One way or another, it is can be extremely hard for home educators to find the time and energy to respond to the Department for Education's Call for Evidence. For starters, the consultation is taking place at a busy time of year for many HEors, what with exam season, getting ready for college, holidays and all the normal demands of home educating in a difficult financial climate.
There is also the sheer bulk of it all. The Call for Evidence has 44 questions most of which require a considerable amount of knowledge in order to form a well argued response. HEors need to know about not only Lord Soley's Bill and two sets of guidance, one for LAs and one for parents, but also about other bits of law, such as safeguarding law and the Localism Act 2011.
Then there's the fact that so much of new stuff is so opaque. It is very easy to skim read the new draft guidance documents and think "Hey ho, the law's the same, what can be so bad?" Home educators may also be tempted to think that since their educational provision has already been inspected by their LAs without any dire consequences, that it is unlikely that things could get significantly worse.
The thing is, the problems in the draft guidance aren't obvious and you really have to get stuck in to reading the small print in order to see some of the most significant differences from previous guidance since these are hidden away in subtle rewording or in the reference section which you need to pursue with google in order to find out the implications of it all. (See also these posts for some more of the problems and implications of the draft guidance).
Then there's the potentially demotivating fact, as argued in this petition here, that the guidance documents were written without the consultation of HEors, and are already so skewed in favour of LAs, that the whole exercise feels like a fait accompli. It's easy to think that whatever we say, the DfE will go ahead anyway.
Worse still, there's such a short space of time in which to do it all! We have to respond to the consultation before July 2nd? Really? Given that home educators have a reputation for being a rambuctious lot, there is a reasonable chance that the DfE quite deliberately presented this consultation in such a way as to make it very awkward for us to complete. It would be easy to wave a white flag at this point.
But home educators won't give up. We can apply the hive mind, research the situation and come up with reasoned answers and we must do this because we HAVE to draw the line somewhere. If we don't draw this line and demonstrate what the HE community are and are not prepared to take, the line will be drawn heaven only knows where. We have seen mission creep in action before. We will not let it happen again.
On top of responding to the consultation, home educators should, as per the petition, complain that the process has been made next to impossible for many stakeholders, that there appears to be no Impact Assessment, normally a necessary requirement whenever changes to the implementation of law are proposed, all of which therefore means that the Call for Evidence does not conform to government guidance on how to conduct a consultation, ie: there are plenty of good reasons to kick off and we should do it.