Monday, November 02, 2009

Cumbria's Response to the DCSF Consultation

Q1. Do you agree that these proposals strike the right balance between the rights of the parent to home educate and the rights of the child to receive a suitable education?

A1. NO. The focus of the review is actually about safeguarding children and does not give enough clarification of what a suitable and efficient education is. The review seems to focus on safeguarding not education.

Q2 Do you agree that a register should be kept?

A2. Yes, a register should be kept. However, annual registration seems too onerous. Families should only have to inform the LA when a change occurs. Registration should be possible in person, by post or online.

Q3 Do you agree with the information to be provided for registration?

A3. Yes, the basic information asked for seems to be adequate and what you would expect.

Q4. Do you agree that HEparents should be required to keep this up to date?

A4. Yes, parents should be asked to inform the LA when a change occurs. Annual registration would take a great deal of LA resources seeking parents that have not renewed registration.

Q5. Do you agree that it should be a criminal offence to fail to register or to provide inadequate or false information?

A6. Failing to register should not be a criminal offence; however providing false information in order to mislead should be.

Q6a. Do you agree that HE children should stay on the roll of their former school for 20 days after parents notify that they intend to HE?

A6a. Yes this allows time for mediation where applicable. This is especially in cases where parents feel Home Education is the only avenue open to them.

Q6b. Do you agree that the school should provide the local authority with achievement and future attainment data?

A6b. No, school should primarily provide parents with this information as they will be the next educator and will need to know what level their child is at in order to build on current attainment and progress.

It would be helpful for the LA to receive summative achievement and attainment data at the point of leaving school.

Q7. Do you agree that DCSF should take powers to issue statutory guidence in relation to the registration and monitoring of home education?

A7. Yes.

Q8. Do you agree that children about whom there are substantial safeguarding concerns should not be home educated?

A8. If a child is already known to SS to be at risk, then home education should not take place. The risk would need to be identified on a case by case basis. If a child is already being home educated when a safeguarding issue comes to light this would not automatically exclude home education but would be looked at case by case.

Q9. Do you agree that the local authority should visit the premises where home education is taking place provided 2 weeks notice is given?

A9. It is appropiate, in our view, to find a mutually convenient time and date as home education should be about a partnership. We would not wish to detrimentally affect the partnerships we have developed.

Q10. Do you agree that the local authority should have the power to interview the child alone if this is judged appropiate, or if not in the presence of a trusted person who is not the parent/carer?

A10. A child should not be interviewed alone by a LA officer. Joint visits as standard would be prohibitively expensive. Any child causing safeguarding concerns should be dealt with according to current practice.

Q11. Do you agree that the local authority should visit the premises and interview the child within 4 weeks of HE starting, after 6 months, at the anniversary and after that on an annual basis.

A11. This is to onerous for the LA. Our current practise of initial support visit within the first 8 weeks is a more realistic time frame. This enables us to answer questions that are arising and to give information to support parents. We then visit at the anniversary of home educating or just prior to. Where we have concerns, families have more frequent visits and a referral when provision is deemed unsuitable.

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