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No. 3

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by Michael P. Donnelly
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Britain Tables Draconian Homeschool Regulations—For Now

In a statement released on April 7, 2010, Britain’s Department of Children, Schools and Families said it was tabling proposed homeschooling regulations contained in the Children, Schools and Families Bill. Officials stated that these and other “key provisions have been taken out because no agreement could be reached between government and opposition parties.”

Dangerous homeschool regulations were tabled.
Members of parliament listened to homeschoolers and tabled dangerous regulations.

The bill would have significantly affected parents’ right to direct their children’s education by requiring all home educating parents to apply annually for permission to homeschool from the local authority and by establishing an intricate monitoring system for home educators.

Furthermore, the legislation would have placed tremendous power in the hands of school officials and the state. Local authorities would have been able to revoke a family’s registration to homeschool for a number of reasons including “failure to cooperate” or an official’s decision that homeschooling was harmful to a child. Home visits would have been used to determine whether home education was “suitable” for a child.

As a result of this victory, Britain remains one of the freest European countries for home educators. (In fact, many of the homeschoolers facing persecution in Germany have chosen to flee to the United Kingdom.)

Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust congratulated all who were involved in the fight. “Home educators came together in great numbers and made their voices heard to an extent that even some members of the government’s own party were against the sweeping nature of the proposed restrictions,” said Wells. “This is a victory for home educators in Britain.”

The national homeschool organizations Education Otherwise and Home Service, advocacy groups such as Christian Concern for Our Nation and the Christian Legal Centre, and many other local organizations worked alongside British homeschoolers to influence Parliament away from the restrictions. Even many of Britain’s current opposition parties united to support parental freedom.

Prime Minister David Cameron
On May 11, 2010, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Conservative leader David Cameron as Britain’s new prime minister.

Ann Newstead, spokesperson for Education Otherwise, said, “We are thankful for the Select Committee’s scrutiny and for the support of hundreds of backbench members of Parliament who—unlike the government— actually took time to listen and to understand how completely unjustified, inappropriate, and ill-conceived these proposals were.”

Wells cautioned home educators not to let their guard down, since the outcome of the May 6 elections will determine whether the tabled homeschool provisions will be resurrected in the next parliament. “Irrespective of which party wins the general election, the new administration will be placed under considerable pressure by bureaucrats from both local and national government to interfere with home educating families under the guise of safeguarding children’s welfare and promoting their educational rights.”

American homeschoolers may remember the notorious “Badman Report” that was accepted by the British government in 2009 and that recommended imposing draconian regulations on British homeschoolers. This report was motivated in large part by the author's interpretation of Britain’s “responsibilities as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.” As the recent regulatory battle in Britain demonstrates, the convention has already begun to interfere with the relationships between parents and their children. It is vital that homeschoolers around the world continue to stand against this powerful threat.

Stay posted on the latest developments in Britain’s homeschool freedom at .