Schools minister defends home education review

Lauren Higgs
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The new junior schools minister, Diana Johnson, has defended the government's stance on home education in her first debate in Parliament since taking up the post.

She refuted claims made by Mark Field, MP for Westminster, who warned that the government is trying to destroy home education by over-regulating parents.

Field said that the Department for Children, Schools and Families review of home education, which is being led by Graham Badman, could skew the balance between civil liberties and state intervention.

He said: "The ability to be free from an all-knowing, all-seeing state's ideas of education, welfare and standards forms the fundamental appeal for many of those who choose home education for their children. Any attempt to alter what is very much a matter of balance would undermine the entire ethos of education."

Field also claimed that the review is a knee-jerk reaction to government concerns connected to social care, not education.

But Johnson strongly denied that the government is seeking to abolish home education.

She said: "Home education is a well-established part of our education system. Where it works, and where it is the best option for a child, there are great benefits. It is the ultimate form of personalised learning, with provision tailored to a child's specific needs and with a real opportunity for the child's views and voice to be heard."

She said the review was designed not to scrutinise good home educators but to examine the "barriers to local authorities and other public agencies safeguarding home-educated children".

Badman's review of home education is due to be published this week.

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