Only £341 to go

Our fundraiser has reached £909 thanks to significant donations yesterday. We are very grateful. Only £341 to go, so please keep sharing and donate if you can.

The HE Byte published today an article on the Welsh data-sharing regulations and our campaign. You might want to have a look and share it.

New fundraiser to challenge data sharing regulations

We have just started a new fundraiser to challenge the data sharing regulations.

Last year we campaigned  in relation to the Welsh Government’s draft guidance on home education and obtained a legal opinion  from a renowned QC, David Wolfe  of Matrix Chambers, which highlighted the unlawfulness of the guidance. The opinion has forced the Welsh Government to reconsider and delay the issuing of the guidance, and is at the core of the petition to withdraw the same altogether.

The Welsh Government now proposes to enact regulations to force Local Health Boards (eg NHS hospitals and GPs) and independent schools to disclose private information to Local Authorities, in order to populate a database of home educated children in their area. Whilst on paper this appears to impact on all children, regardless of their educational background, the fact is that this is only being introduced for the sole purpose of creating a database of home educated children which in effect will become an involuntary register.

These proposals raise serious concerns such as: 

  1. a breach of the right to privacy and private family life;
  2. a breach of the right to home educate; the Education Act 1996 does not impose an obligation to be registered or form part of a database;
  3. the right to health and to receive medical assistance; there is a concern that many home educating families may not avail themselves of NHS’s services so as to avoid being dragged into the proposed database;
  4. as said earlier, it will create an involuntary register of a minority group of children in Wales (the only other involuntary register of a group of people being that of criminal offenders); and
  5. further stigmatisation of home educated children/families. In that regard we draw your attention to the HE Byte article of 21 February.

We have also received several reports of Local Authorities already overstepping the mark and misstating the parent’s rights and obligations in relation to home education which in our view amounts to an abuse of power, and this can only get worse if the database is put into place.

We are engaging David Wolfe QC to assist us again in providing a legal opinion on the draft regulations and he has quoted £1,000 plus VAT (£1,200). We need your help to raise these funds plus £50 to cover GoFundMe fees.

As we did last time, it is our intention to use the new legal opinion to answer to the Welsh Government’s consultation . However, we have been advised that in this instance, depending on the nature of the issues raised in the legal opinion, it may not be wise to make the same public and, in this regard, we will be totally guided by the QC. This is because, for example, the legal opinion may be used in preparation for judicial proceedings should the regulations be enacted by the Welsh Government. We hope you will understand.

As in last year’s campaign, the QC’s invoice will be shared when received.

Please contribute as much as you can and please help by sharing this campaign with others. Receipts will be provided by GoFundMe.

We appreciate your support.

Protecting Home Education Wales

Database regulations table talk sessions

The Welsh Government has published the dates for the table talks on the database regulations. The dates are 6 March in Llandudno, 13 March in Swansea and 26 March in Merthyr Tydfil. There are limited spaces so if you want to attend you need to register. There will be adults and young people sessions in Llandudno and Swansea, but no young people session in Merthyr Tydfil. We thought the government wanted all children’s voices to be heard, but it seems that will not be the case for the children of south- east Wales. This is worrying and we would suggest you write to the Minister if you want to change this.

Petition to go to evidence session

The Petitions Committe has called for an evidence session to discuss the petition to withdraw the proposed guidance on home education, which is good news. The intention is that the Committee will seek the views from the Children’s Commissioner, the Education Minister, the petitioners and other home education organisations. One of the committee members stressed that the Minister was not paying attention to the legal opinion that we obtained which was coming from a QC (i.e. David Wolfe QC) and that there is a need to understand why the Welsh Government is not giving the legal opinion the attention it deserves, and another member mentioned the general discontent with the current state of affairs. You can now watch the Committee’s discussions during the meeting today.

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