Thursday, November 29, 2007

Consultation results and new guidance on EHE to LAs

The collated and summarised responses to this consultation on government's Home Education Guidelines to Local Authorities were published here today and the resulting new guidance can be downloaded from here.

I'm very pleased to see that they clarify certain points which have caused problems between some home educators and their LAs, such as:
  • "Parents are not required to register or seek approval from the local authority to educate their children at home";

  • "Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis";

  • "The most obvious course of action if the local authority has information that makes it appear that parents are not providing a suitable education, would be to ask parents for further information about the education they are providing";

  • "Section 175(1) [of the Education Act 2002] does not extend local authorities’ functions. It does not, for example, give local authorities powers to enter the homes of, or otherwise see, children for the purposes of monitoring the provision of elective home education";

  • "Section 11 of the 2004 [Children] Act sets out the arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. However, this section does not place any additional duties or responsibilities on local authorities over and above section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002";

  • "Local authorities should organise training on the law and home education methods for all their officers who have contact with home educating families";

  • "Where a parent elects not to allow access to their home or their child, this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the education provision being made";

  • "Home educating parents are not required to: ... provide a broad and balanced education .. [or] reproduce school type peer group socialisation"; and

  • "It should be appreciated that parents and their children might require a period of adjustment before finding their preferred mode of learning and that families may change their approach over time."

There are one or two points about which I'm less happy, for example:

3.11 Local authorities should bear in mind that, in the early stages, parents’ plans may not be detailed and they may not yet be in a position to demonstrate all the characteristics of an “efficient and suitable” educational provision. In such cases, a reasonable timescale should be agreed for the parents to develop their provision.

- which seems to make an automatic blanket assumption that local authorities will have information that makes it appear that the parents of recently deregistered children are not providing a suitable education in order for them to be seeking to agree a reasonable timescale for the supply of information about the provision; and at the end of section 3.6:

Parents might prefer, for example, to write a report, provide samples of work, have their educational provision endorsed by a third party (such as an independent home tutor) or provide evidence in some other appropriate form

- which term (appropriate form) just might encourage some authorities to imagine themselves to be the arbiters of such appropriateness.

But on the whole the guidelines seem sensible and sympathetic to the postcode lottery position to which EHE has previously been subject and appear to be a victory for civil liberty over the tyranny of some self-styled Home Education Inspectors - who will be duly outraged by them, I suspect.

So I'm relieved by this outcome and grateful to everyone who made efforts towards achieving it, but the price of freedom being eternal vigilence I see it as being a battle won, not the war.

When every parent and every child in the UK has a real, informed choice about whether and how to make use of state schooling, that will be a state of affairs to thoroughly celebrate.


Blogger HelenHaricot said...

it is really much much better than i thought it would be, so all that effort filling in the consultation was worth while!

9:47 pm, November 29, 2007  
Blogger Elaine said...

As one door opens..

10:26 pm, November 29, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Grrrr... does that stick and carrot approach have any merit at all? Gordon Brown seems to swear by it, but I think it just puts people off wanting to do things.

And surely the most disaffected will remain untouched by these measures anyway?

8:31 am, November 30, 2007  
Blogger Minnie said...

The carrot isn't always what you think, either.

After leaving the useless place called school, my son went on a public services course at college. He wanted to join the fire service and so did quite a few of his course mates. Others had their eye on joining the police, ambulance service, etc..lots of different public services. He used to get so angry because all the course tutor pushed was Army, Army, Army!! T'was like brainwashing. Parents did complain, but we got the usual cobble.

And, the work experience they have to go on while at school!! One of mine wanted to work in sports..he was excellent at this...and all they could be bothered to find him was a placement in an old folks home. No wonder the young people get so fed up. Don't blame them at all.

9:29 am, November 30, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

I suppose if you believe human nature to be inherently evil so that it constantly needs curing/saving/whatever, these methods probably seem necessary.

Maybe religious ideas are playing more of a part in all this than we suspect? Or is it just all about the money?

11:20 am, November 30, 2007  
Blogger Elaine said...

It aint about religion or money it is about self. None of these gov ministers, 'researchers'etc give a damn about others they are in it for self and can only see controlling others as a means of maintaining their status

3:30 pm, November 30, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh God. They really are just a bunch of orcs then?

Been watching Lord of the Rings again ;-)

3:33 pm, November 30, 2007  
Blogger ruth said...

I am pleased with the outcome:)

5:20 pm, November 30, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Think they'd make a difference to your LA Ruth?

7:52 pm, November 30, 2007  
Blogger ruth said...

Think they'd make a difference to your LA Ruth?

Probably not Gill but it will give those here more ammo to fight them. For ages the LA have been using the idea of what the consultations *might* give them,( the previous one in particular ) and saying HE might as well do it now cos they will have to sooner or later - like having their children tested for progress, agreeing to visits with children present as the only means of providing evidence, ongoing monitoring as a matter of course.. This even filtered down to HE here in their advice to newbies! Now they can't anymore. I am sure a certain HE inspector here will be foaming at the mouth today:) However they are only guidelines ( which mainly back up the law but still guidelines) and they only abide by them when it suits them and is in their favour. I am just relieved it wasn't anything really awful. Like you say I think we won the battle but not the ultimate war so that is why I am pleased with the outcome.

10:50 pm, November 30, 2007  
Blogger Lucy said...

It's really nice to read something positive rather than all the usual scary stuff.

And thanks so much for putting these things down in a way that is easy to read and points out the relevant bits.

12:43 am, December 01, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Ruth, I was hoping that'd be the case. Then these guidelines are definitely good news, overall.

I hope the guidelines get circulated to parents as well as LAs, so that parents are aware of them to be able to use them.

The developing relationships bit is interesting. It sort of shifts the onus to do this from parents onto LAs, doesn't it?

9:11 am, December 01, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

And Lucy, you're welcome but I see from the lists (especially AHEd) that some people are less happy with the guidelines. 3.15 "In their consideration of parents’ provision of education at home, local authorities may reasonably expect the provision to include the following characteristics: ... access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child – such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and crafts materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and other adults" is causing particular consternation and I can see why.

Some parents are philosophically opposed to introducing young children to ICT and some children are by nature completely uninterested in arts and crafts. Still other families prefer, quite happily and safely, to keep themselves to themselves rather than joining in with social activities with groups. But these are all sticks that difficult LAs could potentially try to use to beat families with.

This enforced socialisation thing is interesting, isn't it? I can't imagine it would make for a good fun home ed meeting, if everyone was turning up just to tick the socialisation box, but they didn't really want to be there.

9:19 am, December 01, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

I thought there was a vital little "such as" in that list, which is all you need to argue your way out of it. The way I see it, that list is a hell of a lot better than some list created in the head of an LA bod. "Appropriate" social interaction can clearly vary from person to person, so I don't think that should be too much of a problem, either.

I reckon this is a really good outcome. We've got loads of concessions and its no surprise that they have to give the LAs something.

2:42 pm, December 01, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh yes, the 'such as' might make a difference. I hadn't noticed that.

3:57 pm, December 01, 2007  
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1:32 pm, February 27, 2009  

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