It really is happening. The nightmare is only just ahead of us, for not only are Home Educators now very unlikely to escape the initial attentions of the state, (as a result of the Children's Database) but it may well be that we shall have to dance precisely to their tune. From the following, it really looks as we may have to say "bye bye" to any hopes of personalised learning unless we jump to it and make it very plain just how much resistance the DfES initiative will meet.
From Adrian Thompson of the Public Communications Unit of the Department for Education and Skills:
"There is no specific duty in statute on local authorities (LAs) to monitor parents' education provision. However, it is our view that case law (Philips vs Brown 1980) places such a duty on LAs. Only s7 of the Education Act 1996, not s351, applies to home educated children, and legislation does not define 'suitability' of education. However, a suitable education has been defined in case law as one which "primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child's options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so."
The state cannot currently prescribe what form of education parents should provide, whilst all maintained and independent school provision is prescribed in legislation and subject to inspection. This anomaly is at odds with Every Child Matters reforms, supported by the Children Act 2004, which set out the Government's aim to improve educational outcomes for all children, regardless of where they are educated, and to narrow the gap between those who are doing well and those who are not. Whilst s437 of the Education Act 1996 provides a remedy for LAs which have concerns that there may be no suitable provision, this is unwieldy, time consuming and expensive and in some cases will be nugatory where home educators are making good provision but are resistant to LA enquiries.
We note your comments and re-iterate that the intention of a full consultation is to open up a constructive debate on whether or not changes are required, and if so what they might be. Can I suggest that you gather together your thoughts on home education monitoring, and any other aspects of home education, and submit these in due course as part of our future consultation. We will add you to our consultation email list so that you will be aware of the consultation when it starts.
Yours sincerely Adrian Thompson. Public Communications Unit.
If you have any further queries why not browse our Popular Questions Website."
Home Educators everywhere who value being able to offer personalised learning to their children and who hold out any hope of a private family life must get writing to the DfES at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is my missive:
Dear Mr Thompson,
I understand that there are plans afoot to consider changes to the way that Home Educators are monitored by their Local Authorities.
I would be very interested in hearing more about this initiative and any forthcoming consultations on this subject.
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Thanks to Jax for pointing out that you can sign up to be kept informed about DfES consultations at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/.