I suspect that some of those home educating parents who were playing kiss-in-the-ring with the Tories over the Badman Review and the attempt to block the CSF Bill, must be kicking themselves now! It is becoming quite clear that the Conservatives plan something for home education as soon as they are able to form a government. Here is what Nick Gibbs, Conservative Spokesman for Schools says;
"It is important that the need for monitoring does not become a barrier for parents who wish to home educate their children, nor should it damage the important working relationship that home educators have with their local authorities."
Note the reference to the, "need for monitoring". Surely that was the one thing that many home educating parents believed was not needed? It is, I think, fair to assume that this means that the Conservatives plan to introduce legislation of their own in this field. Nick Gibbs, by the way, does not seem very well informed about home education. He says;
" I hope that the hostility between local authorities and home educators, which the Government created with the publication of the Badman report..."
I wonder if he really believes this? Does he not know of the hostility which existed before Graham Badman had even been heard of by most people? He also says;
"We do believe that there is a need for greater support for home-educating families"
What does this mean? The sort of support that Graham Badman was keen to offer? I don't think that home education is going to be forgotten by whoever wins the election today. There are rumours that a number of cases involving home education are gradually moving towards the courts. The recent trial in Plymouth has, of course, been completely ignored by home educators.
There is something of a tradition of opposition parties helping to scupper government legislation and then bringing in pretty much identical measures once they have their feet under the table in Downing Street. Anybody here old enough to remember Barbara Castle's In Place of Strife White paper, the one which was to crack down on trade unions and strikes? the Tories under Heath fought it tooth and nail. As soon as the 1970 election had been won, they passed the Industrial relations Act 1971, which was practically identical. I would not be particularly surprised to see the same thing happen with the Children, Schools and Families Bill.