Start Drafting Your Reponses...

Start Drafting Your Reponses...

We are now shifting our focus and asking people to start writing their responses.  We are assured that there is no word limit on the comments, and that people need not answer the multiple choice questions, which are very leading.

You should write your own opinions in your own words.  We don't want to send a hundred copy and paste submissions.  There will be some very thorough ones so feel free to keep your's short if you like, or indeed to go into as much depth as you feel necessary.  HEdNI will be submitting a response to all five Boards, as one of the select group of stakeholders(!).

As a very basic structure we would like to make sure people cover:

1. the most important fact - this is beyond their legal powers -

2. this scheme is intrusive and threatening in tone and structure 
       2a - any personal experience you have that you think is relevant
       2b - home visits, safeguarding monitoring, subjective judgements about the best interests of the child, usurping the parent's role, loss of the presumption of innocence - (all bad!)

3. Safeguarding is not the role of ELBs and should not be, they have a duty to refer and this is no area for them to go vigilante


The Welfare Thing - Guest Post on Dare To Know

The draft Policy on Elective Home Education in Northern Ireland is riddled with references to ‘safeguarding’ and ‘welfare’. We know from informal phone conversations that the Boards consider this a crucial element of the policy.
This is problematic on many levels.
  • The law governing the Education and Libraries Boards (Education and Libraries Order 1986) contains no duties or powers relating to welfare.

Sign Our Petition

Sign Our Petition

Please ask the education and library boards to act within their legal powers, sign this petition and don't forget to write to your MLAs.


To the Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards, and the Minister for Education

We ask you to ensure that the Education and Library Boards' policy on home education accurately reflects their legal duties and powers, and respects the primacy of the parent's legal duty to provide an education.



Graham Stuart writes on our behalf

Graham Stuart's Letter

Graham Stuart MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education in Westminster has written a letter to John O'Dowd, the Northern Ireland Minister of Education, detailing his concerns about the draft policy.

"I have concerns relating to the March 2014 draft version of the Policy, which I understand is intended to apply across Northern lreland. This appears to misrepresent the role and responsibilities of Education and Library Boards regarding parents who elect to home educate their children."

Read the full text here, keep updated on latest news here, and find details on the consultation here.

Focus Groups

Focus Groups
HEdNI encourages home educators and those considering home education to attend the focus groups organised by each of the 5 Education and Library Boards on their proposed Home Education Policy
Remember: the crucial point to emphasise is that any policy must correctly represent the legal powers and duties of parents and the Boards. The current draft does not do this.
Be prepared, be friendly, speak your mind and take copies of any documents you might want to refer to. For example:
- an example of best practice - Lancashire's Policy (English Law shares the wording of the Northern Irish Order), note that this isn't perfect but does illustrate that a good working policy is possible
- personal experience
ask permission to record the session or take notes (pause outside straight after and add anything you missed).

Hands Off Home Education

Trust Parents - protect parental choice
Hands Off Home Education
Hands Off Home Education

Parents must feed their children.  They rely on the Food Standards Authority to ensure the food they buy is safe, but the FSA doesn't come and check their kitchen or demand to approve a weekly meal-plan. Parents are presumed to be feeding their children.

Parents must care for their children.  The Department of Health and Social Services funds and regulates hospitals, GP surgeries and social workers, which parents can call on for help when they need it. Social Services don’t routinely inspect family homes or assume every child is at risk of abuse. Parents are presumed to be fulfilling their legal duty by caring for their children.

Parents must educate their children.  They can delegate their responsibility to a chosen school, or legally opt to do it themselves using the community resources around them.  However the Education and Library Boards seem unwilling to trust parents with education in the same way as they are trusted with feeding and caring.  

If parents are failing in any of these duties then there is a safety net, but we don’t assume parents are a danger to their child without good reason.

The Education and Library Boards think they should assume that any child in their parent’s care is not being educated, unless their parents repeatedly prove otherwise using the ELB’s biased criteria.

The Draft Policy on Elective Home Education (currently in 'consultation' phase) is an attempt by ELBs to award themselves a wide range of intrusive new powers, beyond those allowed to Police or Social Workers:

Film Makers


This is a very proud Mum of two great kids who made and acted in a fantastic thriller film, showcased at Queens Film Theatre Belfast.

Home Educators attain Level IV in the RHS School Gardens Scheme

Home Educators attain Level IV in the RHS School Gardens Scheme

The Royal Horticultural Society School Gardens Scheme is open to home educators.

The Dickinson Family have been working through the stages and were excited last December to be told that level four was now open to home educators.  They were awarded the certification and a voucher for enough plug plants to fill a large vegetable garden!

The plants arrived this morning, far too exciting to get dressed before unpacking them...!

The family will be sharing this bounty with other home educators at Friday's Meetup - bring pots or damp newspaper to take your plants home... maybe you can start working on the RHS scheme yourself!

Gymnast Wins Bronze at Tony Byrne Cup

Chiara Rivers

Home educated gymnast, Chiara Rivers, won a bronze medal for her beam routine in level 3 at the Tony Byrne Cup held in Derry on 13th April. This was her first time competing at level three and coach Nicki Lowry of Rathgael Gymnastics and Tumbling Club was delighted with Chiara's performance.

2014 Draft Policy - what you can do

Writing important things
Hands Off Home Education

2014 Consultation - latest updates here, introduction here.

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 now under consultation includes many requirements outside the Board's legal powers, including:

- entry into the home without suspicion of wrong doing

- access to the child

- limits on the parents legal duty to provide an education including delays to deregistration and restrictions on the form of education provided

A legal challenge could be mounted were the Education Authority 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. 

We are hopeful that having abandoned the initial draft and having engaged with HEdNI in the Working Group on new guidance, we will see the release of constructive and legally accurate guidance by September 2017.

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