Why, as a home educator, I will be voting for the UK to *leave* the EU
UK home educators will never forget the 2009 Badman Review, which presented the biggest threat to their way of life since Joy Baker's children were in Chancery in the 1950s. The Badman Review was commissioned by the then Labour Education Secretary Ed Balls, but it took its academic justification from a paper by Daniel Monk, a reader in law at Birkbeck College in the University of London, with the title: 'Regulating home education: negotiating standards, anomalies and rights'.
I blogged a detailed critique of Mr Monk's work last year, in which I counted fifteen significant and unaccountable leaps of logic and some quite heavy bias in favour of state monitoring of parental educational provision, but he also mentions Europe no less than seven times throughout the paper, in fact one of the main thrusts of his argument seems to be: "Free and unfettered home education is unpopular within the EU, therefore the UK should be tightening up its own regulations and will, to be more in line with other EU countries."
Lobbying for tighter regulations of home education appears to be strangely de rigeur again just now. The Association of Directors of Children's Services has just published its 'overview' of the results of a survey it decided to hold, with some carefully selected response quotes at the end, mostly and unsurprisingly calling for greater powers of intervention. Needless to say, I was not invited to take part in this survey and nor was any other home educating parent to my knowledge.
In Bradford, Michael Wilshaw's call for an investigation into the bad state of its schools has somehow mysteriously morphed into a forthcoming inquiry about home education, which is roundly predicted to issue calls for more regulation of us - as though we are to blame for the state of schools in Bradford.
In a possibly collaborated pincer movement, Ofsted's Wilshaw and chair of the Commons Select Committee on Education, Neil Carmichael, are both gunning for us. Last month Wilshaw himself tried to link home education with illegal schools (can Local Authorities not police their own areas without threatening our children's learning..?) when he said:
"I have previously voiced concern that many of those operating unregistered schools are unscrupulously using the freedoms that many parents have to home educate their children as cover for their activities. They are exploiting weaknesses in the current legislation to operate on the cusp of the law."
And Neil Carmichael had his turn back in October when he said:
"I think [registration of home educators] should be compulsory. It would enable the local authority to get a better grip on home education and also help with child protection. I am a great believer in freedom of choice, but it would be better if children who are home educated were known about. It would reduce the chance of any vulnerable children being let down in any way, or slipping through the net."
Well, Mr Carmichael, sadly this is what can all too often happen when vulnerable children are "got a grip on" by local authorities and other professionals, and it is one of the key reasons why we will oppose your ideas every step of the way.
So far, the Conservative Party's 2010 assurances that our regulations will not alter while they are in government are holding good. But with the wolves above baying at our doors, we never know when we will next have to go and lobby Parliament, which is one of the many things we did in 2009 to good effect. If the European project continues apace, will we be travelling to Brussels instead of London the next time we need to protest? And if so, would our voices be heard there and make any difference? International education law expert Daniel Monk evidently thinks they would not.