Wednesday, July 15, 2009

HEAS Press Release

ED BALLS' UNDECLARED HALF BILLION POUND BILL FOR HOME EDUCATION

Fast-track review of home education could cost the taxpayer £500 million per annum according to research for the Home Education Advisory Service

HEAS calls for Government re-think and proper dialogue with the home education community to avoid unnecessary burden on the exchequer.

At a time when most independent bodies forecast that state spending will need to be slashed, the Government is planning to make radical changes to home education that could cost it as much as £500m in new spending annually, according to research for the Home Education Advisory Service.

Alarmingly the government appears determined to push ahead without any appreciation of these cost implications. Baroness Morgan of Drefelin (Parliamentary Under-Secretary- Department for Children, Schools and Families) said of the proposals: "We do not expect them to place any significant additional burdens on local authorities".

Yet research for the Home Education Advisory Service has quantified major costs arising from Government proposals for a new monitoring and assessment regime for home educated children, including provision of additional services and the inevitable rise in the number of state educated children as the home education population falls in response to the proposals. The HEAS estimates a cost impact of £120-£300m pa. But a worse case scenario sees the state education bill rising by half a billion pounds on an annualised basis.

Michael Crawshaw, who led the research for HEAS, said: "There are tens of thousands of home educated children in Britain. Independent studies suggest that they achieve emotional and educational outcomes at least as good as those of children who attend school with a neutral or positive impact on career progression. These outcomes cost the taxpayer nothing. Home educating parents do this demanding job entirely at their own expense and without any
input from the state education system."

Yet now, after a hasty and questionably 'independent' review, the government plans to pull home education under the state umbrella. New spending will come from three sources:

ΔΎ First, a requirement that local education authorities construct a new layer of administration to register, assess and monitor home education. Baroness Morgan's belief that the LEAs already have the people and systems to do this suggests she has not understood the new requirements outlined in the proposals.

Second, the local authorities will also be instructed to pay for some exams and open up school facilities to home educated children; facilities that are already at full stretch. While this aspect of the proposals would be welcomed by home educators it amounts to just 8% of the new spending.

Finally there will be a rise in the state education population as anumber of home educated children are forced into schools.

The research suggests a minimum £60-150m pa increase in state education spending. A central estimate sees a £120-300m pa increase in the state education budget. The report's 'extinction' scenario sees spending rise by over £500m pa if the proposals, which have outraged many home educators, push a vibrant alternative educational approach to the brink. Home Education
in Britain could almost disappear, forcing up to fifty thousand new children into state education at a cost to the state of £500m pa.

Michael Crawshaw added: "Why is the government doing this? They say it is to improve educational outcomes and provide a safety net for home educated children. Critics say the proposals are a waste of time and money. They are more likely to harm than improve educational outcomes for home educated children."

HEAS is calling for the Government to think again and engage in proper dialogue with the home education sector before embarking on a programme that will place significant burden on the exchequer for no good reason.

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For further information or a copy of the full report please contact Michael
Crawshaw (Tel 07768 177634 or email michaelcrawshaw@btinternet.com) or Cathy
Koetsier of HEAS on cathy@heas.org.uk.

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