Saturday, June 30, 2007

Frightening Reading

An admirably persistent home educator has kept on at the DfES until he got some result from his many FOI requests for information about DfES communications on "light touch changes to HE legislation", during the second part of 2006. He has made the results of his request widely available on various UK Home Education lists, such as on the here and here .

All in all, it makes for scary reading. You realise just how close we really were to a state-imposed curriculum, and other nasties such as LAs being handed the right to insist on seeing and inspecting HE children.

The thing is, despite the relatively benign-looking EHE draft guidelines, this threat does not look to have gone away for sure. These guidelines are, after all, only in draft form. They could change for the significantly worse and LAs are reportedly making such a racket about not being able to check out our educational provision with a much greater degree of oversight and prescription, that the DfES may buckle if we don't keep shouting about why LA demands are so illogical, damaging and even dangerous for both themselves and for us. We really should keep shouting about these points in our responses to the Consultation on EHE Guidelines.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Nominal Rationale for Contactpoint

...looks to have been blasted out the water if this letter is to be believed.

Thanks ARCH. Cheering to read a bit of plain speaking first thing in the morning!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Draft Response from EO

Suggestions for completing the consultation on the draft Home Education Guidelines

We have included some draft responses which we hope you will find helpful when making your own individual response to the consultation. Please forward this freely to local groups and consider making your response as soon as possible since we are informed that the DfES Consultation Unit are collating all the responses as soon as they are received.

We are aware that Local Authorities are already making their views known to the DfES both separately and collectively on a regional basis so please don't wait till the deadline approaches before you make your individual response . The pro-monitoring local authority view is already being heard LOUD AND CLEAR at the DfES.

Another useful thing you can do is to make a response on behalf of your local group because we can respond once as parents and again as members of the voluntary and community sector.

The questions on the consultation response form ask you to comment on various paragraphs in the draft guidelines . Ideally you would have a hard copy of the draft Guidelines for reference, either by printing out a copy from the link on the website http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/downloadableDocs/Elective%20Home%20Education%20Guidelines%201.doc

Or by keeping a second window open as you answer the questions

Or by requesting a paper copy of the Guidelines from the Department’s distribution centre Prolog on 0845 6022260 quoting the publication reference number 1479 CONSULTATION ON HOME EDUCATION GUIDELINES LAUNCHED 8 MAY.

In addition we have reproduced the relevant paragraphs from the Guidelines below.

But it is worth getting a look at the complete Guidelines because the Consultation misses out questions on some paragraphs eg there are no Consultation questions on the SEN paragraphs and you can make comments on that fact in your Consultation response. The EO Campaign website has a page of useful links on SEN [http://www.freedomforchildrentogrow.org/sen.htm ]
Some home educators have already produced draft responses and general comments on the Guidelines Consultation . You can find links to these from the EO Campaign website LATEST page Saturday 9 June http://www.freedomforchildrentogrow.org/update.htm and they are also reproduced here :

http://www.freewebs.com/hedline/HEdline%20News%204.pdf
http://daretoknowblog.blogspot.com/2007/05/consultation-on-elective-home-education.html ( and further updates from this blog )
http://www.freedomforchildrentogrow.org/Government_consultation_launched.doc

PLEASE USE YOUR OWN WORDS WHEN YOU REPLY TO THE CONSULTATION. THE FOLLOWING ARE ONLY SUGGESTIONS. OUR COLLECTIVE RESPONSE WILL BE GREATLY WEAKENED IF EVERYONE USES THE SAME FORM OF WORDS.

CONSULTATION QUESTIONS ON DRAFT GUIDELINES FOR ELECTIVE HOME EDUCATION.

http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/conRespond.cfm?consultationId=1479 Respond online or download paper copies of the consultation http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/downloadableDocs/Consultation%20on%20Home%20Education%20Guidelines%20Response%20Form.doc


1 Do you agree that it is helpful for the DfES to issue guidelines to local authorities?

Not sure.

There was a need for clarification. I hope the consultation process will improve the guidelines and make it clearer what the local authority should and should not be doing . The draft guidelines are quite out of date ( eg no reference to the Children Act 2004 and out of date reference to the Guidance on deregistering. ) It is good that we are seeing a full public consultation on the draft Guidelines . I am pleased that the draft Guidelines acknowledge the legal right of the family to choose home education. The draft Guidelines don't include any complaints or grievance procedure. It does not seem as though the Guidelines will be legally enforceable, which makes me wonder whether it will really make a difference to my Local Authority.

2. . Do you agree that the description of the law [ paragraphs 2.1-2.3 ] relating to elective home education is accurate and clear.

2.1 The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. In England, education is compulsory, but schooling is not.

2.2 Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that:

“No person shall be denied the right to education. 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.”

This right is enshrined in English law. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that:

“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable-

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) to any special educational needs he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”

2.3 The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. An “efficient” and “suitable” education is not defined in the Education Act 1996 but “efficient” has been broadly described as an education that “achieves that which it sets out to achieve”, and a “suitable” education is one that “primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so”.


Not sure.

Comments :

The Guidelines should give a direct link to Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act because this is the statute law referring to home education. : http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1996/96056--a.htm

"The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive an efficient full time education suitable :
a/ to his age, ability and aptitude and
b/ to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise "

The right of parents to educate their children according to their own philosophical convictions is also stated in the British Human Rights Act 1998. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts1998/19980042.htm

This section could do with a much better introduction to the whole area of Elective Home Education for professionals who may be new to this area. This job is done by a few Local Authorities such as Staffordshire on their Home Education Website http://education.staffordshire.gov.uk/Curriculum/Services/HomeEducation/
http://education.staffordshire.gov.uk/Curriculum/Services/HomeEducation/FAQs/

Statute law does not define "efficient" "suitable" "full-time" or "education", although we have some clarification from the case law on education which is quoted in the draft Guidelines. The point about home education is that the education has to be suitable to the home educated child's age ability and aptitude. It is personalised learning. and school standards do not apply. Nor is there any obligation for the home educated child or young person to follow a broad and balanced curriculum since this legal requirement .only applies to registered pupils in the maintained sector. ( Introduced by the Education Reform Act 1988 http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1988/Ukpga_19880040_en_2.htm#mdiv1 )

3/ Do you agree that the description of local authorities' responsibilities [ paragraphs 2.5-2.11 ] is accurate and helpful ?

Local authorities’ responsibilities

2.5 Local authorities should provide written information about home education that is clear, accurate and sets out the legal position, roles and responsibilities. This information should be made available on local authority websites and in local community languages on request. Local authorities should recognise that there are many approaches to educational provision, not just a “school at home” model. What is suitable for one child may not be for another, but all children should make reasonable progress.

2.6 Local authorities have a new duty under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 to identify, as far as is possible, children who are missing, or in danger of missing, education. The duty applies in relation to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, and who are not receiving a suitable education otherwise than being at school (for example, at home, privately, or in alternative provision). The guidance issued makes it clear that the duty does not apply to children who are being educated at home.

2.7 Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis. However, under Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996, local authorities can intervene if they have good reason to believe that parents are not providing a suitable education. This section states that:

“If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.”

Section 437(2) of the Act provides that the period shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.

2.8 The most obvious course of action if such a concern were raised would be to ask parents for information about the education they are providing. Such a request is not the same as a notice under s 437(1). Parents are under no duty to comply, but it would be sensible for them to do so.

2.9 Section 437(3) refers to the serving of School Attendance Orders:

“If –
(a) a parent on whom a notice has been served under subsection (1) fails to satisfy the local education authority, within the period specified in the notice, that the child is receiving suitable education, and

(b) in the opinion of the authority it is expedient that the child should attend school,

the authority shall serve on the parent an order (referred to in this Act as a "school attendance order"), in such form as may be prescribed, requiring him to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order.”

2.10 A School Attendance Order should be served as a last resort, after all reasonable steps have been taken to try to resolve the situation. At any stage following the issue of the Order, parents may present evidence to the local authority, or the court, that they are now providing an appropriate education and apply to have the Order revoked. It will be for a court to decide whether or not the education being provided is suitable and efficient. Detailed information about School Attendance Orders is contained in Ensuring Regular School Attendance paragraphs 6 to 16,.

2.11 Local authorities also have a duty under Section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This section states:

“A local education authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that the functions conferred upon them in their capacity as a local education authority are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.”

Section 175(1) does not extend local authorities’ functions. It does not, for example, give local authorities powers to enter the homes of, or otherwise see, children for the purposes of monitoring the provision of elective home education. "

Answer :

NO

Comments :

There is no requirement in law for the child or young person to make "reasonable progress" and this sentence should be removed.. The law with regard to home education states that it must be suitable to the age ability and aptitude of the child and to any special educational needs he may have. By law the educational provision for a child at home will be suitable to the child and will be in accordance with the parents' philosophical convictions. There is no legal requirement for the local authority to engage in continual or ongoing monitoring of a family's home education provision and any DfES Guidelines for Local Authorities should make this quite clear. Section 437 of the 1996 Education Act which is quoted in this part of the draft Guidelines sets out the end of the road for the Local Authority and as such it has no place here in a discussion of the ordinary responsibilities of the local authority. This information should be included in the Guidelines but this is not the appropriate place to include this. It would be better if this went to the end of the Guidelines in a reference section for local authorities. Section 2.11 is out of date since the local authority will have regard to the more recent legislation contained in the 2004 Children Act with reference to Safeguarding Children. It is however true that neither S.175 ( 1) of the 2002 Act or the 2004 Act give any additional powers to the local authority to enter the private homes of home educating families for the purpose of monitoring the educational provision. Nor does the 2004 Act give additional powers to the local authority in terms of access to the home educated child.

4/ Do you agree that the section on contact with the local authority [ paragraphs 3.4 -3.7 ] is accurate and helpful ?
Contact with the local authority

3.4 Many home educating parents welcome regular contact with the local authority as an opportunity to reaffirm their provision. However, where parents do not want any involvement with the local authority, the LA should not automatically assume that there is a problem which needs investigating. Instead, the LA should take a risk-based approach, taking into consideration the individual and community’s circumstances. As one example, recent research shows that “few Gypsy/Roma and Traveller parents have the knowledge, skills and resources to provide or deliver a full-time education that is efficient and suitable”. We do know that there will be Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children who do receive a good education at home. Those monitoring elective home education should seek advice from Traveller Education Support Services before engaging with parents from these communities

3.5 If information exists which may cast doubt on whether an “efficient and suitable education” can be provided, the local authority should seek to gather any relevant information that will assist them in reaching a properly informed judgement. This should include seeking from the parents any further information that they wish to provide explaining how they are providing a suitable education. Parents should be given the opportunity to address any specific concerns that the authority has. The child should also be given the opportunity, but not required, to attend any meeting that may be arranged or express his or her views in some other way.
3.6 If there are any reasonable concerns, a local authority may wish to contact parents to discuss their ongoing home education provision. Contact should normally be made by writing to the parents to request an updated report or seek a meeting. A written report should be made after such contact and copied to the parents stating whether the authority has any concerns about the education provision. Where there are concerns about the efficiency or suitability of the education being provided for the child, more frequent contact may be required. Where concerns merit frequent contact, the authority should discuss these concerns with the child’s parents, with a view to helping them improve their provision in the best interests of the child.

3.7 Many parents welcome the opportunity to discuss the provision that they are making for the child’s education during a home visit but parents are not legally required to give the local authority access to their home. They may, choose to meet a local authority representative at a mutually convenient and neutral location instead or choose not to meet at all. If they choose not to meet, they will need to provide evidence that they are providing an efficient and suitable education. Parents might, for example:

· write a report;
· provide samples of work;
· invite a local authority advisor/consultant to their home, with or without the child being present; or
· meet a local authority advisor/consultant elsewhere, with or without the child.
3.6
3.7 Answer :
3.8 No.

Comments :

3.4 Gives the impression that regular contact is approved .This should be removed. It is irrelevant and misleading. Ethnic minorities who home educate have the same rights and responsibilities in law as any other home educators and therefore 3.4 on the GRT community is irrelevant and should be removed. The Lead Professional for GRT home educating families, as with any other home educating families, is the Elective Home Education Advisor. The Traveller Education Service deals with inclusion and not with Elective Home Education. Section 3.5 is unclear and prejudicial since it says : "If information exists which may cast doubt on whether an “efficient and suitable education” can be provided". This seems to cast doubt on certain types of parents and their ability to provide education. 3.6 There can be no legal definition of "reasonable concerns" or "concerns" . This can only ever be a subjective judgement and should be amended to "serious concerns about educational provision " and these serious concerns must be justified by evidence. Moreover the local authority has no responsibility in law to engage in ongoing monitoring of elective home education provision. Nor is there any local authority funding available to "support" home educating families. 3.7 is not a fair and accurate statement of the law. Some local authorities may press for this but it is not a legal requirement. It is irrelevant anecdotal evidence to say that this is welcomed by parents. This is not a statement of the law.

5/ Do you agree that the section on providing a full time education [ paragraphs 3.11 -3.14 ] and in particular, the characteristics of provision [ paragraph 3.13 ] is accurate and helpful ?

3.11 Parents are required to provide an efficient education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child. There is currently no legal definition of “full-time”. Children normally attend school for between 22 and 25 hours a week for 39 weeks of the year, but this measurement of ‘contact time’ is not relevant to home education where there is often almost continuous one-to-one contact and education may take place outside normal ‘school hours’. The type of educational activity can be varied and flexible. Home-educating parents are not required to:

· teach the National Curriculum
· have a timetable
· have premises equipped to any particular standard
· set hours during which education will take place
· have any specific qualifications
· make detailed plans in advance
· observe school hours, days or terms
· give formal lessons
· reproduce school type peer group socialisation
· match school, age-specific standards.

However, local authorities should offer advice and support to parents on these matters if requested.

3.12 It is important to recognise that there are many, equally valid, approaches to educational provision. Local authorities should therefore consider a wide range of information from home educating parents, in a range of formats. The information may be in the form of specific examples of learning e.g. pictures/paintings/models, diaries of work, projects, assessments, samples of work, books, educational visits etc.

3.13 In their consideration of parents’ provision of education at home, local authorities may reasonably expect the provision to include the following characteristics:

· consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers – it is expected that parents or significant carers would play a substantial role, although not necessarily constantly or actively involved in providing education
· recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations
· opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
· access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child – such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and crafts materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and other adults.

3.14 If, on considering the educational provision, one or more of the above characteristics appear to be lacking, local authorities may choose to further investigate whether or not an efficient and suitable education is, in fact, being provided. A full written report of the findings should be made and copied to the parents promptly, specifying the grounds for concern and any reasons for concluding that provision is unsuitable. If the authority is not satisfied that efficient education is being provided, and the parents, having been given a reasonable opportunity to improve their provision and report back to the authority, have not done so, the authority should consider serving a School Attendance Order (see section 2.7).

Not sure.

3.11 is reasonable statement of the law. 3.12 does not specify that there is no ongoing duty for the local authority to monitor educational provision or for parents to provide information on ongoing basis. Is this discussion of forms "evidence" relating to an initial enquiry by the LA ? It is equally the case that information may NOT be in theose forms specified in 3.12. 3.13 There is nothing in law about what the LA may "reasonably expect" and this phrase should be replaced by a phrase such as "may find it useful to consider some of the following" . There is no need to specify a list of resources here because absence of any of these resources does not indicate that an efficient suitable fulltime education is not taking place. ."Consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers " may be a criterion for the Local Authority to bear in mind, but it is not derived from any statute on home education. The other items in the list are from the Scottish Guidance and it is misleading to itemise them here as though they were a checklist for education being "suitable", whereas in law education has to be suitable to the age, aptitude and ability of the child. 3.14 is not an accurate statement of the law. . The list in 3.13 is not a checklist and therefore absence of an item from the list cannot be declared to be grounds for concern.

We are not asked to comment on Section 3.15 Special Educational Needs. This section needs more input from experts in case law and experienced people in the field of SEN and Elective Home Education. The Home Education Advisor must have proper training in SEN. The statement of SEN for the home educated child may legally be ceased by the Local Authority and this is not mentioned in the draft Guidelines.

6/ Do you agree that the section on developing relationships ( section 4) is useful ?

Developing relationships

4.1 As noted in the Introduction to these guidelines, the central aim of this document is to assist local authorities and home educators to build effective relationships that function to safeguard the educational interests of children and young people; relationships that are rooted in mutual understanding, trust and respect. The guidelines outline a number of recommendations that are geared towards the promotion of such relationships.

4.2 Whilst there is no current legal obligation on education authorities or home educators to develop such relationships, doing so will often provide parents with access to any support that is available and allow authorities to better understand parents’ educational provision and preferences. A positive relationship will also provide a sound basis if the authority is required to investigate assertions from any source that an efficient and suitable education is not being provided. This will be true whether or not parents are required to demonstrate that suitable home-education provision is being made available.

Acknowledging diversity

4.3 Parents’ educational provision will reflect a diversity of approaches and interests. Some parents, especially those who have other children attending school, may wish to provide education in a formal and structured manner, following a traditional curriculum and using a fixed timetable that keeps to school hours and terms. Other parents may decide to make more informal provision that is responsive to the developing interests of their child. One approach is not necessarily any more efficient or effective than another. Although some parents may welcome general advice and suggestions about resources, methods and materials, LAs should not specify a curriculum which parents must follow.

4.4 Children learn in different ways and at different times and speeds. It should be appreciated that parents and their children might require a period of adjustment before finding their preferred mode of learning. Parents are not required to have any qualifications or training to provide their children with an appropriate education. Their commitment to providing an efficient education that is suitable for their child may be demonstrated by them providing some indication of their objectives and resources (see paragraphs 3.12 to 3.15).

Providing information for parents

4.5 The provision of clear information has an important role to play in the promotion of positive relationships. LAs should provide written information and website links for home-educating parents that is clear and accurate and which sets out the legal position, and roles and responsibilities, in an unambiguous way. We also recommend that contact details for home education support organisations should be provided. A selection of these is included in Part 5. All written information should be made available to parents in community languages and alternative formats on request.

4.6 As noted as paragraph 3.3 we recommend that LAs should, if the parents wish, provide parents who are, or who are considering, home-educating with a named contact within the authority who is familiar with home education policy and practice and has an understanding of a range of educational philosophies. If the authority has cause to invite the parents to meet with a named education authority, any such meeting should take place at a mutually acceptable location and the child concerned should also be given the opportunity to attend that meeting, or otherwise to express his or her views. Either during such a meeting, or otherwise, the parents and the authority should consider and agree what future contact there will be between them.

Contact with parents and children

4.7 Local authorities should acknowledge that learning takes place in a wide variety of environments and not only in the home. Some parents are happy for the local authority to have the opportunity to see the child in their learning environment, to enable them to see the provision at first hand. Seeing the child responding to the educational provision of the parents may provide a strong indication that an efficient and suitable education is indeed being provided. The authority does not, however, have a legal right of access to the home and the matter should not be forced.

4.8 Where a parent elects not to allow access to their home or their child, this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the education provision being made. Although it is recognised that the learning environment can have a bearing on the effectiveness of learning, LAs should, in the vast majority of cases, be able to discuss and evaluate the parents’ educational provision by alternative means. Parents might prefer, for example, to write a report, provide samples of work, have their educational provision endorsed by a third party (such as an independent home tutor) or provide evidence in some other appropriate form.

Child protection

4.9 The welfare and protection of all children, both those who attend school and those who are educated by other means, are of paramount concern and the responsibility of the whole community. As with school-educated children, child protection issues may arise in relation to home-educated children. If any child protection concerns come to light in the course of engagement with children and families, or otherwise, these concerns should immediately be referred to the appropriate authorities using established protocols.

4.10 Parents may choose to employ other people to educate their child, though they themselves will continue to be responsible for the education provided. They will also be responsible for ensuring that those whom they engage are suitable persons to have access to children. Parents will therefore wish to satisfy themselves by taking up appropriate references. A small number of LAs choose to assist home-educating parents in this task by undertaking Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks free of charge, for example, on independent home tutors. Tutors employed by an LA may also undertake work for home-educating parents, in which case, CRB checks ought to have been made already.

Reviewing policies and procedures

4.11 Authorities will wish to review all of their procedures and practices in relation to home education on a regular basis to see if improvements can be made to further develop relationships and meet the needs of children and parents. Home education organisations and home-educating parents should be involved in this process of review. Effective reviews, together with the sensitive handling of any complaints, will help to secure effective partnership.

4.12 Local authorities will also wish to bear in mind that Ofsted will report on the way local authorities cater for home-educating families within their areas.


Answer :

Not sure

Comments :

Section 4.1 should be in the introduction or should be removed. . The second sentence in 4.2. should be removed. 4.3 Should read : "Parents' educational provision will reflect a diversity of approaches and interests. The education provided at home must be suitable to the child's age ability and aptitude and any special educational needs he may have. " The rest of 4.3. is speculative misleading and unnecessary. . It would be possible to retain the sentence "Some parents may welcome general advice and suggestions about resources, methods and materials"as long as it is made clear that the ultimate legal responsibility for decisions about educational provision rest with the family and are based on the family's philosophical convictions. The Local Authority currently has no funding to support any "suggestions." 4.4.refers to paragraphs 3.12 -3.15 which formed the basis for a previous question in the consultation and confirms our fear that the list in paragraph 3.13 WILL be used as a checklist to determine whether education is "suitable" , whereas in law education has to be suitable to the child's age, ability and aptitude. 4.5. is helpful.There should be something about a complaint procedure and how you can resolve problems with officers in the authority. 4.6 the designated home education person must have proper training in Elective Home Education, as must anyone from the authority who answers enquiries on the subject from the general public or the media. 4.6 The last sentence is misleading since there is no obligation in law for ongoing monitoring, so the sentence about "future contact" should be taken out. 4.7 Most of this is misleading and could support prejudice. It doesn't state the law. The first sentence repeats what has been said elsewhere and the rest should be taken out. The same is true of 4.8., it is unhelpful to discriminate between better and worse forms of "evidence". 4.9 The person who is responsible for home education at the local authority should have training in Safeguarding Children procedures established following the 2004 Children Act. 4.10 The last sentence could be kept but the rest should be taken out since the local authority has no legal responsibility in this area of home education so it is misleading to retain it . . 4.11 we agree with 4.11 and it should be made stronger to include reference to the 2004 Children Act and the fact that parents and families are stakeholders and partners in any decision-making processes which affect them. 4.12 With reference to Ofsted how would home educators feed into any Ofsted customer satisfaction process if they were to rate their local authority ?

The remainder of the questions are :

7a . Are the suggested resources in section 5 and appendix 2 useful ?
7b . Should any other contacts be included ?

and "Please use this space for any other comments you wish to make about the guidance".

Homeschooling Fund Manager

It seems it isn't just Runescape that can teach you the basic principles of the market place. This stock-dealing home schooler started out with Neopets instead.

EO on Responding to the Consultation on Proposed Guidelines

Education Otherwise have the following to say on getting those responses in now:

"We must not think that the threat to our freedoms has gone away. These Guidelines are only a DRAFT and if local authorities use the consultation process to make demands for tighter controls and stricter monitoring then this needs to be counter-balanced by a strong assertive response from the home education community. Local authorities are ALREADY responding individually and regionally to the Guidelines Consultation and in some cases they are making it quite clear that they are not happy about the draft Guidelines. If the home education response is muted then this LA view will prevail.

EO Government Policy Group will be making a comprehensive response on behalf of EO but this will not be submitted until the deadline and in the meantime we need hundreds of individual
responses making the legal case for the rights of home educating families. . We have put together some draft responses [ hyperlink ] which you could use as a springboard for your own reply but it is very important to put your own views in your own words If everyone replies using the same form of words then this will only count as one response. Consider giving examples from your own experience wherever possible. The DfES needs to be convinced that hundreds and hundreds of home educating families would be up in arms about any changes to monitoring and they need to be convinced that good clear fair Guidelines are The Way Forward.
Please act now ! "

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Tory Party View of HE

...via Action for Home Education, we hear that the shadow DfES team

"...believe that parents should be free to choose the best education for their children, including home education, and that the Government should make sure that all the options are able to work properly. "

Yup, given that they are positioning themselves as the party of personal/parental/civic (rather than state) responsibility, HE should make sense to them. They also don't go for compulsory education beyond the age of 16. Scroll to the bottom of the wiki page to read the letter in full.

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.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Why Individual HEors Should be Getting Those Responses in NOW

Ok, peeps, stay with me on this one! I do know how boring I've become on this issue, and I also personally know how very easy it is to get complacent with regard to the proposed Elective Home Education Guidelines. You know, they don't look so bad - they at least read as if they could be used to maintain the status quo, even if they won't actively ensure against bad practice by LAs. So generally, phew, we can sit back, make another tea, (yes, my de-caffination regime isn't going so well), pat ourselves on the back and not worry too much. After all, it might be a terrible chore to have to respond, since it would probably take quite a bit of a nuanced argument to improve upon the guidelines as they currently stand.

The thing is, I do think it would be worth putting our responses in soon, (well before the 31st July deadline), not least because there is good reason to believe, (from a number of sources), that LAs are doing just that, and that rather unsurprisingly, their responses are frequently very negative about the proposed guidelines. It is after all, pretty easy just to tick NO, NO, NO to a load of boxes, and then put in a complete counter-argument in the comments section. Problem with this is that these kind of responses are the ones that are currently informing the DfES.

The other problem we have is that in responding to the guidelines, rather than responding to the LA's responses, we risk not putting up the counter-arguments to the LA's possible proposals to the DfES, so for example, the DfES may be hearing that all HE children should be reaching such and such a standard by such and such an age and doing this or that curriculum. The DfES may never get to hear or understand why such measures would be so counter-productive for many HE families and may well end up thinking "Oh, what a good idea, let all HE children be reading book 14 of the Oxford Reading Tree by the time they're six."

So, my thinking is this: let's get those responses in now. They don't have to be perfect or represent anyone's views other than your own. Indeed, it would probably help if you were to personalise it by telling the DfES how HE has suited your children, or how you have suffered mistreatment at the hands of LAs and how you need the guidelines to protect against this mistreatment, or indeed, how your children would suffer if the guidelines were made more stringent. Or if your LA is exemplary, tell the DfES about it. Let them have that model of good practice. Show them that this is possible and that other LAs could conform to this model to the benefit of everyone.

Let's make the reality and success of the personalised learning that is HE vivid to them there at the top and the sooner the better.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Sad Day for the HE Community

Sarah and family are moving to New Zealand. We wish them every happiness and will be keeping an eye on their musical progress here.

The New Revolution: Children's Rights

Looks to me as if Action for the Rights of Children should be talking to Andrew Sullivan about getting the word out.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bee Garden


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Dd and I are feeling rather like Alfred Russell Wallace (whose monument we chanced upon in Usk the other day), or Ernest Duchesne in that we had spent a couple of hours with our noses buried in our bee garden, taking notes as to which flowers the bees preferred. We hadn't actually collated the numbers or drawn any conclusions, but we were darn close to doing this, when what should happen but we wake the next day to hear first thing on the BBC news...BEES PREFER PURPLE FLOWERS.

It now emerges that we could have told them that. Can we have an enormous research grant please?

Bee Garden

I love this patch of the garden so much. Credit is due to Dh for sticking with the idea when I had most definitely lost the faith! All native plants, blue/pink/ purple crane's bills, fox gloves, forget-me-nots, clovers, poppies, hedge wort, dead nettles, spurges, buttercups, dandelions, shepherds purse, vetch, cornflower, scabius, fumaria and a yellow one whose name I've forgotten, but I think it's a member of the cabbage family.
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dr Phil Baffled by Unschooling

If you can cope with a stream of fatuous remarks, you can see how a couple stoically attempted to deal with Dr Phil's misperceptions about unschooling here.

Now What With Contactpoint?

Here's Blogdial's take on Contactpoint, aka: The Information Sharing Index/Children's Database:

"Parents have the absolute right to care for their children in the way that they see fit. By saying that the parent does not have the right to opt their children out, the state is taking on the role of the parent in saying what is and is not of benefit to the child which is totally unacceptable to any decent person. They are making the children of the UK into property."

The rest of the piece is well worth a read for other eminently sensible views on the matter.

And now with the database coming to a place near you in the very near future, could it finally be the moment to be digging in our heels? Perhaps we should all be asking to see the details contained within the database? Checking and quite probably asking for all the errors in it to be corrected, well this might at last give the lie to all those claims that a database will make information-sharing and detection of children at risk so much easier.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Being home-educated didn't do me any harm - look at me now!

A group for young people who have been home educated and who are now in further education can be found through the search facility in Facebook. Registration may be required...not sure if it is my cookies helping me out!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

More on Raising School Age and Diplomas

Jonathan Dimbleby hosts a panel-led studio debate on the raising of the school leaving age in which Jim Knight (Schools Minister) implies that there will most likely be a re-writing of Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act in order that it be made clear that young people (aged 16 - 18), rather than their parents, will be responsible for their education; this even though government appears to want to dictate not only that they must do it, but also what form it should take.

Yup, apparently being responsible for something doesn't mean that one is actually responsible for any significant, life-altering decision-making, such as whether or not one wants to be a youthful entrepreneur, or researcher in an entirely new field, or an apprentice who would rather learn entirely on the job rather than periodically in a college. Being responsible means doing exactly what you are told, within a certain limited range of options.

The debate on school leaving ages is followed by an extended discussion on the proposed diplomas which are due to be introduced from 2008.

HT: Aspie Home Education

Open Society's Enemy

Blogdial is on fine form in his response to Blair's oblique attack on bloggers. What next, it makes one wonder? A Google Thames Barrier?

Could This Be Why France is Doing So Badly?

From what we saw in France, I would say this article about parenting style is just about right. The level of violence towards children from their parents was quite shocking.

Hmm...and guess which country in Europe is on a determined run for the bottom of the pile!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Deadline Tomorrow, Thursday 14th June

Below a response to the Raising Expections Consultation.

Please do use and adapt for more responses.

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Consultation Questions

Chapter 2: The benefits of requiring participation
1. Do you agree that there is a case for introducing compulsory participation to age 18?

No.

Compulsion is a very poor substitute for genuine engagement in education. Learners who are compelled to be involved in education at this stage are very likely to be demotivated, disenchanted, even rebellious and we therefore question the assumption that the best way to have a trained workforce is to force compulsory education onto teenagers.

A better solution would be to remove the barriers to education and training for people both under and over the age of 25, to provide attractive educational options for all, to broaden access to and state funding for tertiary education with a view to including those who already have work experience. We suggest that this would better solve the problem of the skills shortages as identified in the Leitch Report, since the learners involved in education that is freely chosen are more likely to be motivated to learn, and often, as in the case of those who return to train after working, will have a clear idea of the skills they require.

There is a flawed analogy with the previous raising of the school leaving age to the end of the Summer term after the young person's 16h birthday in 1998. This affected relatively few young people for a few months, not the whole youth population for two years. The Secretary of State for Education cites this to the Education Select Committee in April 2007 as the main source of evidence for the benefits of raising the leaving but as the authors or the report themselves point out point out, there was a complex interplay of factors here to do with the age of pupils relative to their classmates as well as the fact that the young people who previously left before final examinations were now staying on a few months to take the exams and get some form of qualification.

In addition the comparison with the school leaving age in other European countries is flawed since there are many other differences between the English education system and those in Europe, not least that we begin formal learning in this country earlier than anywhere else. Why not look at raising the school entry age rather than the school leaving age?

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Chapter 3: A new requirement to participate

In paragraphs 3.2 – 3.10 we set out our central proposal for a requirement to participate.
2. Do you agree that participation should include participation in school, college, work-based learning and accredited training provided by an employer?

No.

Participation must not be compulsory. Funding for training and education opportunities must not be dependent on attendance at an institution or on the acquisition of certain narrow qualifications. This is rigid and inflexible and ignores the wide variety of educational opportunities to be found in employment. (freelance or as an employee), voluntary work and in self-directed learning. We are concerned that the proposals will discriminate heavily against home-based education and also forestall the many flexible and creative approaches to education which we already see in our home educated young people.

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3. Do you agree that the requirement should include a requirement to work towards accredited qualifications?

No.

No because this is inflexible and inappropriate. There are many cases where this would not be the best use of a young person's time, for example for those people working in their own business, who could rightfully be said to be learning all the time, without any accreditation of their learning. Instead more consideration should be given towards supporting the young person to complete a portfolio of work, which would be of far greater benefit in terms of pursuing their interests towards a career. In many areas, qualifications are out-of-date by the time they achieve ratification or accreditation.

It is also unclear how people with unusual learning styles will be catered for in this system. Far too many children with special educational needs are being failed by the inability of the schooling system to cater for their needs. It is not clear how increasing the age of compulsory education and requiring all learners to do accredited qualifications will not simply exacerbate this problem.

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4. Do you agree that for those who are not in employment for a significant part of the week, participation should be in full time education?

No.

If by "education" you mean attendance at an institution or working towards a limited range of qualifications, then of course not. Many home educated young people, for instance, continue their full-time education beyond their 16th birthday, but they do not accept the narrow criteria of education suggested here.

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5. Should full time education be defined for this purpose as at least 16 hours of guided learning per week?

No, should be less

We are dismayed to find that there was not a box with an unambiguous "no". We have therefore checked the box "No, should be less" and by this we mean that there should not be ANY element of mandatory "guided learning". For example, home educated young people are entirely capable of self-directed learning and organising their own curriculum and studies.

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6. Do you agree that a young person who is employed could participate part time?

It may or may not suit the employer or the young person for the work to be part time. It may be highly damaging for both, since the employer may find it hard to fund such a position, may refuse to take on young people, or his business may fail as he cannot access cheap labour, so that the employment options for young people may get significantly worse.

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7. Is a minimum of 280 hours of guided learning per year appropriate for a young person who is employed?

No, should be less.

There should not be a minimum mandatory amount of "guided learning" for young people of this age.

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The central proposition outlined in 3.2 – 3.10 would require a young person to participate until their 18th birthday. An alternative described in para 3.11 would require a young person to participate until either their 18th birthday or they achieve qualifications at level 2, whichever is the earlier.

8. Which version of the policy do you prefer?

They are both wrong. We believe that the 18th birthday cut-off is the thin end of the wedge and that the ultimate plan must be for young people to stay at institutions until the end of the academic year in which they become 18. This is the only way that further education institutions could make funding projections.

From reading the Consultation Document it is clear that the Government favours an age criterion rather than a qualifications criterion but both are wrong. We are looking at a blunt instrument to fine-tune some very different problems here.

1/ Young people are disaffected and disengaged.
2/ Much of the current potential working population does not have Level 2 qualifications (but this includes many older people and it is not suggested that these people will be the target for mandatory education or training) and a substantial proportion are functionally illiterate and innumerate.
3/ An increasing number of jobs in the future will require graduate level skills so the Government identifies Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications as necessary for for entry to university. However, home educated applicants are increasingly finding that university admissions offices look favourably on different academic routes which include innovative freelance work and self-directed study and are not just the run-of-the mill applications from 18 year olds with the same clutch of certificates. This trend should be encouraged and diversity and creativity should be fostered rather than extinguished as they would be by the current proposals.


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Chapter 4: A suitable route for every young person

9. Do you agree that, taken together, the routes outlined in this chapter mean that there will be an appropriate and engaging option for all 16 and 17 year olds by 2013?

No because the present proposals are not sufficiently flexible. In addition the element of compulsion is fundamentally misguided. Education Otherwise is particularly concerned about the emphasis on "attendance" and "participation" and "accredited qualifications" because this is bureaucratic, over-rigid and not suitable to the personalised self-directed learning of home educated young people.

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10. Should there be requirements for young people who are training to do more than just an accredited occupational qualification? (for example, should they be expected to do functional English or maths and/or wider technical education?)

There should not be a requirement for an accredited occupational qualification by the age of 18 and therefore there should not be additional qualification requirements either. This will become an exercise in ticking boxes. Once again this discriminates against young people. We are also unclear as to what 11+ years of compulsory schooling are meant to have achieved if this proposal is even being considered as necessary.

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Chapter 5: Enabling all young people to participate

11. Do you agree financial support should still be provided to young people from low income households, if participation is compulsory?

Participation should not be compulsory and we are not able to answer questions predicated on compulsory participation. On the other hand, the present funding arrangements should not be cut and indeed the Education Maintenance Allowance should be extended to home educated young people aged 16-19.

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12. What would be the right financial support arrangements for young people required to participate to age 18?

Young people should not be required to participate.

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13. Should we consider other incentives, such as withholding driving licences from 17 year olds who are not participating in education or training?

No.

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14. Would the proposals outlined here about support and guidance be enough to ensure that all young people are able to participate, regardless of their personal circumstances?

No because the proposals are impersonal. For example, the educational options will undoubtedly fail significant proportions of young people with SENs, as the current schooling system shows, despite years of trying to facilitate inclusion for all children.

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Chapter 6: Employers playing their part

15. Would the proposals outlined in this chapter provide employers with the right framework to help make sure all 16 and 17 year olds are participating in valuable learning, including those who want to learn as they work?

The proposals discriminate hugely against small businesses and self-employed teenagers. We are unclear as to why the word "want" is being used here when the Consultation Document speaks of 280 + hours of enforced learning as defined by the Government.

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16. Given the benefits of a better skilled workforce, what responsibilities should employers have to encourage young people to participate in education and training?

It is not clear that they should have any responsibilities in this regard. If a skilled workforce is beneficial to them, presumably they will try to acquire one in some way or other. If the skill base is not available to them, then they will either do without and fail, or will have to create it themselves.

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Chapter 7: Making sure young people participate

17. Do you agree that there should be a system of enforcement attached to any new requirement to participate, used only as a last resort?

No, since we do not believe that there should be a legal requirement to participate.


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18. Is it right that the primary responsibility for attending at age 16 and 17 should rest with young people themselves?

We object to the word "responsibility " being used in this context. If we are talking about whether the sanctions and penalties for non-compliance will fall to the parent or the child then we are unable to answer this question as we disagree fundamentally with the thinking behind it. Young people are responsible for their own self-directed learning but they are not "responsible" for complying with an unjust undemocratic system which offers them no choice.


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19. Do you agree that if a parent of a young person is helping them to break to law, it should be possible to hold them accountable as well?

No. Since attendance at an institution/working on accredited qualifications should not be the sole criteria for determining whether someone is "being educated", we fundamentally object to "the law" being cited in this way. The Consultation Document speaks of civil offence rather than criminal offence but this question does not give that impression. Moreover the young person could be living away from home or married by this age.

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20. Is the process outlined in this chapter the right way to try to re-engage young people and enforce the requirement?

No. The answer is in the question. The Government should rather be asking itself WHY so many young people are disengaged and disaffected . The primary issue is motivation. Compulsion and extrinsic rewards and sanctions largely destroy motivation. Home educated young people engage in self-directed learning. They may or may not be working towards a recognised qualification but they are learning all the time and this quality of self-motivation is increasingly being recognised as invaluable by employers and higher education. You cannot compel this level of engagement but you can surely extinguish it by inflexible rigid proposals such as we are reading in this Consultation Document.

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21. On breach of an attendance order, should criminal sanctions be pursued, or civil/administrative ones?

Neither. We fundamentally object to the whole principle of attendance orders.

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22. Please use this space for any general comments you would like to make.

We would welcome a broadening of access to education so that all who are willing could participate. We would welcome the provision of attractive courses with funding being made available, but we would ask that this be done without compulsion and that employers are not forced to provide young people with training since this is likely to result in discrimination against young people. It should be recognised that young people are very likely to learn valuable skills simply in being given the opportunity to work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It isn't just the Harrisons

and Joy Baker who nearly lost their kids. Aspie Home Education has a link to a YouTube story of the injustices that were faced by the home educating Sibley Family. Not pretty, but thankfully that they did it and are still sticking to their principles, if not their guns. (Iris..!)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Get in Those Responses NOW!

for the DfES consultation on raising the school leaving age to 18.

The reason: from Freedom for Children to Grow

"The main thing to note is that "education" is now being defined as "attendance at school or college" and "working towards accredited qualifications".

The current proposals do not make any exceptions for home educated young people, or young people with SEN or young people who work for someone else or young people who start their own businesses. All of them will be compelled to attend school or college and follow what the Government deems to be an "appropriate course" , else they or their parents (or both!) will be subject to legal sanctions. The only concession being made at present is that young people in employment will attend 5 hours a week instead of the 16+ hours stipulated for everyone else. This is in marked contrast to how "full time education" is currently defined in
Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act as "by regular attendance at school or otherwise" and it could obviously turn out to be the thin end of the wedge."

Below is a draft template response to the DfES Consultation entitled Increasing the Leaving Age. Have Your Say, to which we should respond, along with the other consultation on the same subject here, by this Thursday (14th June). There is a draft response for the second consultation at Freedom for Children to Grow.

Please do use any bits of the following as you feel inclined.

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Increasing the Leaving Age. Have Your Say.

Consultation Questions (in red).

This questionnaire asks whether you agree or disagree with some simple statements about education. Please tick the box that best describes how you feel. Feel free to add extra comments where you want to.

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1. The Government's suggesting that from 2013 all young people will have to stay in training or education until they're 18, rather than 16 as it is now. Do you agree that this is a good idea?

DISAGREE

Answer/Comments

Compulsion in education is a very poor idea for the reason that it is not possible to pour information into the mind of a learner as you would water into a bucket. The learner's mind must be actively engaged for learning to take place. The phrase "compulsory education" is clearly meaningless for whilst someone may be forced to sit in a classroom, it does not necessarily mean that they are being educated. If a young person is not engaged in the learning process, there is no point in insisting that they continue in this situation, other than that a classroom or training situation provides an expensive minding service.

Increasing compulsion in education will not help teens to become responsible, autonomous adults since it will reduce opportunities for children to learn how best to conduct their lives. Instead such a policy risks increasing dependency, institutionalisation or sense of revolt, disaffection and boredom with learning. Threats for recalcitrant learners are likely only to alienate them further.

Nacro, The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders has stated that compulsion is not the way forward, and instead have stated that they "would like to see the positive measures, such as a broader range of educational provision, comprehensive information, advice and guidance services, and increased support for young people at risk of dropping out, introduced without the element of compulsion". http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6740701.stm

Since this organisation appears to be well placed to know what would work well for this age group, and given that for the reasons as stated above, we feel that further coercion in education is likely to be counter-productive, we firmly oppose the introduction of compulsion, whilst welcoming all attempts to broaden access to education.

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2. For young people who like hands-on work, there will be more apprenticeships, more on-the-job training plus new Diplomas that combine practical work and theory. For anyone who enjoys academic work, there will still be GCSEs and A levels, plus the International Baccalaureate. With all these choices, do you agree that there will be something for everyone?

DISAGREE

Answer/Comments

No, for example, for those who want to start a new business, or who are working on a line of research, accredited learning could well prove to be serious impediment to progress.

Or, by way of another example of those for whom the proposed system would not cater, there are children who have suffered badly in the school system, for whom yet more of the same or very similar is likely to be at least unprofitable, at worst even more damaging. Such people may need time away from the system in order to try to recover from their schooling ordeal, retrieve a sense of self, courage, hope and a belief in the possibilities open to them.

We are concerned that children are not being treated here as rounded individuals; that they are being perhaps unnecessarily pigeon-holed in the drive to enhance the economy, but without the sensitivity that would be required to genuinely make progress in this regard.

There should be less emphasis upon qualifications and regulations and the government should not be responsible for deciding upon whether or not exams are accredited or not. Employers should be capable of making appropriate judgements for themselves and much can be achieved by being flexible and open-minded. Rigid insistence upon accredited exams will foreclose upon many innovative routes into employment. It also discriminates against self-employment and entrepreneurship.

Very significantly, businesses are very likely to refuse to take on young people because they could not provide the formal training element leading to a mandatory qualification. They may even be forced to close if they cannot access a relatively cheap workforce. The problem of unemployment will therefore most likely increase for young people.

In addition, it should be clear that home education is a valid educational option.

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3a) Schools, colleges and employers can all help you decide what's the best route for you as you approach 16, and they'll help you switch if it's not working out. Do you agree that offering support and advice will help young people to choose the right course and do well in it?

DISAGREE

Answer/Comments

What if none of the options are suitable for some people? It seems that young people will be penalised if they do not attend an accredited course, and yet if they are getting little benefit from the course, the so-called education could hardly be deemed to be of use to anyone, the individual or the economy.

It would be infinitely preferable to widen access to education, to make the options attractive and fitting for the needs of the learner and the country.

Further it should be noted that parents, families, friends and the wider community should be included as sources of support and advice. Why is educational provision apparently being limited to that which would be delivered by professionals?

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3b) What do you think would help you to choose the right course and do well in it? You can tick more than one box if you like.

Taster sessions
Advice from Connexions
Advice from young people who've done the course before
Other - please specify

Answer/Comments

All these options would be better offered without the compulsion underpinning them.

It should also be noted that parents, family and friends and the community at large can be source of advice and support. Many home-educated young people have had considerable experience of the world of work since they have not been shut away from the real world in an institution for 11+ years. For institutionalised children and young people, there should be more visits to different workplaces, meeting many more people doing different jobs and learning more about different pathways to interesting and fulfilling employment beyond school and paper qualifications. Learning mentors could also be very useful here. Colleges should promote their taster sessions to include a younger age group (e.g on Saturdays) and the funding for this should be equally open to home educated children and young people. If the government is genuinely interested in engaging children in education, we wonder why has funding for this been cut in the past?

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4a) The Government's thinking about helping young people with the cost of learning. Do you agree that giving them financial support would help them stick to their course?

Not sure

Answer/Comments

Not sure. It looks like young people will be compelled to stay in education/training, why would you need to offer financial support, given that they have no choice? However, in the situation that children are not compelled, financial assistance may help some stay on in education.

4b) What kind of financial support would help? You can tick more than one box if you like.

Free transport
Money for books
Money for kit/equipment
Bonus payments for doing well on your course
Other - please specify

Answer/Comments

We checked all these but we are not convinced that any of this will be forthcoming. There should be funding for short courses/evening classes for home educated teenagers. These proposals do not address the increased costs on families on low income and the loss of potential earnings to support the family. We also wonder how home educated teens will qualify.

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5. Do you agree that you - not your parent(s) or carer(s) - should be responsible for attending school or training once you turn 16

Agree.

Answer/Comments

This should be entirely a decision for the person themselves. The individual should be the one who decides the direction of their lives, and the earlier that children can be helped to learn this skill the better. Removing autonomy from young people will only further infantalise and incapacitate them. Home educated children are often helped to make responsible decisions about the direction of their lives from a very young age. It is this model that we should be applying, rather than further reducing initiative, responsibility and autonomy. The direction of one's life should not be subject to state or parental compulsion, though both sets of people are obviously perfectly free to seek to persuade.

Home educated young people 16+ would very frequently be responsible for their own education. This does not mean that they should be penalised for "non-attendance" since they may reasonably decide that they can better educate themselves in a different and more flexible way than those suggested here.

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6a) If young people ignore the warnings they've been given and still refuse to attend, do you think it's fair to penalise them?

Disagree

Answer/Comments

Of course it isn't fair. If Britain has one of the highest "dropout rates" the Government should be looking at the reasons for this. Compulsion is not the solution. Many children who do not attend school do so because of their miserable experiences there. As many as a third of truants avoid school becuase of bullying. Does the government want to risk increasing the rate of bullycide or exam suicide? Does the government want to risk the UK coming even lower on the UN scale of measures of the well-being of children?

6b) How do you think they should be penalised? You can tick more than one box if you like.

By giving them a court order that makes them complete their courses
By taking away their driving licence
By giving them a fine
By giving them a criminal record
By stopping any financial support they're getting
Other - please specify

Answer/Comments

None of the above and nothing else either. Compulsion is rarely going to solve this problem. See answer to Question 6a.

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7. Even if you think young people are responsible for attending their courses, do you agree that there should also be penalties for parents who help their children break the law by not going to school, college or training?

Disagree

Answer/Comments

We don't think that young people are "responsible for attending their courses." What about the thing you said earlier Q. 3 a) "they'll help you switch if it's not working out" ? It now seems clear that education and training providers are acting as enforcers in this rigid inflexible system. Learning is not to do with "attending". There may be perfectly good reasons for not attending the institution for instance if you have curriculum material and access to online learning opportunities why should "attendance" be an issue ? This is another example of not thinking outside the box.

- - - - - - - - -

8. Do you have any other comments or ideas about these proposals?

Do not introduce compulsion for whilst a person may be seated in a classroom, it does not necessarily mean that they are being educated.

Instead, make courses widely available, easily accessible and attractive to learners.

- - - - - - - - - -

9. By the way, did you find this questionnaire easy to understand and fill out?

Yes.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Change One Thing

This is tricky. I want to change two things:

1. to make home education more easily accessible for all children.
2. to make public examinations more easily accessible for HEks.

If you and yours have a clear idea of what you would change if you were PM for the day, mail Every Disabled Child Matters, (which appears to be a consortium of charities), by the 22nd June and your views should appear on their website.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

HEdline News

Home Educators in Brighton and Hove are being very well served for information about both the local and the national situation, in particular with regard to the DfES consultation on Guidelines for Home Education. Great stuff Dani, Allie.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Proposed Guidelines for Elective HE

ELECTIVE HOME EDUCATION GUIDELINES FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Contents

Part 1 1.1 Introduction
1.4 Reasons for Elective Home Education
Part 2 2.1 The law relating to Elective Home Education
2.4 Parental rights and responsibilities
2.5 Local authorities’ responsibilities
Part 3 3.1 Clear policies and procedures
3.4 Contact with the local authority
3.8 De-registration from school
3.11 Providing a full-time education
3.15 Children with special educational needs
Part 4 4.1 Developing relationships
4.3 Acknowledging diversity
4.5 Providing information for parents
4.7 Contact with parents and children
4.9 Child protection
4.11 Reviewing policies and procedures
Part 5 5.1 Support and resources
5.3 The National Curriculum
5.5 Connexions Service 5.6 Flexi-schooling
5.7 Local authorities’ role in supporting work experience
5.9 Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
5.10 Truancy Sweeps
5.11 Traveller Children Annex A Qualifications options Annex B Useful contacts


ELECTIVE HOME EDUCATION GUIDELINES FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Part 1

Introduction

1.1 Elective home education is the term used by DfES to describe parents’ decisions to provide education for their children at home instead of sending them to school. This is different to home tuition provided by a local authority or education provided by a local authority other than at a school. These guidelines are intended for use in relation to elective home education only. Throughout these guidelines, ‘parents’ should be taken to include all those with parental responsibility, including guardians and carers.

1.2 Children whose parents elect to educate them at home are not registered full-time at mainstream schools, special schools, independent schools, Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), colleges, children’s homes with education facilities or education facilities provided by independent fostering agencies. Parents may choose to engage private tutors or other adults to assist them in providing a broad education and learning may take place in a variety of locations, not just in the family home.

1.3 The purpose of these guidelines is to support local authorities in carrying out their statutory responsibilities and to encourage good practice by clearly setting out the legislative position, and the roles and responsibilities of local authorities and parents in relation to children who are educated at home.

Reasons for Elective Home Education

1.4 Parents may choose home based education for various reasons. The authority’s primary interest should lie in the suitability of parents’ education provision and not their reason for doing so. The following reasons for home-educating are common but by no means exhaustive:

Distance or access to a local school
Religious or cultural beliefs
Philosophical or ideological views
Dissatisfaction with the system
Bullying
As a short term intervention for a particular reason
A child’s unwillingness or inability to go to school
Special educational needs
Parents’ desire for a closer relationship with their children

Part 2

The law relating to Elective Home Education

2.1 The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. In England, education is compulsory, but schooling is not.

Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that:

“No person shall be denied the right to education. 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.”

This right is enshrined in English law. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that:

“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable-

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) to any special educational needs he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”

2.3 The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. An “efficient” and “suitable” education is not defined in the Education Act 1996 but “efficient” has been broadly described as an education that “achieves that which it sets out to achieve”, and a “suitable” education is one that “primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so”.

Parental rights and responsibilities

2.4 Parents may decide to exercise their right to home-educate their child from a very early age and so the child may not have been previously enrolled at school. They may also elect to home educate at any other stage up to the end of compulsory school age. Parents are not required to register or seek approval from the local authority to educate their children at home. Parents who choose to educate their children at home must assume full financial responsibility, including bearing the cost of any public examinations. They must also ensure that their children receive suitable full-time education for as long as they are being educated at home.


Local authorities’ responsibilities

2.5 Local authorities should provide written information about home education that is clear, accurate and sets out the legal position, roles and responsibilities. This information should be made available on local authority websites and in local community languages on request. Local authorities should recognise that there are many approaches to educational provision, not just a “school at home” model. What is suitable for one child may not be for another, but all children should make reasonable progress.

2.6 Local authorities have a new duty under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 to identify, as far as is possible, children who are missing, or in danger of missing, education. The duty applies in relation to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, and who are not receiving a suitable education otherwise than being at school (for example, at home, privately, or in alternative provision). The guidance issued makes it clear that the duty does not apply to children who are being educated at home.

2.7 Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis. However, under Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996, local authorities can intervene if they have good reason to believe that parents are not providing a suitable education. This section states that:

“If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.”

Section 437(2) of the Act provides that the period shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.

2.8 The most obvious course of action if such a concern were raised would be to ask parents for information about the education they are providing. Such a request is not the same as a notice under s 437(1). Parents are under no duty to comply, but it would be sensible for them to do so.

2.9 Section 437(3) refers to the serving of School Attendance Orders:

“If –
(a) a parent on whom a notice has been served under subsection (1) fails to satisfy the local education authority, within the period specified in the notice, that the child is receiving suitable education, and

(b) in the opinion of the authority it is expedient that the child should attend school,

the authority shall serve on the parent an order (referred to in this Act as a "school attendance order"), in such form as may be prescribed, requiring him to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order.”

2.10 A School Attendance Order should be served as a last resort, after all reasonable steps have been taken to try to resolve the situation. At any stage following the issue of the Order, parents may present evidence to the local authority, or the court, that they are now providing an appropriate education and apply to have the Order revoked. It will be for a court to decide whether or not the education being provided is suitable and efficient. Detailed information about School Attendance Orders is contained in Ensuring Regular School Attendance paragraphs 6 to 16,.

2.11 Local authorities also have a duty under Section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This section states:

“A local education authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that the functions conferred upon them in their capacity as a local education authority are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.”

Section 175(1) does not extend local authorities’ functions. It does not, for example, give local authorities powers to enter the homes of, or otherwise see, children for the purposes of monitoring the provision of elective home education.

Part 3

Clear policies and procedures

3.1 The Department recommends that each local authority should have a written policy statement on home-educated children and their families, and be willing and able to provide guidance for parents and carers who request it. Local authorities should regularly review their home education policies and organise training on the law and home education methods for all their officers who have contact with home educating families.

3.2 All parties involved in home education should be aware of their roles, rights and responsibilities. LA policies should be clear, transparent and easily accessible. Any procedures for dealing with home-educating parents and children should be fair, clear, consistent, non-intrusive and timely, in order to provide a good foundation for the development of trusting relationships.

3.3 The Department recommends that each local authority should have a named senior officer with responsibility for elective home education policy and procedures.

Contact with the local authority

3.4 Many home educating parents welcome regular contact with the local authority as an opportunity to reaffirm their provision. However, where parents do not want any involvement with the local authority, the LA should not automatically assume that there is a problem which needs investigating. Instead, the LA should take a risk-based approach, taking into consideration the individual and community’s circumstances. As one example, recent research shows that “few Gypsy/Roma and Traveller parents have the knowledge, skills and resources to provide or deliver a full-time education that is efficient and suitable”. We do know that there will be Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children who do receive a good education at home. Those monitoring elective home education should seek advice from Traveller Education Support Services before engaging with parents from these communities

3.5 If information exists which may cast doubt on whether an “efficient and suitable education” can be provided, the local authority should seek to gather any relevant information that will assist them in reaching a properly informed judgement. This should include seeking from the parents any further information that they wish to provide explaining how they are providing a suitable education. Parents should be given the opportunity to address any specific concerns that the authority has. The child should also be given the opportunity, but not required, to attend any meeting that may be arranged or express his or her views in some other way.

3.6 If there are any reasonable concerns, a local authority may wish to contact parents to discuss their ongoing home education provision. Contact should normally be made by writing to the parents to request an updated report or seek a meeting. A written report should be made after such contact and copied to the parents stating whether the authority has any concerns about the education provision. Where there are concerns about the efficiency or suitability of the education being provided for the child, more frequent contact may be required. Where concerns merit frequent contact, the authority should discuss these concerns with the child’s parents, with a view to helping them improve their provision in the best interests of the child.

3.7 Many parents welcome the opportunity to discuss the provision that they are making for the child’s education during a home visit but parents are not legally required to give the local authority access to their home. They may, choose to meet a local authority representative at a mutually convenient and neutral location instead or choose not to meet at all. If they choose not to meet, they will need to provide evidence that they are providing an efficient and suitable education. Parents might, for example:

write a report;
provide samples of work;
invite a local authority advisor/consultant to their home, with or without the child being present; or
meet a local authority advisor/consultant elsewhere, with or without the child.

De-registration from school

3.8 First contact between local authorities and home educators often occurs when parents decide to home educate and approach the school (at which the child is registered) and/or the authority to seek guidance about withdrawing their child from school. It is important that this initial contact is constructive and positive.

3.9 De-registration of a child from a school is covered by section 9(1)(c) of the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995. Parents who wish to home-educate a child who is registered at a maintained school or an independent school must inform the school formally, in writing, of their intention to de-register. The school must delete the child's name from their register upon receipt of written notification from the parents and make a return (giving the child's name and address) to the local authority within 10 school days of removal. Local authorities may encourage parents to inform them direct, but have no legal right to insist that they do so.

3.10 Local authorities should bear in mind that, in the early stages, parents’ proposals may not be detailed and they may not yet be in a position to demonstrate all the characteristics of an “efficient and suitable” educational provision. In such cases, a reasonable timescale should be agreed for the parents to submit their proposals.

Providing a full-time education

3.11 Parents are required to provide an efficient education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child. There is currently no legal definition of “full-time”. Children normally attend school for between 22 and 25 hours a week for 39 weeks of the year, but this measurement of ‘contact time’ is not relevant to home education where there is often almost continuous one-to-one contact and education may take place outside normal ‘school hours’. The type of educational activity can be varied and flexible. Home-educating parents are not required to:

teach the National Curriculum
have a timetable
have premises equipped to any particular standard
set hours during which education will take place
have any specific qualifications
make detailed plans in advance
observe school hours, days or terms
give formal lessons
reproduce school type peer group socialisation
match school, age-specific standards.

However, local authorities should offer advice and support to parents on these matters if requested.

3.12 It is important to recognise that there are many, equally valid, approaches to educational provision. Local authorities should therefore consider a wide range of information from home educating parents, in a range of formats. The information may be in the form of specific examples of learning e.g. pictures/paintings/models, diaries of work, projects, assessments, samples of work, books, educational visits etc.

3.13 In their consideration of parents’ provision of education at home, local authorities may reasonably expect the provision to include the following characteristics:

consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers – it is expected that parents or significant carers would play a substantial role, although not necessarily constantly or actively involved in providing education
recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations
opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child – such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and crafts materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and other adults.

3.14 If, on considering the educational provision, one or more of the above characteristics appear to be lacking, local authorities may choose to further investigate whether or not an efficient and suitable education is, in fact, being provided. A full written report of the findings should be made and copied to the parents promptly, specifying the grounds for concern and any reasons for concluding that provision is unsuitable. If the authority is not satisfied that efficient education is being provided, and the parents, having been given a reasonable opportunity to improve their provision and report back to the authority, have not done so, the authority should consider serving a School Attendance Order (see section 2.7).

Children with Special Educational Needs

3.15 Parents' right to educate their child at home applies equally where a child has special educational needs. Some children with special educational needs are statemented but others are not. Where a child has a statement of special educational needs and is home-educated, it remains the local authority’s duty to ensure that the child's needs are met. The statement must remain in force and the authority must ensure that parents can make suitable provision, including provision for the child's SEN.

3.16 If the parents’ arrangements are suitable, the authority is relieved of its duty to arrange the provision specified in the statement. However, if the parents' attempt to educate the child at home results in provision that falls short of meeting the child's needs, then the parents are not making 'suitable arrangements' and the authority could not conclude that they were absolved of their responsibility to arrange the provision in the statement.

3.17 Even if the local authority is satisfied, it remains under a duty to maintain the statement and review it annually, following procedures set out in Chapter 9 of the SEN Code of Practice. Where the authority is satisfied that the child's parents have made suitable arrangements it does not have to name a school in part 4 of the child's statement, though it should state the type of school it considers appropriate and that "parents have made their own arrangements under section 7 of the Education Act 1996".

3.18 The statement can also specify any provision that the local authority has agreed to make under section 319 to help parents to provide suitable education for their child at home. If the child to be de-registered is a pupil at a special school, the school must inform the local authority before the child's name can be deleted from the school roll and the authority will need to consider whether the home education is suitable before amending part 4 of the child's statement.

3.19 A parent who is educating their child at home may ask the local authority to carry out a statutory assessment of their child's special educational needs and the local authority must consider the request within the same statutory timescales and in the same way as for all other requests. The views of the designated medical officer for SEN should be sought by the local authority where a child with a statement is educated at home because of difficulties related to health needs or a disability.
Part 4

Developing relationships

4.1 As noted in the Introduction to these guidelines, the central aim of this document is to assist local authorities and home educators to build effective relationships that function to safeguard the educational interests of children and young people; relationships that are rooted in mutual understanding, trust and respect. The guidelines outline a number of recommendations that are geared towards the promotion of such relationships.

4.2 Whilst there is no current legal obligation on education authorities or home educators to develop such relationships, doing so will often provide parents with access to any support that is available and allow authorities to better understand parents’ educational provision and preferences. A positive relationship will also provide a sound basis if the authority is required to investigate assertions from any source that an efficient and suitable education is not being provided. This will be true whether or not parents are required to demonstrate that suitable home-education provision is being made available.

Acknowledging diversity

4.3 Parents’ educational provision will reflect a diversity of approaches and interests. Some parents, especially those who have other children attending school, may wish to provide education in a formal and structured manner, following a traditional curriculum and using a fixed timetable that keeps to school hours and terms. Other parents may decide to make more informal provision that is responsive to the developing interests of their child. One approach is not necessarily any more efficient or effective than another. Although some parents may welcome general advice and suggestions about resources, methods and materials, LAs should not specify a curriculum which parents must follow.

4.4 Children learn in different ways and at different times and speeds. It should be appreciated that parents and their children might require a period of adjustment before finding their preferred mode of learning. Parents are not required to have any qualifications or training to provide their children with an appropriate education. Their commitment to providing an efficient education that is suitable for their child may be demonstrated by them providing some indication of their objectives and resources (see paragraphs 3.12 to 3.15).

Providing information for parents

4.5 The provision of clear information has an important role to play in the promotion of positive relationships. LAs should provide written information and website links for home-educating parents that is clear and accurate and which sets out the legal position, and roles and responsibilities, in an unambiguous way. We also recommend that contact details for home education support organisations should be provided. A selection of these is included in Part 5. All written information should be made available to parents in community languages and alternative formats on request.

4.6 As noted as paragraph 3.3 we recommend that LAs should, if the parents wish, provide parents who are, or who are considering, home-educating with a named contact within the authority who is familiar with home education policy and practice and has an understanding of a range of educational philosophies. If the authority has cause to invite the parents to meet with a named education authority, any such meeting should take place at a mutually acceptable location and the child concerned should also be given the opportunity to attend that meeting, or otherwise to express his or her views. Either during such a meeting, or otherwise, the parents and the authority should consider and agree what future contact there will be between them.

Contact with parents and children

4.7 Local authorities should acknowledge that learning takes place in a wide variety of environments and not only in the home. Some parents are happy for the local authority to have the opportunity to see the child in their learning environment, to enable them to see the provision at first hand. Seeing the child responding to the educational provision of the parents may provide a strong indication that an efficient and suitable education is indeed being provided. The authority does not, however, have a legal right of access to the home and the matter should not be forced.

4.8 Where a parent elects not to allow access to their home or their child, this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the education provision being made. Although it is recognised that the learning environment can have a bearing on the effectiveness of learning, LAs should, in the vast majority of cases, be able to discuss and evaluate the parents’ educational provision by alternative means. Parents might prefer, for example, to write a report, provide samples of work, have their educational provision endorsed by a third party (such as an independent home tutor) or provide evidence in some other appropriate form.

Child protection

4.9 The welfare and protection of all children, both those who attend school and those who are educated by other means, are of paramount concern and the responsibility of the whole community. As with school-educated children, child protection issues may arise in relation to home-educated children. If any child protection concerns come to light in the course of engagement with children and families, or otherwise, these concerns should immediately be referred to the appropriate authorities using established protocols.

4.10 Parents may choose to employ other people to educate their child, though they themselves will continue to be responsible for the education provided. They will also be responsible for ensuring that those whom they engage are suitable persons to have access to children. Parents will therefore wish to satisfy themselves by taking up appropriate references. A small number of LAs choose to assist home-educating parents in this task by undertaking Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks free of charge, for example, on independent home tutors. Tutors employed by an LA may also undertake work for home-educating parents, in which case, CRB checks ought to have been made already.

Reviewing policies and procedures

4.11 Authorities will wish to review all of their procedures and practices in relation to home education on a regular basis to see if improvements can be made to further develop relationships and meet the needs of children and parents. Home education organisations and home-educating parents should be involved in this process of review. Effective reviews, together with the sensitive handling of any complaints, will help to secure effective partnership.

4.12 Local authorities will also wish to bear in mind that Ofsted will report on the way local authorities cater for home-educating families within their areas.


Part 5

Support and resources

5.1 When parents elect to home-educate their children they assume financial responsibility for their children’s education. There are a number of sources of advice and practical assistance available to such parents. The Department for Education and Skills provides an information sheet for parents on elective home education, available from the Department's website at: http://www.parentcentre.gov.uk/" .

5.2 Local authorities do not receive funding to support home educated families, and the level of support will therefore vary between one LA and another. However, we recommend that all LAs should adopt a reasonable and flexible approach in this respect, particularly where there are minimal resource implications. As a minimum, LAs should provide written information (which is also available through the internet) on home education that is clear and accurate and which sets out the legal position (see previous paragraphs 4.5-4.6). Some LAs may also be able to offer additional support to home educating parents, but this will vary depending on their resources. Examples of additional support include:

Provision of a reading or lending library with resources for use with the children, on home schooling and related topics
Free, or discounted, admission into community programmes (including local authority owned community and sports facilities)
Access to resource centres (including local school resources where feasible)
National Curriculum materials and curricula offered by other educational institutions
Information about educational visits and work experience

The National Curriculum

5.3 Although home-educated children are not required to follow the National Curriculum a number do. National Curriculum tests and assessment arrangements are developed and administered by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) on behalf of the Secretary of State. Information to support these arrangements is provided both electronically and in hard copy through the QCA's website at http://www.qca.org.uk/ or by telephoning their publications office on 01787 884 444.

5.4 In addition, the DfES's website at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/ will allow access to the National Curriculum and associated schemes of work, aimed at setting standards across all schools. Some documents are also distributed via Departmental publications which can be accessed through links on The Stationery Office site athttp://www.the-stationery-office.co.uk or by telephoning Prolog on 0845 602 2260.

Connexions Service

5.5 The Connexions Service is for children and young people aged 13-19 years living in England (see http://www.connexions.gov.uk/). Its services and responsibilities cover children and young people who are being educated at home. The LA is a key partner in a local Connexions Partnership and each must review how it will bring coherence to the different services and agencies within the area. The Connexions Service needs to maintain an overview of the learning and work status of all young people of a relevant age and ensure that individuals do not fall between the responsibilities and remit of different agencies and thus become marginalized or lost to the system. LAs may be asked (as partners of Connexions) to provide details of children and young people being home educated; the Learning and Skills Act 2000 gives powers for various partners to share information with Connexions, subject to normal data protection principles.

Flexi-schooling

5.6 “Flexi-schooling” or “flexible school attendance” is an arrangement between the parent and the school where the child is registered at school in the normal way but where the child attends the school only part time; the rest of the time the child is home-educated (effectively on authorised absence from school). This is sometimes done as a short term measure for a particular reason. "Flexi-schooling" is a legal option provided that the head teacher at the school concerned agrees to the arrangement.

Local authorities’ role in supporting work experience

5.7 Work experience is not a statutory requirement. However, the Government’s objective is for all Key Stage 4 pupils to undertake work experience in the last two years of compulsory schooling. Over 95% of Key Stage 4 pupils go on placements each year. The law relating to the employment of children generally places statutory restrictions and prohibitions on employers in this regard. But where the employment is in accordance with arrangements made by an LA or a governing body these restrictions will generally not apply where the work experience is arranged only with a view to providing pupils with work experience as part of their education in their last two years of compulsory schooling.

5.8 Children educated at home have no entitlement to participate in work experience under arrangements made by an LA but we wish to encourage LAs to assist the parents of such children who wish to do so to pursue work experience through such arrangements. Where home-educated children do participate in such schemes, consideration should be given to the extent to which such children are covered by, for example, insurance provision.

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
5.9 Education Maintenance Allowance is a means-tested grant available to learners over the age of 16, if they stay on in education at school or college after GCSEs. It is not available to learners whose parents elect to educate them at home after the age of sixteen.
Truancy Sweeps

5.10 When planning and running truancy sweeps, LAs should refer to the DfES "Truancy sweeps: Effective practice and advice" which is available at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/schoolattendance/truancysweeps" . This includes a section on children who are educated outside the school system. Those taking part in the sweeps, including police officers, should be fully familiar with this guidance and be aware that there is a range of valid reasons why school-age children may be out of school.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children

5.11 LAs should be sensitive to the distinct ethos and needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities. When a GRT family with children of school age move into an area they are strongly encouraged to contact the local Traveller Education Support Service for assistance. Most LAs provide such a support service. Further guidance can be obtained from the DfES Guide to Good Practice on the education of GRT children – “Aiming High: Raising the Achievement of Gypsy Traveller Pupils” which can be obtained from DfES Publications (reference DfES/0443/2003). Another (external) source of information is http://www.gypsy-traveller.org/education/.



Annex A

Qualifications options

The following information sets out some of the options available to home-educating families who wish to provide opportunities for their children to study for recognised qualifications. This is not an exhaustive list, but sets out the main options available and provides contact details for relevant organisations. Please note that the following information is also liable to change from time to time.

Enrolment at a Further Education College

Some colleges may, at the discretion of the Principal, be willing to accept children of school age for full and part-time courses. This approach has the advantage that all the work and entry for qualifications is organised by the college, but it does require at least some attendance at classes which will not appeal to all home-educating families. If a student enrols at a FE college, their parents will normally be liable to pay all of the course fees themselves unless the education authority or the Learning and Skills Council are willing to provide funding. Colleges also have the discretion to waive fees, which they may do for low income families.

Self-Study

Many home educating families prefer not to enrol for attendance at a further education college but choose instead to work independently towards recognised qualifications. Because of compulsory internal assessment components, there are many subjects and qualifications which are not available to external candidates unless an appropriate arrangement can be made with an approved centre which meets with the examining board’s requirements. Some centres and examining boards may be willing to accept coursework which has been marked and authenticated by a private tutor. Thus, families who study for qualifications from home will need to:

contact the relevant examination board to find out about their requirements;
register with an approved centre for their child to be presented for the qualification; and
pay a registration fee for each subject their child will take.

It may also be possible for a group of home educators to consider seeking approved status in their own right.

Correspondence Courses

Correspondence courses can be an option for students who prefer to work independently, though they will be required in most cases to follow a structured curriculum and programme of work. Correspondence courses offer a wide range of qualifications at different levels and the organisations offering these courses will advise about arrangements which need to be made for registering with an examination centre and for marking and authenticating coursework. The cost of this option varies depending on the organisation and the qualification chosen, but can prove expensive.

There are an increasing number of organisations offering open and distance learning courses. The following contacts provide a useful start in finding a suitable course and organisation:

The Open and Distance Learning Quality Council (ODLQC) is an independent body which accredits open and distance learning courses. The ODLQC produces a free information leaflet which lists all approved organisations and their courses. Contact:

16 Park Crescent, London, W1B 1AH
Tel: 020 7612 7090 Fax: 020 7612 7092.
Website: http://www.odlqc.org.uk/
E-mail: mailto:info@odlqc.org.uk

The Association of British Correspondence Colleges (ABCC) is a voluntary association of colleges which comply with a code of ethics. Contact:

PO Box 17926, London SW19 3WB
Tel: 020 8544 9559 Fax: 020 8540 7657.
Website: http://www.nationline.co.uk/abcc
Email: mailto:abcc@msn.com"

The British Association for Open Learning (BAOL) promotes quality and best practice in open, flexible and distance forms of learning. BAOL members work to a code of practice for open learning and are listed on the BAOL website. Contact:

Suite 12, Pixmore House, Pixmore Avenue, Letchworth, Hertfordshire, SG6 1JG
Tel: 01462 485 588 Fax: 01462 485 633
Website: http://www.british-learning.com/"
Email: mailto:info@british-learning.com


Alternative qualifications

The internal assessment component of many UK qualification courses such as Standard Grades, National Qualifications and GCSEs can restrict the choice available to home educated students. The following qualifications have, however, been identified as particularly suited to home study students as they are not dependent on internal assessment and moderation.

International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE)

The International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) provides a graduated series of certificates, ranging from the equivalent of lower tier GCSE examinations (grades D-G) to A2 examinations. Examinations are conducted at home under the supervision of parents, but the Board has strict moderation procedures to ensure the validity of results.

Contact: The European Academy for Christian Homeschooling (TEACH)
Marantha House, Unit 5, Northford Close, Shrivenham, Swindon,
Wiltshire, SN6 8HL
Tel: 01793 783783 Fax: 01793 783775
Website: http://www.christian-education.org/
Email: mailto:admin@ncscboard.org.uk or mailto:cee@christian-education.org


Examining boards

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA)

The AQA is one of three unitary examining bodies in England incorporating the now merged Associated Examining Board and the Northern Examinations and Assessment Board. The AQA also has responsibility for the City and Guilds' GNVQ qualification.

Contact: AQA, Devas Street, Manchester, M15 6EX
Tel: 0161 953 1180 Fax: 0161 273 7572
Website: http://www.aqa.org.uk/
Email: mailto:mailbox@aqa.org.uk"

Oxford Cambridge & RSA (OCR)

OCR is one of three unitary examining bodies in England incorporating the RSA (Royal Society of Arts), UCLES (University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate), and MEG (Midland Examining Group).

Contact: OCR Information Bureau, General Qualifications:
1 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB1 2EU
Website: http://www.ocr.org.uk/
Tel: 01223 553998 Fax: 01223 552627
Email: mailto:helpdesk@ocr.org.uk"

OCR Information Bureau, Vocational Qualifications:
Progress House, Westwood Way, Coventry, CV4 8JQ
Tel: 024 7647 0033
Fax: 024 7646 8080
Email: mailto:cib@ocr.org.uk

Edexcel

Edexcel was formed in 1996 by the merger of BTEC and the University of London
Examinations and Assessment Council (ULEAC). Edexcel is one of the main examination boards for England and Wales.

Contact: Edexcel, Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5DN
Tel: 0870 240 9800 Fax: 020 7758 6920
Website: http://www.edexcel.org.uk/
Email: mailto:enquiries@edexcel.org.uk

Annex B
Useful contacts

Education Otherwise Association Limited

Nationwide charity for home education information and support. Subscription of £20 also entitles members to receive a handbook, UK and overseas contact list and bi-monthly newsletter, access to further resources, special interest and local groups and national gatherings

Address: PO Box 7420
London
N9 9SG

Website: http://www.education-otherwise.org/"
mail: mailto:enquiries@education.otherwise.org"
Helpline: 0870 7300 074


Home Education Advisory Service
HEAS produces a range of publications and leaflets on different aspects of home education. Annual subscription (currently £13.50) gives access to the Advice-line, quarterly magazine, card for educational discounts, resources for loan and a regional list of other subscribers.

Address: P.O. Box 98
Welwyn Garden City
Hertfordshire
AL8 6AN

Website: http://www.heas.org.uk/"
E-mail: mailto:enquiries@heas.org.uk"
Helpline: 01707 371854

Home Education UK

Website: http://www.home-education.org.uk/

Home Education Resources

Website: http://www.home-education-resources.org.uk/

The Home Service – a national Christian home education group

Website: http://www.home-service.org/

Christian Home School

Website: http://www.homeschool.co.uk/"

Muddle Puddle – an independent site focusing on learning for 0-8 year olds

Website: http://www.muddlepuddle.co.uk/"

Advisory Centre for Education

Website: http://www.ace-ed.org.uk/"


DfES related links:

Education of Sick Children
http://www.dfes.gov.uk/sickchildren
http://www.dfes.gov.uk/mentalhealth

Ethnic Minority Achievement Project
http://www.standards.gov.uk/ethnicminorities

Exclusions and Alternative Provision
http://www.dfes.gov.uk/exclusions

Looked After Children
http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/socialcare/lookedafterchildren

Questions for Consultation


1. Do you agree that it is helpful for the DfES to issue guidelines to local authorities?

2. Do you agree that the description of the law (paragraphs 2.1-2.3) relating to elective home education is accurate and clear?

3. Do you agree that the description of local authorities’ responsibilities (paragraphs 2.5-2.11) is accurate and helpful?

4. Do you agree that the section on contact with the local authority (paragraphs 3.4-3.7) is accurate and helpful?

5. Do you agree that the section on providing a full-time education (paragraphs 3.11-3.14) – and in particular, the characteristics of provision (paragraph 3.13) – is accurate and helpful?

6. Do you agree that the section on developing relationships (section 4) is useful?

7a. Are the suggested resources in section 5 and appendix 2 useful?

7b. Should any other contacts be included?

Please use this space for any other comments you wish to make about the guidance

Mr Justice Woolf in the case of R v Secretary of State for Education and Science, ex parte Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School Trust (12 April 1985)
Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities in England to Identify Children not Receiving Education available at http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/ete/childrenmissingeducation/.


Phillips v Brown (1980)
Available at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/schoolattendance/prosecutions/index.cfm

The situation regarding the current policy, provision and practice in Elective Home Education for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children, Ivatts, 2006.
Section 324(4a) of the Education Act 1996 “does not require the name of a school or institution to be specified [in a child’s statement] if the child’s parent has made suitable arrangements”.
Working Together to Safeguard Children, Home Office, Department of Health, DfES & Welsh Office, 1999.
see section 560 of the Education Act 1996, as amended by section 112 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998