- 2014 Consultation
- Groups and Meetings
The Education Authority has published a summary of consultation responses, which can be found here: http://www.eani.org.uk/about-us/latest-news/elective-home-education-draft-policy-summary-of-consultation-f/
On first reading it seems like a thorough survey of responses, which seem to be overwhelmingly concerned about legal errors and the overall advisability of such a scheme - teachers, MLAs, churches, parents and organisations all concur... with the exception of a few who seem to have little or no interest in home education or knowledge of it. We have been advised by the EA that they do not intend to progress this draft and, though this has not yet been publically stated, it would certainly be difficult to move forward with a scheme after such condemnation.
We are concerned that the basic error of law is repeated as fact in the second paragraph of the introduction, and we have contacted the EA to register our objection to this. The page that links to the pdf states:
"On 28 April 2014, a draft Elective Home Education Policy was launched for consultation by the former Education and Library Boards, to enable those who have an interest in elective home education to register their views and opinions about its content.
A Summary of Consultation Report was completed and subsequently approved for publication by the Education Authority’s Children and Young People’s Services Committee in October 2015.
A Review Group is now being established by the Education Authority to take forward the development of a final draft Elective Home Education policy, which will involve consultation with a range of key stakeholders."
Four home educating parents from HEdNI gave an oral briefing to the Education Committee on the 11th of November. You can watch here: http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/assembly-business/committees/education/meetings/11-november-2015/ from around 30:15 minutes.
We are encouraged to hear that the Committee intend to seek answers from the Education Authority and also clarification from the DHSSPSNI regarding recent draft guidance.
You can watch the rather strange evidence presented to the Education Committee on the first of July here from around 2hrs28, as one Committee Member comments it is "bizarre".
Those who have never been registered, we cannot draft a policy in relation to them because currently the legislation that exists in Northern Ireland does not apply to that group.
So the only children and young people that are affected at this stage by the Draft Policy that has been presented are those children who were originally registered in school for whom their parents now have decided to home educate, so it is the deregister group for whom this policy applies.
Today, in evidence to the Education Committee, the Education Authority representative stated several times that the Draft Policy ONLY applies to children previously registered with a school.
Further, that they have no power in law to take any action unless the child was previously registered with a school, or 'formally' registered as home educated.
This is a truly baffling assertion!
The Authority is claiming that they have NO duty to children unless they have at some time been to school, but on the other hand they claim to have a right to oversee 'curriculum and welfare' on a regular basis of all ex-school children - duty far beyond that given to them by law.
On the one hand complete abrogation of responsibility, on the other excessive and ongoing intrusion. Neither with legal basis.
As a Committee Member said, the mistake would be to register! We would have thought the EA would wish to encourage families to engage, not attach penalties...
The full transcript should be out next week.
The Board will brief the Education Committee on Consultation Responses on the 15th of April: http://m.hedni.org/events/2015-04/15-board-brief-education-committee-consultation-responses
The session will be held in Coleraine at the University of Ulster and is open to the public.
Radio Ulster Talkback on home education (about 1hr10 in from the start).
We are touched to hear our site described as 'well intentioned and well organised' - if you're well intentioned and well organised... and well informed and well advised... then you can achieve anything!
Mr Principal Deputy Speaker: Mr Storey has sought leave to present a public petition in accordance with Standing Order 22. The Member will have up to three minutes to speak.
Home education and the petition is discussed briefly at 52:30.
The five boards closed five consultations on one document on the 27th June 2014 - a new policy they hoped to implement throughout Northern Ireland.
The policy required:
More detail on the policy and our objections can be found at http://www.hedni.org/publications (the HEdNI response to the consultation and an information pack about home education in Northern Ireland).
The legal situation in Northern Ireland is the same as the rest of the UK. All parents have a duty to provide their children with an education suitable to their age ability and aptitude, this duty can be fulfilled by registering the child with a school or directly.
The Education and Library Boards have very simple and limited duties and powers regarding children not registered with schools. These duties are entirely reactive - unless there is an external trigger they have no duty or power to take any action whatsoever. IF and only if external forces bring a concern about a child's education to their attention then they must make enquiries, if an education is not being provided then they have the power to issue a school attendance order. These powers relate ONLY to education.
On the 7th August HEdNI members Mairi Rivers and Edward Underwood met Mervyn Storey MLA with members of their families to hand over their petition. The petition asks the Minister for Education and the Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards to ensure that their policy on home education accurately reflects their legal duties and powers and respects the parent's duty to provide an education. The petition has over 3360 signatures. As well as signaturies in Northern Ireland the petition has also attracted signatures from home educators all around the globe, demonstrating that the world is watching Northern Ireland to see how it handles the recent consultation and the responses, and whether any new policy will stay within the law.