Yesterday, I added a page to this blog reporting a letter from Michael Gove stating that the Government had not yet considered what changes to make to the law concerning HE. You can find it here.
Today, I received two emails from Number 10, telling me that the Government had responded to two petition I had signed on their web site. I did this quite a while ago – both petitions closed on 6 June this year. The text of the petitions and the government’s responses to both can be found on this page and on this one.
The first was signed by 5,658 people and the government’s response reads:
Parents have the primary duty to ensure that their child receives a suitable education and home education is a well established alternative to school which allows them to fulfil that duty. Where a parent opts to educate their child at home rather than at school, they must provide their child with an education that is suitable to the child’s age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have.
Guidelines which set out the legislative position and the roles and responsibilities of local authorities and parents in relation to home educated children is available at – http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/everychildmatters/publications/elective/.
The Government respects the right of parents to home educate their children and we appreciate the strong views held by both home educators and local authorities. As you will appreciate, we have not yet been able to consider in detail our approach to home education and whether or not any changes to the existing arrangements are required.
The other petition received fewer signatures, 862 in all. The government’s response to this one unsurprisingly echos that to the other:
You have petitioned to uphold the freedom of choice parents enjoy in the UK regarding home schooling by rejecting Graham Badman’s proposed compulsory registration of home educators.
The previous administration put forward proposals to legislate for a registration and monitoring scheme for home educating families. These were removed from the Children, Schools and Families Bill, prior to the General Election.
We are currently considering priorities within the Department for Education, including our approach to home education, and whether or not any changes to the existing arrangements are required.
Of course the important sentence in both are the final ones. No commitment either direction, but as this government have previously said (here) they are aware of strong arguments from both sides!
Whilst Department of Education remains as undecided as it was yesterday, they do not rule out changes, therefore my message remains the same. I believe the HE community must not go to sleep thinking the danger is past. There is still plenty of work for us to do, not least in making sure that the underlying forces behind Badman’s review, will never again have an opportunity to say that the State is the only guarantor of child welfare.