The Draft Policy

The five boards are conducting five consultations on one document- a new policy they hope to implement throughout Northern Ireland. You can download it, and also an earlier draft, which was presented as active to at least one home educator in 2013 and which we consider informative as to the intent of the drafters.

A legal challenge could be mounted were the Boards ever to try and impose such a policy. As the law stands at present, there is no power for this type of rule to be implemented by means of local consultation. These changes cannot be brought in without going through the full legislative process first. 

The Education and Library Boards do not have the power to legislate. If they wonder why we don't trust them enough to invite them into our homes they should look at the way they twist and misrepresent the law.

HEdNI believe it is important to fight this policy because of the way it could be used to bully and intimidate. This is policy, not law. However a policy covering the whole Region could have quasi-legal force, particularly in the absence of case law or guidance. The Boards appear to take the view that the interpretation of the law is up for grabs and with the weight of every Board behind their view, and a notably conservative judiciary, they might indeed be able to twist the law enough to make life very difficult. Nobody wants to be the test case that proves them wrong in the higher courts.

What is wrong with the policy?

- most importantly it is outside their power. The legislation gives them no power or duty to do anything beyond investigating "where it appears" that a suitable education is not being provided.

- entry into the home. Not even the police have access to private homes without reasonable suspicion of wrong doing. Such access violates our human rights.

- access to the child.  Home educated children cannot be compelled to be interviewed.

- confusion of welfare and education issues. Home education is not a welfare issue, it is offensive to imply otherwise. If there are welfare concerns then refer them to social services. If there are not then don't vaguely refer to welfare as an excuse to ignore the rights of home educating families.

- delaying deregistration. This is an old fight, which they have already conceded. The boards have no power to delay deregistration.

- requiring a 'programme' of education. The Boards have no duty or power in law to dictate or approve the content of education. The strength of home education is it's diversity, flexibily and personalised nature.