By Hilary White

LONDON, May 28, 2007 ( – The UK’s Department for Education and Skills has issued a set of draft guidelines for homeschooling families that remind local administrative councils that parents have the legal right to educate their children at home.

The draft guidelines are to accompany a proposed consultation period and represent a shift away from the department’s rumoured position against homeschooling. Plans to implement the compulsory registration and tight monitoring of homeschooling families have been dropped. Local authorities, the document says, have “no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis”.

The draft guidelines tell councils to offer support to homeschoolers and remind education authorities that “education is compulsory, but schooling is not.” The Department says it is a “fundamental principle” that “parents are responsible for ensuring their children receive a suitable education.”

“It is the legal right of parents to educate their children at home if they so wish and the Department for Education and Skills supports the right of parents to make this choice for their children.”

The message of the Department is being welcomed by British homeschooling supporters. Education Otherwise spokesman Ann Newstead told the BBC the guidelines were “a welcome change to the kind of documents that home educators have seen used in the past by local authorities”.

Education Otherwise, the UK’s largest homeschooling support charity that published a book titled, “School is Not Compulsory”, had feared that the guidelines would make homeschooling in England all but impossible. Alternately, there were fears that the government would attempt to impose objectionable material, such as homosexual “sex-education” in curriculums.

Education Otherwise sent a letter in late January to Alan Johnson MP, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, protesting the lack of community involvement in the consultation process for the proposed guidelines.

The group criticized the government for proposing to issue guidelines on “elective home education” without involving homeschoolers themselves. “We have seen nothing on the Guidelines since an initial draft nearly two years ago, while the DfES seem to have continued to work closely with local authorities to advance this issue,” the letter said.

The department consultation began May 8 and continues to Tuesday July 31, 2007. The draft guidelines listed reasons for parents educating their children at home that included, “religious or cultural beliefs”; “philosophical or ideological views”; “dissatisfaction with the system”; and “parents’ desire for a closer relationship with their children.”

  Read related coverage:

European Human Rights Court Rules State May Deny Parents Right to Home School Their Children

Read the draft guidelines:

To make a submission to the consultation:


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