According to the Children's Rights Alliance for England, by signing the treaty, "The UK Government agreed to make all laws, policy and practice compatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child when it ratified it on 16 December 1991 (though it registered some reservations). As international law, the Convention is meant to be followed and should be referred to by courts, tribunals and other administrative processes when making decisions that affect children."
What does that mean for home schoolers in England?
A report to the Secretary of State on home schooling, Review of Elective Home Education in England, was issued this month. Among its recommendations are:
--mandatory registration with the Department of Children, Schools, and Families (DCSF) renewed annually
--oversight by local DCSF administrators including the right to enter the home and interview each child alone
--DCSF to determine what constitutes a “suitable” and “efficient” education
--That local authorities "where appropriate commission the monitoring and support of home education"
--"That parents be required to allow the child through exhibition or other means to
demonstrate both attainment and progress in accord with the statement of intent lodged at the time of registration"
--That authorities "should regard the move to home education as a trigger to conduct a review and satisfy themselves that the potentially changed complexity of education provided at home, still constitutes a suitable education."
The report pays lip service to the rights of parents as primary educators, but shows a distrust of their judgment which is replaced by educational bureaucrats. There is also an underlying assumption that home schooling is, at least in a minority of cases, a screen for child abuse so ALL parents must be closely monitored in order to safeguard children. The report provides no evidence for the assumption.
The report makes it clear that one goal is to ensure government access to the child by law:
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) gives children and young people over forty substantive rights which include the right to express their views freely, the right to be heard in any legal or administrative matters that affect them and the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. Article 12 makes clear the responsibility of signatories to give children a voice:
'Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.' Yet under the current legislation and guidance, local authorities have no right of access to the child to determine or ascertain such views.
The report calls for "balancing" the rights of parents and children. In other words, create laws that allow the government to invade the home without cause or due process, for no other reason than that the family has chosen to withdraw their children from government schools and teach then at home.
Interestingly, the report begins with this quote:
The need to choose, to sacrifice
some ultimate values to others,
turns out to be a permanent
characteristic of the human
The quote is false on its face. If a value is "ultimate," i.e., fundamental, it cannot be sacrificed to another equally-fundamental value. That's why the mother in the Old Testament urged her seven sons to die as martyrs rather than apostatize. All of the martyrs in the Church have refused to sacrifice a fundamental value, their faith, in order to save their lives. But this lie is the basis of the report.
Much of the language is benign and some recommendations offer the carrot that allows children to enroll in school programs such as sports and music, but overall the report recommends a government grab of parental rights that gives bureaucrats control over the family, particularly children's education.
You can read the entire USDA article and access the U.K. report here.