Amendment 114A

Part of Schools Bill [HL] - Committee (5th Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 22 June 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Garden of Frognal Baroness Garden of Frognal Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 6:15, 22 June 2022

It is a great pleasure to follow the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn, and I absolutely agree with everything he has just said. I rise to speak to Amendments 116, 118, 125 and 126 in my name. I tabled these amendments on behalf of home educators. There are quite a lot of them so I crave your Lordships’ indulgence.

As we have heard from the right reverend Prelate and the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, the first two refer to wishing to lengthen the relevant period in a number of different situations. My amendments lengthen from 15 to 28 days the period in which parents are required to comply with duties imposed by local authorities, but I would be happy to go along with the 30 days in the other amendments. Parents would argue that they may need time to consult, possibly obtain legal advice or, at the very least, consider all the implications, and 28 or 30 days is a much more reasonable timeframe for that than 15.

Amendment 125 finds itself in this group. It seeks to ensure that the less structured but enormously beneficial forest schools and farm schools are not overlooked. Both teach a great deal to pupils and get them out in the open, with fresh air and acquiring a new understanding of natural surroundings, animals, crops and all the other invaluable work of farms. My daughter teaches four year-olds, who really love their forest school lessons. It is some of the most pleasurable and productive learning they achieve. It is particularly beneficial for town and disadvantaged children, who may never have walked through woods or seen a cow.

Amendment 126 ensures that someone who has made strenuous efforts to provide information should not be penalised if the information is deemed inadequate. People can do only their best, and we would not wish to see parents fined for matters that were not their fault.