A cross-party group of MPs has criticised the Government’s clampdown on home education in a new report issued today by the Children, Schools and Families Committee.
Committee chairman Barry Sheerman labelled Ed Balls’ approach to the issue as “too aggressive, too hard-nosed”.
Under proposals revealed in the Children, Schools and Families Bill last month it will be compulsory for home-educating families to register with their Local Authorities.
While the Committee supported the Government’s proposal for registration, they suggested that “in view of the concerns expressed by home educators” it should initially be voluntary.
Under the current plans parents who refuse to allow Government inspectors to conduct one-on-one interviews with their children may find themselves being deregistered and their children forced to attend school.
But the MPs criticised this saying: “A parent’s or child’s refusal for such an interview to take place should not be included as grounds for revoking registration to home educate.”
The proposals in the Children, Schools and Families Bill follow a report by Graham Badman, the former Director of Children’s Services at Kent County Council, which claimed that home-educated children were at greater risk of abuse than other children.
However, the Committee criticised the Badman report as being based on a “less than robust evidence base”.
They added: “Given the lack of information on the actual numbers of home-educated children, we suggest it is unsafe for the Badman review to have reached such a strong conclusion about the relative risks of a child being home-educated or school-educated.”
Current estimates of the number of home-educated children range from 45,000 to 150,000.
Despite the proposals an increasing number of parents are choosing to educate their children at home.
In recent weeks MPs have presented over 170 petitions opposing the Government’s home education clampdown to the House of Commons.