Sunday, 16 May 2010

Home Education and the New Government

Home education has won a battle. C was watching the TV with us when Gordon Brown made the trip to the Palace to resign. We explained to him that it meant that the Labour government was finished and he responded with "Yippee! Home Education wins!" Unfortunately it is only a battle, not the war. To win that, or at least improve our position for future battles, some low-key preparation needs to be done.

The in-your-face approach adopted to defeat the CSF Bill is not the way forward. We have a new government that is sympathetic to us. Most of the top people know what will happen if they try anything we don't like, and while ultimately they could pass legislation, we'd take up a lot more of their time than they'd like, so it's going to be in everyone's interest to let home education find its own way for a few years. However, if we keep pushing it blatantly, we're likely to end up with legislation, and while we might not get legislation with nasty strings attached, it will almost certainly come with hooks on it, to which a future government would be able to attach those strings quite easily. So be careful what you ask for, it may have unintended consequences in the future. It's worth remembering that having a large, anonymous contingent of home educators makes it harder for a future government to control us because first they have to find us.

Home education is at a point where we need to maintain a watching brief. Certainly the proposed education bill needs a going over to check for anything that might affect us directly or indirectly, but if we're being left alone we can quietly work amongst ourselves to come up with things we might want to see in legislation and good arguments against things that might appear that we don't want. The trick is not to start the next fight, but to be ready with arguments for and against anything good or bad that might come up.

Rather than highlight home education, we would achieve more lasting improvements by trying to change the intrusive nature of state interference. This benefits us by the back door because if we can get the general population and the media to stop expecting the government to do everything for us, pressure on local authorities will be reduced and their culture of an expectation of knowing full details about every child will be changed.

By all means talk to your MP and others, but reduce the emphasis on home education and make it a wider discussion. That way we get to keep the contacts (or make new ones if you have a new MP) in case they're needed for the future, and leave positive memories of home education without being too blatant about it.

If we can change the general attitude towards state control that currently exists, it will be a lot easier to deal with the next attempt to impose legislation on home education and instead of fighting a rear-guard action to stop something bad happening, we will be better positioned to push for something good. Something that has no strings, and no hooks either.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (Sorry, had to delete the above comment and try again, due to typos)

    Me too.

    It's really good to hear people expressing thoughts like this; it's something that's been worrying me a lot.

    Thanks for posting.