Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The House of Commons education committee's report on home education

I do not see how the home education section of the current Bill can be sensibly modified, in the time that we have, to take account of the committee's report.

There are too many of its recommendations that need careful analysis and discussion - the nature of registration, the definition of suitable education, LA officers' training and code of practice, the way support should be provided for HE - more, doubtless, when I have read the report carefully.

Also, first indications of the outcome of the Ofsted investigation are that it will be more on the side of HE than the Commons committee.

Given all this, I hope that the DCSF will take the opportunity of the committee's report to take a graceful step backwards. I shall not hold my breath, though, but I still expect the HE section of the bill to die when the election is called, if not before.

HE will remain unfinished business for the department and parliament. The conflicts evident in the committee's report, a compromise between strong and opposing views, will need to be resolved, and a strong, quarrel-free (which does not mean united) HE input will be important for the next couple of years at least.

I think that the most likely outcome is voluntary registration, withdrawal of registration subject to a proper court, support for HE from LAs, and training/standards for LAs - but it's clear from the committee's report that there's a strong thread of parliamentary thought that would prefer something that was much harsher on HE.