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I just checked my comments and authorised and answered them. Erk.

Also, this morning I went out and bought box files and file boxes and little ring binder things for index cards, and this evening I organised the HELL out of a lot of the formal educational supplies.

We have something like eight inches of shelfspace of workbooks, mainly literacy and numeracy type things, and almost all presents for the children from relations. They do bits of them occasionally, but in general the sheer quantity available overwhelms them. So I sorted them into a box by owner and subject, and chose a very few for a separate box of Stuff We Might Use, along with the FIAR manuals. (L8 fell on the History workout I bought her AGES ago with cries of glee and couldn’t speak for the next 20 minutes except to tell me I was wrong about Henry VIII being the kind of guy who liked fast cars and BBQ pool parties).

I went through a big stack of old newspaper pullouts we were given by a friend a few years ago – wallcharts about Clouds and Fungi and Invertebrates from the Guardian, and a lot of things about birds from the Independent – and clearly labelled each one, ready to find without unfolding them all, and then in a stroke of mad organisational genius I got a sharpie and wrote the inventory on the outside of the plastic envelope they’re stored in.

I went through the Five in a Row books and manuals and started making an index card for each one we have, and a list of the books we don’t have, with the manual page number; later I will add go-along books and summaries of suggested activities to the cards. Index cards are the right size for that, the manuals are huge floppy A4 things. Now when a child chooses a book I can flick through and get a bunch of information about what we might do with it, even if I’m tired or busy, and go from there.

In my index card file I also made up some lists of our core subjects; the children and I sort of brainstormed these on Friday, and I made a big A1 poster of them, but a smaller list is handy.

I need to create a section for “practical activities and experiments for doing with adult guidance” too, I keep remembering things I did as a child which I need to do with them.

I really was fairly heftily home-educated myself, when I think about it.

I’ve abandoned all my principles and it’s working. After the most awful week we’ve ever had, I think, I drew up checklists for the girls – make bed, brush hair, clean teeth, get dressed, do some literacy stuff, do some maths stuff – and made a 30-minute screen session conditional on a completed column of ticks.

And it’s working. And I’ve learned something.

Spelling isn’t awful or miserable for the seveneight-year-old (Oh my GAWD she’s EIGHT!) if I don’t combine it with writing. So if we use Bananagrams letters, it’s much easier. And if we use words that combine and form other words, it’s exciting and interesting. And if she chooses every second word, that’s good too. I haven’t worked out the limits yet, but we’ve had eel-heel-wheel, ape-cape-escape, and quick and queen, and pocket, paleontology, packet, polycarbonate, rocket, and things like that. I’m hoping that working on spelling will translate into reading more accurately, too, which will help her pronunciation of words like polycarbonate and paleontology so I’ll know what she means before she writes them down.

She’s extremely keen to play Settlers of Catan again and we’re going to do it as soon as she has cleared a space on the dining table and set up the board. Hopefully it will take less than two hours this time.

My own ticklist makes me take my pills and eat my meals, so that’s good too.

We’re trying to get up a pattern of painting on Mondays. We had three other children in yesterday, and one of mine and two of the visitors painted, so that was lovely. I might need a better source of very cheap canvas and boards or this could get expensive quickly. Any suggestions?

The whole thing is here – I am pulling out the bits I think are specifically relevant to home education, just for you. The good news for those of you who tried to read the Badman report is that this document is coherent, which helps a lot – I don’t need to comment much, just draw your attention to some bits for you to look at. I’m looking at two things – the extract from the consultation document I think are relevant, and something referred to in it – “Building Engagement, Building Futures” which is a link to a page which links to a PDF (why not just a web page? no idea). I’ve highlighted some parts in bold.

1.1The Education and Skills Act 2008 sets out that from 2015, all young people (16 and 17 year-olds) will be required to participate in education or training. This change is happening in two phases: from summer 2013 all young people will be required to participate in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17, and from summer 2015 onwards until their 18th birthday.

1.2This does not necessarily mean that young people have to stay at school. They will be able to participate through three options:

  • Full-time education – whether at a school, college or otherwise.
  • An Apprenticeship.
  • Working full-time (for 20 hours or over per week and for at least eight weeks) and undertaking part-time study alongside (for the equivalent of a day a week).

1.3 Our strategy to increase participation (Building Engagement, Building Futures) sets out our policies to support the commitment to full participation of 16 and 17 year-olds in education and training

2.1 The areas of consultation are:
Residency – the duty to participate applies to all young people resident in England. Judgements on where a young person resides may need to be made in a very small number of cases; we propose not regulating here and leaving this to the discretion of local areas.
Full-time education – for those young people participating through full-time education (if not at a school), how can we best define what is meant by full-time education in all its relevant settings? Here we set out two options: a blanket rate of minimum full-time hours for all education types (which we suggest should be 534 hours annually), or a more differentiated approach for the different types of education provision.

3.2This decision about residency is only with regard to the duty to participate – and has no bearing on any other residency decisions that may affect that young person.

3.3 The Government could specify in regulations under section 66 of ESA 2008 that certain categories of individuals are or are not resident for the purposes of the participation duty. For example, young people who live in Scotland or Wales and who cross the border to study or work.

Question 1. Do you consider it appropriate that the Government does not regulate on residency in relation to the duty to participate in order to allow for maximum local discretion?

4.1 The great majority of young people will be participating in full-time education, as they do now. Many of those will be at a school (sixth-form), at which full-time education already has a settled meaning of about 190 days per year. But for those undertaking full-time education elsewhere, we will need to define this in our regulations

4.2 We would consider the following to be the valid types of full-time education:

1. School sixth-form – as mentioned, this has a settled meaning and so need not be considered as part of these regulations.
2. College (whether sixth-form, Further Education, independent or religious training provider) – the great majority of young people who are in full-time education, not at a school, will be at a college. This would also include young people who receive their education via a college but are not necessarily attending at the college premises (e.g. young people in custody).
3. Independent Specialist Providers – colleges that provide education and care to those with the most significant disabilities and learning difficulties.
4. Home education.
5. Re-engagement provision – programmes specifically designed to support the most disadvantaged and disaffected young people back into learning.

4.3 There are two options that could be considered here. We could either set a single number of minimum hours across all providers (option 1) or take a tailored approach to definitions for different routes (option 2).

4.4 Option 1: To set a blanket minimum number of hours of education that we would expect young people to undertake if they are participating through full-time education, wherever and however they may be doing so. This would be the simplest approach

4.5 This would be the minimum number of hours, and should not be considered an overall expectation of amount of education nor an average.

4.6 Therefore, we would consider setting an overall annual number of hours somewhere between 450-600 hours per year. We suggest 534 hours per year, which would be around 18 hours per week. Whilst it is likely that the majority of that education will be leading towards formal qualifications, other types of learning should be counted [...] for example work experience as a key part of Study Programmes, would count towards the overall hours. This should be measured out over the year – taking account of any terms and breaks. We would ensure through the regulation that a sequence of programmes (each of which were, for example, of an average of 18 hours per week) would also be valid – for example, if a young person took a one week re-engagement programme (of over 18 hours) and then went onto a full-time college course.

This may have some implications for some of the provision types listed above.

4.9 For home education, this will allow the young person to have clarity that they are fulfilling their duty to participate; but it is at the discretion of the home educator as to what form that education takes. We do not want to set regulations for home education that do not exist pre-16 – but by providing a blanket expectation, we will allow all young people and local authorities to have a clear understanding of the requirements of RPA.

4.10 Option 2: As an alternative option, given that there are a number of settings where young people can engage in full-time education post-16, we could define the requirements for each of those separately.

4.13 For home education – in line with home education for those pre-16, we would not set any specific RPA requirements here. Therefore, as above, we could include this as a specific category that counts but without an hourly rate attached.

Question 2a: Which of the options set out in paragraphs 4.4 to 4.14 do you prefer i.e. option 1 (setting an overall hourly minimum level for full-time education for all provision) or option 2 (a more tailored approach)?

Question 2b: Or is there a hybrid option that you think more effective – for example, that there is a blanket rate of hours for all full-time education but Independent Specialist Providers are exempt?

Question 3a: Do you agree with our suggestion of 534 hours as the minimum requirement for full-time education under Option 1?

Question 3b: Do you agree with our suggestion of 534 hours as the minimum requirement for full-time education for colleges under Option 2?

Building Engagement, Building Futures
Page 6 “Attainment at 16 is the single most important factor in securing young people’s participation and future achievement.
Page 11 “More than 96% of 16 year olds and 87% of 17 year olds were participating in education or work-based learning at the end of 2010 [but] 1.16 million young people aged 16-24 not in education, employment or training.

Page 30-31

3.21
Local authorities have clear statutory duties in relation to 16-19 year old participation – to secure suitable education and training provision and to support young people to participate, including providing targeted support to help those who are NEET at this stage. [...] Local authorities should have in place robust and timely arrangements with partners for tracking young people’s participation, using their Client Caseload Information System to record this information and to identify those at risk of disengaging.

I can’t find anything to make me think this is even slightly like Badman. I don’t recommend reading what the second document has to say about young people NEET with disabilities, though. Unless you have low blood pressure.

HESFES

I think we’re going. I’m a bit scared of it, but it’s on clear public transport routes this time, so I think we’re going.If we aren’t, I’m sure we can do something with the tickets. Wall-mount them, possibly?

For some reason, I never published this when I wrote it in September. Wonder why not?

Short answers: I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s the best thing for my children. It’s interesting. Everyone seems to like it. I don’t think school (the only realistic alternative) would be good for my children right now.

Longer answers: When I was six I spent a lot of time very confused and unhappy about the fact that school kept us all in same-age groups, more or less, doing much the same things at very similar levels, in large groups, with almost no unsupervised or unstructured time. Also, I was bored silly. I asked my mother for an explanation and she wasn’t able to give one which was acceptable to me, though eventually she agreed that once school was over I was unlikely to find myself in such a situation again, because offices, laboratories, factories,and most other workplaces are pretty mixed both in age and in activity, so I just had to get through school. Things were easier after that.

I spent some time in a school with mixed-age classrooms, a one- or two-teacher school, and that was less alienating and made it much easier to learn things, but still not quite right. The large large groups thing was probably part of it.

When I was about eight I met a home-educated child who had her very own donkey to ride around on. Her name was, I think, Sophia, and she was American, or her mother was, and we played a lot together for a while. She taught me to scramble eggs and make chamomile tea from fresh flowers, and had her very own donkey. Which was hers. So jealous.

I don’t think I thought much about home education after that for a few years, but my mother periodically mentioned Máire Mullarney approvingly and assured me that school was not the pinnacle and highlight of my life and that if I waited it out things woudl get better, which they did, which was a relief.

Then later on I was planning babies and buying a house with my partner, and we were pleased to find an area with LOTS of schools to choose from.

But gradually, as I thought of it more and more, and the first baby was actually born, I liked the idea (of automatically sending them to school and hoping to continually firefight problems as they arose, through joining groups and committees and talking to teachers and principals and changing schools as necessary) less and less. I found various people living in my computer and read a lot. And decided that since what we were doing right now seemed to work, I’d change my default – instead of the default option being to change everything, from who we socialised with to what time we got up in the morning to what we did all day, the default is now to keep calm and carry on as normal, with the option of doing something else if that seems like a better idea at any point.

Linnea does best in a totally unstructured, unpressured environment where she can do things at exactly her own pace as and when she pleases – or a totally new environment with totally new adults. At least, she has until now, but she’s only just five and a half, so things will change, I’m sure. Emer is a bit easier to handle, because she can take suggestion and instruction even from adults she actually knows. And she doesn’t mind being praised half as much.

I like being able to accommodate their ever-changing physical needs. Children need more sleep, or less sleep, or more rest, or more running around, in hugely varying amounts from day to day, depending on the weather or what they’re learning or whatever. I like not having to get anyone out into the rain in the dark to walk to school in the middle of winter. I like their ability to just do things, without any adults interfering or knowing what they’re doing, and suddenly they appear with Something Finished, sometimes even with evidence, happy with what they’ve achieved.

I like that their friends are aged 1 year to 8 years old, if you don’t count their grown-up friends. I like it when they teach grown-ups things.

It’s hard to know what they like or dislike because they are young enough that their personal basis for comparison is meaninglessly small. But they are happy.

I tried hard to be reasonable and calm, going through the Recommendations one by one. But I don’t feel in the least little bit reasonable or calm. My most strongly felt objections, on an emotional level, are in two parts.

Education

The entire document is based on an assumption that education happens basically one way, though there’s some variation on detail. It’s based on teacher-led school-style pre-planned education. It’s based on the assumption that goals and targets and developmental norms are useful to everyone, and that plans and set goals are reasonable things to ask all parents and all children to create, believe in, and work with.

If I thought school-style education would be good for my children, I would send them to school They are both perfectly happy without me. They thrive in large groups of children and demand vast amounts of social interaction from their peers (though we have a broader definition of peers then the school system does, since we don’t restrict as narrowly by age as they do). I have no reason to believe that they would be bullied much or be unable to handle complicated social situations. They already do, often.

The document, and its recommendations, and the LA systems and the School Attendance Orders and the criminal prosecutions which may follow, all ignore the concept of Autonomous Education entirely.

And I read on the BBC News website that Mr Badman (Mummy, make the bad man go away) claims that

But he said parents would be judged against their education plans.

“This is not some woolly statement,” he said.

“They will be judged on their plans. These statements should contain some milestones for children to achieve,” he went on.

“For example by the age of eight, I think they should be autonomous learners, able to read.

“I’m calling for further work to be done, but also setting some parameters.”

What is so magical about the age of eight? I know several people who could read early who went on to be extremely bright, or perfectly average, or so uninterested in the education on offer at school that they dropped out completely. I also know several people who read much later – including some who were as old as 9 or 10 before they could read with any fluency at all – who grew up into perfectly normal people with entirely functional lives and, in some cases, well-paid secure jobs which are oddly not disappearing into the waters of the recession.

Why is reading the same as learning autonomously, to this man? They are so clearly not the same to me, who loves reading and has lived on the inside of books for most of the past 25 years since I was one of those early fluent readers, that it seems entirely absurd. Why isn’t it more important that an eight-year-old be able to plan a meal, go to the shops with twenty quid, buy groceries based on brand-recognition or single-word recognition, and prepare and cook a meal? Or knit a jumper, or plant, tend, and harvest a plot of vegetables? Eventually either it will become obvious that reading isn’t necessary to the things this person wants to do, or they will put the effort in to becoming fluent readers, or they will figure out some other way around the problem.

That goal is just an easier way to measure from outside whether parents are providing the opportunity to learn to read, and that’s not good enough. It doesn’t measure the actual availability of the opportunity to learn autonomously from their reading, and it certainly doesn’t measure whether the education provided for the child is “suitable to his age ability and aptitude and to any special needs he may have”. It’s perfectly possible to teach a child to read and not to question authority at the same time.

Child protection and rescue

I am absolutely in favour of children being protected, by the state, from abuse, and when protection fails, I am in favour of their being rescued. And that’s one reason I am incensed by the idea of a register and an annual visit in the name of “Safeguarding.” The numbers of adults I know who grew up in abusive homes – including barely-adults, aged 17 or 18, through the system very recently – and escaped, sometimes taking their younger siblings into their charge, without once having aroused the suspicion of their teachers or neighbours, is terrifying and tragic. It is abundantly obvious to me that relying on daily interaction with teachers to detect abuse is hugely inadequate, and annual visits can only be more so.

But given that they are already reducing the Health Visitor service for the under-fives, the most at-risk group, seriously injured and killed by their parents more than any other age group, I see no hope at all that they will increase the services available to children older than that. I heard somewhere that Education Officers (the title was from someone’s memory so may be inaccurate) used to visit children of school age, taking over from Health Visitors, visiting more often when the child is younger and less and less as they grow older, tapering off gradually. They visited homes whether or not children were at school, offering advice on education and development stuff. I think it wasn’t available everywhere, perhaps only in London, but it seems obvious to me that this service could help so many children, if adequately funded…

And as for a register, well, it will be lovely to find it on a bus or in a taxi somewhere, like the Child Benefit data, with everyone’s names, parents’ names, birthdays, and addresses. That will be great.

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Recommendation 26
This comes at the very end of section 8, “Safeguarding.”

DCSF should explore the potential for Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People’s Services (C4EO) and other organisations, to identify and disseminate good practice regarding support for home education.

We should work out how to work out how to tell what we’re doing and whether it’s any good. And if it is we should make sure we’re all doing it. Quite.

Recommendation 27
This also comes at the very end of section 8.

It is recommended that the Children’s Workforce Development Council and the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit include the needs of this group of officers in their consideration of national training needs.

We have to train these people, and in any other situation youse guys would be the ones to find it in your budgets and resource management plans, so here you go.

If it happens, someone has to make it happen.

Recommendation 28
This comes at the end of section 9, “Resources.”

That the DCSF and the Local Government Association determine within three months how to provide to local authorities sufficient resources to secure the recommendations in this report.

The taxpayer, including home educating families, pays for all this stuff for schooled children, and therefore should pay it for home educated children, too, so we need to sort that out! I approve of this, at least. Perhaps they can take the money from, er…

Um…

Well, there’s bound to be some somewhere.

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Recommendation 21
This comes in section 8, “Safeguarding,” after 8.11 – in 8.3 and 8.4 he says ” The view was also expressed that attendance at school was no guarantee of a child’s safety, as other tragic cases have indicated. 8.4 I understand the argument but do not accept it in its entirety in that attendance at school brings other eyes to bear, and does provide opportunity for the child to disclose to a trusted adult.”

That the Children’s Trust Board ensures that the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) reports to them on an annual basis with regard to the safeguarding provision and actions taken in relation to home educated children. This report shall also be sent to the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit. Such information should be categorised thereby avoiding current speculation with regard to the prevalence of child protection concerns amongst home educated children which may well be exaggerated. This information should contribute to and be contained within the National Annual Report.

In other words, he knows that school does not keep children safe from abuse at home, but feels that it ought to because there are other people seeing the child, even though it has been repeatedly shown that it doesn’t, but common sense says it must. Surely.

But just in case, perhaps we ought to monitor things in case we’re wrong about Home Educated children being more vulnerable.

I actually approve of that last bit, where he acknowledges that the value of your shares may go up as well as down actually home educated children may be no more abused than any other section of the underage population.

Recommendation 22
This comes after 8.12, where he says “First, on the basis of local authority evidence and case studies presented, even acknowledging the variation between authorities, the number of children known to children’s social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population.” and ” So saying is not to suggest that there is a causal or determining relationship, but simply an indication of the need for appropriately trained and knowledgeable personnel.”

That those responsible for monitoring and supporting home education, or commissioned so to do, are suitably qualified and experienced to discharge their duties and responsibilities set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children to refer to social care services children who they believe to be in need of services or where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm.

I have no idea what he means by the “disproportionate” mentioned, because he doesn’t say that there’s a correlation at all (which might be quite clever of him, if there isn’t one, but is pretty stupid if there is) but I definitely agree that anyone involved needs to be very seriously trained. Rather better than most social workers, in fact, who at least are visiting families more often than annually, when trying to spot and help prevent abuse.

Recommendation 23
This follows directly from Recommendation 22 and is mentioned in the Conclusion – “To that end, I urge the DCSF to respond to recommendations 1, 7, 23 and 24 as summarised in the next chapter, at the next available opportunity.”.

That local authority adult services and other agencies be required to inform those charged with the monitoring and support of home education of any properly evidenced concerns that they have of parents’ or carers’ ability to provide a suitable education irrespective of whether or not they are known to children’s social care, on such grounds as
  • alcohol or drug abuse
  • incidents of domestic violence
  • previous offences against children
  • And in addition:

  • anything else which may affect their ability to provide a suitable and efficient education
  • This requirement should be considered in the Government’s revision of Working Together to Safeguard Children Guidance.

    If they think a child is at risk, they should report it, whether or not the parents are among Those People, defined as alcohol or drug abusers, victims or perpetrators of domestic violence, child abusers, or loads of other people who aren’t fit to educate children, use your own judgment, but possibly including gay, poly, on medication for mental or emotional illnesses (even if those illnesses are currently controlled), too poor, or speaking something other than English as a first language. I am not at all sure that children in bilingual homes will be treated any better by home education monitoring than they are by teachers in schools, either.

    Recommendation 24
    This comes after 8.13 and is also mentioned in the Conclusion (see above).

    That the DCSF make such change as is necessary to the legislative framework to enable local authorities to refuse registration on safeguarding grounds. In addition local authorities should have the right to revoke registration should safeguarding concerns become apparent.

    We need to be able to deny parents the right to home educate if we suspect they are abusing their children… because children who are not safe in their own homes will be safer if 30 of their 168 hours a week are spent in a school, because schools make children safe, QED. But there’s no mention of doing anything else to keep these children safe, in the 138 hours a week they are not in school, nor why those measures would be inadequate to cover the 30 hours.

    Recommendation 25
    This comes after 8.14, in which he says “I can find no evidence that elective home education is a particular factor in the removal of children to forced marriage,
    servitude or trafficking or for inappropriate abusive activities. Based on the limited evidence available, this view is supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers.”
    and 8.15, where he says “had there been different regulations in place as proposed, they may well have had a mitigating effect without necessarily guaranteeing prevention. However, any regulation is only as effective as its transaction. To that end I believe it is important to hold local authorities to account”.

    That the DCSF, in its revision of the National Indicator Set indicated in its response to the recent Laming Review, should incorporate an appropriate target relating to the safeguarding of children in elective home education.

    Part one: There isn’t any evidence that we can see, so we’re safe to say that more regulation might well have reduced abuse from a number we can’t see to a smaller number we can’t see. Part two: Local Authorities need to be monitored too, so let’s have some targets.

    What kind of targets? A reduction in numbers of abused home educated children, from a number we don’t know to a smaller number? Or an increase, from a number we don’t know to a much larger number? A target for a percentage of home educated children on the lists to achieve certain things by certain times? A cross-referencing system against the child’s medical records to see if they’re on antidepressants or getting antibiotics too often? What???

    I’d have an opinion on this if I had any idea what kind of targets he’s talking about. It might be obvious to someone who shares his biases or assumptions, but I don’t seem to, and it’s really not clear to me.

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    These all come in section 7, “Special Educational Needs.”
    Recommendation 17

    That the Ofsted review of SEN provision give due consideration to home educated children with special educational needs and make specific reference to the support of those children.

    If the LA are going to have a duty of care of some sort towards home educated children, then children with Special Educational Needs certainly shouldn’t be left out! This is consistent, at least. I don’t know whether it would be useful to families with SEN children.

    Recommendation 18

    That the DCSF should reinforce in guidance to local authorities the requirement to exercise their statutory duty to assure themselves that education is suitable and meets the child’s special educational needs. They should regard the move to home education as a trigger to conduct a review and satisfy themselves that the potentially changed complexity of education provided at home, still constitutes a suitable education. The statement should then be revised accordingly to set out that the parent has made their own arrangements under section 7 of the Education Act 1996.

    In the wake of the Ofsted review, changes to the SEN framework and legislation may be required.

    I’d like to read this as anything other than “They should assume that parents who believe school has been shown to be inadequate for their children’s needs are actually incompetents (at best) who don’t know their own children and need to be checked up on.” But that reading leaps out at me.

    Recommendation 19

    That the statutory review of statements of SEN in accord with Recommendation 18 above be considered as fulfilling the function of mandatory annual review of elective home education recommended previously.

    OK, so they don’t want SEN home educators to jump through both sets of hoops; that seems reasonable enough.

    Recommendation 20

    When a child or young person without a statement of special educational needs has been in receipt of School Action Plus support, local authorities and other agencies should give due consideration to whether that support should continue once the child is educated at home – irrespective of whether or not such consideration requires a new commissioning of service.

    I don’t know enough about the School Action Plus scheme – it’s a school thing, but I don’t know whether it’s something likely to be useful or intrusive. If this bit is about the LA continuing to support families with access to resources and guidance after they find school inadequate or damaging and remove their children, that might be quite good. But that’s a very charitable interpretation and not actually backed up by the stories I’ve heard.

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    Recommendation 13
    This comes in section 5, “The Current and Future Role of Local Authorities and Children’s Trusts,” after 5.9

    That local authority provision in regard to elective home education is brought into the scope of Ofsted’s assessment of children’s services within the Comprehensive Area Assessment through information included in the National Indicator Set (Recommendation 25), the annual LSCB report (Recommendation 21) and any other relevant information available to inspectors.

    If the LAs are supposed to be providing services, then yes, they need to be held accountable for it, like every other service they are supposed to provide.

    (See my post on Recommendations 21 & 25)

    Recommendation 14
    This comes in section 6, “The Number of Electively Home Educated Children,” after 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3, in which he says “Our own data concurred with the DfES (2007) report, that there are around 20,000 children and young people currently registered with local authorities. We know that to be an underestimate and agree it is likely to be double that figure, if not more, possibly up to 80,000 children.”

    That the DCSF require all local authorities to make an annual return to the Children’s Trust Board regarding the number of electively home educated children and young people and the number of School Attendance Orders and Education Supervision Orders as defined in the 1996 Education Act, issued to home educated children and young people.

    I’d have thought that at least one year’s worth of this data – preferably more – would be necessary to conduct this review in the first place. I assume School Attendance Orders are recorded and the reason for issuing them is part of the data somewhere. Why isn’t this already in the report? Surely the change between pre-registration-and-support and post-registration-and-support by the state is what’s important? Unless the goal is to show how abusive and useless home education is, rather than how valuable the state’s assistance is and how much better things are with local authority services?

    Recommendation 15
    This comes after 6.4

    That the DCSF take such action as necessary to prevent schools or local authorities advising parents to consider home education to prevent permanent exclusion or using such a mechanism to deal with educational or behavioural issues.

    Well, quite. “We can’t cope, so you’ll have to home educate” is a bit… handwashy. And it didn’t oughter be allowed. Good.

    Recommendation 16
    This comes after 6.5

    That the DCSF bring forward proposals to give local authorities power of direction with regard to school places for children and young people returning to school from home education above planned admission limits in circumstances where it is quite clear that the needs of the child or young person could not be met without this direction.

    If a child needs a school place they ought to get one, regardless of what parental error led to the need being inconvenient for the authorities. Good. Though some schools are already more overcrowded than others, so this might be a real hardship in some places.

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