MPs critical of home education proposals

16 December 2009

Flaws in the Government’s proposals on home education must be tackled, concludes the Children, Schools and Families Committee in a report published today.

The report urges the Government to learn lessons from its handling of the Badman review of elective home education and pushes for more precise monitoring by local authorities.

The report recommends:

  • the introduction of a light touch, voluntary registration scheme for home-educating families, to be reviewed after two years
  • better information-sharing between local authorities and other agencies on child data
  • urgent action to clarify local authorities’ responsibilities for home-educated children with special educational needs, and better training for staff in this area
  • a statement of educational approach to be provided by home-educating families, supplemented by annual meetings with local authorities officers
  • the introduction of a revised, more precise definition of what constitutes a suitable education

Basic data on numbers of home educated children are lacking, and local authorities urgently require better methods of obtaining accurate data.

The Government should use the Children, Schools and Families Bill to provide a definitive statement of the applicability of the Children Act 2004 and the Every Child Matters outcomes to home-educated children.

Barry Sheerman MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:

"If a balance is to be struck between parental rights and guaranteeing that all children have access to a good education, local authorities must work positively and cooperatively with home-educating families.

"It should be the local authorities’ responsibility to know who is in school, who is home- educated and who is missing.

“This report is not concerned with whether a school or home education is superior.

"Our priority is to see that everything possible is being done so that all children are given the best start in life, are protected from harm and are equipped with the basic skills necessary in order to fulfil their potential and thrive."

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