Recently I have heard repeatedly that there are tensions with the Elective Home Education guidelines for Local Authorities.
To be honest I’m inclined to agree, however there is only tension there because Local Authorities repeatedly fail to follow them! It seems to be beyond the majority of Local authorities to act in a non-Ultra Vires way. In fact only 30 out of 152 Local Authorities had policies that complied with the guidance in 2012. They seem to purposely misinterpret the law to suit their own agenda, which was phrased in such a way to assume that the majority of citizens comply with the law, and only gives the power to act if they have evidence that there is reason to believe an education suitable to the child is not being provided. Then they wonder why some home educators don’t want to have visits or in some cases any contact at all with them.
I briefly covered one issue in my recent post about ‘That old Chestnut’. However that is only one of many. There is always an underlying assumption that because someone home educates their child it must automatically mean that they are trying to hide something sinister. However as Graham Stuart has previously said, home educated children are peculiarly visible. In all the Serious Concerns Reviews that are published, I am yet to see a family that was not already known to Social Services, (one of which I covered here) so how exactly would extra monitoring of their education once a year have changed that?
In our society there seems to be an inherent belief that all children must be monitored by the state to protect them? But why? Most parents are law-abiding citizens, why is there an inherent belief that parents cannot be trusted with their own children? And what kind of damage is that belief already doing?
Lancashire has turned itself round from one of the Worst LAs in the country to one of the best, why? Because it listened to home educators and now follows the guidance.
By contrast Staffordshire has consulted with the home educating community but instead of getting better, it’s actually got worse. Why? Because it didn’t listen. Instead its heels were dug in, because oh my gosh, what if we miss one child? In turn, it has done lots of damage to its relationship with the community, and it has hurt innocent families in the process who are trying to do their best for their children. Instead of working cooperatively, the EHE team is controlling by fear but on the surface appears to be very reasonable until you start digging deeper, and see its demands for evidence of literacy, numeracy and reading, of issuing SAO’s on families who have otherwise complied with their requests, simply because they were not available when they visited for annual contact (not even an initial enquiry, the provision has already been deemed suitable) Hopefully it is on the way to being resolved, only time will tell. So tell me, how does that type of behaviour do the LA any favours? How does that encourage home educators to have contact with them?
In Stoke, they’re making Ultra Vires demands for evidence of 20 hours a week, structured Maths and English, regardless of the educational approach each family takes and threatening families with SAO if they don’t provide the specific evidence they want, but often not stating any specific concerns are. They’re also insisting on visits, and not accepting Educational Philosophies. I don’t need to remind you what section 3.13 states about elective home education not being school, of school hours not being applicable to EHE where there is almost continuous one to one contact. Yet this same EHE bod states she knows the EHE guidelines very well, so clearly she knows that she is breaking them.
Walsall are just as bad, insisting on visits, threatening SAO if families don’t comply. Then we get to Westminster that again are insisting on visits, but not accepting anything other than a report in writing that has been given the ‘seal of approval’ by an Educational Professional and actually issuing SAO’s on families who don’t comply (some choose to send in other written information but this is not accepted by Westminster) who then have to go to court, and of course have the SAO revoked because Westminster are acting Ultra Vires! How much public money is being wasted through their inexplicable determination to ignore the Elective Home Education guidelines? Just because it’s not illegal doesn’t mean it is not unlawful.
And that is only 4 out of 122 who have Ultra Vires policies – what are the rest like?
Tell me again, where is the tension from home educators? Who are following the law, and take heed to the guidance issued? The Localism Act only gave LA’s the powers that citizens have, it did not give them any extra powers. They say we are resistant and well organised like it’s a bad thing, but I guess it is a bad thing, if you are a Local Authority who consistently fails to follow the guidelines, and home educators keep reminding you of them. We are following the laws and guidelines. Surely Local Authorities should be too?
After all they are not beyond the law, and they are not the ones who are responsible for our children’s education. (Can you imagine if they were? We would see a massive increase in court cases against the LAs for all the school children who have been failed by state education – maybe that is something they need to keep in mind? Maybe school children should be asked if going to school is what they want?)