South Lakeland mums fight home school changes

HOME educators in South Lakeland are battling controversial Government proposals to monitor how they teach their children.

The Children, Schools and Families Bill, headed by children’s minister Ed Balls, had its second reading in the House of Commons last week.

Butit has already led to a furore among the 69 families who home educate children in south Cumbria and claim it is a breach of their civil liberties.

If the bill is passed, home educators will be forced to join a register, and Cumbria County Council children’s services will have the right to enter their home to ensure they are providing quality education. Parents may also have to submit their curriculum plans for the year.

Jayne Richardson, of Gran-ge-over-Sands, who educates her three children aged nine, 12 and 15, has been heavily involved in a campaign to get the bill thrown out of parliament.

“A lot of us feel the proposed changes are not about benefiting the child but about control.” she said.

“As the current legislation stands we have a very free system and that is a good thing. We want to protect it for people who need to make that choice in the future.”

Mrs Richardson, along with other local home educators, has been lobbying the Government with letters and petitions for more than a year – a campaign supported by Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, who is secretary of the all party group for home education, supports the campaign.

“There are all sorts of things in place that protect children and to single out home educators as a potential source of mistreatment is insulting,” he said.

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said: “The local authority wants to ensure all young people in Cumbria are able to reach their potential.

"We work in partnership with home educators to support children.

“While we have a monitoring duty, this is completed through developing good working relationships with parents and children.

"The majority of home educators we visit have good provision and are pleased to share their successes with us.”

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