Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dorset's Response to the LA Questionnaire

Name of LA

Q4 Would you be willing to take part in the next phase of the research in February/March (including in-depth interviews with key personnel in your organisation)?

yes

no

Q5 Which team(s) have the main responsibility for supporting and monitoring home educated children within the local authority and other agencies?

Q6 List all teams / professionals involved in supporting home educating families

Q7 List all teams / professionals involved in monitoring home educating families.

Q8 Describe how you ensure collaboration and communication between these teams / individuals

Data and Tracking

Q9 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of primary age (Registered with LA)

Q10 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of primary age (Non-registered with LA)

Q11 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of secondary age (Registered with LA)

Q12 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of secondary age (Non-registered with LA)

Q13 Total (Registered with LA)

Q14 Total (Non-registered with LA)

Q15 Are these figures accurate or based on estimates?

Accurate

Estimate

Q16 If accurate, where do you get this data from?

Q17 If accurate, how do you know the data is accurate?

Q18 If estimated, what data have you used to arrive at this figure? (List all sources)

We only know about those children whose parents choose to register with us and those withdrawn from school. As there is no requirement to register with the Local Authority there are likely to be many more we do not know about.

Q19 How confident is the local authority in the accuracy of this data?

Very confident

Fairly confident

Don't know

Not very confident

Not at all confident

Q20 How often does the local authority get updated data? (List frequency for each source separately)

Q21 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is statemented for SEN? (please state whether accurate or estimate)

Q22 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is non-statemented for SEN (please state whether accurate or estimate)

Q23 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller heritage (please state whether accurate or estimate)

Q24 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is made up of other Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups

Q25 Please list which BME groups.

Q26 Do you believe the local authority knows about all the home educated children in your area?

Yes, we are confident we know about all home educated children in the area

We think we know about the vast majority of home educated children in the area

We probably do not know about a fair number of home educated children in the area

We probably do not know about a significant proportion of home educated children in the area

Q27 Do you think that you will be better able to track children in your area in the near future? e.g. planned changes to your own systems, ContactPoint, other system improvements?

yes

no

Q28 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

ContactPoint may assist but unless parents have to register by law, we can never be fully confident knowing about all EHE children in Dorset

Supporting Home Educating Families

Q29 How does the local authority ensure families know about their rights and responsibilities in relation to home education? (List all approaches used)

Dorset County Council website;

Advice and information from Education Social Work and Attendance Service;

Direct contact with EHE team.

Q30 What support does your local authority provide to home educating families? (List all forms of support offered)

Q31 How does the local authority let families know about the services provided to support them in home educating their children? (List all approaches used)

Assessment and Monitoring

Q32 Following the initial assessment visit, are further monitoring visits made to a home educated child?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q33 If yes, how often, on average, are these carried out?

More than twice a year

Twice a year

Once a year

Less than once a year



Q34 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Twice a year in the first year of home education, thereafter on an annual basis. Visits can be carried out more frequently if requested or if education provided is unsatisfactory.

Q35 On average, how often is the child seen when a visit is made?

Always, at each visit

Usually, but not always

Sometimes

Never

Depends on the child / circumstances


Q36 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Q37 If the child is seen, where is s/he usually seen?

In the home

At the home, but do not go inside

Another venue

Depends on the child / circumstances

Q38 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Q39 If you are not permitted access to a child, is any further action taken?

Yes

No


Don't know


Q40 If yes, what further steps are taken?

Unless we have child protection concerns, we have no legal right to insist, although we try to ensure the child is seen if possible.

Q41 How is the suitability of the education provided to the child assessed? (Please describe)

Seeing and discussing with the parents and child and looking at samples of work (if available) and any work planned.

Q42 Is the local authority clear about what the definition of a 'suitable education' is?

yes

no

Q43 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Q44 Does the local authority have systems in place to track the educational progress of home educated children?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q45 Please use this space to add further detail to the answer you have just given

By regular visits and reports by EHE inspectors (we try to use the same inspector for visits to the same family)

Q46 Of the home educated children in your area of whom you have knowledge, what proportion (as a percentage) in your estimation is receiving a suitable, full time (20hrs a week) education? (Please describe)

Q47 Does the local authority take any further steps if a home educated child's education was found to be unsuitable or not full time?

Yes

No

Don't

Q48 Please use this space to add further detail to the answer you have just given

We would advise the parent on areas for improvement and give them time to implement these changes. But if the education continues to be unsuitable we would issue a school attendance order.

Q49 Does the local authority face any challenges in assessing whether home educated children receive a suitable education?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q50 If you answered yes to Q49, please describe the challenges and what you think could be done to overcome these

The lack of definition in law of what is "suitable, efficient and full time".

The fact that parents are not required to inform the Local Authority they are home educating.

There is no legal right for us to see the child.

Q51 Thinking about your local area, in the last five years, how many cases have you come across that use the premise of home education as a 'cover' for child abuse, forced marriage or other aspects of child neglect?

Q52 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given. Please include the number of Serious Case Reviews you know about that have a home education element.

Although it is hard to say whether home education has been used as a "cover", there have been some cases where a home educated child is placed at increased risk. We have not had any Serious Case Reviews on home educated children.

Q53 Do you think the current system for safeguarding children who are educated at home is adequate?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q54 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

We have no right to see a child. There are probably home educated children we do not know about. Some home educated children are vulnerable because of difficult/worrying home circumstances eg parental mental health problems.

Q55 Do you think that home educated children in your local authority are able to achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes? Please say why you think that for each of the five outcomes

Depending on the home circumstances and the quality of the education delivered, the majority are able to achieve the five ECM outcomes. Some because of family circumstances may not achieve all 5 outcomes.

Q56 Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for supporting home educating families?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q57 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Q58 Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for monitoring home educating families and ensuring that home educated children are able to achieve the five outcomes?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q59 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Declaration

Q60 Has the Director of Children's Services and the Lead Member for Children and Young People seen and agreed with the answers you have given above?

DCS

Lead member

Their point seems to be that they dutifully uphold the law but their hands are tied because the law is rubbish, and even though there has never been a Serious Case Review involving an EHE family there have been cases where an EHE child has been "placed at increased risk" and the law needs changing so that EHE children can be "safeguarded".
Same old same old.
It's in macro format with little scrolly boxes, so not sure how it'll copy and paste, but here goes:

Name of LA

Q2 Tel. No of main contact

Q3 E-mail of main contact

c.r.briden@dorsetcc.gov.uk

Q4 Would you be willing to take part in the next phase of the research in February/March (including in-depth interviews with key personnel in your organisation)?

yes

no

Q5 Which team(s) have the main responsibility for supporting and monitoring home educated children within the local authority and other agencies?

Q6 List all teams / professionals involved in supporting home educating families

Q7 List all teams / professionals involved in monitoring home educating families.

Q8 Describe how you ensure collaboration and communication between these teams / individuals

Data and Tracking

Q9 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of primary age (Registered with LA)

Q10 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of primary age (Non-registered with LA)

Q11 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of secondary age (Registered with LA)

Q12 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of secondary age (Non-registered with LA)

Q13 Total (Registered with LA)

Q14 Total (Non-registered with LA)

Q15 Are these figures accurate or based on estimates?

Accurate

Estimate

Q16 If accurate, where do you get this data from?

Q17 If accurate, how do you know the data is accurate?

Q18 If estimated, what data have you used to arrive at this figure? (List all sources)

We only know about those children whose parents choose to register with us and those withdrawn from school. As there is no requirement to register with the Local Authority there are likely to be many more we do not know about.

Q19 How confident is the local authority in the accuracy of this data?

Very confident

Fairly confident

Don't know

Not very confident

Not at all confident

Q20 How often does the local authority get updated data? (List frequency for each source separately)

Q21 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is statemented for SEN? (please state whether accurate or estimate)

Q22 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is non-statemented for SEN (please state whether accurate or estimate)

Q23 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller heritage (please state whether accurate or estimate)

Q24 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is made up of other Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups

Q25 Please list which BME groups.

Q26 Do you believe the local authority knows about all the home educated children in your area?

Yes, we are confident we know about all home educated children in the area

We think we know about the vast majority of home educated children in the area

We probably do not know about a fair number of home educated children in the area

We probably do not know about a significant proportion of home educated children in the area

Q27 Do you think that you will be better able to track children in your area in the near future? e.g. planned changes to your own systems, ContactPoint, other system improvements?

yes

no

Q28 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

ContactPoint may assist but unless parents have to register by law, we can never be fully confident knowing about all EHE children in Dorset

Supporting Home Educating Families

Q29 How does the local authority ensure families know about their rights and responsibilities in relation to home education? (List all approaches used)

Dorset County Council website;

Advice and information from Education Social Work and Attendance Service;

Direct contact with EHE team.

Q30 What support does your local authority provide to home educating families? (List all forms of support offered)

Q31 How does the local authority let families know about the services provided to support them in home educating their children? (List all approaches used)

Assessment and Monitoring

Q32 Following the initial assessment visit, are further monitoring visits made to a home educated child?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q33 If yes, how often, on average, are these carried out?

More than twice a year

Twice a year

Once a year

Less than once a year



Q34 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Twice a year in the first year of home education, thereafter on an annual basis. Visits can be carried out more frequently if requested or if education provided is unsatisfactory.

Q35 On average, how often is the child seen when a visit is made?

Always, at each visit

Usually, but not always

Sometimes

Never

Depends on the child / circumstances


Q36 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Q37 If the child is seen, where is s/he usually seen?

In the home

At the home, but do not go inside

Another venue

Depends on the child / circumstances

Q38 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Q39 If you are not permitted access to a child, is any further action taken?

Yes

No


Don't know


Q40 If yes, what further steps are taken?

Unless we have child protection concerns, we have no legal right to insist, although we try to ensure the child is seen if possible.

Q41 How is the suitability of the education provided to the child assessed? (Please describe)

Seeing and discussing with the parents and child and looking at samples of work (if available) and any work planned.

Q42 Is the local authority clear about what the definition of a 'suitable education' is?

yes

no

Q43 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Q44 Does the local authority have systems in place to track the educational progress of home educated children?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q45 Please use this space to add further detail to the answer you have just given

By regular visits and reports by EHE inspectors (we try to use the same inspector for visits to the same family)

Q46 Of the home educated children in your area of whom you have knowledge, what proportion (as a percentage) in your estimation is receiving a suitable, full time (20hrs a week) education? (Please describe)

Q47 Does the local authority take any further steps if a home educated child's education was found to be unsuitable or not full time?

Yes

No

Don't

Q48 Please use this space to add further detail to the answer you have just given

We would advise the parent on areas for improvement and give them time to implement these changes. But if the education continues to be unsuitable we would issue a school attendance order.

Q49 Does the local authority face any challenges in assessing whether home educated children receive a suitable education?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q50 If you answered yes to Q49, please describe the challenges and what you think could be done to overcome these

The lack of definition in law of what is "suitable, efficient and full time".

The fact that parents are not required to inform the Local Authority they are home educating.

There is no legal right for us to see the child.

Q51 Thinking about your local area, in the last five years, how many cases have you come across that use the premise of home education as a 'cover' for child abuse, forced marriage or other aspects of child neglect?

Q52 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given. Please include the number of Serious Case Reviews you know about that have a home education element.

Although it is hard to say whether home education has been used as a "cover", there have been some cases where a home educated child is placed at increased risk. We have not had any Serious Case Reviews on home educated children.

Q53 Do you think the current system for safeguarding children who are educated at home is adequate?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q54 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

We have no right to see a child. There are probably home educated children we do not know about. Some home educated children are vulnerable because of difficult/worrying home circumstances eg parental mental health problems.

Q55 Do you think that home educated children in your local authority are able to achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes? Please say why you think that for each of the five outcomes

Depending on the home circumstances and the quality of the education delivered, the majority are able to achieve the five ECM outcomes. Some because of family circumstances may not achieve all 5 outcomes.

Q56 Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for supporting home educating families?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q57 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Q58 Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for monitoring home educating families and ensuring that home educated children are able to achieve the five outcomes?

Yes

No

Don't know

Q59 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

Declaration

Q60 Has the Director of Children's Services and the Lead Member for Children and Young People seen and agreed with the answers you have given above?

DCS

Lead member

13 comments:

Firebird said...

I just put a FOI request in for our LA although a polite request from someone else got the apparently standard excuse that they couldn't print it out. Ha!

Sam H said...

Mmmm... What strange answers. I live in Dorset and have never had a single visit, let alone regular visits. How clever of them to be able to monitor my children's progress, when they have never seen them, or any of their work!

First you are contacted by Pippa Fowler, then, if you don't allow a visit, you are passed on to Colin Briden.

If you have seen their website, you will know how inaccurate it is. The "information" they send you is just as bad. I sent them a letter pointing out where they've gone wrong, and suggesting ways in which they could improve. I also suggested that they take a HE course from Mike FW.

I haven't had a reply. Funny that.

Sam H

Vicki said...

I met with Colin Briden to discuss changing Dorset's EHE policy and the info on their website.

At first he seemed to really understand the issues and agreed that they should adopt a similar policy to Milton Keynes.

When it came to changing the policy though the draft he sent me was worse than the one they were already using. It was in complete contradiction to the 2007 guidelines but when I pointed that out he told me that he didn't agree with the guidelines and had no intention of following them.

During our conversations he let slip that none of their EHE inspectors have up to date CRB checks. Quite alarming as these people are going into peoples homes and having contact with children.

I gave up in the end because he wasn't going to budge and I didn't have the energy to keep arguing with him.

The only good thing to come out of it is that Dorset LA now give out my contact details to families enquiring about EHE so I'm able to give families accurate information.

Carlotta said...

How incredibly frustrating, Sam and Vicki.

"he told me that he didn't agree with the guidelines and had no intention of following them."

I suppose that's the problem with the the non-compulsory nature of guidelines. However of course, there is the law, which they cannot act beyond and of course, rather mind-bogglingly, the new CME guidance says that the EHE guidelines should be followed, which given that that is guidance presumably means that the guidelines become compulsory??

All in all though, is it really any wonder that we are fighting so vigorously to protect what remains of our responsibilities and rights when LA officials are already quite happy to break their own rules with ultra vires demands?

Sam said...

Q51 - hard to quantify??
Either they've come across cases, or they haven't, surely.

Unbelievable :-(

Ruth said...

I think they were lying through their back teeth on Q51. "Hard to quantify" means none at all but we don't want to say that.

mum6kids said...

“95% (As the law does not define 'suitable' or 'full time' we do not measure the number of hours of education a child receives.”

Where did the 20hrs in the question come from? Is 95% a real figure or a guess-timate?

“The lack of definition in law of what is "suitable, efficient and full time".”

I think it says suitable is what a reasonable person would consider suitable. What makes these professionals so afraid to think for themselves?

“Although it is hard to say whether home education has been used as a "cover", there have been some cases where a home educated child is placed at increased risk. We have not had any Serious Case Reviews on home educated children.”

So the answer is no, it isn’t being used as a cover for abuse then.

“We have no right to see a child.” Good. That is only right.

“There are probably home educated children we do not know about. Some home educated children are vulnerable because of difficult/worrying home circumstances eg parental mental health problems.”

Parents with mental health problems presumably get care. In my psychi nurse days we worked with SS if we thought there was any risk to children. I might add that in the vast majority of cases children were not at risk.
So it seems to me, it’s difficult to be a ‘hidden child’. There are a lot of ‘ignored children’ I would surmise-and they sit in school most days.

Dani said...

It's interesting that Dorset said 95% and so did Brighton & Hove. I think this must be a sort of off-the-cuff, kind of thing you might say in the pub, 95%, rather than a serious claim that 1 in 20 of the EHE kids they know about is not receiving a suitable education.

Raquel said...

Colin Briden has responded via email to a parent who complained about his response. It is posted on the facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=8498&post=44029&uid=45453211491#post44029

you will notice how he is backpeddling about seeing the child.

In their response he says:
“We have no right to see a child.”

In the email to a parent he says

"I am sorry that you seem to think that I wish to force a child to see one
of our inspectors. That is not my wish."

plus other stuff....

Mieke said...

Hi,
Would you mind if I link to this post in the blogpost I'm writing about 'evidence of ignorance of existing law and guidance amongst LA's and other agencies'?

Carlotta said...

Would be great if you would Mieke. Looking forward to it.

mamacrow said...

How do they know there are children they don't know about? Surely that's a phyilosphical double negative that cancels itself out?

and a suitable education IS defined - one that is appropirate for the age and ability of the child and enables them to fullfill their potential.

Mieke said...

Done!. And thanks!!
BTW, have you seen that there the list with answers is on your post 2 or 3 times? Or is there a difference?