Saturday, 16 January 2010

"Fewer home educated children will be deemed to be receiving an inadequate education........

In a recent letter about the revised impact assessment of the Children, Schools and Families Bill, Diana Johnson, the Schools Minister, says she expects that a year after the passage of the bill that,

"fewer home-educated children will be deemed to be receiving an inadequate education."

Now this seems to me to be a pretty good outcome, if true. Others are already getting worked up though and suspecting that this statement signals the launching of an assault upon the rights of home educating families.

I suppose that there are several possibilities to consider about the DCSF position. Firstly, let us take Ms. Johnson's statement at face value and assume it to be true. If more home educated children will actually be receiving a good education after the passage of the bill, then this can only be a good thing. It would be a good thing whether this meant that their parents were now being compelled to provide them with a good education or that the children had stopped being home educated and had been sent to schools which were providing them with a good education. I think most people would agree with this.

However, it is always possible I suppose, that Diana Johnson isn't being truthful. It could also be the case that she is mistaken. To begin with, let us consider the chances that she is being deliberately untruthful about this. I cannot for the life of me see any motive at all for this. I can't see why she should want to reduce the numbers of home educated children in this country for any other reason than that she believes that some of them are receiving an inadequate education. Nor can I offhand see any motive for anybody else deliberately to lie about this matter. I think it fair to assume that from Diana Johnson at the top, all the way down to the lowliest of local authority officers visiting homes, all have the welfare of children at heart and no other motive.

Could Diana Johnson be mistaken then in thinking that fewer home educated children will be receiving an inadequate education after the Children, Schools and Families Bill has come into force? This too seems unlikely. I think that we would all agree that it would have some effect upon the situation with regard to home education in this country. In other words the ratios and numbers are bound to change in some way as a result of the new legislation. Suppose that the numbers of home educated children were reduced more or less at random? That would certainly have the effect of meaning that fewer home educated children were receiving an inadequate education, but of course it would also have the effect that fewer were receiving an adequate education as well! I don't think this can be what Ms. Johnson has in mind. I imagine that she means that some children who are currently judged to be receiving an inadequate education at home, might be forced to go to school. This would certainly reduce the numbers of inadequately educated children taught at home. The only problem here is that they might very well end up going to schools where they would receive an inadequate education. So again, the actual number of inadequately educated children taught out of school would certainly go down, but it would not be to anybody's advantage! This is probably not what Diana Johnson has in mind either.

The only possibility which remains is that it is planned that all the home educated children in England and eventually Wales as well, will be monitored regularly and checks will be made to see whether or not they are receiving an adequate education. If they are not, then their parents will be offered advice and help, including access to examination centres and so on, until their prospects have substantially improved. Those who refuse to co-operate will ultimately face the prospect of a School Attendan
ce Order. I am pretty sure that this is the plan at the back of the new impact assessment. It does not sound particularly sinister to me and it is almost certainly being done with the best of intentions. Without any doubt, this scheme would ensure that fewer home educated children were receiving an inadequate education.


  1. Although you don't seem to see it there's a huge difference between "will be deemed to be" and "will be". Amongst other things, it depends on who's doing the deeming.

    Now if it was "will be", and it turned out to actually be true, that would obviously be a good thing. Would that good thing justify the bad things that brought it about? Not necessarily.

    And how many fewer anyway? Is one enough?

    Is that meaningless statement you've quoted the best anyone can come up with to justify the state interfering in what is a parent's responsibility, and taking that away from them if "they do not co-operate", and wasting millions of pounds of our money on it?

    Since the majority of parents entrust their children's education to the state, perhaps they should concentrate on providing that, because I certainly deem an awful lot of those children to be receiving an inadequate (to put it mildly) education.

  2. Well of course CiaranG, that is quite true. but your saying so raises another question. In one third of schools in this country, at least half the pupils fail to achieve at least five GCSEs at Grades A*-C. So to that extent, there is a good chance that any child subject to a School Attendance Order would end up in a school which provided an inadequate education. Does that mean that you agree with this definition of an inadequate education? I mean that is the the measure currently used and you seem to agree that many children in maintained schools are reseiving an inadequate education. Does that mean that you agree that any home educated child failing to reach that standard would also be receiving an inadequate education?

  3. "Does that mean that you agree that any home educated child failing to reach that standard would also be receiving an inadequate education?"

    Does it matter? What is the point in judging an education as inadequate if nothing is done as a result? If a parent using schools is not sanctioned for providing their child with an inadequate education, why should a home educating parent be sanctioned? Obviously it matters to the individual child and parents, but should it matter more to the state if a home educating parent provides an inadequate education to the same level as the education a child receives in school? If a home educating parent providing an inadequate education is forced to improve their child's education or send them to school, shouldn't the school using parent be forced to improve their child's school education or have to home educate them?

  4. " I think it fair to assume that from Diana Johnson at the top, all the way down to the lowliest of local authority officers visiting homes, all have the welfare of children at heart and no other motive."

    I disagree, I think this is politically motivated. Particularly at the top.

    Motivated by a dislike of headlines that make them look bad, right through to growth of political radicalization being bad for the country as well as themselves professionally.

    ""fewer home-educated children will be deemed to be receiving an inadequate education." "

    I don't think her statement is wrong, based solely on the part of the bill that menaces LAs who backdoor troublesome families/students into HE to get them out of their hair, I think you'll see a drop in cases where the E part of HE is either MIA or totally unsuitable due to no internal motivation to provide it.

    Registration and the concept of accountability might well also put off large numbers of those who are using HE as a loophole rather than an educational choice.

    Those sub groups are the most likely to produce "wetting myself" headlines for the politicians and the HE proposals at least cover the back of the government, they can always throw the odd LA official to the lions if needs be, should the odd few slip through the net.

    I don't believe that any member of the government is particularly concerned on a professional level because a child is being educated in a manner they find odd, daft or below par, just as long as they aren't part of a sub group that runs the risk of attracting the press with a sensational headline that makes them look bad or creates another set of problems for them to deal with.

    I reckon any family who is going for the Guinness book of records of most ASBOs awarded to one address can expect the full weight of the new HE rule book to be hurled at them and then bounced off on their head with feeling.

    I also think that if the grassroots swell in the BNP ranks keeps on working out how to form their own curriculum (aided and abetted by the white power groups in the USA, who have already worked out a framework that could be fleshed out with UK centric content) and pushing the concept of HE as the only sane alternative to sending their kids to be "racially brainwashed" in mainstream education, they too might find that the second they try to HE the rule book comes out quick smart to batter them into sending their kids back into school.

    I'm not convinced that a child who is subject to an inadequate education, no matter the flavour, is the point of this legislation, just as long as their parents are "benign" in the political sense. Benign, set against the likes of the BNP and the ASBO prone, is a really broad concept.


  5. 'will be deemed' etc

    If this does happen, won't it be simply transferring people from the box marked 'Won't co-operate' (ie refuses to reply to the LA about something they consider a private family matter) into the box marked, 'We've checked them and they are doing fine'?

    Yeah, money well spent.

    Mrs Anon

  6. That would certainly be one way of racking up the figures. I'm not sure though that this is what Diana Johnson has in mind.

  7. you still writing your crap simon? where is that school attendance order? i want one hurry Balls?DCSF Hampshire Counci why wont you send it are you scared of a 13 year old boy?!

  8. you still crawling up Ms Johnson skirt Simon? i guess its got to be better than siting on Uncle Badman lap.

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