The Department of Education had a policy of monitoring home education. Monitoring was carried by by means of home educators submitting a report and/or having a home visit and/or having their provision certified by a qualified teacher.
Around 2004 a group home educators read the Education Act 2001 and realised that the Department’s policy did not have any legal basis. After home educators challenged the Department, the policy fell into disuse. It is also around this time that Data Protection legislation came into being.
The Department of Education brought forward a new Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill in 2008 which came to home educators’ attention when it was put out to public consultation.
Clause 5 of the Bill contained proposed legislative additions to the Education Act 2001. These would require home educators to notify the Department of their home education and to provide written particulars of their educational provision to the Department when asked. Home educators campaigned against the introduction of these proposals.
The proposals gained COMIN assent and entered Tynwald at the end of 2008. In Tynwald, home educators did not oppose the introduction of the duty to notify the Department of home education. However, monitoring home education by requiring parents to provide details of the particulars of their children’s education, Clause 5(4), was vigorously opposed and home educators were able to gain the support of a number of backbench MHKs. Clause 5(4) was subject to much debate and scrutiny. A legal opinion, funded by the charity Education Otherwise, and prepared by Steven Corrin MA, (Cantab) LLM, then of Moroneys, Douglas, under the advisement of UK Barrister Ian Dowty, formed part of this debate; as did an amendment to the clause which removed Clause 5 (4), section 24A(4) from the Bill. This opinion concluded: “In my opinion, several elements of Clause 5, as drafted, do not comply with the HRA, in particular with Article 9 of the ECHR. One further element may not comply with Article 6. Corresponding amendments are required to guarantee HRA compatibility.” During the passage of the Bill through Tynwald, Anne Craine MHK, the Minister for Education, considered the opinion, plus other comments made by MHKs, and the amendment prepared by Steven Corrin, resulting in the member for Education, Mr Henderson, submitting an amendment to remove clause 5(4) from the Bill. Thus parents had the duty to notify the Department of home education but not to provide any written particulars. The principle of routine monitoring of home education was rejected.
In 2014 the issue of home education monitoring was raised once again.
At a session of the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee on 25th June Professor Roland Barr,1CEO Department of Education and Children (DEC) outlined issues he wished to address in the forth coming education bill.
Despite admitting that there was ‘no problem ’ with home education on the island, Professor Barr commented that the DEC want ‘some kind of annual report provided by the individuals who are being home educated about how those individuals are being educated and what kinds of areas of education they are covering, so that we have some kind of mechanism to look at controlling that.’
Home educators once again campaigned against the introduction of controlling measures with a number of us writing to the Department and our MHKs.
The Education Bill was not progressed further until 2017.