Several things are becoming clear since the business about delaying the removal of a child's name from the register for twenty days after the parents announce their intention to home educate. First, as will be seen from Nick Gibb's letter below, this change will be coming in September, regardless of what protests are made. It is such a minor point and nobody except for a handful of the more militant home educating parents can see what all the fuss is about. Secondly, Graham Stuart has somehow been squared by the leadership of the Conservative party and is no longer a maverick MP ready and willing to fight alongside home educators for their supposed rights. This was predictable.
So what will Michael Gove and Nick Gibb's strategy be? I don't think that they are likely to make a big song and dance and try to push through a huge raft of changes to the law on home education, the way that Ed Balls did. Rather, I have an idea that they will take the most important proposals and try to slip them through 'salami' style. By this, I mean very thin slices at a time so that each one appears to be fairly uncontroversial and sensible. taken by itself. The twenty day business, for example, looks to most people like a fuss about nothing. I can understand, but do not agree with, those who oppose this change in the pupil registration regulations. Most non-home educating parents don't even see what the problem is. Compulsory registration would be a logical next step. Most home educating parents had more or less conceded this point, assuming that when ContactPoint came into full operation, it would mean de facto registration anyway. Like the twenty day rule, it is something that the vast majority of parents and professionals in this country would see as a sensible move to protect children. With Education Otherwise out of the political arena, there is nobody to coordinate opposition in any case. I don't think that they were that against registration anyway.
If the Coalition play their cards right and just stick these changes in at intervals, the chances are that no home educators will even notice them until they have almost become law. In this way, they will be able to put through most of the main recommendations of the Badman review without too much bother. I have heard that several Labour MPs are now ready to champion the cause of home education, falling over themselves to agree with parents that Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill was in retrospect a great mistake. They really are shameless!