Plans to bring in registration and monitoring of home education were dropped by the last Labour government on April 7th 2010.
Most of what I remember about that day was trains. I was on trains for 8 hours bringing my mum back from Scotland.
I didn’t have access to the internet on the move – I still don’t – and was piecing together events from a series of disjointed texts throughout the afternoon.
I remember people being confused because we’d never been through a “wash-up” before and we didn’t realise that the government minister had to put forward an amendment to drop its own proposed legislation, so that a vote for the government amendment became a vote to defeat the government’s previous plans.
By then we knew that the proposals would be dropped but we didn’t dare believe it was true till we saw and heard it for ourselves, and we were only finally 100% sure when the Children and Families Bill became an Act of Parliament the following day minus the home education section.
It became a generally accepted truth that Ed Balls, at the time the Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families, had vowed that when he came to power he would bring back registration and monitoring.
This is what home educators I know always say when they are talking about the possible outcome of the election.
After I went to see Barry Sheerman talk last week, I asked to see my Labour MP to discuss the party’s position on home education, and while waiting for an appointment to come through I thought I’d do some homework and find the relevant quote from Ed Balls.
The thing was, I couldn’t find it. I found an interview from later that year where Ed Balls urged Michael Gove to bring in registration and monitoring. But that wasn’t what everyone remembered.
I did find an earlier interview, just after the plans were dropped, which was the right timing, but the quote from Ed Balls wasn’t what I expected to read.
To put this in context a bit, at the same time as home education plans were dropped, Labour had also been obliged to drop huge swathes of new legislation covering school contracts with parents, primary curriculum reform, licence to practice for teachers, powers for local authorities to intervene in failing schools and compulsory sex education http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8607677.stm
Although home education dominated many of the debates in both Houses of Parliament, it only formed a tiny part of the Bill.
Ed Balls apparently wrote to Michael Gove deploring the fact that he had been thwarted in introducing “improvements in our schools, support for pupils, and the wellbeing of our young people” adding “if Labour won the election he would make sure these measures made it on to the statute book in the first session of the new Parliament.”
I think that’s different from Ed Balls specifically vowing to bring back registration and monitoring for home education.
For anyone wanting to get up to speed on the whole Badman era, I have some links on my websites here
ps I just found this list from the Department of Children Schools and Families of all the things that didn’t make it to the final Act of Parliament
Also this reference to Ed Balls letter to Michael Gove (though I haven’t been able to find a copy of the letter itself yet) http://education.scholastic.co.uk/content/10758