This Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on the 19th November this year. 

The bill sets out to reforms schools as well as other childrens’ services and sets out  a number of guarantees to parents and children as to what they can expect from the Schools system in the 21st century. 

In part, the Bill follows on from the Rose Review by implementing many of the recommendations found in that report and introduces curriculum reforms. No long will children be taught separate subjects, but the primary school curriculum will be divided into 6 areas.  So, for example skills in literacy and numeracy can be developed in a range of subjects such as history.  This is a move seen in other Western European countries, yet it hardly seems radical to apply the basic skills such as literacy and numeracy to an understanding of history, geography and mathematics. 

The national curriculum will  become less centralised, this having been a criticism of the National Curriculum as well as Labour Governments in general.  Although of course the National Curriculum came into force in 1988 under a Conservative administration, which had apparently rolled back the state.  Now, schools and teachers are to be trusted to make decisions on how best to teach subjects like Maths and English, although basic skills and knowledge are to underpin everything learnt in school.  While history is to be taught under a ‘historical, social and geographical’ theme, British history is  to become a feature of primary school pupil’s learning,    

The bill contains guarantees including a commitment to one-to-one tuition for pupils who are falling behind their peers.  Parents have a right to redress if such guarantees are not met, perhaps allowing greater ‘parentocracy’ and the inequalities associated with that.

Teachers will be subject to a license to practice and they will be required to demonstrate their fitness to teach at designated intervals.  This could be an attempt to tackle the ‘problem’ of incompetent teachers.  In fiction we have them in the form of Steph Haydock and  Grantly Budgen in Waterloo Road.  A ‘discourse of derision’ (as identified by Stephen Ball)  where the problem of incompetent teachers is evident in parts of the popular press  (see for example this article in the Daily Mail). Surely this development, introduced in this Bill is exactly what these critics want?

Another significant development arising from this new Bill is the introduction of a register of home educated pupils.  This can be seen as the state interfering in the private lives of those who wish to educate their children themselves, but yet is designed to protect children as in some case home education is used as a cover for child abuse.  Again, those who claim the Government should be doing more to protect vulnerable children will welcome this?

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2 thoughts on “The Children, Schools and Families Bill

  1. Who told you that home edding is used as a cover for child abuse? It was the NSPCC PR officer, who was forced to admit he had no evidence of it, when interviewed on Newsnight. You should know better than to believe government press releases.

    Doing anything that makes your family different is hardly likely to be a cover for abuse. Our children attract attention, so neighbours and townsfolk are observing them – because they are not at school. Camouflage works by allowing you to blend into the background.

    Don’t take this government’s word for anything — unless you’ve found Iraq’s WMDs.

  2. Thank you for your comments. Firstly I would like to say that no-one has told me that home education was used as a cover for child abuse. I did not make such a blanket assertion. Parents have a number of reasons for wishing to educate their children at home; many will have their children’s best interests at heart and will provide them with a valuable educational experience. However not all parents are able to provide their children with a safe environment in which to grow, and some may put their children at risk, intentionally or as a result of dysfunction. This is the case for some children educated at school, and may be the case for some children educated away from school (again not all children). The concern for those responsible for protecting children is that this is a difficult enough task where children are known to children’s services but is almost impossible where children are not known, and yet, whether you support it or not, the State has a responsibility to protect and safeguard all children, and ensure they are being suitably educated, whether or not they are educated at home or school.
    As the laws on home education presently stand there may be children who are currently unregistered with the Local Authority as being home educated (i.e. if they have never been to school) and that a registration system whereby all home educated children are registered allows a child to be known to local Children’s Services. Such a system can, of course never guarantee complete safety as abuse happens in private with perpetrators adapt at covering this up. Having worked with a range of children’s service professionals I am aware that some children on the ‘at risk register’ are home educated, of course many will be educated at school. A child can be abused, whether they are home educated or not.
    As for believing Government press releases, I am quite capable of analysing them and making up my own mind as my blog posts demonstrate.
    I wish you and your children well.

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