Saturday, June 20, 2009

Homeschooling in the UK-under threat

Don't ever take the right to home educate for granted. As we are witnessing in some European countries such as Sweden, homeschooling is about to be banned. It's always been verboten in Germany. In the Netherlands you can apply for permission to home educate on very narrow grounds,usually religious. Once permission is granted, you have to re-apply every year.

In the UK, Graham Badman was commissioned by the government to look into if home education is safe for the children being homeschooled and if they are getting a suitable education. The report can be read at

He raises the question of a possible link between home education (HE) and child abuse. Amongst the recommendations of the Badman report are:

- Compulsory registration for all home educators

- The right of entry into HE homes without suspicion of wrong-doing

- The right to interview HE children without adult support - again without suspicion of abuse or risk to them

- Requirement for a 12 month plan, against which 'progress' will be measured.

The review seems to be especially against unschooling/autonomous education (as it is known in the UK) and described it as 'little better than child-minding'.

Alison Sauer who home educates in the UK and trains local authorities in home ed and the law reports on one unschooling list that I'm on that, "As far as the Badman report is concerned, so far it is all just recommendation. Most of the more serious proposals would take major primary legislation change - and those changes would not just affect EHE (electively home educating) parents but all parents as it changes the relationship of the state to the parent and child. This will take years."

Following the report the government has put parts of 2 of Mr Badman's recommendations to consultation, as they are bound by law to do before attempting to bring them into law through parliament.

The consultation can be seen here

Sauer points out the really worrying proposal:

"Local authorities tell us that they need greater powers to ensure that home educated children are safe, well, and receiving a suitable education. The current arrangements allow parents to submit evidence that a `suitable education' is being provided, which could be mainly written evidence. Local authorities have no powers to interview home educated children to establish that sample material provided is representative of their work, nor to establish that they are safe and well."

"We believe that local authorities should interview children within 4 weeks of home education starting, after 6 months has elapsed, and thereafter at least annually to assess the quality of education provided and ensure that children are safe and well. The local authority should visit the premises where education is conducted, and question the child about the education provided, although at least 2 weeks notice should be given before the visit is conducted. The local authority should have the right to carry out the interview without a parent being present, if this is judged appropriate, or alternatively if the child is vulnerable or has particular communication needs, in the company of a trusted person who is not the home educator or parent/carer.

Sauer's response is that,"The second proposed change will affect both the legal responsibilities of Local Authorities (i.e. they will make LAs responsible for the welfare of home educated children as opposed to the current position where they have a responsibility to act where concerns are raised) and the human rights of the parents and children (an issue of both national and international law)."
To keep abreast of this disturbing development check out the following blogs:


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