Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 17:40 UK

'Suitable' home education review

Home educating family
A review will examine the meaning of a "suitable" home education

The government is to commission a review into what a "suitable" and "efficient" education means for home educated children in England.

There is no legal obligation for children to attend school - but there is to provide an education that is suitable for their age and aptitude.

Responding to a report into home education, the government now wants a clearer definition of what is required.

Schools Minister Diana Johnson says all children should be "safe and learning".

Home education group, Education Otherwise, says that trying to define a "suitable" education will create another layer of hard-to-define benchmarks.

"When the law was drafted, they knew when to stop," says Ann Newstead of Education Otherwise.

The adaptability of home education, based on individual needs, will be difficult to assess against standardised measures, she says.

Earlier this year Graham Badman, Kent's former education chief, produced a review for the government on home education which called for the registration of children taught outside the school system.

'Checks and balances'

Such a registration scheme has been accepted in principle by ministers and is under consultation - with implementation expected to require further legislation.

But the response from Children's Secretary Ed Balls also announces the setting up of a review "early in 2010" which will examine what is really meant by "suitable" and "efficient" education.

Mr Badman's report to ministers had highlighted that the terms "efficient" and "suitable" education are not defined in law.

As such it was difficult for local authorities to carry out any assessment.

The response from the children's secretary says establishing a review to define a "suitable" education will help local authorities to "reasonably determine whether home educated young people are making progress".

Ms Johnson has also announced measures to encourage home educated children to make more use of school facilities, including using local schools as exam centres.

"It is right that home educated children should have access to things like school libraries, sports facilities and music lessons and also have more tailored support for special educational needs," she said.

And she repeated the government's commitment to balancing parents' rights to home educate with the need for "checks and balances ... so we can be confident every child is safe and learning".

The report from Mr Badman also highlighted the uncertainty over the number of children who are being taught outside school - with estimates ranging between 20,000 and 80,000.

Next week, a committee of MPs will begin taking evidence in an inquiry into Mr Badman's review.



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SEE ALSO
Home educators made to register
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