HSLD welcomes government plans to introduce home education register
Government announcement on home school register
HSLD warmly welcomes the announcement on 2 April of a government plan to require local authorities to create a register of children who are being educated outside of mainstream education.
The creation of a register will help local authorities to detect cases where children are receiving a wholly religious education, attending an unregistered school or not receiving an education at all.
The decision follows Ofsted in 2018 identifying 420 centres operating as illegal schools; in many cases, these centres are believed to be teaching a purely religious curriculum or exposing children to extremist content.
Under the proposals, parents will be required to inform the local authority when their child is not attending a mainstream school. The government is now consulting on the plans until 24 June, with a view to creating legislation. It will also look at what powers local authorities should be given to monitor the suitability of home schooling arrangements.
HSLD's campaign and Lib Dem policy
HSLD has been a vocal advocate of greater regulation of home and unregistered schooling. We lobbied for the inclusion of a register requirement in Lib Dem policy, and were pleased to see some of the wording of HSLD's Toby Keynes' policy paper on unregistered schools included in the party's education policy adopted at Conference in March 2018. This policy states that:
We would require that children who are being educated outside a registered school be visited biannually by a representative of the LA to ensure that appropriate education was being given and that such children are being educated in line with the national curriculum entitlement … We would also strengthen the hand of LAs to deal with unregistered schools, including by reviewing the legislation.
HSLD was also pleased to see the party defeat an amendment aimed at removing this requirement at the same Conference.
The government's proposals represent a welcome step in protecting the rights of children to receive an education that is fit for purpose and that prepares them for adult life.