Yesterday I had a quick look at a new report from the Department for Education.
I was distressed to read the following:
“Parents of children of compulsory school age (aged between 5 and 15 at the start of the academic year) are, by law, required to ensure that their children receive a suitable education through regular attendance at school.”
What’s missing is “or otherwise.”
Parents are required to ensure that their children receive a suitable education through regular attendance at school or otherwise.
School is not compulsory.
Parents can be prosecuted for failing to ensure their child’s regular attendance at school but only where the child is already a registered pupil.
I used the contact form on the GOV.UK web page to ask for the information to be corrected. I know from Facebook and Twitter that other people did this too.
This is what I put on my contact form
Page 2 says “Parents of children of compulsory school age (aged between 5 and 15 at the start of the academic year) are, by law, required to ensure that their children receive a suitable education through regular attendance at school”
This should be amended to say either parents of pupils or else regular attendance at school or otherwise.
I then forwarded my GOV.UK complaint to Stephen Bishop who is the person dealing with home education at the Department for Education.
I copied in Graham Stuart’s office and Lord Lucas.
Stephen Bishop replied:
“Yes, that is certainly wrong. I don’t know who in DfE is responsible for this publication. However if you have no proper response from your contact form please let me know and we will see what we can do”
UPDATE 11.56 am: GOV.UK got back to me to say they’d passed it to the relevant department at DfE (presumably “Attendance” although this wasn’t specified) and also invited me to use the DfE beta version contact form to write to them directly, which I have just done.
(Incidentally, the new improved DfE contact form now has a follow-up where they email you with a dated confirmation of your specific query which means it’s better for a whole range of other stuff such as Freedom of Information requests as well)
UPDATE MARCH 16TH: thanks to Stephen Bishop at DfE this document has now been amended.
Background material here on home education and the law, plus the difference between prosecutions for failing to ensure regular attendance of a registered pupil and School Attendance Orders