Today program available for next couple of weeks here>
First part here
Interviewer: All right then, Cllr Watts, thank you. Let’s talk to Robert Halfon MP, chair of the education select committee, morning to you.
RH: Good morning, hello there.
I: You’ve started an inquiry haven’t you, into home schooling, so I imagine you don’t want to come to any firm conclusions but listening to what you’ve just listened to does that make sense to you?
RH: It certainly does. I welcome the LGA report, I mean let me make it clear, obviously many parents are home educating their children and doing a wonderful job but what I think needs to happen is first of all there should be a national register, there should be data collected by the Department for Education so not only do we know for sure how many children are being home educated we can look at their attainment and progress. We know that something like er 40 children are excluded every day in our classrooms, 100s of children are informally excluded, what is known as off rolling, we don’t know what happens to those children, whether they’re getting a good education. And I think that there should be, and we’ll look at this in our enquiry, some form of inspection as to how these children are being educated whether or not they are linked to a school, whether or not it’s the local authority. We have to remember Ofsted goes into schools though for academies you’ve got Ofsted and the regional school commissioners yet we don’t know the attainment levels of children who are educated at home. So we need accountability we need transparency we need the data, we need proper inspection regime to make sure that these children are getting the best learning they should have.
I: I suppose in the past if the numbers were relatively small it was one of those problems that we could put sort of down the list but if we are really talking about hundreds of thousands it really does matter.
RH: Well the growth of home education has gone up hugely in recent years, and as the LGA said they identify over 280,000 but it could be over 1 million pupils and we need to make sure that every single one of them is getting the best education they could possibly have and that is why the national register could not come soon enough.
I: do you think, sorry to interrupt you, I was just wondering whether you think there should be also an effort to persuade people not to do it, because obviously it is a right and no one is suggesting that it shouldn’t be a right and in certain circumstances it is obviously the right thing to do for a child but in general should the government be saying to parents hang on a sec, you should really think more carefully before you do this
RH I absolutely believe that it is the right of the parents if the parents want to home educate their children they should be able to do so, but there should be the data, they should be inspected, perhaps they should be linked with a school my own personal preference is that children do go to school because it’s not just about the education but also the support networks, the socialisation that they get, and all the other benefits that they get, and of course it’s up to each individual parent but children must be inspected, there must be a register and the dept for education must gather the data to find out how these children are doing in terms of their education
I: and if people want to take part in your enquiry or be aware of it as it’s happening what should they do.
RH: Just go to the department er the house of commons website we’ve had many hundreds of submissions already and we’re very welcome to receive some more.
Here’s the link to the education committee inquiry on home education
The description is this:
The inquiry will seek to understand the extent to which current arrangements provide sufficient support for home educated children to access efficient, full-time and suitable education, and establish what further measures may be necessary in order to facilitate this.
It will also explore the impact of COVID-19 on home education, and any particular needs arising from the pandemic that need to be addressed.
The interviewer appears to be well off the mark in assuming that Robert Halfon doesn’t want to come to firm conclusions. It appears to me that he already has an incredibly entrenched position.
This is not a reasoned, balanced, informed position. Robert Halfon has already come to a conclusion about what should happen, and given that he keeps going on about needing the data, it seems utterly ironic that his conclusion is based on fabricated data. Simply decided that education must be formal and 18 hours a week, as LGA appear to have done, does not mean there are actually 1 million home educated children. Who gets to say that education has to be formal? How do we define formal?
Going to have to leave it there for a while, but I will be back intermittently with more thoughts on this.