Thursday, 8 April 2010

Legislation allowing state to enter homes and interview children alone dropped

Hallelujah! In the pre-election "wash-up", the government has been forced to drop its plans to empower local education authorities to enter home educators' homes and interview children alone - and to forbid the parents to home-educate if they object. (Currently the law only allows a "order to compel school attendance" in the case that the state can prove an inadequate education. The proposed legislation deemed that if you refuse to allow the LEA officer to interview your child alone, then that would be sufficient to make a verdict of an inadequate education! In other words, a huge state take-over of parental prerogative). There were various other iniquitous proposals in the package too - I'm not sure of the status of all of them. Compulsory state-approved sex instruction for 15-year olds has been dropped also.

Home-educators well know that this is not the end; the war will continue. The education secretary Ed Balls has stated that it will be his priority to launch these measures again in the very first session of the next parliament. Alternatively if he doesn't get into power after the election the fact is that all our political parties are very statist, and seem to have grossly underdeveloped concepts of the rights of families in particular, believing that central legislation and control can and should be used to bring in any utopia/nightmare they wish to dream up... the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were both heavily opposed to these particular proposals, but it is unclear as yet at least to me how much of that is politicking and how much is conviction...

On-the-money quote from Lord Lucas in the House of Lords debate:
"We are considering a section of the Bill which will cost £20 million per annum, which is about £1,000 per home-educated child. These children receive no money to help pay the costs of examinations; no money to buy textbooks; no money to buy materials; no money and no tuition to help them over difficulties in education. Now the Government can find £1,000 for each of these children-and will spend it on auditing them. Not one penny will go to help the children; it will all go on auditing them. What have these people done to deserve that?"
Even if you're not a home educator, you can understand this proposition: home-educators have chosen their path for a number of reasons, but overall it will be true by implication that they believe that they have chosen a better choice than the state system. You can understand how we might feel at the state taxing home-educators first to pay for a state system that they do not use, then taxing them again in order to increasingly bring them into conformity with that system whose standards they think are in various ways inferior - and increasingly eroding their rights as parents, even within their own homes, as they do so. No thanks!

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