Monday, 5 October 2009

Home educated children legislation

I'm working on my response to the government's consultation on electively home educated children. This follows a review report earlier in the year. I didn't know an awful lot about this subject before have been finding out more after a very interesting meeting with a constituent. The deadline for consultation responses is later this month. Here is the link to the DCSF page.

There are quite a few things to be worried about here. One is the typical new duty for local authorities without a clear sense of new resources. But the other is the harm these proposals may do to home education, which while a minority activity is often chosen for very good reasons.

Anyway I am in the process of writing and last minute research so if anyone has any views do please post them or e mail me at paula.keaveney@liverpool.gov.uk.

15 comments:

Rankersbo said...

We are considering an element of home schooling for our son, because we are concerned about the stress of SATS (even though they are meant to test the school the Children feel like they are being judged), and a narrowly focussed target driven curriculum that is not centered on the needs of our son.

We feel that as I am an Engineering graduate, and Sarah is qualified in languages we have all the bases covered and can get tutors.

These changes may wipe out for us the very advantages we sought by not schooling our child in the state sector. And even with our household on over the median income we can't afford to go private.

We'll look into your link

elaine said...

I strongly recommend you look at AHEd's briefing paper on home education and the review. It gives an excellent background on what current law is. It is hosted on the AHEd public wiki and can be found here.

http://ahed.pbworks.com/BriefingPaperHEReview

Firebird said...

The main thrust of the Badman proposals, once you get past the emotive red herring of welfare/abuse is that the state should be allowed to proscribe what and how we teach our children. For many of us the National Curriculum is one of the reasons we chose to home educate in the first place, that and providing a genuinely child led education. Badman dismissed out of hand any research (meaning all of it) that showed EHE producing academic results better than schools and put forward recommendations which would make autonomous education totally impossible.

If you were Ed Balls (sorry for any distress this thought causes) looking to improve educational outcomes for the maximum number of children in this country what would you do.

a) Target a minority group who are already producing results better than state schools, OR

b) Do something about the disgraceful levels of functional illiteracy in state school leavers?

Oh dear, option b) would mean admitting that despite over a decade in power your party still haven't cracked teaching children to read. Can't have that!

Option a) will in fact drive the quality of EHE down but who cares? as long as Labour can claim that they are doing 'something' before the election does it even matter that it's a stupid thing which will do the polar opposite of what's promised? Oh and since Local Authorities will have to foot the bill for option a) it's effectively free!

Jax said...

There's a lot of bloggers who have published a variety of material on the badman review, you could start with http://sometimesitspeaceful.blogspot.com which has gone through the review extensively, http://renegadeparent.net which contains lots of links to other bloggers and their opinions, or even my own which has a review related category http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/category/where-it-is/political-stuff/home-education-review-political-stuff-where-it-is/

hope you find this helpful.

Jax said...

@Rankersbo You don't need a high level of education to home educate, you just need an interest in your child, a willingness to learn with them and a fair measure of flexibility and ingenuity. Suggest you might want to look into the Early Years HE yahoo group which includes ppl considering home ed for children younger than mandatory education age - it's where I started 7 years ago and haven't really looked back :)

There's also an associated blogring which shows some ways ppl actually fit home education into their lives, starting page is on my blog which should be linked from my name on here.

Maire said...

A letter about the statistics involved in the review from a public policy professor.

http://maire-staffordshire.blogspot.com/2009/07/letter-to-uk-statistics-authority.html

And to the ombudsman.

http://maire-staffordshire.blogspot.com/2009/07/our-letter-to-parliamentary-ombudsman.html

Analysis of the responses to the online questionnaire here.

http://maire-staffordshire.blogspot.com/2009/08/analysis-of-6-question-online.html

This makes it clear how most responses have been ignored by the author.

Carole Rutherford said...

You are correct when you say that home ed is often chosen for very good reasons. I am co-founder of a group called Autism-in-Mind (AIM).

AIM has seen the numbers of children being educated at home with autism and other special educational needs grow steadily since 2002. AIM actually alerted the All Party Parliamentary Group for Autism to the rising number of autistic children who were being removed from the system in 2003. The system is not only failing to meet the needs of these children, the emotional well-being of these children was suffering and some were actually self harming, experiencing serious mental health issues and threatening suicide. If the Graham Badman recommendations are adhered to by the DCSF and the changes that he has recommended are adopted there are going to be some much traumatised children and families. Families who believed that they were going to be allowed to educate their children, not only in line with the newly rewritten 2007 Elective Home Education Guidelines, but also in line with the 1996 Education Act, may well find their homes being invaded by officers who have no training, knowledge, or understanding about autism and other sens, and how it can affect a child. Officers may even demand to see their children alone. Some family’s fear that Local Authorities who were upset by the removal of a child from their schools could now find themselves being pursued by their LAs, who might well decided that they are not providing their children with a suitable education. Thus the annual re-registration could see families being told that they are no longer going to be allowed to home ed.

Even if Brian Lamb (in the shape of his SEN Inquiry) brings forth a magic wand which will make sweeping changes to the state sen system, it will take years for those changes to take shape and bed in. Some families never want their children to return to the system having seen how well a child can do while being educated at home, while some who would want their children to go back into the system would like to do so at their own speed.

The financial cost of implementing these recommendations and changes will be minimal in comparison to the emotional cost to a great many families, who are already terrified that their special needs children are going to be forced into going back to school.

thenewstead6 said...

http://www.freedomforchildrentogrow.org/heconsult.htm will help bring you up to speed.

Tracey said...

LA's already have the necessary powers to invoke action if needed; they just need training and educating properly!

These Badman 'recommendations' are uncosted - most LA's do not realise that they will be expected to fund them from existing budgets.

These 'recommendations' mean that children can be 'interviewed' alone - even the police do not have such powers. This is deeply worrying.

The review conflates welfare and education. It has resulted in media slurs, suggesting that home-educated children are more at risk of abuse than average. FOI requests have demonstrated the converse is true.

The recommendations rest on faulty data collection and poor analyses carried out by the Badman team.

The requirement to submit to annual licencing and the production of a tick box list of educational provision for the coming 12 months, will destroy the flexibility of home-education that is its very strength.

HelenHaricot said...

we home educate. feel free to read our blog, and also these tagged 'political' posts.
http://petitsharicots.org.uk/weblog/category/political/
i am not much of an activist, nad would suggest the 'dare to know' and 'staffordshire' blogs as having lots of info

emma said...

if you look at the archives of my blog - http://www.childrenarepeople.blogspot.com - you'll see many of my objections to the proposals. I'd also recommend keeping an eye on the select committee's deliberations - many of us kept the powder of our primary concerns dry so that their first public airing was to the committee (which is how select committees prefer things, I understand).

Ruth said...

I think the key thing for me is the complete lack of proportionality. The Badman Review didn't produce any evidence that there was a problem to be solved, only allusions - allusions which have now been blown out of the water by FOI requests. The recommendations are extremely intrusive, undermine some fundamental elements of how we understand democracy, parental responsibility, and children's rights, and are seeking to solve a problem that does not exist.

PM Swimmer said...

Whilst I have no particular concern about home education, other than a slight nagging worry over the lack of socialisation, and certainly don't buy into the Governments every adult is a potential paedophile scare mongering rubbish, which I wish the campaigner well in challenging. The comments regarding the desire to remove children from formal education to protect them from the national curriculum is worrying.

In my view it is perfectly correct for the government to demand that a every childs education contains similar contents.
No parent should have the right to take a child out of school and teach them that evolution is lies and some kind of bearded sky fairy made the world in seven days and planted dinosaur skeletons as some kind of cosmic prank (and teaching it as being of equal weight as proven scientific theory is just as bad) or that people that don't believe in your god are inferior to you or that people with different coloured skin, sexuality, social class etc are of less worth and ultimately have fewer rights than you. And that's not even touching on whether or not these kids will be given decent sex education, which in my view would be like that given to Dutch children not the cobbled together rubbish ours get.

So maybe this can be enforced within the current rules and if so the question should be why isn't it. However, parents have to accept that they both gift and burden society with their children, that they ask us all on their Childs birth to commit resources to its welfare during infancy and childhood and that ultimately they expect their child to be accepted and to play a part in society and therefore society has some rights to ensure that the child will be able to contribute to society and that that parent isn't raising an intolerant, socially dysfunctional fascist.

Oh and personally I'd do away with faith schools as well if I could, you can have faith and profess believe in your god through buildings, prayer and song but if your only way of propagating it is to indoctrinate them when they're young its clearly not all that all powerful.

Jax said...

@PM Swimmer

It is always the responsibility of the parent to ensure that a child is offered an education suitable to age, ability and aptitude, and case law holds that suitable means to fit a child for a life in the community of which they are a member without foreclosing other options.

LAs have the authority to make enquiries of a parent to see if such an education is being provided and if they are not satisfied then they can serve a School Attendance Order requiring the child to attend school.

As for socialisation, that's pretty much a red herring, the vast majority of home educated children meet a variety of ppl in the course of their day to day lives and under what circumstances in your adult life are you forced to socialise with 30 ppl of the same background and within 6 months of your age? Rather artificial wouldn't you say.

And the National Curriculum. You are aware it doesn't apply to private schools? So those who can afford to pay bypass it anyway. It has no discernible educational value to require all children of a particular age to study the same thing at the same time, and I am aware of no research that says it has brought up standards.

There is far more to home education than your fears, I suggest some research, possibly by reading around on some of the links recommended in this comment stream.

Paula Keaveney said...

These comments and references are very helpful as are the e mails to my council address. I am going to pull my thoughts together on this over the next day or so. Thank you everyone for helping my reasearch.