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Home Education Law & Policy For discussion of legal issues and social policy relating to home education and civil liberties. Please post in the appropriate section bearing in mind the differences in legislation which apply across the constituent nations of the UK and overseas.

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Old 19-02-09, 14:23
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Default HEF Response to DCSF home ed review, part 1

1 Do you think the current system for safeguarding children who are educated at home is adequate? Please let us know why you think that.

Yes

There are adequate measures already in place for safeguarding all children, whether home educated or schooled. The focus of the Government should not be on persecuting a minority group on the basis of their making a perfectly lawful choice in respect of their children’s education, but on ensuring that state agencies take appropriate action where a child is known to be at risk of significant harm.

In the cases of Victoria Climbie, Danielle Reid (Scotland) and the children fostered/adopted by Eunice Spry (with the LA’s approval), the professionals involved, including NSPCC personnel, failed to use existing and entirely adequate powers to remove the children from environments which were known to be abusive.

Intervention, where necessary, should be proportionate and based on professional judgements by senior staff using set procedures, but the crisis in social worker recruitment and retention across the UK, along with the near bankrupting of LAs due to pending equal pay settlements and lack of funding by central government, means that statutory children’s services are not being delivered effectively or at all. Why is the Government not concentrating its resources on protecting the most vulnerable children, including those who are ‘looked after’ by the LA as corporate parent and for whom the outcomes are unquestionably dire?

Do you think that home educated children are able to achieve the following five Every Child Matters outcomes? Please let us know why you think that.

2 a) Be healthy

Yes

This question is based on the erroneous assumption that all respondents share the government’s outcome based obsession and have been taken in by the stated agenda behind ECM. Home Education Forums falls into neither category.

There is no reason why home educated children should be less healthy than schooled children; indeed it is nonsensical to generalise as each child’s health and wellbeing is individual to that child and a ‘healthy’ outcome for all children cannot be dictated or even expected. ‘Being healthy’ is hardly achievable for a cancer sufferer, a child with a life limiting illness or a child who is being bullied and physically or mentally abused in the school system.

How does the government propose to ensure that all schooled and ‘looked after’ children are guaranteed this ‘be healthy’ outcome? And if the government fails in this objective, what legal redress will be available to the ‘failed’ child?

2 b) Stay safe

Yes

This question is based on the erroneous assumption that all respondents share the government’s outcome based obsession and have been taken in by the stated agenda behind ECM. Home Education Forums falls into neither category.

There is no reason why home educated children should be deemed any less safe than schooled children who are often subject to such bullying and abuse in schools that their parents have had to home educate in order to keep them safe from harm. Many schooled children report feeling safe only in the holidays and at weekends and a minority of those have resorted to self harm, running away from home and tragically even suicide. A new member of our forums reported only last week her six year old son asking if he could “go to heaven” to avoid school bullies.

This question also outrageously infers that any child who has not stayed safe (due to being a victim of crime, for example) is somehow responsible for the ‘failure’.

How does the government propose to ensure that all schooled and ‘looked after’ children are guaranteed this ‘stay safe’ outcome? And if the government fails in this objective, what legal redress will be available to the ‘failed’ child?

2 c) Enjoy and achieve

Yes

This question is based on the erroneous assumption that all respondents share the government’s outcome based obsession and have been taken in by the stated agenda behind ECM. Home Education Forums falls into neither category.

This is a particularly risible question in the context of a questionnaire relating to home educated children, given the schooling focus in the ECM outcomes framework. Of course there is no reason why home educated children should be deemed any less likely to ‘enjoy and achieve’ in their lives than schooled children, whose meeting of government decreed enjoyment and achievement targets seems to be entirely dependent upon how well or badly they do in jumping through the hoops of state administered tests rather than how they ‘enjoy and achieve’ in their own lives by their own lights.

As an aside, ‘enjoying and achieving’ to higher education level is always going to be problematic in that it will inevitably lead to failure in other areas, especially economic wellbeing. As one of our forums members recently pointed out, the likely ‘outcomes’ of a university education these days are unemployment (or burger flipping wages), permanent indebtedness and poverty.

How does the government propose to ensure that all schooled and ‘looked after’ children are guaranteed this ‘enjoy and achieve’ outcome? And if the government fails in this objective, what legal redress will be available to the ‘failed’ child?

2 d) Make a positive contribution.

Yes

This question is based on the erroneous assumption that all respondents share the government’s outcome based obsession and have been taken in by the stated agenda behind ECM. Home Education Forums falls into neither category.

All children, whether schooled or home educated, are capable of making a positive contribution to their community and environment, although schooled children may have less opportunity to do so by dint of compulsory daily attendance at a closed institution. Home educated children instinctively build positive contribution into their daily lives and regularly take part in activities which benefit other individuals, environmental projects and community groups. By way of example, some young members of our forums and local home education groups regularly shop for elderly neighbours, take part in peer support and mentoring activities, involve themselves in nature conservation and actively promote and practise the recycling and reuse of resources.

On the other hand, schooled children are often coerced into making a positive contribution which is not of their own volition or choosing. Bouncing on a trampoline to raise sponsorship money for a charity whose aims are antipathetic to their own is one example cited by a young forums member.

How does the government propose to ensure that all schooled and ‘looked after’ children are guaranteed this ‘make a positive contribution’ outcome? And if the government fails in this objective, what legal redress will be available to the ‘failed’ child?

2 e) achieve economic well-being

Yes

This question is based on the erroneous assumption that all respondents share the government’s outcome based obsession and have been taken in by the stated agenda behind ECM. Home Education Forums falls into neither category.

As the economy enters the worst recession in living memory, thanks to a Government inspired culture of rampant consumerism and greed, it is difficult to imagine how anyone will be able to escape relative poverty. However, the rejection of irresponsible spending in favour of more self sufficient, environmentally friendly lifestyle choices may be the key to alternative means of achieving economic wellbeing.

Home educated children are far more likely to have learned to use, reuse, recycle, borrow, swap and generally dispense with the ‘must have it now’ culture which relies on peer pressure and is so cynically promoted by the media. Use of alternative networks such as freecycle which keeps unwanted items out of landfill may be anathema to the schooled children and wage slaves on whom the impact of peer pressure is greatest, but it is positively embraced by many home educators and other environmentally responsible individuals.

Home Education Forums was born of the realisation that home educators make great entrepreneurs since educating your own children and running your own business present similar challenges, all of which are best overcome with support from others in the same ‘community of interest’. Home edupreneurship is now booming with a disproportionate number of home educated young people considering self employment or already self employed in a variety of sectors. Home educated children are more likely to work out their own creative solutions to problems rather than expect to be fed the ‘right’ answers. They are also far more likely to come up with innovative ideas than schooled children, whose enterprise projects are usually controlled and predictable without any of the risk associated with real business.

One (non home educating) business owner who facilitated an enterprise workshop for home educators recently commented: “These are the sort of young people we need to help revitalise the SME sector, either running their own businesses or as employees. I’ll be back in a couple of years to headhunt some of them.”

How does the government propose to ensure that all schooled and ‘looked after’ children are guaranteed this ‘achieve economic wellbeing’ outcome? And if the government fails in this objective, what legal redress will be available to the ‘failed’ child?
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  #2  
Old 19-02-09, 14:24
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Default HEF Response to DCSF home ed review, part 2

3 Do you think that Government and local authorities have an obligation to ensure that all children in this country are able to achieve the five outcomes? If you answered yes, how do you think Government should ensure this?

No

This suggestion is frankly ludicrous as ‘outcomes’ cannot and should never be prescribed by Government for individuals. It is insulting and reminiscent of one home educator’s comment that we can soon expect to be seeing “men up trees with binoculars” checking up on us all. The law is clear: parents are responsible for the care and education of their children and the state should only intervene in individual circumstances where there is evidence that these responsibilities are not being met.

As a UK wide resource, Home Education Forums would draw the UK Government’s attention to the more sensible approach currently adopted in Scotland. Rather than listen to unevidenced claims about the ‘dangers’ of home education by Scottish LAs, many of whom do not have even a basic understanding of the law, the Scottish Government consulted widely and paid regard to research findings from the Scottish Consumer Council (now Consumer Focus Scotland) who investigated the treatment of home educating families by LAs and found evidence of widespread ignorance, prejudice and protectionism. The Scottish Government also took account of evidenced case studies provided by the national home education organisation Schoolhouse when formulating its revised statutory guidance for LAs, in which it is clearly stated that home educated children are at no greater risk of abuse and are not defined as children missing from education. The UK Government would be well advised to follow suit if it is not to alienate every home educator in England.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, if the government were to task LAs with meeting such an obligation, what legal redress will be available to those children who fail to achieve the stated outcomes?

4 Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for supporting home educating families? If you answered yes, what should they be? If you answered no, why do you think that?

Not Sure

Although we are unaware of any ‘system’ to support home educating families, there is perhaps a misconception among LAs that their interference and ‘advice’ equate to support.

Home educators often enjoy the support of others within the various home educating communities across the country. Rarely do home educators want, need or welcome so-called support from LAs, but are willing to provide information about their children’s education when requested to do so. Equally rarely do LAs have anything useful to offer home educating families, but even when this is the case (exams access, resources and materials) such concessions are likely to become severely restricted due to increasing constraints on local government budgets due to the economic climate. LA personnel are expensive to run in terms of publicly funded salaries and pensions and should be deployed more appropriately in positions for which they are properly qualified.

5 Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for monitoring home educating families? If you answered yes, what should they be? If you answered no, why do you think that?

Not Sure

There is no such system and no legal basis for creating one since parents are presumed in law to be fulfilling their duties to their children unless there is evidence to suggest otherwise. If home educating families are to be monitored, why not Muslim families, vegetarians or members of the SNP?

Parents who send their children to state schools have the right to expect these schools to meet minimum standards as they are delegating their parental responsibility to strangers whose interest in their children is purely for payment (sometimes know as ‘professional’).

In Scotland, section 2(1) of the Standards in Scotland’s Schools Act 2000 requires: “Where school education is provided to a child or young person by, or by virtue of arrangements made, or entered into, by, an education authority it shall be the duty of the authority to secure that the education is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential.”

It is our understanding that the placing of such a legal requirement on English LAs in respect of each schooled child was rejected by UK Ministers who feared litigation by parents and young people whose school education failed to meet their needs. Why, therefore, should those who are demonstrably failing to ensure that schooled children are kept safe from harm, never mind achieve functional literacy and numeracy, be handed an ultra vires remit for monitoring parents who are fulfilling their legal responsibility to educate their own children when parents who send their children to failing schools are blanketly assumed to be doing so?

6 Some people have expressed concern that home education could be used as a cover for child abuse, forced marriage, domestic servitude or other forms of child neglect. What do you think Government should do to ensure this does not happen?

The somewhat ambiguous phrasing of this question suggests that the Government might actually be contemplating decisive action to prevent the incitement of hatred against home educators by ‘some people’ who have expressed ‘concerns’ based on prejudice and lack of capacity to understand the law. Home Education Forums would welcome the introduction of stringent new measures to tackle the unacceptable discrimination, prejudice and ongoing persecution of home educators perpetrated by unqualified commentators whose objective appears to be to smear a minority group without offering any supporting evidence.

However, it is apparent to many that the Government itself may be perpetuating these fairy stories by allowing them to go unchallenged, even using public funds to promote vile and unsubstantiated allegations made by vested interest 'rent seekers'.

What would be the Government’s reaction to equally unevidenced and wholly prejudiced ‘concerns’ which have also been expressed by ‘some people’, including the mass media, including the following contentions:
  • being a Muslim could be used as a cover for terrorism
  • being a teacher or social worker could be used a cover for ‘grooming’
  • being a politician could be used as a cover for fraudulently claiming allowances.

Although there is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate any of the above statements, might we now expect reviews to be commissioned at great public expense to investigate these ‘concerns’? If so, we would respectfully suggest starting with the politicians.
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Old 19-02-09, 21:28
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"If so, we would respectfully suggest starting with the politicians."

well quite...

...don't have to be at scholl to figure that one out ::-))


Makes your eyes red just thinking about crying for them.

Last edited by Penguin; 19-02-09 at 21:34.
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Old 19-02-09, 21:31
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I forgot, what is this:
"being a teacher or social worker could be used a cover for ‘grooming’" thing?
Grooming?
As with a horse?
As with tarting up your posts with colours and assorted widgets? (sounds like spin)
Please explain!

Last edited by Penguin; 19-02-09 at 21:41.
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Old 19-02-09, 21:48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penguin View Post
I forgot, what is this:
"being a teacher or social worker could be used a cover for ‘grooming’" thing?
Grooming?
As with a horse?
Scotland passes anti-grooming law (they already had one in England).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Penguin View Post
As with tarting up your posts with colours and assorted widgets? (sounds like spin)
Please explain!
Keine Ahnung We'll have to ask Tom the Oracle.
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Old 19-02-09, 21:53
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"How does the government propose to ensure that all schooled and ‘looked after’ children are guaranteed this ‘stay safe’ outcome? And if the government fails in this objective, what legal redress will be available to the ‘failed’ child?"

Well, they'd have to have check-ups during the school holidays, obviously. How about all children have a visit from social services once a week? Just to make sure? Wait! Why not stick a CCTV camera in every room, in every home? Just in case...

Where does it stop?
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Old 19-02-09, 22:02
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"There is no such system and no legal basis for creating one since parents are presumed in law to be fulfilling their duties to their children unless there is evidence to suggest otherwise. If home educating families are to be monitored, why not Muslim families, vegetarians or members of the SNP?"

I say the answer is not enough funding to cover all these sectors, but the H(B)E group is relatively small when compared to say, vegetarians.

Maybe even members of the SNP.

Certainly the solution to the government having control over education is a legal one.

Germany is certainly working in a grey area of the law regarding human rights, childrens' rights, and there does seem to be this trend to free style extreme education that 'governments' are hysterically trying to ban everything, their slogan being 'We want the kids' (We know better).

Unfortunately the briefest skim through any history book will show you politicians are bunk.

Not very good at the job. Very expensive and if you're lucky you don't get called out on army duty because of some latest insanity devised over brandies and sodas with not a jot of care as the the consequences, only ones' personal gain is of importance.

Perhaps throw in a shareholder or two.

Call them Lords or Sirs or something.

They are easily pleased with junk power jewellery.

Lego for adults.
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Old 19-02-09, 22:12
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They've just announced on the news that the govt's tax revenue has fallen by £billions and spending is up by £billions.

So....the public sector is going to be hit, make no mistake. More cuts to 'services', more jobs lost and potentially a long drawn out recession/depression along the lines of that experienced by Japan after an unsustainable asset boom.

There will be nobody to man all the CCTV cameras as there won't be any money to pay them, and there will be fewer social workers to meet statutory obligations in children's and mental health services... which makes Contact Point seem like even more of a white elephant.

Not that we belive Contact Point has anything to do with protecting children.
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Old 20-02-09, 08:56
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Old 22-02-09, 14:23
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Are you sure that's enough? Perhaps they'll need to insert camera-chips into every child at birth?



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Originally Posted by Amy Thomson View Post

Well, they'd have to have check-ups during the school holidays, obviously. How about all children have a visit from social services once a week? Just to make sure? Wait! Why not stick a CCTV camera in every room, in every home? Just in case...

Where does it stop?
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Old 22-02-09, 15:41
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Originally Posted by Zippy Bagpuss View Post
Are you sure that's enough? Perhaps they'll need to insert camera-chips into every child at birth?

Shhh! Don't give them ideas!

I think such things exist already... I'm quite sure I saw someone on US tv discussing how they'd microchipped their daughter. To keep her safe from paedophiles, of course. Not quite sure how that's supposed to work...
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child protection , dcsf , home education review , safeguarding

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