The Libertarian Party Manifesto: Home Education

The Libertarian Party Manifesto is the only party manifesto that has an extensive section dedicated to Home Education. You should read it, so see what the other parties should have included in their documents.

Home Education

The Party will dismantle barriers to Elective Home Education, including the repeal of new measures being planned by other parties in or out of government.

Although the Party will be implementing a Voucher System roughly along the lines implemented in Sweden[1], this will not mirror any clamp-down or coercive programme directed towards Home Educators that exists there. One of the cornerstones for us as a Party is to dismantle monopolies, not remove one only to replace it with another.

This raises important issues in regards to the funding of Home Education. We need to strike a balance between preserving the freedom of parents and children with that of Taxpayers, who, we must never forget, are being coerced and forced to fund government spending on pain of imprisonment.

On the one hand parents may wish to be free from any State control, while Taxpayers have a right to expect the State to spend their taxes prudently. The nub is “prudently”, as it immediately becomes a value judgment and a collectivised one at that.

Our position is that we would not prevent people Home Educating, nor would be demand any kind of “notification” across the board, which can rapidly become a Trojan Horse for State control[2].

However, should the Educator request that the taxpayer fund such education – take the State’s Shilling as it were – there would need to be evidence that the funding was in fact delivering an education [3]. It is

unreasonable for anyone to demand no strings funding from the Taxpayer and we feel that genuine Home Educators will understand this point completely.

In exchange for Taxpayer funding we would expect, in almost all cases[4], improvements in literacy and numeracy over time, where literacy is one of reading, writing, comprehension and critical reasoning. We are not interested in curriculum specifics and to be so would be irrational – one of the reasons some choose Home Education is due to their rejection of a centrally controlled and imposed curriculum, regardless of if that centre is National, County, City, Borough or even Parish[5].

Should even this be unacceptable to some Home Educators, they will always be at liberty to decline the funding and its attendant measurements for a period of time or throughout. Our Policy will not demand “all or nothing”, “now or forever not” or “once and forever more” conditionality upon the funding, which would be coercive, in our view, and may distort decision-making.

In summary, it is not unreasonable to expect that Taxpayer funded spending come with strings attached, but that one shall be free to decline the funding and, consequently, the strings. Educational funding is no exception.

[1] This differs from the Conservative Party approach, which still retains central control, commissioning, granting and approval powers. Fake, in other words.

[2] The idea of notification has been touted by others, including the Liberal Democrats:

“It is quite sensible for all home educators to be obliged to notify local authorities that they are home educating. Local Authorities cannot do their present job if they do not know which children are being home educated. A voluntary system would do little or nothing to address the minority of cases where home education could be of poor quality or non existent.” – Nick Clegg, Leader, The Liberal Democrats.

The unasked question: is the “present job” of the Local Authority necessary, correct or beneficial? What is also ironic is that there are cases where the education of children by the Local Authority in schools is “of poor quality or non existent” and that is sometimes the motivation for Parents or Guardians to embark on Home Education in the first place. The problem with notification is that it rapidly becomes registration then an approval process – “granted until refused” then “refused until granted” – backed by monitoring, box ticking, targets, curricula and logistics such as teaching environment. The conceit of many that the State “owns” children, “knows best” or they need to be tagged/tracked like livestock is not lost on the Libertarian Party. We reject such self-serving notions.

[3] Blank cheques will create all manner of unintended consequences when one considers that a child might “yield” £’000’s pa in cash each year for a parent.

[4] In some cases this might not apply due to the particular child and this must be taken into account.

[5] It is important to remember that under the Libertarian Party approach to a Voucher System with its removal of barriers to the formation of educational establishments and micromanaging thereof, Educators will be free to form their own arrangements including whatever level of cooperation they are comfortable with, up to and including no longer being “Home” Educators once educational establishments form that meet their needs or forming such themselves.

[…]

http://lpuk.org/

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