I posted a few days ago about the way that those in favour of new legislation for home education were being accused of having blood on their hands. I now find that I too am in this category. On a blog called Dare to Know, some fool has put the following;
"Wednesday, March 17, 2010
To all supporters of Schedule 1
...of the CSF bill, Deech, Soley, Badman, Ed Balls, Simon Webb, whoever you may be. Be very aware that by forcing children, either because of some administrative error on the part of parents, or because an ignorant LA officer says so and without any chance to offer a defence in court, back into school, you will almost certainly have blood on your hands"
It is not, as readers of this blog will be aware, my habit to be insulting about others, but I cannot help saying that this ill-informed idiot should be set in the pillory and pelted with offal. I have never read such rubbish in my life. Let's examine her claims.
Firstly she says, 'without any chance to offer a defence in court'. This is sheer nonsense. The mechanism for compelling a child to attend school will remain precisely the same as it is now; the issuing of a School Attendance Order. If this is ignored, then the local authority will have to bring a prosecution to enforce it. This is as a result of the case of Bevan V Shears in 1911, a key case of binding precedent which should be familiar to all home educators. Lord Alverstone, in delivering his judgement said,
"In the absence of anything in the bye-laws providing that a child of a
given age shall receive instruction in given subjects, in my view it cannot be said that there is a standard of education by which the child must be taught. The court has to decide whether in their opinion the child is being taught efficiently so far as that particular child is concerned."
It is as a result of Lord Alverstone's judgement that schools and local authorities cannot just force a child to go to school. they must go through the courts. This will not change. Indeed, under the new law another layer of protection is added to the parent who does not wish her child to attend school. They will initially, before a School Attendance Order is even issued, be able to appeal against the refusal or revocation of registration as home educators. See,
" 19 G
Appeal against authority’s decision
Regulations made under this section shall—
confer a right of appeal on a parent to whom a local authority
in England have given notice under section 19B(5)(b) or (c) or
This is from Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill 2009.
As far as the suicide rate among young people aged between eleven and seventeen is concerned, the suggestion is made that this might rise as a result of the passage of this bill. I suppose that this is possible, although it would be very hard to make a direct causal link between the passing of an Act of Parliament and the subsequent suicide of a disturbed adolescent. According to the Office of National Statistics eleven young people a year kill themselves in this country. I suppose that another one or two might commit suicide if they were forced to go to school, but this would probably be countered by saving the lives of children who might kill themselves as a result of abuse suffered at the hands of their parents while being kept away from school. In other words, increasing regulation of home education would probably not increase the overall death rate among young people; simply alter the categories in which the deaths occurred. Actually, the numbers are so tiny that it is unlikely that any noticeable difference would be made. One can never reduce rates of suicide, homicide or abuse to zero.
The fact is that whatever we do or don't do, a certain number of children and young people will be murdered and abused. A small number will also commit suicide. If we tightened the regulations of home education or relaxed them, the overall death rate would be unlikely to change. (There is a booby prize waiting for the first person to either use the expression "Bullycide" or cite the figure of sixteen suicides a year caused by bullying).