Tuesday, June 26, 2007

DfES NOT Suitably Educated

What an unholy mess this one is. One can only conclude that people in the DfES who really should know better, haven't got a clue about their own laws. No wonder Local Authorities get so confused. Take this, by way of an example:

"Question: Why should LEAs have to monitor home education?
Answer: LEAs monitor home education to ensure that children are receiving a suitable education. Some of our European colleagues have adopted more robust strategies than ours. For instance in Norway the local school government must have supervision of home schooling. In Holland parents choosing to educate their children at home are forced to seek exemption from the education law. The situation in Scotland is different from England but similar to Holland."

Real answer: LEAs do not have to monitor home education to ensure that children are receiving a suitable education, since this remains the duty of the parent. LAs only have a duty to intervene if it appears on balance of probabilities that a suitable education is not taking place. What is more robust about having a frequently failing system that is essentially very different and frequently fails to understand the methods it is supposed to inspect, monitor what could otherwise be a thriving form of education? De-registration in Holland does not resemble the situation in Scotland in any meaningful way. In Holland, families wishing to HE must get an exemption from school registration for deeply held religious or philosophical reasons. This exemption is very difficult to achieve since the actually law insists that children be schooled. Home education is a perfectly legal option in Scotland, and although consent to deregister from school must be sought, the Scottish Statutory Guidance states that if there is no existing evidence indicating good reason for refusing consent, that consent can be granted immediately.


"Question: Who decides what is suitable education?
Answer: LEAs decide what is suitable education out of school for a particular child, in consultation with parents and in line with their own policies."

Real answer: LEAs don't have any duty to monitor elective home education for suitability. Parents are responsible for ensuring that a child receives a suitable education. LEAs only have a role to intervene in any way if it appears that a child may not be in receipt of a suitable education.

"Question: What is suitable education out-of-school?
Answer: “Suitable” education is defined as “efficient education suitable to the age, ability, aptitude and to any special educational needs the child (or young person) may have”. Suitable Full Time education does include contact time and, as appropriate activities like breakfast clubs where there is structured interaction."

Real answer, ok, so it's a question. Where in statute does it say anything about contact time? This is news to me at least.

"Question: Can a statemented child be home educated?
Answer: Yes, however, where a child has a statement of special educational needs and is home-educated, it remains the LEA’s duty to ensure that the child’s needs are met. The statement must remain in force and the LEA must ensure that parents can make suitable provision, including provision for the child’s SEN. If the parent’s arrangements are suitable, the LEA is relieved of its duty to arrange the provision specified in the statement. "

Real answer: It is not the case that a statement of Special Educational Need (SEN) must remain in force in the situation that a child is EHE. It is actually the case that HEing parents may choose to ask for the statement to be ceased, and LAs should not unreasonably refuse to do this. Parents should not be required to make the provision specified in the statement, since these provisions were specified for a school environment and may well be inappropriate for the home setting.

"Question: I want to educate my child at home who is registered at school, what do I do?
Answer: You must inform the school formally and in writing of your intention to de-register your child. The school shall delete the child’s name from their register upon receipt of the written notification, and make a return (giving the child’s name and address) to the LEA within 10 school days of removal."

Real answer: Under the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulation 8, 2006, the return must be made as soon as the school becomes aware of the notification of deregistration.


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

"appropriate activities like breakfast clubs where there is structured interaction"

What is this?

Anonymous said...

Isn't Holland the country on top of the pile?

Carlotta said...

"appropriate activities like breakfast clubs where there is structured interaction" What is this?

I had exactly the same reaction, and am still thinking that it doesn't even seem to fit with provision for excluded children, which some of the rest of the guidance reads like and which probably does contribute to the total confusion, since they appear to persistently apply non elective HE situations to elective HE.

Anonymous said...

But are those clubs where kids meet somewhere to eat a structured breakfast?

33, 452 said...

From what I remember from when dh's nephew was forced to attend one, a breakfast club is one of those initiatives invented to "make life easier for working parents and s** how the kids feel about it".

Kids get dropped off at school an hour, or even two hours, early and have their breakfasts there - they call it a club to try and make it sound fun and hide what a hideous idea it is.

Anonymous said...

Are they suggesting home educated children need to eat breakfast outside their homes?

33, 452 said...

It sounds like they're trying to get HE kids as much into the system as they can. If they can get HE kids into school breakfast clubs, then that might be a first step to getting them into school itself, so they're extolling the "virtues" of such schemes. [gags]

They are only using breakfast clubs as an example of "structured interaction" for "contact time" though; they're not actually saying HE kids have to join them. And, as Carlotta so rightly points out, "contact time" is not mentioned in any statute anyway.

freerangelife said...

"In Holland, families wishing to HE must get an exemption from school registration for deeply held religious or philosophical reasons. This exemption is very difficult to achieve since the actually law insists that children be schooled."

And the joke, of course, is that Holland characterizes its Constitutional provision for "free" compulsory State schooling in the religious tradition of your choice (Oh, goodie!) as "freedom of education."