If anyone hoped that the replacement of Justine Greening as Education Secretary with Damian Hinds would usher in a change in direction of the current government to being more socially conservative in their education policies, they will be sorely disappointed. Although the new secretary has been less visible than his predecessor, the progressive destruction of conservative values in education is continuing.
This is nowhere truer than in home schooling. New government guidelines seek for the first time to usurp the role of parents as primary educators of their children.
The United Kingdom does not require parents to send their children to school. We have a long tradition of home education and until recently it has been left alone, being considered quirky but harmless. It was during the final years of the awful Blair/Brown administration that the state turned on home education. The Badman Review, commissioned by Ed Balls, deemed it to be dangerous and recommended introducing compulsory registration and heavy-handed monitoring.
This resulted in the one of the biggest backlashes ever seen as parents around the country defended the right to educate their children without state interference. A record number of petitions from more than 120 constituencies around the country opposing compulsory registration and monitoring of home-educated children were handed in to the Speaker in one evening where the issue was discussed in the House of Commons.
After this effort, plans to introduce the recommendations of the Badman Review in a new Children, School and Families Act in 2010 were dropped.
However, as we constantly need to remind ourselves, the Left never sleeps. It always returns with its agenda, which is to destroy anything which gives human beings connection and belonging, or transmits conservative, traditional or Judaeo-Christian values and beliefs from one generation to the next. This time, however, it is Theresa May and Damian Hinds in the fake-Conservative party who are responsible.
New guidance is once again chilling in its totalitarianism, and this is apparent in a long document entitled ‘Elective Home Education – Draft Guidance for Local Authorities’.
The law currently requires home education to be suitable, effective and full-time, but these three conditions are not specifically defined in law, so parents have a free rein to home school their children as they see fit, and most do a fantastic job. Parents are not under any obligation to tell local authorities about the arrangements they make, but the new guidance undermines this freedom.
Page 12 recommends that local education authorities provide a ‘named contact’ for parents, and that they make contact with parents on ‘at least an annual basis so the authority can inform itself of the current suitability of the education provided’. Page 14 states: ‘Parents are under no obligation to respond to enquiries [about the education they are providing], but if a parent does not respond . . . then it will be very easy for the [local education] authority to conclude that the child does not appear to be receiving suitable education.’
This re-interprets the law in the spirit of a witch hunt: ‘The law says you don’t have to tell us anything, but if you exercise your right not to tell us anything, we will assume you are guilty.’
The new guidance is aimed at suitability rather than effectiveness. For the first time it links the suitability of home education to ‘Fundamental British Values’. This agenda has already been applied to suspend and harass teachers and fail schools which are opposed to the extreme LGBT agenda.
In the name of ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ it is exposing ever-younger children to non-reproductive sexual practices and ‘genderqueer theory’, where people are considered not to have a fixed biological sex – male or female – determined scientifically by anatomy and chromosomes, and children are encouraged to ‘unlearn the Western gender binary’.
On page 24, the guidance document re-interprets Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention of Human Rights. This article says that ‘the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions’.
In a remarkable piece of doublespeak, the next paragraph pretends to affirm the Convention but completely undermines it: ‘This means that the wishes of parents are relevant. However, it does not mean that parents are the sole arbiters of what constitutes a suitable education.’ This is the heart of the government’s power grab and places the state as the final arbiter of what is a suitable education for children, not parents. If this guidance is enacted, parents will no longer be the primary educators of their children.
To leave us in no doubt that the guidelines are specifically targeted at Christians, conservatives, or anyone with traditional family values, it reinforces its power grab by defining suitable as ‘including sufficient secular education’ and on page 25 by saying education would be unsuitable if it ‘taught values or behaviour which was in clear conflict with the values of British society and would also be in conflict with Fundamental British Values as defined in government guidance’.
This is re-emphasised on page 19 of a second document entitled ‘Elective Home Education: Department Guidance for Parents’ which says: ‘Faith considerations should not in any way stop a child from receiving a suitable full-time education’. Politically correct ‘Fundamental British Values’, as defined by the state, trump Judaeo-Christian values and beliefs.
If a parent falls foul of these new regulations, the state will have intrusive powers to intervene. Education authorities already have the power to hand out a School Attendance Order if they are concerned about children who are not receiving a good home education, but this is extremely rare and usually given on the basis that it is not effective and the child in question is falling behind in the key skills of reading, writing and arithmetic.
In the future, parents assumed guilty of providing an unsuitable home education will see School Attendance Orders applied far more routinely. If they fail to comply, an Education Supervision Order can be applied and ultimately a Care Order can be issued so that children can be removed from parents and put into care. The teleological result of these guidelines will be that children can be taken from their families if parents attempt to teach their children anything which contradicts ‘Fundamental British Values’ as determined by the state.
This guidance will come into effect if no one speaks up, but there is still a small window of opportunity to have a say. There is a consultation on these guidelines which is open until Monday July 2.
This is another moment for true conservatives to stand up for freedom and fight back against the Conservative-In-Name-Only government and its destructive Left-wing agenda.