The argument has arisen in various places now about the benefits or otherwise of going to the LA to try to sort out a friendly relationship.
Some of these arguments have sometimes gone along the lines of: since your LA is responsible for pursuing home visits, issuing SAOs, etc it is better to talk to them than not to talk to them as you stand a better chance of sorting the situation out and therefore not being subject to unwarranted intrusion, threats of SAOs etc. The argument here has also been that since HE inspectors are close to the ground and have face-to-face contact with HEors they are likely to be more approachable and more likely to change their minds.
Also, in choosing not to talk to LAs, you are morally deficient since in neglecting to sort out LAs, you have failed schooled children in other families who may be suffering terribly in school.
Hm. I think this kind of argument suffers from false logic in a number of different ways.
One of these mistakes could be the problem of hasty generalisation, ie: the problem of generalising from an oversmall sample. eg: because the above approach worked with one particular LA, it will necessarily work with all LAs.
Other problems: the first argument also neglects to address all possible premises...eg: it could be the case that you are unknown to the LA, and that your LA is generally pretty good, doesn't intervene unduly with most HE families and even advises parents of schooled children pretty well, and in sacrificing anonymity, your own family is suddenly subject to state scrutiny, which though it may be minimal, is more than it was previously, in addition to which you have put in significant time and effort which could be used for working with your own family and all this for no substantial personal gain whatsoever and a few losses, then it would definitely look as if it were not worth the effort.
(This may seem an unlikely scenario, I agree, particularly since we have a habit of talking about the heavy-handed LAs all the time, but actually I don't think it is far removed from the experience of many HEors, certainly in rural and poor counties).
The first argument also neglects the very real possibility that some LA officers are very unlikely to change their minds about how they treat HEors, eg; Mr Mooney, Mr Iball by way of a few examples which immediately spring to mind. I would say that this is a very big area of neglect in the first argument, as people who have absolutely rigid and firmly entrenched opinions that are almost impossible to shift, even in the situation of talking with someone for years and years, well, these sorts of people are two-a-penny.
From this last, it follows that the first scenario obviously neglects all possible outcomes, the most obvious (according to Doncaster and Scottish experience) being that in approaching the LA you do not manage to improve upon a bad situation, or you many improve the situation temporarily whereupon another LA officer takes over and re-installs an appalling situation. Or you many improve the situation in face-to-face contact, and find that this doesn't bear out in practice, or you may find that some HEors get off very lightly and others are treated appallingly by the same LA. With any of these outcomes, you will have wasted an awful lot of time which you may not have to spare, in the attempt.
In other words, far from berating HEors who in the past have chosen to keep their heads down and just got on with it, I think we should accept that there may have been some considerable wisdom in their choice.
I think the only difference now is that the premise of being unknown to the LA should, in principle at least, be being removed, with the establishment of ContactPoint. I think this could change the situation dramatically, since those people who were likely to have kept their heads down, are actually also the people who are most likely to resist state intervention and are also very likely to be genned up on the law, clear about their rights, and generally likely to give the LAs a run for their money. Given that people are (in principle at least though am still to hear of anyone actually having been directly discovered as a result of the children's database, ) are going to be known to LAs, we are likely to see a far stronger movement to resist heavy-handed LA practices.
The problem at the moment is that unknown HEors are still holding back and perhaps they have good reason. They know that Goverment databases when they are rolled out are likely to be grossly inefficient, and that they may remain unknown. eg: we personally know of several families in our area who weren't even sent a census form, despite the fact that they are on the electoral register. This sort of situation could go on for quite a while, but as more and more HEors experience the de facto registration which will be Contactpoint, the more the LAs had better watch out.
In the meantime, there is plenty that these unknown HEors could be doing. It may well be wrong to assume that everyone in the DfES is immune to reason. We have it on good authority from at least 2 sources now that senior ministers in this department have described the schooling system as a dinosaur. It may be possible for unknown HEors to apply considerable pressure to the DfES to minimise the damage that LAs are allowed to do.