Sunday, September 20, 2009

DCSF Summary of LA information from Badman Review Team

The working paper below is a summary of local authority (LA) information returned to the Badman Review team, but it has at this point undergone limited quality assurance and does not meet DCSF standards for publication of statistical data. The statement in para 8.12 in the Badman report `….the number of children known to children's social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population…' is based on the raw data returns from LAs, rather than directly from the information contained in this working paper.

The working paper requested follows.


Independent Review of Home Education - safeguarding evidence


1. Total elective home education (EHE) population

  • 12,300 children were registered EHE in the 90 LAs that responded to our questionnaire. Approximately 35% were of primary age, 65% of secondary age.

  • Can therefore assume approximately 21,000 EHE children in the country.

  • These data relate to known, registered children only. We know that to be an underestimate and therefore one could assume these figures may be higher.

2. Sampling

  • First questionnaire - All top tier LAs were sent the LA questionnaire (n=150). 90 responses were received (response rate of 60%). A further 13 LAs responded to the public call for evidence questionnaire. 47 LAs did not respond.

  • Second questionnaire - sent to the 90 LAs who responded to the first questionnaire; 25 responded (28% response rate).

  • NB: Not all LAs answered all the questions asked, therefore the base numbers mentioned in this note differ. One cannot assume missing data means nil (i.e. no children).

Key Safeguarding Facts

3. Serious Case reviews

  • Notified of four SCRs (see Annex A for details) which had an home education element (NB: not including Birmingham).

  • Two reviews recommended that procedures for monitoring and supporting all home educated children should be strengthened. The other two recommended that procedures for monitoring and supporting home educated children where there are welfare concerns, should be strengthened.

  • In addition, two cases of trafficked children who were said to be home educated were notified (by Association of Chief Police Officers ACPO). It was not clear from the information supplied whether the children were registered EHE or not.

4. Cases of `cover' for abuse

This data was collected via the first questionnaire to all 150 LAs; 90 LAs responded (60% response rate).

NB: It is clear from further investigation of this data that not all of these cases involved EHE being used as a `cover' for abuse etc, but rather that the home educated child was known to social care in some capacity e.g. referral, investigation, care order / child protection plan.

  • 54 LAs (60%) had one or more cases where there was some element of safeguarding intervention (over the last five years).

  • In total, 72 cases were notified.

  • 17 LAs (19%) stated categorically that they had no cases where EHE had been used as a cover for abuse in the last five years. A further 5 said they did not know if there were any such cases.

  • 13 LAs did not respond to this question.

5. Known to social care

NB: this data is from the second questionnaire - 25 of the 90 LAs asked responded (28% response rate).

  • The proportion of children known to social care in the 25 LAs for which we have data varied widely - some had none, in one LA, 55% of their EHE children is known to social care.

  • Based on the data we have from the 25 LAs, the average (median) proportion of EHE children per LA known to social care is approximately 7%. We estimate there are approximately 3% of children (5-16 years) known to social care maintained schools.

  • Within the 25 LAs for which we have data, there were 477 registered home educated children who were currently known to social care.

  • On average (median) 7 children per LA are known to social care.

  • Extrapolating to the national level (150 LAs), this means around 1350 home educated children are known to social care in some capacity (6.75%).

  • 13 LAs told us specifically about their EHE children who were subject to a care plan (previously a child protection plan). Again, data varied widely but 5 LAs had at least 4% of their case load subject to a care plan.

6. Safeguarding `concerns'

  • We asked LAs to estimate the proportion of their caseload for whom they had safeguarding concerns. However, it is not clear whether this data is in addition to that notified in the previous section and should not be presented as so.

  • This data is less reliable as the `% known to social care' as it is estimated. However, it does illustrate the nature and extent of the issues LAs deal with within their caseloads.

  • Of the 14 LAs that provided an estimate, 9 had safeguarding concerns for 10% or more of their EHE population.

7. Other data

7.1 Provision of Education

  • Most LAs struggled to provide specific information on the proportion of their case loads that were, in their estimation, receiving a suitable, full time education. Most said it was hard to quantify whether the education was full time; others suggested they had difficulty with the definition of suitable.

  • However, 28% of the LAs that did respond said that 80-100% of their case loads were receiving a suitable, full time education - 5 LAs said all of their EHE children were receiving a full time, suitable education; a further 20 said over 80% were. 6 LAs said it was 50% or under.

  • However, when asked in our second questionnaire, over half (12) of the 20 LAs for whom we have data estimated that in 5% or more of their caseload, there was no education provided at all. Two LAs estimated there was no education provision in over 25% of the children on their caseloads. Four LAs said that there was education provided in all of their caseloads.

7.2 Avoiding prosecution for non-attendance

  • Based on the data we have from 21 LAs, on average (median) 6% of EHE children per LA are using EHE as a way to avoid prosecution for non attendance at school. Again, the proportions differed markedly (1-32%).

Serious Case Reviews - recommendations

1. Isle of Wight (older sibling was EHE)

“The Local Education Authority should satisfy themselves that, where there are children in need /at risk with additional concerns who want to be educated other than at school, a full assessment (e.g., CAF) is undertaken, which would assess the appropriateness of the learning environment and the possible risk factors that can impede a child's ability to thrive and learn”.

2. South Gloucestershire (young person's suicide)

“Consideration to be given by the Department for Education and Skills to promoting legislative review of sections of the 1996 Education Act relating to elective home education, to give Local Education Authorities greater powers to gain access to children to better assess the suitability of education provided and more generally contribute to the safeguarding of their welfare”.

3. Enfield (young person dead for 4 months)

NB - SCR states categorically that the mother “complied with all statutory requirements in relation to children in elective home education. She co-operated with visits from the London Borough of Enfield Education Department in April and May 2005, and June 2006. The visiting officer had no concerns about the family or their circumstances, and was satisfied with the programme of education proposed.”

3.1 Conclusions from SCR

  • The government has recently completed a consultation exercise on elective home education [DN: not sure which consultation this refers to (as the SCR is undated!) but probably the CME guidance last year]. There is a minimal consideration of child protection issues in the draft guidance, and features of this case illustrate that weakness. As the home situation deteriorated, the fact that the children were not in school limited their opportunities to seek assistance outside the family. There was also a diminished opportunity for agencies to detect and respond to that deteriorating situation.

  • The case also flags up the issue that children educated at home do not have access to school nursing services. These might detect children with health problems, or children whose immunisations and health checks have not been followed up.

3.2 Recommendations

  • The Department for Children, Schools and Families should take account of the issues arising from this Serious Case Review which relate to child protection arrangements for children in elective home education, in developing guidance in that area.

  • The [London Borough of Enfield] Education Service should review current arrangements for offering assistance to families who have chosen home education, with a view to increasing frequency of contact, and direct child contact, so as to maximise the opportunities for safeguarding children.

4. Gloucestershire (Spry)

    1. Relevant info

  • Mrs Spry controlled the amount of contact that professionals could have with the five children. She removed all of the children from school to be educated at home, as permitted by law, which had the effect of preventing any day-to-day external view of their care.

  • Mrs Spry also either rejected or consistently changed planned appointments that were offered, making it difficult for all professionals coming into contact with the family to establish a clear view of the home circumstances and the care of the children.

  • Education services did nevertheless seek to maintain contact with the family on an annual basis, to monitor their education at home, and their education and situation appeared to be generally satisfactory. No child protection concerns were noted.

4.2 Recommendations

  • “The GSCB should make appropriate representation to Government to highlight the concern that there is currently no legal process, which ensures that children, who are educated at home, are regularly seen, and their progress monitored, by Educating Otherwise professionals”.

Taking an average caseload per LA (139 children) multiplied by 150 LA.

25 LAs represents 17% of all LAs therefore important that this evidence is not overstated.

Known to social care includes Section 17, 37 or 47 enquiries.

Proportions - we need to be careful about this and not overstate. Large proportions don't necessarily mean large numbers - it could be a few children in a small authority with few EHE children.

Using 2005 data (the latest available), these are approximate figures and include disabled children.

This includes parents with mental health, substance misuse issues for example, domestic violence, child mental heath or other concerns.


1 comment:

Firebird said...

Even without the statistical crime of using a median in the first place.

"On average (median) 7 children per LA are known to social care. Extrapolating to the national level (150 LAs), this means around 1350 home educated children are known to social care in some capacity (6.75%)."

My 70 year old mum managed to get 7 * 150 right, in her head, in about 5 seconds. These people want to tell us how to educate our children?! Ha!