One of the first things to impose on home educators is an annual registration. We will have to prove we are not guilty of abuse, neglect or poor educational ideas before the LA will hand us our licence to parent our children as we see fit. Let’s take a look at the rational:
from my transcript with my added comments in purple:
Zena: It’s a pointless situation really. It is just about data collection. At the end of the day I don’t think…I think it is very difficult for children, or anybody for that matter to be hidden from the system as such. We are registered in many ways. Therefore the child is registered. You are registered at GPs and for child benefits and all those kinds of areas. [not to mention the astonishing amount of CCTV we have in this country]
Barry Sheerman (Chair): As a member of Parliament I know of children disappearing all the time in my constituency.[He knows about them because they are known about] It’s a very real concern; not only runaway children [my knowledge of runaways is that they are known about. When they run away someone reports it-often a parent and services go out and look for the child. I might add here that while I don’t have a hand on stats right now I am under the impression that a significant number of runaway children have run from Local Authority provision. These are not hidden children. They are children well known who go missing. It is also a fact that Missing People are missed] but children who disappear overseas, and trying to track them is impossible because we don’t know, we don’t have the data. So I am sorry to have to correct you on that as a working constituent. [again this doesn’t stand up. Children abducted and taken abroad ARE known about. The parent who has had the child abducted reports it. This is why MPs know about them. There are issues about children at risk having Passports and about tracing children who have been abducted in this way. But registering Home Educators has NOTHING to do with any of this. Most abducted children I have ever heard of were in school! I even know of one case where the non-custodial parent took the child from the school gate and vanished and the school were not bothered at all!!] Jane..
Jane: I would say over the question of disappearing children that the idea of a registration scheme is not going to do anything at all. If any parent is suitably even or deranged that they want to abduct and abuse a child, they are not going to take any notice of the minor offence of not registering themselves with the local authority[who allow so many children to go missing from their Children’s Homes] as a home educator, if they are that bent on committing a major crime. I think it’s going to disappoint.
[No one picked up on the sense of Jane’s answer. So Helen Southworth MP (Lab) said this]
Helen: This is similar, but slightly from a different angle. One of the difficulties in identifying children gone missing while at risk is finding them among the children we don’t know about, who are perfectly safe, perfectly happy, but we don’t know about them. [Does this make sense to anyone? If a child at risk goes missing, or a child goes missing and is therefore at risk then we spend time looking for that child. At least we did when I worked in CAMHS. Door to door enquires are made, searches of the local area, sheds, toilets, trees-you name it; it gets searched. Usually someone knows who or where the child is most likely to have gone to ground and that works well. I don’t get this idea that a child could go missing with someone unregistered in some way. Would being registered prove I hadn’t hidden the child in my house-or would it mean I was more likely to because I am an EHE? Weird.]Do you think that the benefit of being able to find those children, very small number probably, who are at risk is sufficient that we should press upon the information so that we can identify them out of the wider group? [I still don’t understand her, but I get the impression that we are back to EHE families hiding their children away so they go missing even though there is not one scrap of evidence to support this nasty hypothesis. And anyway Zena had already answered that question. But then maybe this MP didn’t mean that at all. I just don’t know]
Fiona: I think since we are actually talking about registration, we need to establish what the purpose of registration might be. [INDEED WE DO!!] You seem to be saying that the purpose of it would be about decent people would eliminate themselves from the enquiry if you like…
Helen: No, no, not at all. I was asking if it had the other effect-that it would enable this to be continued; would that be beneficial? [Eh?]
Fiona: If registration would allow…sorry…you? [I think I would have said that too!]
Helen: If in fact you could identify; you would know who the children are who are being home educated and that could help identify some children who are just missing.
Fiona: [I got the impression here that Fiona was trying to grasp any straw of meaning that might possibly be part of what had been said. Very charitable of her]But we have guidance on Children Missing Education. We have statutory guidance on children missing education.
Helen: I sense I’ve asked too complicated a question. [WOW! Cheek of that comment!]
Chair: Let’s move on. Annette, why don’t you go ahead with your question.
Annette Brooke MP (Lib Dem):
It didn’t get any better here so I think I will leave this for a while and come back to it. I do hope the fact that these meetings are in the public view means people will start taking note of what games are afoot and how ordinary families in this country can no longer say we are ‘free’.