Whilst the current version of Elective Home Education Guidelines appear to demonstrate that the DCSF took representation from home educators at least partially seriously, HEors are nonetheless very well aware that there is plenty of ambiguity in the writing which would allow for serious abuse of HE families by local authorities. Members of Action for Home Education have already let it be known that the guidelines are considered unfit for purpose and have asked that home educators report incidences of abuse by LAs to the HE community, not only so that individual families may be supported, but so that such incidences may be used as yet further proof that the guidelines need, in many areas, to be rewritten much more precisely. Check out Barbara's comment here.
It would be extremely optimistic to hope that Local Authorities will stop abusing home educating families as a result of these new guidelines, particularly when you consider the angles that many of them took in their responses to the consultation on the creation of guidelines. The latest catalogue of errors comes to us courtesy of Notts LA. Take these gems by way of some examples:
"Lead officers of Nottinghamshire Local Authority believe that the draft guidance represents a missed opportunity to draw upon the Every Child Matters framework which sets out the criteria by which ALL children’s well being should be measured (whatever their background or their circumstances).There is no reference to this major piece of legislation which requires that children should be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and, in due course, experience economic well being."
Honestly, where does one start! And how could you, in your right mind, be happy to let someone into your home who appears to think that they have such power over your lives and who demonstrates such a woeful understanding of the law of the land.
Anyhoo...let's have a go at picking it apart. For starters, where, oh where in the Children Act 2004 does it say that all children have to be measured? And if it does say this (and I have somehow developed a previously unknown form of partial sightedness), where does it say who should do the measuring? And who sets the standards for passable well being? And how does anyone suppose that they should monitor for such a subjective criteria? And where in the Children Act is it a requirement that all children must achieve this or that standard? As most of us read it, these were objectives, not requirements. And if all of these outcomes are really requirements, which it is up to the LA to measure and to cater for, how on earth can they account for stories such as this one.
Are you still with me? I don't blame you if you aren't. Critiquing gobbledygook is a mind f**k. Sadly there is a lot more where that came from, eg:
"It would be helpful if home education support groups would also advise parents that the involvement of the Local Authority as a partner in their child’s education is nothing to be feared."
"Under the draft guidance, the Local Authority remains vulnerable if the child later accuses the LA of negligence in failing to ensure their educational needs were effectively met. Although this has not yet happened there is an increasing culture of litigation in society as a whole and it is reasonable to assume that this could happen in the future. "
Well, if LAs really are going to be responsible for the education and welfare of every child in the land as Notts LA would seemingly have it, then they sure will be in BIIIIGGGG trouble. Take the story of Ben for example.