Children, Schools and Families Bill
The Children Schools and Families Bill (CSF Bill) was published in November 2009 represents a major threat to the home education community in England. The purpose of this page is:
- to discuss the Bill, Explanatory Notes and associated Impact Assessment
- to suggest any Amendments.
Summary of the Bill
Schedule 1 of The CSF Bill introduces an annual registration scheme, effectively a licence, for Home Educated children. Parents would have to apply an advance plan for their children’s education every year in order to remain on the ‘register’ and Local Authorities would have extensive powers to refuse or revoke registration on a variety of grounds. This reverses the fundamental principle in English law that parents are responsible for the education of their children.
Under the proposals, Local Authorities would have wide powers to monitor home educated families and children. The proposed system includes mandatory annual visits and requests for unaccompanied interviews with children.
The CSF Bill has been described as a "skeleton" with further regulation to be issued on how many of the proposals would work in practise. Future guidance would be issued for Local Authorities on the ‘registration’, monitoring and inspection regime but MPs are being asked to approve the Bill without having sight of this guidance. This exposes Home Educators to huge uncertainty as rules could be changed significantly in the future.
19 November 2009: The CSF Bill was published and had its First Reading in the House of Commons
26 November 2009: As part of six days of debate on the Queen's Speech, the House of Lords debated Education. Lord Lucas spoke in support of Home Educators. His speech can be found here.
In closing the debate, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon reaffirmed the Government's committment to registration and monitoring. Her comments are here. Column 576 Para 5.
8 December 2009: Petitions were presented to the House of Commons by MPs from all over the country (transcript).
16 December 2009: MPs break for Christmas.
5 January 2010: MPs return to the House of Commons after their Christmas break.
11 January 2010: Second Reading of the CSF Bill in the House of Commons (transcript).
After the Second Reading, a Public Bill Committee of MPs will be appointed to scrutinise the CSF Bill. The following information came from the House of Commons Scrutiny Unit: “The public bill committee will not be appointed till after the second reading debate [...] The number of MPs on a public bill committee varies. It is usually 16 or 18 plus 2 chairmen. The whips of each party decide which members are on which committee so I don't think you are able to influence the decision.”
19 January 2010: Public Bill Committee hearing. Fiona Nicholson of EO has been invited to give evidence.
General Election 2010 The date has yet to be announced. There is a handy ready reckoner here on the UK Parliament site here: 
April 2011: Proposed implementation date if the CSF Bill becomes law.
How to Oppose the Bill
Write to your MP
Write to your MP asking them to raise your concerns with the Minister.
Here is a leaflet with some key points.
They Work for You - Find your MP.
Make a Written Submission about the Bill
Written submissions can be made any time after the Bill has been published. Details can be found here.
Sign this Petition and circulate the link
Lobbying the Lords
According to Lord Lucas - a great supporter of Home Education - the time to involve the Lords is once the Bill has had its Third Reading in the Commons. Lord Lucas has some helpful information about lobbying the Lords on his blog here.
Ian Appleby has created an excellent database to help us lobby the Lords. It is here: Lords Database The database can be edited universally so please update it as you contact people.
Possible amendments to the Bill
Amendments proposed to the Bill Committee
History of the Home Education proposals in the Bill
In January 2009, Graham Badman was asked by the Government to carry out a Review of Elective Home Education in England. His report - published in June 2009 - was accepted in full by the Government but triggered widespread opposition from home educators and from 43 MPs who signed an Early Day Motion put forward by MP Mark Field.
In the wake of complaints from home educators, the Children Schools and Families Select Committee ordered an inquiry into the Badman Review. Submissions to that inquiry can be viewed here.
Before publication of the inquiry report, home educators rallied around lobbying MPs and produced their own report called Right to Reply, which was presented to MPs at a mass lobby of Parliament on 13 October 2009. A month later, MP Graham Stuart formed an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education. In the House of Lords, Lord Lucas has also been supporting home educators.
The Impact Assessment (referenced below) was published in November 2009 and it used inaccurate percentages to calculate the benefit/cost ration of the CSF bill as regards home education (see Bullet Point Expose below). An Impact Assessment is used to inform the rationale behind any changes in legislation and forms the basis for the legislation proposed in Scedule 1 of the CSF bill.
The Select Committee published it's inquiry on the 16th December 2009 http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/csf/csfpn101209.cfm
MPs and Lords who support Home Education
MP Mark Field:
- tabled a Westminster Hall Debate on 9 June 2009 "to express home educators' deep concerns about the Badman Review".
- tabled Early Day Motion 1785 on 1 July 2009.
MP Graham Stuart:
- took an active part in the CSF Select Committee Inquiry into the Badman Review on 12 and 14 October 2009.
- spoke in the House of Commons Debate on the Address (i.e. debate on the Queen's Speech) on 19 November 2009.
- set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education. (See details below)
- has received assurance from MP Michael Gove (Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families) that the Conservative Party will oppose the provisions for compulsory registration of home educated children in the Children Schools and Families Bill.
- co-ordinated a record-breaking presentation of Parliamentary Petitions to the House of Commons at 10.27pm on 8 December 2009. Seventy MPs presented petitions from 120 constituencies. Graham Stuart said: "If enacted, the Government's proposals will, for the first time in our history, tear away from parents and give to the state the responsibility for a child's education."
- made a speech in the House of Lords on 26 November 2009 and continues to ask pertinent questions of Lady Delyth Morgan regarding refused Freedom of Information requests.
Here is a list of those MPs who spoke up in support of home educators at the first All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education on 6 January 2010: Notes from the meeting made by home educators can be found here: Wikiversity page devoted to APPG on Home Education
Graham Stuart, Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness
Susan Kramer, Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park
Charlotte Atkins, Labour MP for Staffordshire Moorlands
Anne Milton, Conservative MP for Guildford
Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon
Sandra Gidley, Liberal Democrat MP for Romsey
Oliver Heald, Conservative MP for North East Herts
Eleanor Lang, Conservative MP for Epping Forest
John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley
David Howarth, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge
Kate Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxhall
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education
Chairman Graham Stuart (Conservative)
Deputy Chairman Lord Lucas (Conservative)
Secretary Tim Farron (Liberal Democrat)
Treasurer David Drew (Labour)
The full list of members of the APPG as of 26th November 2009 is:
Conservative Richard Benyon, Peter Bottomley, Douglas Carswell, Graham Brady, Alistair Burt, Stephen Crabb, Philip Davies, Mark Field, Robert Goodwill, Cheryl Gillan, Michael Gove, Oliver Heald, Julie Kirkbride, Mark Lancaster, Lord Lucas, Anne Milton, Mark Pritchard, John Randall, Andrew Selous, Graham Stuart, Charles Walker, Bill Wiggin
Labour Celia Barlow, Karen Buck, Richard Caborn, Jim Cunningham, Parmjit Dhanda, David Drew, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, George Howarth, Brian Jenkin, Andy Love, Austin Mitchell, Paddy Tipping, Dr Desmond Turner, Lynda Waltho
Liberal Democrat Annette Brooke, Tim Farron, Sandra Gidley, John Hemming, Paul Holmes, David Howarth, Mark Hunter, John Leech, Jo Swinson
The first meeting of the APPG took place on 6 January 2010. Notes from the meeting made by home educators can be found here: Wikiversity page devoted to APPG on Home Education
Children Schools and Families Bill
Children Schools and Families Bill
Children Schools and Families Bill Explanatory Notes
Children Schools and Families Bill Equalities Impact Assessment, page 73-75
Children Schools and Families Bill Impact Assessment, page 83-90,
Early Day Motions
MP Mark Field's Early Day Motion
MP Oliver Letwin's Early Day Motion
CSF Select Committee
CSF Select Committee: Submissions to Inquiry
CSF Select Committee: Report into Elective Home Education published 19 December 2009
Elective Home Education: Guidelines for Local Authorities 2007
Critique of Impact Assessment for Children, Schools and Families Bill, (EHE). Dr Ben Anderson
Children, Schools and Families Bill: Legal Analysis.
BULLET POINT EXPOSE of the Statisitcs used to inform the Impact Assessment. http://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B4_d0FTV62i4Mzg2YjNkNDEtNGNlMy00NWQ5LWEwYmMtMDgzOWFmODE4NGE4&hl=en_GB