The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) released a report calling for homeschoolers in England to be more closely monitiored by the local authorities. The DCSF News Centre release titled, Better Monitoring And Support For Home Educated Children In England is available here. From DCSF web site:
Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan has accepted in full the recommendations of Graham Badman’s Review of Elective Home Education in England.
On 19 January 2009 Graham Badman – former Director of Children’s Services in Kent – was asked to carry out a review of elective home education in England. The terms of reference for the review emphasized the Government’s recognition of parents’ well established right to educate their children at home. They also set out the pre-eminent right of the child to receive a suitable education in a safe environment.
The author of the report, Graham Badman, states:
This review does not argue against the rights of parents as set out in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 outlined above, nor their deeply held convictions about education. I believe it would be wrong to seek to legislate in pursuit of an all embracing definition of “suitable”. However, such is the demand and complexity of 21st Century society and employment that further thought should be given to what constitutes an appropriate curriculum within the context of elective home education.
It is anyone’s guess what this will mean but doesn’t bode well. Mr. Badman appears to be frustrated by working with independent minded homeschoolers:
‘Education Otherwise’, a home education group, in a detailed set of proposals, listed recommendations they would wish to see as a consequence of the review. However, this evidence apart, what I believe to be of significance was that the immediate response of many other home educators was to disown any such series of proposals and distance themselves from the arguments put forward.
Herein I believe lies a fundamental problem, namely the absence of a representative voice for home educating parents and home educated children. The Government of Tasmania supports a system that not only gives elective home educators a voice in policy determination but also a role in the monitoring and support of other home educating families. Having raised this notion with both groups of home educators and individuals, such a structure at this time may
be a step too far but I do believe there is need for a representative body at a local level so that there is a regular exchange of views and transfer of knowledge between local authority and home educating parents and children.
The call for more regulations also cites the specter of abuse.
The number of children known to children’s social care [abuse cases] in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population. Secondly, despite the small number of serious case reviews where home education was a feature, the consideration of these reviews and the data outlined above, suggests that those engaged in the support and monitoring of home education should be alert to the potential additional risk to children. So saying is not to suggest that there is a causal or determining relationship, but simply an indication of the need for appropriately trained and knowledgeable personnel.
At this point this is a report, but, it looks like homeschoolers in England have an up hill battle facing more studies, tighter regulations and closer monitoring. The other thing in this report to note is that the general language justifying tighter regulations is similar to language accompanying educational reform in the states. (And yes, the irony of Badman calling for more regulations is just impossible ignore.)
The report to the Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families on the Review of Elective Home Education in England is available here.