You might find the following helpful to use in writing to your MP, to show the opposition to the Schools Bill.
Quotations from No to Schools Bill supporters.
Eileen Munro, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy
“The Schools Bill increases State surveillance of children and families while services to support them are cut.”
“Labelling children as problems can be very harmful.”
“Behaviour described out of context is dangerously ambiguous.”
“It is dispiriting that with the Schools Bill we are repeating the same mistakes of ContactPoint, that we’ve forgotten all of the arguments which won that.”
“Schools and local services already know what they need to do at the local level and those names are nobody else’s business. The new powers that the Secretary of State will get in future to dictate what Local Authorities and parents must do, is a frightening step towards an authoritarian state”.
“The model of registers is a model built for widgets not children. Social care is the work of people, it is human. Social workers work with families and the strengths are what you work with and build on, whereas the IT system records only the deficit because that is what they are programmed to record. It loses the richness of what makes up a family. And perhaps the social worker adds those as notes as appendices but then they are lost because that isn’t what the system records.”
The Victoria Climbié Foundation UK
“The Victoria Climbié Foundation UK is genuinely concerned about the link being made between Victoria Climbié and home education, and Victoria as a hidden child. Victoria was neither home-educated nor hidden. The reality is that there is no such thing as a ‘hidden’ child, only children who are allowed to fall through the gaps. The key issue here is how statutory services interact with children that are known within the child protection system.”
“The focus of whether children are in school or not is misguided. Instead of solutions to keep children safe – listening to children and to concerns raised by family members – proposals seem to be for databases which help no-one.
“We’re genuinely concerned by the false claims made by politicians and organisations about Arthur Labinjo-Hughes being not-in-school. The same was said about Victoria and it just isn’t true. It’s dangerous. Instead of solutions to keep children safe – listening to children and to concerns raised by family members – they’re proposing a database he wouldn’t have even been on and which will help nobody.”
We are astounded at proposed penalties to be handed out by schools, for children who fail to attend for whatever reason; which will lead to fines and prosecutions for many parents, some of whom are already known to local authorities for Section 47 or 17 support per the Children Act.
In addition, it seems likely that these proposals will further criminalise Black and minority ethnic children and families, specifically those subject to exploitation or disadvantaged by health considerations.”
“There’s already a demonising of children who struggle with attending school and a smearing of parents and carers as abusive or neglectful in some way. The Schools Bill cracks down even harder, catapulting yet more struggling families into the criminal justice system or into child protection, neither of which helps.”
“Families who have been fighting for appropriate support for their children to be able to attend school are already known to the local authorities. Often it is the local authorities who they are fighting for that support. How does putting these children on yet another database, and sharing their details, help them?”
Not Fine in School
“A new approach is needed to recognise that cases of ‘children not in school’ are often indicative of our education, health, and local government systems’ failure to support the needs of individual children.”
“94% of all respondents reporting school had negatively impacted their child’s mental health and well-being. Clear evidence pointed to the harm coercive attendance policies have with parents citing both Local Authority and school responses as escalating needs and exacerbating mental ill health.”
‘Not Fine in School’ parent responding to Square Peg questionnaire
“Graded exposure – go to school every day and stand near the gate. Each time try to stay longer and get closer to school. It made my son very unwell, and we
Parent cited in the Square Peg and Not Fine in School response to government’s attendance consultation.
“Child was distressed and suicidal due to excessive restraints by school. School refused to stop restraining. They said she needed to learn to do as she was told and restraint was the most effective way of correcting her behaviour in their opinion.”
Susan Liverman and Maddie Roberts
“Why are parents being punished for having kids who struggle with mainstream school?
Support isn’t being fined, and imprisoning us wouldn’t have helped our children obtain an education, but it would have torn our families apart.”
“The threat of prosecution is terrifying and does nothing to provide our kids with the support they need to get an education.
(Susan) “We soon realised that forcing him into school was actually increasing his distress. Worrying about being fined when my son’s difficulties would have been made worse going to school, as it didn’t cater to his needs, caused us more anxiety at a really tough time.”
(Maddie) “Our children have done nothing wrong by having a disability or difference which means they need more support or an alternative to mainstream school.”
Dr Chris Bagley
“The idea that disciplining families and exerting threats and fines supports attendance is socially repugnant and scientifically illiterate.”
Parents, Families & Allies Network
“We are concerned that the surveillance and unsubstantiated political views on home education as a safeguarding threat will lead to increased unnecessary investigations harming children and families”
No More Exclusions
“History has taught us that any form of surveillance and monitoring in schools, wrapped up as ‘safeguarding’, will harm Black children and young people.”
“The Schools Bill has not even passed and we are seeing examples of parents criminalised, parents pitted against one another and punishment of parents who want to keep their children safe.”
“Schools are not universally safe spaces. The lack of understanding about historical institutionally racist profiling of Black children and young people is in equal measure frightening and unsurprising. How does criminalising parents support children and young people to attend school?”
York Travellers Trust
“The Schools Bill will have a detrimental impact on Gypsy and Traveller children, young people and families. We are already disproportionately targeted by police and by Children’s Care, our children and young people need support, not yet more draconian powers used against us.”
Dr Naomi Fisher
“The Schools Bill will limit opportunities for learning for young people and children. It is punitive rather than supportive, and risks damaging the life chances of a generation of children who need something different to school.”
Counting Children briefing
“The future data risks are concrete. With increased Schools Bill datafication of children comes increased risk of automation of service provision and decision making. This needs safeguards to prevent use in high-risk unsuitable systems, such as AI for predictive child protection.”
Quotations from others on the Schools Bill and connected issues. Inclusion here is not to be construed as support for No to Schools Bill campaign.
“The government has proved that it cannot be trusted to set up large databases and cannot promise that inappropriate people would not be able to access the database. It would be irresponsible to implement something that is such a danger to our children.”
British Psychological Society
“Reduced dependence on the legal route and financial penalties – we all need to be reminded that punishment is an ineffective way of improving human behaviour”
Jon Yates, Education Endowment Foundation
Minutes from April Attendance Action Alliance, chaired by the then Secretary of State, Nadhim Zahawi.
“Disincentives, such as fines, were known to not work in boosting attendance.”
Becky Brooks, Education Policy Advisor, Adoption UK
The Schools Bill: Children not in school register – July 2022 | Adoption UK Charity
“Since the register of children not in school was first proposed, Adoption UK’s position has been that a register will do nothing to address the fact that many care-experienced children and young people are being failed by an education system that does not fully understand their needs and which lacks expertise and resourcing to effectively meet them. The Bill as it currently stands opens the way for punitive approaches to families which are already struggling, while offering little in the way of guaranteed support for these families.”
Baroness Chapman of Darlington
“I think that this is really sloppy, particularly when you are talking about something that could lead to imprisonment. I have done a lot of justice Bills, and I do not think I have ever seen anything quite like this”
“Subsection 2 is devastating.
It allows the local authority to invent anything.”
Lord Bishop of St Albans
“Why do Her Majesty’s Government believe that the Secretary of State has the absolute right to access information relating to an individual child without providing a just reason?”
“the state could essentially snoop on parents without providing any justification for doing so.”
Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall (Lab)
“Compelling these young people to be at a school … without the support they need to attend, will not help them learn.”
“What evidence does the Minister have that the provisions in the Bill will reduce absences in SEND groups, specifically among students with autism? “
Baroness Fox of Buckley (non-affiliated)
“These proposals are not just technical or pragmatic. We must acknowledge that this means a significant increase in the amount of sensitive, personal, confidential data that is being collated and held about children and their families by the state. Counting Children, a non-partisan coalition, warned about intrusive monitoring, risk to privacy and a lack of safeguards. Whatever the worthy intentions, civil libertarians are right to raise the concern that any legislative normalising of the collecting and processing of non-anonymised data about law-abiding citizens should give us pause. The Government’s purpose, we are told, is to tackle an increasing number of pupils who are disengaging from schools and higher non-attendance. But does this need a legislative solution that includes surveillance along with punitive measures for non-compliance?”
“The measures in this legislation, which is panicky, disproportionate and sometimes illiberal, will force-feed the message that schooling matters and that anyone who does not comply will be punished. That will not work to restore trust.
Inevitably, establishing a register of children not in school will also upset home-educating families, as we have heard today. According to Education Otherwise, those families are horrified by the implications of the Bill. Noble Lords have sort to reassure them, suggesting that they might be paranoid, but the new duty of local authorities to provide support to home educators sounds ominous when combined with talk of identifying suitable education at home and an expanded remit of Ofsted. Does this open the door to intrusive inspections of people’s homes that will undermine the legal rights of parents to educate their children at home as they see fit? Is this an attempt at interfering in the “how and what is taught”, in defiance of the legal right to educate at home, according to parents’ values and philosophies, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, has already discussed, without state meddling?
Regardless of one’s personal views about home education, these are important principles to defend in a free society, and I worry that the Bill threatens that historically light touch that has worked perfectly well to date in relation to local authorities and home educators. Even more concerning is how EHE registration is helping to identify children who are not receiving safe education, implying a link between home education and the safety of children, yet the DfE’s assessment is that there is no correlation between home education and safeguarding risk. Is this proposed regulatory regime for a small percentage of pupils involved in home education necessary? Home educators find this approach insulting and ironic. Many would argue that they choose to educate their offspring at home because they are not safe at school.
Some opponents of home education suggest that because home-educated children are invisible or unseen by authorities, there is a particular safeguarding risk. This is perverse when we know that many children who are visible and seen daily at school are not guaranteed safety.”
(writing in Green World)
“420,000 children and young people a month are being treated for mental health issues in England alone. I don’t want to hold schools responsible for that – schools already being expected to make far too much of a contribution in making up for the failures of our society: poverty and inequality, inadequate, overcrowded housing, lack of opportunities for exercise in communities. It is our society – our government – that is failing to attain a decent level of society.
But will this bill make their job of catering to ill young people even harder? Will it make those children even ill? It is clear that the answer is ‘yes’.
I also asked the minister what consultation with young people had been conducted in the preparation of the Bill. I didn’t get an answer to that, but it is something I’ll be following up, trying to build into the Bill – as we need to build into all Bills, but particularly those directly affecting young people.”
Baroness Jones of Moulescombe
“The mandatory registration of home-educated children is not the simple creation of a list. Local authorities already possess and keep such lists. The Bill goes so much further, seeking to treat home education as a problem that needs bringing under control rather than as an asset that should be nurtured and protected. The Government do not trust parents. That is the message that is coming over.
It is a very serious step to compel law-abiding families who are educating their children at home to be subject to statutory inquiries about their children in the absence of any presenting problem. This approach to families crosses a line in the involvement of the state in family life. The state is going to be able to single out a discrete group of law-abiding families from their peer group and then subject them to special monitoring.”