I was at a special school in Hackney yesterday, with a mother who is very unhappy about the class that her child has now been placed in. She told the head that she regarded the new class as little better than baby-sitting and that unless her daughter is moved, she will simply remove her from the school and keep her at home. One might have though that like other parents wishing to home educate, she had a perfect right to do so and simply needed to write a letter to de-register her child from the school. She does not have the right to do this at all. Children at special schools cannot be de-registered without the consent of the local authority. The legal basis for this is to be found in Regulation 8(2) of those same Education(Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 which I mentioned above. And guess what? There is absolutely nothing to stop the government tacking another bit onto the The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2010, which extends this principle to all schools. I have heard it suggested that the requirement of Regulation 8(2) is discriminatory against disabled children and actually breaches the law because of this. Bringing other schools into line with this requirement would simply remove the discrimination against disabled pupils. In other words, it would be possible to compel the parents of all schoolchildren to seek permission of the local authority before they were allowed to take their kids out of school. From there, it would only be another small step to ensure that permission could be made contingent upon the parents signing an agreement that they would work closely with the local authority and accept regular visits. No signing of the agreement; no permission to de-register.
In case readers think that this is some fantasy which I have dreamed up, I suggest that they familiarise themselves with the process by which existing legislation can be amended in this way. They might be in for a shock. Michael Gove certainly does not want a big confrontation with home educators of the sort that Ed Balls had, but nor is he apparently intending to leave the situation as it is. Any future changes are likely to be small tweaks in the law and existing regulations. Most will, like the twenty day rule, be slipped past home educating parents until it is too late to do anything about it.