**MEDIA INFORMATION FROM ACTION FOR HOME EDUCATION (AHEd)
For immediate release, Friday 2nd February 2007
AHEd formal complaint: Government department ignores their own guidance. (Families threatened by DfES ignoring the Code of Practice on Consultations set out by the Cabinet Office.)
The recently launched national home education action group AHEd (1) has sent a formal complaint to the Cabinet Office following complaints by its members that the DfES has failed to consult adequately with relevant stakeholders in consultations and policy proposals relating to home education. (2)
Barbara Stark, Chair of AHEd, commented:
"Home educating families are being effectively marginalised by the DfES in what we believe to be a deliberate attempt to bypass proper public consultation on new policy proposals which will affect our members directly. We have discovered that the DfES is introducing bias into the process by using skewed research findings, and we are dismayed and disappointed that
representations by experienced home educators, whose lives may be crucially affected by this exercise, have been sidelined or completely ignored.
"We have been very patient during two years of exclusion, but enough is enough. We feel directly threatened by the prospect of a state sponsored attack on the fundamental right of parents to choose the type of education most suitable for their children and will vigorously resist attempts to impose a state inspectorate of families to dictate the how and what of
educational provision for our children regardless of the individual needs of each child.
"Once again, in the pursuit of the Every Child Matter agenda, the government is forgetting that each child is an individual with individual needs. Home educators are the experts in listening to their own children and meeting their own children's individual needs, and they quite rightly refuse to be marginalised in matters that are of fundamental importance to them. We
demand the right to be heard in any consultation which affects our children's lives and trust that the Cabinet Office will give due consideration to our formal complaint."
AHEd contends that current proposals by the DfES are a matter of serious concern for all parents and children and believes that the state must not be allowed to remove flexibility and individual choice in the education of children or further erode the right of parents to make appropriate decisions in the best interests of their children.
AHEd members are angry that the DfES has completely disregarded the Code of Practice on Consultations set out by the Cabinet Office (3) and has conveniently chosen to consult with selected local authorities who have already demonstrated hostility towards elective home education and who are seeking new and invasive powers which home educating families believe will be harmful to their children. Since the current legal framework will not support the new 'big brother' regime that is being demanded by some local authorities, they are pressing for legislative changes, which AHEd has described as "anti-children, anti-democratic and highly likely to be abused".
Ms Stark concluded: "The current consultation exercise is fundamentally flawed due to the failure of the DfES to follow proper procedures and we believe it should be abandoned forthwith. As the primary stakeholders in any discussions relating to home education, we demand that the DfES include our expert voices in any consultation that affects us. Nothing less will do."
For further information, contact Barbara Stark at firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
(1) See www.ahed.org.uk