The Badman report made a number of recommendations which if implemented as is proposed in the Children, Schools and Families bill (see below), would severely curtail the capacity of home educators to educate their children according to their age, ability and aptitude. It would also result in the unnecessary intrusion of the state into otherwise perfectly well-functioning families, and in the process would waste LA resources which would otherwise be more efficiently used in dealing with families who are known to have problems.
On October 9th 2009, the government provided a full response to the Badman recommendations which can be read in copiable form here.
On the 18th November 2009, the Children, Schools and Families Bill containing clauses on the registration and monitoring of home education, was announced in the Queen's Speech.
On the 11th January 2010, the second reading of the Children, Schools and Families Bill was passed but not without significant debate about the home education clauses. Hansard is here.
The Bill will now go on to the Committee stage which means that a Public Bill Committee is appointed. The Committee will look over the whole bill, which is a big task but they must be finished by February 4th, after which the bill will return to the Commons for the Third Reading.
After the third reading of the bill in the Commons, the bill progresses to the Lords.
Every time there is a vote, a government whip will be employed, which means the vast majority of MPs will vote according to the party line as we saw in the votes after the second reading debate.
When the Bill gets to the Lords, there is more talking. The amendments procedure in the Lords is different.
All the time, we are waiting for announcement of a general election around Easter at which point all parliamentary business stops and there is a frantic week or so of haggling over which parts of which bills will go through and which will be dropped.
At some point if the DCSF is on schedule, there should also be an announcement of an independent review of what is suitable education for home education. ( The select committee said they should have done this FIRST and should be an independent review with a government expert and a call for evidence and not a consultation).
What should you be doing about this?
*We should be reading up on the Children, Schools and Families Bill and ensuring that we understand the implications as much as we possibly can. You can track the progress of the Bill by subscribing to this update service. The EO Briefing on the CSF bill is here. The transcript for the second reading of the bill is instructive as it shows that many MPs have understood the problems with the bill.
*We must keep talking to our MPs about the Children, Schools and Families Bill, explaining the problems with the proposals. One argument against the proposals can be found here. See here for the importance of doing this. Previous letters to MPs on similar issues can be found here. and here and here.
*We must consider making written submissions to the Bill Committee. The news is that the Public Bill Committee will be sitting on 19th and 21st January. Submissions to the Committee can be made by sending an email to email@example.com, making it clear to which Bill it relates. Further details about submissions to Public Bill Committees here:
*Check to see that you MP has received and presented the Public Petition to parliament, as explained here. Once again, get a group of local HEors together and visit your MP to explain the problems with the proposals in the Children, Schools and Families Bill.
* Mark Field's Early Day Motion now has 61 signatories and a new one has been started by Oliver Letwin which also requires signatures. People should check to see if their MP has signed and if they haven't, contact them and ask them to do so.
*When the CSF bill has had its third reading in the Commons, lobby a Lord. Further details here. The Lords have no staff, so early lobbying tends to get forgotten before the time arrives when we can affect things. At the right time, write to a Lord. You could use this site, or follow the tips on how to manage snail mail here.
*We should be setting up blogs/webpages/anywhere publicly available, to report responses to the government's proposals.
*If you know your LA inspector/EWO, write to them about the implications to them of the changes. Some previous suggestions as to what you could say can be found here.
*Ask your child/teen to write to their MP and the Children's commissioner. Get them to explain how the proposals will impact upon them. Information here.
*Sign the petition here.
*Make a pledge to the Legal Fund here.
*Download and print off the "Home Educators are not Missing" postcards here. Hand them out to people you see and ask them to fill the card in and send it to their MPs.
*Forward press releases/letters to your local paper.
*Join the Facebook Group here
*Check out and contribute to the Wikiversity on the CSF bill here.