Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mass Lobby of Parliament: Tuesday 13th October

Mass Lobby of Parliament 2.30pm Tuesday 13 October 2009

Forwarded from the organiser:

I am expecting 274 people at the mass lobby - 144 adults and 130 children - from 128 families. A further 38 adults have expressed an interest in coming with 15 children.

If you emailed me at masslobby@live.co.uk to say you MIGHT come, please let me know whether or not you are. (You don't need to email me if you have already confirmed that you are coming.)

There is still plenty of time to sign up if you do want to come. The more people who can make it, the more impact it will have.

In addition, I am looking for eight stewards who can help out on the day. It will involve arriving at 1.45pm for a meeting with the police at 2pm. Once the mass lobby starts, you will be moving among the crowd giving advice and directing people.

In the next couple of days I will be sending out an email with attachments giving the final details in preparation for the big day.

Please cross-post this everywhere."

===================

Further info:

Home Education Mass Lobby of Parliament
2.30pm Tuesday 13 October 2009

What to do before the mass lobby

1. Arrange to meet your MP on the day

You can turn up at Westminster any time that the House of Commons is sitting and request a meeting with your MP. However, you should do everything you can in advance to arrange a meeting with your MP. This will also involve less queuing for you.

The best way to contact your MP is to write to him or her at the House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. Most MPs also use email, and should treat emails in the same manner as a letter. You can find out your MP's email address at the following website: http://www.parliament.uk/directories/hciolists/alms.cfm. Remember to give your home address even in an email, as MPs have a strict rule about dealing only with their own constituents.

2. Try to get your local radio/TV/newspapers interested in the mass lobby. Also attached to the email is a model press release you can use. If you are going to use it, send it as soon as possible – that way they might cover the story before and after the event.

3. Try to get the national media interested in the mass lobby. If you have any contacts with national radio/TV/newspapers please pass the information on to them. I will be sending out a national press release but there is no substitute for the personal touch.

What to do on the day of the mass lobby

1. Take with you any correspondence from your MP confirming you have a meeting. This will shorten the amount of time you have to queue.

2. Be prepared if you are taking children. At the time of writing , I am expecting 143 adults and 130 children to attend the mass lobby. Given that we will undoubtedly have to queue, there is the potential for 130 bored children to make their own entertainment! There may be journalists present and although some are pro-home education, others will be looking for an opportunity to criticise us. Please consider taking something constructive for your children to do while they are waiting. If you or they have a particular talent that would entertain other children – juggling, face-painting, etc, please consider bringing the necessary equipment along.

3. Arrive at 2.30pm
Even if you have a meeting arranged with your MP later in the afternoon, please arrive at 2.30pm so that we can take publicity photographs.

4. Enter through the St Stephen’s entrance (it is possible that this is now called the Cromwell Green entrance I am still waiting to check). Go in through St Stephen's entrance and proceed until you reach Central Lobby - the central point in the Palace between the House of Lords and House of Commons.

5a. What to do if you have a meeting arranged. There is a limit of 100 lobbyists at any one time in the Central Lobby. Before you queue for the security check, inform a police officer or steward that you have a meeting arranged with your MP and show them any correspondence your MP has sent to you. This should allow you to go straight into the security checking area without queuing with the general public for tours of Parliament. Your MP or their staff will usually come to meet you in Central Lobby. You need to go to the desk in Central Lobby and ask the attendants to telephone your MP's office.

5b. What to do if you do not have a meeting arranged. If your MP has agreed to meet you, but not given you any details of where and when, or if you have not already arranged a meeting with your MP, you will need to queue outside St Stephen's entrance.

The police will only allow 100 people, including lobbyists and other visitors, into Central Lobby at any one time. Pass through the security check and proceed to Central Lobby. Once there, go to the desk and ask for "a green card". This is a request for your MP to come and meet you and should be filled in and returned as directed. It is important that you make clear statement your reason for visiting on the card.

This is very important because, if you do not manage to meet with your MP, the card will then be sent on to him or her. Your MP should then respond directly to you and the more he or she knows about why you were at Westminster, the better.

The desk staff will take the card and officials will be asked to look for your MP and let him or her know that you are asking to meet with them. You should wait around for a while, but don't forget that lobbyists with firm appointments to meet their MP will also be waiting, so you should be prepared to give up waiting after 20 minutes or so.

6. Tight Security.
You will have to go through 'airport type' security to gain access to Parliament - on a busy day this can take at least 15 minutes - and you may need to queue until there is space. (I don’t think this includes identity documents but I am waiting to check.)

7. Disabled Access.
If you are disabled, please telephone the Serjeant -at-Arms' office at the House of Commons, who will advise you of procedures for entering the building. (Phone 0207 219 3000 and ask the switchboard to put you through to the Serjeant's office). The Serjeant's office do allow some parking where it is required by disabled people, but individuals will need to verify this with the office. It is usual for one of your MPs' staff to accompany you once you enter the building. You will need to arrange this with your MP in advance. Please let me know if you have any special ambulatory needs or require any assistance.

8. Meeting your MP
Use a meeting with your MP to try to:
• Give them the information they need about the Badman Review and the Government’s proposed legislation
• Influence their views
• Persuade them that many other constituents share your concerns
• Ask them to raise your concerns with any relevant Ministers by meeting them and by writing to them, and
• Ask them to take appropriate action to show that they support you.

It is best to be as brief, clear and courteous as possible. If they send their researcher instead, treat them in the same way.

You should thank him or her for taking the time to see you, establish how much time they have, make two or three key points and - most importantly - ask them to follow up the meeting. Briefing notes are useful but do point out how the issues directly affect you and your family.

Do not be surprised if your MP only has a small amount of time to spare you. MPs will be very busy on the day, so don't take it personally. But make the most of the time you have with them.

After the mass lobby

1. Stay in contact with your MP. Continue to try and meet your MP in their constituency to follow up on what action they have taken or to raise the concerns with MPs you are unable to meet with on the day.

2. Follow up any local or national media interest

Have a great day.

(This help sheet is based on one produced by the union Amicus.)

Home Education in the Sheffield Star

...here.

Bradford's Not Back to School Picnic also gets a write-up.

List of picnic write-ups here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Badman's Report Rated One Star

...on Amazon.

From one commentator:

"On the assumption that no parent can be trusted with their children, (because they might possibly be abusing them,) and that they must all therefore be routinely checked out by the people who really should be trusted, (because they work for the local authority,) Badman tries to make his case for the official right of entry to homes on the basis of no concerns at all and enforced interview of children separated from their parents, using dodgy statistics backed up with generous portions of vested interest, ignorance and prejudice. The recommendations are an impressive display of ultra vires demands based on impoverished and narrow-minded failure to understand any form of education other than the state school model. This publication is a badly written, shoddy and poorly researched, but historic document signposting our tragic journey along the highway leading only to the graveyard of our freedoms in the UK via the manipulation of a superficially democratic framework. Very bad news for families and children."

Child Protection Mania Rolls On

It isn't just home educators. The fear of the red tops that generates this government's approach to child protection has now resulted in the Vetting and Barring Scheme which will involve the scrutiny of practically every single parent and almost every other adult in this country, given that all but the most unusual will at some point be involved in a "regulated" activity.

"What is a regulated activity Regulated activity is any activity which involves contact with children or vulnerable adults. This could be paid or voluntary work.

Such activities include:

  • Any activity of a specified nature which involves contact with children or vulnerable adults frequently, intensively and/or overnight.
  • Any activity allowing contact with children or vulnerable adults that is in a specified place frequently or intensively.
  • Fostering and childcare.
  • Any activity that involves people in certain defined positions of responsibility."
Of course, this is just absurd. The amount of totally unnecessary red tape, the cumbersomeness and near total insensitivity of the system, the huge likelihood that it will generate problems of abuse rather than solve them as it infantalizes the population into thinking that they can't use their own judgement and that they can't relate well enough to their own children to explain risk to them, to explain that certain things must not happen, and to find out from their children that there might be concerns.

The MSM has actually stirred itself to be angry about this and commentators widely appear to agree:

The Times
The Telegraph
BBC
The Daily Mail

In the Mirror, the officer in charge of the Soham murder investigation says things have gone too far.

Home educators should now set about explaining to their MPs, the press, anyone who cares to listen, that this is exactly how they feel about the vetting and barring scheme that is being applied to them.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More on the Missing Guidelines

I suppose it is possible that the dementing process has advanced to that crucial point where I actually notice it's happening but haven't gone so far as to completely miss this point all over again, and tbh, I really can't rule this out, given that my family and a few other disreputable characters of my acquaintance are quite convinced that I have manifested clear symptoms on numerous occasions throughout the months and yes, OK, even years, but it is quite clear to me just now that some sort of threshold has been reached, whether in reality or in my own head, whereby I suddenly notice that peculiar things are happening.

Thing is, I wrote a blog post a few days ago which I could swear contained the appropriate links to the cached version of the 2007 Elective Home Education Guidelines. Yes, I had already taken into account that the DCSF had removed the 2007 guidelines from their normal location, so I did what any normal person would have done, (or at least I think I did) and went off and found them elsewhere and linked to this version of the guidelines.

However, on being alerted to a problem with the link by a commentator a few days later, I checked the link again and lo and behold, I was taken directly to Graham Badman's review of home education.

Hmm. Not wishing to continue to be misleading, I am now, thanks to Renegade Parent, linking to another, hopefully more reliable version of the EHE guidelines.

Another post by Renegade, this time on the subject of raising the profile of an issue, perhaps explains my earlier predicament. Is it that the DCSF would like those in search of guidelines to assume that Graham Badman's report is already law? That, after all, would save them a bunch of trouble with actually having to legislate for the recommendations.

But then again, of course, I could be just dementing.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Government response to Badman Review

...here. (download)

DCSF response to the Badman Review of Elective Home Education in England.

October 9th 2009.

On 11 June, the Secretary of State placed Graham Badman's report entitled Review of Elective Home Education in England in the House of Commons library. The initial government response recognised that the review makes a compelling case for immediate and urgent reforms to ensure that all home educated children are known to, and monitored by, local authorities (LAs). The report sets out an analysis of evidence about the standard of education received by home educated children, and the extent to which LAs were able to satisfy themselves that a suitable, full time education was being provided. It contained 28 interrelated recommendations which- together mapped out how home educators could receive a much higher level of support from LAs, particularly where home educated children have special educational needs(SEN) or want to access education in maintained schools or further education colleges.

The Secretary of State's initial response warmly welcomed the report and announced that we were launching a consultation on the proposals for registration and monitoring. The consultation closes on 19 October and by 30 September we had received 655 responses, from home educators, LAs and a range of voluntary organisations. We will consider these responses carefully before proceeding with legislation because they will help us make arrangement that support parents to provide good quality home education, while allowing LAs to take action where arrangements have serious shortcomings.

This document contains our response to the full range of recommendations in the report. It sets out a series of small but significant changes to the way LAs collect and use information about home education which will allow LAs to take a more strategic approach to monitoring and supporting home educators. It also sets out our strong commitment to supporting home educators, particularly those whose children have SEN or wish to access further education. Above all, it maps out a new relationship between LAs and home educators, envisaging that they will work collaboratively to provide a wide range of opportunities for home educated children.

Recommendation 1:

That the DCSF establishes a compulsory national registration scheme, locally administered, for all children of statutory school age, who are, or become, electively home educated.

*This scheme should be common to all local authorities.

*Registration should be renewed annually.

*Those who are registering for the first time should be visited by the appropriate local authority officer within one month of registration.

*Local authorities should ensure that all home educated children and young people already known to them are registered on the new scheme within one month of its inception and visited over the following twelve months, following the commencement of any new legislation.

*Provision should be made to allow registration at a local school, children's centre or other public building as determined by the local authority.

*When parents are thinking of deregistering their child/ren for school to home educate, schools should retain such pupils on roll for a period of 20 school days so that should there by a change in circumstances, the child could be readmitted to the school. This period would also allow for the resolution of such difficulties that may have prompted the decision to remove the child from school.

*National guidance should be issued on the requirements of registration and be made available online and at appropriate public buildings. Such guidance must include a clear statement of the statutory basis of elective home education and the rights and responsibilities of parents.

*At the time of registration parents/carers/guardians must provide a clear statement of their educational approach, intent and desired/planned outcomes for the child over the following twelve months.

*Guidance should be issued to support parents in this task with an an opportunity to meet local authority officers to discuss the planned approach to home education and develop the plan before it is finalised.

*As well as written guidance, this support should encompass advice from a range of advisers and organisations, including schools. Schools should regard this support as a part of their commitment to extended schooling.

*Where a child is removed from a school roll to be home educated, the school must provide to the appropriate officer of the local authority a record of the child's achievement to date and expected achievement within 20 school days of the registration, together with any other school records.

*Local authorities must ensure that there are mechanisms/systems in place to record and review registrations annually.

This recommendation sets out in some detail the way in which registration and monitoring could operate. The government has already accepted that the review makes a strong case for legislation that ensures that all home educated children are known to, and monitored by, their LA.

This recommendation emphasises that, in relation to any registration scheme, LAs need to be flexible and accessible in registering home educators, and that any new statutory requirements should be supplemented by guidance setting out registration requirements. The report envisages close cooperation between home educators, schools and LAs in developing an education plan for home educated children. We accept that any national scheme has to be underpinned by explanatory guidance and sufficient resources to allow LAs to both monitor and support home educators. We agree in principle to provide sufficient funding to underpin any new arrangements, once these have been worked through in detail following the public consultation.

We think that the proposal that, where parents decide to deregister their child from school to home educate, schools should retain the pupils on roll for 20 days, is helpful. These 20 days will provide an opportunity for parents, schools and LAs to address any school related concerns which led parents to opt for home education. It will also allow parents some time to consider carefully the benefits and drawbacks of home education.

Where parents notify a school that they intend to withdraw their child from school to home educate we would like to introduce a legal requirement that the school would keep the child on roll for 20 days. We envisage that this will be done through amendments to the Education (pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006. We intend to bring these changes into force, by regulation, on 1 September 2011 after taking any views into account through a consultation.


Recommendation 2:

That the DCSF review the current statutory definition of what constitutes a "suitable" and "efficient" education in the light of the Rose review of the primary curriculum and other changes to curriculum assessment and definition throughout statutory school age. Such a review should take account of the five Every Child Matters outcomes determined by the 2004 Children Act, should not be overly prescriptive but be sufficiently defined to secure a broad, balanced, relevant and differentiated curriculum that would allow children and young people educated at home to have sufficient information to enable them to expand their talents and make choices about likely careers. The outcome of this review should further inform guidance on registration.

Home educators should be engaged in this process.

We agree that a review to clarify what constitutes a "suitable" and "efficient" education for home educated children is needed. The current system gives considerable flexibility to parents in deciding upon the educational approach they and their child adopt to home education. That is both a strength and a weakness in the current arrangements, as LAs tell us that some home education is excellent, whereas some is of low quality.

Flexibility enables parents to devise a tailored educational approach that suits their circumstances and the interests and needs of their child, and we accept that there are many arrangements which work well for home educated children. What matters is that he child or young person acquires a mix of skills which will enable them to contribute to society as adults.

Therefore, we will commission a further review of the interpretation of "efficient" and "suitable" education in the light of the Rose review, the Every Child Matters outcomes and the national system of curriculum assessment and delivery throughout the statutory school years. The purpose of this work will be to examine how LAs can reasonably determine whether home educated young people are making progress which will allow them to develop to their full potential and have a wide choice of future careers.

We will commission this further review early in 2010.


Recommendation 3:

That local authorities analyse the reasons why parents or carers chose elective home education and report these findings to the Children's Trust, ensuring that this analysis contributes to the debate that determines the Children and Young People's Plan.

Subject to the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learners Bill (ASCL) gaining Royal Assent, we intend to put the Children's Trust Board on a statutory footing and require it to develop, publish, monitor and review a Children and Young People's Plan (CYPP), The CYPP, which will be underpinned by new regulations, will set out how the LA and its partners in the Children's Trust will cooperate to improve children's well-being in the local area. The Children's Trust Board will be required to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment which should include data on the reasons parents and carers choose elective home education which will contribute to the development of the CYPP. We intend to include a reference to the importance of considering data on home education in statutory guidance which is expected to go out for a three months consultation in early November.

Recommendation 4:

That the local authority should establish a Consultative Forum for home educating parents to secure their views and representative opinion. Such a body could be constituted as a sub-group of the Children's Trust with a role in supporting the development of the Children's Trust, and the intentions of the local authority with regard to elective home education.

The Children's Trust is the sum total of the partnership arrangements through which the LA and its partners cooperate to improve the well-being of children, young people and their families in the local area. The LA is responsible for making these cooperation arrangements and could include a consultative forum for home educating parents to secure their views and representative opinion within them. This would be consistent with our Department's approach in the ASCL Bill which will require, through regulations, the Children's Trust Board to consult a wide range of service uses as part of the process to develop and review the CYPP. We do not, however, prescribe the structure of the Children's Trust cooperation arrangements beyond the need to have a Children's Trust Board and specifying the core statutory partners.

We envisage that statutory guidance following the introduction of a registration and monitoring system would say that LAs should set up a Consultative Forum for home educators to review LA arrangements for monitoring and services provided to home educators.

Recommendation 5:

That the DCSF should bring forward proposals requiring all local authorities to report to the Children's Trust Board making clear how it intends to monitor and support children and young people being educated at home, in accord with Recommendation 1.

Advice from the LA on how it intends to monitor and support children and young people being educated at home would be important information to inform the Children's Trust Board's work to develop and review the CYPP. DCSF intends to say in its statutory guidance on Children's Trusts that this advice should be provided, and there will be complementary information in any statutory guidances that is prepared to support registration and monitoring. The CYPP will be a high level strategic plan which reflects local as well as national priorities, so it would not be appropriate to require every CYPP to include this level of operational detail.

Recommendation 6:

That local authorities should were appropriate commission the monitoring and support of home education through the local Children's Trust Board, thereby securing a multidisciplinary approach and the likely use of expertise from other agencies and organisation including hte voluntary sector.

Subject to the ASCL Bill gaining royal assent, the Children's Trust Board will have an important new function which, through the CYPP, will introduce a multi disciplinary approach to commissioning all services for children, young people and their families, including the monitoring and support of home education. Any statutory guidance supporting registration and monitoring arrangements will set out how local authorities should go about commissioning monitoring and support, to ensure that suitably qualified and experience people are deployed to register and monitor home education.

Recommendation 7:

The DCSF should bring forward proposals to change the current regulatory and statutory basis to ensure that in monitoring the efficiency and suitability of elective home education

*That designated local authority officers should:
have the right of access to the home,

have the right to speak with each child alone if deemed appropriate or, if a child is particularly vulnerable or has particular communication needs, in the company of a trusted person who is not the home educator or the parent/carer.

In so doing officers will be able to satisfy themselves that the child is safe and well.

*That a requirement is placed upon local authorities to secure the monitoring of the effectiveness of elective home education as determined in Recommendation 1.

* That parents be required to allow the child through exhibition or other means to demonstrate both attainment and progress in accord with the statement of intent lodged at the time of registration.

It is important that LA officers should be able to visit the place where education "otherwise than at school" is taking place, which will usually be the family home. This will enable officers to ensure that the child is being educated in a suitable environment which is safe and conducive to learning. We also agree that LA officials must be able to talk to home educated children to establish that they are receiving education in accordance with the plans submitted by their parents and that they are making progress. We envisage that this would often be achieved informally and in a relaxed atmosphere.

We have received representations from parents and others who are concerned about proposals that the child is seen alone, or with a trusted adult other than their parents where necessary. We expect that in most cases this will not be necessary as LAs will be able to satisfy themselves that the child is receiving a suitable education by inspecting the child's work, and discussing it with the child and the parent. However, where there is no tangible evidence of the child's work, or where the parent makes claims that are not backed up by evidence, or where the child is reluctant to volunteer information, the LA may want to speak to the child to establish how education has been conducted, and what has been taught. We fully accept that young children and some children with SEN may find an interview with someone they do not know well to be daunting, which is why we agree that in these circumstances it would be helpful to have another trusted adult present supporting the child. We also accept that LA officers undertaking this work need to be appropriately trained.

This is an area where we welcome the range of views that are emerging from the public consultation and we will consider these carefully once the consultation closes.

Recommendation 8

That reasonable warning of the intended visit and invitation to exhibit should be given to home educators, parents and carers, not less than two weeks in advance. A written report of each visit must be filed within 21 days and copied to the home educating parent and child. A suitable process for factual correction and challenge to the content must be in place made known to all parties.

We understand that home educating parents will want reasonable notice that the LA is intending to carry out a monitoring visit as this will allow them some time to prepare. We think two weeks is sufficient notice, although we would expect the LA to take account of the home educator's personal circumstances and adopt a flexible approach to scheduling appointments.

It is essential that proper records of visits be kept, and that there is a transparent process for home educators to correct and challenge visit notes if they believe they are incorrect.

These arrangements would be included in any statutory guidance drafted following primary legislation that puts in place registration and monitoring arrangements.


Recommendation 9

That all local authority officers and others engaged in the monitoring and support of elective home education must be suitably trained. This training must include awareness of safeguarding issues and a full understanding of the essential difference, variation and diversity in home education practice, as compared to schools. Whereever possible and appropriate, representatives of home educating community should be involved in the development and or provision of such training. It is recommended that all officers be trained in the use of the Common Assessment Framework.

We agree that good quality training for LA officers involved in monitoring home education is crucial. We are committed to developing LA officers involved in monitoring home education and agree that CAF should be one facet of training. We will work with the Children's Workforce Development Council to agree a timetable for developing a suitable training package covering safeguarding, home education practice and equal opportunities.

Recommendation 10

That local authorities should offer a menu of support to home educating families in accord with the requirements placed upon them by the power of wellbeing, extended schools and community engagement and other legislation. To that end, local authorities must provide support for home educating children and young people to find appropriate examination centres and provide entries free to all home educated candidates who have demonstrated sufficiently their preparedness through routine monitoring, for all DCSF funded qualifications.

The Government accepts that LAs have a role in supporting home educated children and young people to identify examination centres. We plan that the guidance on registration and monitoring will require LAs to do everything reasonable to work with schools and colleges to identify appropriate centres for home educated children to complete their controlled assessment and examinations.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) and the Association of Colleges (AoC) are aware of the issues and are considering how they can encourage and support schools and FE Colleges to provide a better service to home educators and other private canditdates. To this end, QCDA has published a leaflet, "Accepting Private Candidates" which provides schools with practical advice on accepting private candidates.

Home educators tell us that many home educated young people would like to attend college to take GCSE and vocational courses (see recommendation 11 below), but that they are unable to do so because colleges have to charge for provision for under 14s not registered with a maintained school. We believe that home educated young people should be able to attend college without paying fees, but believe that LAs can already draw down funding for this through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) (see Recommendation 28). Where home educators choose to prepare young people themselves for GCSEs, LAs will be able to fund examination costs through the provision we intend to make to allow them to draw down one tenth of the DSG value for each home educated pupil for whom they incur some education costs. (This is relevant to Recommendation 11 also.)

Recommendation 11

That in addition to Recommendation 10 above, local authorites should, in collaboration with schools and colleges:

*Extend and make available the opportunities of flexi-schooling.

*Extend access to school libraries, sports facilities, school visits, specialist facialities and key stage assessment.

*Provide access to specialist music tuition on the same cost basis

*Provide access to work experience

* Provide access to post 14 vocational opportunities

* Signposting to third sector support where they have specialist experience and knowledge, for example, provision for bullied children.

We accept the recommendation on flexi-schooling and intend to put in place amendments to the Pupil Registration Regulations 2006 for this to happen by 1 September 2011. To enable young people to have part-time acces to schools they will need to be on the register of the school they are attending. Currently the regulations state that once the public is registered at a school all the sessions have to be accounted for in order to record attendance statistics. We will need to amend the regulations so that for the sessions where the pupil is not due at school (ei: being home educated) the school can mark them as being educated off-site. This will ensure that schools' absence statistics are not skewed so that if the young person is absent, only the sessions that they are due to be in school are marked as such are counted towards the absence figures.

We agree that home educators should have access to educational facilities and services such as work experience, libraries, key stage assessments, speicalist music tuition and LA or school ICT facilities (recommendation 12 below). This will require careful and sensitive brokering by LA staff supporting home educators, who will work with schools to find how services can be provided in a way that works for schools and other service providers as well as home ecuators.

Safe to Learn, the DCSF Guidance to schools on preventing and tackling bullying, recommends that schools should not be applying alternative provision generally as a means of managing publics who have been bullied. However there may be some publis who have specifically requested alternative provision because they have been bullied and can no longer cope with a mainstream school. Where this is the case it advises that placements should be carefully chosen to help overcome fears and re-engage them back into mainstream educaiton. The Guidance signposts those third sector organisations that can offer support to parent, children and young poeple on bullying, such as:

The Anti-Bullying Alliance www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk
Beatbullying www.beatbullying.org
Bullying Online www.bullying.co.uk
Children www.childline.org.uk/Pages/Home/aspx
Parentline Plus www.parentlineplus.org.uk/

Recommendation 12:

*BECTA considers the needs of the home educating community in the national roll out of the home access initiative.

*That local authorities consider what support and access to ICT facilities could be given to home educated children and young people through the existing school networks and the use of school based materials.

*That the QCA should consider the use of ICT in the testing and exam process iwht regard to its impact on home educated children and young people.

The scope of the Home Access programme has been defined by the Ministerial-led Home Access Taskforce as learners in "full time maintained education" and so by definition excluded home educated children. Take up of the Home Access grant in the pilot phase was high and the first phase of national rollout will be limited to eligible families with children in years 3-9. Inclusion of other groups of learners will be considered in due course and will be dependent on funding levels.

In the absence of a formal system for registering and monitoring home educated children, BECTA would not be in a position to include the home educating community in the national roll out of the home access initiative. Should such a system be put in place, BECTA will explore how to develop an administrative process to reach this group.

The BECTA approved Home Access package will be available to anyone who wishes to purchace it and it includes a number of features such as safety features that will help benefit elective home educated children. Therefore, Home Access may still provide a route for families to purchase good quality ICT equipment with the right features to enhance their leearning even though they are not eligible for the grant.

We accept there are benefits in the use of ICT in assessments for a range of learners and providers. However, it is important that whilst innovation is supported and encouraged, standards and security are not undermined. For this reason, awarding bodies continue to be supported in their development of ICT in assessment, taking account of the guiance provided by Ofqual, the regulator of examinations and qualifications. We will be writing to QCDA and Ofqual encouraging them to take account of the specific needs of home educated chldren and young people as they develop and design qualifications.

We will consider the regulatory and practical implications of the use of ICT in testing, in discussion with QCDA and Ofqual.

Recommendation 13

That local authority provision in regard to elective home education is brought into the scope of Ofsted's assessment of children's services within the Comprehensive Area Assessment through information included in the National Indicator Set (Recommendation 25), the annual Local Safeguarding Children Board report (Recommendation 21) and any other relevant information available to inspectors.

The new Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA) will report annually from December 2009. It will report local performance on each national indicator and draw on a range of evidence including direct inspections of local services and key documents.

Implementing this recommendation relies on the implementation of the two cross-referenced recommendations 21 and 25. Actions on these recommendations are set out below. CAA will automatically take into account any newly-developed national indicator. Inspectors also consider other evidence in making their assessments including reports of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).

Recommendation 14:

That the DCSF require all local authorities to make an annual return to the Children#s Trust Board regarding the number of electively home educated children and young people and the number of School Attendance Orders and Education Supervision Orders as defined in the 1997 Education Act, issued to home educated children and young people.

Information on the number of home educated chlidren and young people and the number of School Attendance Orders and Education Supervision Orders as defined in the 1996 Educaiton Act issued to home educated children will be part of the data to inform both the development and review of the CYPP, subject to the ASCL gaining royal assent. We intend to include in our statutory guidance on Children's Trusts a recommendation that these data should be provided. The CYPP will be a high level strategic plan which reflects local as well as national priorities, so it would not be appropriate to require every CYPP to include this level of operational detail.

Recommendation 15:

That the DCSF take such action as necessary to prevent schools or local authorities advising parents to consider home education to prevent permananet exclusion or using such a mechanism to deal with educational or behavioural issues.

Schools and local authorities should not be advising parents to consider home education to avoid permanent exclusion or deal with behavioural issues. We will strengthen DCSF exclusions guidance on this issue when it is next revised in 2010.

Recommendation 16:

That the DCSF bring forward proposals to give local authroties power of direction with regard to school places for children and young people returning to school from home educaiton above planned admission limits in circumstances where it is quite clear that the needs of hte child or young person could not be met without this direction.

The school admissions framework already provides a number of safeguards to ensure children returning from home education are allocated a suitable school place. In particular, parents have a right to express a preference as to the school they want their child to attend and, subject to limited exceptions, that school must admit the child if it has a place available. If no school within a reasonable distance of the child's home has a place available, the LA is able to direct a school to admit the child.

We understand the difficulties that a child who has SEN might face. Such children are amongst the categories of children that must be included in a LA's Fair Access Protocol which means that, should the normal admission procedures fail, the child will be allocated a place at a suitable school in accordance with the Protocol, even if that school is already full. In addition, depending on their particular circumstances, a child returning from home educaiton may be considered "hard to place" and would, therefore, be able to take priority over children on a waiting list or awaiting appeal.

As part of the next review of the school admissions framework, we will consult on whether further safeguards are required. In particular we will consult on:

*amending the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 to enable LAs to direct a school to admit a child who has SEN, but does not have a statement, who is having difficulty securing a suitable school place on returning from home education; and

*amending the School Admissions code so that children returning from home education are amongst the categories of children that must be included in a Fair Access Protocol.

Recommendation 17:

That the Ofsted review of SEN provision give due consideration to home educated children with special educational needs and make specific reference to the support of these children.

Recommendation 18:

That the DCSF should reinforce in guidance to LAs the requirement to exercise their statutory duty to assure themselves that education is suitable and meets the child's special educational needs. They should regard the move to home education as a trigger to conduct a review and satifsy themselves that the potentially changed complexity of education provided at home, still constitutes a suitable education. The statement should then be revised accordingly to set out that the parent has made their own arrangements under section 7 of the Education Act 1996.

Recommendation 19:

That the statutory review of the statements of SEN in accord with Recommendation 18 above be considered as fulfilling the function of mandatory annual review of elective home education recommended previously.

Recommendation 20:

When a child or young person without a statement of special educational needs has been in receipt of School Action Plus support, local authorities and other agencies should give due consideration to whether that support should continue once the child is educated at home - irrespective of whether or not such consideration requires a new commissioning service.

We will send a guidance letter to all LAs following the publication of the Lamb Inquiry into SEN in October 2009. The guidance will make clear the statutory responsibilites of LAs towards children with SEN statements and how they can work in partnership with home educating parents to ensure that, where appropriate, the needs of all children with SEN can be met in the home environment. That guidance will take account of relevant findings from the Lamb Inquiry.

In the light of Ofsted's SEN review, which will be reporting in the summer of 2010, and the findings of any survey of home educated children with SEN in particular which Ofstead conducts, we will consider whether any changes to the SEN framework would provide more support to parents who are home educating children with SEN.

LAs tell us that they are concerned that they retain the repsonsibility to maintain the statements of children with SEN that are home educated, but that they are unable to draw down funding. However, our policy is that home educated children can be included in the Alternative Provision Return for DSG purposes if the LA is providing significant support towards their education - whether or not they are statemented (see Recommendation 28) and we will clarify our guidance to make this clear before the January 2010 school census.

Recommendation 21:

That the Children's Trust Board ensures that the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) reports to them on an annual basis with regard to the safeguarding provision and actions taken in relation to home educated children. This report shall also be sent to the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit. Such information should be categorised thereby avoiding current speculation with regard to the prevalence of child protection concerns amongst home educated children which may well be exaggerated. This information should contribute to and be contained within the National Annual Report.

We have brought forward amendments to the ASCL Bill requiring Local Safeguarding Children Boards, (LSCB) in England and produce and publish a report at least once a year about safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in its area and to send a copy of the report to the local Children's Trust Board. Subject to Parliamentary approval, this requirement will be reflected in the revised statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children. The report will provide an assessment of the effectiveness of arrangements locally, and the contribution and activities of each local partner. These annual reports will provide a comprehensive analysis of each local area safeguarding context, and should include elective home education. The Children's Trust Board should respond to these reports through the local CYPP.

The Bill amendments will also require LSCB's to make the annual report publicly available which will enable the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit to ensure it informs the Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children's annual report to Parliament.

Recommendation 22:

That those responsible for monitoring and supporting home education, or commissioned so to do, are suitably qualified and experienced to discharge their duties and responsibilites set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children to refer to social care services children who they believe to be in need of services or where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm.

We agree that good quality training for LA officers involved in monitoring home education is an important step towards establishing good relations between LAs and home educators. We are committed to appropriate development of LA officers involved in monitoring home education. We will work with the Children's Workforce Development Council to agree a timetable for developing a suitable training package covering safeguarding, home education practice and equalities. In addition, those responsible for monitoring and supporting home education should take part in the LSCB safeguarding children training and other training commisssioned by their employer.


Recommendation 23:

That local authority adult services and other agencies be required to inform those charged with the monitoring and support of home education of any properly evidenced concerns that they have of parents and carers' abililty to provide a suitable education irrespective of whether or not they are known to children's social care, on such grounds as:

*alcohol or drug abuse
*incidents of domestic violence
*previous offences against children

And in addition:

*anything else which may affect their ability to provide a suitable and efficient education.

This requirement should be considered in the Government's revision of Working Together to Safeguard Children Guidance.

Many serious case reviews have found that different public authorities have held information about children and their families which indicates that there are safeguarding concerns, but failed to share it in a way that identified that a child was likely to suffer signficant harm. We are revising "Working Together to Safeguard Children" to strengthen our guidance on information sharing for all children about whom there are concerns about their welfare, whether or not they are home educated.

It is important that LA staff that monitor home education work closely with their colleagues in children's care so that they are aware of any factors which might affect parent's capacity to provide a suitable and efficient education. We would also expect home visits to take account of any concerns raised by children's social care so that they team of people monitoring home education will be alert to children's home circumstances and able to identify anything that is incocnconsistent with information available to children's services.

Recommendation 24:

That the DCSF make sure change as is necessary to the legislative framework to enable local authorites to refuse registration on safeguarding grounds. In addition, local authorities should have the right to revoke registration should safeguarding concerns become apparent.

We accept that there may be circumstances, for example where a child is subject to a child protection plan, where a child is safer at school or in alternative provision than being educated at home. Therefore we agree in principle, and subject to the results of the consultation underway, that LAs need the power to refuse or revoke registration where there are safeguarding concerns. This would be supplemented by guidance to LAs on the sorts of circumstances where the welfare of the child might be best servced it they are not educated at home.

Recommendation 25:

That the DCSF, in its revision of the National Indicator Set indicated in its response to the recent Laming Review, should incorporate an appropriate target relating to the safeguarding of children in elective home education.

This recommendation has been considered as a part of the overall work to revise the suite of safeguarding indicators and introduce new statutory targets, as recommended by Lord Laming in "The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report". As part of this work a range of stakeholders have been consulted and a number of suggestions have been made for new indicators which require further development. A possible indicator on safeguarding in home education falls into this category, although some stakeholders expressed a degree of concern that, owing to the comparatively small size of the home educated cohort, a national indicator in this area might not be viable, especially given the limited size of the indicator set. We will be consulting further on safeguarding indicators and future development activity shortly.


Recommendation 26:

DCSF should explore the potential for the Centre of Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People's Services (C4EO) and other organisations, to identify and disseminate good practice regarding support for home education.

We are working with C4EO who have agreed that they will collect examples of home educators and LAs working well together on safeguarding training issues, as part of their work on the Safegarding Theme. This validated local practice will, in due course, be dissemninated by C4EO through their general communication channels and the specific channels connected with the Safeguarding Theme.

Recommendation 27:

It is recommended that the Children's Workforce Development Council and the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit include the needs of this group of officers in their consideration of national training needs.

The National Safeguarding Delivery Unit will liaise with the Children's Workforce Development Council to ensure that training provided by employers for LA officers monitoring home education prepares them to consider the wider safeguarding needs of children alongside their educational needs.

Recommendation 28:

That the DCSF and the Local Government Association determine within three months how to provide to LAs sufficient resources to secure the recommendations in this report.

The recommendations in the review are wide ranging but the financial implications fall into three broad categories which are:

*support, registration and monitoring activities carried out by or commissioned by LAs:

*substantial support for specific categories of home educated children, such as those with SEN or older children wishing to take college courses leading to a GCSE;

*support for a range of supplementary activites for younger children and those not receiving significant support towards their education.

We fully accept that LAs need funding for the costs of registering and monitoring home educated children where these exceed the cost of existing arrangements. At this point we do not have a reliable estimate of the number of home educated children, but we estimate, subject to discussion with the LGA, that costs for the first year will be £21 million with additional ongoing annual costs of the current cohort of £9.7 million. These costs cover initial registration, support to prepare education plans, and initial and annual monitoring. They also take into account LA training costs and the cost of working with local schools and FE institutions to broker support arrangements for home educators, particularly access to examination centres.


We believe that home educated pupils receiving significant support from the LA should already be included in the Alternative Provision Return for DSG purposes, and we understand that a small number of local authorities are already receiving funding for some home eduators through this mechanism. This means that the LA receives the pupil funding for that child through the DSG. We plan to clarify the schools census guidance to ensure that local authorities know that they can include children they are supporting as a result of a statement, or in respect of significant special needs that have not been formally recognised through a statement. This clarification is intended to come into effect for the January 2010 return. LAs are already able to include pupils whom they fund to attend college for post 14 qualifications including GCSEs and Diplomas, and we will revisit our schools census guidance to see whether further clarification can be given.

We accept that LAs will also need funding to assist young people to access the list of services in Recommendation 11 and to fund them to take their GCSEs if they opt to enters private candidates rather than through attending college courses. We intend to include a separate column in the Alternative Provision Return to record all registered home educated pupils accessing these services, but for whom support is not significant. We could count each such pupil as 0.1 for DSG funding purposes, and will review towards the end of the next spending review period whether this is an appropriate level. We plan to make this change for January 2011 schools census.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Begging Now: PLEASE STOP IT.

What can one say? We thought we were nearing the end of coping with this frightful meddling. At the very least, a large number of home educators have responded to the consultation on home education in 2007 which resulted in the relatively sensible Elective Home Education Guidelines. We answered Badman's questions at the beginning of this year. We have written to our MPs about the uselessness, wastefulness and the unconstitutional nature of Badman's recommendations and commented upon the clause in the draft legislative programme about increasing the monitoring of home educators. We've sent in our submissions to the Select Committee Inquiry. OK, we still have to fill in our consultation responses on the Badman recommendations, due in October 19th, but let's face it, many of us were thinking that at least we could see the light at the end of this absurdly dark tunnel, if not in terms of certainty about a successful outcome, at least in terms of freeing us from the endless scourge of form-filling and letter-writing, argument and explanation.

We shouldn't have to waste our time dealing with such serpentine interference in our everyday lives and yet now we hear, courtesy of EO, that there is to be another consultation that will doubtless impact upon home educators, one way or another, this time on the subject of the definition of full-time education.

When will they start to get it? When will the DCSF realise that the more they meddle with education, the more they mess it up? Back off. You don't help. Leave us alone to concentrate on educating our children, rather than trying to educate a bunch of people who were so poorly educated themselves that they don't realise that others will get on far better without their cack-handed, ignorant interference in the minutiae of our lives.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The State Infantalizing Parents

..in the Guardian, of all places.

Plymouth LA

..openly admits it discriminates against autonomous educators.

"With regard to your recent Freedom of Information request I can report back that of the five children noted as having concerns that a suitable education was being provided due to the philosophy of education being inadequate were all being autonomously home educated according to your definition."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

If you haven't sent in your submission

...to the Select Committee Inquiry yet, (deadline: noon today), you might want to mention the problems home educators have already with LAs making ultra vires demands when it comes to assessing for success of educational provision (check out Islington, for example), the inclusion of children who have simply not been assessed in figures to do with LAs having concerns about educational provision, (check out, say, Croydon), and the problem of subjectivity in LAs' assessment of suitability of education (see, well pretty much all the responses really).

All these problems look set to get much worse if the Badman recommendations on registering and monitoring were to be implemented.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Phew - it's done

Have finally finished and sent a submission from our local group to the Select Committee Inquiry into the Badman Review, which of course, we can't post here as it is meant to be kept confidential until the Committee publishes its results.

Hope everyone else's is going well. Deadline: noon tomorrow. (22nd September).

Why Autonomous Home Educators are Scared

It's not as if some local authorities don't already go way over the legal limit when it comes to deciding whether or not an education is suitable. Doncaster and North Lincs, for example, currently make demands that are ultra vires and this would only get worse should LAs be given the power to monitor home educators more extensively.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Very Last Chance to Comment...

...on the Draft Legislative Programme here. Responses due in by tomorrow, September 21st.

Home educators will be principally concerned with the Improving Skills and Safeguarding Children Bill which contains the clause:

  • improving monitoring arrangements for children educated at home;
Of course, we are all meant to be adding the final touches to our responses to the Children, Schools and Families Committee's inquiry into the Badman Review, (responses due in on Tuesday!) but at least all the issues should all be at the front of our minds, so it shouldn't take long to throw something down in comments on the DLP.

Below is the email from EO, by way of inspiration and the offer that we may " nick, tweak, adapt, whatever if it's felt to be useful."

========================

"Dear Sir/Madam

We wish to comment on a clause in the Improving schools and safeguarding children Bill, namely "improving monitoring arrangements for children educated at home".

We are extremely concerned that this clause has been hastily introduced without due deliberation and consideration following the rushed Review of Home Education by Graham Badman earlier in the year.

It has recently been noted by the Department that the evidence for change put forward by Graham Badman was obtained from only a small sample of local authorities and is not statistically rigorous.

As you will know the Select Committee is currently investigating the conduct of the Review and there is also a public consultation on the specific elements of the Badman Report which will require changes to primary legislation.

The call for evidence to the Select Committee Inquiry was announced on July 22nd. Work in this area has been restricted during the Summer while parliament is in recess and many local authority staff have been on annual leave.

We do not know when the Select Committee will announce its findings but we would not expect anything to be available before the Queen's Speech.

Furthermore, the public consultation does not close until October 19th hence there is insufficient time to consider the input from stakeholders before rushing to primary legislation.

Following the Westminster Debate by Mark Field in June, Education Otherwise has received emails and letters from several hundred home educators who have been to see their MP.

Throughout his Report, the author Graham Badman indicated many areas which were outside the scope of the inquiry or which would merit further research.

The Schools and Safeguarding Bill is already extremely wide in scope with an ambitious range of proposals which would if enacted profoundly change the relationship between schools and parents. Therefore it does not make sense to include an additional contentious clause related to home education while the Badman Review is still being investigated by the Department.

Yours faithfully


References

DCSF call for supplementary evidence to bolster the conclusions of the Badman Report in advance of Select Committee questions
http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/everychildmatters/news-and-communications/la-weekly-email/
laemail17september09/#ms883

Select Committee Inquiry into the Badman Review July 22nd
http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/csf/csfpn220709.cfm

DCSF public consultation on registration and monitoring of home education
http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm?action=consultationDetails&consultationId=1643&external=no&menu=1

Mark Field debate on home education June 9th
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090609/halltext/90609h0009.htm#09060973000620

===================================

My comment can be found here.

Home Educators Cry Foul

AHEd's press release.

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

Background

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.

2