Ever had that feeling of de-ja-vu? Like you’re repeating the same scenario over and over?
Over the past few months, there seems to be another concerted effort to raise fears about home education, last time it was the Badman Review. This time they can’t seem to decide what the main reason for having us registered and monitored is. One minute its radicalisation, more recently its welfare (again). But the overriding message seems to be that home educated children are “hidden”, and parents cannot be trusted to take care of their own children. The overriding message is one of controlling people, not of care of the community or indeed children.
Before moving on to the bulk of my blog post, I would like you to keep this specific legislation in mind, before making a decision whether you agree with registration.
I would also like you in each case to simply ask: How would an EHE child’s name being on a register somewhere have helped them?
Section 47 of the 1989 Children’s Act states:
“(4) Where enquiries are being made under subsection (1) with respect to a child, the local authority concerned shall (with a view to enabling them to determine what action, if any, to take with respect to him) take such steps as are reasonably practicable —
(a) to obtain access to him; or
(b) to ensure that access to him is obtained, on their behalf, by a person authorised by them for the purpose, unless they are satisfied that they already have sufficient information with respect to him.”
Let’s start with the most recent and tragic case to have been in the news. Dylan Seabridge. According to most recent reports, welfare concerns had been reported to Social services over a year before he died. However instead of invoking their powers under section 47, they sent his details to education officials who have no such powers as they deal with education of the child not their welfare and do not have the same training or safeguarding powers at social workers.
Apparently he was ‘invisible’ to the LA, my only question is how? If you take the fact the Pembrokeshire was repeatedly reported to be failing it’s safeguarding duties and given a final warning in 2012 out of the equation. Then regardless of any neglect, if social services had done their jobs properly and followed the correct procedure, his life could have been saved.
Instead of demonstrating he was in fact in ‘invisible’ to them, they have demonstrated how their complete lack of understanding of the law led to their own failures. Not only that, they have demonstrated WHY welfare and education should never be conflated.
Furthermore, it came at a time when malnutrition was and is still rising in the UK. In 2010/11 there were 82 confirmed cases of scurvy which in 2014/15 had risen to 113 – the numbers are only counted if the diagnosis is made in hospital.
It was even in the news back in 2009! At which point cases of scurvy had risen by 50%. It was covered here.
It also comes at a time when food poverty is increasing due to government cuts and the use of food banks is also rising for the same reason.
Why was EHE blamed for LA failures?
Back in 2014, I wrote “The problem with ‘if it only saves one…’” and as I said then, the problem is that it very often doesn’t. In the case I wrote about, the children were on the EHE register, the youngest was in nursery and seen by a health visitor. They were also on Social services radar for six years, with SS involvement for a month while the mother was in hospital. How did being on an EHE register help them? Why was section 47 not invoked sooner? The children weren’t ‘invisible’, SS had the powers they needed, but once again, the details were sent to education officials, why?
Why was EHE blamed for LA failures? In every SCR publicly available, professionals were aware of the children involved, how then were they ‘invisible’? Why was correct procedure not followed, and why do LAs consistently fail to take responsibility for their own failure to act?
What about children in school who are failed by schools, social services or both? How would children being on an EHE register somewhere have helped them? They are registered in school and they still are being missed.
Daniel Pelka, R.I.P. He was registered in school, known to social services, had many hospital and doctor visits and still he was ‘invisible’. The only difference is that when children are in school, it is more accepted that fault lies at the door of the LA.
Shanay Walker, R.I.P. This time she was over compulsory education age, registered in school, the school reported their concerns and social services were aware of potential abuse. This time they did investigate but ultimately failed to act. The SCR is to come.
Confusion over the child protection threshold is not helping. Cuts to services, staff etc. means protocols are not being followed properly and it is putting children in danger. Saving money should never mean that the protocols already in place cannot be followed and the powers already available used correctly.
Ultimately, the state makes a poor parent, and is a parent of the last resort.
In 2012 a report was published from the joint inquiry into children who go missing from care. In 2013 it was reported that 30,000 children go missing from social care each year. In 2014, the BBC reported that Jimmy Savile was given access to children’s Homes enabling his abuse of the children in their care. At the end of last year David Cameron (the man who left his child in the pub…) stated that social workers needed to be better parents to the children in the care of social services, and that charities
(NSPCC?) should take them over if they fail in their duties. If they can’t protect the children they ARE responsible for, why would I want them anywhere near mine?
Please tell me why I would want my son on an EHE register? How would that protect him? Why would it suddenly make him more ‘at risk’ than other children? He is still ‘seen’, he’s certainly not ‘invisible’. How are LA failures the fault of home educators?
But of course, it is home education that is the “problem”.