Every so often I hear the phrase ‘if it only saves one child then it’s worth it’. On the one hand I can see their point of view, on the other I think to myself ‘But what about the children who suffer due to it?’ Through no fault of their own, or any fault of their parents. This is usually in the form of compulsory registration and/or monitoring, which ultimately would take the primary duty to educate away from the parent and give the duty to the state. It is, quite simply, a Trojan Horse. It sounds perfectly sensible on the surface, but dig deeper and more layers are revealed about what the deeper problem is. Take a recent Serious Case Review (SCR) for instance (which Sometimes it’s peaceful covered very well); Citing that not having to register and the EHE team not having the right to visit to ensure the educational provision meant the children suffered for longer than necessary. There are a few things wrong with that assumption in a truly tragic case.
- The children were adopted in a different Country.
- The youngest child had a health visitor and registered with a local nursery/pre-school. Neither reported any welfare concerns.
- The Mother was not allowed to adopt further children.
- SS had been with the children while the Mother was in hospital for a month.
- Concerns about welfare were first reported SIX years before any action was taken.
- The family was known to the local community.
How exactly would a visit, maybe once a year or being registered have changed any of that? And what’s more, even if registration was compulsory, for those who are true abusers, would they bother registering? The educational provision was provided and the LA were happy with it, so there were NO educational concerns. End of story.
However, what the case DOES highlight is the need for more stringent checks in the case of international adoption. In the UK the family would have been thoroughly vetted and the proper checks made before the Mother would have been able to adopt, and there would also have been SS support afterwards. Because the children were adopted in America (and a different Country for the youngest) these checks were never made, and the support was never in place.
Not only that but the Mother went to A LOT of effort forging documents etc. In order to support her claims.
This highlights what a very rare and exceptional case it is, where even if the children had been in school (and indeed one was in Nursery for a year) it possibly wouldn’t have been picked up and when it was, it would have still probably taken the same amount of time unfortunately for SS to take any action. The Health visitor said there were no welfare concerns when asked, and the Nursery never reported any concerns at all.
There was more than enough information for the SS to make a welfare visit in the first instance, using the powers they already have in place to protect those children. But they didn’t. Once again, SS were aware (and in cases I have heard about involving Home education – which incidentally are very few, SS have ALWAYS known about the families involved and failed to act) and did NOT protect those children. Indeed there was obviously something in the files that meant she couldn’t adopt more children that the other country picked up on, so why did SS in the UK not pick up on it?
In fact the only time SS paid any attention properly was when the Mother was in hospital, when they were helping to keep an eye on the children along with the Mother’s friends who she trusted to support the children. Even then they were happy that there were no welfare concerns for the entire month that she was in hospital.
That is the truly worrying story. SS have the power to intervene if needed where there are welfare concerns.
Six bloody years until they took any sort of action to remove those children.
Let’s put the blame where it belongs. At the door of social services who repeatedly failed those children. Home education did not fail those children, SS did.