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Home Schooling

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

7. When he expects to issue recommendations for home schooling in Gloucestershire arising from the report of the Badman review; and if he will make a statement. (292198)

We announced our response to the Badman report on home education on Friday 9 October. Home education is an established part of the British education system. The arguments in the report for giving home-educated families better access to public services are strong, particularly when a child or young person has special educational needs, and our response sets out the practical steps we will take to implement these and the other recommendations in the review.

I thank my hon. Friend for what she has to say, but does she accept that there is at least some misgiving about the nature of Badman’s recommendations and that there is a need for proper consultation, particularly in my county, where quite a large number of people have chosen to home educate their children? Will she ensure that her door is open to those of us who want to talk to her about some of those problems, so that we do not have an unnecessary spat over what could be an important way forward?

I am very happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss this issue. May I reassure him that the consultation on the registration and monitoring recommendations remains open until 19 October? It has been open since June; nearly 1,000 responses have been received, and clearly we would welcome any further such responses.

Given the Government’s general acceptance of the Badman review, have they left themselves enough scope to respond to these important representations, particularly in respect of the conditions attached to registration?

The hon. Lady will know that, as I have just explained to the House, the consultation will have taken place over a considerable period—from June until 19 October. A further response was made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on Friday of last week, which set out further areas for consultation arising out of the Badman recommendations. There has been sufficient time for this consultation, and clearly the Government need to consider the responses—we will do so in the next few weeks.

The Minister must be aware of the real worry felt by people who home educate; there is a feeling that this is the beginning of the thin edge of the wedge—I use a cliché—and a move towards the German system of banning home education altogether. Will she give a categorical assurance that that is not the Government’s intention?

May I just reassure my hon. Friend that this Government’s view of home education is one that supports the rights of parents to home educate? However, there is a balance to be struck and the Government need to be sure that children who are being educated at home are receiving a suitable education. I hope very much that the Select Committee that is examining this issue will put forward its own views on the Badman review, and we will certainly be considering all the responses to the consultation.