The Review of Elective Home Education - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents


99. As a corollary to registration and monitoring, the Badman Report recommends that local authorities be given the right to refuse or revoke registration on safeguarding grounds (recommendation 24). This is reflected in the Children, Schools and Families Bill, which states that a local authority may refuse or revoke the registration of a child's details on its home education register if it appears that "it would be harmful to the child's welfare" for the child to become or continue to be home educated.[118]

100. In its full response to the Badman Report the Department states that there may be some circumstances where a child is safer at school or in alternative provision than being home educated, offering the example of where a child is subject to a Child Protection Plan. It indicates that the power to refuse or revoke registration would be supplemented by guidance to local authorities on the kinds of circumstances where the welfare of the child might be best served if they were not home educated.[119]

101. Serious consideration of refusing or revoking registration might apply only to a minority of instances of home education. Nevertheless, on the basis of their existing contact with local authorities, and perhaps due to the language and wider framing of the Badman Report, a number of home educators wrote to us with concerns about how local authorities would use the power to refuse or revoke registration.

102. Fears that local authorities could abuse the power were particularly strong among home educators of religious faith. For example:

    As Christians, we are concerned that even our Christian beliefs and attitudes could lead to condemnation in the eyes of some, despite the difference of opinion being a valid one. The law should be careful to define the boundaries of local authority personnel and not grant blanket authority in the hope it will not be misapplied.[120]

103. In this regard a number of other home educators specifically commented on a related recommendation within the Badman Report—that local authority adult services and other agencies be required to notify those officers responsible for monitoring home education of "any properly evidenced concerns that they have of a parent's or carer's ability to provide a suitable education... on such grounds as: alcohol abuse; incidents of domestic violence; and previous offences against children. And in addition: anything else which may affect [the parent's/carer's] ability to provide a suitable and efficient education" (recommendation 23). One group of home educators took the view that the final clause of this recommendation was "particularly insidious as it leaves home educating families vulnerable to the prejudices and misconceptions about home education, and culturally different households".[121]

104. Another group of home educators felt justified in commenting that: "[the recommendations are] massively open to abuse, allowing a local authority officer to…even flat out fabricate 'reasons' to revoke the licence to home educate".[122] However, as with the other remarks outlined here, this comment appears to be based on the assumption that officers would not need to support robustly their decision to refuse or revoke registration. It is the case that the Badman Report does not discuss requirements in this respect, though the Department's intention to provide guidance should provide some reassurance.

105. It is also the case that the Badman Report does not make any reference to an appeals process through which home educating families could challenge a local authority's decision, an omission noted by several home educators.[123] When challenged on this matter the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, Diana Johnson MP, confirmed that such a system would be in place should the registration and monitoring proposals come into force.[124] The Children, Schools and Families Bill confers a right of appeal on a parent to whom a local authority has given notice of its intention to revoke registration to home educate on safeguarding grounds.[125]

106. We believe that local authorities should have the right, on safeguarding grounds, to refuse or revoke registration to home educate. However, this should only be where a child is already subject to child protection measures, not solely on the basis of unsubstantiated safeguarding concerns. There is also a strong case for requiring any decision to refuse or revoke registration to be subject to approval from an independent person or body, rather than have responsibility rest with local authority home education advisors. We recognise that in some instances a child being subject to child protection measures would not necessarily preclude home education.

107. If local authorities are to be given the right to refuse or revoke registration to home educate on the basis of safeguarding concerns then we agree that home educating families must have right of appeal. It is disappointing that neither the Badman Report nor the Department's response to the Report included discussion of an appeals process. While it is right that the Children, Schools and Families Bill provides a right of appeal, the Department should give more details of the proposed appeals process before the House considers the Bill.

118   Sections 19B(7),19F(1)(d). Back

119   DCSF, DCSF Response to the Badman Review of Elective Home Education in England, October 2009. Back

120   EHE 11, paragraph 5 (Mark Dennison). See also, EHE 104, paragraphs 4, 12 (John Allen) Back

121   EHE 78, paragraph 2e (Group of Muslim home educators). See also, EHE 11, paragraph 4 (Mark Dennison); EHE 32, paragraph 2.9 (S J Sherwood); EHE 67, paragraph 2d (Greater Manchester Home Educating Network); EHE 77, paragraph 4.1 (David and Janet Proctor); EHE 134, paragraph 2.5 (West Surrey Home Educators Group); EHE 168, paragraph (Dr Ben Anderson) Back

122   EHE 134, paragraph 2.4.3 (West Surrey Home Educators Group)  Back

123   EHE 4, paragraph 9 (Dorothy Murphy); EHE 24, paragraph 6.6 (Marie Stafford); EHE 78, paragraph 2g (Group of Muslim home educators); EHE 106, section 6 (Local home education contact in Cumbria); EHE 168, paragraph (Dr Ben Anderson); EHE 169, paragraph 10.4 (Sheffield Home Educators' Network)  Back

124   Q 25  Back

125   Schedule 1, section 19G(1); Explanatory Notes to the Children, Schools and Families Bill, paragraph 217. Back

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