Tuesday, April 03, 2007

That deregistration issue

I've been thinking and reading some more about this, and I think it's something that really should be debated, respectfully and constructively before people go off - possibly unknowingly or unguardedly - colluding with PTB plans to try to discredit and/or further control deregistration and elective home education.

I'd like to fully understand the general consensus on our position here. What are we saying, exactly?

Gypsy/traveller families should not be allowed to deregister? I disagree, as I suspect most of us would.

Persistent truants should not be allowed to be deregistered? Again, I totally disagree with this view. I hope it's not what we're saying.

Schools and LAs have a legal responsibility to inform all parents about the right to home educate. (Anyone got the legal reference for that please?) and I believe that any parent has and should continue to have the legal right to deregister their child from school. If we allowed any kind of selective deregistration, the line between who was allowed to home educate and who wasn't allowed would creep very quickly to the point that only qualified school teachers were allowed, under close supervision, to keep their children out of school. Therefore it's very dangerous for the rights of everyone who home educates or might want to in future, to be seen to be promoting or colluding with any moves in that direction. I think most of us who have been around the home education scene, lists etc., for any length of time would be well aware of this danger.

The specific issue seems to be the accusation that some schools are witholding information about deregistration until the last minute and then presenting it to parents in the form of a threat, i.e. "Sign this form or we'll prosecute you/expel your child," so that the parents in question aren't actually making an informed decision to home educate and - what are we saying? - that they don't want to do it?

If this is happening, then I agree that it might not be a good thing for the children involved. But only if the child's home life was such that he or she never got any peace to think or learn.

I'm trying to think how it might be bad for the home education community as a whole if this was happening and I'm not getting it. Someone explain please?

From the point of view of the child in question, deregistration could be a lifesaver - however it happens. Why are we talking about denying this right to some of our most vulnerable children?

OK, there will be a proportion of 'feral' children who go off in gangs when not in school and contribute to the destabilisation of communities, but we should get real about what proportion this is, and what exactly do we think these kids are doing in the evenings and at weekends, even if they do attend school fulltime? Preventing their parents from deregistering is not the answer to this problem.

If some schools are attaching threats to pre-typed deregistration letters, the only viable solution is for schools and LEAs to fulfil their legal responsibility to prominently publicise the home education option. If everyone knows from the start that home education is an option for all, deregistration couldn't be forced on them as a last-ditch inevitability.

The real solutions go far deeper than this, into the realm of family cohesion - a fact that government does seem to realise. I strongly believe that encouraging the separation of children from their parents with full-time employment for all adults, full-time mass childcare of very young children by people who are strangers to them, and ever-increasing school hours and ages of attendance will not do anything to help family cohesion at all. Family life can only be damaged by these measures, because what time do families have left to be together?

Our innate instincts further the survival of our species. These instincts are strongest in parents with very young children. If this bond is allowed to develop healthily, much generational damage can be healed. Every parent's natural instinct is to teach our young how to survive, so even after years of disassociation and truancy, family life and a child's education can be saved by deregistration.

What are we, as home educators, really scared of in this respect?

Please explain this to me if you can, because I'm really struggling to understand some people's viewpoints and I know I'm not the only one.

43 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

The motivation for these pre-typed de-registration letters is to absolve the local authority from any responsibility for the child concerned and to improve their performance against their own centrally set (arbitrary) targets.

If you believe that home education is always the best option then you will obviously believe that the LEAs concerned are acting in the best interests of the children concerned. But the interests of the child are not the motivation, or as far as I can see, even a consideration in this process.

Frankly, I don't buy the argument that all schools are bad and all home education is good, or vice versa. Each child should be treated as an individual, and the role of parents and State is to support and help each child to follow the educational path which from time to time suits it best. Among other things this needs to take into account family circumstances, and obviously, the available range of educational provision available, at home, or otherwise.

It seems to me that the children and families who are going to be most commonly "invited" to home educate in the above circumstances are going to be the very ones who might most benefit from the help and support the well-resourced State education system could provide (I am not saying it does provide them). These children are too much trouble - alienated, disturbed, mentally or physically ill, criminalised and maybe just dangerous to be near. The root cause of their problems may stem from the family to whom they are being so unceremoniously returned, or they may stem from problems within the State Education system, no matter.

If this becomes standard practice, then the public perception of the term Home Educated will be transformed. The assumption will start to be made that the reason your child is not at school is not because you have made a choice to home educate, but because your children are Untouchables. This perception will filter through to Higher Education and to employment. (they will no longer think that home educated children are creative, charming, free-thinking individuals, they will assume they are psycopaths or sociopaths)

The bottom line is that the LEAs are not saying to parents "We have evaluated your child's needs and determined that it is best suited and best served by being educated at home". What they are saying is "Our interests are best served if you **** off and if you don't we will try and get you locked up". I don't think they have the right to behave like that.

10:08 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Ah, it is the hot potato thing then.

I see. Thanks, that helps.

10:14 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

BUT the only logical solution to this *problem* is to have a system of approval of deregistration. You think that's fair or right?????

10:49 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

It's not even useful. Either all parents have the right or none do. We do not, surely, want to go down the road of having LEAs selecting who can and who can't.

I'm a qualified teacher, so not too worried for myself. Many other HErs I know and respect aren't though and I'm very worried for them. :-(

I can't *believe* this issue has even come up. Really.

10:55 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

Tech, I don't agree at all.

Parents are legally obliged to ensure that their children receive (well, you know the rest).

LEAs exist to provide a service which helps parents discharge that legal duty, and are funded to do so. They are not entitled to opt out and decide that they want to wash there hands of a child, which is effectively what they are doing.

I don't see that an approval system for de-registration is even relevant to this particular issue.

11:09 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

Of course it's relevent!! It's what the bloody bastards wanted from the word go, and if we go down this road we are handing it to them on a plate!!!!! Sorry, but I am enraged about this.

All these newly deregged kids will be seen by ewos and he advisors, they will have their ed provision assessed in the exact same way ours is, if it is not *up to scratch* then the exact same laws that we are judged by come into play.

What is the problem here? Please look at the longer term consequences and think about their impact on your children's children!!!!

11:16 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

and actually I can spell, so that shouldn't be a cross against my HEing abilities, however my angry typing isn't always up to scratch ;-)

11:23 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

And further more, it's not the LAs who are doing this, as far as I can tell, it's the schools! Frankly good luck to them. They are underfunded, overworked and get sweet FA support. If they are choosing to put the problems that gov have created back into the hands of the local government, then maybe the real issues with the state education sector might just have a hope of being changed!

11:34 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes and Lindsey just raised a good point back here.

LOL, same convo in two different places! (Or 2 convos about the same thing. Whatever..)

11:45 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

Tech, you have made no case at all. Ranting at people rarely contributes to changing their views or to anything much really.

Even if you are right and this issue is manipulated to form part of a case for additional control, it still doesn't mean that it is relevant. Any more than the Climbie case is relevant to HE and that is almost certain to be trotted out as a universal argument for anything they want to do.

11:59 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

ok, I haven't made a case. So tell me your solution to the problem and we'll go from there. I appreciate I am ranting, and I know it's not the best way to present an argument, but I find this way of having a discussion somewhat frustrating, so bare with me, and see where we go :)

12:09 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes but home educators, AFAIK, didn't actively help Lord Laming to associate Climbie with HE.

12:09 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

On this specific issue, which is (I quote) "The specific issue seems to be the accusation that some schools are witholding information about deregistration until the last minute and then presenting it to parents in the form of a threat", I think the solution is simple, straightforward and follows fairly obviously from what I have already said.

LEAs and/or schools (and which one it is in a particular case is irrelevant) should not be pressurising people in this kind of way.

This is a bad and abusive practice.

They should stop doing it.

It is entirely legitimate for them to inform people about the options which are available.

It is not legitimate to bully them into any one of those options.

12:25 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

"Education Otherwise spokeswoman Ann Newstead said she knew of at least two local authorities who were encouraging home education amongst troubled families in order to improve truancy figures. She declined to name them. She said the practice was particularly common in areas with large populations of travellers - who, in the official statistics, have the highest rates of truancy."

I want to know, was this a misquote? If so, how? If not, well, it's a monstrous thing to say!

Haven't they got enough problems without us ganging up on them too?

What's the story there? Get a house and you'll be allowed to home educate?

Makes me feel like crying. And it's abject racism.

12:26 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh Tim, yes I agree with you there.

12:27 pm, April 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am losing the plot on this one.

Are some HErs just getting uppity because the LA's are using these slips to effectivly 'dump' children they can't handle back onto thier parents, and that some HE'rs are offended that the LA's see HE as the only way for kids with this amount of issues therefore tarnishing the hallowed hall's of HE.

All I know is that some children are better off in school rather than at home, sometimes school hours are the only light in the endless nightmare of homelife. I know it was that way for me.

12:44 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

Gill, the quote doesn't necessarily imply that Ann Newstead approved or otherwise of the practice of targetting travellers (unless that is in the context where the quote appeared), she appears to be merely reporting that it is happening.

Also, if Roma were specifically targetted I can see that it would be racist, but AFAIK (and I wouldn't claim to know much about it) travellers are not an ethnic group, so an attack against them would not be racist? (Technically, anyway)

12:51 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Anonymous, personally I'm just getting uppity about the "I'm fit to HE but those kinds of people aren't" taint to some of what's been said in some very public places. I'm concerned about the effect of this apparent attitude on some HErs who might take it personally and on some prospective HErs who might be put off trying, even if it's what their children need, and I'm worried that we sometimes seem to play right into the hands of people with other agendas than the best interests of children - whatever they may be.

"All I know is that some children are better off in school rather than at home, sometimes school hours are the only light in the endless nightmare of homelife. I know it was that way for me."

So sorry you went through that :-( There were times when I was happier at school than at home too.

12:52 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

anonymous

As above:

"The bottom line is that the LEAs are not saying to parents "We have evaluated your child's needs and determined that it is best suited and best served by being educated at home". What they are saying is "Our interests are best served if you **** off and if you don't we will try and get you locked up". I don't think they have the right to behave like that."

12:53 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

"Also, if Roma were specifically targetted I can see that it would be racist, but AFAIK (and I wouldn't claim to know much about it) travellers are not an ethnic group, so an attack against them would not be racist? (Technically, anyway)"

I was told by one of their advisers that all three terms do come under the Race Relations Act, yes. Haven't checked that law for myself, but she was working full-time as a representative/liaison person for them, so I guess she'd know.

12:54 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

Must admit I don't think I would have wanted to be HEd either. Couldn't wait to escape from both home and school, and at least to-ing and fro-ing between the two meant I had alibis. :-)

12:56 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL! Me too :-)

I'd have gone for HE if it meant them *all* leaving me alone. Was a very good self-directed learner.

12:58 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

Schools are allegedly *inviting* certain pupils to HE. The perception is that these pupils are children who:

1. are persistent truants
2. are unruly or troublesome
3. have SEN
4. will bring down the grade average of the school in the league table

If the child is a persistent truant they are disaffected for some reason. Many of the reasons are unlikely to be able to be cured within the remaining school career of the child. Choices available are limited; prosecute the parent and potentially see them end up in prison, thus creating further social welfare problems for that family, and all the issues a child is left with in such circumstances. What's the *right* thing to do there?

If the child is violent, unruly/troublesome, the school can exclude them, so why what would a school gain by telling the parent's to HE in those circumstances?

If the child has SEN and the school cannot give the child the support it needs and is entitled to then IMO the school is doing the right thing by telling the parent that they can HE. Why? School is a service which parents may choose to use to carry out their section 7 responsibilities. If the school is unable to help that child they are duty bound to inform their *clients* that is the case, because otherwise the parent is not fulfilling their section 7 duty. It's not right, it's not good, but at least the school is being honest, and the parents are given the information they are entitled to in order to help them provide their child with an education suitable to AAA.

If the child is going to bring down the grade average of the school and damage the league table results. See above.

No there absolutely should not be any bullying involved in informing parents of their choice to HE, but give them that choice they must.

What is the alternative? Keep the child in school where they are not receiving an ed suitable to AAA? IMO if these parents are being told by schools to HE their children, that is the school admitting that they are unable to provide for that child. This is something that needs to go to the LA, and if a massive influx of *problem* children into HE is the only way of doing this, why is that wrong (when any bullying aspect is removed from the parental choice)?

As I said previously, the laws that we have adequately deal with this anyway.

Unfortunately, whether the issue of selective deregistration is relevant or not, it will be the way that gov and LAs see of stopping it from happening. Therefore it becomes relevant to the HE community.

Another point that is important to make: how many HEing parents do you know how have come to HE as a last resort because of any of the reasons stated above? I know alot. Are we saying that just because those parents came to HE in difficult circumstances, and who, had school been working as it should would never have chosen HE, should be prevented from HEing because their reasons aren't valid (not the word I want, but struggling to maintain concentration at the moment with various noises of children's activities in the background!)?

We already know that the government and many LAs wanted to bring in a delay in deregistration because they believed this was happening. Now whilst that may appear to be a great solution, unfortunately it isn't because not all LAs behave in the same way, many are highly discrimatory, and would love to be able to have the authority to approve or deny the right to HE. As I think I read on Carlotta's blog, bad/hard cases make for bad laws. A knee jerk solution to this problem with have a negative effect on the wider HE community, and that is something that does need looking at very, very closely before taking this issue further.

1:31 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

Thanks for the info about travellers. Seems very odd though.

(What if your children become travellers? Can you racially discriminate against them?)

1:35 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

Just to add, I wholeheartedly agree that no parent should be bullied into choosing HE. What I cannot understand is how you stop that from happening without their being at the very least a delay in dereg?

1:39 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

I'm now going to give up because my typos are becoming increasingly irritating.

1:40 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

"Schools are allegedly *inviting* certain pupils to HE. The perception is that these pupils are children who:..."

Tech, I agree with your whole comment here.

"Just to add, I wholeheartedly agree that no parent should be bullied into choosing HE." And that one.

I think (hope?) we're all in accord on both those comments.

"What I cannot understand is how you stop that from happening without their being at the very least a delay in dereg?"

Make the option more widely known about? Make more out of the section 7 'parent's obligation to....'? Try to talk about options before things get desperate?

Info about the HE option should NOT be held back until the last possible minute. If it wasn't, the parents could make an informed choice long before the time when they might be bullied into it. Forewarned being forearmed.

I assume this is why people have been haranguing LAs to update and correct their websites etc. Surely it would help the situation?

2:02 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

"(What if your children become travellers? Can you racially discriminate against them?)"

LOL Tim, that crossed my mind too when I found out they were included.

2:03 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

Dur! Of course that's the answer! Thanks Gill. It's not the answer that the LAs and gov are going to want though is it?

2:03 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Probably not, but it's in children's and families' best interests IMO.

2:07 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

Tech said:
"If the child is violent, unruly/troublesome, the school can exclude them, so why what would a school gain by telling the parent's to HE in those circumstances?"

Schools are under immense pressure not to exclude pupils. If you glance at the TES staffroom boards you will find many examples of violence in schools, where the teachers are calling for exclusion of a violent child. The school senior management just won't do it - because it is recorded. If schools 'encourage' home ed then that is nothing they have done - it is a parental choice. It won't show on their exclusion count.

I think this is a reason why the schools might be pushing HE in such cases.

2:19 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

That's interesting Allie :-) Where is the pressure not to exclude coming from? The LA? If so, then it seems fair enough to me that the school pass the buck back to them.

2:22 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

for further info:

during the pupil reg regs last year, an argument DfES used for a delay in dereg was that some schools were *forcing* parents to HE. HEers IIRC argued that this was a fallacious argument. Now it appears that we are saying *oops we got it wrong you were right all along*? Hmm, so what's going to be their solution to the problem?

This is what makes it relevant.

2:36 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

And this, from this report. (Since we're on the subject)

"Legislation should apply uniformly to all families with children currently being educated at home and those wishing to elect for home education in the future. It is suggest that the legislation should ensure that: a) a standardised national system of registration be implemented by each local education authority in terms of assessment criteria; monitoring/inspection visits; and the time sequence related to these events b) the wishes of children are established and taken into account in the assessment process."

"A clear curriculum entitlement is defined which is broad and balanced. All children to be registered (irrespective of whether they have ever been registered with a school), and that all children registered under EHE are seen initially and in the teaching and learning situation on a regular basis defined in law and a standard format for post visit reports and their distribution all children registered under EHE are assessed on a regular basis in relation to expectations of educational progress."

2:52 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

And, hopefully for the last time! I think it is relevant whether it's the school or the LA who are doing the forcing. If what Allie is saying is a widespread problem, and it is the LA who is telling the schools they will be penalised for excluding, then what real choice does the school have?

Also the issue with funding and provision for SEN will be dealt with at LA level and the schools will have to deal with the fall out of budget cuts etc.

SATs are something the gov brought in and that teachers have to police.

I actually feel sorry for the schools and the teachers who are being given impossible targets by Gov and LAs, and who then bare the brunt of parental dissatisfaction when they can't deliver the goods. It needs to be passed back up the chain until a proper solution is reached.

2:54 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

They've had the Gypsy/ Roma/ Traveller angle lined up for at least six months now, waiting for the right time to push it IMO.

"It needs to be passed back up the chain until a proper solution is reached." - very well said IMO, as long as the children are not abandoned in worse situations than school.

Do we think the current safeguards are adequate for that?

3:00 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh I like this bit though:

b) the wishes of children are established and taken into account in the assessment process."

Maybe it won't be so bad then ;-)

3:12 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

LOL just as long as they extend the same privilege to the children in the schools.

Oh and thanks for reminding me about Ivatts, I'd nicely blotted that one out ;-)

3:21 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

You're welcome. I suspect it was no accident that this issue came up in the 'interviews' in question.

3:23 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Louise said...

Well all I can say is I had better sign up for teacher training!!

7:05 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

:'-(

It'll be ok Lou, if people do their homework ( ^^ ) before talking to journalists again about contentious issues on behalf of us all! Hopefully they will now. I really hope so.

7:11 pm, April 03, 2007  
Anonymous Barbara Stark said...

I'm a bit shocked by Tim's comments.

I don't know what numbers of children or families are being referred to as troubled, too much trouble, alienated, disturbed, mentally or physically ill, criminalised, dangerous, untouchable, psycopaths or sociopaths who threaten the image of nice home educating families.

I've just read it, so I might let it digest and hope to reach a calmer reaction to these descriptions, but at the moment I find all this horrifying.

I seriously hope that the direction of EO comments cannot be anything like this steriotyping negative characterisation of some disadvantaged groups as unworthy to aspire to join the home ed community, however they may have come to knowledge of their options or been thrust unwillingly into it from adverse motivations and desperate personal experiences.

I don't see how they are not suitable to benefit from better treatment or information than they have experienced hitherto. I am horrified if it is true that they have been described as 'not our problem' by a national home education support charity.

If they are home educating now, it is not our place to doubt their right to do so whoever they are or whatever their history. That is a very dangerous road to embark upon in my opinion. There are perfectly adequate measures that the LA can take where there is cause for concern if it turns out that these families cannot provide something better for their children. But it is common over many years for people to arrive at the contact point of some home ed list, organisation or group with very negative experiences, uncertain and afraid for the future, not fitting any nice image of a home educator, who have gone on to make a success of their enforced home edding and wished they had known of it before so they could have rescued their children earlier.

As far as I can see, this whole "problem" has its basis in the compulsory element of education. How different all this would be if facilities were invitational!

Barbara.

1:47 pm, April 05, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Very well said, Barbara.

3:05 pm, April 05, 2007  

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