Guernsey politician says no home-schooled child should be charged for sitting exams

Deputy Yvonne Burford says home-schooled children should have the same opportunities as those educated in a school. Credit: ITV Channel

Home-schooled students will be means-tested on whether they have to pay to sit exams under new proposals being debated in Guernsey this week.

The Education Committee has drafted an Education Law Review in a bid to modernise the current legislation which was first introduced in 1970 and was based on UK law from the 1940s.

It says its objectives are to prepare young islanders for the world of work, protect students with "high standards or safeguarding," and use technology to develop a highly-skilled workforce.

It also pledges to provide adequate education to anyone with additional learning needs, and that people of all ages will be able to access a "high standard of education."

Unlike the current education laws, the new legislation explicitly mentions home-schooling due to the growing number of families choosing it as an option.

The review says it has come under more scrutiny in recent years "due to safeguarding concerns in respect of children missing education."

To minimize this risk, parents will need to provide evidence that their child will be taught properly at home or else they won't get permission to do it.

However, Deputy Yvonne Burford believes parents should be able to take their child out of a school "at any time" unless authorities have had to previously intervene in the home.

Deputy Burford also says the cost for home-schooled pupils to sit exams or qualifications should be the same as that for students educated in a school.

However, they currently pay between £50 and £400 per subject, which the Education Committee admits means some home-educated students near the end of their schooling without sitting exams because they can't afford it.

The new plans would see the cost of exams and qualifications means-tested by the ability of their parents to pay.

But Deputy Burford says: "Children who are being home educated have been taken out of school because the school has failed them.

"If the school hadn't been failing them they would be going through the system and the cost of the exams would have been covered, so my amendment seeks to remove that requirement for means-testing home-educating parents."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…