New Clause 2 — Admissions policy of independent schools opting for Academy status

Part of Planning (Grade 1 Agricultural Land Protection) – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 11th May 2011.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 4:45 pm, 11th May 2011

Thank you.

Finally, let me turn to new clause 22, tabled by my hon. Friend Mr Stuart, the Chairman of the Select Committee on Education. I fully understand his concerns about the proposed change to the pupil registration regulations that apply when parents choose to remove their children from school to home educate them. My hon. Friend now knows that we shall not proceed with the change in its present form, and I hope that I can further reassure him by explaining the thinking that led us to propose the regulation change in the first place, and what we intend to do now. As he said, the change would have required schools to retain pupils on the roll for 20 school days following a parent’s decision to remove their child from school for home education. If the parents change their minds, the child could be re-admitted to the school. I was attracted by that proposition, as was my hon. Friend.

The Government’s policy remains that parents are responsible for their children’s education. They have the right to choose to fulfil that responsibility by educating their children themselves, rather than by sending them to school, and we have no desire to interfere with that right. The proposed change in the regulations was intended to protect any children whose parents had reluctantly decided to home educate against their own better judgment—for example, those who would rather their child went to school, but who have concerns about the school that they feel it has not addressed. That group is not typical of the majority of home educators, who in my experience are determined, committed and passionate people. Having considered the issue further and taken into account the views of home educators and those of my hon. Friend, I am not yet convinced that the proposed change is the best way to address the concern. Therefore, we are considering other policy options. However, I am grateful to the Chairman of the Education Committee for tabling new clause 22, which has enabled me to put that on the record.