A COMPULSORY REGISTER
The Somerset Guardian, 10th April 2019
Recently, the Government announced that it intends to introduce a compulsory register for all children not receiving formal education in school.
The reason behind this is, according to the Department for Education, to identify young people who are in ‘dangerous situations’, who are given either a solely religious education or who are not in receipt of any at all. Home-schooled children will also be on this list. If the new system is implemented the responsibility will fall on parents to declare that their child does not attend a state-funded or registered independent school.
Whilst I agree with the Education Secretary that children in vulnerable predicaments or who do not receive any form of education ought to be protected the proposed register is only onerous to those who abide by the rules. If parents do not declare that their children are being home-educated they are under the radar and cannot be protected, rendering this a futile exercise.
Ultimately, parents know what is best for their children. I understand, therefore, the concerns that have been raised by parents about the state interfering in matters that should not involve it. Changing the status quo will also include local authorities carrying out a programme of sanctions for parents who either fail to declare that their children are not in formal schools or are not delivering the curriculum that will be set for them. This will be difficult and expensive to regulate, especially given that last year there were circa 60,000 children in England who were home-schooled.
A plan to deal with those children slipping through the net would be welcome but these few cases should not tar all those parents who are successfully teaching their children with the same brush.