...on the outcome of the home education review:
"Sources close to the review have confirmed that its author, the former director of children's services at Kent county council, Graham Badman, is looking "favourably" at proposals that would require parents to register their children with their council when they are born or when they move to a different local authority."
"The review, which is due to be published in the next week, is also expected to recommend new guidelines on minimum standards for educating children at home. This would clarify the circumstances under which a local authority can order a child back into school, if it believed the provision at home was not up to scratch."
"Campaigners claim the move would fundamentally undermine the responsibility that lies with parents to ensure their child is receiving a good education, and allow the state an unprecedented intrusion into family life."
Yep, that's probably right. The whole caboodle (registration and state-imposed minimum standards of education) will almost certainly mean that social services will insist upon sight of the child, which in turn will mean that the child and the rest of the family will be assessed for this, that and the other.
Since home education for many families is integral to the whole of their private as well as public lives, the state will now have access to and power over the most intimate parts of their existence.
Of course, loss of privacy isn't the only problem. Should the government go ahead with setting a minimum standard of education, it will have to accept that by so-doing, it is implicitly determining the nature of education. It doesn't matter that it is only a minimum standard. It is still a standard, and a government determined one at that. By setting a minimum standard, the nature of the rest of a child's education over and above that standard will to a large extent be limited by that minimum and will effectively mean that the state determines the nature of education of children in this country.
This, of course, would represent a monumental constitutional shift since parents would no longer be responsible for determining the nature of the education that their children receive and they could not therefore be held accountable when it fails. Instead the state would now have to stand up and take the rap and there is good reason to believe that home educators will hold the state to account should a child not receive a suitable education, since there is much talk on some home educating lists of setting up a fund to provide for costs of court cases.
Iris Harrison may have lost her case in the early 80s, but that was way back when parents were still deemed responsible for the education of their children. The cases we now envisage will involve parents holding the state to account for failure to provide a suitable education.
Further in the article:
"Jacqui Newvell, a principal officer of the children's charity the National Children's Bureau (NCB), which took part in the review, said: "We need to put children's interests at the heart of this and embed a children's rights agenda instead of a parents' rights agenda. This is a very, very sensitive issue, We know a lot of home educators are doing a great job but our concern is the minority who slip thought the net."
OK, so let's look at children's rights,. shall we?
From the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:
1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the rights 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."
So if the home educated child answers the door to the social worker and co. and proceeds to tell them in no uncertain terms that their presence is not desired by the child, that the child considers that it is disruptive to him/her and the family, that he will derive nothing of benefit from it and that such a visit is therefore not in his best interests, what will that state official do then, pray tell?
When polled, some 77% of home educated children said they didn't want to see a state official in this capacity, so the above scenario does actually seem perfectly plausible.