PARENTS and their children will be attending a mass lobby of Parliament next week to protest about planned changes to the law on home education that will strip them of their rights and intrude into family life.
Nearly 200 adult supporters have confirmed with the organisers that they will be attending the rally on Tuesday 13 October, bringing with them 190 children. Many of them have firm appointments to see their MPs.
The mass lobby has been organised in the wake of a Government review into home education.
Graham Badman, former Director of Education at Kent County Council who carried out the study, recommended that local councils should have the right to enter family homes and question children alone.
He also said that parents who home educate should be forced to register every year and gave local authorities carte blanche to refuse registration.
The Review of Elective Home Education in England was accepted in full by the Government, which wants to change the law as soon as possible.
It intends to use its Improving Schools and Safeguarding Bill to introduce home education registration and monitoring legislation as early as next month.
The Badman report and the Government’s eagerness to accept it has brought an angry response from home educators.
Mass lobby organiser Claire Blades, 45, from Aylesbury, said: “No longer are parents being trusted to make decisions about their own children.
“First we had the news that 11.3 million people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - close to one in four of the adult population – would have to have Criminal Record Bureau checks.
“Then we had the case of the two policewomen who were accused of illegal childminding because they took care of each other’s children on their days off.
“Now parents who home educate are to be forced to undergo intrusive monitoring in their own homes because they are not trusted with their own children.
“By ignoring the onward march of legislation that intrudes into family life, we are allowing ourselves to sleepwalk into a nightmare. It is time to wake up and call a halt to the ever-growing band of officials who think they know what is best for our children and our families.”
Home educators claim that the Badman report, published in June, is inaccurate and shows little understanding of the home educating community.
So many home educators complained that the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee ordered a short inquiry into the report.
There were more than 200 written submissions to that inquiry and home educators are awaiting notification of when the Select Committee hearing will be.
Mrs Blades said: “Mr Badman claimed that the ratio of home-educated children who were “known to social care” was twice that of the population at large.
“It turns out that that vague statistic came from a small sample of 25 local authorities.
“The group, Action for Home Education, has carried out its own research using Freedom of Information requests to all local education authorities in England and the picture painted is quite the reverse.
“Interestingly, even Mr Badman has come to realise that his statistics are flawed.
“On 17 September 2009, he wrote to all local authority Directors of Children’s Services to say: ‘I would like to strengthen my statistical evidence in advance of the Select Committee hearing so that it is more extensive and statistically robust.’
“He practically begged the Directors of Children’s Services to help him ‘make the strongest possible case to the Select Committee’.”
“The picture painted of home education in the Badman report is unrecognisable to the thousands of families in this country who exercise their legal right to educate their children without sending them to school.
“It is unrecognisable to the thousands of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who share the lives of home educated children. It is unrecognisable to the children themselves.
“The mass lobby is an opportunity for us to show our MPs what home education is really about and to bring important issues like inaccuracies and bias in the Badman report to their attention.”