Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 4:18 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Edward Balls Edward Balls Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families 4:18 pm, 11th January 2010

These would be interesting debates for the Committee, and it would be dangerous to allow the Select Committee to repeat its internal debates on the Floor of the House at this point. But the fact is that a voluntary registration system only takes us so far; it does not deliver the conclusion of the Select Committee's report: local authorities should know where those children are. In the vast majority of cases, home-educating parents will want to co-operate fully-this will be very light touch indeed-but in the small minority of cases where things go wrong, there is a balance to be struck between the rights of the parent and the rights of the child, and we must ensure as a society that children are safe and are learning. We should not have one rule for children in schools, where we have a duty to ensure that they are safe and are learning, and another rule for children who are home-educated, which is that if their parents do not want to tell, no one is obliged to find out; that would not be the right approach.

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