Friday, May 29, 2009

To Sum Up?

OK, I think we've well and truly thrashed that one out. Thanks so much to everyone who contributed.

To be honest, I am still trying to process it all, as for one reason or another I haven't had those usual moments when I'm not either exhausted or frantically rushing about, but my best bet so far is that, as the large majority of commentators have said, we remain true to our previous arguments, ie: that the law as it stands represents a subtle and proportionate balance between respecting the rights of families to privacy and self-determination and protection of the child and it remains incumbent upon local authorities to get more proficient at using it.

Sadly, there is no conceivable way that the authorities are ever going to find the child who has never been registered at birth and whose parents don't claim Child Benefit unless they insist on looking under the floorboards of every single house in the land, which is clearly impossible.

ContactPoint will alert them to those children whose parents claim child benefit and use other services but who's place of education has not been identified. It does seem that the 2009 Guidance on Identifying Children Missing from Education means that local authorities must then follow these families up, but they must follow a proportionate process of evidence collection. They should start by writing to the family, asking for information and evidence of education and should only take further action should the responses prove unsatisfactory.

Alarmingly however, even without any recommendations from Mr. Badman's review team or any changes in current legislation, there is some evidence to suggest that local authorities are already taking the CME Guidance to mean that they must make more referrals to social services. This is reportedly happening to families at the point of deregistration from schools and/or if the family refuse a home visit. Already over-burdened social workers are likely to object to this use of their services, but this will come too late for the families who have to deal with the completely unwarranted stress of social services intrusion. Should reports of this trend prove to be true, we will need to consider what we should do about it. Casting around for new ideas (such as the one mentioned below) and critiquing them as sensibly as we can, should be part of this process and will probably continue to feature on this blog.


Anonymous said...

perhaps we need to start prosecuting the relevant LA staff for malicious referrals. It'd only take one or two convictions for them to realise that the law applies to them too.

Maire said...

I think that is a very good idea and I would be happy to contribute to a fund for that purpose

emma said...

Me too. Can you sound Ian Dowty out about it, Carlotta?

emma said...

and further... might be worth establishing exactly which law the LA staff would be breaking and saying

"here is my evidence about how we Home Educate. In line with the 2007 guidelines and case law x, y, z, we will not accept home visits. It is my understanding that some LA staff have made referrals of families to social services because they refuse home visits. I wish to remind you that this breaks law x, y and z and that, if you refer my family to social services because we exercise our legal right to refuse a home visit, I will prosecute you under law x (usual penalty: a, b, c), and will also prosecute your line manager, Mr/Ms Y, to whom this letter is copied.

Lots of love,

The Worms are Turning"

that's the sort of template paragraph we need on the EO pages and similar places

Raquel said...

I have felt for a long time now that what home edders need is for a very specialised team to turn up on request of harrassed home edder. The team should then state very firmly the law to EWO and tell them that there is a legal fund backing said home educator and unless they stick to the law, they will be sued . I would pay towards that! :)

Anonymous said...

Good idea, Anon, Emma and Raquel.

I would contribute to a fund for that too, Maire.


Anonymous said...

Wonder if the law referred to here would apply.
It would be good to use a law that the Government are already misusing. Might make them more careful about the laws they make in future if they backlash.