Government home ed plans ‘deeply sinister’

The Government is taking its powers “a step too far” if officials are allowed to question children without their parents present, warns a Daily Telegraph columnist.

Philip Johnston, writing about new proposals for controlling home-schooling families, said parents should oppose the “pied pipers of Whitehall”.

Under the new proposals, Government officials will have the power to visit home-schooling families to ensure children are being provided with what the Government defines as a “suitable” and “efficient” education.

All families who home educate will also have to register their children.

Mr Johnston said: “For the first time, local councils will have the power to enter family homes and question young children without the presence of their parents – something even the police are not allowed to do unless the parent is the suspect”.

The writer also said the “idea that a compulsory registration scheme and all the other busybody paraphernalia that has caused such damage elsewhere in the public sector should now be visited upon people in their own homes is a step too far”.

He continued: “The pied pipers of Whitehall are after our children and must be resisted.”

Mr Johnston criticised Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, and claimed the public consultation, which closed on Monday, was “in name only”, “because the Government has already decided what it wants to do”.

Mr Johnston said the Badman Report “concluded that since parents are clearly not to be trusted with the education of their children, they will have to register with the local authority, be subjected to inspection visits by Ofsted and submit a statement of how they intend to educate their child.”

The home education review prompted anger from home-schooling groups as the Government suggested home education might be used to cover up child abuse.

Mr Johnston wrote: “There is no evidence that children educated at home are more likely to be assaulted or left feeling isolated or lacking in confidence; quite the opposite, in many cases.”

The Telegraph writer pointed out that: “many of these parents have taken their children out of school to escape the damaging impact of precisely this sort of bureaucratic meddling, which has destroyed their faith in the ability of the state system to deliver a high-quality education”.

Mr Johnston asserted that “many home-educated children do go to a conventional school at some point”, but added “the point is that it should be for families to decide, not some local authority bureaucrat”.

Earlier this week a BBC radio host said some evangelical parents need monitoring by the state because they may ‘intimidate’ their children with ideas about God, sin and hell.

The comments were made on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme.

The show’s host, Roger Bolton, spoke of “authoritarian” evangelical fathers of “Victorian periods” who threatened their children with theology.

He was interviewing Schools Minister, Diana Johnson, and went on to say, “some people will worry that this is possible now under home tuition, that this could happen.”

Mr Bolton continued: “and you would not be able to do anything about it because people would just say, ‘we’re simply telling them what we believe'”.

Last month, an American girl who has been educated at home by her Christian mother was ordered to attend a Government-run school so she can learn about other belief systems.

The court conceded that the New Hampshire ten-year-old is bright, sociable and academically advanced for her age, but decided she should no longer be home schooled.

The reason, says her mother’s attorney, is simply that the girl’s “religious beliefs are a bit too sincerely held” and need to be “mixed among other worldviews”.

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