Predictably enough, the change to the 2006 Pupil Regulations, requiring schools to keep de-registered pupils on their roll for twenty days before deleting them, is generating a good deal of sound and fury among the usual crowd on the home educating lists and forums. It is hard to see what their objection to this move is, except as a matter of general principle on the grounds that Graham Badman first suggested it. As far as I can see, this will benefit those who are considering de-registering their children because of problems with the school. Let me give an example of what I mean.
On Tuesday I went with a mother whose child is at a special school, to have an interview with the Head. This woman has not been what I would describe as cooperative so far. When the mother said that she was thinking of removing her daughter from the school entirely and I made it clear that this would be followed up with letters to the local authority, her attitude changed and she began to address the problems more seriously. Some schools, allow pupils to be de-registered quietly and do not tell their local authority the circumstances. It is a black mark for schools in the eyes of local authorities if too many pupils are taken from the school to be educated at home, so some try to keep it quiet. This will not now be possible. The Z code on the register is currently used only for pupils who are registered at the school but not yet attending. If there was a sharp rise, once the Pupils Regulations have been amended, in the Z codes from certain schools, it would indicate something which needed to be investigated. If a pupil was withdrawn from the school, then it might push the Head into making one last-ditch attempt to solve the problems of which the parent had been complaining. It seems to me a positive move for those who currently take their kids out of school because of problems. The Head to whom I spoke on Tuesday launched into a general attack on the very idea of home education when the mother talked of taking her child from school. I only listened with half an ear as she rambled on. Parents can't match the resources of schools...can't take GCSEs,.... opportunities for socialisation....great deal of work... The fool! Did she not realise who she had in her office? None other than the well know author of Elective Home Education in the UK. It was one of those occasions when one feels minded to say, 'Do you know who I am?'
On one of the lists, somebody has asked why one of the recommendations from the Badman report has surfaced in this way without any announcement or consultation. I have no idea at all whether this was a rhetorical question, but the answer is very simple and straightforward. Not all the ideas contained in Graham Badman's review were sensible or practicable. The notion of a right of entry for local authority officers to people's homes was a non-starter, for example. Several of the main ideas; a system of registration, the need for a plan of education and so on, were generally seen to be good things; although not of course by many home educators themselves. I have a suspicion that we will see a few of these brought in over the next year or so, not with a great fanfare as part of a major new piece of legislation, but rather as minor amendments to existing laws such as the 1996 Education Act and so on.