Schoolhouse respond to the consultation

Schoolhouse respond to the consultation

"As Scotland’s national home education charity, we had considerable input to research which subsequently informed the current Scottish statutory guidance on home education, which protects the rights of home educating families while acknowledging the responsibilities of local authorities. The law in Scotland is comparable to that of other parts of the UK in that it is parents who are responsible for educating their children, not the state, and education “otherwise” or “by other means” is an equally valid and lawful alternative to schooling. Human rights legislation provides that there should be respect for, and no undue interference in, family life unless there is risk of significant harm to a particular child or children. In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, there is no duty upon local authorities to ‘monitor’ home education on a routine basis, and informal enquiries and annual updates represent an acceptable form of contact for most families.

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)

Letter from the Department of Education

Department of Education

The department has sent HEdNI a letter, thanking us for our comments in relation to the consultation.

They state that they must strike a balance between the rights and needs of children, and the facilitating parental preference for home education.  

They say 

"... the Minister will want to review the process following consultation and before the draft policy is finalised".

HEdNI welcomes the opening of a channel of communication but disputes that there is a tension between parental preference and the rights and needs of children.  Parents are acknowledged in National and International Law as, in almost all cases, the best advocates for their children's rights and needs.  

Our response follows;

"Thank you for your letter.  We are reassured to hear that the Minister for Education is taking an interest in this matter, and we very pleased to be able to discuss this.

There has been a certain amount of confusion over whether the consultations are separate and could therefore result in five different policies, so it is interesting to hear that the aim is, or should be, a common process. I think we can all agree that the education and wellbeing of children and young people is paramount.

Consultation Response from Dr Paula Rothermel

Consultation Response from Dr Paula Rothermel

"I find that the policy recommendations regarding mandatory monitoring and supervision of home educators in Northern Ireland are arbitrary, legally unjustified, unwarranted and open to misunderstanding."

Dr Rothermel

Who would home educate?

Anyone who hasn't yet seen this excellent segment on The Wright Stuff should take a look.  

News Flash

The Education and Skills Authority is to be scrapped. One body to cover the whole of Northern Ireland, but with the same powers as the current boards is now planned:

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.

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