Memorandum submitted by Mr Stephen Quinton
-A criticism of the composition of the advisory committee of the review.
-The advisory committee did not contain members with sufficient knowledge of homeschooling.
-The advisory committee did not make enough use on research on homeschooling eg. Research done by Dr. Brian Ray.
-Registration proposals are likely to cause confusion and conflict.
-Concerns re. local authority visits. There is a danger of an abuse of power by local authorities and there appears also to be the assumption that parents are guilty until proven innocent by the local authority officers.
-A lack of clarity over the terms a suitable and efficient education
1. Comments regarding the conduct of the review
-The review was intended to find a workable arrangement between local authorities and home educators. The advisory committee did not contain representatives from these groups but rather specialists on safeguarding children and 'children's rights' specialists.
-The advisory committee members did not contain people with a personal experience of home education with the exception of James Conroy.
- The committee did not make extensive use of research as it was meant to have done. Work on home education by Dr. Brian Ray was ignored.
2. Comments regarding recommendations of the review
i. Recommendation 1: Registration
There is the possibility for conflict and confusion here between home educators and local officials. How detailed will the plan have to be? Will the plan limit the flexibility of parents in the education of their children as they see fit? What happens if a plan cannot be agreed? Who has the ultimate authority for the education?
ii. Recommendations 7&8: Local authority visits
Can local authority officials be presumed to be sympathetic to homeschoolers? Some local authorities in the past have abused their powers to harass homeschoolers who were operating within the law. What protection will homeschooling parents have against local authorities who abuse their power?
The review seems to have been undertaken with the insulting premise that home educating parents cannot be trusted with their own children. They are assumed guilty until the local authority officer declares them innocent. At present a policeman needs a warrant to enter a person's home to interview a suspected criminal so why will local authority officers be given powers to enter the home of home schooling parents?
It is also unacceptable that local authority officials should be allowed to interview children without their parents. What protection will parents have against an official who has an agenda against homeschooling? At present I understand that if social workers wish to interview children on their own a lengthy and correct procedure has to be followed in order for it to be allowed. Why should lower standards be adopted for homeschooled children?
It is vitally important that local authority officials have sympathy for homeschoolers. Using ex-head teachers, social workers and child psychologists is not good enough. With their background people from these professions may well be prejudiced against homeschooling. Officials should ideally be drawn from people who have some experience of home schooling.
iii. Recommendation 23 &24: The ability to provide a suitable education and refusing registration
-The review is imprecise here. What may affect a parent's ability to provide a suitable and efficient education? What is a suitable and efficient education? Badman suggests that the prescriptions should not be overly prescriptive. Will this be the case? What protection will parents have against local authority officers who might use flimsy or unsubstantiated evidence to revoke registration?
present laws in the
-Will the offer to allow use of local authority facilities eg. Libraries etc be accompanied with conditions that will control home educators teaching programmes?
Graham Badman notes that "Good relationships and mutual respect are at the heart of the engagement of local authorities with home educating parents" I believe that the recommendations that I have noted may well serve to worsen rather than improve the existing relationships.