Isle of Man Government want a monitoring law

The Isle of Man has the same legislation on home education as England but with a couple of additions. They have a compulsory register for all 'educated otherwise' children and they can serve a notice ordering the parent to submit 'the child for examination or assessment'.

So, tougher laws but they still cannot intervene unless 'it appears' that a child is not receiving a suitable education.

Unfortunately the current the Department for Education & Children is on a mission to inspect all home educated children and wants to change the law to require an annual report: at home&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2017

There are about 45 home educated children on the Isle of Man. Freedom of Information requests revealed that the Department has not had to use its statutory powers against home educators in the last five years and they have not carried out any local studies into home education.

The problem in the Department is prejudice bordering on blatant bullying. This a very small island so it is almost personal.

The issue is being hotly debated on this Facebook page with junior Minister Lawrie Hooper tying himself in legal knots:

The problem for the small group of Isle of Man home educators is lack of resources to fight the Government with. We have no civil society groups to call on and a closed local legal system. We're up for the fight but it needs wider publicity.

Comments welcome!


Lawrie Hooper has fallen into the hole of believing Scottish councils' made-up versions of the law and statutory guidance. Even the national guidance, which does not provide for visits, meetings, monitoring or reports, is now on an extremely shoogly nail following the Supreme Court judgment on the named person legislation.

The MHK did himself no favours by citing Edinburgh Council's home education policy, which would struggle to survive a legal challenge and is paid no attention to by home educators who actually know the law.

He really should have checked with the people who understand the framework, especially as the Manx legislation derives from English law which differs from Scots law.



The Isle of Man has the same legislation on home education as England but with a couple of additions. They have a compulsory register for all 'educated otherwise' children and they can serve a notice ordering the parent to submit 'the child for examination or assessment'.
Already heading down the totalitarian road then.

Home educators from countries with compulsory registers have said that many families simply don't comply.

Monica O'Connor from Eire went to prison rather than apply for her family's rights.

No doubt they also want to make voting compulsory to bully the turkeys into choosing between flavours of their own stuffing.
This is a very distressing time for law abiding home educating families in the Isle of Man. I wouldn’t quite describe it as a totalitarian state. A corrupt oligarchy would be closer to the mark.

The first problem for home educators in the Isle of Man is that this is a very close knit community. Everybody knows everybody's business in the Isle of Man. It is usual to be introduced to people for the first time only to find out that they already know all about you. The local grapevine is very efficient. If you sneeze in the south of the Island they will hear about it in the north. They will know how many times you sneezed, which way the wind was blowing and the colour of your pocket handkerchief.

This culture makes it doubly difficult when the Government tries it on with a really intrusive policy. Quite a few home educators will know the civil servants who are pushing for some form of active monitoring. We know all about them and we know what their staff think of them too. However, that still doesn’t make it easy to convince them of the upset they are causing.

Three years ago the Chief Executive of Education said to a committee:

“We also are aware that we have something like 49 individuals who are being home educated ‘and we would like those who are being home educated… that there is some kind of annual report provided by the individuals who are being home educated about how those individuals are being educated and what kinds of areas of education they are covering, so that we have some kind of mechanism to look at controlling that.”

This year he said that home education is a contentious issue.

The message is clear. They regard home education as a problem. ‘They’ probably refers to no more than a couple of civil servants.

‘They’ have no evidence, of course but ‘they’ are determined to try and find a problem ‘they’ have never been able to find before.

The problem is that it is not home education that is failing children. It is the state school that is failing them. There are now 57 home educated children and the reason the numbers are increasing is due to bullying and children with special educational needs who can’t get help. Now the Department wants those children back under their control and, frankly, the parents are scared stiff of the effect that might have on the children.

The civil servants who imagine a concern do not understand the culture of the people they seek to regulate. If there was a problem with a home educated a child the parents could get support from within the community. No parent is going to ask the Department to help as, not only do they not provide support but they are not trusted. Whilst they continue to persist in pursuing regulated home education they are the cause of the single problem for home educated families. The Department can easily compromise a family and there is nothing that can be done about it. We don’t even have an Ombudsman.

There is no way parents in the Isle of Man are going to accept a change in the legislation. It will be fought all the way to the floor of the Island’s Parliament – the Tynwald. But therein lies a problem.

Legislation in the Isle of Man is usually a copy of English legislation but with more control and weaker safeguards. We have the Human Rights Act but few politicians understand it. The civil servants knows that and will attempt to abuse the political process by distorting the truth and twisting legislation.

The lack of Human Rights monitoring needs exposing by people and groups outside the Island. The issue for other jurisdictions is that if the Isle of Man passes a monitoring law then the different legislatures in the UK will latch onto that as will the BBC.

The headline would be along the lines of ‘Isle of Man regulates home educated children – does the UK need to follow their example?

It is perfectly possible that the Isle of Man could sneeze in the direction of a few home educators and many thousands more in the UK could end up catching the cold.
More attention from the 'Schools Week' in the UK:

Isle of Man bill reopens UK debate on home-schooling

The Isle of Man is consulting on plans to force parents who home-school to provide annual reports on their childrens’ development.
The crown dependency’s education minister, Graham Cregeen, put forward the proposal for “home educators to provide an annual report of the education they have provided for their children”.
In England, the former Conservative MP Neil Carmichael, who once chaired the education select committee, criticised current home-schooling laws on the mainland, and welcomed the proposal as a “good start” for the Isle of Man.
However, Mr Cregeen stressed the importance of not bringing in “draconian” legislation that may have an adverse effect on children and parents using the home-school system.
Is Neil Carmichael trying to manipulate someone elses politcal agenda?

Mike Wood, founder of Home Education UK, an online forum for home-educating parents, said most families would be willing to provide a general annual report on what they had taught.
But if the annual report was “prescriptive” about what should be learnt, then parents would see the consultation proposals as the “thin end of the wedge” for more intrusive policies, he said.
Most home ed parents in the Isle of Man would NOT be willing to provide an annual report. All the Isle of Man Government has to offer is a school attendance order and a shockingly third rate school system.


Most home ed parents in the Isle of Man would NOT be willing to provide an annual report. All the Isle of Man Government has to offer is a school attendance order and a shockingly third rate school system.
They really do hate being shown up as presiding over failing schools and a failing social care system. Harrison Bergeron beckons.

I have FOI'd Edinburgh Council for recent correspondence and communications with the Department, House of Keys and Tynwald following social media admissions by one MHK.
Very incisive interview on Manx Radio:

Keys members briefed on new Education Bill.

Members of the House of Keys will be briefed today (Wed 6 Sept) on the new Education Bill.
It is due out for consultation in the next six to eight months.
One proposal will be that those who choose to educate their children at home should provide an annual report, to show their children are receiving a full time education that is suitable for their age and ability.
There are currently 57 Manx children of primary and secondary school age being home-educated.
Alison Pruess of the Home Education Forum in Scotland, says in the UK, final responsibility for education lies with parents.
The Manx Government is arguing that the obligation to ensure a suitable education lies with them. It does not. It is a parental duty. When they are told this they refuse to engage with the argument.

In the Isle of Man all the politicians get a private briefing on new legislation before the public get sight of it. They are trying to influence our elected politicians before we get the chance to.

This working practice is designed to undermine democracy.
The Department for Education and children revealed their hand at a briefing to politicinas this week.

They have been looking at home education law in Sweden and France. The civil servants paid a visit to Gotland, Sweden and were impressed that 'even in a very liberal country like Sweden home education is banned'.

The legislative drafters have been instructed to construct a general clause in primary legislation giving the Department the power to investigate home educators. The legislation will 'enable' the Department to create more detailed regulations later on.

The opinion from a politician at the briefing was that they are looking for 'unlimited power' over home educators citing concerns about 'unseen' children.

All this in an Island in which there is no statutory inspection of either schools or children and families social services.

We really do have a problem.


They have been looking at home education law in Sweden and France. The civil servants paid a visit to Gotland, Sweden and were impressed that 'even in a very liberal country like Sweden home education is banned'.
Sweden liberal? :pound:

Whereas education otherwise/by other means has always been enshrined in domestic education legislation across the constituent nations of the UK, Sweden's home education ban derives from the same law passed by Hitler in Nazi Germany.

They still abduct children from their parents for daring to home educate them.

And, lest we forget, they were still actively practising Aryan style eugenics only a couple of decades ago and forcibly sterilising transgender people until 2013.

More here on Sweden's folly

Has the IoM government even heard of the Human Rights Act? Didn't they just have a child protection scandal? Do they really want to go down the Nazi route? If so, they can expect international censure.

I suspect HSLDA may be interested in this.


The Department for Education and children revealed their hand at a briefing to politicinas this week.

They have been looking at home education law in Sweden and France. The civil servants paid a visit to Gotland, Sweden and were impressed that 'even in a very liberal country like Sweden home education is banned'.
Can IoM HErs use the FOI Act to ascertain how this little fact finsing mission (at taxpayers' expense) came about. Who instigated it and why? Who approved the expenditure and why?

Copies of minutes, communications and financial records would be useful for joining the dots when it is clear the agenda is being fuelled by anti-HE/family prejudice as opposed to evidence of any problem to solve.

It's not as if they don't have enough screamingly obvious problems within failing schools and social care services, but maybe these don't hold the same opportunities for junkets.
Thankd for the HSLDA link. Will look at that!

The connection with the Swedish home education policy was apparently made by the civil servants whilst on a vist to the Gotland 2017 Island Games. That would be the level of their thinking - anecdotal evidence gleaned during a social encounter whilst watching athletics.

They have very poor awareness of Human Rights in the Isle of Man. They don't want us to know too much about our rights lest we use the Act to challenge Government which, in any case, they make rather difficult by various means.

There is huge irony in their campaign to inspect home educated children. There are NO statutory inspections of either Children & Families Social Services or the schools.

There are 57 home educated children and 11,636 school children. The unsuitable education is in the schools and very hard to tackle.

So you withdraw your child from an unsuitable school over which you have no control and they want more powers to target you with a school attendace order seeking to return your child to the said school.

It beggars belief but that's what we're dealing with.


FOI request re comms btw IoM and Edinburgh Council

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 - Release of Information

Subject: Communication with Isle of Man

Thank you for your request for information of 05/09/2017 where you asked the following:

Please provide copies of all correspondence and communications between Edinburgh City Council and the Isle of Man's Department for Education, Members of the House of Keys and the Tynwald, from 1st October 2016 to date.

The background is: A member of the House of Keys in the Isle of Man has stated that he is 'in dialogue with Edinburgh Council' over its policy on elective home education, so I am assuming the exchanges he refers to have been with the council's education and children’s services.
From: Gillian Barclay []**
Sent: 13 September 2017 14:50
To: Schools And Communities FOI Requests <>
Subject: RE: EDIR:16149, New Request for Information: Due Date 04‐10‐2017

Here is the only communication I’ve had. I’ve not yet had a chance to reply. I received this on the 1st of September.

‘Dear Gillian
I am a Member of the House of Keys on the Isle of Man (our Parliament).
I was provided with your contact details by the main reception number at Edinburgh Council as you may be
able to help with a query regarding home education.
On the Island we are currently looking at updating our regulations and legislation surrounding home
education, specifically to introduce some form of 'light touch' monitoring, such as an annual visit or annual
report from home educators to our Department of Education and I came across the Edinburgh policy which
seems to already have this sort of process in place.
While the guidance gives a good outline of the policies in place I was wondering if you would be willing to
share some information on how this works in practice? I.e. What does the annual report normally include,
who assesses the 'suitability' of home education (and on what basis is it assessed), how rigidly is this policy
enforced and what enforcement measures are in place if a home educator doesn't consent to a visit or doesn't
provide a report .
Part of the reason I am asking is that there is some concern over on the Island amongst home educators that
'nowhere else in the UK' has a requirement for an annual report and having noted the Scottish Government's
Statutory Guidance and Edinburgh Council's policy in this area I am just seeking to gather some more
Name of MHK was redacted but we know who it is as he has boasted about it on Facebook.

Follow-up FOI request has been submitted and acknowledged.

Thank you for your request for information received on 19/10/2017. In your request you asked for a copy of the response made by Gillian Barclay, Inclusion Co-ordinator, to the representative of the Isle of Man House of Keys whose name was redacted from the ciorrespondence.

I can confirm that your request will be processed under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, Environmental Information Regulations (Scotland) 2004, or the INSPIRE (Scotland) Regulations 2009.

You will receive the information requested within 20 working days unless the Council does not hold the information, or there is a reason for it to be withheld. We will write to you in any event. This means we have until 16/11/2017 to respond to your request.


Consultation response on behalf of Scottish HE Forum

Consultation response on behalf of Scottish HE Forum:

9.Should the Department seek evidence from home educators on the education they are giving to their children?


Please state your reasons:

I would like to offer the following observations in my capacity as founder and administrator of the Scottish Home Education Forum, which are also based on my experience as co-ordinator for 20 years of the national Scottish home education charity, Schoolhouse, and as co-founder of the children’s rights organisation Action on Rights for Children (ARCH). I am also a member of the ‘No to Named Persons’ (NO2NP) campaign team, which spearheaded a successful judicial
review in the UK Supreme Court of the Scottish Government’s flagship ‘Named Person’ legislation. Provisions within the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, which sought to enable the processing by 'professionals' of extensive personal information relating to the state-defined ‘wellbeing’ of every child in Scotland, were unanimously struck down by judges and prevented from coming into force.

I had significant involvement in a research project which informed the current Scottish statutory guidance on elective home education which is intended to protect the rights of children and families while acknowledging the responsibilities of local authorities. Any proposed changes to that would need to comply with the Supreme Court's ruling, as well as the upcoming GDPR which affords greater protection for children's personal information.

The law in Scotland is comparable to that of other parts of the UK and Crown Dependencies in that it is parents who are responsible for educating their children, not the state, and education 'otherwise' or 'by other means' is an equally valid and lawful alternative to schooling. Human rights legislation provides that there should be respect for, and no undue interference in, family life unless there is risk of significant harm to a particular child or children. In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, there is no statutory duty upon local authorities to ‘monitor’ home education on a routine basis, and informal enquiries and requests for annual updates confirming continuing home educating status represent a reasonable form of contact for most families.

The following statements by the Chief Executive Officer of the Isle of Man Department for Education and Children are of concern:
Hansard of Oral Evidence: 25 Jun 2014 Department of Education
“We also are aware that we have something like 49 individuals who are being home educated and we would like those who are being home educated… that there is some kind of annual report provided by the individuals who are being home educated about how those individuals are being educated and what kinds of areas of education they are covering, so that we have some kind of mechanism to look at controlling that.”
Hansard of Oral Evidence: 10 Apr 2017 Department of Education and Children.

"There are a number of contentious issues and home education is another one, in terms of what we do in that space. We know that is a political issue, as are many of these other issues as well."

I would wish to underline the point that elective home education ranks equally in law with schooling, so characterising it as 'contentious' can only be regarded as a personal opinion which infers prejudice against the principle of parental choice.

Plans to introduce monitoring and control of parental education provision have striking similarities to the ill-conceived statutory home education registration schemes proposed (and later dropped) in England and Wales following consultation. Creating such a scheme in the Isle of Man would amount to a form of parent licensing and would, in my view, breach both UK-wide data protection principles and the EU-wide protection afforded by the ECHR.

It should further be noted that children, like adults, have the right to privacy and that the UNCRC provides only for children who elect to do so to express their views about their education or other issues that affect them. This interpretation of Article 12 of the UNCRC (as an entitlement with a corresponding right of refusal) is fully endorsed by the Scottish Children's Commissioner, who has affirmed that children and young people "can refuse to give their opinion for any reason, and Article 12 shouldn’t be used to pressure <sic> them into giving it."

Also of relevance here is Article 9 of the ECHR, which protects freedom of thought, conscience and religion:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or
in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Requiring an annual report by law would place your Department in a position of control over a child’s teaching, for which you might then, potentially, become liable. Seeking to control, or limit, the teaching of every home educated child would require conclusive evidence of a previous failure to address an existing pressing social need, or a general failure of home education, through existing policy or legislation. Determining a suitable education for every home educated
child is too subjective a matter for the law, which demands precision, and any measure which would arbitrarily interfere with the child's teaching and which did not include suitable safeguards to prevent its abuse would inevitably fall foul of overarching legislation.

Experience in Scotland has shown that home educating families may be subject to disproportionate discrimination and unfair treatment by dint of exercising an equal lawful choice, whether through ignorance of the law or prejudice. Any additional protected characteristics which are evident or perceived within home educating families are likely to further exacerbate the unequal treatment they receive, as well as severely compromising relationships with other public authorities
and undermining the parents' legal duty to provide a suitable education.
Thanks ! The bit around Scottish legislation is very helpful as they have been in touch with civil servants in Scotland trying to find support.

GILL has helpfully posted this:

Educational freedom also under threat on the Isle of Man

There are only forty-nine children being home educated on the island, some of whom I met on my visit last year. Only four families are actively campaigning against the proposed changes there, which is a similar ratio of political engagement as we have in home education here on the mainland. Except here, that means over five thousand active campaigners which makes life somewhat easier. Being one of such a tiny number of campaigners must feel extremely daunting and overwhelming, hence this plea from them for our help in responding to a government consultation which will take five minutes for each of us to complete. Responses from off the island will be accepted and the Manx home educators would like as many responses from home educators in the UK as possible.
and these points aree flagged up:

Specific problems tend to be missed as perpetrators of abuse learn to game the system as exampled by infamous foster mother Eunice Spry, who received regular visits from the local authority about her home education provision in which the children were present, but no abuse was ever suspected. Professional 'visibility' is therefore no guarantee of safety whatsoever.
Monitoring of home education provision is often counter-productive and results in parents being unable to comply with their legal duty to provide suitable education.
As the NSPCC demonstrated in its report into the Serious Case Reviews, in every reported case professionals were aware of the children and already had the legal duty, in Children Act sections 17 and 47, to take action but failed to do so. They then chose to ask for more duties instead of focusing their attention on the training and application regarding the sufficient duties they already had. As officials are already struggling and often failing to implement their current safeguarding duties, adding more duties to the list can only exacerbate the problem.]

The Department should NOT seek such evidence from parents because blanket screening for safeguarding has been shown to be ineffective, sufficient safeguarding powers already exist in law for officials to take action when concerns arise and it is important for the state to have trust in parents to carry out their parental duty in the absence of evidence that they are failing to do so. Where there are no concerns about a family, home education provision can be negatively affected by oversight from officials and the Freedom of Information responses I have seen indicate that there is no good reason to risk this outcome. The proposed change in respect of home education will be expensive and counter-productive and should therefore be avoided. The 'invisible children' phenomenon has been shown to be a myth
All good stuff!
An update from the Isle of Man.

There were over 500 submissions to the public consultation which is a huge response for the Isle of Man.

These will be analysed by the Department for Education and a decision made as to whether to include a monitoring proposal in a second consultation on a fully drafted Bill. However, it is not expected that they will take into account any opposition to their proposals. After that it is almost guaranteed to proceed through to law in the Autumn.

What the Department wants is a single ‘enabling’ clause allowing them to make regulations on home education. This means the full agenda won’t be known for some time. Regulations are very powerful here so we could end up with something very intrusive indeed.

In the meantime the Manx Home Education Association was formed to fight the proposals:

Shortly after this was formed the Government invited the MHEA to a meeting at which some members agreed, without any reference to the home educating community, to enter into negotiations to write non statutory guidance for the Department. They did this without any offer by the Department to drop the legislation.

There have since been a number of resignations from the MHEA which has dwindling support.

We have a real problem here in the Isle of Man. An association set up to fight the Government ends up on its own agenda working with the Government. The first thing that is lost is trust between home educators. Try as we might in the Isle of Man any attempt to fight the Government always ends up being corrupted due to the close knit island culture.

We really need outside pressure or some other way of handling our campaign to stop it getting corrupted. The problem is that if the Isle of Man passes a monitoring law then the likes of OFSTED, Lord Soley et al will crow at the law change and use it to promote their arguments elsewhere.

Suggestions welcome please!



Jelly and ice cream and a seat at the top table must be irresistible...

What could possibly go wrong?

We have seen it all before and it's abundantly clear that a self-appoited small group does not represent all home educators and has no authority to negotiate away other people's rights.

HEF does not presume to represent all home educators but rather maintains a robust stance on defending families' rights and freedoms.
An FOI request has revealed correspondence showing the Government's argument for a home education monitoring law:

'as a responsible Government we need to ensure that every child receives a suitable education, wherever it is delivered and this needs to be included in the new Education Bill'

This statement is from an Island which so enthusiastically embraced Every Child Matters and so comprehensively screwed it up by needlessly putting thousands of local families through the trauma of child protection investigations.

They also say that they will ensure the Bill 'meets the needs of other legislation such as the Human Rights Act and the convention on the Rights of the Child'.

They obviously don't understand the difference between a law and a convention.

There is a real problem for all of us if the Isle of Man passes a home education law on the basis that it is 'necessary and proportionate' under the Human Rights Act. Other jurisdictions will argue that they have to follow suit.

The FOI also revealed that the Government:

'has not agreed to a number of points stated which will be subject to further discussion with the MHEA group'

The problem for a very small lobby group entering into direct discussions with Government is that is has no authority. The Government has not given up any of its ground and if it does not like what the lobby group is arguing they can simply proceed to legislation. Frankly, all bets are off in the Isle of Man and much more pressure needs to be placed on the Island leave home educators alone.
As predicted the Government has ignored the lobby group and the many parents who wrote submissions to what was obviously a fake public consultation. They decided to use the public consultation as some kind of vote. 359 responses said ‘Yes’ to monitoring and 129 responses said ‘No. so that’s the result they wanted. Never mind that multiple online submissions could be filled in anonymously meaning that the result could be easily corrupted!

The Report on consultation outcomes just published says :

‘The new Bill will contain enabling clauses to allow us to determine what will be required from parents who choose to home educate. It is envisaged that we will work with these parents to form the guidelines we and the Home Educators will work within’.

Previously they had talked about just one ‘enabling’ clause. Now it’s ‘clauses’. There is more to this proposed home education than we are being told!

Hot off the press is the Government press release which also says:

More than 530 respond to consultation on Education Bill

  • Religious Education should be treated in the same way as any other curriculum subject
  • pre-school education should be quality-assured
  • a register of tutors and educational establishments should be created
  • the Department should seek evidence from those who choose to home-educate on the standard of education being provided
We have a really weak parliament in the Isle of Man full of inexperienced politicians. We could be on track to be the first British jurisdiction to have a home educating monitoring law in place. This could be as early as the end of 2018.

The problem for England, Scotland, Wales and Ulster is that all Manx legislation has to be approved by the UK. This means that UK civil servants in the Ministry of Justice will have the ultimate say on whether a home education monitoring law is Human Rights compliant. If they say that it is then it will be much, much easier for other governments to jump on the bandwagon.

What happens in the Isle of Man in 2018 really does matter for all of us.