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:

Film Makers


This is a very proud Mum of two great kids who made and acted in a fantastic thriller film, showcased at Queens Film Theatre Belfast.

Home Educators attain Level IV in the RHS School Gardens Scheme

Home Educators attain Level IV in the RHS School Gardens Scheme

The Royal Horticultural Society School Gardens Scheme is open to home educators.

The Dickinson Family have been working through the stages and were excited last December to be told that level four was now open to home educators.  They were awarded the certification and a voucher for enough plug plants to fill a large vegetable garden!

The plants arrived this morning, far too exciting to get dressed before unpacking them...!

The family will be sharing this bounty with other home educators at Friday's Meetup - bring pots or damp newspaper to take your plants home... maybe you can start working on the RHS scheme yourself!

Gymnast Wins Bronze at Tony Byrne Cup

Chiara Rivers

Home educated gymnast, Chiara Rivers, won a bronze medal for her beam routine in level 3 at the Tony Byrne Cup held in Derry on 13th April. This was her first time competing at level three and coach Nicki Lowry of Rathgael Gymnastics and Tumbling Club was delighted with Chiara's performance.

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...

Draft Elective Home Education Policy Document

This document has been put out for consultation by the NEELB, but appears to be intended to cover the whole of Northern Ireland when the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) is finally launched.

The boards and the ESA are not capable of making law, so these policies cannot be legally binding.  However a policy like this may make many home educator's lives difficult, and particularly vulnerable families who do not know their legal rights and duties.

A short read but amongst other things the document 

- conflates welfare and education

- mandatory home visits

- requirement to register, in effect a licensing scheme

- appears to assume powers to dictate the content of the education provided

Exam success!

Exam success!

Young adult Ashley got grades B-A* in all of the 10 GCSEs/IGCSEs he took, he also got AS/A levels at B & C grades but not being satisfied, he is working on improving them!

This busy young man is currently studying 5 AS levels and he will be taking the exams very soon.

I'm sure you will join us in sending Ashley best wishes with the exams :-)

St. John Ambulance Cadets do well!

St. John Ambulance Cadets do well!

After a years hard work training, fundraising, taking exams and entering the St John Ambulance Southern Area Competition there was an award ceremony at the end of October 2013. Siblings Christopher and Hallie did very well, with Chris gaining 2nd place best male first aider in Southern Area competition and 3rd place Challenge cup, and Hallie gaining 1st place Challenge cup, 2nd place best female cadet of the Southern Area competition, and 3rd place fundraising. The certificates gained were in First Aid, Understanding Homelessness and Radio Communications which will go towards gaining a Grand Prior Award.

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