Saturday, February 28, 2009

Birmingham LAs Response to the Home Education Review

...can be read here.

Here's a brief fisking of the first paragraph for any member of the public who could quite easily form the impression that HE kids are completely beyond the reach of the law:

From Birmingham's response:

"We are seriously concerned that an opportunity has been missed to safeguard these children to achieve the Every Child Matters outcomes. Children educated otherwise are held effectively outside the protections that we provide for other children in our schools. "

What are you talking about? If it is safeguarding, then HE kids are not beyond the reach of the law. Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 still applies, you know. Further, you do not have a duty to compel children to achieve the 5 outcomes. You only have a duty to co-operate with other agencies with the aim of achieving these ambitions. It does however seem to me that you should, as local government employees, actually understand the relevant legislation.

"The existing EHE guidelines fudge the real issues, including the conflict that can arise when considering the rights of the child, (where the LA would place the priority), against the rights of the parent."

Plenty of HE children want their Local Authorities to bog off and leave them alone. They are doing very nicely thank you. If you really are concerned with children's rights, then surely you will respect their right to be heard and to be taken seriously, Birmingham LA?

Let us reiterate, if there is genuine cause for concern, LAs already have powers to intervene. They should not be given automatic rights to invade the privacy of the home and to initiate the final indignities of the police state.

"The identification of neglect is known to be particularly difficult (intentional or otherwise) and early identification is dependent upon observation of the child that is able to identify the incremental harm to a child over a period of time."

So what exactly do you want? Do you want to put a camera in every corner of every house and garden? Do you not accept that invasion of privacy and destruction of family life and appropriation of parental responsibility by the state is highly damaging and abusive and that the law should therefore remain proportionate and balanced?

Let's ask if you personally are in the habit of routinely letting a powerful stranger into your home who has the right to talk to your child without you present, who can inspect every last bit of your private life, who could completely overturn and disrupt your life when you have not done anything to merit such a disruption? If not, then I hope you can understand why I would prefer this not to happen to us. Home education happens in our very intimate private lives. THIS IS WHY WE NEED BALANCED, NUANCED LAW that is CAREFULLY and appropriately IMPLEMENTED.

"The ability schools provide in regular sight of the child is therefore most helpful in protecting against neglect. This regular sight of the child is not available in home educated cases."

In fact, most HEks are routinely seen by family, neighbours, members of the community at large. Indeed HEks often feel highly conspicuous, given that they gad about during school hours! They are often referred to social services on no grounds at all other than they are not in school, and plenty of completely innocent HE families have to spend their valuable time trying to clear their names.

"No resources have been provided to LAs to deliver services to EHE parents and children."

Can't help you with that one, fraid.

"The national picture reveals LAs struggling to resource a duty which is fundamentally flawed."

How is a duty flawed which requires that the state only act if the family fails?

"We are seriously concerned that previous and recent consultation has completely ignored the concerns of this LA and others in this respect."

It didn't. It did its best to balance the rights of families to privacy and autonomy with the rights of the child to safety and well-being. It took a proportionate approach. LAs should try to understand this and get with the programme. Do they really want to appropriate all parental responsibilities? This does appear to be what Birmingham LA are proposing, and it will mean that they will be held liable when they fail as de facto parents?

"We are also concerned that alternative education provisions (often utilised by EHE parents) fall between DCSF and LA powers where these provisions do not qualify for registration as an independent school; or have failed to satisfy OFSTED in this respect, but where DCSF and the LA have no current powers to intervene or close that provision where teaching provision is inedequate."

Hang on...we just want to make our own choices. You cannot dictate to every child in this country. We need some air, let us make and stand by our own choices. My children choose to HE. It is up to them if it fails them (which it won't, by the way things are going at the present time).


Anonymous said...

I hope you are going to snail mail this to them!!

They are a complete load of brain-washed idiots there. Scarey!!!

Anonymous said...

Ye gods Carlotta-that has really shaken me. I emailed my EWO asking for the B'ham resposnse. I assumed as he was the EWO who visited home edders he would have been the one to fill in the ques. He told me he would try and get hold of it and that he hadn't seen it yet!!!!! So some bloke who doesn't even do the visiting is writing this stuff!!
Thank you for finding and fisking this. I'll email my fellow homeschoolers and put link this post on my blog.
I just feel so betrayed right now. I no longer know whether to trust the EWO who seemed such a good person-how much did he know I wonder?
I actually wrote in my email that I was worried how trust would break down-and hear I am wondering how far I can trust him.
I feel like crying.