1. Background and Context
The Review of Home Education in England published on 11 June (click here) took evidence from a large number of home educators, many local authorities and other groups who work with home educating families. The terms of reference recognised that parents have a well established right to educate their children at home and that the government respects that right, and has no plans to change that position. They also set out the Department's commitment to ensuring that systems for keeping children safe and receiving a suitable education, are as robust as possible. They recognised that where local authorities have concerns about the safety and welfare, or education, of a home educated child, effective systems must be in place to deal with those concerns.
Those systems are already in place. Before changing the law, you need to clearly lay out what the existing systems are and why they are inadequate (hint: they are not)
The review's recommendations set out specific proposals for improving the capacity of local authorities and other public services to support home educators. The government, in its initial response (click here), is considering carefully the best way to implement them: a significant amount of further development work will be needed with local authorities, home educators and other organisations. We will publish a full response to the review's recommendations by the end of September.
You should not be consulting on the recommendations before you have responded to them fully - how do you know that this consultation is asking the right questions?
The review found no evidence that home education was used to cover forced marriage, servitude, or trafficking other than in isolated cases. However, the reviewer was provided with evidence showing that the number of home educated children known to Children's Social Services in some LAs was disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population. There are well established procedures for supporting children known to a local authority where there are safeguarding concerns. However, the review notes that without knowledge of, or access to, a child, such powers are meaningless. HMCI, in her response to the call for evidence, noted that ‘schools have an important responsibility to monitor children's safety and welfare but this safety net is missing for children educated at home.'
the statistical basis for "disproportionately high" has been blown out of the water. All that remains is the vague fear that there may be unknown numbers of entirely hidden children not known to anyone outside their family. Where is the evidence that school attendance is an effective safety net? Where is the evidence that the proposed powers will be proportionate and effective?
For these reasons the government has decided to take immediate steps to reduce the risk that home education can be used as a cover for child abuse or neglect. The response to the review records our commitment to tighten up safeguarding procedures by:
Establishing a register of home educated children in each local authority;
Giving local authorities discretion to prohibit children from being home educated in circumstances where there are safeguarding concerns;
Introducing tougher monitoring arrangements which will require local authorities to interview home educated children and visit the premises where home education is taking place to ensure that a suitable and efficient education is being provided and the children are safe and well.
you are conflating educational provision with welfare. This is reprehensible.