2014 Draft Policy

Experiences with the Boards

The Draft Policy as outlined is concerning enough, but doesn't arise out of nowhere.  The current situation is one of deep mistrust between home educators and the Boards.  Given this we believe that the draft policy would be used to bully and intimidate their way into homes, and to insist on parents complicance with unlawful requirements.

Trust starts with the Boards accurately representing their legal powers and duties; while they continue to lie to us why would we want to invite them into our homes!? Trust them to make crucial decisions in our childrens' best interest?

The experience of home educating families throughout Northern Ireland is very mixed.  Stories of Board contact range from them being supportive, through misrepresenting the law, to outright harassment. Many parents are so concerned about putting their families at risk that they are unwilling to attend focus groups, or submit responses to the consultation for fear of becoming 'known'. We have asked parents who home educate in Northern Ireland for their experiences, which we are collecting together on this page to provide a backdrop to the Boards' proposals.

There are many examples of intrusive or unreasonable demands by representatives from the Boards:

Articles and Blogs

Sign Our Petition

Sign Our Petition

Please ask the education and library boards to act within their legal powers, sign this petition and don't forget to write to your MLAs.


To the Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards, and the Minister for Education

We ask you to ensure that the Education and Library Boards' policy on home education accurately reflects their legal duties and powers, and respects the primacy of the parent's legal duty to provide an education.



Graham Stuart writes on our behalf

Graham Stuart's Letter

Graham Stuart MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education in Westminster has written a letter to John O'Dowd, the Northern Ireland Minister of Education, detailing his concerns about the draft policy.

"I have concerns relating to the March 2014 draft version of the Policy, which I understand is intended to apply across Northern lreland. This appears to misrepresent the role and responsibilities of Education and Library Boards regarding parents who elect to home educate their children."

Read the full text here, keep updated on latest news here, and find details on the consultation here.

Focus Groups

Focus Groups
HEdNI encourages home educators and those considering home education to attend the focus groups organised by each of the 5 Education and Library Boards on their proposed Home Education Policy
Remember: the crucial point to emphasise is that any policy must correctly represent the legal powers and duties of parents and the Boards. The current draft does not do this.
Be prepared, be friendly, speak your mind and take copies of any documents you might want to refer to. For example:
- an example of best practice - Lancashire's Policy (English Law shares the wording of the Northern Irish Order), note that this isn't perfect but does illustrate that a good working policy is possible
- personal experience
ask permission to record the session or take notes (pause outside straight after and add anything you missed).

Hands Off Home Education

Trust Parents - protect parental choice
Hands Off Home Education
Hands Off Home Education

Parents must feed their children.  They rely on the Food Standards Authority to ensure the food they buy is safe, but the FSA doesn't come and check their kitchen or demand to approve a weekly meal-plan. Parents are presumed to be feeding their children.

Parents must care for their children.  The Department of Health and Social Services funds and regulates hospitals, GP surgeries and social workers, which parents can call on for help when they need it. Social Services don’t routinely inspect family homes or assume every child is at risk of abuse. Parents are presumed to be fulfilling their legal duty by caring for their children.

Parents must educate their children.  They can delegate their responsibility to a chosen school, or legally opt to do it themselves using the community resources around them.  However the Education and Library Boards seem unwilling to trust parents with education in the same way as they are trusted with feeding and caring.  

If parents are failing in any of these duties then there is a safety net, but we don’t assume parents are a danger to their child without good reason.

The Education and Library Boards think they should assume that any child in their parent’s care is not being educated, unless their parents repeatedly prove otherwise using the ELB’s biased criteria.

The Draft Policy on Elective Home Education (currently in 'consultation' phase) is an attempt by ELBs to award themselves a wide range of intrusive new powers, beyond those allowed to Police or Social Workers:

2014 Draft Policy - what you can do

Writing important things
Hands Off Home Education

2014 Consultation - latest updates here, introduction here.

The five boards closed five consultations on one document on the 27th June 2014 - a new policy they hoped to implement throughout Northern Ireland.   The policy now under consultation includes many requirements outside the Board's legal powers, including:

- entry into the home without suspicion of wrong doing

- access to the child

- limits on the parents legal duty to provide an education including delays to deregistration and restrictions on the form of education provided

A legal challenge could be mounted were the Education Authority ever to try and impose such a policy. As the law stands at present, there is no power for this type of rule to be implemented by means of local consultation. These changes cannot be brought in without going through the full legislative process first. 

We are hopeful that having abandoned the initial draft and having engaged with HEdNI in the Working Group on new guidance, we will see the release of constructive and legally accurate guidance by September 2017.

Consultation on Home Education Policy

Consultation on Home Education Policy

A consultation is afoot! 

The local boards are contacting known Home Educators to consult about a N.Ireland-wide Home Education Policy. They do not have the power to make law, but the policy has the potential to make life difficult for anyone dealing with the authorities.

Contains all the usual suspects - conflating welfare and educational concerns, mandatory home visits, yearly inspections and so on. Badman rides again...

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