HOME EDUCATION AND THE BADMAN REVIEW
Select Committee report leans towards home educators
What struck the DCSF Select Committee when looking at the issue of Home Educated children was the dearth of much needed information about the extent of Home Education.
Whatever happened to evidence based policy is their implicit question. Their report was a bit of a rap over the knuckles for both the Government and local authorities.
The Committee recommended research to establish baseline data for home educated children, especially regarding the outcomes of home education. This work should plug the gap in the existing research evidence, which has not reflected fully the profile of home educating families. The Committee suggests that local authorities need improved means of identifying and differentiating between the children in their area who are in school, who are being home educated, and who are otherwise not in school. They also took the view that parental responsibility in relation to the provision of home education should be strengthened and that that home educating families should provide some form of statement of their intended approach to their child’s education.
The Committee supports the proposals to introduce annual registration for home educating but with an important caveat- they were keen to take into account the concerns expressed by home educators about compulsory registration , so the Committee said , “ we suggest that registration should be voluntary. Any registration system should be accompanied by better information sharing between local authorities.The success of a voluntary registration system and improved information sharing should be reviewed after two years. If it has not met expectations, we believe that a system of compulsory registration would need to be introduced.”
Home Educators have been fighting a vigorous rear guard action against what they see as heavy handed state interference ,with little consultation and over- prescriptive remedies for non-existent problems. They are also irritated by the fact that some politicians fail to differentiate between those parents who have made a deliberate choice to opt out of state education , but have made proper alternative provision for their children and those (few in number) who just don’t make their children go to school and so in effect deny them any education. Members of the latter group are self-evidently not Home Educators.
In persuading the Committee against immediate compulsory registration they have won at least a clear partial victory but the war is not over yet . And Select Committee proposals are, of course, not binding on the Government. A petition campaign has been waged in the Commons to stop Government proposals in their tracks. Badman and Government officials complain, in the meantime, of harassment by the Home Educators lobby.