Sunday, October 10, 2010

No new guidance for HE, until you've fixed the CME

"The CME" is the Statutory guidance (revised) for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving a suitable education and the parts of this that need to be fixed before we can safely and effectively move forward with new and correct guidance for Local Authorities on Home Education are as follows:

87. Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 requires local authorities to make arrangements to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children who are not pupils at schools and who are not otherwise receiving suitable education. In order to comply with this duty local authorities need to make arrangements which will as far as possible enable them to determine whether any children who are not pupils at schools, such as those being educated at home, are receiving suitable education. In order to do this local authorities should make inquiries with parents educating children at home about the educational provision being made for them. The procedures to be followed with respect to such investigations are set out in the EHE Guidelines, 2.7-2.11 and 3.4-3.6. [My emphasis.]

But the EHE guidelines say:

2.6 Local authorities have a statutory duty under section 436A of the Education Act 1996, inserted by the Education and Inspections Act 2006, to make arrangements to enable them to establish the identities, so far as it is possible to do so, of children in their area who are not receiving a suitable education. The duty applies in relation to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, and who are not receiving a suitable education otherwise than being at school (for example, at home, privately, or in alternative provision). The guidance issued makes it clear that the duty does not apply to children who are being educated at home. [My emphasis]

This makes it very clear that the CME guidance was not originally intended to provide a tool for Local Authorities to seek to monitor home education provision, and yet the 2009 CME guidance was cited by my Local Authority later in 2009 for that very reason.

Next, from the 2009 CME guidance:

92. In order to discharge their duties in relation to children not receiving an education, local authorities should make inquiries with parents about whether their home educated children are receiving a suitable education. The Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities make clear that parents who home educate may take a number of equally valid approaches to educational provision for their children.

I think this is supposed to interpret section 436A of the Education Act, which says:

436A Duty to make arrangements to identify children not receiving education

(1)A local education authority must make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but—

(a)are not registered pupils at a school, and

(b)are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.

(2)In exercising their functions under this section a local education authority must have regard to any guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State.

(3)In this Chapter, “suitable education”, in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have.”

- but that's not an interpretation I would agree with, and nor is it one that preserves the principle set out in Section 7 of that act: that parents are responsible for their children's educational provision, not local authorities. Point 92 goes a step too far and urgently needs to be rewritten.

I can't understand why new guidance for local authorities on home education is being proposed, while the damaging 2009 CME guidance - which will have the effect of bringing in compulsory registration of home educators by the back door - is presumably to remain unchanged.

4 Comments:

Blogger Gill said...

I should refer back again to Carlotta's post from January 2009, where I read about this first.

8:12 am, October 10, 2010  
Blogger Firebird said...

Adding the comment here as well but IF the new EHE guidance is made statutory can't it be used to override the CME guidance? If it isn't statutory then you're right the CME stuff needs redoing to remove the inappropriate inclusion of EHE, but if it IS, then the problem can be fixed without touching CME and opening the can of worms that will go along with that.

7:17 pm, October 10, 2010  
Blogger Gill said...

The best scenario I can envisage if we end up with two contradictory sets of statutory guidance, one for HE and one for CME, is just endless arguments between HErs and LAs. No change there then! I don't think statutory guidance for HE would override statutory guidance for CME because they're not *supposed* to be about the same thing, are they? I'd be very happy to be proved wrong though.

7:21 pm, October 10, 2010  
Blogger Gill said...

And as Neil's just said:

"You need primary legislation to give a statutory basis for any guidance, you can't just decide that a guidance will or will not be statutory. Statutory means it has the force of statute, which means it gets its power by being referenced in statute, along the lines of: 'Local authorities must have regard to any statutory guidance that the minister may issue from time to time'.

AFAIK there is no statutory basis for guidance that relates specifically to education otherwise than at school. Long may that remain so!"

7:59 pm, October 10, 2010  

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