2. Conduct of the Review
2.1 The terms of reference stated the scope of the review was to be limited to practice in England.
2.2 The review was conducted by means of structured interview with a range of stakeholders including home educating parents and children, visits to local authorities and home education groups, a public call for evidence and a questionnaire to all top tier local authorities in England.
Over two thousand responses to the call for evidence were received, more than three quarters of which were from home educating parents or children. Ninety responses to the local authority questionnaire were received, which equates to a 60% response rate.
2.3 The review was further informed by a literature review and consideration of practice and legislation in other countries.
A list of the organisations and local authorities I consulted and from whom I took evidence is at Annex B. A copy of the questionnaire used in the public call for evidence is at Annex C. A copy ofthe questionnaire to local authorities is at Annex D.
3.1 As my introductory comments make clear, I am not persuaded that under the current regulatory regime (4) that there is a correct balance between the rights of parents and the rights of the child either to an appropriate education or to be safe from harm. That being said I am not in anyway arguing that elective home education is intrinsically wrong or that within the elective home education community there is not exemplary practice. Indeed, there is a strong argument to commission further research to better inform understanding of “personalisation” as an element of student progression and achievement. I shall return to this issue later.
3.2 The question is simply a matter of balance and securing the right regulatory regime within a framework of legislation that protects the rights of all children, even if in transaction such regulation is only necessary to protect a minority.
3.3 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) gives children and young people over forty substantive rights which include the right to express their views freely, the right to be heard in any legal or administrative matters that affect them and the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. Article 12 makes clear the responsibility of signatories to give children a voice:
“Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”
Yet under the current legislation and guidance, local authorities have no right of access to the child to determine or ascertain such views.
3.4 Furthermore Article 28 of the UNCRC recognises the right of the child to an education. Education is compulsory in England and it can be provided at school “or otherwise” (5) . The responsibility for the provision of a child’s education rests with their parents who also have a duty to ensure that any education provided is “efficient”, “full time” and ”suitable”. This is set out in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 which provides that:
(4) The current legislative and regulatory framework is outlined at Annex E.
(5) Section 7 Education Act 1996 3. Current Legislation and Regulation