The UK government’s Department for Education (DfE) has issued a “Call for evidence on greater oversight of children whose parents elect to educate them at home, and consultation on revised DfE guidance documents.” The consultation has two parts and closes at 11:59pm on 2 July 2018. 
In relation to the DfE Call for Evidence and Consultation, Education Otherwise (EO), an organisation which provides support and information for families whose children are being educated outside school stated:
“The call for evidence regarding education otherwise than at school covers registration of children educated at home, the monitoring of home education provision and support for home educators.
DfE are asking for comments on two draft guidance documents about elective home education. The drafts are a significant and unwelcome splitting of guidance into one set for local authorities and the other for parents. These drafts are intended to replace the current well established and mostly correct Elective home education: guidelines for local authorities’.” 
The government’s consultation has been met with fierce condemnation from families whose children are being educated outside school and various organisations. A campaign has been set up on the petition site Change.org to request the DfE to “withdraw the 2018 Home Education Guidance”. 
The petition which has already reached over 15,000 signatures and counting states that:
“These draft Guidance documents were written following significant consultation with Local Authorities and no consultation whatsoever with the home education community…”
It further states that:
“The subsequent consultation is consequently for little more than show as an intention to implement the content has already been stated. These Guidance documents seek to encourage Local Authorities to breach the ECHR Article 8 and the GDPR. They provide no accessible means for a parent to address disproportionate, unreasonable or ultra vires behaviour by their Local Authority, where many of those authorities already act routinely in such ways.They are oppressive and encourage the use of draconian measures to control and fetter the civil liberties of a minority section of society. They are divisive and will lead to segregation of communities by treating home educating families as lesser than their peers. They undermine the rights of children and the duties of their parents.”
The petitioners call on the DfE to withdraw the provided draft Guidance documents until:
- it has put in place an accessible and workable complaints procedure and
- it has consulted with home educating parents, as it has with Local Authorities, as to what the contents should include.
Advice on taking part in the “consultation”
The HE Byte team are a group of parents of older and adult children that provide support for home educators. The organisation has issued a document where it provides suggestions for response to the elective home education (EHE) consultation.  Within this document the organisation highlights practical pointers when completing the consultation, it states:
– Don’t think you have to comment on every point listed in this document – they are there to inspire and encourage you – select the ones you feel most concerned about;
– Don’t leave it too late to start your response; begin to draft it as soon as possible;
– You can save your answers on the submission portal and return later, but we recommend you write them on a word processor then copy and paste each one into the relevant box;
– Don’t leave it until the last few hours to respond on-line, the website may get overloaded.
To read the full document and suggestions for response to the consultation please click here.
Commenting on the consultation, Islam21c Chief Editor Dr Salman Butt said:
“It may seem rather odd to some for Muslims to be concerned with something like this, but we have an obligation to take a leading role in public discourse and civic life. Leaving aside the fact that many Muslims themselves home educate their children, or the lasting legacy of the infamous neocon Michael Gove on the DfE in the “politicisation” and subsequent anti-Muslim obsession of Ofsted; it is essential that Muslims in Britain get their voices and opinions heard because they are part and parcel of the landscape, and need to contribute to public debate themselves. You do not have to be a home educator yourself to think and act for those who might be affected by the new Guidance, and of course not every question needs to be answered.”