All the old chestnuts again – home education is not a safeguarding issue.

There’s a letter floating around Facebook and creeping on to blogs, from a Kent county council employee, referencing new intentions from the secretary of state for education to link HE children to schools and include them in school attainment targets.

*headdesk*. There’s a freedom of information request in already to get to the bottom of this one, and the education select committee have requested questions for Mr Gove be tweeted at them with the hashtag #askGove I’ve sent one in asking for clarification, and I’ve seen others on similar themes. Do feel free to aim them at Graham Stuart though, the more the merrier.

But let’s take a detailed look at the letter.

I don�t think any specific statute has been identified as yet, but Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Education has made it clear that he intends to introduce a requirement whereby home educated children will be linked to a school and their academic achievement will contribute to the schools results. Rightly or wrongly I believe that will mean an assessment based on exam results.

Yes, well. Let’s table that one until we get an answer from Mr Gove. But we’ll keep watching. We are always watching you.

I do agree with you that children�s needs can and should be met in different ways. But it is also important that appropriate measures are in place to ensure proper safeguarding. Sadly nobody actually knows the full extent of home education, but we do know that many more than the 823 children of which we are aware, are educated outside of traditional settings. Clearly there are many very sincere families that make considered decisions in the best interests of their children and that is to be welcomed. However, I am concerned that all children are given opportunity through education. Kent County Council will have to adhere to policy as laid down by Government but I can assure you that we fundamentally believe in a mixed economy of education provision of which home education is a contributor. The issue though has to be ensuring that an individual child�s needs are appropriately met and the child is adequately safeguarded. May I remind you that for many children from not just in Kent, that they are safest when they are at school.

Aargh!

It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure suitable (not just adequate!) education. It’s very lovely to think that this Kent cc employee is so caring about all children, but it’s completely irrelevant. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, parents are supposed to be trusted. And home education is *not* a safeguarding issue. Research done by home educators during the Badman report saga clearly showed that the risk to home educated children is half that for children in school. We won’t even mention the children who suffer from bullying and abuse in school, because obviously they are still safer there. (Oh, I did mention it. Ah well.)

The emphasis on educational attainment being measured through exam success does not in my opinion properly reflect the skills and abilities of all our children. Kent has had a policy of encouraging a vocational curriculum for those where such skills are more appropriate and we will continue with that.

That’s nice. It would be even nicer if it had a policy of supporting the choices of the children concerned regardless, but I guess that would be too much to ask for.

I am not and nor is KCC anti home education, we are increasing three fold the resources that we commit to supporting home educated children, but a major part of that is that we do need to know where all these children are and then ensure that they receive an appropriate education that meets their needs and helps to prepare them for adulthood.

No, no and thrice no. This is not the council’s role, there are no legal requirements that state this, the law requires a suitable education, not an appropriate education and it’s all the parent’s responsibility. Gah. Why is this so difficult for LAs to understand?

I am quite sure that any visit to yourself would demonstrate clearly the benefits of home education. It is the one to two thousand children who are outside of traditional settings and unknown to the authorities that concern me.

I love this. I call it the divide and conquer quote. Don’t worry, it isn’t home educators like *you* that we’re worried about. It’s all the other ones.

When will LAs learn to stay within the law – it’s really quite clear. When will they accept that the education and safeguarding of children is primarily a parental responsibility? When will they stop casting these aspersions of hidden abuse against families who are going about their lawful business, just getting on with their lives?

Home education is not a safeguarding issue. I am not neglecting or abusing my children, and I’d thank a variety of council employees around the country if they’d stop assuming I am.

About Jax Blunt

I'm the original user, Jax Blunt I've been blogging for ten years, give or take, and if you want to know me, read me :)

Comments

  1. antoinette . (@divasupermum) says:

    interesting post, we wait too see the outcome,too see what changes if any are in fact made

    • thanks. I think it’s worth keeping an eye on, particularly the FoI request and the twitter #askGove tag.

    • the london borough of sutton have taken legal action against us over our childs home education. the lea could not make their mind up if his education was suitable, and said they would not use section 437 as it rarely worked in their favour. we are now in the middle of contesting this case in a higher family court. you would not believe what we have been through in the last 2 years. we have refused to allow an education officer into our home and that has been made a concern on court papers. we have also had to endure cafcass writing reports that say our child could write and could not or would not read to her. because we have moved back to kent, she noted that we lived ruraly and that was not good for our sons social isolation, even though we go out everyday and take him to adventure places. i know all this sounds unbelieveable, but it seems sutton think they can do what they like no matter how wrong they are.

  2. How much money is being spent by councils on this? Love the fact that it isn’t you they are worried about yet they want to inspect you too – the irony of that statement – maybe they should focus on the children who really are missing/suffering?
    Elaine (Littlesheep) recently posted…Chinese New YearMy Profile

    • it would be truly lovely if councils would concentrate on the children who do need them, but all too often they are ignored and slip through the cracks while other families are needlessly harassed :(

  3. Thanks for covering this. I’d been wondering what all the mumurings on boards/blogs were about! Will have to stay vigilant.
    Clare recently posted…Reading JobMy Profile

  4. There is a nice little lie in there – “we are increasing three fold the resources that we commit to supporting home educated children” – they don’t support home educated children. Not according to their own web site ….

    “We don’t offer parents educating at home any money to cover books, teaching materials, private examination fees or any other costs associated with teaching a child at home.”

    “We have a Children Educated at Home Consultant (CEHC) who works with parents who are home educating their children. The CEHC works to support you and also gives encouragement to your home educated children. It is often the CEHC who will contact you informally to find out how your child’s education is working.”

    Be interesting to hear from someone in Kent just how “supportive” and “encouraging” this person really is given the prevailing culture in the council is hostile to HE.

  5. Saw you on the Love All Blogs showcase. A very interesting post. I hope you get a good response.
    Gaelic Medium Mum recently posted…The Saturday Gaelic ClubMy Profile

  6. This is really interesting. I don’t know much about the background of home education. Are there some children who are down as being home educated but who are not really receiving any education or who are at risk? It would be interesting to know why they need to do this.

    Thanks for linking to the education showcase.
    Rebecca recently posted…366 project – week 4My Profile

  7. Aaarghhh! This stuff makes me so p*ssed off.

    I HE my child precisely because I love her and want what’s best for her.

    Just a couple of nights ago I spent an evening with a mother who admits she sends her younger son to school because she can’t bear being around him. He is 11 years old and goes to one of the best schools in the county yet has continual problems with his peers and teachers – problems he just has to bear because his mum doesn’t want to upset the school in case they send him home.

    Frankly, his physical, emotional and mental health is at far greater risk than my daughter’s but no one is paying attention because as long as he is present in the school system (in body, if in no other way) he’s considered safer than my home educated daughter.

    Really, if this claim above is true then Gove’s priorities are *so* misplaced.

    Anyhow (deep breath) thanks for highlighting this issue.
    Lily recently posted…Cupcake’s BlogMy Profile

  8. believe it or not the judge today granted the london borough of sutton an order to send an educational psychologist into our home for one whole day to assess our childs learning needs. our barrister has said this has set a precedence, and is going to appeal. unfortunately judges do not know anything about home education. i will keep everyone updated.

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