Memorandum submitted by Peter Reynolds

I am concerned that legislation is being drafted for "improving monitoring arrangements for children educated at home;" no doubt as a result of the Badman Review.  I have been told in an email by a DCSF representative that the need for monitoring this is a safety issue; the implication is that this is not primarily an education issue (education could be monitored without home visits or private interviewing of children).

The moment the government feels it has the responsibility to monitor the safety of all individual children in their homes, we have entered a police state.  Children are born to their parents and have always been primarily their parents' responsibility (even for education purposes), and government bodies should not be intervening in the homes of Englishmen unless they are presented with evidence that criminal harm is likely to be happening in specific individual homes (rather than those of a class of people).  The idea that a group of people (homeschoolers) may be abusers because a handful are, is no different to saying that Bengalis may be abusers because a handful are.  The government would not dare to inspect the homes of, say, Somali under-5s, just because a rumour had been started that there is a danger of abuse in those homes, even if the evidence suggested a slightly higher level of abusers than the rest of under-5s.  In fact we understand that the level of children requiring a child-protection plan under Elective Home Education is lower than in the school population, but even if it were slightly higher, individual monitoring would go against the principle of "innocent until proved guilty" which is one of the most important in English law.  It would only be if a genuinely high level of abuse cases were being legally proved that it might be necessary to monitor all such families.  As a general principle, the government has no mandate in Englsh law to go looking for crime in individual homes where it has no reason to believe it exists.

Given the lack of evidence I feel it is wholly inappropriate that legislation is being drafted in advance of the Select Committee inquiry
September 2009