The Department for Education has launched a call for evidence - which runs until 2 July - to ask parents their views on home-schooling provision being monitored by local authorities. The document does say the government “has not made any decision on these issues”. The hope is that a register will ensure “all children in England who are educated at home receive a good education that prepares them well for adult life”.
Reneé Davis, 38, from south west London, who blogs at Mummy Tries, has been home educating her two children since October 2015. She’s sceptical about the change. “My family’s home education journey did not start out of choice,” she tells HuffPost UK. “It began because we were let down by a broken system incapable of meeting the needs of my autistic children. I’m highly sceptical of a home education register, and think that it would lead to restrictions and unnecessary policing.
“I cannot see how a register would possibly enhance a child’s home education experience, but can certainly envisage the stress it would cause along the way.”
The DfE call for evidence states: “The Government intends to safeguard the primary duty of parents to lead their children’s education, including the provision of home education.It does not intend that the state should supplant this parental role.” However they are seeking evidence from parents on the following two issues:
“The first is the registration of children who are home educated: what happens at present in terms of voluntary registration, and what views people have on the issue of registration.
“The second is that of monitoring of the educational provision by local authorities in relation to elective home education. At present most local authorities operate some form of informal oversight, if possible by agreement with parents.”
Camilla Bradshaw-Burke, 41, from the Lake District, home-schools her 14-year-old daughter Tilly. She also has an 11-year-old and 17-year-old but does not home-school them. She was a teacher for 15 years and became disillusioned with the system that was imposing the ‘one fits size fits all’ approach to education, which she says didn’t suit her daughter’s “calm, introverted personality”. She is split on the decision to overhaul the home education system.
“This is a tricky one,” she says. “On the one hand I have found myself worrying about individuals I know who are home-schooling who don’t seem equipped to educate their children adequately and so perhaps some sort of over-haul is needed to ensure that every child is receiving an education appropriate to their individual needs.”
However, Burke says she is also concerned that if monitoring is introduced, it will undermine the hard work done by so many families who are doing a good job of offering their children an individualised education. “Too much interference could potentially cause problems for the home-school community who, by and large (with a few exceptions), are self sufficient in the best possible way,” she said. “I’m not too sure how the powers that be would govern and manage this without imposing too much on each individual situation.”
Ultimately she says it’s a subjective area of discussion, adding: “I don’t think I would be happy if someone who didn’t know my child tried to tell me how she should be educated and so the matter of ‘monitoring’ homeschoolers needs to be dealt with carefully and sensitively.”
What do you think about the prospect of a compulsory register for children who are home-schooled? Let us know in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org.