As our politicians rake through the wreckage of the recent election, looking for something to salvage from the shambles, there is excellent news for those parents who believe that government should not concern itself overmuch with home education. We may be in the middle of a constitutional crisis, but there is one very bright spot for such people; the chances of new legislation on home education are becoming vanishingly small.
Picture the scene for the leaders of the three main parties. Here you are, trying to piece together an administration, perhaps the first formal coalition since World War II. So many important things to worry about! So much to do! Here are a few of the problems facing you; immigration, the financial deficit, Europe, Trident, the war in Afghanistan, electoral reform, MPs' expenses, the possibility that fewer than 50% of children educated at home gain five GCSEs at grades A*-C and the consequent effect on their future earnings. Where to start? So many difficulties and you're going to have to fight each one through the commons in order to get a consensus.
Obviously, different politicians will have different priorities; one will be more concerned with immigration, another with the economy. I think it a fair guess though that few of them are likely to be putting the monitoring of home education up at the top of the list next to the war in Afghanistan. The chances are that all this deal making will be occupying everybody for some considerable time. There will probably be another election later this year, for which the campaigning will begin almost as soon as the next Prime Minister is installed in Downing Street. I really can't think that anybody is going to be giving any thought at all to changing the law on home education for the time being. There are simply more important things to consider.
The danger for home educators is always going to be during quiet periods in political life, when people are sitting about idly, making chains out of paper clips and asking themselves, 'What can I meddle with next?' Anybody in the Department for Children, Schools and Families who is at a loose end in the near future though, might be better engaged in asking themselves why a fifth of school leavers can neither read nor carry out any but the simplest arithmetical operations. The recent research on this from Sheffield University makes horrifying reading.
So at least for the next year or two, there is probably nothing to worry about for those parents who are determined to remain fanatically secretive about their children's lifestyle and academic achievement. The only threat to this somewhat eccentric way of life is likely to come from various local authorities, some of whom are evidently behaving as though the CSF Bill was actually passed in its entirety. I rather think that it will be some while before central government gets round to examining this issue again, unless of course too many cases of home educated children being abused or murdered by their parents crop up in the national press.