A Bradford critique

Bradford Elective Home Education report

SUMMARY

1.1 Elective Home Education (EHE) is the term used to describe parents’ decision to provide education for their child(ren) at home instead of sending them to school. This is different to home tuition provided by a Local Authority (LA) or education provided by a LA other than at school. Children whose parents elect to educate them at home are not registered at any school. The costs associated with Elective Home Education are the parents’ alone.

BACKGROUND

2.1 Statutory responsibility for children who are home educated is found under Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act, where it states that: “The parent/carer of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”

2.2 Section 9 of the Education Act 1996 states that: “In exercising or performing all their respective powers and duties under the Education Acts, the Secretary of State and Local Authorities shall have regard to the general principle that pupils are educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.”

2.3 The parent/carer is not required to inform the Local Authority of their decision to home educate. This does mean that some children may be home educated who are not known to the Local Authority.

2.4 When the child is on the roll of a school and the parents decide to home educate, the school must inform the Local Authority of the parents’ decision to home educate. The school must delete the child’s name from their school roll on receipt of written notification from the parents that the pupil is being electively home educated.

2.5 Local Authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis nor do their officers have an automatic right of access to the parent/carer(s) home. However, the LA has a duty under Section 437(i) of the Education Act 1996, to intervene if it appears that parents are not providing suitable education for their child(ren).

2.6 The statutory guidance tells us “Parents are required to provide an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child”. There is currently no legal definition of “full-time” and home educating parents are not required to:

 teach the National Curriculum

 provide a broad and balanced education

 have a timetable

 have premises equipped to any particular standard

 set hours during which education will take place

 have any specific qualifications make detailed plans in advance

 observe school hours, days or terms

 give formal lessons

 mark work done by their child

 formally assess progress or set development objectives

 reproduce school type peer group socialisation

 match school-based, age-specific standards.

So far so good…

Process followed by Bradford LA when a parent notifies of intention to home educate

3.1 The flow chart (Appendix 1) depicts the process followed in relation to EHE notifications. This relates to the notification process and the monitoring of provision only; safeguarding issues are covered in addition to this.

3.2 Where a parent/carer decides to home educate their child after they have begun formal schooling, contact is made with the LA either directly or through notification to their child’s school. Upon receipt of such notification the child is removed from school roll (if applicable) and their name added to the LA’s list of electively home educated children. Where parents have made the decision to home educate before registering at a school, the Authority has no knowledge of the child(ren) unless the parents make contact.

3.3 A Home Education pack, containing guidance notes for parents/carers (Appendix 2) together with a questionnaire (Appendix 3), is sent out from the Department of Children’s Services for completion.

3.4 Shortly after notification of intention to home educate and usually on receipt of the completed questionnaire an initial visit is made by the Education Social Worker (ESW), the purpose of which is to ascertain the welfare of the child(ren) and to provide a further opportunity for the family to seek advice.

Erm… Visits are not mandatory, it is not clear the parent can decline and er.. Hi common sense! You even say it yourself later in the document. Elective Home Education is not a welfare concern in itself.

3.5 After a settling in period, of a minimum of three months, the inspector will assess the provision to determine whether or not it is ‘suitable’. This three month period is considered a reasonable period for parents to develop their provision.

Do you have any reason under S436A to be asking this? Have you been given any cause for concern about the educational provision being provided? If not, leave the families alone unless they specifically ASK for some advice!

3.6 In the event that the provision is deemed to be unsuitable, advice will be given to the parent/carer and a revisit will take place within three months. If provision remains unsuitable, a school place for the child will be sought in consultation with the parent/carer. This also applies if parents do not agree to an inspection but the LA has reason to believe there is no suitable provision in place and parents are unwilling to work with us. A Statutory Notice requiring parents to demonstrate the suitability of their child’s education or a School Attendance Order (SAO) may be issued to the parent/carer as a last resort if informal steps to address the issue are unsuccessful.

Please specify unwilling to work with you, does this mean they have refused a visit? A visit wasn’t stated in 3.5 but in 3.6 you have stated that it would be a ‘re-visit’ so are you refusing to accept other forms of showing the educational provision? If so, then it is Bradford’s EHE team that are being unreasonable NOT the parents.

3.7 If a child has a Statement of SEN/Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and has been placed by the Authority in a special school, and the parent/carer wishes to deregister them and to home educate, the Local Authority’s SEN department must agree to this and, if agreed, must amend the Statement/EHCP accordingly. An exit review will be held with the parent/carer and the school wherever possible. Arrangements will be made, as far as is practicable, to hold the annual review in the opposite six months to the EHE assessment of provision so that the child has bi-annual input rather than yearly. Some statemented, home educated children receive LA funded tuition, in which case there is no inspection visit as the tutor provides the SEN department with reports on the pupil’s progress.

Hmm… There are a couple of things wrong with this.

1 – Yes the LA does have to approve de-registration. However, they cannot withhold consent unreasonably.

2 – Parents do not have to attend the review, and can ask for the statement to be withdrawn as in many cases the statement is only useful in a school-based setting. It is always the parents decision.

Data sets

4.1 As of January 2016, 333 children were known to be home educated in Bradford. This is roughly 0.38% of compulsory-aged pupils in maintained schools (Local Authority, Academy or Free schools). The Yorkshire and Humberside regional authorities have agreed to collect information at the national census dates and refer to the most recent when requested for EHE information, thereby ensuring consistency across the region.

4.2 Appendix 4 provides an overview of the numbers of known EHE pupils by Council Ward. 4.3 The following is a breakdown of the numbers of known EHE pupils in national curriculum year groups and indicates how many within each have a Statement of SEN /EHCP; please see appendix 5.
 
NCY  Total  Statement
R              6            
1              16             1
2             23
3             16             1
4             19 
5             29
6             22            1
7              27           1
8             35
9              32
10            35           2
11             73

Totals   333       6

* Total not totals

Safeguarding

5.1 Whilst there is no implication that EHE is a safeguarding concern in itself, cases of concern relate to those children who have not been seen by a professional (e.g. Health, Sports and Leisure) from whom confirmation of their welfare can be ascertained, or those where there are known welfare concerns.

See they said it right there! Let me be clear if concerns have been raised about the welfare of a child, then absolutely the council is right to check on their welfare using social services. To do otherwise is a clear conflation of welfare and education.

5.2 Intelligence is sought from all agencies but in the event that none can confirm the welfare of the child(ren), referral to the most appropriate agency will be made for a welfare check to take place.

This, however? Is this only if concerns are raised? Or if a ‘professional’ hasn’t seen them? My son is seen most days, but by a professional? Rarely, simply because we don’t use their services unless we need them. And which most appropriate agency? The only appropriate agency for a WELFARE check is social services, they are the only department under S47 with the relevant powers needed. But this ONLY applies when concerns have been reported to them. To use this for a family refusing a home visit from the EHE team is a HUGE abuse of power and one that is likely to end in litigation.

5.3 Given that it is not a legal requirement to register EHE children with the LA, there may be children who are being home educated that are unknown to the Authority. The Education Safeguarding Team will work to identify children who are electively home educated but not known to the Authority and whose safety cannot be assured.

I have read this all the way through, but I will make the point anyway. How? Without abusing data protection laws?

5.4 We are in the process of agreeing a protocol implementing a 20 day cooling off period which schools implement before it takes a child off school role and an application is submitted for EHE. This will give schools opportunity and the LA where appropriate the chance to have the relevant conversations with parents and carers about the responsibility of educating their children. This will be a locally agreed policy but it not currently a national protocol but other Local Authorities adopt this process.

5.4 We do not have a data sharing agreed with DWP but it has now been agreed with HMRC that we can be involved in their second phases, which began in Sheffield. This means they will share details of families who are in recived of child benefit, allowing us to cross reference that data with the information we hold on CYP in the district. The pilot will run from Jan – June 2017 and is likely our intelligence will increase during that pilot.

Ok… Let me get this out of the way.

Knock, knock. ‘Who’s there?’ ‘Common’ ‘Common who?’ “Common sense, you threw me away years ago!”

 

* 5.5 comes after 5.4
* Received, not recived, it is also receipt not received.
* LA’s must follow the LAW and EHE guidelines.

 

1 – 20 day cooling off period?

ILLEGAL.

I mean seriously, is it so difficult for Local authorities to adhere to the law like the rest of us have to?

Just because other LAs have adopted the process doesn’t make it legal. THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW TOO!

If another LA jumped off a cliff…. Wait actually, don’t answer that one.

Deletions from the admission register.

8 (d) in a case not falling within sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph, that he has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school;

Guidelines for LAs on EHE

3.8 The school must delete the child’s name from their admissions register upon receipt of written notification from the parents that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school. However, schools should not wait for parents to give written notification that they are withdrawing their child from school before advising their local authority. Schools must make a return (giving the child’s name, address and the ground upon which their name is to be deleted from the register) to the local authority as soon as the ground for deletion is met, and no later than deleting the pupil’s name from the register. They should also copy parents into the notice to the local authority. Further information is available in Keeping Pupil Registers,13 the Department’s guidance on applying the regulations.

2 – Well hoping their IQ will increase, is definitely reaching for the stars! Oh wait, I misunderstood didn’t I? Oops, silly me…

What they actually mean is that their data-sharing will increase during the pilot. Well that’s all fine and dandy isn’t it? Oh, actually no it isn’t. You see families earning above £50K most likely won’t be claiming child benefit anyway unless they really like filling in extra forms. So really, it’s for the ‘plebs’, the ‘undesirables’ who let’s face it, they REALLY don’t want to be home educating, because after all how could they possibly be teaching their child ANYTHING without a qualified teacher?! I mean, the scandal that a parent can actually educate their OWN child without input from the LA! It’s unthinkable!

But what does this mean in real terms, aside from, ya know breaking the law by using your details without your permission?

It means the LA are digging around in HMRC to cross reference yours and your child’s details to see if you’re claiming child benefit and if your child is in school. If your child is in school well that’s just great they’ll leave you alone, regardless of whether your child is receiving an education suitable to their age, aptitude, ability and any SEN because let’s face it, schools NEVER get it wrong do they? But if your child isn’t at school (from reception age, so pre-compulsory education age) woe betide you for having the audacity to think you can educate your own child without their interrogation support. Tut, tut, tut.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
None at this time.

FINANCIAL & RESOURCE APPRAISAL
No issues at this time.

RISK MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE ISSUES
No issues at this time.

LEGAL APPRAISAL
No issues at this time.

Oh really, so getting sued for illegal data-sharing and breaking the law never entered your heads huh? Good to know!!

RECOMMENDATIONS

10.1 That the limited powers of the Authority to intervene in cases whereby parents elect to home educate their child(ren) is noted.

10.2 That it be noted that the establishment of the Education Safeguarding Hub is a key vehicle in ensuring and promoting the wellbeing of children who are not attending any registered provision.

Oh stop! You flatter us! Thinking we are so stupid as not to know our own rights, or what provisions are available out there for us! It’s like you genuinely believe we have no common sense!

APPENDICES
Appendix 1: Elective Home Education Procedures.
This is a flow chart diagram depicting Bradford’s process from notification, registration and monitoring visits.
Appendix 2: A registration pack, containing guidance notes for parents/carers
Appendix 3: Questionnaire for completion at time of notification of intention to home educate.
Appendix 4: Overview of the numbers of known EHE pupils by Council Ward.
Appendix 5: EHE referrals

BACKGROUND DOCUMENTS
None

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2 thoughts on “A Bradford critique

  1. Thank you for writing this up. Unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg in Bradford. I know of one home educator who upon speaking with the Inspector (what a horrible and misleading job title) was told that if they didn’t agree to a home visit they would “be reported to services”.

    Their default position is that parents are not to be trusted and children are at risk. And they wonder why unknowns do not wish to engage with them.

  2. As a fellow Home Educator (despite not being in the Bradford district) I am saddened, shocked, dismayed and confused at the content of this report…not to mention frustrated.

    I am saddened that our rights as parents are trying to be re-written.

    I am shocked at the level of grammar and spelling errors within this report, from those people that are now trying to tell us how to educate our children.

    I am dismayed that welfare and education is still getting mixed up, especially considering an 11 year old SCHOOLED child from the Bradford district has just committed suicide, who was concerned about his welfare?

    I am confused at how Bradford Council have chosen to break the law! If I stood in the middle of Bradford’s City Centre and stole from some one, I would be arrested and prosecuted. So how is it acceptable that Bradford Council can knowingly steal their resident’s private and confidential data from HMRC with no consequence?

    Overall the frustrating thing about this report is that it appears to have been written from some one that actually has very little knowledge (or compassion) about Home Education. The very fact that they are saying parents have to APPLY to Home Educate is ridiculous given the fact that EVERY child’s education in England is the responsibility of the PARENT in the first place.

    A parent has to apply to a school to ensure they are given a place and that there are enough resources for that child (funded by all tax payers, even those that Home Educate and don’t get any financial support…not that we want it though! That would involve even more reports and monitoring!). But to leave a school should be (and by law IS) as simple as letting them know that the parent is now going to be fulfilling the day to day education of their child from that point forward.

    Given how strongly I feel about this ludicrous report…and I don’t even live in Bradford, I can’t even begin to imagine how their Home Educating residents are currently feeling. I wish you all the best in fighting for your rights and will do all I can to help and support in any way possible.

    One last point for any one from the Council that may see my comment…let’s say, hypothetically, that your residents can no longer Home Educate…do you have enough places in schools to take on all the Home Educated children and do you have enough resources to provide them ALL with an efficient full time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs they may have? Also whilst caring for the welfare of each child seeing as you like to mix up those two so much.

    Thought not!

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