In the situation that a child has never been to school in the first place, it has been the right of families in the UK to educate their children at home without having to inform anyone of their intentions. This seems just about right. We didn't have to inform anyone of our intention to conceive in the first place, and we managed the first four, often most difficult, educational years pretty much entirely alone, so why sudddenly should we automatically become answerable to an authority out there who routinely interferes without offering any perceivable benefit and often inflicts great harm?
But it seems that our freedom to educate our children without being known to the authorities really does look to be about to go by the by in the very near future. The DfES has re-confirmed in its latest ISA update that by the end of 2005 Local Education Authorities should have in place "rigorous arrangements" for ensuring that all eligible children are in full time education.
A company by the name of Liquidlogic, http://www.liquidlogic.co.uk/, whose website has suddenly become very difficult to access, has apparently launched a "cost effective" system for helping to find children within the LEA who may be living there but are unknown to the LEA and therefore have no school place. (Why it should be cost effective completely beats me, seeing as it is my money and I don't want it, but anyway...). The system relies on sharing demographic information from the Primary Care Trust, ie: our family doctors and any other agencies willing to assist, and comparing it using the Liquidlogic "Protocol ID Manager System" with children known to the LEA. Because most children are born with the assistance of the National Health Service, they are well placed to know of the existence of children."
Of course the question "is this proportionate?" springs to mind. Perhaps, just perhaps there are a number of children out there who are being tied naked to commodes for their entire lives, are being growled at and beaten by their parents, are not learning even basic language skills, are malnourished to the point of starvation.
On the other hand, the knowledge that we have been completely free of scrutiny by the authorities has undoubtedly allowed my family to grow and prosper in a way that really would have been extremely difficult had the LEA officials been breathing down our necks. We have been able to respect the unique learning needs of our children in a way that would have been almost impossible had the authorities been checking up on us, with their apparently iron laws about what constitutes age-appropriate learning.
The best that we can hope for now? I guess that if this all goes through, that what is left of our freedoms as they are currently enshrined in education law, are indeed respected. That we will remain free of interference from the authorities unless they have reasonable grounds to suspect that we are not offering an education that is appropriate for the age, ability and aptitude of the child; but I certainly shall, when they contact me as is their right in order to make a preliminary assessment, make the point that I am not happy that my details from my medical records have been bandied around like this, for what other information in my medical notes do they feel they have an absolute right to access? How may I ever trust my GP again?