Saturday, March 31, 2018

Links to Legislation, Guidance and Consultations that are relevant to the EHE Consultation and Soley's Bill

Current Consultations and Related Briefings: 

The Home Education Consultation

The Casey Review on Integration and Opportunity.

The Consultation on the Casey Review

The Consultation on School Exclusions

Falling through the Gaps in Education Nov 2017 (A Briefing)

* Special Needs and Disability Consultation

* The Labour Party Consultation on Education Policy

Government Consultations on Principles of Conduct


Human Rights:

Equality before the Law:


Lord Soley's Bill:

* Lord Soley's  Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill 2018


Primary Legislation and Current Guidance re Home Education:

*  Lord Adonis on the Fourfold Foundation of the Right to Education

Suitable education: Section 7 Education Act 1996.

* Duties of the Secretary of State to promote education: s10 Education Act 1996

* Elective Home Education Guidance for LAs

EOTAS Legislation: Section 19 Education Act 1996

* Education Supervision Orders  s.36 Children Act 1989

* Education Supervision Orders explained.

School Attendance Orders: Section 437 Education Act 1996. 

Duty to identify children missing education: Section 436A Education and Inspections Act 2006

Guidance on Children Missing Education 2016

* The Donaldson Judgment

* The Tweedie Case 1963

* Guidance for LAs on Funding HE


Definition of Schools, School Standards and Pupil Registration Regulations:

* Definition of Schools:  Section 4 Education Act 1996

Definition of Schools:  Section 14 Education Act 1996

Pupil Registration Regulations 2006

* Guidance on Pupil Registration Regulations 2016

School Inspection Handbook (Ofsted Guide for School Inspection) S8 Education Act 2005

* Independent School Standards Regulations (suitable education in Independent Schools)



Local Authority Duty to Investigate abuse: Section 47 Children Act 1989

LA Duties re Preventing people being drawn in to Terrorism: Section 26 Counter Terrorism and Security Act


Data Protection:

Principles of the General Data Protection Act 2018, Article 5 + 

Information Commissioner's site on General Data Protection

General Data Protection Regulation - How it applies in UK and Europe.

* Local Authority Guidance on General Data Protection (from May 2018)

* The Supreme Court Judgement about Data Sharing in the Named Person Scheme.


Comment on Education Law:

*Lord Adonis on the Fourfold Foundation trumping the Right to an Education. 2006

*Lord Adonis on the Anomaly of the State not Prescribing a form of Education. 2010.

*Ian Dowty's View on Lancashire LAs HE Protocol and Procedures. 

Further on School Exclusions and Coerced De-registrations

Further on the subject of school exclusions, coerced de-registrations and the related DfE consultation, there have been questions about the very same subject  in the House of Lords:

Lord McColl of Dulwich:

"To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that some schools are encouraging families to home school children with complex difficulties, possibly with an eye to those schools' performance statistics; and what plans they have to ensure that such children benefit from the support of the proposed mental health support teams. "

Lord Agnew of Oulton replied:

"The department shares concerns that some children are potentially being educated at home as a result of pressure by schools. However, it is not in a position to confirm how far these concerns are justified by actual cases. "

A lot of families who find themselves home educating as a result of numerous kinds of pressure from schools could help Lord Agnew out with that question, but we'll get on to that.

Lord Agnew continues:

 "A pupil’s name can only lawfully be deleted from the admission register on the grounds prescribed in Regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended. Schools should not seek to persuade parents to educate their children at home as a way of excluding the pupil or because the pupil has a poor attendance record. It is unlawful to permanently exclude a pupil from a school other than for disciplinary reasons. Schools may not exclude pupils because of their academic attainment or ability, or because they cannot meet their needs. Sending a pupil home without recording it as an exclusion is also not permitted. "

This is, of course, how school exclusions should be handled, but the reality is that there are a number of ways that schools get rid of children without having to restrict themselves to the apparently narrow criteria for exclusion.

Routes to off-loading a young person from school fall into three broad categories:

* exclusions (as described by Lord Agnew) ie: the proper disciplinary reasons for exclusion.

*exclusions that happen for reasons other than the strictly defined disciplinary ones, but with disciplinary cases concocted on flimsy grounds: one person's "disciplinary reasons" may be another person's need to "take time out for ten minutes" for example.

* coerced de-registration, ie: the parents de-register the child from school as if voluntarily, but they actually only do this because the school situation is intolerable.  The school, one way or another, is not providing the child with a suitable education and the parent is therefore in breach of their duties if they did not withdraw the child.

 There are many reasons why coerced de-registration occurs. These include:

- the child's special educational needs are not met in the school.
- the child is bullied by staff or pupils and is miserable.
- the child suffers racial prejudice.
- the child is sexually harassed .
- excessive demands on children which lead to stress, depression, self-harm, etc.
- the rigid curriculum.
- the high test environment leading to stress, depression, self-harm etc.
- strict attendance rules which don't allow for any leniency.

Lord Agnew didn't, however, address the knotty issue of coerced de-registration.  He continued instead on the subject of de-registration as if it is entirely uncontroversial, ie: a freely chosen action on the part for the family and not a decision that is often forced upon families for want of a better alternative.

He said:

"Parents have a duty to ensure their child of compulsory school age receives a suitable full-time education but this does not have to be at a school. On receipt of written notification from a parent to home educate their child, the school must inform the pupil’s local authority that the pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admission register. "

Within the narrow frame of Lord Agnew's argument, this is of course absolutely right and is a fair  reflection of the situation, given that the family are in the position of freely choosing to de-register, but this is not the reality for many families who are forced down the de-registration route because the school cannot meet their child's needs.

Lord Agnew offers one possible solution to the problems identified in this blog post, (though it not entirely clear, given his previous paragraphs on exclusion what problem he thinks he is purporting to solve):

"We will test how the new mental health support teams proposed in the green paper ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision’ can provide support to all children in an area, including those not at school."

...but it is only part of an answer.  Schools are so desperately underfunded at the moment that they cannot hope to provide a suitable education for those children who don't fit as perfectly round pegs in perfectly round holes, however much mental health help the child receives.  Instead we really must think more imaginatively and make more alternative provision available for these children. 

Better EOTAs provision could be facilitated by

*accepting the reality that many children are just not suited to the current schooling system

* by making the budget follow the child more easily and

*by expanding EOTAs provision and creating new alternatives. The Red Balloon of the Air  and Hospital School models could offer a way forward, along with funding for virtual colleges. 

These initiatives really would actually help rather than wasting money on the useless proposals in the current Bill in the Lords.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

My Response to the DfE Consultation on Exclusions.

The Department of Education have come up with a consultation about exclusions , calling for evidence.  It ends on 6th May and doesn't take long to do.

The introduction seemed to be trying to get us to  talk about ethnicity issues, but this isn't the bit I know about, so I stuck to the problems I have seen and heard.

This is my response:


I am writing as a member of the home education (HE) community.  Both locally and nationally through real life contact and online HE groups, I have become increasingly aware of problems for many children within the schooling system where the school is unable to offer a suitable education to the young person for one reason or another, and therefore seeks to either exclude or otherwise deregister the young person, whether or not the family is in full agreement.

The sorts of cases I have seen personally:

*Children/teens with learning differences who have an EHCP but where the school does not honor the plan, so that the pupil does not cope with the school situation and is not in receipt of a suitable education.  The young person is then either excluded or the family are advised to remove the young person themselves.   Austerity appears to be one of the drivers here. Teachers are losing their teaching assistants, and are so pushed that they cannot possibly cope with the extra strain of pupils with differences. There is also no money for any extra equipment for these young people.

*Children/teens with marginal/hidden learning differences, such as auditory processing problems, mild ASD or mild dyslexia. The marginal nature of their differences mean that they cannot get an EHCP but they nonetheless struggle in a schooling environment.  No provision or exceptions are made for them.  They often become depressed, develop eating disorders, self harm, or even become suicidal. They too risk being excluded or deregistered.

*Children/teens with actually fairly significant learning differences, such as pronounced dyslexia , ADHD or autism, but schools and LAs still flatly refuse to assess them for EHCP, despite their obvious problems.  Austerity appears to be the driver here. The same process of exclusion or other deregistration occurs here.

*Children/teens who are bullied by pupils or teachers to the point again of self harm, suicide, etc. Same outcomes for these young people.

*Pupils who cannot reach the grades that the school wants them to reach have also been excluded or deregistered. Schools appear to be so in hock to government funding and LAs via Ofsted, that they will do anything to booster their results and have to therefore get rid, one way or another, of pupils who will not help them meet Ofsted requirements.

*Teachers being so afraid of Ofsted that they either get pupils removed from their class or else put terrible pressure on pupils to perform, which completely destroys the teacher/pupil relationship and most likely actually prevents a suitable education taking place.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

One way or another, the schooling system is at crisis point: any child who does not fit as a perfect round peg in a perfect round hole is in big trouble as there simply isn't the money to cope with them.  Huge numbers of young people are therefore not in receipt of a suitable education.

Something huge therefore has to change.  The quickest fix: we need to be offering better alternative educational provision via Education Other Than At School.  (EOTAS)  to those families who cannot find a suitable alternative place of education, whether this be another school of some sort or Elective Home Education.

If we were to become less focused on having all children in school and  instead made good use of the opportunities afforded by Information Age, EOTAS could be rolled out much more efficiently than is currently the case.

It is currently often extremely difficult to next to impossible to get anything other than a tiny amount of EOTAS provision but if we let go of an obsession with keeping all children in schools for so many hours a year, budgets could follow the pupil far more flexibly than currently the case.

To meet the need described above, as well as the need to offer an appropriate education in the age of Information, we absolutely MUST create a variety of EOTAS provision so that a young person's needs for a genuinely suitable, personalised education can be properly met. These could be along the lines of:

*Virtual schools and colleges, preferably with a real life meeting base within accessible distance around the country . The Red Balloon of the Sky model seems to be working well already in some areas, by way of one example that could be rolled out to good effect.

*Hospital schools could also provide another model that would work for many children who are otherwise excluded or forcibly deregistered but who are not suitable for Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).

*Occasional tutors for individual subjects, either virtually or in real life.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Voice of the Child

With Lord Soley so eager to justify his Home Education (Duty of Local Authorites) Bill  on the basis that the voice of the child must be heard, it's interesting to hear what these voices are currently saying.  From First News, the UK's only newspaper for young people.