Facebook group's letter to CRAE
Here is the The Facebook group
's open letter to the Children's Rights Alliance for England
On January 19th, 2009, DCSF, acting on the wishes of the NSPCC and local authorities, launched a consultation (since changed to a 'review') on home education; their grounds for this being that they believe Home Educated children are vulnerable to abuse, forced marriage, domestic servitude etc.
DCSF issued a press release to this effect which was taken up across the media with headlines along the same lines as this one in The Times newspaper:
Home education 'can be cover for abuse and forced marriage' http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/
There is no evidence to suggest that Home Educated children are at an increased risk of being abused than are their schooled counterparts, in fact there is overwhelming evidence to suggest the opposite. Indeed when pressed for evidence, the NSPCC spokesperson stated on Radio 2 that they have no evidence or statistics to support their concerns.
The media, with government backing, has inferred that children are being abused by dint of the fact that they are Home Educated. Our children are hurt and angry at this suggestion, and at the thought that their non Home Educated friends will think this is the case. We believe this contravenes article 17 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, specifically:
(e) Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the provisions of articles 13 and 18.
Some of our children have written letters to you expressing their feelings about this matter, which we have collected on our Facebook discussion board, you can view them here.
On studying the 6 questions Home Educators and their children have been given to answer (the LAs have 60 by comparison!) question 6 is not qualified by a yes/no option and is proving very difficult for children to answer, and we are concerned that the children's replies are at risk of being misinterpreted. As such we believe that DCSF has broken Article 12 of the UNCRC, which states:
Governments are to ensure that children have the right to express freely their views and to take account of children's views. Children have the right to be heard in any legal or administrative matters that affect them.
Question 1 of the Local Authority questionnaire gives us cause for concern: it asks how many children are statemented - statementing is not common place in Home Education, although there are a number of children with autism/medical issues. We believe the DCSF has failed their statutory disability equality duty, and as such any conclusions drawn from the Local Authority responses will not take the disabled into proper consideration.
The *review* as it has now been called, is due to end on February 20th, 2009, with yet another consultation to follow on the back of it later in the year. We would greatly appreciate your speedy advice on the matters broached within this email.
Techla Wood on behalf of:
Stop the UK Government stigmatising Home Educators