Saturday, 29 September 2012
Why everything in the home education garden is lovely…
I am not a great fan of the schools in this country. I think that there is a lot wrong with them and there is plenty of scope for improvement. Come to think of it, the same is true of hospitals, policing, the administration of local authorities, the government in Westminster and the European Union. The regulations and laws governing all the things which I mention above could do with overhauling; either by tightening up, relaxing, scrapping or bringing in a raft of new legislation. This is the case with practically any human enterprise of which one might think; there is always room for improvement. Well, with one notable exception of course; that exception being the law relating to home education. According to many home educators, this is absolutely perfect and any sort of change would inevitably cause harm to vulnerable children. Although the legal situation surrounding home education in England and Wales has arisen in a haphazard and piecemeal fashion, by happy chance it is the best arrangement that could possibly have been devised by human ingenuity.
When one looks at the awful jumble of the 1996 Education Act, as amended by sections 436A and 437, the 2004 Children Act, the Education (Pupil registration)(England) Regulations 2006 and all the case law from Bevan and Shears 1911 onward; one realises what a mess the law relating to home education in this country is. No wonder there is confusion about the various responsibilities of local authorities and their role, the rights of children and a host of other things. The situation is a nightmare. Never the less, whenever any attempt is made to tidy up this tangle, even by something as minor as a slight change in the pupil registrations regulations, there is an outcry from the more militant home educators. The battle cry is always the same, that the law is fine as it is and any change would be for the worse. Nobody, either parents, local authorities or central government really believes this. Indeed, it would be remarkable if this were to be the case, that all these various statutes and the case law interpreting them should miraculously have given rise to the best possible arrangement for the benefit of children being educated at home by their parents.
In the next week or so, I shall be exploring the motives of both home educators and local authorities and seeing if it is possible to work out what people really want; as opposed to what they are claiming in public. This is a fascinating topic and one which is, I am sure, dear to the hearts of many readers.