Friday, February 23, 2007

If We are Not an Anomaly, What is the Problem?

Home educators who wrote to Jim Knight, MP, Minister for Schools, objecting to the implication that home education is an anomaly, as happened in a letter from Lord Adonis:

"The state does not currently prescribe what form of education parents should provide, whilst all maintained and independent school provision is prescribed in legislation and subject to inspection. This anomaly is at odds with Every Child Matters reforms, supported by the Children Act 2004, which set out the Government's aim to improve educational outcomes for all children, regardless of where they are educated, and to narrow the gap between those who are doing well and those who are not.")

have been getting a fairly standard response from his office, along the lines of the following:

"Dear _______,

Thank you for your email of xx February, addressed to Jim Knight, enclosing a postcard from AHED, about elective home education. I have been asked to reply.

In 2005 the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) undertook a targeted consultation on draft local authority (LA) guidelines. This included a selection of LAs, as well as the home education support organisations which we were aware of, as this seemed the most effective way of reaching the home educating community. The responses to this consultation included concerns about the lack of LA access to the child, the general difficulty in assessing children's progress and children's view on their education being heard.

The DfES has never said that home educators are an anomaly. As you know, it is every parent?s right to choose this form of education for their children. The issue that the 2005 consultation highlighted is that the Government is less able to ensure improved outcomes for home educated children (in line with the Every Child Matters agenda) compared to children in maintained and
independent schools.

However, no decisions have as yet been taken with regard to the contents of the subsequent proposed consultation on elective home education or when it is due to commence.

Please be assured that the consultation will be a full one, open to all stakeholders and conducted via the Department's consultation website. We hope this will ensure that the documents are accessible to as many people as possible and we are currently compiling a list of home educators who have expressed an interest in being involved in the consultation.

The aim of the consultation is to open up a constructive debate on whether or not changes are required, and if so, what they might be.

Please be assured that I have added your details to our list so that you will be alerted when the consultation starts and afforded the opportunity to feed your views and concerns into the consultation process.

Following consultation, if changes to legislation were to be introduced, they would of course, be subject to the full parliamentary process. "

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