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Regulations and Statutory Guidance
Schedule 1 to the Children, Schools and Families Bill provides regulation making powers relating to the registration and monitoring of home education, including the appeals mechanism. New sections 19A to 19H set out these powers which cover:
Section 19A – maintenance by local authority of home education register;
Section 19B – manner in which application is to be made and entry of a child’s details on the register;
Section 19C – supplementary provisions relating to an application including information to be included in the application; statement about the prospective education; provision for an undertaking to be provided by a parent; and the entry by the local authority of the child’s details on the register including steps to be taken by a local authority; power for local authority to provide for a period within which a repeat application may not be made; and what details should be entered on the register;
Section 19D – registration period - no regulation making power;
Section 19E – monitoring the provision of home education - no regulation making power;
Section 19F – revocation of registration including steps to be taken by an authority in relation to revocation or proposed revocation, what should and should not be taken into account;
Section 19G – appeals against refusal to register or revocation;
Section 19H – supply of information to a local education authority in England exercising its home education functions.
Section 19I provides a power to make statutory guidance in relation to the registration and monitoring arrangements.
What follows is a policy statement which draws out our initial proposals for regulations and guidance once the Bill becomes law. It is intended to support debate and consultation as the Bill passes through the Parliamentary process. Any regulations and guidance will be subject to full public consultation.
Mention is made of home education at 53 mins and at 1 hour 9 mins where lawyer John Friel appears to agree with Graham Stuart that Schedule 1 is very damaging for home educated children with special educational needs, but main body of evidence starts at 1 hour 11 mins.
Exactly a year ago the Department for Children Schools and Families launched the Badman Review of Home Education. Last October we wrote that home educators had been subject to nine months of policy based evidence making. The tide began to turn with the publication of the Select Committee Report, which reprimanded the Department for relying on unsound evidence and for rushing to legislate on home education without publishing feedback from the recent public consultation.
Two months after the Secretary of State reassured parliament that right of access to the home and private interviews with children would be both voluntary and optional, the Department finally published feedback from the consultation which set out the real position.
"We have decided that local authorities should visit the place where education is taking place, which will usually be the family home, as part of their monitoring work. If families choose not to cooperate, and as a result are not on the register, local authorities will be able to use a school attendance order to require the home educated child or children to attend school."
MPs and Lords are being asked at every stage to accept without evidence that there is no alternative and also to accept that most questions about the future will remain unanswered since the Department has either not yet had time to make any decisions or chooses not to share any information before the Bill becomes law. A simple indication of how much the legal skeleton will be fleshed out later may be seen in the extensive regulation-making powers in six new sections of the 1996 Education Act, namely 19A, 19B, 19C, 19F, I9G and 19H.
The government's proposals to licence, regulate and inspect families who educate their children at home have provoked furious opposition from home-educating parents and their children. The government has been keen to brush off concerns that its proposed legislation will violate the civil liberties of these families, in particular their right to private and family life. As details of the government's plans emerge, these attempts to portray the scheme as "light touch" look increasingly less credible.
If passed into law, the proposals in the children, schools and families bill will require local authority officials to make annual visits to the place where education is provided (normally the family home). Officials will be empowered to request to interview a child on their own if they consider it appropriate. Parents may refuse the authority's request, as Ed Balls has been at pains to point out, but such refusal will form one of seven grounds on which the local authority may decide to revoke its approval and impose a school attendance order....
NOTICES OF AMENDMENTS
Monday 11 January 2010
PUBLIC BILL COMMITTEE
CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES BILL
Yesterday saw the Second Reading of the Children, Schools and Families Bill in the Commons. In the below extracts from his speech, Shadow Children, Schools and Families Secretary, Michael Gove makes a strident defence of parents who decide to educate their children at home and expresses his concern about the bureaucratic burdens the Government is seeking to place upon them:
"I am deeply concerned about the additional bureaucratic burden that will now potentially be placed on thousands of our fellow citizens whose only crime is to want to devote themselves as fully as possible to their children's education. It is a basic right of parents to be able to educate their children in accordance with their own wishes, and to educate them at home if they so wish. There may be many reasons why parents take that decision: they might be dissatisfied with local provision; their child might have a specific educational need that they feel can be better supported at home; or they might have philosophical objections to the style of education on offer at the local state schools that are easily accessible.... read the rest here...
Well, I watched most of the second reading debate of the CSF bill, was duly disgusted by Balls, impressed by Gove, disappointed by Laws and amazed by the tireless, dogged perseverance of Stuart. Hats off to that man. You can watch the whole debate here, from about 2 hours in.
On the whole, the issue of home education was represented well I thought, reflecting the many hours of hard work spent by home educators in patiently educating their MPs and in generally raising awareness.
We believe that schedule 1 of the children, schools and families bill represents an unacceptable imposition of state control over families. Although it is aimed at children educated outside the school system, it has implications for all families.
Most parents would not make home-based education their first choice; but any family might need it if school seriously failed their child. Currently, this choice is lawfully available to all parents. If enacted, the bill would – for the first time – transfer responsibility for a child's education from the parents to the state. We believe this is a matter which should be of great concern to everyone.
A change in the law is unnecessary. Parents are already required by law to provide an education suitable to the age, aptitude and ability of their children, and to any special educational needs they may have. Local authorities already have the power to take action if parents do not do this.
Evidence indicates that home education is highly effective. Many home educating families use child-led educational methods which lie outside the prevailing educational paradigm. Diversity in education is precious in a democracy, and we need the law to protect it, and to protect the best interests of each individual child.
The interests of children are strikingly absent from schedule 1, which is concerned mainly with setting up a bureaucratic system administered by local authorities. They would be given the power to deny parents permission to home-educate, at any time, unless parents adapt their educational approach to fit in with the requirements of the system. The resulting insecurity would be damaging to many children, especially those with special educational needs.
...is due to happen today, Monday 11th January.
A letter lodging objections to the bill and signed by people such as Oliver James, Frank Furedi and Roger Scruton can be found in today's Guardian.
A number of MPs have also lodged their objections:
"That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Children, Schools and Families Bill because it adds hugely to the bureaucratic burdens on schools and colleges without improving real opportunities and educational standards for pupils and without genuinely empowering parents; its proposals for the regulation of home education introduce powers which are excessive and risk undermining key freedoms for home educators; it fails to put in place a coherent system for delivering school improvement; its provisions on family proceedings have not been properly consulted on and do not take account of existing reforms; and it does not include much needed policies to introduce a Pupil Premium to support the education of children from disadvantaged homes or to establish a new Educational Standards Authority to restore confidence in educational standards and to reduce the extent of destabilising political interference in English education. "
All of which is right and good and thoroughly sensible. We must hope that our MPs do their utmost to reinforce this message, though the government have the procedural powers here. They will be employing the whip on this one - (yes, that's right, when reason deserts you, use coercion), and are fond of using guillotine motions to curtail debate.
The Order of Business for 11th Jan reveals that the government intends that
"proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Thursday 4 February 2010."
The real fight will probably start when the bill reaches the Lords.