PRESS RELEASE - Not Back to School Picnic 2009

At a time when many families are in the throes of settling their children in to a new school year, home educating families across the country are getting together for “Not Back to School” picnics. These are the first mass picnics to be co-ordinated nationwide by and for home educators, and organisers are hoping it will become an annual event. Surrey has three picnics, the first in Guildford’s Stoke Park on Wednesday 16th September, another in Richmond on the same day and one in Ewell the following week.

“We want to celebrate what a fantastic option home education is, spread the word and show people that home educated kids are not shut away at home all day, they are active members of the community. There are so many myths and misconceptions about home education and we’d like to debunk them” says Emma, organiser of the Guildford event.

Under British law the responsibility for a child’s education lies with the parents and an ever increasing number are choosing to fulfil that duty by educating their children “otherwise than at school”.

Despite the name, most home educating families find they actually spend very little time at home.

Emma says “There are so many activities on offer it can be hard to fit them all in! Just in this immediate area we have regular drama, ice-skating, art, climbing, science, choir, French, yoga, swimming, Spanish, book groups, history club and even dog agility classes for home educators. Then there are the purely social groups, the one-off trips that are arranged regularly and of course the usual music and sports lessons and Brownies/Cubs that many school children do too. The very idea that home educated children are missing opportunities to socialise is laughable.”

Home education is thriving in the UK and Surrey is no exception, with 500 home educated children known to Surrey County Council and probably at least as many again who have never been to school and as such are not included in official figures.

The government recently commissioned a review into home education. The resulting report recommends major changes to legislation which would be devastating to many home educating families and could have significant repercussions for all parents.

Local authorities already have the legal power to force children to attend school if parents are not providing them with a suitable education. Similarly, there are existing powers for social services departments to insist on seeing children if they believe there is a risk of harm or abuse, but the Department for Children, Schools and Families is currently consulting on proposals to give local councils unprecedented new powers to:

Decide which parents are to be allowed to educate their own children. This is a green light for prejudice against parents who may be considered “not good enough” to home educate – such as single parents, disabled parents, or people on low incomes.

Track home educating families on yet another government database. Families would be required to inform their local authority every time they move house and update their information on the database every year – on pain of criminal prosecution. All this purely because they have made a minority choice about education.

Enter family homes and interview children alone. This would give poorly-trained LA staff more powers than the Police.

The focal point of the Not Back to School Picnics will be bubble blowing at 2pm which will be taking place simultaneously at around 40 picnics across the country.

For information on home education in Surrey visit:

To show support for home educators visit:

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