Report Stage of the Children and Families Bill took place on Tuesday June 11th 2013 The Bill passed at Third Reading in the Commons after votes on childcare ratios and sex education, and we now await the date for First Reading in the House of Lords
Graham Stuart MP tabled a series of short amendments related to home education all of which were selected for debate at Report. Addressing the points covered by the amendments, the Minister did provide some much-needed reassurance but unfortunately, some ambiguities still remain on the face of the Bill.
The Minister repeated that parents' right to educate their children at home applies equally to children with special needs and that the duty on LAs only applies where children have been brought to their attention as possibly having SEN. Confusion remains about what is actually meant by "where a child has a plan that says that education provided in the home is the right provision for the child". This is most likely restricted to the tiny number of cases where the LA names home education in the plan and not where parents have opted to make their own arrangements. In other words, it will only be in a few exceptional cases where the authority actually names home education in the plan that there will be a corresponding duty to arrange the provision. This is unchanged from the current position.
However, the Minister went further than before in saying he would "strongly encourage" local authorities to provide support services to home educated children, adding that "the new duty on commissioning bodies to arrange the health provision in the plan and the greater expectation that the social care provision will be made will mean that parents can expect that these will continue to be provided."
In response to Graham Stuart's concern that "suitable alternative arrangements" could mean the authority having to approve the education as "suitable", the Minister offered reassurance that "suitable" has the usual meaning of suitable to age ability aptitude and SEN. Finally, the Minister expects home educators to have input to the SEN Code of Practice but this could simply mean the opportunity to respond to the public consultation later in the year."
I have more details on my website Edyourself and would be very grateful if someone could post up a link.