Press release: Draft EHE Guidance Consultation Campaign.

The Centre for Personalised Education has taken a pivotal role in this campaign for good reason. What happens to home educators is important to all those who seek to transform education or take different educational pathways and alternative learning journeys. The continual mission to demonise, police and exclude difference from our educational landscape is a threat to educational diversity, civil liberties, human rights and democracy.
 
This has been a major campaign and a huge amount of work by Sean and colleagues. Even if your are not within the home education communities please get informed and offer your support. The CPE response to this consultation can be found in the forum files along with our research using official data challenging the accusations that EHE is a safeguarding or radicalisation threat.
 
NEWS RELEASE/ NOTICE OF PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
For immediate release: Monday 16 July 2018
 
On Wednesday 18 July at midday, home educators across England will holding a national protest against new guidance that they say is illegal and threatening to the safety of their children.
 
Major events will take place in Westminster and Darlington, the respective locations of the politicians and civil servants with responsibility for home education. At midday, they will join twenty other groups all across England in a live simulcast of Gary Barlow’s Sing while a petition signed by over 16,000 people (around a fifth of all home educators) is handed in at the Department for Education. Twitter will light up as the groups use #homeedinsight to illustrate what a typical day looks like.
 
Home educators say that they were deliberately excluded from fact-finding meetings prior to the guidance being updated, unlike local authorities and organisations such as the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. The resultant guidance imagines a world in which LAs can impose their own local views of what constitutes a suitable education and even take children into care if they refuse to hand over workbooks.
 
Mike Wood, whose Facebook group opposed to the new guidance attracted 5000 members in its first 24 hours, says thus creates a postcode lottery and leaves parents responsible for education while unable to decide the content or format:
 
“This is the nanny state gone mad. Home educators should be able to focus on the needs of their children, not the personal preferences of local authority officials. If this guidance goes through, one LA might decide that all children have to be taught using workbooks and the national curriculum, while the next door authority might remain open to home education techniques such as ‘child-led’ learning. So if you live on the wrong side of the road, you could be taken to court for not following the advice of a complete stranger when actually it is the parent who knows the child best. And who will be at fault if the child’s learning suffers as a result of the change – the parent or the LA?”
 
He adds:
“They say they want to rebalance parental rights with children’s rights, but what this really means is that government is no longer happy to be parent of last resort, they want to play the roll of parent. Well, answer this, if they are the parent and the real parents are relegated to some minor roll, then who then is the parent of last resort? Who do children and families appeal to when the state gets it wrong? This is not just about home education, it’s about parenting. Who is the parent?”
 
Experts say that home educators are being unfairly vilified and that the new guidance is full of problems. Alison Sauer, a legal advisor who runs the popular Home Education & Your Local Authority Facebook group, says the new guidance blurs the lines between education and welfare:
 
“The new guidance allows local authorities to come into people’s homes, demand a meeting with the child, and call social services if the parent or child refuses – placing needless demand on an already over-burdened care system. The threat of invoking the Children Act, combined with the claim that they have a right to inspect the child’s bedroom on safety grounds, shows complete contempt for the principle of proportionality. Where parents disagree with the LA, there is no method of appeal other than to fund a court case and the guidance encourages LAs to try to recover their costs. It is inevitable that parents will end up being bullied into complying with the views of people who hardly know their child.”
 
LA hostility to home educators is well documented. Nationally, a recent study found that home educated children are more than three times as likely to be reported to Social services under suspicion of serious harm or neglect, yet only half as likely as other children to be found in need of protection.
 
Experts in learning are also concerned that the proposed changes will see local authorities pushing a ‘school at home’ approach that undermines the personalised nature of home education. Dr Harriet Pattison, an expert in child literacy and home education, says:
 
“Recent research has revealed that there are myriad ways to learn to read beyond those commonly used in schools. Home educators are in the fortunate position of being able to use whatever methods suit their children best. It is extremely likely that the new guidance, if adopted, will reduce diversity and close down many inspiring new approaches to learning just as they are beginning to prove themselves. We should be opening up knowledge and practice to allow more children to pursue a fulfilling, meaningful and successful education. This means protecting the freedoms of home education and seriously embracing the opportunities that it offers to create new educational possibilities for all children.”
 
ENDS.
804 WORDS.
 
Note to editor:
1. In Darlington, at midday, home educators will be handing a petition signed by 16,000 people to the civil servant responsible for drafting the new guidance. They will then be holding a picnic on the lawn outside his office.
2. Simultaneously, in Westminster, home educators will be handing in a letter at the Department for Education, asking why it has not responded to their request for a meeting and complaining that the consultation process is a sham.
3. Home educators will be holding picnics in 18 other locations, including Bristol, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Coventry, Halifax, Oxford, Portsmouth and Southampton.
4. The following experts are available for interview:
a. Alison Sauer, a home educating legal advisor who runs the popular Home Education & Your Local Authority Facebook group.
b. Dr Harriet Pattison (Liverpool Hope University), a literacy expert and former home educator who can comment on the risks that the new guidance poses to educational diversity
c. Dr Rachel Sara Lewis, a Muslim home educator and convert from Judaism who can comment on claims that home education is a smokescreen for radicalisation.
d. Mike Wood, a highly experienced home educator whose Facebook site opposed to the guidance has 8500 members. He can explain how the changes will likely affect children.
5. There are believed to be around 75,000 home educated children in England. Home educators object to being described as “invisible” even though they have a legal right to privacy and are usually well known to doctors, neighbours, librarians, swimming instructors, Scout leaders etc. Around 80% are known to their local authority.
6. A list of local home educators who are willing to be photographed and/or interviewed is available.
7. Please note that children and adults wearing red T-shirts should not be in focus (or not included) in any pictures

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