Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Parents of unruly children face £1,000 fines

Parents could be hit with £1,000 fines if children regularly misbehave under plans to improve discipline in schools.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Home education news

This clampdown on home education doesn't help children
Fundamental changes to the law affecting the rights and the freedom of about 80,000 children may be sneaked into a bill going through parliament, after the review into home education by Graham Badman (Report to crack down on home schooling, 6 June).

The parenting police
Parents are hitting back at plans for what they believe are Big Brother-style powers to inspect home schooling.

"What [Graham] Badman recommends policing is not simply home education but parenting. Under this government parents are considered unfit unless checked and approved by an ever growing list of 'professionals'."

"So what has happened to the basic right of every citizen in this country to be assumed innocent of a crime unless proven otherwise? Under these new proposals home educating parents and their children will be forcibly inspected, even if there is no evidence or cause to believe that abuse is taking place."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home education on the news

Parents condemn plans for councils to 'police' home education
There are about 750 children in Kent who are currently educated at home. Alexander Roarke, a Kent-based trustee of the charity Education Otherwise, said: "We reject the disproportionate and unreasonable recommendations set out in this report for compulsory registration and invasive monitoring. Someone from the local authority is now allowed to enter my home, take my children and interview them without me being present...that is a power that only the police have."

Parents' anger at home education recommendations grows
Parents who educate their children at home are up in arms over the recommendations of the government-commissioned review into home education in England. Home educators are using CYP Now 's forums to lobby the government to disregard the findings of Graham Badman's review into home education. Parents are particularly concerned by Badman's recommendation that local authorities should have right of access to the home of home educated children, and should have the right to speak to each child alone if deemed appropriate, or in the company of a trusted person who is not the home educator or parent/carer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Petition to reject the Badman Report

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Reject the Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England by Graham Badman.

This report is a totally disproportionate response to a 'perceived' problem full of unsubstantiated allegations that home educated children are more at risk than those at school. This is simply not true and enacting the recommendations in this report would establish the state as parent of first resort. To allow LA staff access to private homes to interview children without their parents when there is no reason to suspect abuse is outrageous.

You can sign it here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bringing the Olympics back home

Nearly 50 children aged from four to 15 took part in the sports day organised by the Home Education Centre, which provides group activities for home-educated children.


Khyra 'had four visits by welfare'

Welfare workers visited the home of Khyra Ishaq four times last year while she was starving to death, a court heard yesterday.

Two education welfare workers, a social worker and a home education worker all called between January and April, but only one was let in.


Friday, June 19, 2009

TreeHouse welcomes government’s EHE review

TreeHouse, the national charity for autism education, welcomes the acknowledgement within the government’s review of home education that children with special educational needs (SEN) are disproportionately represented among the population of children who are educated at home.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Home education on the news

Hey parents, leave those kids alone!
Home education is not better than school, says CAROL SARLER

Lessons to be learned from home schooling
CUMBRIAN parents who educate their children at home could face inspections under new plans to ensure youngsters do not fall through the net.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Home education on the news

Parents who teach pupils at home are to be vetted
Speaking before the publication of the report, Fiona Nicholson of Education Otherwise, a home education support group, said any register would be “intrusive” on families. “There is a lot of fear that restrictions will be brought in by the back door,” Ms Nicholson said. “We are very cynical about the whole thing. We have put forward more than 40 recommendations of our own, but we doubt any of them will be paid any notice.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Home education on the news

Home education support welcomed
Helena Brydges, who has been teaching her daughter Tiffany, 14,at home for several years, said she receives exceptional support from the council.

"People have two schools of thought regarding home education, as you have the people who want stricter controls and those who want the freedom to do things their way," she said. "But we've had excellent support as the education authority come every year and they've gone through Tiffany's work with a fine toothcomb."

The state should stay out of home schooling
... the idea that there should be no opt-out available – that all parents have no choice but to submit to official control over their children’s education – cuts to the heart of the question of parental autonomy. The acceptance that parents can choose to educate their children themselves if they want to is a tacit recognition that state education is a service that parents can access for the benefit of their families. The new proposals shift that balance of power, so that state-monitored education becomes something that all children must receive – and in the case of home schooling, parents are mere practitioners, delivering an officially approved scheme of work. This means that the scope for parents to decide that, actually, the curriculum or teaching practice on offer within schools is not the best for their child, becomes much more limited.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Co-operative backs Homes Education Centre

THE Home Education Centre in Chard has received a £745 boost from the Co-operative’s community fund. The money will be used to buy craft tables and chairs for the centre and the group’s chairman, Karen Turner, is delighted at the donation.

“We provide support for home-educated children and their parents, giving them access to group learning and allowing them to develop friendships and a sense of community. We are very grateful to the Co-op for supporting our work and allowing us to buy this much-needed equipment.”


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Home education news

Home schooling vs. the state
This Labour government has been especially bad at dealing with difference, and its latest stance against home schooling is indicative of this lack of tolerance and understanding.

Parents who home educate children to be forced to register
Fiona Nicholson, of support group Education Otherwise, said: "If they introduce a registration system, it would completely shift the balance of power. The state is coming into family life and trying to regulate it. It is an extraordinary invasion of the family."

You can't hear the jackboots, but this is still oppression
Private life, the family home, freedom of conscience and action, have never been so menaced. But... we don't see it for what it is. It is time we did.

There's no education like home schooling
Instead of hedging in home educators with inspections, we should applaud the parents who decide to take on their children’s education rather than packing them off to school all day.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Home education on the news

Parents resort to home education because state schools betray their wishes
Eric Hester: "The Government's intention to regulate – in effect, nationalise – home education is spiteful, dictatorial and simply anti-educational. There is no evidence that home-educated children do worse than those in schools. To suggest that home education might lead to abuse ill becomes a Government at a time when a state-regulated nursery is being investigated over horrific crimes."

Home schooling to be monitored by govt database?
Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "The whole purpose of home education, of course, is that people want to keep their children out of the clutches of the state and they should be allowed to do so if they want in a free country."

Even from the edge of the grave, Labour attacks the family
"The dying scorpion still has venom in its tail: this decomposing Labour government, rotting like a fish from the head down and with a maximum life expectancy of 11 months, is still doggedly pursuing the destruction of British society - the Project on which it embarked 12 years ago. Its latest assault on the family is an offensive against home schooling... the state, furious that 50,000 children have eluded its clutches, is intruding further into family life.

Government to clamp down on home schooling families
Fiona Nicholson, of support group Education Otherwise, said: “If they introduce a registration system, it would completely shift the balance of power. The state is coming into family life and trying to regulate it. It is an extraordinary invasion of the family.”

Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: “In accepting the recommendations of this report, the government is signalling its intention to introduce an unprecedented level of intrusion into family life. The plan to allow local authorities routine access to the homes of children who are educated outside the school system shows a fundamental distrust of parents. If the government gets its way, home educated children will be subject to a far greater degree of individual state surveillance than children receive in school. ... The legality of going beyond that and granting local authorities a routine right of access to the homes of parents who teach their children at home is open to question under human rights legislation.”

Home education changes announced
"Education officials in the Isle of Man are looking forward to improving relations with parents who opt to teach their children at home."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Home education news

Home education clampdown 'an infringement of civil liberties'
Parents could be banned from educating children at home in a move branded a "very bad day for civil liberties".

A home educated teenager gives her view
I only did my first year in primary school, and all my memories of it are horrible! I used to get really badly bullied all the time.

Voice welcomes home education review
Voice: the union for education professionals has welcomed news that the review of home education in England is recommending a national registration scheme.

Parents should educate children as they wish
Even in its current decrepit state, the Government has not lost its unappealing appetite for control. ... it arrogantly assumes that state functionaries are better qualified than parents to decide what is right for their children.

Government moves to tighten regulation of home education
Ministers today unveiled plans for a major toughening-up of the regulation of home education, forcing families who opt out of schooling to register annually ... Groups representing home-educating families condemned the moves as "draconian".

Home schools 'should be checked'
... so they want to protect them. But home education groups say the government should stop being so suspicious of them and give them more support.

Home educators made to register

The review has not found any evidence that home education was being used specifically to conceal trafficked children, or forced marriages. ... home educators say authorities should stop treating them with suspicion...

Crackdown on home-schooling as parents face annual checks and registration

...parents last night branded the proposals an 'extraordinary' intrusion by the state into family life. They fundamentally undermine parental responsibility to ensure their child is receiving a good education, they said.

'We are shocked and horrified,' said Ann Newstead, a spokesman for Education Otherwise who herself home educates four children. 'The police don't even have access unless they believe a crime is taking place so local councils will be given more powers than the police,' she added. 'This is an attitude of the state which says you don't know how to bring up your child and we need to tell you how to do it. We are told what to put in children's lunchboxes, how they should eat healthily, how we should keep them safe on the net, how they should go out to play more. There comes a point where you have to say, please don't assume parents are not capable of bringing up their own children.'

Parents face being struck off for failing to safeguard children
Local authorities will be given powers to prevent parents from educating their children at home if a child’s safety is in question, the Department for Children, Schools and Families has confirmed.

Home education parents to face council inspections
Parents who home educate their children will be inspected by council officials and ordered to send them to school if standards are not met, a Government review said today.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Home education news

Home education crackdown over abuse fear
Parents educating their children at home face a Government crackdown following claims lessons could be a "cover for abuse". For the first time, all parents will be forced to register children with local councils.


Home pupils to register
PARENTS who want to home-school their child will soon have to register with their council.


Review urges mandatory registration for home educators
Proposals designed to tackle safeguarding concerns in small minority of cases


MPs concerned over home school probe
Mark Field MP raised concerns about a Government probe into home education at a Westminster Hall debate yesterday. Home schooling parents risk being hounded by the authorities as the Government conducts its third review of home education in four years, a Conservative MP said yesterday.


U.K. Government Tightens Leash on Homeschoolers: Fears Raised of Germany-Style Clampdown
Under newly announced Labour government rules, local council authorities are authorized to enter private homes to interview children, without parents present, on their safety and “quality of education.” The new regulations have raised fears among Britain’s homeschooling community of a government attack on the rights of parents to educate their children at home.


Half way between home and school
Imagine an education where you could focus on what you wanted to, learn about anything you wanted, and at the end take nationally recognised qualifications and enter university.


Schools minister defends home education review

The new junior schools minister, Diana Johnson, has defended the government's stance on home education in her first debate in Parliament since taking up the post.

She refuted claims made by Mark Field, MP for Westminster, who warned that the government is trying to destroy home education by over-regulating parents.

Field said that the Department for Children, Schools and Families review of home education, which is being led by Graham Badman, could skew the balance between civil liberties and state intervention.

He said: "The ability to be free from an all-knowing, all-seeing state's ideas of education, welfare and standards forms the fundamental appeal for many of those who choose home education for their children. Any attempt to alter what is very much a matter of balance would undermine the entire ethos of education."


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Give us respect, not suspicion

"There are no plans to change parents' well-established rights to educate their children at home," says the government.

Yet it has clearly decided that long-standing arrangements in England surrounding home education require closer attention.


Home Education Parliament Debate

Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): I recognise that the Minister is making her debut here, and that this matter is work in progress for her Department. I contacted her civil servants, and made it clear that the bulk of this half-hour debate will be taken up by my contribution, but that my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Anne Main) and the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George) may wish to intervene.

In the middle of January, the Department for Children, Schools and Families launched an independent review of home education by Graham Badman, the former director of children and educational services at Kent county council. Mr. Badman has been charged with investigating the current system for supporting and monitoring home education, and was asked to consider how any concerns about children’s safety, welfare or education are dealt with. From the outset, the Government have emphasised that they have no plans to change parents’ well-established right to educate their children at home.

All that sounds harmless enough, and in light of recent child abuse cases it is little wonder that the Government want to safeguard children who are not visibly in the system, and to keep tabs on parents. It is right for any Government to want evidence that each and every child receives a suitable education, and genuine home educators have nothing to fear. However, the message coming loud and clear from home educators in my constituency is that that hype should not be believed. Their worry is that the Government are manipulating current anxiety about child abuse to intrude further into home education when they have little legal right to do so.

The latest review will mark the third such consultation pertaining to home education over the past four years. Any action stemming from it could affect the balance of power between civil liberties and state intervention, whether one is innocent until proven guilty or guilty until proven innocent, and whether the state or parents have ultimate responsibility for their children. The ability to be free from an all-knowing, all-seeing state’s ideas of education, welfare and standards forms the fundamental appeal for many of those who choose home education for their children. Any attempt to alter what is very much a matter of balance would undermine the entire ethos of education.

I became interested, involved and engaged in home education some months back when I met two articulate and passionate local mothers in the Pimlico area of my constituency who had decided to educate their children themselves. One made that decision as a result of her son’s unhappy and unproductive first 18 months in the state school sector. The other had seen home education work brilliantly for family friends, and made the positive decision to take on that task for her daughters. The matter is a Cinderella area, and I approached my meeting with those two mothers with some standard misconceptions that a home education might produce an unsocialised, precocious child who is unable to interact with their peers and perhaps shielded from all negative experiences. However, the more I listened to the two mothers, the more impressed and excited I was by their passion and enthusiasm for home education. Each was able to provide an individualised learning experience tailored to the child’s abilities and interests. Far from having an isolated and insulated existence, the children of those two mothers frequently attended classes with other home schoolers, interacted with children of different ages and abilities, and experienced a wide range of activities from practising judo and learning Japanese to visiting galleries and museums during quieter times of day.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Government home school report due

"There are concerns that a Government review due to report this week could recommend new measures to monitor home-schooling families."


The attempt to make vaccinations compulsory

...is another real step towards the state controlling everyone. What will be the next step, requiring that people are sterilized after x number of children? Is it not time that the medical profession realized their "clients" are often intelligent people who have a right to make informed decisions? If it meant my child wasn't to get a place at school, so be it, home education is often a better bet anyway, but I would like to see what the European court of human rights thinks.

From a letter to the Guardian

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Home education case study

the Crawsham family

'One of the reasons I took Joe out of school was that the social environment was very negative'


Get tough on home education

to weed out abuse, says review

"Campaigners claim the move would fundamentally undermine the responsibility that lies with parents to ensure their child is receiving a good education, and allow the state an unprecedented intrusion into family life.

Fiona Nicholson, of support group Education Otherwise, said: "If they introduce a registration system it would completely shift the balance of power. The state is coming into family life and trying to regulate it. It is an extraordinary invasion of the family."

Action for Home Education said: "AHEd members believe that the review has been composed in this skewed manner in order to attain predetermined answers for the purpose of supporting the government's desire to impose compulsory registration, monitoring and tracking of electively home-educated children and their families, including state control and prescription of educational method, content and outcome for all children."


Saturday, June 06, 2009

(Home) school's out forever?

"If Graham Badman's recommendations for home tuition are adopted by the government, a whole way of life is under threat.

If this is the case, to a large extent it will remove from parents the responsibility for how their children are educated. For many, without the freedom to learn autonomously, the very reason for home education will cease to exist.

We'll have to wait and see how far any new legislation will go, and how hard home educators will resist it, but let's hope we don't end up with a situation like that in Germany, where the ban on home education means for many parents the only option is to emigrate."


Friday, June 05, 2009

NSPCC sorry for home school child abuse slur

The NSPCC has apologised after a spokesman suggested that home schooling may be a cover for child abuse cases like that of Victoria ClimbiƩ:

“I would like to apologise for the offence this has caused. Clearly there is no connection between home education and Victoria’s tragic death as she was not being educated at home."

The NSPCC made clear that it is not opposed to home schooling and that parents have the right to decide what is in the best interests of their children.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Politics of Home Education

Mark Field (Cities of London & Westminster, Conservative): "Parents are increasingly turning to home schooling because of their concerns about the provision of primary and secondary education in central London. That issue was raised with me only last week by two constituents, and I hope to raise it in a future Westminster Hall debate. Two concerned mothers, Mrs. Helen White and Mrs. Tina Robbins, both decided to educate their children at home, because they were worried about the quality of education in the state sector, particularly with regard to the restrictive curriculum and the culture of levelling down, rather than encouraging excellence. We have an obsessive approach to equality in the educational establishment, and there is an increasing view, perhaps understandably, given the furore over the baby P case and others, that educating children at home is an issue not only for education departments, but for social services. There is more of a disincentive to go down the route of home education, yet some of our most dedicated parents are deciding to educate their children in that way, which in many ways should be welcomed in relation to choice and diversity. The only downside is that it is often a reflection of parents' despair about the quality of education offered by the state.

Comment 1

I am seriously worried about the inability of politicians and members of so-called children's charities to understand that, if anyone has concerns about home educated children, THEN they have the same recourse to call in Social Services.

BABY P was NOT home educated. Victoria Climbie was NOT home educated.

Would you please stop showing your prejudices and misconceptions about one of the most loving groups of people of society? Home educationg parents sacrifice a lot of their lives to MAKE SURE THAT THEIR CHILDREN ARE NOT ABUSED AT SCHOOLS. You cannot accuse even a small group of parents of being child-abusers. There are laws to protect people from such defamation. Concentrate on reducing or banning child-to-child bullying/ teacher-to-child bullying and general coercion in schools. That's what you could do instead of maligning home educators who do a terrific job of educating AND keeping their own children safe.

I resent your implication that I would ever abuse any child, never mind my own.

Please be more careful what you are saying.

Comment 2

"We have an obsessive approach to equality in the educational establishment, and there is an increasing view, perhaps understandably, given the furore over the baby P case and others, that educating children at home is an issue not only for education departments, but for social services."

This sentence makes very little sense. Baby P was 17 months old when he died, he cannot be described as home educated. His treatment was indeed an issue for social services, who failed him.

Home education, on the other hand, is not an issue for social services at all, but purely a legal alternative to state or private schooling, accorded precisely the same legal status in law. I fail to see why it should be regarded as something to be worried about, and I'd be grateful if MPs could inform themselves further on the situation as it is, rather than the situation as it is presented in the headlines.

MPs and indeed the public at large would do well to remember that it is parents who have responsibility for the education for their children and they are equally at liberty to discharge that themselves at home or to send their children to a state school. My understanding of the law is that children are required to be in school from the term immediately after their 5th birthday, so perhaps part of the problem here in the lack of school places is that so many children are in school who are not required to be.

Many countries in Europe start formal education later than us, and have better educational outcomes. Perhaps these are the avenues we should be exploring, rather than working out how rapidly we can put up alternatives to portacabins.


Home Education in the House of Lords

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I share doubts, especially those expressed by my noble friend Lord Baker, about whether the Bill will turn out to be a good thing in the end, but doubtless there are good things in it. I start, though, with something which is not in it but which I think the Government intend should be in it, and that is home education.

I smell a rat when it comes to home education. A few months ago we heard very critical remarks from the NSPCC—since withdrawn—about the link between home education and child abuse. This was followed fairly rapidly by the appointment of a review into home education by Graham Badman, who is not at all a bad man but quite a sensible and well integrated individual. None the less, he is due to report this month. A typical pattern would be that we then get a rushed Henry VIII clause inserted at Report, giving the Government power to do what they want with regulations concerning home education. I do not think that is appropriate. First, it strikes at the heart of our attitude to education, which is that it is the responsibility of the parent to educate the child. An attack on that needs to be very carefully considered.

Secondly, many of the people indulging in home education have done so to escape just the sort of situations that the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, described of terrible schools, terrible circumstances, insupportable effects on a much loved child and parents giving up their lives to support that child. To be corralled back into school under a Henry VIII clause, however well intentioned, is not something that I am prepared to contemplate.

I have talked to the Minister about this and have offered her two ways forward: she can give me a promise in her speech that nothing will appear in Committee, or on Report or at Third Reading to implement any of the recommendations of Graham Badman’s review, or we can have some long debates in Committee on home education and the many aspects of it which need to be considered, because they do need to be considered.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, said, there is a move to integrate the whole business of child protection so that many more agencies work together to take an interest in what is happening to children. We have the children’s database, which will mean that for the first time local authorities will know who in their area is being home educated, and will not have the excuse that many of them have used to date for not paying much attention to this and letting parents get on with doing it in their own way. Therefore, the need to understand what is happening, to protect what is happening and to support it where it should be supported is going to get to us one way or another. In my view we should be extremely positive about home education.

We went through an analogous process a decade or so ago with the National Health Service when we started to recognise that people caring for the ill at home were doing a useful job, that enabling old people to stay in their homes was a useful thing and that, rather than standing back and just letting these people suffer and pay on their own, the state should offer support because that benefited everybody. That, I think, is the case with home education. Most of these people are doing an excellent job but receive absolutely no support from the state. They are not even get allocated centres where their children can take examinations. Putting your child in for a GCSE is an immensely difficult thing to do if you are a home educator because there are no facilities for that. Local authorities provide all sorts of facilities for children in their charge—including swimming, first aid and cycling proficiency lessons—that are closed to home educators. The Government could do many things to support home education, and it would be great progress if that happened. It would benefit not only the children but the parents and the Government.

The first thing to do in that direction is to open proper, permanent and well understood communications between the Government and the home education community. All sorts of things are happening in legislation. The current Welfare Reform Bill is one area, but there has been secondary regulation in other areas which impact on home education. The Government ought to understand how home education works, the way in which it will be dealt with when it comes to child protection, and assessing the quality of education needs to be understood and thought through and be done in a positive way. In Committee, I shall be encouraging the Government to take up the suggestion by Education Otherwise, the principal charity in this area, that there should be a permanent conclave within, I suspect, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, where discussions will take place between officials and home educators about how the regulation and support of home education should evolve. That may be the limit of it, or it may be much more extensive, depending on what the noble Baroness says to me.

source (scroll down to 5.25pm)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

NSPCC apologises for home school abuse comment

The NSPCC has said sorry to home educators for implying that children schooled at home are at risk of abuse.


Call to make MMR jab compulsory

A former chairman of the British Medical Association is calling for the MMR jab to be made compulsory.

Public health expert Sir Sandy Macara believes children should not be able to go to school unless they have first been vaccinated.