‘Independent’ Commons Committee Chair accused of breaking parliamentary rules

We are grateful to Protecting Home Education Wales (PHEW) for articulating in this blog post the shock and deep disappointment of home educators across the UK at the ‘performance’ on BBC Radio 4 of the supposedly ‘independent’ Chair of the Westminster Select Committee’s Inquiry into Home Education in England.

As one of the respondents to the Inquiry’s call for evidence, which closed on 6 November, we have respected the committee’s rules to delay publication of our detailed submission, only to find its chair Robert Halfon MP inviting further evidence, live on the BBC, presumably to advance his own blatantly home-eduphobic agenda.

Perhaps Halfon (who can’t even get the terminology right) feared that home educators‘ evidence was far more compelling than that of the usual ‘schoolsplaining’ suspects? After all, we’ve had plenty of practice, having been been subject to relentless attacks over the years.

It is deeply insulting to those who have taken time, yet again, to provide detailed evidence to the committee in their own time, which is time away from their families without pay or acknowledgement of their unique expertise.

From Halfon’s comments, it is abundantly clear that home educators’ evidence and lived experience will be ignored in favour of vested interests, including the Local Government Association whose latest hatchet job on home education has also been given BBC air time without balancing comment to challenge its inaccurate statistics and assumptions. Indeed the LGA has form for home-eduphobia and undermines home education as an educational option with equal status to schooling at every opportunity. #MRDA (‘Mandy Rice-Davies applies’), we might well conclude.

We, and others, have not refrained from commenting on the dangers to children from schooling and highlighting the trauma and injuries sustained at the hands of some so-called ‘professionals’. 

We have had sight of the excellent complaint letter referred to by PHEW, which has been sent by an experienced home educator colleague to the Office of the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards. We would encourage others to submit individual complaints to the Commissioner, BBC Radio 4 and the LGA, and to publish them widely. We would also suggest copying these concerns to other members of the education select committee

We will be publishing our own submission to the Inquiry as soon as possible, in accordance with the rules which we have respected. It is a great pity the same cannot be said of the Committee Chair, whose position is surely now untenable. 


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