Here is a letter written by Lord Adonis is response to an enquiry made to him about the forthcoming Consultation from an MP on behalf of a parent. This is a very important letter and really gives a clear indication that the DfES mean business.Thank you for your letter of 12 December, addressed to Alan Johnson, about elective home education. I am replying as this falls within my area of responsibility.I should firstly clarify that there is no specific duty in statute on local authorities to monitor parents’ education provision. However, it is our view that the cas of Philips vs Brown (1980) allows local authorities to make enquiries of parents to establish whether ’suitable’ education is being provided. Following consultation, if changes to legislation were to be introduced, they would of course be subject to the full parliamentary process.
The state does not currently prescribe what form of education parents should provide, whilst all maintained and independent school provision is prescribed in legislation and subject to inspection. This anomaly is at odds with Every Child Matters reforms, supported by the Children Act 2004, which set out the Government’s aim to improve educational outcomes for all children, regardless of where they are educated, and to narrow the gap between those who are doing well and those who are not.
Last year’s consultation on draft local authority guidelines was a targeted consultation, and included a selection of local authorities, as well as the home education support organisations which we were aware of as this seemed the most effective way of reaching the home education community.We intend that the forthcoming consultation on elective home education will be a full one, conducted via the Department’s consultation website. We hope this will ensure that the documents are accessible to as many people as possible, and officials are currently compiling a list of home educators who have expressed interest in being involved in the consultation.The aim of the consultation is to open up a constructive debate on whether or not changes are required, and if so what they might be.As the consultation will primarily be conducted via the Department’s website, with support from the Department’s in house Consultation Unit, the costs will be minimal and met from general administrative expenditure.The consultation will adhere to the Cabinet Office code of practice on consultations and the usual lines of Ministerial accountability will apply to this, as with all work undertaken by the Department for Education and Skills.
The concerns about lack of local authority access to the child, expressed by respondents to our previous consultation (which were not necessarily concerns about potential abuse, but rather about the general difficulty in assessing children’s progress and children’s views on their education being heard) is the reason this further consultation is taking place.
Please re-assure your constituents that officials have added their details to our list so that they will be alerted when the consultation starts and afforded the opportunity to participate.”
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