Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More on Pupil Registration Regulations

The following is by Mike Fortune-Wood, of the long-established and newly-redesigned Home Education UK website, reproduced here with his permission:

The government are proposing to introduce changes to the Pupil Registration Regulations which govern the registration of pupils at state school in England.

One of the changes being introduced (probably in September) will create a 20 day delay between a parent informing a school that they are home educating and the school actually removing the child from the register. It will also introduce a new registration code (Z) which will allow the child not to attend while still formally registered.

This proposal is intended to create a cooling off period for the parents so should they change their minds, a place will be kept for the child at their former school so that a return can be guaranteed. This was a proposal originally suggested by Mr Badman.

However, As was pointed out at the time of Mr Badman's review in 2009-10, such a change to the regulations would open what is known by some as the 'Ibiza loophole'. This is where a parent books a holiday in term time, de-registers the child for the duration of the holiday and then re-registers the child upon return, thus circumventing the anti truancy rules.

This not only makes a mockery of the governments anti truancy policies but also raises the concern among home educators that such abuse of the system will bring authentic law abiding home educators, who do sometimes take holidays during school terms (choosing to study instead during school holidays), into disrepute.

This regulation change is ill thought out and badly formulated. The education department will come to regret the change as news of how it can be used by feckless parents spreads.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Deregistration [from school] on demand - a vital civil liberty

... and one which successive UK governments have tried to chip away at with typically Fabian strategy for years.

Why is it of interest to home educators that the right of parents to deregister their children from school on demand be maintained?

Elaine Greenwood-Hyde says it better than I can:

Deregistration on demand is an incredibly important law for home educators and any tinkering will produce problems. It’s a very slippery slope. It is parents who are legally responsible, so when we deregister it should not be up to the government to say: "No, no … you have to wait 20 days." That’s not in accordance with section 7, for one thing.

It will mean 20 days of harassment that can be used to try to stop a family home educating. In particular I think families with children with SEN will be singled out. Ask any parent what it was like before deregistration on demand. There are horror stories.

It also leaves a loop hole for term time holidays for school pupils which might later be all-too-easily closed by government. The obvious next step is for them to decide that deregistration on demand itself is a nuisance.

Add to this that home educators have neither been informed or consulted about this and you know this doesn’t bode well for the future. Sneaky is as sneaky does. Beware the frog boiling...

Here's the latest, and here's the schedule for these changes:

By 21 March - responses received
W/c 28 March* - regulations to be signed
By 1 April* - regulations laid in parliament
6 April - House rises for recess
......On 1 September* - regulations come into force
* these timings depend on nature and content of the comments received from this letter.

So the new regulations are due to be signed this week!

Home educators were not informed - I gather someone came across the letter by accident this week. Ofsted - which has no role in home education - was informed, as was something called The Education Forum, which I've just joined but can't find any discussion about this.

People are emailing the letter's author (address in the heading) to make their views known, and some people are also emailing their MPs.

I think if this proposed change goes through, the general public will be even more reluctant to enroll their children in school in the first place.


Letter from Greg Midcalf, Policy Manager, School Attendance Safety Team:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Questions questions...

I think most of us recognise the pattern by now. A set of staged questions like this, followed by an announcement of a consultation like this.

I'd like to know how the system works, and who drives it. Paid lobbyists, obviously, but paid for by whom? And the Culture Secretary this time, not Michael Gove? Could this be because of Gove's words in Parliament of the 11th January 2010? He said then:

I am deeply concerned about the additional bureaucratic burden that will now potentially be placed on thousands of our fellow citizens whose only crime is to want to devote themselves as fully as possible to their children's education.

It is a basic right of parents to be able to educate their children in accordance with their own wishes, and to educate them at home if they so wish. There may be many reasons why parents take that decision: they might be dissatisfied with local provision; their child might have a specific educational need that they feel can be better supported at home; or they might have philosophical objections to the style of education on offer at the local state schools that are easily accessible.

Each of these decisions can sometimes be illuminating, in that they can tell us what is wrong with current provision-there might be a lack of diversity, for instance. Ultimately however, this is a basic human right that every parent should have, and I feel the Bill erodes that right, because, as I read it, it allows the state to terminate the right of a family to educate a child at home if the education offered is not deemed suitable according to regulations that the Secretary of State writes.

I wonder if there's a way of finding out who is doing the lobbying.