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The Schools Bill: Briefing paper

The Schools’ Bill has been introduced and had its first reading in the House of Lords. Home educating families and organisations that have an interest in the development of children are horrified by its content.

Home educating families have been repeatedly assured that this Bill would go no further than mandatory registration of home educated children. The Bill goes considerably further and if enacted, will destroy the very basis of home education: provision of an individualised education to a child, suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude.

By introducing a compulsory register of all home educated children, the Bill gives Local Authorities near enough unlimited powers to demand any and all information with threats of substantial fines and year-long imprisonment. Experience tells us that whilst some LAs will act reasonably, a sizeable number have demonstrated a continued propensity to abuse their existing powers, causing long lasting distress and harassment to children and parents. With no oversight the extent of abuse of power will only increase.

It is widely known that making a complaint to the LA is ineffective; the Local Government Ombudsman will only investigate whether or not the LA’s own policy (which may be illegal) is followed; the Secretary of State does not act on complaints and has not revoked a single School Attendance Order (SAO) for a home educated child and Judicial Review is inaccessible costing upwards of £50,000.

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