A Youth Council Has Found That The Views Of Home Educated Children Have Been Ignored, By A Government Proposing New Laws Supposedly ‘Supporting’ Home Educated Children’s Rights.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9 Oct. 2009 – PDF version
Contact: Chloe Watson
Phone: 07870 104 216
The Home Educated Youth Council today discovered that absolutely no home educated children have been invited to give oral evidence to the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee(1), who are holding an inquiry into a report on elective home education published earlier this year(2), after challenges to the report’s integrity. In fact, the majority of the parties called as witnesses are non-home educating adults whom either work for government or local authorities.
The only people invited who speak for home education in any way are Jane Lowe, trustee of the Home Education Advisory Service, Fiona Nicholson, trustee of Education Otherwise, and Simon Webb and David Wright. The rest of the participants are composed of people from government and NGOs who have no real engagement with home education, such as the NSPCC.
The Home Educated Youth Council (HEYC) is an organisation created and run by children, to support the rights of home educated children and young people, and to provide an independent voice for those children educated at home. HEYC sent a written submission to the select committee, and also requested to give oral evidence to the inquiry, citing their rights under article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child(3), which states that:
1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
When Chloe Watson, Chair of HEYC, called the committee to inquire as to why no home educated children had been invited to give evidence, she was told that the committee chose who should give oral evidence by selecting those they felt would answer the questions they wanted to pose best.
HEYC would like to know why the committee has chosen to ask questions that can not be answered by home educated children, especially since one of the criticisms of the report the Select Committee is investigating, is that it contravenes children’s rights. HEYC is also confused as to how the committee would know who would answer a question best, if they are not predisposed to hear a certain answer, and do not already know what the answer will be.
“If the committee already has answers in mind, as was implied to me, it surely can’t be impartial, and I don’t see how the outcomes of a partial inquiry can have any credibility.” says Miss Watson.
The report that this inquiry stems from claims to redress the balance between the rights of parents to educate as they wish, and the rights of children to receive a good education. However, the views of home educated children overwhelmingly support the status-quo(4), and disagree with the report’s intrusive proposals, leading HEYC to question whether the report, or the inquiry into it, truly does support the rights of children after all.
HEYC believes that in the current climate of suspicion at the government’s behaviour among home educators and the wider population – with a report full of misleading quotes and shaky evidence, written by an author whose independence is questionable(5), a disproportionate response to un-proven risks, erosion of civil liberties throughout society, and current guidance on home education mysteriously disappearing from the DCSF website – such behavior will only reduce the confidence adults and children alike have in the government.
HEYC calls for the government to make moves to regain that confidence, and begin to take account of the views of children in the home educating community.
For more information, or to arrange an interview with HEYC personnel, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Chloe Watson on 07870 104 216
NOTES FOR EDITORS
* 1) The Children Schools and Families Committee Oral Evidence Sessions – http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/csf/meetings.cfm
* 2) The Report to the Secretary of State on Elective Home Education – http://publications.everychildmatters.gov.uk/eOrderingDownload/HC-610_Home-ed.PDF
* 3) UNCRC Article 12 – http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm#art12
* 4) Results of the public questionnaire used to gather evidence for the report – http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/14635/response/41721/attach/html/3/Responses%20to%20the%20Consultation%20-%20Statistics%20-%20Annex%20A.doc.html
* 5) Letter to Local Authorities by Graham Badman, author of the report, requesting supplementary evidence after publishing the report, to use as evidence in the inquiry – http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/everychildmatters/publications/documents/laeelectivehomeeducation/