Sunday, February 28, 2010

What SAOs would look like if the CSF Bill were to pass

New sections from the CSF Bill are in blue. Deletions from old s437 etc are in yellow.

From Schedule 1 of CSF Bill:

437: School attendance orders (SAOs).


(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, that the child is receiving suitable education, and

(b) in the opinion of the authority it is expedient that the child should attend school, 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,

the authority shall serve a school attendance order on the parent on the parent an order (referred to in this Act as a “school attendance order”), in such form as may be prescribed, requiring him to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order

(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 or grant-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 or grant-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 county or voluntary school or any maintained special school which is 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.

438 Choice of school: child without statement of special educational needs

1) This section applies where a local education authority are required by virtue of section 437(3) or (3A) to serve a school attendance order in respect of a child, other than a child for whom they maintain a statement under section 324.

(2) Before serving the order, the authority shall serve on the parent a notice in writing —

(a) informing him of their intention to serve the order,

(b) specifying the school which the authority intend to name in the order and, if they think fit, one or more other schools which they regard as suitable alternatives, and

(c) stating the effect of subsections (3) to (6).

(3) If the notice specifies one or more alternative schools and the parent selects one of them within the period of 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served, the school selected by him shall be named in the order.

(4) If —

(a) within the period mentioned in subsection (3) —

(i) the parent applies for the child to be admitted to a school maintained by a local education authority and, where that authority are not the authority by whom the notice was served, notifies the latter authority of the application, or

(ii) the parent applies for the child to be admitted to a grant-maintained school and notifies the authority by whom the notice was served of the application, and

(b) the child is offered a place at the school as a result of the application,

that school shall be named in the order.

(5) If —

(a) within the period mentioned in subsection (3), the parent applies to the local education authority by whom the notice was served for education to be provided for the child at a school which is not maintained by a local education authority and is not a grant-maintained school, and

(b) the child is offered a place at the school under arrangements made by the authority under which the fees payable in respect of the education provided at the school are to be paid by them under section 517,

that school shall be named in the order.

(6) If, within the period mentioned in subsection (3) —

(a) the parent —

(i) applies for the child to be admitted to a school which is not maintained by a local education authority and is not a grant-maintained school, and in respect of which no application is made under subsection (5), and

(ii) notifies the local education authority by whom the notice was served of the application,

(b) the child is offered a place at the school as a result of the application, and

(c) the school is suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have,

that school shall be named in the order.

439 Specification of schools in notices under section 438(2)

(1) Subject to subsection (3), a local education authority shall not, if it appears to them that subsection (2) applies in relation to any school, specify the school in a notice under section 438(2) unless they are responsible for determining the arrangements for the admission of pupils to the school.

(2) This subsection applies where, if the child concerned were admitted to the school in accordance with a school attendance order resulting from the notice, the number of pupils at the school in the child’s age group would exceed the number fixed—

(a) in the case of a maintained school, in accordance with section 416, or

(b) in the case of a grant-maintained school, in accordance with sections 426 to 428,

as the number of pupils in that age group which it is intended to admit to the school in the school year in which he would be admitted.

(3) Subsection (1) does not prevent a local education authority specifying in a notice under section 438(2) any maintained or grant-maintained school if—

(a) there is no maintained or grant-maintained school in their area which—

(i) the authority are not (apart from this subsection) prevented by subsection (1) from specifying, and

(ii) is, in the opinion of the authority, a reasonable distance from the home of the child concerned, and

(b) in the opinion of the authority, the school in question is a reasonable distance from the home of the child concerned.

(4) A local education authority shall not specify in a notice under section 438(2) a school from which the child concerned is permanently excluded.

(5) Before deciding to specify a particular maintained or grant-maintained school in a notice under section 438(2) a local education authority shall consult —

(a) the governing body, and

(b) if another local education authority are responsible for determining the arrangements for the admission of pupils to the school, that authority.

(6) Where a local education authority decide to specify a particular maintained or grant-maintained school in a notice under section 438(2) they shall, before serving the notice, serve notice in writing of their decision on—

(a) the governing body and head teacher of the school, and

(b) if another local education authority are responsible for determining the arrangements for the admission of pupils to the school, that authority.

(7) A governing body or local education authority on whom notice is served under subsection (6) may, within the period of 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice was received, apply to the Secretary of State for a direction under this section and, if they do so, shall inform the local education authority which served the notice.

(8) Where the Secretary of State gives a direction under this section, the school or schools to be specified in the notice under section 438(2) shall be determined in accordance with the direction.

440 Amendment of order at request of parent: child without statement of special educational needs

(1) This section applies where a school attendance order is in force in respect of a child, other than a child for whom the local education authority maintain a statement under section 324.

(2) If at any time—

(a) the parent applies for the child to be admitted to a school maintained by a local education authority or grant-maintained school which is different from the school named in the order,

(b) the child is offered a place at the school as a result of the application, and

(c) the parent requests the local education authority by whom the order was served to amend it by substituting that school for the one currently named,

the authority shall comply with the request.

(3) If at any time—

(a) the parent applies to the authority for education to be provided for the child at a school which is not maintained by a local education authority or a grant-maintained school and which is different from the school named in the order,

(b) the child is offered a place at the school under arrangements made by the authority under which the fees payable in respect of the education provided at the school are to be paid by them under section 517, and

(c) the parent requests the authority to amend the order by substituting that school for the one currently named,

the authority shall comply with the request.

(4) If at any time —

(a) the parent applies for the child to be admitted to a school which is not maintained by a local education authority and is not a grant-maintained school, which is different from the school named in the order and in respect of which no application is made under subsection (3),

(b) as a result of the application, the child is offered a place at the school, being a school which is suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have, and

(c) the parent requests the authority to amend the order by substituting that school for the one currently named,

the authority shall comply with the request.

441 Choice of school: child with statement of special educational needs

(1) Subsections (2) and (3) apply where a local education authority are required by virtue of section 437(3) or (3A) to serve a school attendance order in respect of a child for whom they maintain a statement under section 324.

(2) Where the statement specifies the name of a school, that school shall be named in the order.

(3) Where the statement does not specify the name of a school—

(a) the authority shall, in accordance with paragraph 10 of Schedule 27, amend the statement so that it specifies the name of a school, and

(b) that school shall then be named in the order.

(4) Where —

(a) a school attendance order is in force in respect of a child for whom the local education authority maintain a statement under section 324, and

(b) the name of the school specified in the statement is changed, the local education authority shall amend the order accordingly.

442 Revocation of order at request of parent

(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.

(1) This section applies where a school attendance order

Subsection (2) applies where a school attendance order served by a local authority in Wales is in force in respect of a child.

(2) If at any time the parent applies to the local education 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 school, the authority shall comply with the request, unless they are of the opinion that no satisfactory arrangements have been made for the education of the child otherwise than at school.

(3) If a parent is aggrieved by a refusal of the local education authority to comply with a request under subsection (D1) or (2), he may refer the question to the Secretary of State.

(4) Where a question is referred to the Secretary of State under subsection (3), he shall give such direction determining the question as he thinks fit.

(5) Where the child in question is one for whom the authority maintain a statement under section 324 —

(a) subsections (B1) to (D1) and (2) to (4) do not apply if the name of a school or other institution is specified in the statement, and

(b) in any other case a direction under subsection (4) may require the authority to make such amendments in the statement as the Secretary of State considers necessary or expedient in consequence of his determination.

School attendance: offences and education supervision orders

443 Offence: failure to comply with school attendance order

(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.

(1) If a parent on whom a school attendance order is served by a local authority in Wales fails to comply with the requirements of the order, he is guilty of an offence, unless he proves that he is causing the child to receive suitable education otherwise than at school.

(2) If, in proceedings for an offence under this section, the parent is acquitted, the court may direct that the school attendance order shall cease to be in force.

(3) A direction under subsection (2) does not affect the duty of the local education authority to take further action under section 437 if at any time the authority are of the opinion that, having regard to any change of circumstances, it is expedient to do so.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.


[Also, later in the act]:

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

My Most Recent Letter to a Lord

We should all be writing now to educate the Lords on the implications of Schedule 1 and to encourage them to speak at the 2nd reading in the Lords. See here for more details about writing to the Lords and visit the Freedom for Children to Grow site for more information on what goes on in the House of Lords. There is also a list of Lords here where some Lords have included an email address in the "biog" section.

Sent via Write to Them:

Dear Lord xxxx,

I am writing to you with regard to the Children, Schools and Families Bill which is due its second reading in the House of Lords on 8th March 2010. In particular, I and many others in the xxxx area are very concerned about the implications of Schedule 1 which may be found here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmbills/008/10008.38-44.html#m01s

My husband and I have been home educating for over 12 years now. I have seen how it provides a wonderful and invigorating environment which strengthens the bond between parents and children, which allows for a flourishing of talent, which empowers parents to take care of their children to the best of their ability, delivers advantages to the otherwise seemingly disadvantaged child and which makes for successful young people who are very ready to face the challenges of the modern world.

And yet over the past year or so, one could be forgiven, as a general observer, for thinking home educators the most abusive bunch of parents in the land. Home educators have been subjected to a review with the remit to search for evidence that home education is used as a cover for abuse. When this was not easily forthcoming, highly unusual cases, such as the terrible case of Khyra Ishaq, have been cited as the reason for the draconian proposals at Schedule 1.

However it is clear that in every one of these unusual cases, current legislation would have been sufficient to solve the problems, had it been used correctly. In the case of Khyra Ishaq, social services and the home education teams knew that there were concerns and had heard on numerous occasions that she appeared be at risk. Social services simply had to use their current powers as enshrined in s47 of the Children Act 1989:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1989/ukpga_19890041_en_7#pt5-l1g47

It is extremely unfortunate that they chose not to, though not surprising when you consider how short-staffed, over-worked and under-funded most social work teams are nowadays.

A universal monitoring scheme for all home educators, as proposed in Schedule 1, would not be the best solution here. It would result in the monumental waste of public funds as thousands of otherwise well-functioning families will be inspected for no reason whatsoever and with some devastating implications for these families, and all the while, social work services will be struggling to cope with those they know to be at risk.

Of course, the lack of funding for social service departments only looks set to get much worse from 2011 onwards, and it will therefore be all the more imperative to target the money wisely - where it will be most likely to save children in abusive situations. Schedule 1 will not do this and does not represent a wise investment of public monies.

Further on the ineffectiveness of Schedule 1: if there are any seriously abusive, undiscovered families out there, they are highly unlikely to come forward to register, for what have they got to lose by not doing so? Only law-abiding HEors, with so much to lose, (ie: the right to home educate), will come forward to undergo this licencing process.

It is indeed the case that HEing families have much to lose, should Schedule 1 be enacted. One of the most significant problems is that the licencing process would mean that the state would become the educator of first resort. Parents will no longer be able to determine the nature of the educational provision for their children, since this will be determined by the Local Authority officer. Parents, who after all, usually do know their children best, will no longer be able to tailor the education to fit the child, but will have to provide an education that fits the subjective judgement of "suitable" that the LA officer (a virtual stranger to the child) holds.

This is already a problem for many HE families who are inspected under the current, less draconian regime. It looks set to get much worse should the local authorities be delivered of the powers in Schedule 1. Under Schedule 1, LA officers will be able to force children, many of whom will have previously been failed by state education, straight back into it, simply on a LA officer's say-so. Families will have no defence in courts, as Schedule 1 makes it clear that courts will not be allowed to consider whether the parents were in fact providing a suitable education out of school.

Parents and families will thereby be reduced to acting as agents of the state, required to do its bidding. This will not only undermine parental/familial initiative and familial trust, (qualities that has up till now been very much in evidence in HE circles), but it will also undermine the principles of democracy. A democracy is predicated upon the idea of an articulate, literate and independent populace who are capable of holding the state to account. If everyone is to receive only a state-mandated education, the possibility of a genuine democracy is thereby diminished.

This legislation will have a profound and on occasion, devastating impact upon the lives of many home educated children. We would therefore be extremely grateful if you would consider debating this issue in the House of Lords, not least because this issue received extremely scant attention in the Third Reading in the Commons, and we see here:

http://www.lordswhips.org.uk/display/templatedisplay3.asp?sectionid=5

that there are only a few Lords currently listed to speak.

If you need any further information, you may be interested to know that there is to be a meeting on the subject of Schedule 1 on Tuesday March 2nd 6-7pm, Committee Room 16, House of Commons. Hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group, the room will be available until 7.30pm.

Confirmed speakers:

*Dr. Alan Thomas - has written papers on self-directed/autonomous learning - how successful it is and why you cannot monitor this kind of learning.

*Christine Waterman, on Special Educational Needs and how the proposals would impact on home educated children with SEN.

* Mike Crawshaw, on how the government misled the House of Commons with flawed analysis and discredited statistics.

* Jane Lowe (HEAS) on the current situation with the LAs and why no change in the law is necessary.

Many thanks for you help in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Law and Lawyers on the Ishaq Case

...here.

Prejudice, Ignorance and Lies from LAs

...as reported in the TES here. The comments are a must-read.

More on the implications of Khyra's case.

Well said, Julie. Social services knew about the risks to Khyra. They just didn't act appropriately on the information they had, despite having all the powers they needed.

The DCSF must NOT waste money inspecting thousands of well-functioning families. They should target the money at families known to be at risk since SS across the country are finding it next to impossible to cope with these.

Gerald Warner in the Telegraph agrees and Merry writes an open letter to Fern Britten and Jeremy Vine, explaining the facts of the matter.

UPDATE: According to Children and Young People Now, Balls has sparked outrage in the HE community. Too right he has. Blogdial puts the full case against the state and N. Shropshire provides useful links and further information.

Do Ed Balls and his henchmen like to bully home educators?

Well after reports of the meeting at which defenders of HEors such as Douglas Carswell MP and Paula Rothermel were openly booed, I think we can now even include bullet point 1. All the other bullet points clearly apply, which would seem to suggest that yes, Ed Balls and the DCSF are bullies.

From Unite, here are the questions you should ask yourself if you want to determine if you are being bullied.
Am I being bullied?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Another of those phone calls today

...from a neighbouring local authority asking me to shop people who HE in that area.

The woman from the LA was slightly more polite than the gentleman (a misnomer) who phoned last time, but she still rapidly descended to extraordinary arguments which made no sense at all.

I, of course, said there was no way I would reveal names and addresses of people I knew of, that I had asked the relevant HEors after the previous occasion when the gentleman (nominally at least from the LA) had rung me, and they had predictably confirmed what I had previously thought, ie: that I was on no account to give out names and addresses to a person I had never met and on the end of a phone line.

She then asked if I would give her numbers of HEors I knew of in that LA. I asked her how this would help, and she couldn't explain.

She then said, "Well how can I do my job?" I told her what I had told the previous caller, that if there were any real concerns, I am sure she would get to hear about them one way or another, but there were no concerns amongst the people I know of.

She then asked if we could meet for a chat. I asked her what would be the reason for this. Again she had no answer.

I suppose I have got better at this. At least she just gave up rather than resorting to shouting at me, which the previous caller had done.

I still think it is a quite extraordinary way to behave. I mean most companies are very aware that people can't be expected just to dole out their details left right and centre, and yet here is a person I have never met, claiming to be such-and-such and so-and-so, but of course, I have no way of checking, demanding that I give out details which other people have entrusted to me. Quite odd and will be reporting the above to the organisations and individuals who are collecting evidence on how LAs behave.

Generally speaking, I have formed the impression that I don't want these sorts of mad people anywhere near me or my family.

Ed Balls on Khyra Ishaq

An agency I work for has real trouble getting social services to act in known cases of abuse. Were it not for the agency workers picking up the pieces, unpaid, in their own time, vulnerable people would be left to either starve or freeze or both as social workers routinely fail to pick up the baton.

In our area at least, it appears that social services lack sufficient manpower and resources to protect those they know to be vulnerable and I strongly suspect that, despite what Ed Balls says, this was the problem at the heart of the Khyra Ishaq case. Her problems had NOTHING to do with being hidden through HE (she wasn't - social services knew about her and would have had good reason to think that she was at risk) and EVERYTHING to do with lack of funding for SS departments.

It would be simply criminal therefore, if Ed Balls were to push through Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families which would result in the monumental wastage of public funds as LAs set about inspecting thousands of perfectly well-functioning families, whilst families known to be at risk, languish at the bottom of some social worker's "to do" list.

Further, if there are any Fred Wests out there, the proposals in Schedule 1 will not bring them to light. Only successful HEors will register under this scheme, so it won't work to find the truly abusive.

The ridiculous proposals in the CSF Bill must not see the light of day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Michael Gove on Clauses 26 and 27

In response to Naomi's question here, Michael Gove promises that Clauses 26 and 27 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill will not become law.

UPDATE: There are more assurances from Michael Gove. Thank goodness that it seems that right will prevail.

Date of Second Reading in the Lords

The First Reading (in the Lords) of the Children Schools and Families Bill (which is a formality) will occur today - Wednesday February 24th.

The Second Reading will take place on March 8th.

News of yesterday's proceedings here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Report Debate and Third Reading

...today, to start sometime after 15.00. Live recording available here.

Amendment 63 (calling for the deletion of Clause 26) is apparently up for debate. Still waiting! (18.03 hours)

Information from EO available here.

UPDATE: See comment below.

Further Update: More news of the Report Debate.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Schools churning out the unemployable

...from the Times.

Capita are at it again

Capita are at it again re Children Missing Education. Their 6th National Conference on the matter includes (rather alarmingly, seeing as it isn't law)....

"Understand how to execute the recommendations of the Badman Review on elective home education"

Oh dear.

Meanwhile, news from home educators who have been visited by our local authority is not good. Reports suggest that our woman, who can parrot the word autonomy without any deep understanding of it, is already getting uppity. For example, she is demanding visits at three monthly intervals, with each visit taking at least two hours. She puts pressure on families who refuse the three monthly visits, and you feel as if she has eyes everywhere. Heaven forbid that she be delivered of the powers in Schedule 1.

If you have any similar recent experiences with your LAs, please do mail in comments.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Latest Update from EO

...here.

Kelly on the DCSF Letter re Special Educational Needs

here.

And this post by Kelly and Bruce, which takes another look at the costings for the Schedule 1 proposals is also a must-see.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Report Stage of Children, Schools and Families Bill

...coming up soon, 23rd February 2010. More details on the Report Stage and the Third Reading here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Home Education Meeting for Lords

PLEASE mention this meeting to any Lord with whom you have contact. The APPG is officially responsible for issuing invitations but the personal touch might just encourage a few.

Home education meeting for the Lords

Tuesday March 2nd 6-7pm

Committee Room 16, House of Commons.

Hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group. The room will be available until 7.30pm.

Confirmed speakers:

*Dr. Alan Thomas - has written papers on self-directed/autonomous learning - how successful it is and why you cannot monitor this kind of learning.

*Christine Waterman, on Special Educational Needs and how the proposals would impact on home educated children with SEN.

* Mike Crawshaw, on how the government misled the House of Commons with flawed analysis and discredited statistics.

* Jane Lowe (HEAS) on the current situation with the LAs and why no change in the law is necessary.

-----

If you are planning to attend, please let Karen Bartlett know, so that she can keep an eye on numbers. (Space is limited.) Mail Karen on: karenbartlett@btinternet.com

If you need further information, email Carolyn on: carolyncrawshaw@btinternet.com

DSCF Letter to Directors of Children's Services

...re EHE children.

And more news from EO on writing to MPs in the run-up to the wash-up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From the Guardian

here:

"Why have you got it in for home- educating families?

Ed Balls:
Home education is a long-standing part of our education system and that should continue. The vast majority of home-educated children receive a good education in a safe and loving environment.

But we have to ensure that this is the case for all children. There have been some cases of "home-educated" children being badly neglected. That's why we are taking forward the recommendations of the independent review of home education, including the call for extra support for home educators, especially where a child has a special educational need. I think people will increasingly see that the proposals are necessary and strike the right balance."

I wonder which people these will be? Will these be the few who actually know what they are talking about or the uninformed majority?

Still time to Lobby MPs

EO has the details.

Friday, February 12, 2010

No cash left for support then....

There's money to be made from us, it seems. EHE Consultant jobs come out at up to £100,000 per annum. Don't think they costed for that in the Impact Assessment.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lord Soley and Baroness Deech

are asking more questions, here and here.

MPs can still add their names to the Amendments

...to leave out Clause 26, Schedule 1 and Clause 27, during the parliamentary recess. See details here.

Further details (eg: links to amendments) here.

And on a different point: should you happen to need even more evidence that Labour is capable of saying almost anything whether or not it bears any resemblance to reality, look no further than on the matter of access to funding for home educators. Diana Johnson appears to be saying that funding will be available for HEors if we all (every single one of us?) register, whereas Baroness Morgan, only two days earlier, seems to suggest that there will be no funds for anyone who educates out of school. See here for details.

Ho hum. Who and what are we to believe, we wonder!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

PLEASE ACT NOW

After the close of Committee stage on Thursday February 4th, further amendments were tabled to the Children Schools and Families Bill. A selection of these amendments will be discussed during Report stage in the House of Commons on Tuesday February 23rd. At the close of business on February 23rd the Bill will move to Third Reading and then pass to the House of Lords.

Amendments 63 and 66 propose to leave out clause 26 and 27 of the Bill, which are the clauses enabling implementation of Schedule 1 licensing registration and monitoring scheme for home education. Amendment 63 has seven signatories and is headed by Michael Gove, Shadow Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families.

Today Wednesday 10th February is the last day for MPs to add their signature to these amendments before the parliamentary recess. When MPs return after the recess there will only be one day before the Report debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday February 23rd. We understand that signatures cannot be added during the recess.

Constituents can telephone the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000 today and ask to be put through to their MP's office. MPs wishing to add their signature to the amendments need to go to the Public Bill Office today.


There are various criteria by which amendments are selected for debate at Report. More information here and here.

Back to answering socialisation question all over again...

...but this time, to Lords and Ladies.

I don't think we really got round to explaining how and why autonomous education works so well, but otherwise home educators have done a great job laying out the problems and pitfalls of Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill to Baroness Deech and Lord Soley.

Clearly though, we need to keep going! Please do write to a Lord to explain why the CSF Bill will be so damaging to home education.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Labour Spin and the Children, Schools and Families Bill

Everyone should read this post here, since it neatly exposes the mismatch between Labour spin in relation to the Children, Schools and Families Bill and the actual reality of its implications.

If you haven't already, please write to your Labour MP and the Lords and explain!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

What We Should be Doing

Forecasts vary but there are some MPs who believe that it is still perfectly possible for the Children, Schools and Families Bill to get through in time before the election and that Labour will lean heavily on their MPs and Lords in order to get this bill passed - (presumably leaving the Tories with the terrible mess that various sections of the bill will create).

Probably our best hope is to have clauses dropped or changed in the Lords. We should make quite sure that our Tory and Lib Dem MPs are on board, and must also ensure that we explain to the Lords that this Bill will have terrible consequences for home educated children and their families.

We are already hearing of an increasing number of home educating families who are being remorselessly bullied by their local authorities in anticipation of having these powers. HE families will have NO protection at all from subjective judgements about education should the bill go through, and explaining to the LA that we will see them in court in order to prove that a suitable education is being provided will no longer work if our reading of the proposed alterations to the School Attendance Order regime is correct, since it looks as if the courts will be specifically barred from considering whether a suitable education is actually being provided!

Please, please make sure your MP understands this, that the CSF Bill will damage the education of children, that it will prove an immense source of stress and anguish for HE families, who know that they can offer their preferred form of education but that they may well be prevented from doing so as some arbitrary LA official may have a vastly different view on the matter. And explain this to any Lord you think may be interested.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Summary of the Public Bill Committee Stage

...and on the timing of the Children, Schools and Families bill from another HE blogger here.

Firebird comments here. Mum of Six here, Tech here.

Other memoranda that were submitted to the Public Bill Committee by HEors and other organisations:

Pam and Terry Perryman
Jacquie Cox
David Hough
Action for Home Education
Randal Hardy
Autism in Mind
Education Otherwise
Lorena Hodgson
Kelly Green
Louise Thorn
Dave Watson
Jill Harris
Dani Ahrens
Rosemary McGruther
Dr Ben. Anderson
Tania Berlow
Joint submission
Imran Shah

But herein lies the problem...ie: local government officials feeling the pinch of their interpretation of the law. The guidance on identifying children missing an education must be re-written to prevent government busybodies completely overriding parental responsibilities.

UPDATE: The Education Otherwise submission also explains that LA officials need to understand that s13a Education Act 1996 does not apply to home education.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Public Bill Committee Meeting on HE

Recording here, with section on HE starting at one hour and 28 mins.

UPDATE:
Transcript here.

To summarise, Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill stands with no amendments.
Ho hum.

Plenty of criticisms could have been raised in response to the criticisms of the amendments. Will get onto it if time permits, but at the very least, we must raise these objections in our communications with the Lords.

Fantastic Stuff Katie

Home educating mum and musician, Katie Elliott, who regularly runs music and choir sessions for local HEKs, has written and produced a song to raise money for the victims of the Haitian earthquake. HE kids feature heavily, though the Beeb forgot to mention that fact!

You can listen to and download the song here. Please spread the word.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Public Bill Committee

Hopefully they will get round to discussing the relevant clauses concerning home education, from 09.00 today, Thursday. UPDATE: They didn't make it to Clause 26 prior to taking a break. Will have to come back to this. Link to live session may be available through here, but yet to find direct url.

If not, any amendments that are not raised at the Committee stage can apparently be raised on the floor of the House at the Report Stage.

UPDATE:

Harriet Harman announced in the Commons that the Report Stage and the Third Reading of the CSF Bill will be on Tuesday on Tue. 23rd February. This will be after the recess.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010