Memorandum submitted by Clare Murton
I am extremely concerned about the way in which the review and the associated consultations have been conducted. I have been home educating for almost two decades and I believe that the review has been conducted, to the detriment of fair and just process, with little understanding of education other than at school.
1. It is of great concern that the views of hundreds of home educators, many backed up with thorough research and/or years of experience of the law and practicalities surrounding home education, have been sidelined in preference for unsubstantiated views and rumours about risks inherent in home education proffered by Local Authorities, Safeguarding Boards and others who often show prejudice and antagonism toward home education.
2. There have been numerous consultations on home education over recent years, all of which have concluded that monitoring and registration are not desirable for the majority of stakeholders. This review appears to have designed or conducted to manipulate that procedure so that the majority view can be sidelined.
3. It is despicable that DCSF Ministers and NSPCC spokespersons chose to mount what are possible slanderous press campaigns against home educators at the launch if this review.
4. The terms of reference for the review were severely flawed, including reference to ultra vires LA activity and measures such as the Every Child Matters Outcomes that are not relevant to elective home education.
5. A regulatory Impact Assessment was not performed despite the obvious enormous monetary implications of monitoring and visiting at least 50,000 children, social implications for those children and their families and the practical implications for social services and the children they have a responsibility toward who are at real risk rather than a falsely hypothesises risk.
6. The questions of the consultations were often leading and failed to address major issues in the proposals.
7. The consultations avoided proper regulation by denying that one was a consultation at all and sending the other to Las without recourse to the Consultation web site.
8. The statistics raised in the review appear to have been very poorly performed on a very small sample and to have been manipulated to present a false image of the risks inherent in home educating families.
9. Home Educators have been refused many applications for information from DCSF and Las which they required in order to check the validity of the review claims.
10. It seems to me entirely wrong to launch what must have been a very expensive review, without first assessing whether the current legislation and policy are being correctly administered. Information about the costs of the reviews has been withheld by DCSF.
11. The recommendations of the review have no regards for the freedom of choice in education, spell the extinction of autonomy in education for children and raise serious alarm bells about the validity in seeking to see children alone where no risk concern has been raised. They also propose an unnecessary registration system that is discriminatory and an imposition on civil liberties of people making a perfectly legal and valid choice to home educate.