MPs slam proposal to register home-educated

18th December 2009 at 00:00

An influential cross-party committee of MPs has blasted government plans to force home educating parents to register their children with the local authority annually.

Releasing its final report on home education, the Commons schools select committee criticised the Government's proposals for home schooling, claiming they were "flawed", adding that the Department for Children, Schools and Families' review earlier this year was "poorly handled".

In June, the DCSF accepted the findings of a report into home education carried out by Graham Badman, former director of children services at Kent County Council, who called for it to become compulsory for all home-educated children to be registered with their local authority.

The recommendations of the Badman Review have now been incorporated into the Children, Schools and Families Bill, which is currently passing through the Commons.

But select committee chair Barry Sheerman said the Bill was "highly amendable", adding that the committee's report was rushed through in order to influence the legislation.

Central to the report is a call for registration with local authorities to be voluntary and "light touch", with an option for it to become compulsory after two years.

Speaking to The TES, Mr Sheerman said: "Our major recommendation is for the Department to tell local authorities what their powers are and what they should do with those powers.

"The Government needs to build a stronger relationship with home educators, and we believe our approach of voluntary registration - a carrot rather than a stick approach - that will provide all of the benefits and support to home educators is the best way."

Mr Sheerman added: "I admire Ed Balls' passion for getting things done, but sometimes he wants to act so quickly he can push things too far and is forced to row back. He did it with the vetting and barring of adults working with children and he has done it with other things."

The recommendations set out by Graham Badman in his review sparked outrage among home educators, and last week Graham Stuart, MP for Beverly and Holderness and member of the select committee, handed more than 120 petitions against the proposals over to Downing Street.

Schools minister Diana Johnson said: "We believe the introduction of compulsory, light-touch registration for home-educated children is an important element of the way forward. It is only if all home-educated children are registered that local authorities will get the information they need to make accurate assessments about the numbers of home educated children in their areas."

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