Graham Stuart commented on here yesterday, claiming that the select committee, of which he was a member, had opposed compulsory registration. What a shameless rascal he is! He said;
" The select committee disagreed with both you and the government by saying that any registration system should be voluntary. I believe that if a voluntary system backed by proper support for HE parents and children was put in place no government would decide to make it compulsory."
Perhaps it is time to nail a few myths about the recommendations made by the select committee, of which this is one. I really am a little surprised that an MP who was actually on the committee should try to peddle this line! Let's see what the select committee actually recommended about such things as compulsory registration, monitoring and so forth. We shall begin with registration. The committee said;
"In our view it is unacceptable that local authorities do not know accurately how many children of school age in their area are in school, are being home educated or are otherwise not in school"
So far, so good. They went on to suggest that initially registration should be voluntary. Of course, we already have such a voluntary system; anybody can register with their local authority if they wish. Many parents choose not to do so. Regarding this, the select committee said;
"The success of a system of voluntary registration..... should be reviewed after two years. If it is found not to have met expectations- in terms of assisting local authorities in identifying and working with the families of children who are being home educated and those of children otherwise than in school- we believe that a system of compulsory registration should be introduced."
All perfectly clear? You have two years to volunteer to be registered and then, unless all home educators have signed up, it becomes compulsory. How Graham Stuart can have the cheek to tout this as a voluntary system of registration is utterly beyond me. What about compulsory annual inspections by the local authority? Surely, the select committee decided against them? Well, no. They said of home educating families;
"We believe that local authorities need a guaranteed means of engaging with these families."
I like this! Not that the local authorities want to engage, they need to. And the means has to be "guaranteed". The committee went on to recommend;
"Accordingly we recommend that home educating families be required to meet with their local authority officer within three months of the child's home education commencing and thereafter on an annual basis."
Hands up anybody who can tell the difference between this and Graham Badman's recommendation? What the select committee actually did was to take Graham Badman's recommendations, tweak them a little and then embed them in a load of waffle and pretend that they were courageously sticking up for home educating parents. But surely they were sympathetic to the concerns of autonomous educators? Well, let's see what they said;
"The specification of "suitable" education must enable local authority officers to tackle situations where the child has no prospect of gaining basic literacy and numeracy skills efficiently or where there is no breadth to their education."
Or, even better, how about this;
"We recommend that at the point of registration families should need only set out their reasons for choosing to home educate and to outline in broad terms how the education would initially be provided."
After three months, the family should;
"Be required to submit a statement on an annual basis, which includes a brief record of the child's achievement and progress"
I do hope that all the autonomous educators who believe that Graham Stuart is on their side are reading this. Local authority officers "tackling" situations where there isn't a broad enough education. I wonder how they will do that? Or what about those not gaining literacy skills "efficiently"? I am guessing here that the select committee thinks that reading and writing should be taught, rather than just being acquired autonomously. I'm not sure what else they could have meant by "gaining literacy skills efficiently". I am really puzzled as to why anybody should think that the select committee was any more favourably disposed to autonomous home education than Graham Badman. Stripped of the verbiage, their recommendations are almost identical.