The government in Northern Ireland is attempting to restrict home education

The government in Northern Ireland is attempting to restrict home education

Home education is under threat in Northern Ireland under new proposals announced recently.

There is a review of Home Education policy currently underway in N. Ireland which
is proposing drastic restrictions on home educators.

Currently in the UK, there are no restrictions on home education and contrary to common perceptions, parents are under no obligation to register if they want to educate their children at home. Nor do they have to ask for permission to educate their children at home, or follow the curriculum.

In Northern Ireland in particular, provided the child is not a registered pupil at a school, the parent is not required to provide any particular type of education, and is under no obligation to do any of the following:

  • have premises equipped to any particular standard
  • have any specific qualifications
  • cover the same syllabus as any school
  • adopt the National Curriculum
  • make detailed plans in advance
  • observe school hours, days or terms
  • have a fixed timetable
  • give formal lessons
  • reproduce school type peer group socialisation
  • match school, age-specific standards
  • seek permission to educate ‘otherwise’
  • take the initiative in informing the Board
  • have regular contact with the Board

However, under the proposals made by government ministers, these new restraints will include mandatory registration, approval of curriculum, inspections of homes, and interviews.

The draft policy is currently under consultation and will end on 27 June, 2014. If these draconian proposals are passed, they will present the most restrictive policy on home education found anywhere in the United Kingdom, and are likely to set a blueprint for education across the UK.

The current legal situation in the UK with regard to home education can be summarised in the phrase, “Education is compulsory, schooling is not”.

However that may be set to change, if more and more restrictive policies start to be introduced.

Home Education UK is one of the organisations campaigning against the change in law.

It stated: “The right to home educate stems from the long standing right, and responsibility, of parents to determine the nature of the education of their own children. Without this responsibility children’s education would become a state controlled monopoly in which a child’s education would be subject to government policy.

“We believe that the state has interests other than those of the child’s and while many of those interests may be important and worthy of consideration, the final decision should remain with the child and family. We do not expect doctors to make clinical decisions based upon the benefits each option has to society and neither should a child’s future be a subject of government policy.”

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