Tuesday, April 02, 2019

New guidance and consultation on registration

The Department for Education has this morning published:

I've only had chance to skim-read it all so far, but my initial thoughts are as follows:

  1. The new guidance incorporates some of the more worrying elements of last year's draft and is really only a slightly mitigated version of the draft. In reality this will lead to few changes for home educators who live under the more reasonable local authorities and probably more hassle for all of the others - in the short term. See my next point for expectations over the longer term!
  2. Compulsory registration, even though it is supposed to "function only as a list" and "not change LAs' powers" will, I fear, be ratcheted up in a period of years back to the kind of licensing scheme proposed by Graham Badman ten years ago. The consultation document already talks about allowing for "changes in the scheme in the light of experience".
  3. The guidance (active from today onwards) sets out the ultimate threat of Care Orders we saw in last year's draft, which is unnecessarily draconian, authoritarian and traumatising. The kind of mentality that deems this kind of harsh treatment of families to be in any way appropriate is beyond my understanding.

I feel saddened by this turn of events, for home educating families thoughout England who will be affected by it and for my own family. It's depressing to think that my children will probably not be able to offer their children the same kind of wonderful childhood of exploration and adventure that they themselves have enjoyed. Being able to help them follow their interests and nurture their curiosity has been an absolute joy and a privilege and one that I would wish for any other parent who wanted it, in the absence of this government-prescribed mistrust and interference from officials.

What can we do now?

Personally I'm not in a mad rush to do anything, because experience teaches me that such events need time to be assimilated and processed through my mind and also through our on- and off-line communities and groups. We have three months to reply to the consultation, but I hope as many home educators and their friends, families and supporters as possible respond to say we don't want a compulsory register. The new guidance needs to be taken apart to see if the worst parts of it can still be challenged and many conversations and meetings will take place in the next few weeks as we try to work everything out and adapt as best as we can to the new situation.

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