Parents who home educate are worried about a new law that strengthens the powers of authorities to issue fines and force children into mainstream schools if they don't comply with the rollout of a new mandatory register.
'Frightening prospect'In the UK, home education means that your child is not on a school roll and the parents take full responsibility for their children's education. While being home-schooled, children remain on their school roll and received a combination of support from schools.
The Government claims that there are increased concerns about the rising numbers of children not on a school roll (either due to being home-educated, attending full-time non-school alternative provision, or missing education completely), and that some of these children may not be receiving a suitable education or not be known to the local authority at all.
However, some in the home-educated community are fearful that new powers will be handed to the government, on top of the ones it already has.
Home education expert Hannah Canavan, who provides advice to 26,000 followers on Tiktok, told The Epoch Times she had several concerns with the new Bill.
"The irony is that a lot of these children have been pulled out of school because of the issues in school. It's the same administration that has created the environment that we are not happy for our kids to be in that will be checking on our kids," she said.
Canavan said that she doesn’t agree with standards set in British schools, such as the curriculum [which sets out the national programmes of study] and standardised testing, "which is why we are home educating," she said.
Canavan added that the concern is that the register is a "gateway for them to implement the same standards for home educators" and that she expected "home assessments will be the next step to happen."
"It makes us guilty until proven innocent," she said.
School Attendance Order (SAO)Last year, Portsmouth Home Education Group took Portsmouth City Council (PCC) to court over claims it treated some parents as "criminals" for choosing not to send their children to mainstream schools. The parents got sent School Attendance Orders (SAO), demanding their children return to a mainstream classroom within two weeks.
Children 'dropping off the radar'A Government spokesperson did not answer The Epoch Times' specific questions but pointed to the Departments of Education blog post that reflected its position on the homeschooling register.
"While the vast majority of home educating parents do an excellent job, it’s important that home education doesn’t result in children dropping off the radar and becoming vulnerable to poor standards of education or risks to their safety and wellbeing," it wrote.
"The creation of local authority administered registers for children not in school will allow us to support local authorities to make sure they know where every child is being educated, that it is of the right quality, and that support is offered to home educating families," the government wrote.
An "appropriate response to a failure to register is to take steps to determine whether the child is being suitably educated and, if not, to get that child into school," it added.