Why home educators from the Solent and Hampshire joined a national protest against government rules

0
Have your say

WE are not invisible, homeschooled children from Portsmouth and Hampshire have said.

The children, as well as their parents and teachers, were among thousands of people across the UK who rallied together yesterday to object to proposed guidance they believe is 'illegal and threatening.'

Bryony de Vries and Victoria Campbell with their children and some of their friends' children at Portchester Castle yesterday

Bryony de Vries and Victoria Campbell with their children and some of their friends' children at Portchester Castle yesterday

The group gathered at Portchester Castle in the morning for a peaceful picnic protest to coincide with the delivery of a petition signed by more than 15,000 people to the Department for Education.

As part of the prospective Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill, which has recently closed its consultation period, councils could be awarded extra powers such as registering homeschooled children, deciding curriculum and even taking children into care if they refuse to hand over workbooks.

Rahel Berman, 40, from Fratton, organised the rally at the castle. The mum, whose two children are home educated, said: 'This guidance would encourage the local authorities to adopt an adversarial approach to home educating families. It would give them access to other data. They could have access to our homes.'

Portsmouth resident Victoria Campbell, 37, home educates her children. She said: 'I am opposed to the fact that the local authority will be able to decide what they believe is suitable education and they would be able to come and interview our children, but they don't do any of that in schools.

'I understand the good intentions behind them but I am worried the local authorities will take those powers beyond what they will be.'

She added: 'Home educators weren't consulted about the guidelines but the local authorities were. Surely both should have been asked?'

Portsmouth City Council's education boss, Cllr Suzy Horton, said: 'Children have to be educated but they don't have to be in school. I support that. The local education authority's responsibility is for everyone's child in their care. 

‘It is not that they want to interfere with the best case scenarios. It is the worst cases. What if someone is home educating and is not doing a good job?’

The bill will be formally introduced to parliament once any proposed changes are made to it.