there is a broad gap between that and saying that the state has no business regulating interactions between people. The state doesn’t dictate what you buy on your credit cards, but it (theoretically) has a duty to see that you’re not getting ripped off, whether you’re buying groceries or a blow up Stalin sex doll. When your children are involved it’s no longer simply a personal right, it’s a balancing of your rights vs the rights of the child, and a pretty fundamentally important right that has wide-reaching ramifications for that child’s future. You have every right to argue the case if you think state schooling is not the best option, but I would find it hard pushed to argue that you needn’t justify that.

    If the moment of accountability only happens when your child is grown, if you’ve been doing it wrong it’s too late. So, do you think Home Educating parents should be unaccountable to anybody? You’re at least accountable to your kids, and who do you think should speak for them and argue their case in the event a Home Educating parent is doing the Home without the Education?

    • Dave H
      12/02/2010 at 5:20 pm

      “Now, it’s true that there are children who fail in the state school system, but with very little variance these are children whose parents have failed first.”

      One could suggest that this is because the parents who care will either have created merry hell at the school and fixed the problem or, having failed to achieve success there, withdraw their children from school and educate them at home. On that basis, you can understand why they would object strongly to allowing the system that failed them in the first place to have anything to do with subsequent education.

      If there are grounds to suspect a problem then the state does have a right to intervene at that point and establish the facts, but this does not extend to routine monitoring in case something bad happens. It is part of being a free society, or at least one that gives the illusion of so being, that people should be left alone. We’re already coming close to the edge in other areas – photographers stopped by the police merely for having a camera, or in one case, for being tall and in possession of a camera. We are governed by consent – remove that consent and you’ve got a full police state ruled by fear of the knock on the door in the night.

      The state fails to use correctly the tools it already possesses, so why should we give them more. In a trial in progress at the moment, evidence shows that the authorities were aware of an abused child for a year and failed to act correctly. They don’t need new powers, just a large dose of competence and common sense in using what they already have.

    • Jill Harris
      15/02/2010 at 11:18 am

      You seem to be saying that education should be singled out from our parental duties to be routinely recorded, monitored and judged by the state? You’re not proposing that how we intend to feed or discipline our children becomes the primary responsibility of the state, and yet there is more (and I think uncontested) evidence of the long-term harm these could cause, and the number of serious case reviews where these are a causative factor. It would be unthinkable for all families to have to routinely register and be monitored for these, and would rightly evoke a huge public outcry.

      Even if you personally believe that the equivalent is warranted regarding educational provision, surely the primary focus for any such intervention should be where there is a demonstrable need, and research shows that home education is far more effective than school – regardless of the parent’s own academic success or income level. By the government’s own figures 1 in 6 children leave school functionally illiterate and innumerate – are you really implying that they are all living in homes that fail to function? Surely this would indicate a far more pressing area on which to focus? And these are all children the state “knows about”. It’s like deciding that routinely (not even just randomly) searching homes for drugs or stolen goods is justifiable, and then starting in the areas where there is *no* evidence of a problem. Does this not make you even a little suspiscious that there is another agenda here?

      Also, I feel it’s completely unfair and unhelpful to imply that it is “almost invariably” single parents on benefits whose children fail in the school system. It is regrettable that you refer to it in terms of children “failing”, rather than schools failing children. Children do not have a duty to learn, it is schools that have a duty to educate.

  39. chelostar
    23/02/2010 at 2:37 pm

    It seems to me that those in so called “authority” and some people posting here, still do not seem to grasp the true meaning of education and the many ways that it can be gained. Children learn in different ways and at different times. A child who does not read or write easily at the age of 7, can certainly be the one who turns out to be the literary genius at age 12. Many children in home education, can read, write, spell and calculate way more efficiently than their counterparts in school. Often they have got there by unconventional methods. School and therefore schooling work well for many, but are not for everyone. There are other options, which cannot be and do not need to be, monitored in the same way as school. It is preposterous to make home education the scapegoat for the shortcomings of some local authorities who fail to protect children who are at risk. We are all, most of society that is, deeply concerned that any child is abused. But, and in this case “but” us a HUGE word, this has absolutely zero, zilch and nada to do with home education. What a waste of time, human resources and public funds, to set up yet another set of processes and red tape, run by people who have no understanding of home education. Such a travesty. Guilty until proved innocent – yep, that certainly is the way that home educating parents are being viewed. It is a fact that people are home educating their children and have successfully been doing so for many, many years. Child abuse needs to be tackled and stamped out. Direct the limited resources where they are truly needed. Home educators should be left alone to flourish, as they are already doing with minimum intervention from the state. Home educated children are not kept in isolation. They attend group activities, clubs, tutorial sessions and most things that school children do – except school. I do not imagine that families with children in school are subjected to home visits and intrusion into their private family lives. That though is just around the corner, if this draconian bill goes through.

  40. 23/02/2010 at 10:25 pm

    @Dave H

    “One could suggest that this is because the parents who care will either have created merry hell at the school and fixed the problem or, having failed to achieve success there, withdraw their children from school and educate them at home. “

    I’ve been impressed with your lucidity by now, but surely you must see this is purest poppycock. The vast majority of children in this country are state educated, and the vast majority of those do not turn out to be illiterates and idiots. So the apparent contention that without severe and effusive parental intervention that state schools are bound to fail is severely limited. I think in terms of classical fallacies what you have presented here is a false dichotomy. I hope you teach your children how to identify such things at home, lest they come up against state-educated folks like me who can out-logic them in later life.

    “It is part of being a free society, or at least one that gives the illusion of so being, that people should be left alone.”

    Again, you fail to make an accurate analogy. If I, as an individual, wish to carry a camera, believe that the Illuminati are plotting to steal my spleen, or stab myself in the eye with a sharp stick, that is absolutely no business of anyone except me. When I involve other people in these things, it absolutely becomes the business of everyone else. What I think you’re failing to grasp here is that people like myself see your children as independent legal entities to yourself, and that while we do not doubt your abilities to do right by them any more than is statistically necessary, that little shadow of doubt still lingers. You have a right to be as free as you so wish, however damn fool that may be. You don’t have a right to drag your kids along with you.

    @Jill Harris

    “It is regrettable that you refer to it in terms of children “failing”, rather than schools failing children. “

    However we choose to define it, I subscribe to the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child. My experiences of HE families have ranged from the isolated and deliberately ignorant, to the mostly well balanced if astoundingly precious. Anecdote is not the plural of data, but if it is possible that parents are using HE as a loophole to prevent learning — and let me assure you that it is — then the village, however that is constructed in the modern world, has an obligation to tell the parents they’re ballsing up their kids, don’t you think?

    Governments may not understand much of anything, but given that the qualifications for becoming a parent are, if anything, even lower than those required to become a politician, it hardly seems reasonable to assume that parents know what they are doing either, does it?

    chelostar

    “I do not imagine that families with children in school are subjected to home visits and intrusion into their private family lives. That though is just around the corner, if this draconian bill goes through.”

    Well, it’s not though, really, is it? Even if we were to grant the slippery slope here, that’s a different direction altogether. I mean, the government claims — and you can of course disagree — that five days in school is enough time to check up on said children, and that the justification for checking on homeschooled kids is simply that they have zero exposure to them whatsoever. Whether you agree with their reasoning or not, I don’t see how you can extrapolate from there to believing that the children they do have exposure to are likely to come under similar scrutiny at home.

    Now, it’s not to say that state schools won’t madly overstep their bounds. But looking at the US, where Homeschoolers have a vast amount of leeway and state schools have gone insane, the two aren’t seemingly connected in any real sense.

    By the way, do you teach your children about paragraphs? They’d learn about that kind of thing in state school, you know.

    • Jem
      23/02/2010 at 11:36 pm

      “Anecdote is not the plural of data”

      Did you not learn at your school that ‘data’ has no plural? Even my home educated six year old knows that.

      In all your arguments you repeatedly assert that Home Educators believe that parents should be able to do what they wish with their children. “Drag their children along with them” in their “damn fool” ways, as you say. No one, to my knowledge, has said this.

      What we have repeatedly said is that there should be evidence of harm or intent to harm (or if you insist in conflating education and welfare, evidence of the non provision of education) before there is intervention. This is our philosophical difference I think. We say that these measures would cause harm to a large number of families in order to find a theoretical few in need. You think that any harm would be mitigated by the finding of those theoretical needy children – that the ends justify the means.

      • 24/02/2010 at 8:33 pm

        My apologies. That should, of course, have read either “anecdote is not the singular of data” or “the plural of anecdote is not data”. That’s one of those easily mixed metaphors that has a habit of tripping me up. Thank you for clarifying for me.

        As for thinking that all Home Educators are alike in having “damn fool” ways, that’s not my belief at all. On the other hand, plainly some do. The issue for us is, how do we work out which of the many Home Educators are the minority who are actively damaging their children by denying them an education, through inability or ideology?

    • Dave H
      23/02/2010 at 11:38 pm

      We’re obviously on crossed wires for the first point – I was thinking of the subset of parents whose children were being failed by their school, not those who are within ‘acceptable’ limits. If your child is achieving adequate grades and is not unduly unhappy then laissez-faire is fine. Otherwise you’re trying to fix the problem, ignoring it or ignorant of it.

      As for the second point, we will have to agree to differ. By insisting on such intrusive monitoring and checking, you are implying I might be guilty. Such assumptions have proven highly unpopular amongst minorities in the past – think of various stop-and-search powers and the photography one we’ve already covered.

      Under existing law, my local authority has the right to make informal inquiry about educational provision to confirm that there is some, but having established that it exists and that they consider it satisfactory, why do they need to come back every year (or more frequently, in some cases) and ask the same question unless they have good reason to believe that it is no longer true? I’m sure you’d object if you were checked each day as you left your property, just in case you were carrying something that could be deemed an offensive weapon.

      Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states clearly that the parents are responsible for providing an education for their child, not the state. If the state wishes to change that, it should change it for all children, not just those who are home educated.

      • 24/02/2010 at 9:23 pm

        Your first point rather assumes that the ranks of the Home Educated are swelling with children who have tried state school, found it wanting, and been brought out by active parents. While I have no doubt that there are many who fit that bill, it’s not the whole story, and some parents decide upfront — for whatever reason — that no state school shall lay a finger on their kids. Insisting that parents are totally motivated by educational standards discounts ideology as a contributory factor, and while that’s politically savvy it’s verging on disingenuous.

        Or it shows a possible lack of understanding of the full swathe of the issue. I sincerely doubt that “The Home Educating Community” includes every home educator, for the simple reason that no “The X Community” includes every person to whom X applies, be X Muslim, Bisexual or Cheesemongering. Assuming for the sake of argument that every single child in the Home Educating Community is perfectly well catered for, this does not mean that there are no children being home educated who are being neglected and, therefore, that the government does not have some measure of responsibility for them.

        On the second point you conflate differing levels of state intrusion. An annual inspection does not equate to a daily search. Similarly, annual reports are standard in whole swathes of daily life. If you run a business you need to PAT test your electrics once a year (or more, if you run a business with heavy turnover of electrical gear), and make sure that your fire extinguishers are checked on a similar timeframe. You need to file your tax return. Considering that you will be (I’d imagine) keeping records of what you teach your children, consolidating that into an annual report shouldn’t be that labour intensive.

        Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states clearly that the parents are responsible for providing an education for their child, not the state.

        I think this is the sixth or seventh time I’ve raised the point, and if it’s been addressed I am sorry for missing it, but to whom are these responsible parents accountable? In the event that parents fail in their responsibility, is it really acceptable that we simply have to wait for that failure to become noticeable? And is the burden of telling someone what you’re doing once a year really the arduous task that you’re continually making it out to be?

        I have a lot of sympathy for people who think the government is failing to listen to them, I really do. But I am afraid in this case that your arguments are continually failing to sway me because “just leave us alone” only works for individuals, not individuals responsible for others. Similarly “there is no problem” fails to wash when I know for a fact that Home Educators can teach their children that Biology, Physics and Chemistry are all lies spread by the devil.

        What I’d love to see is, if the law as written causes more problems than it purports to solve, some way that the Home Educating Community can work with parliament to address the social problems that we know can arise. But if its arguments amount to “nobody I know is a bad parent, plus look over here at state schools, plus you’re infringing my freedom” then is it any wonder that it doesn’t wash?

      • Alison Sauer
        25/02/2010 at 1:31 am

        “to whom are these responsible parents accountable?”

        Easy, their children.

    • chelostar
      24/02/2010 at 5:51 pm

      McDuff

      Well, it’s not though, really, is it? Even if we were to grant the slippery slope here, that’s a different direction altogether. I mean, the government claims — and you can of course disagree — that five days in school is enough time to check up on said children, and that the justification for checking on homeschooled kids is simply that they have zero exposure to them whatsoever. Whether you agree with their reasoning or not, I don’t see how you can extrapolate from there to believing that the children they do have exposure to are likely to come under similar scrutiny at home.

      When you say “they have zero exposure to them whatsoever”, I assume that you mean the children have no exposure to teachers and vice versa. Home educated children do however, have constant exposure to many other responsible adults outside of their family circle. This is quite apart from doctors, dentists, librarians, leaders of the usual out of school groups and other home educating parents for instance. Children being seen by teachers, is not in itself any guarantee of safety at all, in some cases quite the opposite.

      McDuff

      By the way, do you teach your children about paragraphs? They’d learn about that kind of thing in state school, you know.

      Your point being…..?

      Now that, is a truly inane and pointless remark if ever there was one! This is a blog spot, not an English exam.

      • 24/02/2010 at 8:26 pm

        Well, here you see where we again diverge. It’s not inane, and the point, while facetiously made, is sound enough. You are here advocating for the position that you’re able to teach your children better than state schools. Now, if it were me espousing that position, I’d want to make sure that what I wrote wasn’t the kind of thing that a Key Stage 3 teacher would take a red pen to, if for no other reason that to avoid what I would consider to be obvious charges of “Physick, heal thyself.”

        But your objections worry me more. We don’t teach our children about paragraphs so that they can pass English exams. We teach them about paragraphs because in standard written English they are useful and expected units of thought. Large blocks of text are difficult to read, and therefore difficult to understand, and while there are of course variations as to what some people will describe as the “correct” way of writing, it’s a good rule of thumb that if you’re not hitting the enter key twice at any point you probably need to address that on the redraft.

        That is, assuming, of course, you redraft. But as I’ve said to someone else on this site, I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’ve no wish to read the first draft of anyone’s thoughts, bar a trifling few luminaries, many of whom are you and none of whom (I believe) post on this blog.

        This site is, as you say, a blog. Actually run on WordPress not Blogspot, but let’s let it pass. But it happens to be the House of Lords official blog, comments of which are (we assume, or else why post here?) read by legislators of this country, and thus anything we write is not just your average blog comment but also a form of political advocacy. I assume that the letters you write to your local MP about the issues that concern you are correctly formatted, no? Especially, as I said, when suggesting that concerns any of us may have about the education of your children are entirely safe in your hands.

  41. 25/02/2010 at 12:03 pm

    @Alison Sauer

    So parents are responsible and accountable to their children. I agree.

    Now, explain to me the mechanics of how a six, eight or sixteen year old can a) discover that their education is lacking and b) take steps to coerce their parents into providing a proper one.

    As for the other point, it’s taken and understoof. Would you feel that part of the solution is to increase the training budget for Local Authorities, then? Perhaps a whole department of specialists who work with Home Educators, supporting those who need assistance as well as calling the slackers into account?

    It’s something I’d see as working. Overstretched generalists in government tend to be the ones who come in for the stick, but in my experience small departments of specialists can consistently surprise people by being unexpectedly helpful, particularly when it comes to education and childcare.

    You might, of course, have a different set of ideas, and I’d love to hear them. If it involves children enforcing parental accountability themselves, I trust you’ll understand my skepticism.

    • 25/02/2010 at 12:06 pm

      hah, “understood,” obviously. Obviously I’m not quite observant enough to post a second draft either!

  42. jenniS
    08/03/2010 at 9:52 pm

    We are hostile to Badman because the stats are total rubbish and the report was such a hastily and poorly researched piece of work which seemed solely put together to justify a position that was already decided upon.

    Secondly Badman does make good point about the lack of support and services for home educated children. But we are rightly suspicious that these will not be delivered to our children and that they will come at cost to our independence.

  43. 08/03/2010 at 10:58 pm

    We home educate for conscience and we are trying to do the very best for our children. What is happening here, is that the state does not trust parents and believes that they must monitor parents as a result.
    This legislation will mean a shift from the responsibility of parents to the state. It is parents who bring up children.
    What happened to Kyrha Ishaq? Why were the concerns of the school not properly followed up, it was not just one, but all six children. The authorities blundered on the powers they already have and yet more powers are to be granted?
    Who is going to protect the rights of children in school? I know of many children who are unhappy there and there are abominable figures of under achievement.I think you should look to the dire state of schools, where if parents want their children to achieve, they have to do the work with them themselves, or hire tutors.

  44. thought
    08/03/2010 at 11:19 pm

    I believe in the fundamental right of a child to have a childhood.

    I believe in the fundamental right of a child to live in a safe and loving environment.

    I believe in the fundamental right of a parent to protect that child from abuse.

    I believe , from statistics, provided by the NSPCC that abuse in school is endemic.

    Until the children of Britain are protected during there school hours, from this abuse, Abuse which has lead many children attempt suicide.

    We as a nation have NO right to demand that parents register there children with a LEA, to gain permission to educate there children at home.

    I ask you lord Soley, when you send a child to school, who you know is going to get there nose kicked in on the way.. but the school says “we dont have a bullying problem here” what as a parent you would do?

    Report it to the Governors? They then say.. oh no, we dont have a bullying problem here.. Report it to the LEA… By the time your child gets home.. another shirt torn.. another night spent picking up the tears.. another child let down by the system.. and there parents… Who want to protect there child from the bullies.. BUT according to the school “we dont have bullies here”

    Once the schools of britain are safe, and provide an education for the children of britain.. THEN and only then.. can you realistically offer places for every child.. In the mean time.. Sort out your own side of the street.. Brush it clean.. and provide the children in those schools with the 1st class education they deserve!

  45. Kate
    09/03/2010 at 12:44 am

    We have just heard you talking in the Lords about the problems of balancing the rights of the parents with the rights of the child.

    Our child did not want to go to school because his school would not let him work.
    So we Home Educated him.
    Would you support his choice to stay at home and work?

    It seems to me that this bill is about REMOVING the RIGHTS of the CHILD and has nothing at all to do with the rights of the parents.

    As parents, we wanted to support our child.
    Incidentally he is now grown up and has a Master’s Degree and a well paid job.)

    This Bill just wants to grab more power for the government.

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