January 27, 2003
The meaning of "independent school"

More from Julius Blumfeld, who, by the way, is happy to receive whatever email anyone wants to send him here.

The 2002 Education Act is a classic of its kind. Two hundred and seventeen sections and twenty two schedules of new rules and regulations to gladden the hearts of officials and teaching unions. And tucked in amongst that lot is a particularly worrying section entitled "Independent School Standards".

You might have thought that parents who send their children to private schools are hardly in need of "protection" from the State. After all, they're paying thousands of pounds a year to give their children the best possible start in life. Surely they can be relied upon to spot bad schools a mile off? Apparently not. The Government has decided that there is a loophole in the law and that it is time to regulate “the quality of education provided at independent schools” and “the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at independent schools”.

The idea that the Government is better than parents at judging the quality of their children’s education is silly. But the idea that the Government is going to regulate ”the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development” of children strikes me as downright Orwellian.

The implications for home educators are worrying. The Act defines a “school” as any place where five or more children receive full time education. So if two families with three children apiece get together to teach their children, the Act will apply and the parents will have to satisfy various officials that the children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is up to scratch.

It makes me wonder what would happen if a few hard-line libertarian parents and teachers got together and set up a little school. What if the children were taught that the Government has no business banning drugs, that the modern State is a criminal enterprise and that taxation is theft? My guess is that under the 2002 Education Act, they wouldn’t last five minutes.

Julius Blumfeld

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:00 PM
Category: Politics
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