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Home educators are justifiably aggrieved

PUBLISHED: 10:39 04 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:35 07 September 2010

THE fact that the proposed reforms to home education laws have prompted the biggest ever parliamentary petition to date illustrates just how many parents up and down the country feel this clampdown is a step too far. You only have to Google petition home

THE fact that the proposed reforms to home education laws have prompted the biggest ever parliamentary petition to date illustrates just how many parents up and down the country feel this clampdown is a step too far.

You only have to Google "petition home education" to see that parents from Yeovil to Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire are all concerned about the government's reforms which they say are draconian and over the top.

Mums and dads who home-educate their children in more than 300 constituencies have signed the record-breaking petition which is expected to be heard in parliament this week.

If put into law, the proposals would mean more outside control on home education, including giving officers the power to gain access to every home-educated child and interview them without their parents being present.

Parents will also have to register and present annual plans detailing how they intend to educate their children over the course of the year.

And most controversially Ofsted recommend to a Select Committee that home-educators should be CRB checked, although the education watchdog has since denied it was referring to parents educating their own children.

Whether or not you agree with home education is almost irrelevant. The point is whether the state is right to try to intervene in a family's choice to home-educate its children.

Does it know better than parents and should it be allowed to come into people's homes and interview their children just because they are home-educated? This intervention shows a lack of trust between the state and its citizens resulting in a society where it is all too easy to judge people negatively.

Parents say these reforms are a disproportionate response against a perceived problem that home educated children are more at risk of abuse, which they say is not true.

Child abuse is obviously at the forefront of people's minds, especially after the tragic case of Baby P, but there must be a balance between the right of the state and the rights of parents. Parts of these reforms are probably necessary but, taken as a whole, they tip the scales too far in one direction.


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