Graham Stuart MP and home education

Most people involved in home education will know by this time that Graham Stuart, who is Chair of the Children, Schools and Families select committee, is trying to draw up a new set of guidelines about home edcuation which the Department for Education could issue. There is of course some controversy about this, not least in that the whole process has apparently been embarked upon on the quiet and has only come to light gradually. However, Tania Berlow has collated all that Graham Stuart has said publicly on this matter and she desires me to publich it here. It may be seen below:

“Local Authorities and Home Education” as “an unpleasant hangover of the last government: a manifesto for more state power at the expense of dedicated home educators and their children”. “It is astonishing that the Chief Inspector of Schools should stray onto home education and get it so wrong. In Ofsted’s official press release she says that “it is extremely challenging for local authorities to meet their statutory duty to ensure children have a suitable education”, when they have no such duty. Parents, not the state, have the statutory duty to ensure that their children have a suitable education.

“I find it deeply concerning that, after months of work, the Chief Inspector should make such a basic mistake and so utterly confuse the duties of local authorities and parents. Parents who home educate deserve our respect and awe at their dedication and achievements, not the relentless suspicion of an over mighty state.”

‘local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis’

“As local authorities do not have the power to demand access to home educated children and cannot insist on parents registering with them, the obvious and correct answer is for local authorities to improve their support for families so that more families make contact with them voluntarily. If they did this and made sure that they employed sympathetic staff who built good reputations, then the number of “unknown” children would be reduced. Such a positive approach would respect the primacy of parents in determining the education of their children and put the onus on local authorities to serve and support, rather than catalogue and monitor, families who home educate.

“Ofsted’s report has little to say about improving local authority support for home educated children and says only that the Department of Education should “consider” funding an entitlement for home-educated children to take public examinations. Ofsted’s report is seriously flawed and damaging to the confidence of home educating parents who had hoped that the relentless disinformation and bullying of the previous regime was over.”

regarding Goves comment after Ishaq case where he said he'd '' see what changes need to be made to the existing arrangements”.'' Graham Stuart answered- I think you have made a mistake by being so unnecessarily alarmist. There is no evidence to justify your headline – certainly not in the Secretary of State’s quote. He is right to see what changes should be made to existing arrangements. He could start by issuing new guidance to local authorities on EHE clarifying their responsibilities and powers and then ensuring that all social workers understand the difference between EHE work and welfare responsibilities through their training. Lots of good changes could be made so as to make the whole invasive licensing programme a non starter even for another Labour government. I hope this government does look at home ed and provides a lasting reinforcement of the lead role for parents rather than the state in determining how their children are educated. It’s always right to be watchful and suspicious of government but it’s best to avoid leaping to conclusions and scaring people without proper justification.

Just governmental ignorance I'm afraid.

29 July at 22:34

"I’m hoping new guidance from central government to local authorities might be sufficient to tackle this issue without any change in primary legislation. I’d be interested to know what others think."

The CME guidance superseded the EHE guidance so I don't see any reason, in principle, why the same shouldn't happen in reverse. The way LAs are behaving now just reinforces my belief that we need a new settlement that reasserts the right... of families to be left in peace - whether we'll need primary legislation or not I'm not sure. I'm sorry I haven't got the time at the moment to participate fully in all the discussions but I am trying to read them when I get a chance.

Take the initiative is my answer. I reckon we can get a settlement that is both much better than the current situation (in which LAs routinely overstate their powers and intimidate parents) and stop something even worse coming roun...d the corner later. Some people think we're better sitting tight but I don't. Whether new guidance alone will be enough (see all the discussion over Children Missing Education guidelines) or we'll need primary legislation I don't know. Hopefully guidance will do and the HE community can hone and rework any initial draft into something we could usefully present to government with a reasonable degree of consensus. If not we can always drop the idea and sit tight or think of another approach to stop current abuses and head off future threats.

In response to poster- <>

Graham Stuart says ''I agree'' , in response to poster who had EWO dooorstep- I don't think the Council was breaking the law - after all anyone can knock on your door. It's all too typical, however, of councils treating home educators as potential criminals instead of loving parents. I look forward to seeing your com...plaint. This sort of thing is one of the reasons why we need new guidance so as to put councils back in their place and get them to treat people supportively and with respect. If they came with the humility and helpfulness of health visitors (and the same legal rights of entry - namely, none) then EHE staff from councils would rebuild trust and would be more welcome precisely because they didn't constitute a threat against parents doing the best for their children.See more

08 October

I think we can get new guidance which emphasises that LAs have a duty to support parents (where they want it) and that spells out the limits of the LAs' responsibilities so that they stop hankering after more powers. Just leaving it isn't an option. I want a stake put through the heart of the whole monitoring/licensing approach so that it doesn't ever get resurrected.

From what I've read and observed Clive Soley is immune to all reasonable argument on the subject. I guess we should never stop trying, however, so I'll ask him to have a coffee and a chat with me. Thanks for the prompt.

I've had coffee with Clive Soley and tried my best. Damascene conversion there was not but I hope I may have caused him to question some of his certainties.