There are more signs that something may be afoot at the DfE regarding home education. Members of the European Academy for Christian Homeschooling have been invited to meet civil servants at the Department for Education tomorrow, Wednesday 29th September. These are the people who distribute the Accelerated Christian Education or ACE material in this country. For those who are unfamiliar with this, ACE is a highly structured curriculum which is used by some Christian schools and also by many home educators. Everything is related to scriptural teaching, even science. Here is the email which they have sent to home educators using the ACE stuff;
'We are having a meeting at the Department of Education at their request with significant civil servants next week on the subject of home education.
If you have reports from your local education authority advisers or inspectors which you would be willing to make available to us to give to the Department of Education if they ask us could you send us copies? Scanned versions and email might be the only way we could do this at this stage. But if you are able to help we would be grateful to receive this.'
The obvious implication of this meeting is that the civil servants want to see how parents using a highly structured curriculum are getting on during monitoring visits from their local authority. The question is, why? I have, in my usual nosy fashion, emailed the ACE people and asked them what is going on, but have not yet received an answer. Some other home educating parents are now becoming anxious that this is a sign that the Department for Education is scheming to implement that part of the Badman review which recommended that parents be required to provide their local authority each year with a plan of the education which they would be providing for their children over the next twelve months. There was great opposition to this from some parents. The rumour is that Penny Jones, who is still active in the DfE is overseeing this invitation and that other structured home educating groups may also have been invited to meet with civil servants.
I think that what is making some people uneasy about this is the possibility that the DfE will get broad agreement from some groups about the advantages of having a curriculum for home educators and then present this as evidence of having with consulted home educators about this question. This would legitimise the introduction of a requirement such as that suggested by Graham Badman of a statement of educational intent. I have to say at once that I have no idea at all if this is what is happening; only that some people are worrying that this is what might be going on.
I have remarked before that Michael Gove has already talked in terms of things changing and that even Graham Stuart has said of the situation currently around home education, ' Just leaving it isn't an option'. The clear implication from all these developments is that something will be announced by the DfE about home education in the near future. What it will be is anybody's guess, but there is definitely something going on. I am very much afraid that recent cases, such as the alleged murder of the three home educated children in Edinburgh recently, have precipitated a bit of a knee jerk response from the DfE. This may not work to the advantage of home educators. Just as laws rushed in to deal with dangerous dogs and ownership of firearms are usually bad laws and impossible to enforce, so too it might prove the case if any laws are made about home education in response to a few shocking and atypical cases.