Home Education: The War Rages On

Mar 12, 2018 by

from Christians in Education:

Home education has dominated the education press for the last couple of weeks. That in itself is unusual, as home educators are not normally the focus of much attention. But the maelstrom swirling around parents who just want to be left alone to educate their children as they wish is of epic proportions. It’s indicative of the raging war in government departments.

The arguments started with Lord Soley’s Private Member’s Bill, which has gone from ‘doesn’t stand a chance of making it onto the statute books’ to the noble Lord expressing every confidence that it will become law. That’s when the gloves came off.

Then came the safeguarding bandwagon, but that didn’t do the trick either, because Lord Agnew, Under-Secretary of State for Education, responded to the pressure by saying that there would be no new primary legislation, and anyway, local councils had all the powers they need, they should just use them properly. That’s when the war broke out.

Local councils started to get aggressive – Westminster council has issued a school attendance order for Lilian Hardy, the child star of the West End musical show Matilda. Apparently, learning lines, acting and having the confidence to perform don’t count for much in Westminster, which has its own rules (with questionable legality) and a mission to ensure that every resident child complies with its definition of ‘suitable education’ – again, with dubious legality under Human Rights legislation. Lilian’s parents will not comply with the order, and are prepared to go to prison to defend their right to educate their daughter as they, not the state, see fit.

And although school attendance orders have, in the past, been rare, some local authorities have suddenly started issuing them en masse – 21 in East Anglia alone.  Why the sudden surge in activity from local councils? Probably to prove that they are using their powers in order to nullify Lord Agnew’s repeated assertions that they won’t be getting any new ones.

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