Owen met Randall and Mary Hardy with the Rev Paul Darlington in Oswestry on Friday. Mr and Mrs Hardy are concerned about the Badman review of home education which is the fourth consultation on this subject in as many years. The latest guidelines, prior to the Badman Report, were only issued in 2007.
Conservative colleagues in the education team have raised a number of concerns about the latest consultation, most notably that the Department for Children, Schools and Families tried to imply that home education was being used as a cover for child abuse. Owen said “I find this offensive to those parents who often have to make a very difficult decision about withdrawing their child from school. I also find it inconceivable that the Department has not provided any evidence for linking home education and child abuse, other than saying it is yet “another unknown”.”
“I believe it is essential that every child in this country receives a first-class education and one that is suitable to their needs; to achieve that, parents should have the right to choose the education system that best serves their child and home schooling should be included in this choice. Parents, who make that choice, should be entitled to the same presumption of innocence and competence that school going children’s parents receive, unless evidence dictates otherwise.
Mr and Mrs Hardy presented Owen with a petition which he will add to the nationwide petition which calls on the Government to withdraw its plans for tighter restrictions and monitoring of home educators. PhotographMary Hardy Owen Paterson Rev Paul Darlington