June 17th, 2010
Ofsted Home Education Report Seriously Flawed Says Graham Stuart MP
Graham Stuart MP, who last week was elected to take the Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, today condemned Ofsted’s report on home education, “Local Authorities and Home Education” as “an unpleasant hangover of the last government: a manifesto for more state power at the expense of dedicated home educators and their children”.
Mr Stuart went on, “It is astonishing that the Chief Inspector of Schools should stray onto home education and get it so wrong. In Ofsted’s official press release she says that “it is extremely challenging for local authorities to meet their statutory duty to ensure children have a suitable education”, when they have no such duty. Parents, not the state, have the statutory duty to ensure that their children have a suitable education.
“I find it deeply concerning that, after months of work, the Chief Inspector should make such a basic mistake and so utterly confuse the duties of local authorities and parents. Parents who home educate deserve our respect and awe at their dedication and achievements, not the relentless suspicion of an over mighty state.”
Under section 436A of the Education Act 1996, inserted by the Education and Inspections Act 2006, local authorities have a duty to identify children who are not receiving a suitable education in their area, so far as it is practical to do so. As the 2007 Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities make clear, however, ‘local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis’ and are only required to intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education.
Mr Stuart went on, “As local authorities do not have the power to demand access to home educated children and cannot insist on parents registering with them, the obvious and correct answer is for local authorities to improve their support for families so that more families make contact with them voluntarily. If they did this and made sure that they employed sympathetic staff who built good reputations, then the number of “unknown” children would be reduced. Such a positive approach would respect the primacy of parents in determining the education of their children and put the onus on local authorities to serve and support, rather than catalogue and monitor, families who home educate.
“Ofsted’s report has little to say about improving local authority support for home educated children and says only that the Department of Education should “consider” funding an entitlement for home-educated children to take public examinations. Ofsted’s report is seriously flawed and damaging to the confidence of home educating parents who had hoped that the relentless disinformation and bullying of the previous regime was over.”
It's covered here in CYPNow.