As readers are probably aware, there was at the end of last year some controversy about the drafting of new guidelines for local authorities, explaining the legal position of home education and advising how to handle home education in their area. It is worth reminding ourselves that this new, supposed consultation was restricted in membership to a tiny group of individuals, only one of whom would admit to being involved at all. I thought it might be a good idea to see how open the process was for the existing guidelines, so that we may contrast the situation then and now. Here is an account of the public consultation which led to the framing of the 2007 guidelines;
It will be seen that over six hundred home educating parents were involved in this; by far the biggest group. Every home educating parent in the country had the opportunity to contribute their views on this matter directly to the relevant government department. Now observe this brief statement from the Department for Education website;
Note that the guidelines are to be reviewed. By whom? Will there be an open consultation, as before, to which all stakeholders may contribute? Or will the consultation be limited to a tiny number of self-chosen experts and Home Education Consultants? It is an interesting point. Who is doing this reviewing of which the DfE speaks and when is it to be done? One observes that this note about the review appeared on the website at the same time that consultation on the new twenty day rule closed. Is this a coincidence?
I have, as is widely known, no particular objection to new regulations or even new legislation about home education. However, I am disturbed at the hole-and-corner way that these changes are now being effected. It is looking suspiciously as though things are being done on the quiet, without involving ordinary home educators themselves. There was a good deal of criticism of the last administration because of the way that they tried to change the law on home education. At least though, they did the thing publicly, with open consultations to which we could all respond. From the 2007 Guidelines to the Badman report and the select committee; anybody could submit evidence and take part, attempting to influence the outcome of any proposed changes. This is not happening this time and I find this a little alarming. It is time that those home educators who have taken part in the framing of new guidelines spoke out publicly and told us what they have been up to.