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AHED complaint - DfES public statements

Page history last edited by starkfamily1@... 16 years, 4 months ago

DfES publicly badmouthing Elective Home Education

(DfES is now known as DCSF; Department for children schools and families.)



Our complaint to the complaints department of the DfES.



This complaint was posted 02.03.07 (a.m.)


Dear Sir/Madam,


AHEd (1) members were horrified to read press coverage of the York Consultancy sample study into elective home education recently completed, in which a 'spokesman' for the DfES is widely quoted (2), as saying "Standards have never been higher and with record funding in our schools we believe the best place to educate a child is actually in school."


AHEd formally protests that a government spokesman speaking about choice in education has implied that home education is second rate when compared to education in schools. We think that this position is prejudicial, ill-informed, unfounded and discriminatory. Home education is not only equal in statute to education in schools, but has also repeatedly been shown to be a highly successful way of educating children. The same cannot always be said for schools (3). It is clear that school is not always the best place for all children.


It is difficult not to conclude that the DfES is in fact institutionally biased against home education to the extent that disinformation and discriminatory comments are now being made that encourage a prejudiced attitude against home educators.


We are particularly disgusted that these comments were made about a sample study which appears to be part of the consultation procedures about home education that AHEd has recently complained about to the Better Regulation Executive for excluding home educators and failing to follow the code of practice required. We believe this is because of prejudice against home education and a bias in favour of state schooling.


We are dismayed that the same department now seems to be making attempts to bring a minority group in the community into disrepute in the middle of these consultations, by stating the department's view that parents are electing to offer their children an education that is not in their best interest. We feel that the comments are an attempt to imply there is a conflict of interest between the rights of the parent to elect to home educate their children and the needs of the children, because school education is always the best choice; this claim we absolutely refute.


Is it now the official policy of the department for education and skills that home education is not equal in law with school education and that schools are the place where children should be? Is it the view of the department that parents are not to be trusted to make suitable decisions about their children's educational provision?


If this is not the policy of the DfES we would like a retraction of the statement made by your spokesperson and a clear statement that home education is equally as valid a choice as schooling. We ask that these statements be given equal prominence in the press to the original statement and that steps are taken to ensure that ignorance and prejudice do not guide DfES policies, public statements, or the department's practice in carrying out consultations about elective home education.


Yours faithfully,


Chair, AHEd.

(1) www.ahed.org.uk


(2) for example: http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2020083,00.html


(3) eg: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/5415126.stm



DfES reply

(confirms a DfES preference for schooling over home education.)


Sent: Fri Mar 23 12:21

Subject: Fwd: Case Reference 2007/0015571


Dear Ms Stark


Thank you for your email of 2 March about elective home education.


I must confirm that the Government believes that, for most children, school is the right place in which to receive education. However, they respect the right of parents to choose to exercise their fundamental right enshrined in law to educate their children at home if they wish to do so.


I was sorry to read that you feel that the statement you mention implied that home education is second rate. However, this was not the intention. The statement was made in response to comments in York Consulting's report that some parents choose home education because of dissatisfaction with the state education system. It did not imply that home education is inferior to a school education. The Government is keen to promote parental choice, enabling parents to make decisions that best suit the needs of each child, and home education remains an equally valid legal alternative to attendance at school.


Yours sincerely


Matt Vallily

Public Communications Unit


Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2007/0015571. To correspond by email with the Department for Education and Skills please contact info@dfes.gsi.gov.uk.


If you have any further queries why not browse our Popular Questions website. This site has been built to allow you to quickly find the answer to your question http://www.dfes.gov.uk/popularquestions


Members response



Members response (below) was posted 10.04.07


Dear Mr Vallily,

Re: Case Reference 2007/0015571


Thank you for your response of 23rd March 2007.


AHEd ask that you provide the evidence base upon which the DfES inform their decision that “…for most children, school is the right place in which to receive education.”


We also remind you that the DfES and local authorities are charged with providing enough adequate school places for those parents who wish to avail themselves of state education; they have no right to express a preference for the manner in which a parent fulfils their duty to cause their child to receive a suitable education. To do so reveals prejudice and causes discrimination.


Yours sincerely,


(AHED chair)

for the committee and membership of AHEd


Institutionalised Discrimination

(DfES preference has no reasonable basis. See reply below to the members last response.)


Sent: Wed Apr 25 10:19

Subject: Fwd: Case Reference 2007/0023843




Thank you for your email of 10 April about elective home education.


I can only reiterate that the statement you mention is referring to a generally held government belief, whilst recognising that in some cases parents will be of the view that school is not the best option. Parents are of course best placed to know what is right for their children.


However, it is not a question of these views being taken on the basis of statistics.


There is nothing further I can add on this issue.


Yours sincerely


Matt Vallily

Public Communications Unit


Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2007/0023843. To correspond by email with the Department for Education and Skills please contact info@dfes.gsi.gov.uk.



More of the same - Parliamentary questions


Wednesday 23rd May


written answers to questions about home education


3. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley, Labour) | Hansard source


"To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he has taken to ensure that education given at home is to the same standard as that in schools."


(Surely that question must have been a plant? The same standard as schools?!)


Figures used in the Anomaly campaign (February 2007) and uncontested by government:


More than 360,000 children injured in schools each year

450,000 children bullied in school last year

At least 16 children commit suicide each year as a result of school bullying

An estimated 1 million children truant every year

Treasury statistics show more than 1 in 6 children leave school each year unable to read, write or add up


Every Child Matters?


Jim Knight (Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills) | Hansard source


"The Government believe that for most children school is the best place for them to be educated..."


On what basis might that be? See the letter (above) from the DfES saying they have no basis for this prejudice.




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