Home schooling

French MPs vote to clamp down on home schooling but give families time to adjust

French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, speaking at the beginning of the school year in September 2020.
French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, speaking at the beginning of the school year in September 2020. AFP/Alain Jocard

A majority of MPs voted on Thursday to restrict home schooling in France as part of the 'anti-separatism' bill. But faced with opposition, families will be given until 2024 to make the transition.

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After hours of heated debate, France’s lower house validated on Friday much tighter restrictions on the home schooling system.

From September 2021, families will have to obtain authorisation from the ministry of education rather than simply declaring their intention to home school.

The controversial Article 21, which is part of the equally contested 'anti-separatism’ bill going through parliament, was adopted by 78 votes to 25 on Thursday evening.

According to the ministry of education, some 63,000 children are currently home schooled in France and the government is concerned that some families are using the system as a cover for radicalisation.

"Little girls are being sent into hangars to be indoctrinated from the age of three," education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told MPs during the vote on Thursday.

Under the proposed legislation, families will be required to obtain authorisation to continue home schooling for one of the following reasons: health, disability, artistic or sporting activities, travel, living far from school or for reasons relating to “the child’s particular situation”.

Several hundred amendments had been tabled and even Blanquer acknowledged the article was controversial. Some MPs from the ruling LREM party abstained, and one voted against.  

MPs also voted a transition period through to the 2024-25 school year to give families that are already home schooling time to organise themselves. They will have to undergo a thorough inspection by the authorities during the 2021-2022 school year.

Thousands of home educators have been calling for Article 21 to be scrapped, arguing it breaches the fundamental right to choose how to instruct your child, as laid down in the 1882 Jules Ferry law. They are staging protests in Paris and other big cities on Sunday.

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