Wednesday, July 05, 2006

It's Official: More Vetting for Home Educators

Well done, that woman. She has achieved what others have failed to do, which is to extract an admission from educrats as regards their intentions behind the introduction of the minimum two day delay in de-registration from schools:

She quotes from a letter from Jim Knight, Minister of State for Schools:

"Whilst we accept that the majority of parents who educate their children at home do so well, there is a small minority who do not. It is important that local authorities are able to intervene as early as possible to protect these children’s education. The requirement for advance notice of the deletion ensures that the authorities are aware of such cases and, only where necessary, are able to intervene. "

Right, so forgetting the euphemisms, if LA bods adopt a remit to intervene in cases where they think that a child is not going to be educated according to their criteria, this implies that they/and or schools will need to assess every single family who de-registers from school, in effect resulting in vetting of all home educating families who have ever been in the school system.

It is almost a relief to hear of the above admission. Now at least we know where we stand and can talk sensibly about the situation. We can now be asking ourselves, can we possibly object to the stated intention to weed out of those families who will criminally neglect their children outside the school system?

The problems home educators have with the practical application of the proposals are:

Those families who are put in the position of needing to de-register their children from school are often indeed in desperate circumstances. They will often be reaching the end of their coping strategies. Assessing the situation for their ability to cope at this stage may be deeply unfair, particularly if it is the schooling system which has largely caused the distress and problems in the first place.

The above wouldn't matter if we felt that this was acknowledged and that LAs would reliably see that HE was a genuine option for such families, but we suspect that rather than risk allowing a family time to get out of the school system and to find their feet, this kind of family will be coerced or cajoled back into school, and the children may suffer extensively for this. We worry about whether LAs will choose to let this kind of family be or even instead to support them in the home environment.

Home educators are also anxious that the assessments vetting the families will suffer from the same difficulties that have plagued LA assessments of HEors for years. HEors often have first hand experience of the capricious and subjective nature of these LA assessments. Where, for example, one LA official will find the home education acceptable, another will fail the same family. Where an LA official may have a good relationship with one HE family, with the next she may appear draconian and intrusive. Home educators live on tenterhooks waiting for the next visit, or for the reaction to the report they sent in, because they know that there is little reason to think that what passed for satisfactory last time, will be deemed acceptable this time. There is often very little understanding of child-led learning amongst LA bods who are often drawn from a schooling background so that evidence that a child is doing well, if differently from a schooled child, will not necessarily be seen as satfisfactory by LA assessors. Home educators therefore quite reasonably worry that assessments of a family's ability to HE in the first place will suffer from the same kinds of subjectivity and ignorance.

I feel yet another letter coming on, but do feel it worthwhile, for we see how pressure has made a difference to the implementation of the Children's Database...more of which later.


Anonymous said...

A letter is definitely called for, as you say!


Jax said...

I've already written to my mp, who has written to the education dept on my behalf.