This new piece of legislation seems to be the subject of quite a few myths. On television and in newspaper articles, two claims are still being regularly made; local authorities will have a right to enter people's homes and that they will be able to speak to children alone. It is true that both these ideas were suggested by Graham Badman, but there was never the slightest chance of their becoming law. Let's have a look at the reality
Myth 1 Local authorities will be required to visit homes
Reality Here is what the bill actually says;
"Arrangements made by an authority under this section shall include
arrangements made with a view to their—
visiting, at least once in the registration period, the place (or
at least one of the places) where education is provided to the
Unless parents are actually intent upon confrontation, the easiest thing to do will be to arrange to meet in the local library, on the grounds that this is, "one of the places where education is offered to the child". Some parents do this already, so the bill will not make any changes. The very fact that they have included the words, "at least one of the places" suggests that this is going to be fine.
Myth 2 Our children will be interviewed alone
Reality The bill says;
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, this will only happen if both you and your child are happy for it to happen.
Myth 3 The bill will not become law
Reality When this bill was introduced in the Queen's speech in November, the government knew perfectly well that an election would have to be called by June this year. They took that into account when announcing their programme. The Children, Schools and Families Bill has raced through the Commons with no changes at all to the bits on home education. It will probably clear the Lords in the same way. If it does not do so, then there may be a bit of haggling during the so called "Wash up". Some of the bills introduced in the Queen's speech would then need to be dropped. It is unlikely that the government will want to ditch a bill about improving schools . More likely is that they will abandon some of the less important stuff such as the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Bill or the Digital Economy Bill. The Conservatives are far more anxious to prevent the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill from getting onto the Statute Book, especially now that it includes a provision for the a referendum on AV. At a pinch, the government could force the thing through anyway in one day.
Something which I find a little odd is that home educators do not seem at all interested in any other aspect of this bill. They are very keen to sabotage it if possible and I get the impression that hardly anybody is bothered whether or not the proposals contained in it will actually be good for children. I am thinking of the reform of the primary curriculum following Jim Rose's review, the new pupil parent guarantees, the reform of schools, annual parent satisfaction surveys, wider reporting of proceedings in family courts and so on. One gets the impression that some home educators think that this bill is all about home education, but this is of course nonsense; that takes up a tiny part. Yet these other measure are at least as important for most parents, even home educating parents. I say that because very few children never attend school at all. It is quite possible that if the education system changed a little, fewer parents would feel the need to deregister their kids. From that point of view, the CSF bill is of interest to all parents.