Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Home educators in record petition of MPs

Home educating family
The law is that children should receive a "suitable education" for their age and aptitude

More than 70 MPs have handed in petitions from opponents of plans for the compulsory registration of families who educate their children at home.

Commons petitions from more than 120 constituencies were presented - a record on one subject in one day.

They call on England's ministers not to go ahead with plans for a register or with proposals for council officials to be given new powers to enter homes.

Ministers say the reforms will check children are "safe and learning".

The plans came from a review into home education carried out by Graham Badman, which reported in June.

Kent's former head of education had been asked to check if local authorities were monitoring and supporting home educating families properly.

As part of this, he also looked at whether home education could be a cover for abuse.

School teaches more important lessons than reading and writing

'Harass families'

The presentation was led by Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart.

The petition for his constituency said: "Petitioners believe the recommendations are based on a review that was extremely rushed, failed to give due consideration to the evidence, failed to ensure that the data it collected were sufficiently robust, and failed to take proper account of the existing legislative framework".

It went on to say the proposals should be withdrawn and instead steps should be taken to make sure local authorities were following existing guidelines on home education.

Our reforms are looking at how we can put in place better checks and balances, so we can be confident every child is safe and learning
Diana Johnson, Schools Minister

In a statement on his website, Mr Stuart said: "These petitions show the extent of opposition across the country to proposals which will give local authorities the power to harass families who educate their children at home, even when there is no suspicion they have done anything wrong.

"On the basis of a rushed study and flimsy evidence, the government is proposing to spend tens of millions of pounds going into the homes of home-educating families and subjecting them to inspections and a licensing regime."

Schools Minister Diana Johnson said: "We fully support the right of parents to educate their children at home, that is why, as part of our response to Graham Badman's review, we are providing more support to those parents who choose to do so.

"Children who are home educated will have better access to things like school libraries, sports facilities and music lessons and we will also provide more tailored support for children with special educational needs

"Our reforms are looking at how we can put in place better checks and balances, so we can be confident every child is safe and learning."

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