Home schoolers protest over monitoring plans

More than 120 petitions opposing the Government’s plans to clamp down on home schooling have been presented to Parliament by MPs from all three main parties.

The proposals, which include giving Local Authorities the right to enter the homes of home-educating families, were unveiled last month in the Children, Schools and Families Bill.

The petitions, containing thousands of signatures, urge Children’s Secretary Ed Balls not to enact the proposals laid out in the Bill, and to focus instead on properly implementing existing guidelines.

A group of 74 MPs led by Tory Graham Stuart lined up to present the petitions to the House of Commons.

Mr Stuart said: “If enacted the Government’s proposals will for the first time in our history tear away from parents and give to the state the responsibility for a child’s education.”

He added: “These petitions show the extent of opposition across the country to proposals which will give local authorities the power to harass families that educate their children at home, even when there is no suspicion that they have done anything wrong.”

Mr Stuart, a member of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, commented that the new proposals were based on “a rushed study and flimsy evidence”.

Earlier this year the Government accepted the findings of a review by Graham Badman, the former Director of Children’s Services in Kent, that recommended annual registration and inspections for home educators.

Under the plans revealed in the Children, Schools and Families Bill parents will be able to object to Government officials conducting one-on-one interviews with their children, but those who do so risk finding that their children are forced to attend school.

Originally ministers wanted to give officials an absolute right to interview home-schooled children without parents being present and regardless of the parents’ wishes.

Last week Ofsted, the schools watchdog, called for parents who home school to be vetted by the Criminal Records Bureau as part of the new registration process.

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