The debate on my Private members Bill (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill
was completed successfully and the Bill will now go into committee probably in late February. I announced in the debate that I will make some changes to the Bill and that I would be listening to various groups and individuals to make sure I get the Bill into good shape. Please read the debate to see what I was saying.
I have had significant numbers of letters and emails in opposition to the Bill but also some very important ones from people who had been home educated and for whom it went wrong. They do not have an effective lobby group which is a pity but understandable as many of them want to remain anonymous.
Let me make some key points here:
1. I am in favour of home education and have always been in favour.
2. My concern has always been for those who want to home educate but run into difficulties – they need support.
3. I am concerned for the welfare and the rights of those children for whom it goes seriously wrong – especially where it involves abuse or radicalisation.
My aim is for a light touch regulation for those doing it well. One visit a year should be sufficient. For those who take their child out but can’t manage so put the child back into school need additional help. It is not good for the child or for the school to have to deal with this in/out problem. There is a debate to be had around the issue of how best the education authorities, be it local councils or some other organisation, can help.
Most importantly we must have a register of children who are not in school. It isn’t just the children who are taken out of school but also the ones who are never registered in the first place. Estimates of numbers vary and there is very little research in this area of policy. To have no idea or contact with children is a bad idea. Parent’s rights are important here but so are the children’s.
I shall make further entries on this blog in due course.