The NSPCC has apologised after a spokesman suggested that home schooling may be a cover for child abuse cases like that of Victoria Climbié.
The slur was made in February when the well-known children’s charity commented on news that the Government was reviewing the law on home education.
Vijay Patel, a policy adviser at the NSPCC, had told the Independent: “Some people use home education to hide. Look at the Victoria Climbié case. No one asked where she was at school.”
Home schooling group Education Otherwise was greatly concerned by the accusation and later met with NSPCC bosses.
A letter of apology has now been sent to Education Otherwise signed by NSPCC Director of Public Policy, Phillip Noyes.
He writes: “I would like to apologise for the offence this has caused. Clearly there is no connection between home education and Victoria’s tragic death as she was not being educated at home.
“Despite the fact that it was not the intention of the NSPCC’s spokesperson to suggest such a connection, I recognise, as does he, that it was inappropriate to refer to Victoria in this context.”
The letter adds: “The NSPCC is concerned about the safeguarding of all children whether they are educated at home or at school and that will be the basis of our involvement with the Government review.”
The NSPCC made clear that it is not opposed to home schooling and that parents have the right to decide what is in the best interests of their children.
A Government review of home schooling was announced in January. The review is considering whether current systems “adequately support and monitor the education, safety and wellbeing of home educated children”, and could make recommendations for improving these systems.
The Government says it has “no plans to change parents’ well established rights to educate their children at home”.
The Guardian newspaper reported last year that home schooling families from Germany are taking refuge in the UK.
The German authorities have threatened to take their children into care under laws introduced to ensure children’s education was under state control.
One German couple is currently appealing against a conviction for withdrawing their eleven-year-old daughter from sex education classes.
Another couple is seeking asylum in America. The family fears that if they return to Germany the father will be arrested and the children removed by the authorities.
In March it was reported that Christian and Muslim parents in London could face legal action after they kept their children away from school events celebrating ‘gay rights’.