Ministerial Answers

Ministerial Answers

Several Ministerial Questions were asked by Danny Kinehan MLA, the most interesting answer is to the last question:

whether the Assembly and the Education Committee will be given the opportunity to engage in the debate about future regulation of home education, currently subject of a consultation process carried out by the Education and Library Boards? (AQW 33476/11-15)

The answer is very similar to the letter recieved by HEdNI from the Department this week:

"I am aware that the Education and Library Boards have begun a consultation on draft guidance to inform how they give effect to the responsibilities that legislation places upon them in this area.

That consultation process provides an opportunity for views and ideas to be provided to the Boards on how they best strike the balance between facilitating parental preference for home education and ensuring that the rights and needs of children themselves are appropriately protected."

Again there is an assumption that the rights and needs of children are at odds with parental preference.  HEdNI would dispute this assumption.

A further question from Jo Anne Dobson MLA recieves an answer (AQW 33619/11-15) emphasising the importance of a wide range of stakeholders:

"Legislation places specific responsibilities on parents and on the five Education and Library Boards in the area of the education of children other than at school including those who are educated at home. 

The Boards have directly prepared guidance which reflects those legislative responsibilities and they are currently consulting on this guidance.  The consultation process provides an opportunity for views and ideas to be provided to the Boards on how they best strike the balance between ensuring that the rights and needs of children themselves are appropriately protected and facilitating parental preference for home education.

As Education Minister my focus is on ensuring the needs of children and young people are met. Therefore, I have made clear that I expect the Boards to ensure engagement with as wide a range of stakeholders as possible including young people and their families as part of that consultation and to ensure also that the feedback they receive is considered very carefully in reviewing the draft guidance. 

I have also made clear that I will wish to review their guidance once it has been subject to consultation and reviewed and refined in response to the engagement that has taken place."

Two very interesting questions are waiting for answer:

Alex Attwood MLA:

To ask the Minister of Education to outline the reasons for the draft policy on Elective Home Education giving greater power to Education and Library Boards than is currently the case under section 13 of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986

and

Gregory Campbell MLA:

To ask the Minister of Education what consideration has been given to how the relevant authorities in other regions of the UK address the issue of Elective Home Education.

 A detailed summary of Ministerial Questions and Answers is being maintained at EdYourself: http://edyourself.org/articles/answersni.php