Thursday, April 19, 2018

What's wrong with the Draft Home Education Guidance for Local Authorities? Part 1

Hmm.  Where to start!

There's a lot that could be said about the Draft HE Guidance for LAs  upon which the government are currently consulting (finishing on July 2nd 2018).  Home educators are hurrying to get it together to say it all, and it is a big task because the consultation is not only about the Draft Guidance for LAs, but is also about another Guidance, this one for parents, and not only that, but there is also a call for evidence on other questions which would involve the introduction of a whole new swathe of legislation.

And this consultation isn't the end of it! We have at least four, yes get that FOUR other consultations which also relate to many of the issues raised in the Home Education Consultation and which would be usefully completed by home educators as well as disgruntled schooling families.

Home educators could feel justifiably aggrieved about the monumental amount of work they have to do in order to preserve their way of life and that's before they have even sat down to speak to their children of a morning! If one were of a cynical persuasion, one might conclude that this confluence of consultations was deliberately engineered to render considered objection nigh impossible, but home educators are a resilient and ingenious bunch and can turn this sort of experience into a sparklingly stellar home education project.   Plenty of HE young people ended up with a rigorous education in political theory, lobbying, history, law and argument the last time around with the Badman experience and this is almost certainly happening all over again.

As a priority, HEors are starting off by scrutinizing the LA Guidance as this seems most likely to be implemented and could be in place in as little as five months.  Sadly, the new proposed guidance bares little resemblance to the current EHE guidance and there is a lot to worry about.   It will be necessary to break this subject down into a number of different posts, which will be linked to here when written.

Let's start with one of the first concerns here: 

There are a number of assertions in the guidance that appear to be just pulled out of the air for the purposes of muddying the waters and making home educators look suspect. For example:

2.2:When the impetus (to home educate) is a negative one, that may well have implications for the quality of home education which can be provided – although it should not be assumed that this is inevitably the case’.
Where, oh where, did that come from, one wonders?  Most HE parents, let's face it, could frame the reason why they want to HE in the negative.  A family might say "We home educate because we believe that a child should be able to pursue their own interests to the full." The same family could also say entirely truthfully: "I home educate because the National Curriculum is way too restrictive and doesn't offer a suitable education to my children."  It's doubtful that there's a single home educating family who couldn't frame their reasons for home educating in a negative way, one way or another, and actually some of the best home educators I have ever met, home educated because schools had failed their children in the most terrible way, so it is hard to know where this statement in the guidance came from.

The fact is that there is no reason for the LA to occupy themselves with the reasons for deregistration except in situations where families have, one way or another, been coerced into deregistering, either by the school's direct persuasion, or by the school failing to resolve a problem for the pupil. 

An early idea that is being explored in HE groups in order to help solve the problem of off-rolling or otherwise coerced deregistration:  it is being proposed that soon after de-registration, the LA could ask in a respectful letter to the family if the deregistration was coerced in any way, shape or form. If the family were indeed coerced into deregistering and wanted the LA's help, the LA should respond with the help the family request, whether that be mediating with the school, locating another school, providing EOTAs or supporting the family with HE, if they so desire it. 

There are plenty of potential problems that must be avoided in this scenario.  Over-zealous LAs would no doubt use every opportunity to step in and start bossing the family around, making them do things they don't want to do.  In order to avoid this, the letter would have to be extremely tightly worded and the compulsory template of it would need to be included in the guidance for use by all LAs.  LAs would also need to be instructed in guidance that they are there to assist the family, and not to force them to do things they do not want to do.

The letter must infallibly enshrine the principle that the state is the servant of the family here.  This is not about the LA determining whether a suitable education is being provided. It is about LA ascertaining if the family want their help.  If the family refuse that help, then the LA would have no cause to act and would make no assumptions about educational provision on that basis.  If the family does want help, the LA should provide only the help they seek.

But back to the Guidance: sadly there are other unsupported assertions in the guidance which also cast a pall over the concept of home education, even before the guidance really gets going.

Take section 3.4: ‘However, few people would argue today that parents should be able to exercise their right to home educate children with absolutely no independent oversight, despite their having the legal responsibility set out above’.
Really?  Hang on, is there any actual supporting evidence for this assertion? Even if there is actual documented evidence that there there are only a few who argue that independent oversight is wrong, it doesn't mean that the few are mistaken simply because there are only a few of them.   What we have here is a painful demonstration of the "consensus fallacy" or the "argumentum ad populum". The writers of this document need to understand that they will need better arguments than this in order to work out right from wrong.

Sadly, however, this sort of thing - unsubstantiated assertions based on what appears to be prejudice, set the tone for the document, more on which to follow!



Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Letter to the Times

Says it all really:

Friday 13th April.

Sir, the government has needlessly placed itself in a quandary by proposing compulsory registration and monitoring of home educated children with the threat of prosecution for non-compliance.

On the one hand, the government states that "responsibility for children's education rests with their parents" and on the other that its aspiration is  "to ensure all young people receive a world-class education".  It fails to recognise that the number of home educated children is increasing because a good education in the state system can no longer be assured, yet it recognises that most parents "are educating their children well."

Children of parents who rightfully decide that the state's offering is unsuitable face a level of scrutiny not afforded to their peers. The problem is that home education is just that - education in a private home.  Control of home education is indivisible from the control of family life.

The problem for the parent and child is intrusion and loss of family privacy.  The problem for the government is that if it wishes to quality-assure education, it must then take on the legal liability for that education and expect to be sued when interventions fail.  Either the parent or the state must be responsible - there is no half-way house with this. 






Saturday, April 14, 2018

Guidance or Guidelines?

Well, that just goes to show you should take screenshots whenever you can!

Not long ago, when the consultation was first announced, there was an interesting conflict between the title on the front page, and the title on the draft documents.  Whilst the title on the front page insisted the consultation was about "Guidance", the draft documents themselves were entitled "Guidelines". There could be a big difference!  One seems statutory, the other seems advisory!

Now however, the draft documents are billed as Guidance, which at least makes the whole thing consistent, but a little frightening that an error of this magnitude needs to be corrected after the consultation has actually started.

Keep a look out for other little tweaks in the documentation folks.  You never know what might turn up when we aren't looking!



The Draft Home Education Guidance: What's being said in FB groups:

From a discussion in a Facebook Group, on the matter of the Draft EHE Guidelines:

The assumption that parents cannot be trusted is based upon statistical outliers and false thinking that arises from the availability heuristic. Since the press reports stories of terrible parents with such glee, we falsely end up thinking that these sorts of parents are two a penny and that all parents should be held in constant state of suspicion. 


We have to take a step back from this and get a grip on reality.

These terrible parents are statistical outliers. Most parents do a good enough job...certainly FAR better than anything the state manages, and yet the story that the state fails a huge percentage of "looked after" children is just a non-story and doesn't therefore get the same attention. 

The fact is, parents are the ones who have a genuine vested interest in caring for their offspring and who rightfully should be the people who ensure the safety and welfare of their children. When the state takes this over, it messes it up - repeatedly. 

If registration and monitoring goes through, it would change the assumption that parents (and therefore the people) are in charge here, and puts the state firmly in the position of the parent. It alters the important assumption expressed in S7, that parents are the ones with the duty to ensure their children are in receipt of a suitable education. With registration and monitoring, it will become the duty of the state as they become the ultimate arbiter of a suitable education. 

Not only that, but because home education is built in to the fabric of family life in a way that is not obvious to much of the rest of the population, it will be that the state will have given itself the right to pry into the most intimate aspects of family life in a way that is honestly the last signing over of any hope of privacy for a family. The state will have taken over completely. 

The state is meant to be the servant of the people, not the other way round. Despite the fact that this guidelines consultation appears to be affecting only a tiny, tiny minority of families, it actually has HUGE constitutional significance because it represents who is actually controlling who in this country and it won't be the people! 

And all for what...

Nothing. Those bad parents we know about were known to the authorities, and those even MORE evil parents who are SO rare that all of us could name them in a heartbeat, who have eventually been found to have kept their children in shored up basements for years and years, will not register anyhow. So the proposed solution is totally useless, whilst at the same time results in the complete destruction of privacy, and the complete take over of the whole of family life by the state
.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Consultation on the Draft Guidance for LAs re Home Education

As of 10th April 2018, the Department for Education has issued the Consultation on the new EHE Guidance for Local Authorities.

It doesn't look good and home educators are on red alert over this to the point where they already appear to have crashed the consultation website. No amount of crashes will save the DfE from knowing how we feel, however.



Monday, April 09, 2018

Reply to the Comment in Labour Consultation on Education Policy

There was a reply to my contribution to the Labour Consultation on Education Policy, which can be found through here if you sign in:

Here is my answer to that comment:

================

Thank you for your comment.  For a summary of what I would like to say in response, it is possibly easiest just to watch this video on the 6 problems with our School System.

For more in response:

Whilst you accept that many children are failed by the current schooling system, you do not think that an impersonal learning system is the main source of the problem. However
, your suggestions for solving the problem of pupil failure, ie: to get rid of standardised testing, league tables and a rigid micro-managed curriculum would be effective precisely because it would free up schools to offer more personalised learning!  You also suggest that we need more teachers and teaching assistants which again would mean that schools could offer students more personalised learning. This suggests that despite what you think you believe, on some level you do recognise that the current problem for many learners is that schooling is far too depersonalised and I therefore agree with all of your suggestions above.

Your explicit argument against personalisation of learning is that:
"Learning is essentially a social process that occurs in collaboration with others"

However I think you may be mistaking the objective existence of shared knowledge for the process of  creating knowledge.   Yes there is such a thing as "shared knowledge" in the sense that a number of individual brains can appear to contain the same set of information (although of course, they almost certainly don't when it comes down to the detail).  However this appearance of shared knowledge has nothing to do with the process of actually growing knowledge, which is what we should be concerned with if the question we wish to address is "how can we make education more suitable and efficient".  The process of acquiring knowledge is only ever done by the individual learner when his brain fires up and addresses the electrical input from the senses with theories that he has already developed in order to create new information which only ever actually exists in his brain.

This distinction is important for educational theory because we must accept that knowledge is not imparted through a process of "sharing" it or by a process of seepage from one brain to another.  Or to use another analogy, it is not possible to pour information in to the head of another as one would pour water in to a bucket.   A failure to appreciate this fact is the key error in current schooling theory, and is the reason that so many children are failed. Under the model of "shared knowledge" there is an assumption that if a teacher teaches, a pupil will learn, thereby failing to consider the fact that the pupil must be the actor here. 

The reality is that for any knowledge to grow, the learner must cause activity to occur in his brain, and this is most likely to happen when the dopamine reward structure is active. This is what causes properly effective learning since the reward system causes the attention to focus on the subject under study. Learners learn best addressing subjects that interest and inspire them and provide them with that dopamine reward and this is why we need education to be personalised as we cannot reliably say that all children will be interested by the same things.

Regarding your concerns about "collaboration, co-operation, compromise and negotiation", home educators can testify to the fact that a personalised education doesn't mean that young people will not learn about these things. Learning happens in individual brains yes, but it happens in the context of a social world and learners will want to understand how best to work with this social world. So for example, learners working on the subjects that interest them will most likely find others with similar interests, or may get new angles on their own subject by interacting with others who specialise in different subjects.  Many home education groups develop great skills in collaboration, co-operation, compromise and negotiation and do this all the more effectively for having a flat hierarchy and a mutually co-operative approach which means that learners throughout the group learn to take responsibility for group management, co-operation, negotiation, etc.  In the world outside education, many successful companies recognise the value of mixing different specialisms at the water cooler and design their buildings to facilitate such cross fertilization. Schools could afford to prepare their students for this sort of world. 

Personalised education also doesn't necessarily mean "that 
everyone is doing something different."  There may be some superficial differences in the knowledge base, but there will be underlying similarities which are far more significant as these key features underpin all knowledge. Students who are able to pursue the questions they are interested to pursue have a much greater chance of learning how to think well. Since they care about their subject, they will want to the best they can in all areas.  They will not only be learning how to read, write, listen well, construct an argument and tolerate difference, but they will also be learning about how to seek the truth of the matter, how to evaluate different truth claims to see which is the best argument, (an argument that is hard to vary because every detail plays a functional role) and how to change their thinking for the better argument. They will learn about how they learn (all the more so if they can get quick feedback that websites can provide). They will learn to recognise when they are tired, hungry, dehydrated and/or their attention is waning and they need a break. They will learn to recognise the times when their attention and performance is optimal and how to achieve this. 

You go on to say "Technology must be an addition to human contact, not a substitute for human contact; learning is primarily an interactive social process; current research in developmental psychology is really clear about this."

I am by no means suggesting that there shouldn't be human contact in the schooling environment. I am simply saying that we could make this contact voluntary and therefore just so much more relevant and useful to the learner because the learner could be asking the questions and seeking the help that they need from either tech or the teacher.

One idea: have a big room with work spaces that can easily be made open or separate and with teachers of various different specialisms available to all the students, so that a student could interact with others, or close the space off and focus quietly on their own space, and could call in the teacher as and when they are stuck.  Teachers could also make themselves available to teach lessons that suit a number of pupils as requested. 


I referenced Duolingo and Brainscape because they are useful systems for information retention, but you cite them dismiss the idea that websites can be used to help develop deep level thinking which is not something that I explicitly claimed that these ones could do (though I think it a matter of debate as both COULD be used that way if used creatively and are anyway very much based upon strong learning theory evidence).  However it is patently untrue that other websites cannot develop deep level thinking. Plenty of other websites such as two others I also mentioned, eg: Khan Academy and Brilliant.org, are very useful for this and other websites offer a discursive, social model of learning as well. Look at what we are doing here, after all! Why are we bothering to have an on-line consultation on education if not to develop deep level ideas about the subject?  I can also honestly tell you that I have in the past learnt more from one single website than I ever learnt at school and university!  This website provided evidence, arguments and ideas that challenged my entire way of thinking, and also, through a discussion forum, offered feedback and critique to the point where I was able to change my entire view on many fundamental ideas.  It was deep level thinking and a profound experience which no amount of "academic research" can possibly dismiss! Much of this sort of research must be taken with a pinch of salt,  by the way, and reminds many home educators of the 15th century technopanic about the printing press.

For further evidence of the efficacy of tech, my home educated son learned most of his writing skills by being mentored by on-line writers in a gaming site that had strict moderation rules about how to present an argument eg: no errors of thinking, no logical fallacies of any sort, and certainly no spelling or grammatical errors. When he eventually went to sixth form college, his English AS teacher told me at the parent's evening that after just listening to his conversations with another home educated friend of his, she knew she had nothing to teach him and this was because of the rigor of his on-line education as well as the interactions he had had with fellow home educators.

And this isn't something that is peculiar to my family. We know a lot of home educated children who have learnt a lot on line, one way or another.

But I am not saying that tech is the only way to go. Where tech doesn't work for a child and he prefers and benefits from human interaction, there would still be teachers available offering either personalised or class based lessons.  However, for more children than you possibly realise, human interaction with a teacher is often a matter of total torture.  There's the anxiety and shame of knowing that a real human who is in charge of your destiny has just marked your paper with a load of red ink, or the embarrassment of getting something wrong in front of the teacher and the whole class, or the worry about appearing like a know-it-all when answering a teacher's question...all these sorts of experiences are frequently far more painful than is regularly acknowledged by the teaching profession and yet this anxiety prevents effective learning by hijacking the brain and removing the higher levels of cerebral function in order that the body be prepared for flight or fight.   For many children it is far less stressful to be working with an impersonal website than to be confronted by the all powerful teacher who is able to condemn, control, and bore a child for years on end. 

The other advantage of tech is that the feedback from a website is just so much quicker and more efficient than it is possible to get from a teacher who has to take the books away and mark a whole class and give it back days later when the actual lesson is no longer of any interest.

You may think this is all way to out there and too risky to be tried. But the precautionary principle is not an option here because the status quo is not working for so many children!  Even those children who are getting by in the current system could well do even better if we were to go down this route. We will most likely not get everything right immediately, and refinements will have to be made, but we don't have anything to lose.

Children have been imprisoned in a rigid school that is not of their choice for way too long.  We don't do this to adults!  Adults have choices about how they live their lives.  We are not preparing our children for adult life by removing their autonomy and not helping them learn how to use it well.  Labour has a real chance here to do something about it and it could look to home educators, amongst others, to help them develop systems that actually really work for young people!

Saturday, April 07, 2018

A Response to the Labour's Consultation on Education Policy.

The Labour Party is asking for our views on their education policy. Given that it looks as if Labour will almost certainly form the next government, this seems an extremely important thing to do, particularly for home educators who don't appear to get any sort of a look in in the current draft policy and yet who could contribute so much!

Partaking in the consultation also seems like a good idea because it will help inform the Labour Party about why home educators think Lord Soley's Bill a bad idea.

It is possible to participate in the consultation without being a Labour Party member - you just need to register as a guest from the front page, find and read the education policy and then press through to making a submission on the policy.

Below an example of a response, with the consultation questions in blue and key points in the answers in red:

 Have your say – give us your thoughts on the questions below:

* What should a National Education Service be for and what values should it and the draft charter embody?

 The National Education Service absolutely must not become even more centralised and controlled by the state than it is already. The danger of calling it a "National" service is that it encourages the idea that education policy is controlled from the top by the state and that this state-mandated provision must be rolled out to every learner in the land. Whilst this may seem laudable, such an approach risks making the education service even more macro-managed and therefore highly unresponsive to the needs of individual learners with all their multitudinous differences.

The education system in this country is already failing all those learners who do not fit perfectly into the current schooling system, what with it's top/down directives, national curriculum, rigid targets, implacable Ofsted inspections, hierarchical school structures and national exam system, but the fact is that it isn't just unconventional learners who are currently being failed. Even those pupils who apparently fit the nationally determined schooling system could perform far more effectively in a more personalised education service which actually answered the questions they are interested in exploring.

In other words, get rid of the word "National" and instead call it a "Personalised Education Service". A Personalised Education Service could be made possible because of the advancements in technology and learning theory.

In almost every other sphere of human activity, the advancement of technology is resulting in huge and positive innovations and yet education is so mired in centralised slowness and antiquated and entrenched ideas about how education should be managed, that it is demonstrably failing to keep up with the pace of change. This is infuriating as so many pupils are being unnecesssarily failed when we have the technology at our fingertips! Labour policy should be at the cutting edge of innovation so that this country becomes a trailblazer in the use of technology to offer a properly personalised, properly engaging education to all learners.

Khan Academy, Brilliant.org and Duolingo could provide some sort of model to work with here. These websites crunch the data as a learner uses the site, thereby working out precisely where the learner is at, which bit of vocabulary he has forgotten, which tiny section of trigonometry is currently stumping him and without any further ado, will focus in on the weakness so that learning can be strengthened in exactly the area that he needs. A learner doesn't have to wait for the rest of the class to catch up before the teacher can progress to the next level, nor does he have to slow down the whole class while he clarifies a point with the teacher. He also doesn't have to wait weeks to get on to the bit of the subject that genuinely interests him as he can just switch to the next chapter with a tap on the enter key.

We could combine the power of tech with the latest information from Learning Theory, as detailed in books such as How We Learn, to maximise learning and information retention.   We should take lessons from thinkers such as these. Sites such as Brainscape.com make use of new discoveries about the workings of the brain in learning theory to help learners retain information far more effectively than can be managed through classroom teaching.

The learning that can be managed through technology is just so infinitely more efficient, it would be deeply irrational not to use it. We need to be finding ways to make this happen in schools with teachers being able to access the power of these sorts of systems to make learning so much more efficient. Who cares that the child is learning about perfect numbers and mersenne primes from a Numberphile Youtube video rather than his own teacher. If that is what is grabbing his interest, he will be learning! We will have to do this as it is the only way that humanity will have any chance of keeping up with machine learning and we will need to combine this approach with other initiatives such as the "Hive Mind" approach to solving problems, which also should be an approach that is built in to school learning.

* What amendments, if any, should be made to the principles outlined in the draft charter for the National Education Service?

It would be great if "properly appropriate, personalised learning" could be added to "high-quality" in point 5 of the principles, ie:

 "Every learner matters, so the Personalised Education Service will be committed to tackling all barriers to learning and providing a high-quality, personalised education for all".
* What additional principles should be considered for the charter of the NES?

See addition to principle no. 5, as described in the point above. It would also be worth including a principle which would explain why a personalised education service is worth having! Perhaps something like:

 "Every learner is different. We aim to offer a truly suitable education by tailoring the education to fit the learner."

In the introduction, Labour should explain why personalisation is so important:

Personalisation maximises human potential: young people will be able to find out what they are genuinely interested in learning and do not have to waste years struggling to engage with subjects that are of no interest to them and that do not match their skills. Learners can also develop their area of interest so that they become highly skilled since it will be possible to specialise from a far earlier age than is currently the case.

The fact is that the world doesn't need "broad and balanced" any more. Very soon, the growth of knowledge will be doubling every 12 hours and generalists won't be able to keep up. However, home educators, who for many years now have helped their children pursue their specific interests, can be if some help here, in being able to offer a model. In helping home educated children to pursue their interests, home educators have seen how these learners can develop their skills in particular areas to a degree that school children with rigid broad and balanced time tables do not have the time to do. The home education community has produced expert coders, linguists, musicians, mathmeticians, ballet dancers, physicists, writers, engineers, artists, chess players, lawyers, farmers, vets and doctors who were able to refine their skills in their area of specialism from a young age because they were free to focus their attention as they saw fit.

As as adjunct to personalisation of education, it would be worth adding another principle that would underpin this, ie: that

 "Education is about the autonomy of the learner and about choices about the "who, what, when, where and why" of learning."

There cannot be genuine personalisation of education if the state macro-manages policy. Educational choices must be made by learners themselves and these choices include not only what a person learns but where they learn it. Home education must therefore have a protected place in Labour party policy.

* What barriers currently exist to cooperation between education institutions, and what steps can be taken to remove them and ensure that cooperation is a central principle of our education system?

To continue with the theme of meeting the needs of individual learners. Labour policy should allow the educational system to become far more flexible with regard to where the learner is able to meet his learning needs. It would be helpful if the budget could follow the pupil far more flexibly than is currently the case, and if he were able to access a range of different resources, whether this be through schooling, flexi-schooling, virtual school, hospital school, EOTAS provision, MOOCs, home education, or any combination of these.

It would also be useful if schools could be more flexible with their opening times as there is a significant amount of evidence to show that school results for teens improve with a later start time.

One of the most frequent criticisms of the personalised education is that it would be impossible for employers to know if a job applicant is capable of working for them if they do not have a standardised bit of paper saying they have this or that grade in a subject. This problem is honestly so easily solved, that it should not pose any sort of issue. The fact is, as it stands, a lot of employers are saying that many young people, even with all the requisite exam results from the current schooling system, are not actually up to the task. Instead of producing these bits of paper that most likely have little to do with the actual work they are going to do, it would be relatively easy for a young person to build up an online portfolio of the work they have done, with data from websites collated to provide evidence of ability, and with dissertations and other work also included and checked for plagiarism. The problem of lack of motivation and poor self management skills would also be overcome as each learner would be responsible for their own learning.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

A Response to the Consultation: Integrated Communities Green Paper

From the Consultation on Integrated Communities:

Question 7.  The Green Paper proposes measures to ensure that all children and young people are prepared for life in modern Britain and have the opportunity for meaningful social mixing with those from different backgrounds. Do you agree with this approach?


Response:

From reports in the press, we see that parents have got to the point where they feel they have no choice but to withdraw their children from schools on account of the bullying.  Families are bored of the cant about schools managing bullying.  They know it doesn't happen, that their children are suffering and that the only way to protect their children is to speak with their feet.

We need to start being properly creative about educational provision. Look how Finland has done so well in the educational tables recently by thinking outside the box, NOT forcing children to do more and more work until they become completely disaffected and quite possibly take out their frustrations by bullying others.  Instead the Finnish schooling system reduces the number of exams, tests and hours worked, and allows young people to learn in a respectful, genuinely nurturing space.

Despite doing far fewer hours in school, these young Finns speak a number of languages other than their own fluently. It would be worth finding out how that is done as this could doubtless help with integration.

Continuing in the vein of reducing pressures to enable good learning, we should consider raising the age at which schooling is compulsory.  It is clear that a later start actually advantages learners and generations of home educators who have not been forced to read from too young an age can now testify to the fact that learning to read later, anything from age 8 to 13 does NOT limit them in any way,  and in fact, later readers often have extremely high reading levels and achieve this in the space of a couple of months.  ie: they start to learn to read when they are ready and learn extremely quickly as a result.

We should also be considering altering the timing of the school day to suit the users.  Most teens function far more effectively later in the day than most adults, a hangover from our evolutionary past which means that genes alter the teen body clock so that they can stay up all night to protect the tribe.  We really are missing a trick here, as we could massively improve outcomes if we just were a little bit creative about altering start and finish times of the school day:

This may be an American site, but the argument holds eg:

"When Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming shifted its start time to 8:55 a.m., the number of car crashes involving teenage drivers dropped by 70%

Switching middle school start times by 30 minutes or more to after 8 a.m. in Wake County, NC was associated with increased math and reading test scores, with disadvantaged students benefiting most.

A study at the US Air Force Academy showed first-year students starting classes after 8 a.m. performed better not only in their first classes but throughout the day.

A report published by The Brookings Institution associated a significant increase in test scores with later middle and high school start times, with benefits roughly twice as great in disadvantaged students.

The Brookings report also estimated that later high school start times create a lifetime earnings gain of $17,500 per student with a school system cost of $0.00 to $1,950 per student, a benefit-to-cost ratio of 9:1 or better."

When you take the pressure off children in this sort of a way, whilst still maintaining an advisory role, bullying is also dramatically reduced. 

Furthermore, adults, teachers and schools would in this way actually provide a genuine example of a tolerant, nurturing, enabling society instead of one that is based on one-upmanship and ruthless competition which so often results in bullying.

But we needn't limit our vision to what we can do about changing the school environment for the better.  We should also looking to make Education Other than at School (EOTAS) a far bigger and better and brighter thing than it is now. We should be looking to models of how to do it that blend all manner of influences,

Virtual schools,
Red Balloon of the Air
Hospital Schools
Mixing this with wisdoms from Finnish Education.

As regards children going missing once they have either been excluded or have deregistered, schools are already required to notify local authorities of the removal of the child from the school roll, so the whereabouts of the child should not be a mystery.  The notification process just has to happen on a more reliable basis.

If a child is placed in an unregistered school, and Ofsted cannot deal with it, either social work teams - in the case of a child at risk of abuse, or the LA Education Officer - in the case of a child who is not in receipt of a suitable education, already has sufficient legislative powers to deal with this situation.  Give social work teams more money to cope with their workload.  Don't bother chasing law abiding HEors until you have sufficient resources to be dealing with the likes of Rotherham, Rochdale, Telford, Derby and Oxford.



Saturday, March 31, 2018

Links to Legislation, Guidance and Consultations that are relevant to the EHE Consultation and Soley's Bill

Current Consultations and Related Briefings: 

The Home Education Consultation

The Casey Review on Integration and Opportunity.

The Consultation on the Casey Review

The Consultation on School Exclusions

Falling through the Gaps in Education Nov 2017 (A Briefing)

* Special Needs and Disability Consultation

* The Labour Party Consultation on Education Policy

Government Consultations on Principles of Conduct


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Lord Soley's Bill:

* Lord Soley's  Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill 2018

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Primary Legislation and Current Guidance re Home Education:

Suitable education: Section 7 Education Act 1996.

* Elective Home Education Guidance for LAs

* EOTAs Guidance

EOTAs Legislation: Section 19 Education Act 1996

* Education Supervision Orders  s.36 Children Act 1989

* Education Supervision Orders explained.

School Attendance Orders: Section 437 Education Act 1996. 

Duty to identify children missing education: Section 436A Education and Inspections Act 2006

Guidance on Children Missing Education 2016

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Definition of Schools and Pupil Registration Regulations:


* Definition of Schools:  Section 4 Education Act 1996

Definition of Schools:  Section 14 Education Act 1996

Pupil Registration Regulations 2006

* Guidance on Pupil Registration Regulations 2016

School Inspection Handbook (Ofsted Guide for School Inspection) S8 Education Act 2005


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Safeguarding: 

Local Authority Duty to Investigate abuse: Section 47 Children Act 1989

LA Duties re Preventing people being drawn in to Terrorism: Section 26 Counter Terrorism and Security Act

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Data Protection:


Principles of the General Data Protection Act 2018, Article 5 + 

Information Commissioner's site on General Data Protection

*
General Data Protection Regulation - How it applies in UK and Europe.

* Local Authority Guidance on General Data Protection (from May 2018)

* The Supreme Court Judgement about Data Sharing in the Named Person Scheme.

=====================

Comment on Education Law:

*Lord Adonis on the Fourfold Foundation trumping the Right to an Education. 2006

*Lord Adonis on the Anomaly of the State not Prescribing a form of Education. 2010.

*Ian Dowty's View on Lancashire LAs HE Protocol and Procedures. 

Further on School Exclusions and Coerced De-registrations

Further on the subject of school exclusions, coerced de-registrations and the related DfE consultation, there have been questions about the very same subject  in the House of Lords:

Lord McColl of Dulwich:

"To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that some schools are encouraging families to home school children with complex difficulties, possibly with an eye to those schools' performance statistics; and what plans they have to ensure that such children benefit from the support of the proposed mental health support teams. "


Lord Agnew of Oulton replied:

"The department shares concerns that some children are potentially being educated at home as a result of pressure by schools. However, it is not in a position to confirm how far these concerns are justified by actual cases. "


A lot of families who find themselves home educating as a result of numerous kinds of pressure from schools could help Lord Agnew out with that question, but we'll get on to that.

Lord Agnew continues:

 "A pupil’s name can only lawfully be deleted from the admission register on the grounds prescribed in Regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended. Schools should not seek to persuade parents to educate their children at home as a way of excluding the pupil or because the pupil has a poor attendance record. It is unlawful to permanently exclude a pupil from a school other than for disciplinary reasons. Schools may not exclude pupils because of their academic attainment or ability, or because they cannot meet their needs. Sending a pupil home without recording it as an exclusion is also not permitted. "

This is, of course, how school exclusions should be handled, but the reality is that there are a number of ways that schools get rid of children without having to restrict themselves to the apparently narrow criteria for exclusion.

Routes to off-loading a young person from school fall into three broad categories:

* exclusions (as described by Lord Agnew) ie: the proper disciplinary reasons for exclusion.

*exclusions that happen for reasons other than the strictly defined disciplinary ones, but with disciplinary cases concocted on flimsy grounds: one person's "disciplinary reasons" may be another person's need to "take time out for ten minutes" for example.

* coerced de-registration, ie: the parents de-register the child from school as if voluntarily, but they actually only do this because the school situation is intolerable.  The school, one way or another, is not providing the child with a suitable education and the parent is therefore in breach of their duties if they did not withdraw the child.

 There are many reasons why coerced de-registration occurs. These include:

- the child's special educational needs are not met in the school.
- the child is bullied by staff or pupils and is miserable.
- the child suffers racial prejudice.
- the child is sexually harassed .
- excessive demands on children which lead to stress, depression, self-harm, etc.
- the rigid curriculum.
- the high test environment leading to stress, depression, self-harm etc.
- strict attendance rules which don't allow for any leniency.


Lord Agnew didn't, however, address the knotty issue of coerced de-registration.  He continued instead on the subject of de-registration as if it is entirely uncontroversial, ie: a freely chosen action on the part for the family and not a decision that is often forced upon families for want of a better alternative.

He said:

"Parents have a duty to ensure their child of compulsory school age receives a suitable full-time education but this does not have to be at a school. On receipt of written notification from a parent to home educate their child, the school must inform the pupil’s local authority that the pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admission register. "

Within the narrow frame of Lord Agnew's argument, this is of course absolutely right and is a fair  reflection of the situation, given that the family are in the position of freely choosing to de-register, but this is not the reality for many families who are forced down the de-registration route because the school cannot meet their child's needs.

Lord Agnew offers one possible solution to the problems identified in this blog post, (though it not entirely clear, given his previous paragraphs on exclusion what problem he thinks he is purporting to solve):

"We will test how the new mental health support teams proposed in the green paper ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision’ can provide support to all children in an area, including those not at school."

...but it is only part of an answer.  Schools are so desperately underfunded at the moment that they cannot hope to provide a suitable education for those children who don't fit as perfectly round pegs in perfectly round holes, however much mental health help the child receives.  Instead we really must think more imaginatively and make more alternative provision available for these children. 

Better EOTAs provision could be facilitated by

*accepting the reality that many children are just not suited to the current schooling system

* by making the budget follow the child more easily and

*by expanding EOTAs provision and creating new alternatives. The Red Balloon of the Air  and Hospital School models could offer a way forward, along with funding for virtual colleges. 

These initiatives really would actually help rather than wasting money on the useless proposals in the current Bill in the Lords.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

My Response to the DfE Consultation on Exclusions.

The Department of Education have come up with a consultation about exclusions , calling for evidence.  It ends on 6th May and doesn't take long to do.

The introduction seemed to be trying to get us to  talk about ethnicity issues, but this isn't the bit I know about, so I stuck to the problems I have seen and heard.

This is my response:

==============================


I am writing as a member of the home education (HE) community.  Both locally and nationally through real life contact and online HE groups, I have become increasingly aware of problems for many children within the schooling system where the school is unable to offer a suitable education to the young person for one reason or another, and therefore seeks to either exclude or otherwise deregister the young person, whether or not the family is in full agreement.

The sorts of cases I have seen personally:

*Children/teens with learning differences who have an EHCP but where the school does not honor the plan, so that the pupil does not cope with the school situation and is not in receipt of a suitable education.  The young person is then either excluded or the family are advised to remove the young person themselves.   Austerity appears to be one of the drivers here. Teachers are losing their teaching assistants, and are so pushed that they cannot possibly cope with the extra strain of pupils with differences. There is also no money for any extra equipment for these young people.

*Children/teens with marginal/hidden learning differences, such as auditory processing problems, mild ASD or mild dyslexia. The marginal nature of their differences mean that they cannot get an EHCP but they nonetheless struggle in a schooling environment.  No provision or exceptions are made for them.  They often become depressed, develop eating disorders, self harm, or even become suicidal. They too risk being excluded or deregistered.

*Children/teens with actually fairly significant learning differences, such as pronounced dyslexia , ADHD or autism, but schools and LAs still flatly refuse to assess them for EHCP, despite their obvious problems.  Austerity appears to be the driver here. The same process of exclusion or other deregistration occurs here.

*Children/teens who are bullied by pupils or teachers to the point again of self harm, suicide, etc. Same outcomes for these young people.

*Pupils who cannot reach the grades that the school wants them to reach have also been excluded or deregistered. Schools appear to be so in hock to government funding and LAs via Ofsted, that they will do anything to booster their results and have to therefore get rid, one way or another, of pupils who will not help them meet Ofsted requirements.

*Teachers being so afraid of Ofsted that they either get pupils removed from their class or else put terrible pressure on pupils to perform, which completely destroys the teacher/pupil relationship and most likely actually prevents a suitable education taking place.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

One way or another, the schooling system is at crisis point: any child who does not fit as a perfect round peg in a perfect round hole is in big trouble as there simply isn't the money to cope with them.  Huge numbers of young people are therefore not in receipt of a suitable education.

Something huge therefore has to change.  The quickest fix: we need to be offering better alternative educational provision via Education Other Than At School.  (EOTAS)  to those families who cannot find a suitable alternative place of education, whether this be another school of some sort or Elective Home Education.

If we were to become less focused on having all children in school and  instead made good use of the opportunities afforded by Information Age, EOTAS could be rolled out much more efficiently than is currently the case.

It is currently often extremely difficult to next to impossible to get anything other than a tiny amount of EOTAS provision but if we let go of an obsession with keeping all children in schools for so many hours a year, budgets could follow the pupil far more flexibly than currently the case.

To meet the need described above, as well as the need to offer an appropriate education in the age of Information, we absolutely MUST create a variety of EOTAS provision so that a young person's needs for a genuinely suitable, personalised education can be properly met. These could be along the lines of:

*Virtual schools and colleges, preferably with a real life meeting base within accessible distance around the country . The Red Balloon of the Sky model seems to be working well already in some areas, by way of one example that could be rolled out to good effect.

*Hospital schools could also provide another model that would work for many children who are otherwise excluded or forcibly deregistered but who are not suitable for Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).

*Occasional tutors for individual subjects, either virtually or in real life.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Voice of the Child

With Lord Soley so eager to justify his Home Education (Duty of Local Authorites) Bill  on the basis that the voice of the child must be heard, it's interesting to hear what these voices are currently saying.  From First News, the UK's only newspaper for young people.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Illegal Off-Rolling

This Guardian article reports that there are calls to fine schools for illegal off-rolling, aka illegal de-registration of a child from school.   "Illegal" in this context seems to include the exclusion of a child for insufficient reason as well as the school failing to notify the LA of a deregistration.

A fine will be yet another stick with which to beat the schooling establishment and won't actually deal with the real source of the problem which is Ofsted using poor learning theory as a way to assess schools, given that Ofsted assesses by results, when they should assess by educational provision.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Responses to Lord Soley's Blog

Clive Soley's Lords of the Blog post about the Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill naturally attracted the attention of home educators, a number of whom tried to make use of the comment section, but, as yet, to no avail - their comments appeared to be held up in the moderation process. Perhaps it was a busy day for the moderator.

In the meantime, here's a taster:

One of the many problems home educators have with an LA official coming to assess their educational provision is that they worry for the entire year that what they are doing will not be understood, appreciated or passed as acceptable, and this because the education they provide is so vastly different from school education with which most of these assessors are familiar. We wouldn’t expect the work of doctors, lawyers, nurses, financial advisers, teachers etc. to be assessed by someone who had no first hand experience or real understanding of the field and yet this is something that home educators must endure all the time.  

Then there is the problem of subjectivity of assessment. Given that most home educators do not want to jump through state determined hoops, often because they recognise them for what they are –  outdated, unnecessarily cumbersome and extremely inefficient ways of acquiring an effective education – using any sort of tool to assess learning is never going to be possible. It will all come down to whether the assessor says “yea or nay” on the day, and even if they are highly trained and experienced in the field, that may well come down to whether or not they are having 
 a bad hair day. 


Home educators feel very vulnerable when it comes to this sort of assessment. LA officials can say pretty much anything about them in their reports, and HEors are up against it if they need to prove that LA assessments have been unfair. HEors do not have access to endless resources with which to defend themselves against the state machine, and they do not trust social services or the family courts, with their reputation for back-covering and secrecy. Camilla Cavendish, with her 
previous engagement  on the subject of problems with family courts, should surely understand this. 

The prospect of assessment can also easily be hugely damaging to educational provision. Many HEors understand that helping the child pursue their interests is the most efficient and suitable form of education, and yet they worry that this may well not pass muster with the assessor and they therefore alter their educational provision, thereby make it far less effective. Children also often become demotivated at the prospect of assessment.


Then there’s the problem of the fact that many HE children will not want to see the assessors or show them evidence of their work. One of the main arguments in favour of registration and monitoring is that the state should be able to hear the voice of the child. Given that many HE children are saying that they don’t want to have to be seen by an official or produce their work, how can the state be genuinely taking the voice of children seriously, when they have ignored it as soon as they step through the door?  


Many home educators also feel strongly that a double standard is being applied in asking only home educated children where they want to be educated. When school children are asked where they too want to be educated, then perhaps it would feel like a fair question.


It feels all the more ironic that it should be the voice of the HE child that is sought, when it is actually the case that many home educators spend their entire family lives working consensually and respectfully with their children, not invading their privacy, not demanding to see work that isn’t freely offered, and generally doing their best to respect the human rights of their children.

Another significant factor that must be considered in regard to protecting children and promotion of long term mental health is the fact that many HE young people are being home educated because of severe problems with the schooling system which have impacted negatively on their mental and often physical health.  Home education can currently provide a wonderful opportunity for these children to recover.  If these young people are to be put through as assessment which could lead to them being returned to school, it is likely that this will be experienced as very traumatic.

This may seem an inconsiderable issue to some, but it is not.   At least half of the suicides of young people are related to bullying but that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other people who suffer long term consequences from school related stress, bullying etc.

This is on top of a load of other arguments about ECHR infringements, the problem of a state determined education undermining democracy, the state appropriating parental responsibilities, and therefore later being held to account etc, etc.




Friday, November 03, 2017

Summary of What's Wrong with the Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill

Lord Soley's Bill is due its Second Reading in the House of Lords on the 24th November. The Second Reading provides the first opportunity for the Lords to debate the key principles and main purpose of the bill, and to flag up concerns and specific areas that they think require amendments. Further:

"Before second reading takes place

Before a second reading debate takes place, members who would like to speak add their name to a list – the ‘speakers list’.

What happens at second reading?

The government minister, spokesperson or a member of the Lords responsible for the bill opens the second reading debate.
Any member can speak during second reading – this stage can indicate those members particularly interested in a bill, or a specific aspect of it, and those who are most likely to be involved in suggesting changes at later stages.
Second reading debates usually last for a few hours but can sometimes stretch over a couple of days.

What happens after second reading?

After second reading the bill goes to committee stage – where detailed line by line examination and discussion of amendments takes place"

...all of which suggest that now's the time to make it quite clear where the home education community stand on this issue, and why they see the whole thing as hugely problematic.

To summarise: current law as described in these guidelines is already fit for purpose.  All the Serious Case Reviews have demonstrated that children were failed not by being hidden, but by the services failing to act appropriately.  The bill as proposed would not solve the problem as it would stretch resources even more finely and it would introduce all manner of other problems, from constitutional and legislative ones, to inflicting terrible harm on families, to involving a lot of useless expense. Other more creative solutions could be found within current law.

Below is a fuller set of arguments against the Bill in broad categories, along with some other ideas about what could more usefully be done:


Legislative and Constitutional Implications: 


1. If the Bill were to be enacted, the state would take 
over the matter of deciding upon the nature of a suitable education.   As well as contravening 
Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the Human Rights Act which states that:" In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions", a state-dictated education risks spelling the end of the culture of free thought, debate and criticism that has underpinned a successful democracy in this country.  It would also mean that given that parents cannot really be deemed to be responsible for something over which they have no control, ie: they must deliver a state mandated education, the state should be responsible (rather than the parent) if the provision fails the child.

2.  The Bill would clarify the meaning of "cause to receive" in s7 of the 1996 Education Act.  If the bill were enacted, LA officials would be assessing whether parents have met their parental duty to "cause a child to receive an education" by looking at the child's work.  This means that they would be looking to see that the child had learnt something, which means that "having a duty to cause to receive an education" doesn't only involve making suitable provision. It would also mean that a child has actually learnt something (and to a suitable level).  This would mean that there would be a lack of parity under the law since HE parents would be held to a higher standard of duty than schooling parents.  Schooling parents are deemed to have deferred responsibility to schools, but for the parental duty to mean anything at all, this only makes sense if the meaning of "cause to receive" means "a duty to provide an education" rather than "a duty to ensure learning takes place".   If schooling parents don't have a duty to ensure that learning takes place, why should HEing parents be judged on this basis?  If the bill were enacted, to remove the resulting inequity of schooling and HE parents being treated differently under the law, either s7 has to be removed from the statute, (obviously not a good thing, since someone surely does have to have a duty to educate young people), or schooling parents would need to be assessed as to how well their children learn.  It is unlikely that this latter solution would be popular with the electorate.

3.  It is anyhow the case that judging whether parents have met their duty to cause a child to receive an education upon whether the child has learnt anything is actually very poor learning theory indeed, as it is simply the case that no parent/teacher/any other human on the planet can open the head of another person and pour knowledge in to it.  However good the provision, a learner can still stare out the window thinking "la la la!".  It is grossly unfair on parents/teachers/anyone else on the planet to judge them on the basis of something over which they have no ultimate control.  And of course, poor learning theory makes for bad laws - the ambiguity surrounding "cause to receive" is a source of much misery in the schooling system as it is, with many teachers leaving the profession because, for all the brilliant lessons they offer, they still can't MAKE their pupils apply their minds.  Let's not make the whole situation even worse by extending the law on false learning theory to another area of education, thereby increasing stress in families and most likely making learning even less likely. 


4. The bill would amount to a breach of various 
UNCRC articles including:
Article 2: a child's right to protection against discrimination.  
Article 3: a child's right to have adults doing what's best for a child.
Article 5: a child's right to be given guidance by parents and family.
Article 12:  a child's right to have an opinion, be listened to and taken seriously.
Article 16:  a child'd right to privacy.
Article 18: a child's right to be raised by their parents.
Article 28: a child's right to an education.
Article 29:  a child's right to an education which develops his/her personality.


5. On top of contravening Article 16 of the UNCRC with a massive invasion of a child's privacy (demanding to see the child's work etc), where the bill requires data sharing without parental permission or compulsory state interventions (as opposed to services offered), the proper threshold of concern for sharing data is that there is a cause for concern at the level of significant harm. If this threshold is not met and state interference is routine, then this has already been dealt with in the supreme court.  
The NO2NP campaign judgement covers the whole of the UK, not just Scotland, which means that this type of action is against the law.


6. Current law is already fit for purpose.  All the Serious Case Reviews have demonstrated that children were failed not by being hidden, but by the services failing to act appropriately.


Impact on Families: 

1.  The bill will damage families whose educational provision may very well be ruined by trying to jump through state-dictated hoops. Many HE children have been failed by conventional schooling and home education in its various manifestations can provide a wonderful healing form of education in which these children thrive.  The bill would remove the capacity of parents to provide an education that is genuinely suited to their children and children will therefore fail all over again.


2.  HE families are justifiably afraid of LAs.   They know that LA officials are often poorly trained and have very little understanding of HE and they will be reluctant to leave their child in the company of such a person, particularly as will often be the case, the child themselves is deeply reluctant to be assessed in this way.  Further, HEors know that LA reports about them are often fudged, subjective, don't represent the truth of the matter and are poorly written and they feel they have next to no defence against this misrepresentation.  Recent family court judgements on covert recordings acknowledged that professionals have been known to make things up to the detriment of the family, yet HEors understand that they have little redress with regard to social service judgements and in family courts. They have seen innocent HE families put through harrowing situations in the family courts, some ending up losing their children and others even being falsely accused in the criminal courts of things like Fabricated and Induced Illness.  Even after these families have been exonerated, HEors have witnessed the long term deep damage to the young people and families involved.

3.  Families will be hugely stressed by the visits, for reasons in point above, but also because children have often left school in a severely traumatised state and the fear of returning there is truly awful.  The first young person I mentioned the bill provisions too said, (despite the fact that she is highly academic, thriving in an art college now etc), "Well, if that had happened to me when I was a fully fledged school refuser, I would have refused to comply.  I would have hidden under my bed, and locked the door. I would not have been able to deal with the fact that my parents might be punished for this.  I would have been so scared of being forcibly returned to school, that I wouldn't have been able to do anything about preventing punishment to my parents."    Not only is this clearly HUGELY stressful for these sorts of families, it again punishes already struggling parents for things over which they have no control, unless, of course, the state requires them to forcibly drag their progeny from under their beds, in a way that could be deemed highly abusive.


4. The stress that would be involved in the "assessment" would most likely mean that there would be many false positives, with added stress and expense for local authorities and damage for families.

Costing and Resources:

1.  Local Authorities won't be able to afford to enact the Bill.  The costing exercises some LAs have undertaken look farcically optimistic when read alongside headlines in their own local newspapers announcing LA budget cuts.  These estimations don't take in to account the cost of social work referral, other agency referrals, SAO issuance and taking families to court for non-compliance, etc. as well as the cost of a number of children requiring schooling where they hadn't previously, many of these children requiring extra SEN provision. This bill will stretch over-stretched resources even further and leave even less money for genuine cases.  It is also very likely that the HE community will go on strike, refusing contact with LAs.  50,000 SAOs would be very expensive.

Better solutions:

1. Schools, LAs and Ofsted need to sort themselves out so that they not only making sure that the Pupil Registration Regs of 2016 are working properly and that no backdoor off-rolling is happening, but also that schools are able to talk openly and frankly to their LAs, so that they can raise concerns without fear of being made to feel as if they have failed for not coping with the problem themselves. 

It would help a lot if Ofsted were to stop judging schools by results and instead should look solely at provision. This would introduce far more honesty in the schooling system, including schools being honest with Ofsted and their LAs about the young people who are failed by their provision. Ofsted, instead of punishing teachers and demoralising the work force, should accept the limits of human capacity and instead help with good practice when it comes to off-rolling.  


2.  Illegal schools could be found through a more honest off-rolling process which would allow the Prevent  strategy and other community based projects to kick in more effectively which could then be dealt with through Ofsted without generating a load of unnecessary work monitoring perfectly legitimate home educating families.

3. Ofsted should be given more effective powers of inspection and entry to deal with illegal schools. 


4.  Young people when off-rolled, could be given contact details of a person or hot line whom they could call should they need to.  

5. Families removing their children from school could automatically be given information that connected them to well established groups in the HE community.   The skill set in the HE community is now pretty big.  Most big FB groups in FB can advise and help really effectively.

6.  Schools should have properly funded SEND provision. This would limit the numbers of families with SEN who feel compelled to HE due to appalling school provision.

7. There should be the offer of state funded virtual schools for those who want to work remotely.

8.  Home education, instead of being seen as the enemy, could be regarded as offering a model for updating and improving the education system in this country.  Schooling in this country is in crisis. Funding is a huge problem.   Teachers are leaving in droves.  Bullying of all sorts is rife and young people leave school burnt out and demotivated by a one size fits all curriculum and endless exams,. The contrast between schooled young people and those were were HEd when they enter sixth forms and universities is often dramatic, with the previously home educated raring to go.  Further, the schooling system does not take into account that the teacher is no long the sole repository of wisdom, and it is not making the best use of technological innovation. This slowness to adapt is most likely a result of a combination of vast vested interests and habit, but we have a model of an easily adaptable, light-on-its-feet type of education in the form of home education. Home educators know that information is no longer at a premium.  Lectures from the most eminent minds in the world are available at a click of a button.  Criticism and feed back are available in spades, again at the click of a button.  Home Educators know about personalising education, using data, gamification, and internal motivation in order to improve learning outcomes. They know about how to maximise the wisdom of crowds in many of their FB groups.  Could we gamify education? Can we offer distance learning options. So lets really think about replacing schools with something more appropriate for the 21st century or at the very least, think about something a bit more Finnish. Let's look at providing safe spaces for children to work in, learning hubs, personalised learning, data based, data driven individual educations where children can acquire the skills they will actually need in a fast paced world. This is actually the sort of discussion we should be having and most likely, after an initial disruption, it would be a darn sight cheaper.

7. Instead of funding education centrally, provide education vouchers so that families can chose the provision that genuinely suits their child.