I remarked in earlier post that those enlisted by home educators to support their cause in Parliament all seem to be saying that new legislation is inevitable. During the Second Reading of the Children, Schools and Families Bill this week, Lord Lucas said this quite clearly and unambiguously ;
"I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Soley, that legislation in this area is inevitable,"
Graham Stuart MP, another supporter, is of the same mind. He has told home educators that change in the law is coming. What is also very encouraging is that many of the more militant home educators, what one might not inaptly term the rejectionist wing of autonomous education, are now starting to accept this. Take the issue of registration, for example. Six months ago, every single person on the lists seemed to be bitterly opposed to the idea of compulsory registration. During the select committee hearing Zena Hodges, Jane Lowe and Carole Rutherford were firmly against the idea. (Fiona Nicholson of Education Otherwise provided much innocent entertainment of course, by being unable to decide whether she was for or against compusory registration.) Ultimately, the select committee went along with Fiona's view, recommending that compulsory registration both should and should not be introduced. They favoured voluntary registration for two years and then the imposition of compulsory registration for anybody who hadn't signed up voluntarily!
Now I have recently noticed a number of diehard autonomous educators tacitly conceding not only that registration is coming, but also admitting that it might be a good thing. This view has been cropping up on the HE lists, but also I have had dealings in the last week or so with a couple of the more well known campaigners, whose names are always appearing on the subject of home education. Both mentioned unprompted that they thought that registration was not such a bad idea after all.
Of course, this volte-face is not being presented as a change of heart. It is being casually alluded to as if that has always been the accepted viewpoint. It reminds me very much of 1984, where once the war was no longer against Eurasia, but East Asia, everybody simply pretended that that had always been the case. That's fine by me; at least it shows that people are becoming a little more realistic about the business. The question now, is what else will autonomous home educators be prepared to compromise over? Both they and their supporters seem to be coming round to the point of view that a change in the law is coming and many have evidently come to the conclusion that they can live with a scheme of compulsory registration.
I am guessing that most parents would be prepared to meet with local authorities, although not necessarily in their homes. Maybe Family Centres would be good places for such meetings. I doubt that most such meetings will result in a request to see the child alone, but those that did could also be held in either Family Centres or perhaps somewhere like some of the places where I have worked, where there is a two way mirror for observation. That way, parents could watch and listen to the whole interview. If such meetings were recorded, then there would be no danger of the person conducting the interview popping out ten minutes later and announcing, "Johnny says he hates being educated at home and wants to go to school!"
I suspect that many home educating parents are now thinking along more realistic lines and that we shall see more coming out in the coming months and dropping into posts various measures that they might feel that they can live with. It is all very heartening and suggests that maybe with a little good will, the various parties might manage to thrash out some system that all would be reasonably happy with.