Saturday, September 29, 2012

Next Education Committee Session

Next Education Committee Session:

Subject: Support for Home Education.  

Date:  17th October 2011.  

Time:  09.45  

Wondering who's been asked?  Presuming it will be LAs.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Welsh Government seeking the views of HE children and young people.

From the Welsh Government:

"The Welsh Government believe the current legislation surrounding elective home education has shortcomings because there is no legal requirement on the parent to tell a local authority that a child is receiving education at home. Without this requirement, it is very difficult for local authorities to carry out their duties to ensure that all compulsory school age children in their area are receiving a suitable education. 

For these reasons we are proposing the introduction of a registration and monitoring scheme for home educated children. We want the scheme to promote a more supportive and constructive relationship between all home educating families and local authorities, with them working together to ensure children receive a suitable education.

A consultation seeking views on the proposals is currently open and responses are requested by 23 November 2012. 

In addition, a small number of facilitated events aimed at seeking the views of children and young people will be held on:

18 October 2012 10:30 at Royal Welsh Showground, Powys
26 October 2012 10:30 at All Nations Centre, Cardiff
30 October 2012 10:30 at Conwy Business Centre, Conwy
These events are also open to adults. Each event will last approximately two hour with light refreshments available on arrival.

To book a place at one of the events please email:  "

Meanwhile, from Home Education UK, a list of documents that may be useful when responding to the Welsh consultation. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What's Wrong with S7?

OK, so what is wrong with the s7 of the 1996 Education Act?  It has long been held, not least by plenty of home educators, that there is nothing that can be done to improve upon it, but what with the Welsh Consultation and all its questions about the nature of suitability, well it set me wondering - perhaps it is the perfect moment to point out that there are, despite received wisdoms to the contrary, some problems with the ambiguous way in which s7 is written.

The thing is,  "causing a child to receive a suitable eduation " is very easily misunderstood by local authorities (amongst others) to mean that the child must have grown knowledge and not simply that a parent has offered a suitable education.  Since the 2006 Education and Inspections Act which gives LAs a duty to identify children not in receipt of an education , LAs have got all moithered and have often assumed that s7 , 437  and 436a mean that they must check up to see that a child has grown knowledge.

Anecdotally, my impression is that more and more LAs have been asking to see the child's work in order to satisfy themselves that the child has grown knowledge and that the parent has therefore, in the eyes of a mistaken LA, fulfilled the parental duty to cause a child to receive a suitable education.

eg:  Stoke, whose policy explicitly states:

"During this visit the Education at home monitoring officer will make every effort to ensure that the child is seen. It is not required that the National Curriculum is followed but during the visit parents will be asked to allow  the Education at home monitoring officer access to the child’s work ...."

LAs round this way already often ask to see evidence of a child's work, and indeed mostly prefer to do so and if they are given a remit to register and de facto (as they threaten in Wales) to monitor and licence HEors, the likelihood of this behaviour only looks set to increase.

What''s the problem with that, you might well ask? 

Well, one of the problems is that this interpretation of the law doesn't reflect reality.   Since parents cannot pour knowledge into the heads of their children as you would pour water into a bucket,  LAs are asking parents to fulfill a duty over which they have no control.  A parent may offer theories, but the child is responsible for his own growth of knowledge.  So if LAs interpret "causing a child to receive an education" as meaning that the child must grow knowledge, parents are being held to account for a duty that they do not have the power to fulfill.

So what should be done?  We could try to ask for s7 to be re-written, not least so that LAs are off the hook somewhat, since if HE parents are to be held to a higher account than other parents under the law, we could rightfully have some sort of grievance against them for discriminatory application of the law.  We would ask for it to be made explicit that s7 is only about the parental duty to offer a suitable education and not about whether the child grew knowledge or not.

Ok so this is unlikely so what else could be done? Since that Leighton Andrews is obviously unhappy with the current definitions of a suitable education, it might be easier to correct the epistemology by defining the nature of "suitable".  If Leighton Andrews wants to do this in any meaningful and non-tyrannical way, the best he can do is reflect the reality of the growth of knowledge, ie: he should explain that a suitable education means that a parent has "offered theories" to their child.   

There.  That should be it.  To define suitability any further would be to have education by state diktat and come on, we are BRITISH.  We have refused to be told what to do by the ptb since the Peasants' Revolt and we should not let go of such a habit since it has made Britain one of the freest, most successful countries in the world.  Being able to critique, have a new perspective, be rational and creative, these things can only happen when people can think for themselves and we should welcome and encourage such diversity. 

Let's sock it to them, home educators.  It is important since we appear to be some of the very few people in the land who actually understand the true nature of the growth of knowledge and the value inherent in non-coercion (ie: being free to enact the active theories in the mind).  Fill in the Welsh consultation form and explain that the law should very clearly and explicitly reflect reality, in other words, that autonomous education must be written in law, for people ONLY EVER LEARN when they are able to enact the theories that are active in their minds.  One way to do this would be to define suitable ie: that parents offer theories to their children.  It would be right for parents to have such a duty for they should offer their best, tentative theories to their children, since to neglect their child would be to cause coercion. 

Leighton Andrews Ministerial Foreword to Welsh Consultation.

Leighton Andrew's Ministerial Foreword, also to be parsed asap.


"Ministerial foreword

Every child has a fundamental right to an education and it is the duty of the parent of a compulsory school age child to ensure that suitable education is being provided.

Much of a child's early development takes place entirely in the home environment. As children grow and develop most parents choose to send their children to school; however some elect to continue their child's educational development within the home. The proposals in this consultation document are not designed to prevent children from being home educated. These proposals are aimed at ensuring that those children who are home educated receive a suitable education.

I believe the legislation surrounding elective home education has shortcomings because there is currently no legal requirement on the parent to tell a local authority (LA) that their child is receiving education at home. In the absence of this requirement, it is very difficult for LAs to carry out their duties to ensure that children are receiving a suitable education.

The proposals set out in this consultation document seek to introduce a structured approach as to how LAs and home educating parents engage with each other so as to ensure children educated at home receive a suitable education. I propose putting in place a statutory duty on parents to register with the local LA that their child is receiving home education. This registration requirement will enable the identity of the home educated child to be established and allow engagement between the LA and the home educating family to ensure that the home education provided is suitable.

I believe that key to the success of these proposals will be to use existing powers to develop statutory guidance which sets out best practice for LAs when working with home educating families and encourages LAs and home educating parents to work together in the best educational interests of the learner. I recognise that more clarity is needed as to what a `suitable education' might look like in the context of the variety of educational approaches used in home education. This will be covered in statutory guidance and will be consulted on separately.

The overall impact of these proposals will be to create a framework for engagement that helps build a new relationship between LAs and home educators, one where they can work collaboratively to provide the best possible support and education for learners.

I invite and welcome your views on the proposals put forward in this consultation. Your contribution will ensure that we get the right framework in place for Wales."

Education Minister Leighton Andrews foreword to consultation.

Welsh Consultation on Home Education.

OK, so copied below, in their full awfulness, are the Welsh consultation questions, which can be linked to here.   To be parsed in next blog post, asap.

(Keep scrolling down until you have got past question 8.  Apologies,  I can't be bothered to fiddle with the HTML to make everything more compressed. )


Welsh Consultation on Home Education.

The Welsh Government needs to know which children in Wales are educated at home and what they are learning.

To do this, we need to need to change the way we do things.

To give your views on our proposals, please fill out this response form.

This plain English response form is for home educating parents or home educated children.

You can post your response form to:  

Pupil Wellbeing Branch
Department for Education and Skills
Welsh Government
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ

or complete it online and send it to
(Please enter Elective Home Education Consultation in the subject line of the

Your name:                  
Your e-mail:                  

Your telephone number:         

Your address:              

Are you:

a home educated child/young person?                                                           

a home educating parent?                                                        

someone else?                                                                    

What you tell us may be made public on the internet or in a report.

If you DO NOT want your comments to be made                 
public, please tick this box.

Educating children at home

The Welsh Government wants children who are home educated to be on a register.

We want to ask parents and children about their home education every year.

Please answer the following eight questions and tell us what you think. If you have any further comments please use the comment boxes and add separate sheets if you wish.

Question 1: Home education register
Do you agree with our proposal that requires children educated at home to be included on a register?

Agree                                        Disagree                                 Not sure    



Question 2: Failure to register
If the parent fails to register their child, does not give all the information we ask for or gives false information, should their child have to go to school?

Agree                                        Disagree                                 Not sure  


Question 3: Working together
Do you agree that parents should work with their local authority to make sure home education is meeting their child’s needs?

Agree                                        Disagree                                 Not sure        





Question 4: First meeting
Do you agree that the first meeting to join the register should take place where the child is going to be home educated?

Agree                            Disagree                     Not sure    



Question 5: Annual review – place of meeting
Parents, the child and local authority staff will meet once a year, to talk about the child’s development.

How often should this annual meeting happen at the place where the child is being home educated?


Sometimes                                    Please suggest below how often (for example every two years, three years, four years and so on)                                             


Not sure                                




Question 6: Refusing registration
Should parents be refused registration or have their registration overturned, if:

·         the education offered does not meet the child’s needs, or puts the welfare or the safety of the child at risk?
·         parents will not let the local authority check that the child’s education is suitable?

Agree                            Disagree                                 Not sure    



Question 7: Notice of registration
Parents should be told within 12 weeks whether they can educate their child at home.

Agree                            Disagree                                 Not sure     


Question 8 – Any other comments.

Question 8: Are there any other comments you would like to make?


Responses to consultations may be made public – on the internet or in a report. If you would prefer your response to be kept confidential, please tick here:

Thank you for giving your views.