Ever since the publication of the Badman Report in the Summer, there has been great anxiety on the part of some home educating parent as to what changes there will be in the law relating to home education. Will children be interrogated alone? Will the local authority be given right of entry to our homes? Will they try and impose the National Curriculum of home educators?
Well the draft regulations have now been published and pretty tame they are too. What difference will they make to most home educators? None at all. Let us look at the original fears and then see how the law as set out in the Children, Schools and Families Bill will actually work.
Fear No. 1 Children will be interviewed without the parents being present.
"Arrangements made under subsection (3) may, unless the child or a
parent of the child objects, provide for a meeting with the child at
which no parent of the child or other person providing education to
the child is present."
In other words, meetings without the parents will only take place by agreement with the parents and child.
Fear No. 2 The local authority will have the right to enter our homes.
"visiting, at least once in the registration period, the place (or
at least one of the places) where education is provided to the
This might be the local library, for instance. No mention at all of the home.
Fear No. 3 The definition of a "suitable education" will be tightened up.
"For the purposes of this section a child’s education is suitable if it is
efficient full-time education suitable to—
the child’s age, ability and aptitude, and
any special educational needs the child may have."
The definition of a suitable education is unchanged.
Fear No. 4 Parents who don't notify the local authority may be guilty of a criminal offence
The onus is firmly on the part of the local authority to track down and register children. There are no penalties for not announcing that you are home educating.
I could go on point by point, but I think this will do. Most parents will not even notice the difference. Local authorities will want to meet parents and children, but even that is hedged around with the proviso, "as far as is practical". This will give local authorities leeway not to insist upon it. True, the local authority will have the power to revoke registration if parents do not co-operate, but this does not alter the existing position either. If they revoke registration, then they will have to issue a School Attendance Order and the whole matter will move to the magistrates court. This will give the parents the chance to argue their case. There is nothing to stop LAs from doing this already with unco-operative home educators. I doubt it will become any more frequent.
All in all, this seems a very good outcome for home educating parents. I dare say that some will still manage to engineer confrontations with their local authority, but for the great majority, their minds will be put at rest and they can relax and carry on with their children's education.