New home schooling proposals force us to consider the role of the parents vs the role of the stateby Sophia Moss / July 10, 2018 / Leave a comment
Chloe’s tooth fell out when she was seven. Why? Because a boy punched her in the face at primary school. When she was older, Chloe’s classmates held her down and made her eat an old sandwich off the floor on the school bus, they threatened to stab and drown her, and the teachers did nothing. Desperate to avoid school, Chloe would go to bed every night, hide under the covers with her Nokia phone and spend hours purposely hyperventilating so her bed would be drenched in sweat and her parents would think she was sick. Six months later, Chloe’s parents decided to home educate her.
Home education is a growing phenomenon in the UK. It is estimated that 45,500 children are currently home educated, according to the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) which sent a survey to 152 local authorities in October 2017. The ADCS also found that 92 per cent of local authorities reported year-on-year increases in the number of children being taught at home. The real number is likely to be higher because parents are currently under no legal obligation to register their children as home educated.
That could change. On 10th April 2018, the Department for Education (DfE) issued a call for evidence to gather opinions about home education. The lengthy questionnaire, which was targeted at parents, local authorities and schools, asked for the pros and cons of compulsory registration. It also asked what action should be taken if a parent refuses to cooperate and whether the monitoring powers of local authorities should be increased. The consultation closed on 2nd July 2018 and the DfE is currently reviewing the results.
Why should you care? Home education is a niche subject which may not personally affect you, but the debate about compulsory registration is a debate about the rights of the parent vs the role of the state. Can we trust parents to know what’s best for their children, or should the government have more power to intervene?
Education is compulsory, but school is not. Parents have a duty to ensure their child gets a suitable education at school or otherwise, while local authorities have the power to intervene if they believe the child is not receiving an education suitable for their age, ability or special needs. The only time a parent is under legal obligation to inform the local education…