Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Home Educators' Vigil Tonight

On Tuesday 8th December from 6.00p.m. home educators are holding a vigil in Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament.

Inside, history is being made as home educators begin to petition the House of Commons to get rid of Clause 26 of the Children, Schools and Families bill. More than 120 petitions will be presented in a mass presentation with 10% of MPs in the Chamber, smashing the record for petitions in one day.

In total more than 250 identical petitions from constituencies all over England, an overwhelming record in parliamentary history, are to be presented to Parliament over the next few weeks.

Under existing law, Local Authorities have powers to take action if they have reason to believe home educated children in their area are not receiving a suitable education, according to their age, aptitude and ability. Under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 they also have the power to intervene and gain access to the home where there is evidence that a child is at risk of significant harm.

However, under clause 26, the Government is seeking to dramatically extend State powers.

  • The Bill requires that all home educators apply annually for permission to continue home educating.
  • Local authorities will also to have the right to enter the residence "where the education takes place" and potentially to interview children without the parent present.
  • Home educating parents will be required to formulate an annual educational plan, which must be approved by the Local Authority. Parents will then be assessed in accordance with the plan.
  • Non-compliance with the demands of the Local Authority will result in a Statutory School Order being issued.
The proposed legislation is in direct opposition to Section 7 of the Education Act that it is the `duty of parents to secure education'. For the first time in British legislative history, the Government will become responsible for children's education instead of parents. This represents a fundamental shift in power, allowing the State to intrude yet further into family life.

Currently home educating parents take full responsibility for their children's learning, at no cost to the taxpayer. They are sensitive to the shifting developmental needs of their children. However, the proposed legislation threatens this educational approach, as parents who diverge from the enforced plan will have their children forcibly sent to school.

The Government is proposing to spend £1000 per child per annum on just monitoring each home educated child (no funds are earmarked for providing support or improving access to services for home educated children). As there is no evidence that this monitoring will improve educational outcomes for children, this is an unwarranted additional expense at a time when massive cut backs in existing services are necessary to stem
Government debt.

Home Educators: if you are planning on coming, please bring any placards left over after the mass lobby although there’ll be some stuff to wave provided and some masks that were used at the mass lobby demo. As it’ll be dark we thought it might be fun for everyone to bring torches. Also anything loud like whistles would be good as MPs might be able to hear us as well as hopefully some passing traffic honking their support. Bubbles in torchlight might work too.

If you can't be there, but you are on twitter, please tweet! Join the P Party at 8.30 by searching and tweeting with the tag #HEPP.

Try to get media coverage please call BBC London, Radio 5 live, LBC etc or send a press release to your local paper.

BBC London’s news desk on 020 776 50935 or text them on 07786 200 949

It is likely to be covered on Five Live Drive Time - http://www.bbc.co.uk/5live/get-in-touch/

Call: 0500 909 693

SMS/MMS: 85058


Twitter: @bbc5live

1 comment:

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