Education: Home Schooling

House of Lords written question – answered on 5th January 2010.

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Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 10 December (HL433), why they consider that the release of the questionnaire could make local authorities reluctant to cooperate with departmental surveys in the future, given that many authorities have already released this information.

Photo of Baroness Morgan of Drefelin Baroness Morgan of Drefelin Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Children, Young People and Families)

Local authorities responding to requests for information from central government, or contributing to reviews such as that conducted by Graham Badman, must be able to freely and frankly express their views, and provide examples and evidence, about what is working and what needs to change. Local authorities provided information in the expectation that it would remain confidential and any breach of confidence could make local authorities reluctant to participate in similar data gathering exercises in future.

There are two specific concerns in addition to the general concern that there must be space for officials to express their views freely and frankly. The first concern is that some of the information provided by local authorities related to small numbers, or individual, children and there is a risk that these individuals could be identified if the data we held were combined with other information, including newspaper reports, or could in the future be combined with other information released under the Freedom of Information Act. Secondly, where the home educators are unwilling to co-operate with local authorities, some local authority officials have difficult relationships with some home educators in their area and then releasing this information could make their relationship worst.

They have observed the campaign of vilification and harassment against Graham Badman and are concerned that they too could be targeted by home educators locally if their responses were released.

We and individual local authorities keep the release of data under review, bearing in mind the nature and intensity of harassment and the risks this indicates. Some local authorities have decided that the risks to individual children and their employees are sufficiently low to release the questionnaire responses. These assessments can only be made at local level and bearing in mind the circumstances prevailing at a particular point in time.

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