I said here that I don’t believe home educators escaped registration and monitoring in 2010 “just because the government ran out of time.”
I believe we would have been equally effective if the Government had got round to trying to change the law earlier in the parliamentary term. It’s true that certain elements were going to be ditched in order to get other things through.
But it was never a given that home education registration and monitoring would be one of the things that escaped. We still had to know the ropes in order to make the system work for us, and without the knowledge and the effort it could just as easily have fallen the other way with home education measures being hustled through without scrutiny.
When new legislation is proposed, you need to move very very quickly. If you don’t know what’s going to happen till it’s actually announced, you are already on the back foot, so really you need to be paying close attention before anything ever surfaces.
You also need to know how the legislative process works. Last time round we had to pick it up as we went along, but another time we’d likely be able to anticipate many moves ahead.
6 years ago home educators were perfectly well aware that the Government wanted to do “something” about home education, and that various things had already been tried. It was predictable from the day the Badman Review was announced that Graham Badman would recommend changes to the law.
Although we didn’t realise immediately, we soon learned that such changes can be tacked on to a bill which is already in the late stages of going through parliament, but this possible tactic was nipped in the bud by Lord Lucas.
There was a mass lobby of home educating families talking to their MPs at Westminster before the legislation had even been published in the Queen’s speech.
I was part of a small group who tracked home educators contact with MPs. You can see from this link that the networking was very effective.
The Select Committee chose to investigate the conduct of the Badman Review which gave home educators the chance to meet Graham Stuart MP who went on to lead a record number of parliamentary petitions against the Government’s proposals, which you can watch here
Members of Parliament in the House of Commons and the House of Lords were primed and ready to comment on the home education measures from the outset. This sends a message to the Government that the topic will be troublesome.
When it’s trying to get a new law through, the Government is on the lookout for parts of the bill where amendments are most are concentrated. Amendments are rarely passed – either in the Commons or the Lords – but a cluster of amendments attracts attention, ensures debate and may result in concessions from the Government. We soon worked out that there were good reasons why the amendments shouldn’t come from “our side” as it might give the impression that things were somehow fixable.
(Also it so happened in 2009-10 that the controversy surrounding home education served a useful function for the Government since it steered attention away from other contentious areas.)
I don’t think many home educators were aware of all this before we started talking to people and reading up on the subject.
Briefing events were held in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Home Education held its first meeting with MPs. Postcards were sent to all MPs in advance of the second reading of the legislation. At every stage, the debates on the proposed legislation were dominated by discussion of the home education clauses.
There was a certain inevitability about the home education measures being dropped by the time it came to the actual wash up, but only because of the campaign that had gone before.
All these recent blog posts tie in together, about making a connection with MPs, and why the Home Education Guidelines haven’t been changed.