Monday, November 30, 2009

The Daily Mail on CRB checks for Home Educating Parents

...here.

The Only Chance for the Children, Schools and Families Bill

On handing in our petitions, a number of us have taken the opportunity to ask our MPs about the chances of the Childrens, Schools and Families Bill actually being passed. The answer seems to be that it is unlikely to become law before the next election but it still could do so in a process known as the "the wash-up".

This is the procedure whereby once an election is announced, the government approaches the two main opposition parties and asks them to agree to let through say, three or four bills.

We will have to keep a close eye on this one.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Further Update on Petition

There are yet more reports from people who have handed over their petitions to MPs in the past few days. Some have managed to get the press involved as well.

People with uncooperative Labour MPs are sending their petitions straight to Graham Stuart which should generate further media coverage.

We hear that

"Over 370 constituencies have coordinators, so it’s a massive project and even if only a third of the petitions are presented formally, it will dwarf any previous national petition (apparently 44 is the highest to date)."

The Mother Magazine

...on the government's proposals to ruin the lives of home educators.

This is how it looks from the other side of the pond.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Petitions Well-received

Home educators have been handing over their petitions to their MPs in dozens of constituencies around the country today and have frequently met with a favorable reception. My MP greeted me with the words "You won't need to stay long, as I completely agree with you", and that was pretty much it!

Other MPs, whilst understanding that the current proposals are disproportionate, are more ambivalent on the issue of registration, but the more we can explain the mission-creep and resulting state-inflicted abuse that registration would almost inevitably entail, the better.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lord Lucas on the Children, Schools and Families Bill

...on Iplayer here and in Hansard here.

The home education community feels properly represented in Parliament. Lord Lucas is a good man who listens, understands and persists in making great good sense, but there are others who haven't taken the time. In her summing up, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon put the government's position:

"Clearly the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, does not like the part of the Bill relating to home education. However, the Government are committed to supporting its continuation as a choice for parents. Registration and monitoring will give local authorities the tools that they need to tackle the small number of cases where the education provided is not good enough. It will also ensure that in future there is a clearer picture on home-educated children. Home-educating families are doing a fine job and are co-operating with reasonable requests from their local authority; they will find little difference in their lives."

On this last point, she is completely wrong and shouldn't go about pretending that she knows what she is talking about.

What I will be saying to my MP tomorrow

My argument to him is now going to be: look what this will actually mean. It will mean that children, some of whom have profound problems of one sort or another with school, who may well be simply terrified of it and who would NOT be well served by being forced to go back to it, but who ARE extremely well served by being educated out of school, will spend their whole lives worrying about the subjective judgement of a complete stranger, since this could simply devastate their lives.

Home education is an entire way of life for these children. Being forced back into school on someone's probably poorly informed judgement about what constitutes a suitable education would destroy their entire lives and ruin the balance and trust that a family regularly achieves by home educating their children.

No other children are held to such regular and all-encompassing account.

There is a received but extremely poorly informed idea that school refusal is an irrational phobia that must be overcome and that this is best achieved by forcing children back to school. Yet outcomes for these children are not good. (Hersov and Berg). We don't force adults back into a work place where they are unhappy and/or unsuccessful and which doesn't suit them. Why should we persist with this approach with children when experience in the HE community demonstrates the success of home education as a means of achieving a successful outcome?

Children who were living extremely successful lives will find that those lives are entirely conditional, entirely unsafe. This will be devastating and home educating parents will not accept it and will do their utmost to resist it.

It MUST NOT HAPPEN.

Meanwhile, Lord Lucas who will be speaking on the bill in the Queen's Speech debate tomorrow, will be saying much the same thing, if for other extremely pressing reasons.

And for a general critique of the failure of Every Child Matters to deliver anything significant by way of safeguarding and success for children, go here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Children, Schools and Families Bill

The sections from the Children, Schools and Families Bill which relate to home education can be found here (Clauses 26 and 27) and here (Schedule 1).

It is easier to work this all out using the Explanatory Notes, though the whole thing is still far from transparent and home educators are still processing the full implications of it all.

Suffice it to say that it does not look good. It appears to place the decision about the nature of a suitable education firmly in the hands of the state. Registration can be refused on the arbitrary and subjective whim of the local authority as they are to be delivered of the right to decide upon the nature of "harm" to a child (section 19B,(7)) and as the Secretary of State is delivered of the right to determine the necessary requirements for successful registration. I am yet to clarify if harm will continue to mean what it has previously meant. (See section 47, Children Act 1989).

If my understanding is correct, registration may also be refused, not simply on the basis of suspicion of harm to the child, but if the statement of education or any other relevant information that is provided by the parent upon application to register is deemed inadequate: (section 19B,(8)). Registration may also be revoked if the education is deemed unsuitable (section 19F (1)) and an LA will be able to refuse repeat application to register until a certain time has passed.

Further, quoting Dani: "the Bill proposes that any home educated child who is not ‘registered’ with the local authority will be the subject of a School Attendance Order, should they be discovered. In such a situation, the Bill states that “an authority shall disregard any education being provided to the child as a home- educated child.”

Though the government has clearly decided to back away from the idea of creating a new criminal offence of failing to register, it is attempting to create a compulsory system by threatening to force home educated children into school if their parents do not comply.

Further on this point, it appears that LAs will not have to apply to the courts to issue an SAO - they just issue it. Should the parents fail to comply with the SAO, they will then be taken to the courts. (Schedule 1, Section 9). However, the courts would STILL not take the issue of suitable education into account, so the parents would almost certainly lose.

Dani continues:

...the Bill states that there will be no automatic right of entry to homes or to see children alone. However, the proposed new Section 19F(1)(e) would give local authorities the right to remove a child’s name from the home education register if it appears to them that:

“by reason of a failure to co-operate with the authority in arrangements made by them under section 19E, or an objection to a meeting as mentioned in section 19E(4), the authority have not had an adequate opportunity to ascertain the matters referred to in section 19E(1)”

Our interpretation of this is that the system of monitoring will be determined by the local authority, and any objections raised by a home educating family could easily lead to their child’s removal from the register and a consequent School Attendance Order."

Dani adds:

"These sections in particular, especially combined with the proposed new section 19C (which allows for the issuing of regulations on various key aspects of the registration system) would have the effect of locking home educating families into a monitoring system, which can be amended without Parliamentary scrutiny by any future government."


Explanatory notes:

"
Home education

Clause 26: Home Education: England

"112. This clause needs to be read with Schedule 1. This clause and Schedule 1 introduce a registration scheme for children who are being educated at home in England. Home education is lawful and at present it is largely unregulated. Where a child has never attended school, parents are not required to inform their local authority that the child is being educated at home, or to seek approval of the home education being provided. The Schedule introduces a new registration scheme to enable local authorities in England to keep track of home-educated children. In terms of enforcement of the new system, the Schedule links the home education registration scheme to the school attendance order regime.

Home Education: registration and monitoring

113. Clause 26 gives effect to the provisions of the Schedule. Paragraph 1 of the Schedule inserts new sections 19A to 19I into Part 1, Chapter 3, of the EA 1996 (local authorities). The new sections impose new duties on English local authorities in relation to children who are to be electively home-educated.

114. New section 19A requires a local authority to keep a register of all children of compulsory school age in their area who are being educated entirely at home - i.e., none of whose education is provided at a school, or under section 19 of the EA 1996 (exceptional provision of education in pupil referral units or elsewhere).

115. Subsections (2) and (3) of new section 19A enable the Secretary of State to make regulations about how local authorities will maintain and amend the register. Subsection (4) of new section 19A defines what is meant by a “home-educated child” and “home education register”.

116. New Section 19B sets out what a local authority is required to do when the parent of a home-educated child of compulsory school age in their area applies, in the prescribed way, for the child to be placed on their home education register. The authority must register the child unless they consider that the child is within subsection (6) or (7), or that subsection (8) applies to the child’s application. If they consider the child is within subsection (7), they must not register the child. But if they think the child is within subsection (6), or that subsection (8) applies to the child’s application, they may choose whether or not to register the child. For example, a child may be within subsection (7) if that child is subject to a child protection plan and is thought to be safer at school or in alternative provision than being educated at home. Giving local authorities the discretion to register in relation to children falling within subsections (6) and (8) will allow a local authority to consider issues and circumstances which are likely to be relevant to whether those children should be registered. The local authority must notify the child’s parent of registration or, if registration is refused, of this fact and the reasons for it (subsection (5)).

117. New section 19C confers power on the Secretary of State to make regulations about steps to be taken by a local authority in connection with an application for registration, and specifies that this may include provision as described in subsection (2).

118. New section 19C also specifies that the power conferred by section 19B(1)(a) may be used to make provision about the form and content of any application for entry on the home education register, and as described in subsection (5). There is a specific reference in subsection (4) of new section 19C to a statement giving information about the child’s prospective education. The Government envisages that all applications will be required to provide such a statement, or to provide an undertaking to provide such a statement. In addition the power under new section 19B(1)(a) is likely to be used as described in subsection (5), i.e. to make provision enabling an authority that has refused a child’s application, or revoked a child’s registration, to require a period of time to elapse before a fresh application is made in respect of the child. This would prevent local authorities from having to process immediate, subsequent re-applications for registration from parents where there have been no material changes in circumstances.

119. New section 19D makes provision about how long registration will last. It also provides that, for enforcement purposes, a child will be treated as registered as soon as an application for registration has been made.

120. The effect is that once an application has been made in respect of a child, the child will be treated as registered until the application is rejected, or (assuming that the application is successful) until the expiry of the period of 12 months from the date of registration. But if the child’s registration is revoked during that 12 month period, then the child will cease to be treated as registered as from the date of the notice of revocation that needs to be given to the child’s parent. The registration will also terminate if the child ceases to be of compulsory school age.

121. New section 19E obliges a local authority to make arrangements to monitor the education provided to a child on their home education register. The objective of the arrangements is to ascertain, as far as reasonably practicable, whether the child is receiving a suitable education, whether the education accords with the information given about it, what the child’s wishes and feelings about it are, and whether it would be harmful for the child’s welfare for the education to continue.

122. Subsection (2) of new section 19E defines what is meant by a suitable education for this purpose. Subsection (3) provides that the arrangements made by a local authority under new section 19E must include arrangements, in each registration period, for at least the meetings and visits described in that subsection- unless the registration period begins less than 6 months from the end of compulsory education, in which case the local authority has a power to make arrangements of the sort described in subsection (3) rather than a duty. The duty requires an authority to see a child, the parent and the place (or at least one of the places) where the education is to take place, at least once in any registration period. Where a local authority consider that someone other than the parent is primarily responsible for providing education then the local authority will be under a duty to see that other person as well, at least once in any registration period. For most home-educated children, these visits will be carried out concurrently. Subsection (4) explains that the local authority cannot make arrangements to see the child on their own if the child or the parent objects to such a meeting.

123. Subsection (5) explains that a local authority must give at least two weeks written notice of a proposed meeting or of a visit to a place where education is provided.

124. New section 19F gives a local authority the power to revoke registration on their home education register in certain circumstances. Where a local authority exercises this power, it must give notice of the revocation to the child’s parent (subsection (3)).

125. Section 19F(1)(a) to (g) set out the circumstances in which a local authority may revoke registration. Subsection (4) provides that in deciding for the purpose of revoking registration whether it would be harmful to the child’s welfare for home-education to continue, and whether the home-education being provided is suitable, the local authority is to take into account the wishes and feelings of the child as far as is reasonably practicable.

126. Subsection (2) of new section 19F provides a definition of suitable education for the purposes of revocation under section 19F(1). (This is the same as the definition in new section 19E.)

127. Subsection (5) of new section 19F gives power to the Secretary of State to make regulations about the specific actions that a local authority should take in connection with revocation, or proposed revocation. The regulations may (subsection (6)) include provision about matters that local authorities should and should not take into account when considering revocation.

128. New section 19G requires regulations to provide for a parent to be able to appeal against a local authority’s decision to refuse or revoke registration. The provision made by the regulations may include provision about the matters listed in subsection (2) - including the time limit for bringing appeals and the procedure on appeals. The regulations may also provide that where a right of appeal has been exercised in respect of a child’s registration, the child is to be treated as registered, for the purposes of enforcement, despite the refusal or revocation of registration.

129. New section 19H permits the Secretary of State to make regulations requiring information relating to a child to be supplied to a local authority in England, in certain circumstances, for the purposes of the exercise of their home-education functions. The persons who may be required to supply information are another local authority in England, and the proprietor of a school in England from which the child has been withdrawn for home-education. The Government intends to use this power, for example, to provide that if a school has been notified that a child is being withdrawn to be home-educated, and the school knows the identity of the local authority for the area where the child will be home-educated, the school must notify that local authority and pass on certain information about the child such as the child’s educational attainment to date.

130. New section 19I requires local authorities to have regard to any statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State when exercising their functions under sections 19A to 19H.

Duty to make arrangements to identify unregistered children, etc

131. Paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 inserts a new section 436ZA into the EA 1996. This is needed to reflect the fact that, in England, home-educated children will need to be registered on their local authority’s home-education register. The new section requires a local authority in England to make arrangements to identify two categories of children of compulsory school age in their area. The first category is that consisting of children who are not home-educated, are not registered pupils at a school, and are not receiving suitable education provided under section 19 of the EA 1996 (alternative provision). Children within this category will be those who are not receiving any education at all, or who are receiving education under section 19 (of the Education Act 1996) that for some reason is not suitable. The second category is that consisting of home-educated children who are not on the authority’s home education register.

132. Subsection (4) of new section 436ZA requires local authorities to have regard to any statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State when exercising their function of making arrangements to identify these children.

School attendance orders

133. The new registration scheme is to be enforced through the existing system of school attendance orders. Paragraphs 5 - 10 of Schedule 1 amend the EA 1996 to provide for this. The bulk of the amendments are to sections 437, 442 and 443 of the EA 1996. There are also consequential amendments to sections 438 and 441 of the EA 1996. Since the provisions in the Bill about home education apply only in relation to local authorities in England, the result is that the school attendance order system will work slightly differently in England from the way in which it works in Wales. The amendments do not change the operation of the school attendance order system in Wales.

134. The result of the amendments to section 437 is that, if a child in the area of a local authority in England appears to the authority to be being home-educated, but is not on their home education register (and has not applied to go on the register), a school attendance order will be served - provided that the authority considers that it is expedient for the child to attend school (new subsection (3A) of section 437 of the EA 1996, as inserted by paragraph 5(6) of Schedule 1.) In considering for this purpose whether it is expedient that an unregistered home-educated child should attend school, an authority is to disregard the unregistered home education being provided to the child (new subsection (3B) of section 437). But they may consider other matters, for example whether alternative provision should be made for the child under section 19 of the EA 1996.

135. If a child in the area of a local authority in England does not appear to the authority to be a home-educated child, but it appears to the authority that the child is not receiving suitable education, then the effect of section 437(B1) of the EA 1996, as inserted by paragraph 5(2) of Schedule 1 is that the authority must serve notice on the child’s parent. If, in response to the notice, the parent satisfies the authority that the child is receiving suitable education provided at school or under section 19, or that the child is registered on their own or another authority’s home education register, then this will be the end of the matter. So for instance a parent of a home-educated child could respond to a notice by applying for registration, thus stopping the school attendance order process. Or a parent of a child who had not been attending school because of, for instance, bullying concerns, could decide to opt for home education, and make an application accordingly, thus stopping the process. But if the parent fails to satisfy the local authority of any of these matters then the authority will serve a school attendance order.

136. Section 442 of the EA 1996 makes provision for a school attendance order to be revoked in certain circumstances. The amendments made to section 442 by paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 reflect the fact that, in England, revocation of a school attendance order will need to take into account the new registration system. The effect of the amendments is that a local authority in England must revoke a school attendance order served by them in respect of a child if the child is registered on their home education register. They must also revoke the order if they are satisfied that the child is registered on another authority’s register (provided that the child is in that other authority’s area). So for instance if a home-educated child in respect of whom an order has been served by one authority moves to another authority’s area after service of the order, and the child’s parent applies for registration there, the parent will be able to have the order revoked by informing the original authority of the registration. The local authority must also revoke the order if the parent applies for revocation on the ground that arrangements have been made for the child to receive suitable education under section 19 of the EA 1996, unless they do not think that satisfactory arrangements for this have been made.

137. Section 443 of the EA 1996 makes it a criminal offence to fail to comply with a school attendance order. Paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 amends section 443 to reflect the new registration system. The result is that, where a school attendance order has been served by a local authority in England, a non-complying parent will not be guilty of an offence if the child is registered on the authority’s home education register. Nor will a non-complying parent be guilty of an offence if he or she can prove that the child is registered on another authority’s home education register, or is receiving suitable education provided under section 19 of the EA 1996.

Clause 27: Power of National Assembly for Wales to make provision by Measure

138. Clause 27 confers power on the National Assembly for Wales to make provision about the regulation of home education, and the inspection of services provided by local authorities for persons involved in providing home education. It achieves this by amending field 5 of Part 1 of Schedule 5 to the Government of Wales Act 2006 (legislative competence of National Assembly for Wales in the area of education and training).


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Section 437 with Amendments

437. School attendance orders.

(A1) Subsection (B1) applies if—

(a) it appears to a local authority in England that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, and

(b) the child does not appear to the authority to be a home-educated child.

(B1) The authority shall serve a notice in writing on the child’s parent requiring the parent to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is either—

(a) receiving suitable education provided wholly or partly by regular attendance at school, or otherwise than at school under section 19,

(b) registered on their home education register, or

(c) in the area of another authority and registered on that authority’s home education register.

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

(2) The period specified in a notice under this section shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.

(3) If—

(a) a parent on whom a notice has been served under subsection (B1) or (1) fails to satisfy the local education authority as specified in the notice, within the period specified in the notice,

(b) in the opinion of the authority it is expedient that the child should attend school, the authority shall serve a school attendance order on the parent

(c) in the case of a notice served under subsection (B1), the child does not appear to the authority to be a home- educated child,”;

(3A) If it appears to a local authority in England—

(a) that a child of compulsory school age in their area is a home-educated child, but is not registered on their home education register, and

(b) that it is expedient that the child should attend school, the authority shall serve a school attendance order on the child’s parent.

(3B) In determining for the purposes of subsection (3A)(b) whether it is expedient that a child should attend school, an authority shall disregard any education being provided to the child as a home-educated child.

(4) A school attendance order shall (subject to any amendment made by the local education authority) continue in force for so long as the child is of compulsory school age, unless—

(a) it is revoked by the authority, or

(b) a direction is made in respect of it under section 443(2) or 447(5).

(5) Where a maintained school is named in a school attendance order, the local education authority shall inform the governing body and the head teacher

(6) Where a maintained school is named in a school attendance order, the governing body (and, in the case of a maintained school, the local education authority) shall admit the child to the school.

(7) Subsection (6) does not affect any power to exclude from a school a pupil who is already a registered pupil there.

(8) In this Chapter— “maintained school” means any community, foundation or voluntary
school or any community or foundation special school not established in a hospital; and “suitable education”, in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have.

(9) In this Act “school attendance order” means an order, in such form as may be prescribed, served on a child’s parent under this section and requiring the parent to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order.”

If we have this correctly, this would mean that if a home educated child is unregistered, it doesn't matter if a suitable education is being provided. An SAO will be automatically issued. Whether it would be possible to apply to register within the time specified in the notice of the SAO is another matter.

If parents refuse to co-operate with the SAO, the courts will also not consider the matter of whether a suitable education is being provided and will automatically find them guilty.

9

(1) Section 443 of EA 1996 (offence: failure to comply with order) is amended as follows.

(2) Before subsection (1) there is inserted—

(A1) A parent on whom a school attendance order is served in respect of a child by a local authority in England, and who fails to comply with the requirements of the order, is guilty of an offence unless—

(a) the parent proves that he is causing the child to receive suitable education, otherwise than at school, under section 19,

(b) the child is registered on the authority’s home education register, or

(c) the parent proves that the child is in the area of another authority, and the child is registered on that authority’s home education register.”

A Wikiversity Page

...on the Children, Schools and Families Bill has been set up here. Discussion and edits required.

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Schedule 1 Paragraph 5 - 10

Schedule 1 Paragraph 5 - 10

School attendance orders

5 (1)Section 437 of EA 1996 (school attendance orders) is amended as follows.


5 (2) Before subsection (1) there is inserted—

(A1) Subsection (B1) applies if—

(a) it appears to a local authority in England that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, and

(b) the child does not appear to the authority to be a home-educated child.

(B1) The authority shall serve a notice in writing on the child’s parent requiring the parent to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is either—

(a) receiving suitable education provided wholly or partly by regular attendance at school, or otherwise than at school under section 19,

(b) registered on their home education register, or

(c) in the area of another authority and registered on that authority’s home education register.”

(3) In subsection (1), after “authority” there is inserted “in Wales”.

(4) In subsection (2), for “That period” there is substituted “The period specified in a notice under this section”.

(5) In subsection (3)—

(a) in paragraph (a)—

(i) after “subsection” there is inserted “(B1) or”;

(ii) after “authority” there is inserted “as specified in the notice”;

(iii) the words “that the child is receiving suitable education, and” are omitted;

(b) at the end of paragraph (b) there is inserted “and

(c) in the case of a notice served under subsection (B1), the child does not appear to the authority to be a home- educated child,”;

(c) for the words from “on the parent” to the end there is substituted “a school attendance order on the parent”.

(6) After subsection (3) there is inserted—

“(3A) If it appears to a local authority in England—

(a) that a child of compulsory school age in their area is a home-educated child, but is not registered on their home education register, and

(b) that it is expedient that the child should attend school, the authority shall serve a school attendance order on the child’s parent.

(3B) In determining for the purposes of subsection (3A)(b) whether it is expedient that a child should attend school, an authority shall disregard any education being provided to the child as a home-educated child.”


(7) After subsection (8) there is inserted—

“(9) In this Act “school attendance order” means an order, in such form as may be prescribed, served on a child’s parent under this section and requiring the parent to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order.”

(6)In section 438 of EA 1996 (choice of school), after “section 437(3)” there is inserted “or (3A)”.


(7) In section 441 of EA 1996 (choice of school: child with statement of special educational needs), after “section 437(3)” there is inserted “or (3A)”.

8 (1) Section 442 of EA 1996 (revocation of order at request of parent) is amended as follows.

(2) Before subsection (1) there is inserted—

“(A1) Subsections (B1) to (D1) apply where a school attendance order served by a local authority in England is in force in respect of a child.

(B1) If the child is registered on the authority’s home education register, the authority shall revoke the order.

(C1) If the authority are satisfied that the child—

(a) is in the area of another authority, and


(b) is registered on that authority’s home education register, they shall revoke the order.


(D1) If at any time the parent applies to the authority requesting that the order be revoked on the ground that arrangements have been made for the child to receive suitable education, otherwise than at a school, under section 19, the authority shall comply with the request, unless
they are of the opinion that no satisfactory arrangements to this effect have been made.”

(3) In subsection (1), for the words from “This section” to “order” there is substituted “Subsection (2) applies where a school attendance order served by a local authority in Wales”.

(4) In subsection (3), after “subsection” there is inserted “(D1) or”.


(5) In subsection (5)(a), after “subsections” there is inserted “(B1) to (D1) and”.

9 (1) Section 443 of EA 1996 (offence: failure to comply with order) is amended as follows.

(2) Before subsection (1) there is inserted—“(A1) A parent on whom a school attendance order is served in respect of a child by a local authority in England, and who fails to comply with the requirements of the order, is guilty of an offence unless—

(a) the parent proves that he is causing the child to receive suitable education, otherwise than at school, under section

(b) the child is registered on the authority’s home education register, or

(c) the parent proves that the child is in the area of another authority, and the child is registered on that authority’s home education register.”

(3) In subsection (1), after “served” there is inserted “by a local authority in Wales”.

10 In section 580 of EA 1996 (index), in the entry for “school attendance order”, for “section 437(3)” there is substituted “section 437(9)”.

Schedule 1, Section 9

Schedule 9, Section 1.

(1) Section 443 of EA 1996 (offence: failure to comply with order) is amended as follows.

(2) Before subsection (1) there is inserted—

“(A1) A parent on whom a school attendance order is served in respect of a child by a local authority in England, and who fails to comply with the requirements of the order, is guilty of an offence unless—

(a) the parent proves that he is causing the child to receive suitable education, otherwise than at school, under section 19,

(b) the child is registered on the authority’s home education register, or

(c) the parent proves that the child is in the area of another authority, and the child is registered on that authority’s home education register.”

Monday, November 23, 2009

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Schedule 1 Paragraph 3

Duty to make arrangements to identify unregistered children, etc

In Chapter 2 of Part 6 of EA 1996 (school attendance), before section 436A there is inserted—

“436ZA Duty to make arrangements to identify children not receiving education, etc: England

(1) A local authority in England must make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are—

(a) of compulsory school age, and

(b) within subsection (2) or (3).

(2) A child within this subsection is one who is not a home-educated child, but—

(a) is not a registered pupil at a school, and

(b) is not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.

(3) A child within this subsection is one who—

(a) is a home-educated child, but

(b) is not registered on the authority’s home education register.

(4) In exercising their functions under this section, a local authority must have regard to any guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State.

(5) In this Chapter, “suitable education”, in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to—

(a) the child’s age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) any special educational needs the child may have.”

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19I

19I Home education register: statutory guidance

In exercising their functions under or by virtue of sections 19A to 19H, a local authority in
England shall have regard to any guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State.”

In section 580 of EA 1996 (index), at the appropriate place there is inserted—

“home-educated child section 19A(4)

"home education register section 19A(4)”.

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19H

19H Supply of information for purposes of home education functions

(1) Regulations may make provision for a person within subsection (2) to be required to supply to a local authority in England, for the purposes of the exercise of their home education functions, prescribed information about a child of compulsory school age—

(a) whose name has been deleted from the register maintained by the proprietor of a school in England under section 434 because the child is, or is to be, a home-educated child,

(b) in respect of whom an application has been made for registration on the authority’s home education register,

(c) registration of whose details on the home education register of another local authority has been refused or revoked, or

(d) in respect of whom a notice, or a school attendance order, has been served by a local authority in England under section 437.

(2) The persons within this subsection are—

(a) a local authority in England, and

(b) in relation to a child within paragraph (a) of subsection (1), the proprietor referred to in that paragraph.

(3) An authority’s “home education functions”, in subsection (1), means their functions under or by virtue of sections 19A to 19G.

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19G

19G Appeal against authority’s decision

(1) Regulations made under this section shall—

(a) confer a right of appeal on a parent to whom a local authority in England have given notice under section 19B(5)(b) or (c) or 19F(3), and

(b) make provision in respect of appeals brought in exercise of that right.

(2) The regulations may, in particular make provision—

(a) about the period within which a right of appeal may be exercised;

(b) for the extension of the registration period provided for in section 19D in a case where a right of appeal has been exercised;

(c) about the person or body to whom an appeal lies and the powers of that person or body;

(d) for the payment of an allowance or the making of other payments to that person or to members of that body;

(e) about the matters to which regard is to be had in considering an appeal;

(f) as to the procedure on appeals.

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19F

19F Revocation of registration


(1) A local authority in England may revoke the registration of a child’s details on their home education register if it appears to them that—

(a) the child’s parent has failed to fulfil an undertaking given by virtue of section 19C(4)(e),

(b) information that has been provided in connection with the application for the child’s details to be entered on the register is incorrect or inadequate in a material respect (whether or not it was so when it was provided),

(c) the child is not a home-educated child,

(d) it would be harmful to the child’s welfare for the child to continue to be a home-educated child,

(e) by reason of a failure to co-operate with the authority in arrangements made by them under section 19E, or an objection to a meeting as mentioned in section 19E(4), the authority have not had an adequate opportunity to ascertain the matters referred to in section 19E(1),

(f) the child is not receiving suitable education, or

(g) the child is no longer in their area.


(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(f) a child’s education is suitable if it is efficient full-time education suitable to—

(a) the child’s age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) any special educational needs the child may have.

(3) If an authority revoke registration of a child’s details on their home education register under this section, they must give the child’s parent notice of the revocation and of the reasons for it.

(4) In determining whether the condition in subsection (1)(d) or (f) is satisfied, an authority shall, so far as is reasonably practicable and consistent with the child’s welfare, give due consideration (having regard to the child’s age and understanding) to any wishes and feelings of the child ascertained by them.

(5) Regulations may make provision about steps to be taken by an authority in connection with revocation, or proposed revocation, of registration of a child’s details on their home education register.

(6) The regulations may, in particular, make provision about matters that are or are not to be taken into account by an authority—

(a) in determining whether any of the conditions in subsection (1)(b) to (f) is met;

(b) in determining whether to revoke registration of a child’s details under this section.

We've had enough

Long-standing Labour voters in the home education community are pledging to vote Conservative in the next election. For some, it is a single issue thing as there is a recognition that the Conservatives understand that Labour's proposals to register and monitor home education will damage the education of many children and will represent a monstrous waste of money at a time when resources are extremely scarce.

For others, it is a matter of believing that the Labour is generally going crazy with the amount of prescription and pie-in-the sky electioneering. From this week's editorial in the Speccie:

"..what, after 12 years and an estimated 31, 500 new laws, has Labour done to leave British society either stronger or fairer?

The party was at its most chillingly audacious when legislation not just of what people do, but what they say. Just last week, an Englishman was jailed for being rude about the Scots. A few months ago, a man was arrested for discussing religion in his own home - he was a Christian bed-and-breakfast owner and his guest a touchy Muslim.

So the problem awaiting the Conservatives is simple: a county with too many laws that have too many unintended consequences. Generally speaking the less a government does, the better off the rest of us are - and the Tories would do well to remember this. The Cameron government should not judge success by how long they detain the Queen during her speech. What is needed is not a new avalanche of Tory laws, but a Great Repeal Act to tidy up the mess which Labour has left behind."

It seems likely that plenty of home educators will throw their weight behind the Great Repeal Bill as well.

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19E

19E Monitoring provision of home education to registered children

(1) A local authority in England shall make arrangements with a view to ascertaining, so far as is reasonably practicable—

(a) whether the education provided to a child whose details are entered on their home education register is suitable;

(b) whether it accords with information provided to them for the purposes of the application for registration;

(c) what the child’s wishes and feelings about it are;

(d) whether it would be harmful for the child’s welfare for the child to continue to be a home-educated child.

(2) For the purposes of this section a child’s education is suitable if it is efficient full-time education suitable to—

(a) the child’s age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) any special educational needs the child may have.

(3) Arrangements made by an authority under this section shall include arrangements made with a view to their—

(a) holding at least one meeting with the child during the registration period;

(b) holding at least one meeting with a parent of the child during the registration period;

(c) if they consider that a person other than a parent of the child is primarily responsible for providing education to the child, holding at least one meeting with that person during the registration period;

(d) visiting, at least once in the registration period, the place (or at least one of the places) where education is provided to the child.

But in a case where the registration period begins less than six months before the date on which the child ceases to be of compulsory school age, this subsection shall be read as conferring a power rather than imposing a duty.

(4) Arrangements made under subsection (3) may, unless the child or a parent of the child objects, provide for a meeting with the child at which no parent of the child or other person providing education to the child is present.

(5) In making arrangements under this section—

(a) to meet with the child or any other person, or

(b) to visit a place where education is provided to the child, the authority shall give at least two weeks written notice of the meeting or visit.

(6) In this section “registration period” has the same meaning as in section 19D.

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19D

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19D

19D Duration of registration

(1) Subsection (2) applies if a parent of a child has made an application to a local authority in England, in the prescribed manner, for the child’s details to be entered on their home education register.

(2) The child is to be treated for the purposes of this Act as being registered on the register throughout the registration period; and references in this Act to a child being registered on an authority’s home education register are to be interpreted accordingly.

(3) The registration period begins with the date on which the application for entry of the child’s details on the register is received by the authority.

(4) Subject to subsection (5), the registration period ends—

(a) where the authority give notice to the child’s parent under section 19B(5)(a), with the expiry of the period of 12 months starting with the date of the notice;

(b) where the authority give notice to the child’s parent under section 19B(5)(b) or (c), with the date of the notice.

(5) If before the end of the period mentioned in subsection (4)(a)—

(a) the authority give notice to the child’s parent under section 19F(3), or

(b) the child ceases to be of compulsory school age, the registration period ends with the date of the notice or (as the case may be) with the date on which the child ceases to be of compulsory school age.

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19C

19C Entry of child’s details on home education register: supplementary provision

(1) Regulations may make provision about steps to be taken by an authority in connection with an application for a child’s details to be entered on their home education register.

(2) The regulations may, in particular, make provision about matters that are or are not to be taken into account by an authority in deciding—

(a) whether to register a child’s details under section 19B(3);

(b) whether a child is within section 19B(7);

(c) whether section 19B(8) applies to a child’s application.

(3) Regulations under section 19B(1)(a) may, in particular, make provision within subsection (4) or (5).

(4) Provision within this subsection is provision—

(a) about how an application for registration of a child’s details is to be made;

(b) requiring an application for registration of a child’s details to include a statement giving prescribed information about the child’s prospective education;

(c) requiring an application to include other prescribed information;

(d) about the form in which a statement mentioned in paragraph (b), or any other information required to be included in an application, is to be provided;

(e) for an application for registration to include an undertaking to provide a statement mentioned in paragraph (b), or other prescribed information, to the authority within a period
determined by or in accordance with the regulations.

(5) Provision within this subsection is provision permitting an authority to specify a period, prescribed by or determined in accordance with the regulations, within which an application to enter on their home education register the details of a child to whom subsection (6) applies may not be made unless the authority are satisfied that there has been a change of circumstances that justifies an application being made within that period.

(6) This subsection applies to a child if—

(a) a parent of the child has previously made an application in the prescribed manner for the child’s details to be entered on a home education register maintained by a local authority, and the application (or the most recent such application) did not succeed, or

(b) the child’s details have previously been registered on a home education register maintained by a local authority, and the registration (or the most recent such registration) has been revoked under section 19F.

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19B

19B. Entry of child’s details on home education register

1) This section applies where—

a) a parent of a child in the area of a local authority in England has applied to the authority, in the prescribed manner, for the child’s details to be entered on their home education register,

(b) the child is of compulsory school age, and

(c) it appears to the authority that the child is, or is intended to be while still of compulsory school age, a home-educated child.

(2) Unless the authority consider—

(a) that the child is within subsection (6) or (7), or

(b) that subsection (8) applies to the child’s application, they shall enter the prescribed details relating to the child on their home education register.

(3) If the authority consider—

(a) that the child is within subsection (6), or

(b) that subsection (8) applies to the child’s application, they may enter the prescribed details relating to the child on their home education register.

But this subsection is subject to subsection (4), and to any provision made by virtue of section 19C(2)(a)).

(4) If the authority consider the child is within subsection (7), they shall not enter the child’s details on their home education register.

(5) The authority shall give the parent notice—

(a) if they enter the child’s details on their home education register, of the registration;

(b) if they decide not to enter the child’s details on the register under subsection (3), of this decision and the reasons for it;

(c) if they consider the child is within subsection (7), of the reasons for this, and of the consequent refusal to enter the child’s details on their home education register.

(6) A child is within this section if—

(a) a parent of the child has previously applied in the prescribed manner for the child’s details to be entered on a home education register (whether maintained by the authority or another authority), and the application (or the most recent such application) did not succeed,

(b) the child’s details have previously been registered on a home education register (whether maintained by the authority or another authority), and the registration (or the most recent such registration) has been revoked under section 19F, or

(c) a school attendance order served under section 437 is in force in respect of the child.

(7) A child is within this subsection if the authority consider that it would be harmful to the child’s welfare for the child—

(a) to become a home-educated child, or

(b) in the case of a child who is already a home-educated child, to continue to be a home-educated child.

(8) This subsection applies to an application for registration of a child’s details on the authority’s home education register if the authority consider that information that has been provided in connection with the application is incorrect or inadequate in a material respect (whether or not it was so when it was provided).

(9) An application is made in the prescribed manner, for the purposes of this section and section 19C, if it is made in a manner determined by or in accordance with regulations under subsection (1).

(10) For the purposes of this section and sections 19C and 19D, references to entering details on an authority’s home education register, in relation to details that are already on the register, include references to keeping those details on the register.

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19A

Children, Schools and Families Bill, Section 19A

Registration and monitoring


1 In Chapter 3 of Part 1 of EA 1996 (local authorities), after section 19 there is inserted—

“Home education: registration and monitoring

19A Maintenance of home education register

(1) A local authority in England shall maintain a register for the purpose of monitoring the provision of education to children of compulsory school age in their area who are not educated at a school or under section 19.

(2) Regulations may make provision about maintenance of the register.

(3) The regulations may, in particular, make provision about amendment of the register.

(4) In this Act—

“home-educated child” means a child all of whose education is provided otherwise than at a school, and not under section

“home education register” means a register maintained under this section.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Impact Assessment

The Impact Assessment for the Children, Schools and Families bill may be found here. Relevant section on Home Education from page 82.

Gill says nearly everything that needs to be said, but just to confirm one point: No, the DCSF's proposals do not conform to Hampton principles (see table on page 92) because the proposals dictate (see page 87) that during the first year of registration, ALL home educated children will receive 2 four hour meetings with LA officer, (the four hours includes planning, travel time etc), and that 50% of children in the first year will receive an additional 2 four hour sessions. Further, all children receive 1 eight hour visit at the end of the year and 50% will receive an additional 1 eight hour visit. Further, that the newly identified children are the ones who are most likely to require additional monitoring.

Hampton principles require that inspections where risks are low should be reduced, and only increased where necessary. So NO, the proposals are ridiculously disproportionate. All the uninspected teens we know have excelled in colleges and universities. Visiting them would have not helped one iota and is a complete waste of time, and likely to be extremely damaging. Despite supposedly consulting with us, it is still the case that the DCSF has NO IDEA ABOUT WHAT IT IS TALKING ABOUT, and MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO GO AROUND BASING AT BEST USELESS and at worst, DAMAGING AND EXPENSIVE POLICY ON THE BASIS OF COMPLETE IGNORANCE.

Stuart Bonar explains the strange sequence of events, whilst others are explaining the outrage and are gathering signatures from the wider public.

UPDATE: Kelly has more in the Impact Assessment here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Flyer on Clause 26 of the CSF Bill.

If you're having problems explaining the implications of the relevant clauses of the Children's, Schools and Families Bill to those who are not in the know, there is an excellent explanation available here.

Meanwhile, some are already done and dusted with their petitions. News from Yeovil.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Great News

...on Graham Stuart's Twitter (HT: Jemmo):

"I have confirmed with Michael Gove that the Conservatives will oppose compulsory registration of home educated children in the Bill."

Thanks to Firebird and Alice, we have news of today's debate on the Children, Schools and Families Bill, which I completely missed earlier.

It would be hard to overstate how much I appreciate Graham Stuart's contribution. He also provided a comment on the intrusiveness of the proposals at 1 hour and 51 mins into this session.

Sadly, a few minutes later, Mr Sheerman (head of the Select Committee) appears not to understand how the Every Child Matters ambitions are meant to apply to children and families.

Here's more on the Conservatives' plans for killing off the contents of the Queen's Speech.



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Queen's Speech Today

I'll be working at the precise time that we hear the news of what's in store for home educators when the Queen gives the first airing for the Children, Schools and Families Bill. Probably a good thing as I would otherwise, in all likelihood, have broken something.

Speech should be available here.

Meanwhile Tories are looking to thwart all that ridiculous electioneering (aka the Queen's Speech) but we must ensure that they focus on the right areas to thwart.

UPDATE: We will be registered and inspected. Check the Children, Schools and Families bill here,
here, and here and on the Number 10 Website, (HT Anon below), "to add insult to injury" we are included under safeguarding the vulnerable!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Update on Public Petition to Parliament

I believe that the Public Petition, as explained here and here ,is a good idea not only for the reason that it should generate a significant amount of publicity - HEors hope to make this the biggest public petition ever, which would almost certainly generate media interest, - but also because it provides a format for ensuring that as many MPs as possible are approached and are made aware of the fact that there is huge, widespread resistance to the state policing of families and that this will cost their constituencies far more than they bargained for if Badman style proposals are implemented.

On balance therefore, I do think it would be a great idea if as many constituencies as possible were covered, and if people do come forward to volunteer to act as co-ordinator for their area.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A New Kind of Petition Entirely

This petition aims to alert every MP in the country to our resistance to the Badman proposals and involves a completely different process to the on-line petitions. It needs support very, very urgently as we only have approx 2 weeks to complete the entire process! Please consider signing up to become a co-ordinator for your area.

Accompanying information (forwarded with permission):

"Petition to Parliament : Deadline for signatures - November 30th 2009.

The debate in the House of Commons on the Badman proposals could be as early as December 3rd.

In response, Graham Stuart MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education has offered to organise a Petition to Parliament.

The link to the petition, which has been written by Graham Stuart's office, can be found here.

A number of MPs have told us that petitions to Downing Street have much less effect than a Petition to Parliament.

The key thing is the number of constituencies where a Petition to Parliament is signed, rather than getting a huge number of signatories from any one constituency.

The Petitions to Parliament are taken by MPs to Parliament and are recorded in Hansard.

Graham Stuart believes that home educators have an opportunity to raise the greatest number of petitions ever presented to the House.

Q & A:

Q What does the petition say:

A: The Petition to Parliament says that the signatories are concerned about the recommendations of the Badman Report and believe that the recommendations are based on a rushed review which failed to consider and evaluate evidence and failed to take account of the existing legislative framework. The Petition goes on to say that measures in forthcoming legislation should be not brought forward or should be withdrawn and that the Government should take steps to see that the Home Education Guidelines are properly implemented, learning from best practice in local authorities.

Q: Who has put this together?

A: The wording of the petition has been devised by Graham Stuart MP's parliamentary research assistant. Graham Stuart is also Chair of the new All Party Parliamentary Group.

Q: Why does it say "not to bring forward, or to withdraw"?

A: This is a form of wording devised by the MP's parliamentary research assistant which takes account of the fact that the Children and Families Bill will not be withdrawn, since most of it deals with the Schools White Paper. Clauses of the Bill can be withdrawn or the Government can allow clauses to be defeated on a vote.

Q: How did this come about?

A: Graham Stuart MP spoke about an All Party Parliamentary Group to constituents and to home educators who gave evidence to the Select Committee and also to those who attended the Select Committee to watch the proceedings. The topic of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Home Education also came up at the Education Otherwise Parliamentary Event on October 20th. As a follow-up, home educators were invited to meet Graham Stuart and at the meeting the subject of the Petition to Parliament was raised.

Home educators who had been involved with organising the Parliamentary Event, whether or not they were able to attend, have remained in touch with each other and have been a point of contact for Graham Stuart's researcher. Graham Stuart asked for a web page which would feature the petition and would enable home educators to sign up by constituency. (The usual Petition to Parliament is from a single constituency) Roarke volunteered for this task.

The final wording of the Petition was sent to the web page designer on Thursday 12th. GrahamStuart wanted people to be able to sign up as co-ordinators as soon as possible. The first emails thanking volunteer co-ordinators were signed by Roarke as web page designer. Roarke is not signing subsequent emails since he does not wish his role to be misunderstood or overstated.

Q: Is this an Education Otherwise thing?

A: Some of the home educators talking to Graham Stuart are postholders in Education Otherwise. Other home educators talking to Graham Stuart are not postholders or members of EO. Education Otherwise is not in any sense controlling or directing the Petition to Parliament. Graham Stuart asked for a web page which could be promoted to as many home educators as possible so that anyone could come forward and volunteer to co-ordinate a constituency petition.

=========

Here's what you can do:

1. Volunteer to be the local coordinator for the signatures on the petition papers.
You will receive a file with the petition which you will print out and post or email to people who contact you and ask for a copy. You will be responsible for coordinating the collection of
petitions signed by local home educators and presenting it to your MP (along with other local home educators if possible) You will get information on how to gain press interest for the presentation.

2. If when you click on the link, someone has already volunteered to be co-ordinator in your constituency, click on the link to email them and get a paper or electronic copy of the petition.

3. Ask friends/ family who live in a constutuency where no one has
volunteered if they would organise a petition from their area.

Share this link

http://www.freedomforfamilyeducation.org/

All petitions will be presented in parliament by MPs on or around 3rd December 2009.

Hence we need petitions returned to co-ordinators by November 30th at the latest.

The idea is to have as many MPs as possible present petitions on that day. The number of signatories is, of course, significant , and the more the better - but more dramatic will be the numbers of MPs who present petitions (ie, the number of consituencies represented - so even if you only have one signature on the petition for your MP to present it is still worth it!)

Click on the link above to volunteer to be your local co-ordinator or to find out who your local co-ordinator is so that you can arrange to sign the petition.

We have only two weeks to organise this!

Graham Stuart believes that home educators have an opportunity to raise the greatest number of petitions ever presented to the House. We cover almost every constituency and the issues we are raising affect every family - home educators or not.

Freedom for Family Education-- because FAMILIES raise children! "

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Change of Name

News just in: the 'Improving Schools and Safeguarding Children Bill' which promised to "improve monitoring arrangements for children educated at home" and which is due to be included in the Queen's Speech on the 18th Nov, has been renamed "The Children, Schools & Families Bill."

There's no further news on what's likely to be included in it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Letter from David Cameron

Copied below, a letter recently received by a home educator from Tory leader, David Cameron, which confirms our suspicions that the Conservatives have a far better grasp of the issues.

If your Conservative MP hasn't signed the EDM yet, it would be great if you could direct him/her to this missive:

" I share your concern about the direction the review has taken. I was impressed by the commitment that you as home educators have shown to your children. You and many others make sacrifices, forgo income, put careers on hold and battle bureaucracy in order to give your children extra care and attention. I think such commitment is admirable, and the taint of suspicion which this review has allowed to hang over home education is deeply regrettable.

I strongly believe that we should trust parents more when it comes to determining the shape of their children's education and the whole thrust of our policies for schools are driven by a desire to give parents more control. While improving state education is our principle mission, I am deeply committed to respecting individual choice and there are many reasons, some very personal, which may incline families to opt for home education. I want a future conservative government to support them in that choice.

Of course I am also determined to ensure we have the highest standards of child protection and safeguarding in this country, but I share your concerns about the way in which issues of home education and child protection have been conflated in a way which seems to me unfair on so many exceptionally dedicated, and loving parents.

My apologies for the delay in replying. I have actually taken the time to talk to my Head of Policy, Oliver Letwin MP, who has been having his own discussions with Michael Gove MP about how we respond to the Badman Report. This is resulted in a newly-approved early day motion which Conservatives will sign. I have attached a copy of it here and I hope you will agree that
it moves matters forward in terms of our response in this very important
issue.

David Cameron.

EDM 1785
That this house acknowledges and celebrates the hard work of the many home educators in Britain who teach their children to an exceptionally high standard; recognises the excellent value they represent to the government; notes with concern the conflation of welfare concerns with education issues in government statements on home education; further notes with concern the
recommendations of the Badman Review which suggest closer monitoring of home educators, including a compulsory annual registration scheme and right of access to peoples homes for local authority officials; and calls on the government to focus on its own ability to fulfil the every child matters objectives rather than undermine the independence and integrity of home educators by enforcing the Badman recommendations.