The Report draws attention to local authorities which do not follow agreed procedures or legal requirements with respect to children being unofficially excluded or failing to return to school after absence. Ofsted also has concerns over academies and independent schools not needing to report when children leave the schools.
An internal Department for Education memo published in Children and Young People Now reveals a shift in focus for the Coalition government.
"Key changes to phrases in the children's sector include the replacement of safeguarding with child protection, children's trusts with "local areas, better, fairer, services'" and using the term "help children achieve more" in place of Every Child Matters or the five outcomes."
The first page of Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board Serious Case Review concerning Khyra Ishaq now states:
References to "Educating Otherwise" and "Education Otherwise" contained within this Review refer to "Birmingham City Council's Elective Home Education Advice Service" and not the Registered Charity 1055120 "Education Otherwise Association Ltd"
The Birmingham Safeguarding Board website has been updated, the Birmingham press release has been amended and the Safeguarding Board has notified everyone who attended the press conference.
Ian Matthews Education Otherwise new Media Spokesperson said, "We have not had sight of the Serious Case Review and we are not prepared to speculate on its findings, except to say that Birmingham Children's Services has been widely criticised for its lamentable record on child protection."
Following a number of security breaches with official databases in 2007, including the Child Benefit records, the Government commissioned Deloitte to carry out a risk assessment. When the report was delivered it identified a number of serious risk areas. The Government then refused to release anything beyond the Executive Summary.
"The main body of the report necessarily includes information about the security arrangements for ContactPoint. We will not, therefore, publish the full report in order to minimise the kind of security risk our procedures are designed to prevent."
The report has finally been released into the public domain under the Freedom of Information Act and may be found here:
via this page
The Coalition Government has announced that ContactPoint will be scrapped.
"Funding may be available where a local authority provides significant financial support for a home educated young person in two specific circumstances. These are, first, where the young person has SEN and secondly where the young person attends further education college to take GCSEs or other courses. Where significant financial support is being provided, the LA can claim funding from the Department through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG)."
Ofsted has this morning finally published its overdue report on home education based on a hasty sampling of a small number of local authorities in Autumn 2009. Education Otherwise has given the following reaction:
"This report is past its sell-by date. Ofsted's recommendations are out of synch with the direction and priorities of the new Coalition Government."
"It might be better for the local authorities to get their own house in
order rather than being granted extra powers."
"It is extremely worrying that the authors of this report are so clearly wrong about the law on home
education and that they have passed the wrong message to local authorities"
As we set out in our last update on May 8th, the votes cast at the General Election were inconclusive, with no single party having an overall majority. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have now formed a coalition with David Cameron as Prime Minister and Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister.
Department for Education
The Department for Children, Schools and Families will now be known as the Department for Education. The Prime Minister has appointed Michael Gove as new Secretary of State for Education.
Home education legislation is not a priority for the new coalition Government. However, home educators are also affected by pressure from central Government for local authority employees to keep tabs on all children in their area and for local authority employees to assume ultimate responsibility for all children. In other words, any home educator who asks "what will the change in Government mean for my family" is not simply looking at whether the national law will be changed, but is also looking at how local authorities will run children's services.
Michael Gove's Ministerial email to civil servants
indicates that children's services will be reformed. It is not clear at this point which direction the reforms might take, as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have previously expressed differing views on integrated working.
New Ministerial Team?
The remaining appointments to the Ministerial team at the Department of Education may provide some clue about the future direction of policy and we will publish a further update shortly when these appointments are announced. Liberal Democrat David Laws, who was previously Shadow spokesperson for Children Schools and Families, will not be in the new Department for Education since, he now holds the post of Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the new coalition Government.
The previous Government told local authorities there would be a combined programme of a new licensing and inspection regime for home education, coupled with greater funding for increased access to services.
Public Spending Cuts/Increased Funding and Improved Access to Services
The funding for increased access to services was not dependent on the licensing legislation, but home educators have long known there would be deep cuts in public spending and continue to be extremely sceptical about promises of support and increased access to services.
Education Otherwise is currently seeking clarification from the Department for Education with regard to increased funding and improved access to services.
The Prime Minister and his administration (including Ministers who lost their seats at the election) will still be in place as caretakers until the new government is formed. The civil service and caretaker Government will not issue policy statements or clarification during this time.
Some form of agreement between the parties will have to be resolved by the Queen's Speech which is expected on May 25th. Defeat for the Government in the Queen's Speech debate would be a vote of no confidence. The new Parliament will sit for the first time on May 18th.
These are the latest dates possible but there will be pressure to resolve the situation much earlier.
Local government will not want to take any long-term decisions due to uncertainty over the future. At national government level, it will take longer to pass fewer laws, because of the need for agreement from more parties which is predicted to be on a case by case basis rather than any formal agreement or coalition.
EO has just received the following from DCSF with reference to funding for college clarification announced earlier in the week.
"We cannot put something on our website or send out an e-mail to LAs before the election. We will try to do so as soon as possible thereafter. The reason we cannot act now is the convention that we do not post or send out new material during an election campaign."
Child Benefit is payable for ALL children in full-time education (12+ hours) beyond the age of 16, whether they attend school/college or are educated otherwise as long as the education is not above Level 3 (A Level or equivalent).
Between January and June of the school year in which the child turns 16, parents will receive a letter from the Child Benefit Office at HMRC in Newcastle asking whether the child will be continuing their full time education post 16.
Home education is recognised as "full-time education" after the age of 16 in the same way as it is legally recognised before the child was 16. In other words it is not necessary for your child to be studying for exams. receiving tuition or taking a course in order for the education to be counted as full time.
Government Ministers have said that local authorities can already draw down funding through the Dedicated Schools Grant for home educated 14-16s to attend college and for "home educated pupils whom they support financially and who have a statement, or who have significant special educational needs that have not been formally recognised through a statement."
The Secretary of State has also said that the January 2011 funding guidance will indicate that local authorities can claim 0.1% of DSG via Alternative Provision where local authorities fund GCSEs for home educated young people.
The Government is currently running a public consultation on the Dedicated Schools Grant which may be found here.
DCSF says "There is no specific question on home educated children, though they are covered in paras 8.11 and 8.12 of the document, so if you wish to make any comments about their funding please use the blank text box at question 20."
The document is 87 pages long and can be found as a pdf here.
Paragraphs 8.11 and 8.12 may be found on page 48.
The easiest way to respond to the consultation is via the interactive online form here.
The consultation does not close until June but there is nothing to be lost from making an initial early response now. We can always add further comments after the General Election.
Home educators today feel a huge sense of relief as the Government has been
forced to drop the home education parts of the Children Schools and Families Bill in
a last-minute wash-up agreed by front benchers of the three major parties at the
end of the current Parliament.
The Government had mistakenly attempted to rush through changes to the home
education law in England without pre-legislative scrutiny.
Ministers and civil servants rashly dismissed the findings of the Select Committee
Inquiry, which reported that the plans were "too aggressive", based on "less than
robust" evidence and should be scaled back.
Ann Newstead, spokesperson for Education Otherwise said "We are thankful for the
Select Committee's scrutiny and for the support of hundreds of backbench MPs who
- unlike the Government - actually took time to listen and to understand how
completely unjustified, inappropriate and ill-conceived these proposals were."
Annette Taberner, Education Otherwise Trustee said: "as a community we are now much more politically
active and aware and we won't be sinking back into complacency."
Fiona Nicholson from Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and Disability Group has agreed to give a presentation at the Westminster Briefing Event on Home Education which will take place on Thursday June 17th. The web page for the event currently has confusing references to "implementing the new system" and "the new registration system".
By the time the Briefing Event takes place, we expect that the Children Schools and Families Bill will have been through the wash-up immediately preceding the dissolution of parliament.
Slides from the EO presentation will be available on the Education Otherwise website. Education Otherwise hopes other delegates will join in blogging from the conference centre during the event.
Home educators wishing to make their own points to the Committee should send an email to email@example.com
"We are pleased to note that the Department may be showing more flexibility in regard to mini-jobs under 16 hours a week as noted on p.39 of the memorandum.
However, the Committee will not be surprised to hear that we have the usual grave concerns about benefit conditionality for parents on benefit who are taking sole responsibility for their children's education.
Home educated children are generally not to be found in nurseries and in formal childcare settings. Home educating parents do not categorically rule out the possibility of accessing formal childcare, but the feedback we receive from members is that appropriate flexible responsive childcare which reflects the parents' ethos and belief system and is suitable to the child's age ability aptitude temperament disposition and special needs is not readily available.
We will be asking members for feedback in the pilot areas and will report fully to the Department and to Members of Parliament in the relevant constituencies who are now taking a keen interest in the plight of home educating families. We will also report to the new All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education.
I have copied this submission to Graham Stuart MP and Lord Lucas, respectively Chair and Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education, who may also wish to speak to the Committee."
The Social Security Advisory Committee invites people to give views on the Government's proposals that parents of 3-6 year olds should be required to undertake "work-readiness activities". Pilots are proposed for Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, South London and the Tees Valley. In addition, parents on benefit in these areas will receive financial incentives for working less than 16 hours a week which is currently a stumbling block for home educating single parents.
The deadline for responses is 5pm Monday 29th March.
The Social Security Advisory Committee does not require a formal memorandum type response in the same way as Select Committees or Bill Committees. You can write informally and comment on any aspect of the proposals and highlight how the changes would affect your family or home educators in general. Judging by previous SSAC consultations, the public/stakeholder response rate will be low, therefore our concerns will be noted in the SSAC official response which is put before parliament.
"The Children, Schools and Families Bill is currently in its final stages and is now with a committee of the House of Lords for detailed scrutiny. A part of that bill is attempting to regulate the education of the estimated 20-40,000 children currently learning at home. Are the suggested regulations a necessity to protect potentially vulnerable children kept away from school by their parents or are they actually, as Home Education charities claim, a sledgehammer to crack a nut? Jane Garvey is joined by Fiona Nicholson, Education Otherwise trustee and Graham Badman, ex-director of Children's Services, to discuss."
BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour, Monday 22nd March (programme starts 10am)
"Homeschooling was not the only issue regarding taking Dominic Johansson in custody by the social services. But having read the court verdict with all the issues, there stills seems to be no reason for this severe action. The young boy has most likely been much more hurt by the custody action than the conditions in his family. One cannot avoid the thought that the prejudices and lack of knowledge about homeschooling, could have been the pivotal reason for the custody action."
Following representations from Education Otherwise Disability Group and the National Autistic Society and Ipsea, DCSF has issued the following clarification:
"the suggestion in paragraph 12 that an LA should seek a school attendance order only applies in cases where an LA considers it is unable to assess suitability because it has been denied access to a child and is unable to see the child, and there are no other means of establishing suitability. There is a range of ways in which an authority can make an assessment of suitability which do not involve being able to see the child or having access to the home.
We apologise for any concern that paragraph 12 has caused the parents of home-educated children."
Shortly after Second Reading of the Children Schools and Families Bill, Baroness Verma, the Conservative spokesperson in the House of Lords put down several amendments objecting to the home education clauses and Schedule 1 remaining in the Bill. The Bill will probably not reach Committee stage, as we reported on Tuesday, so the Conservative amendments mainly serve to indicate the Opposition's stance for the wash-up.
The Government has been trying to introduce new laws in England regarding home education. The Children Schools and Families Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Lords last Monday, March 8th. At every stage in the parliamentary process Members of all parties have spoken out against the Government measures. The Bill appears to have run out of time before reaching line-by-line scrutiny in Grand Committee. We anticipate that the Bill will go into "the wash-up" any time after Easter up to the beginning of May. Opposition spokespeople in the Commons and the Lords have already made it clear that the home education clauses of the Bill will not survive the wash-up.
In response to enquiries and requests, we have revised a number of web pages on this site to bring the latest summary of the current political situation.
As we reported on February 11th, the Government is looking to commission a study to investigate the.feasibility of embarking on a longitudinal project investigating the provision of teaching and learning for, and the attainment of, home-educated children.
The latest link for the research project can be found here.
Invitations to tender were sent out around March 6th. It appears that the research project will begin on May 12th.
Last night the House of Lords debated the Children Schools and Families Bill at Second Reading. You can watch the recording of the debate here (6.41pm - 10.20pm) or read the transcript here in Hansard.
A number of peers made reference to the fact that the Bill will not reach Committee stage, ie the Government has run out of time. The opposition front bench has already made it quite clear that the home education parts of the Bill will not survive the wash-up.
"On a point of order, both Conservative and Liberal Democrat spokesmen commented on the shortness of the Committee proceeding."
"The majority of the Bill's provisions are controversial."
"The clauses that were not debated included those on Local Safeguarding Children Boards, Youth Offending Teams, the reporting of information relating to family proceedings, and the fees system for the inspection of independent schools."
"Caroline Flint (Labour) expressed doubts about the provisions [for home education], having read the
documentation and listening to the concerns of constituents."
"Nick Gibb said that, by conflating the issue of safeguarding children from abuse with concern
over the quality of home education, the Government had created an unworkable and deeply
unpopular policy that ended up implicitly accusing tens of thousands of sincere and honest
parents of being potential child abusers, and at the same time intruding into their approach to
education. He thought that the Government had introduced a 'sledgehammer to crack a
"During the debate David Laws again expressed his concern that the
Committee had a 'seriously deficient amount of time to consider such an extensive Bill'. "
"Debate was brought to an end, in accordance with the programme order, as the Committee were
considering the home education provisions and none of the provisions following clause 26 and
schedule 1 was debated."
Fiona Nicholson, Trustee of Education Otherwise (EO) said "Ofsted has already found that Birmingham is failing to protect children and questions have been raised over the high number of child deaths in the last few years. Fears for the safety of Khyra and other family members were made known to social services by the deputy head of her school both before and after she was de-registered. However it appears that Birmingham Social Services did not see sufficient cause to act on concerns.
The millions of pounds that Birmingham has spent on its ambitious "Brighter Futures" information sharing system appears to have been at the expense of protecting children from abuse and neglect. For anyone to blame home education is a red herring designed to distract attention from Birmingham's lamentable child protection record."
EO wrote to the Department on February 17th but in the absence of any reply, we have written to DCSF again as follows:
"We recognise that it may take time to answer the previous questions, but we now need to focus on one particular area of the guidance, namely paragraph 12.
Would it be possible for the Department to explain by means of a flowchart the procedural steps which should be followed by the local authority where a home educated child has a statement of special needs but where the family prefers that the child is not interviewed by the local authority or where the family does not wish to grant the authority access to the family home.
As you will be aware, current guidance in this area does not say that the home must be visited as part of the annual review of the statement of special needs. Paragraph 9.36 of the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice states that "the review meeting should take place in the most appropriate location, such as LEA offices, a hospital or the parents’ home.
Paragraph 9:8 of the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice further states that at the time of Annual Review for children with statements who have had home tuition, "reports should be obtained from all those who have been involved in the child’s educational progress during the preceding year." In the case of education at home by parents, this has been understood as parents providing a report on how the child's special needs are being met by home education. "
Read more from EO's email to DCSF about paragraph 12 here.
The future of home education in England will be decided in a few days of political haggling known as "the wash-up" between front bench spokespeople from Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The "wash-up" could take place any time from mid March to the first week of May, depending on the date of the General Election.
The reason for the "wash-up" is because the Government will run out of time before the necessary parliamentary stages are completed between the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
Read more from Education Otherwise updated page on the Children Schools and Families Bill here.
We need to keep talking to MPs right up to the moment when parliament is dissolved and we need to ask MPs to relay our message to the people who will be involved in "the wash-up." The last possible date for dissolution of parliament is May 10th. Our information page about MPs can be found here.
Cabinet Office guidance on the "wash-up" states that "there will invariably be sacrifices to be made. Some Bills might be lost completely, others might be progressed quickly but in a much-shortened form. A lot will depend on where the Bills are in the legislative process and whether or not they are controversial."
"DCSF intends to commission a study to investigate the.feasibility of embarking on a longitudinal project investigating the provision of teaching and learning for, and the attainment of, home-educated children.
The overarching aim of the feasibility study will be:
A small-scale investigation at LA-level to assess numbers of home-educated children known to them;
Research with voluntary organisations to establish number and type of children known to them; and
Research with families who home educate.
It is anticipated that the project will start in April 2010."
EO asked the Department whether a fresh investigation into numbers of home educated children known to local authorities meant that the Government would not now be using numbers from the Badman Review. We received a reply saying that the research was essentially "a feasibility study for a longitudinal study, which is intended to investigate and hopefully track some home-educated children and record their achievements and attainment over a number of years. The data collection part of the feasibility study will be used to inform that work."
The Impact Assessment to the Children Schools and Families Bill (page 9 out of 9) stated that the Government intends to establish a baseline of current outcomes for children of whom the system is aware and to capture changes in outcomes for known children and all home educated children in future years.
MP Graham Stuart: "A few weeks ago, when looking on the DCSF website, we found the programme that allows children to have a home computer and it said specifically, "but not if you are home-educated". No access to IT then. The website said that on the very day the Minister told us how the Government wanted to change things."
Ms Johnson: "That point presents an interesting issue. The reason why the home access scheme is not being made available to families who home educate is because we do not know who those families are. We have no accurate register to look to. Some families have put themselves forward and notified their local authority, but there is no accurate record. That is the problem, and the nub of the issue. We do not have an accurate record of families who are home educating."
MP Graham Stuart: "Time and again we get the circular argument that we need registration before we can provide support. We have 20,000 home-educated children who are known to be registered with their local authority. Has that led to any provision for them? It has not."
"In order to be eligible for a Home Access Grant, the learner must have their education funded by an English local authority or the Department for Children, Schools and Families. When a learner is withdrawn from, or is not enrolled in school, the family opts out of receiving the statutory funding towards that learner's education. As such, those who elect to educate their children at home will not be eligible to receive a Home Access Grant."
Education Otherwise Press Release on funding contradictions here.
Yesterday in the House of Lords, Lord Lucas, Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education, asked why home educated children were not eligible for the Home Access Scheme. This was one of the recommendations of the Badman Review. Baroness Morgan stated that when a learner is withdrawn from, or is not enrolled in school, the family opts out of receiving the statutory funding towards that learner's education. Last Thursday in Committee, MP Graham Stuart, Chair of the Home Education APPG reminded the Committee that Minister Diana Johnson had promised clarification on funding for home educated children.
"The Minister said on 12 November that in January local authorities would be urged to register home-educated children known to them, for whom they were providing support, so that funding could be provided. However, DCSF guidance notes for alternative provision, dated 28 January 2010 - a few days ago - state:
"Pupils taught at home only includes those pupils who are receiving LA funding (i.e. this excludes those educated at home by parental choice)".
We have complete doublespeak. The Minister tells us that local authorities can register, but then, in the guidance given in January - precisely when the Minister said - there are explicit instructions that authorities cannot register someone who is home educated.
Authorities can only fund those whom they are funding, but they cannot add anyone who comes to them for funding. Perhaps the Minister can spell out why that is not an extraordinary set of contradictions."
Amendment 64 which currently reads "Page 38, line 2, leave out Schedule 64" was tabled incorrectly and has now been amended on the master copy to read "leave out Schedule 1".
Therefore the 3 relevant amendments are:
Amendment 63: leave out clause 26;
Amendment 64: leave out Schedule 1;
Amendment 66: Leave out clause 27
We are not clear what time the Public Bill Office closes today, but we have confirmed with the clerk that MPs who miss the deadline can send short letters by post (internal or external) during recess to add their names to the amendments. This is obviously less straightforward than visiting the office in person, but is a safety net for constituents who were unable to reach MPs before the recess. MPs may be contacted via their constituency office during the recess.
MP letters should be addressed to the Public Bill Office. It is advisable for the MP to telephone the duty clerk to say that a letter is on its way and to make a further phone call to check that the letter has arrived and that the contents have been logged and actioned.
After the close of Committee stage on Thursday February 4th, further amendments were tabled to the Children Schools and Families Bill. A selection of these amendments will be discussed during Report stage in the House of Commons on Tuesday February 23rd. At the close of business on February 23rd the Bill will move to Third Reading and then pass to the House of Lords.
Amendments 63 and 66 propose to leave out clause 26 and 27 of the Bill, which are the clauses enabling implementation of Schedule 1 licensing registration and monitoring scheme for home education. Amendment 63 has 7 signatories and is headed by Michael Gove, Shadow Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families.
Today Wednesday 10th February is the last day for MPs to add their signature to these amendments before the parliamentary recess. When MPs return after the recess there will only be one day before the Report debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday February 23rd. We understand that signatures cannot be added during the recess.
Constituents can telephone the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000 today and ask to be put through to their MP's office. MPs wishing to add their signature to the amendments need to go to the Public Bill Office today.
The Children Schools and Families Bill will reach the House of Lords around Wednesday February 24th with Second Reading in the week commencing Monday March 8th. After Second Reading the Bill moves to Committee stage where amendments will be discussed. Any member of the House of Lords can speak at Committee stage on the measures contained in the Bill.
Debate on Clause 26, the home education clause of the Children Schools and Families Bill, took a substantial part of the final Committee session with the Labour Chair unable or unwilling to advance the committee towards scrutiny of the remaining clauses of the Bill.
Both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were in agreement over the unfairness and unworkability of the Government's proposed changes to the law on home education.
MPS from all parties on the Committee paid tribute to home educating constituents and Graham Stuart noted that 244 constituencies had returned parliamentary petitions against the Government's proposals.
Click here for a summary of the main issues raised in the Committee discussion on home education.
The transcript of Thursday's Committee session has now been published and can be read here.
As expected, the Labour-dominated Committee voted against accepting any amendments to change the wording of Clause 26 Schedule 1 dealing with home education or to remove the clause entirely. The only clause of the Bill which now will not stand is the clause which proposed charitable status for Academies. However, all votes were extremely close with the Government generally winning by only one or two votes exclusively from their own party which clearly indicates the concerted opposition by Conservaties and Liberal Democrats to many controversial aspects of the Bill.
David Laws, Liberal Democrat spokesperson said:
"I have reached the conclusion, along with my colleagues in the Commons and the other place, that by trying to botch together this very bad job on home education, the Government have made it almost impossible for the concerns of people outside this place to be taken into account in a sensible way, particularly as there will not even be a serious Committee stage in another place. Therefore, I say to the Government that it is inevitable that we will have to vote against this aspect of the Bill and throw out all the proposals on home education, and I hope that that is something that the Conservative party will support."
MP Graham Stuart said:
"Time and again we get the circular argument that we need registration before we can provide support. We have 20,000 home-educated children who are known to be registered with their local authority. Has that led to any provision for them? It has not."
The Committee concluded with the following from Conservative MP Graham Stuart:
"It is a truly dreadful Bill, but it has been a great debate. I thank the Ministers for their consideration and effort in responding, sometimes with the help of officials, to queries that have not always been made in the Committee Room. As a Back Bencher, I am grateful for that effort. I am also grateful to them for ensuring that we got to the home education parts of the Bill. I also thank my colleagues for making it so clear that, all the way to the wash-up, the Conservatives will ensure that this Bill will never become law."
The next stage of the Bill will be the Committee Report on the floor of the House of Commons on Tuesday February 23rd after the parliamentary recess. A heated debate may be expected, with many backbench MPs for the first time getting the opportunity to reflect in parliament on concerns expressed to them by their constituents.
The final scheduled meeting of the Bill Committee to discuss the Children Schools and Families Bill took place yesterday. Many home educators watched the proceedings live on parliament TV. The film archive can be found here.
The time-lag in scheduling the Report stage means that the Bill will not have its First Reading in the House of Lords
until the end of February and therefore the Second Reading will not take place until a fortnight later in March. More information about the Second Reading stage in the Lords can be found here.
Many home educators are already talking to Members of the House of Lords about the Children Schools and Families Bill.
Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield Attercliffe has just been appointed new Chair of the Bill Committee. The Committee will attempt to work through the multiple amendments to the home education clause of the Children Schools and Families Bill on Thursday. In December Clive Betts appeared in the Sheffield Star newspaper accepting a parliamentary petition against the Government's proposals. 330 additional constituencies also returned a parliamentary petition, with over 200 petitions presented to parliament with other petitions being passed directly to the Secretary of State.
More information about the mass petition to parliament can be found here.
A table of the amendments to the controversial home education clause can be found here.
The Government is seeking to change the law on home education in England by means of Clause 26 of the new Children Schools and Families Bill.
Clause 26 would enable the Government to introduce Schedule 1 which in turn would modify several important sections of the Education Act 1996. Schedule 1 can be found here, towards the end of the Children Schools and Families Bill.
"I really believe that you will not find home-education support organisations that will deliver training on how to implement the Bill, so in respect of all those plans for softening the edges and making it palatable and home-education friendly, I cannot see where you will find such people." Fiona Nicholson, Trustee Education Otherwise in evidence to the Bill Committee January 19th 2010
A group of home educating parents went to see their Labour MP recently. The home educators believed that the new law would mean they had to apply for permission to home educate and that approval was in the gift of the local authority. Home educators believed that they would have to change the way they home educated in order to gain approval from the authority. Home educators thought that they would have no choice but to agree to have local authority inspectors in their home and that they would have no choice but to agree to have local authority inspectors question and test their children. Home educators were convinced that children could be sent to school against their will.
The Labour MP on the other hand believed that the only grounds for refusing permission to home educate would be on safeguarding grounds and that there was nothing in the Children Schools and Families Bill which need alarm or distress decent committed engaged parents who were providing their children with education. The MP believed that interviews with children would only go ahead where parents and children agreed and that families would be allowed to refuse.
How is it possible for home educating parents to arrive at one conclusion and for an MP to arrive at such a different conclusion? Are home educators worrying about nothing? Are home educators making too many wild speculations? How exactly did home educators arrive at their worst-case scenario interpretation of the Government's proposals? Where is the evidence?
On November 12th in the House of Commons Minister Diana Johnson said:
"So far as local authority support for the education of home educated pupils is concerned, we plan to strengthen the school census guidance for the January 2010 return to ensure that all local authorities are aware that they can already include in the Alternative Provision Return for Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) home educated pupils whom they support financially and who have a statement, or have significant special educational needs that have not been formally recognised through a statement; and pupils whom they fund to attend college for post-14 qualifications including GCSEs and Diplomas. These pupils will then count as a unit for DSG purposes."
Education Otherwise has located the latest Government guidance on Alternative Provision which is dated January 28th 2010. There is a helpful table on page 17 of the guidance which sets out the criteria for inclusion in the census return. "Pupil whose parents have elected to educate at home. Include? No. Category: Not applicable."
Annette Taberner, Trustee of Education Otherwise said "We hope that MPs will be able to get clarification from the Minister shortly."
Education Otherwise has received the following from DCSF:
"Where a Bill contains provisions that allow for new Regulations or Guidance to be issued (rather than relying on amending existing Regulations or guidance) it is usual to either provide a draft of the Regulations or Guidance for MPs to illustrate what the policy team are proposing to include in future regulations or guidance, where it is not possible to produce draft Regulations policy teams will often provide a policy statement for MPs. These are not a requirement and are intended to be helpful to MPs in their consideration of the Bill. The policy statement has no legal status and is for information only.
The Department or policy team responsible for the policy produces the statement and agrees this with Ministers. The Bill team will publish the policy statement as soon as it can and usually this happens just before the Bill Committee considers the relevant clauses in the Bill. A number of policy statements were published on Tuesday 19th January (the first day the Committee met to consider public evidence). We had intended to publish these earlier that day but unfortunately there was a short delay and they were not available in hard copy until late morning on the 19th. The statements were not available on the 18th January. We do not expect the Committee to consider the Home Education provisions in the Bill until week commencing 1 February."
Education Otherwise has permission from the author to share this reply.
A copy of the Position Statement may be found here.
Recap on how we learned about the Position Statement on January 19th
Mr. Gibb: On a point of order, Mr. Amess. I understand that a policy statement has been made by the Department for Children, Schools and Families about home education and clause 26. It would be useful to have such policy papers in advance and I wonder whether you can make sure that we receive them.
Mr. Laws: Further to that point of order, Mr. Amess. I echo those concerns. There is an extensive amount of paperwork involved in trying to scrutinise a Bill and it is difficult to do our job if we are not aware of the documents within a decent period of time. May I ask, therefore, that we receive any documents at least 24 hours before the Committee sits? Is it possible for the Minister to write to members of the Committee later this week to indicate which papers might be used during each sitting and roughly when we can expect to see them?
Mr. Coaker: Yes, I will do that. I apologise for the fact that the documents are not here. They are on their way as we speak.
Fiona Nicholson: When we arrived in London this morning, we had the text of the Bill. Since we arrived, we have been having text messages saying that revised impact assessments have been published, and when I came here, it turned out that there was a piece of stapled paper on the table saying, "Clause 26 and schedule 1" and "Home education policy statement". It is not dated and I have no idea of the status of it. I would like to put on record that we did not have time to read it before the Bill Committee session, which I find absolutely extraordinary.
Mr. Coaker: Just to say, if it is any help to Fiona, if she would like another meeting with Diana Johnson to discuss the various papers that have been published, that can be arranged.
From the Children Schools and Families Bill Committee sessions January 19th
More information and links to the Bill Committee may be found here.
In the past fortnight the controversial Children Schools and Families Bill has moved from Second Reading in the Commons to private Bill Committee sessions. Read a summary of events from Education Otherwise here.
In August 2009, Education Otherwise commissioned a researcher to make inquiries of all local authorities in England to establish the prevalence of home educated children subject to enquiries and referrals for social care services including disability services and for children considered to be at risk of significant harm. These referrals come under section 17 and section 47 of the 1989 Children Act and are the two main reasons why it might be said that a child is "known to social services."
We asked for figures in each year since 2004 since Graham Badman had asked authorities to estimate various figures "over the past five years."
At the time of writing we have received full or partial replies from two thirds of local authorities and are continuing to chase up missing data. This information is not routinely held. One authority explained that it would cost Â£84,269 to answer our questions about safeguarding and social care.
Answers are grouped on the following lines:
We don't keep records
We don't know how to cross check records between education and social care
It will cost many thousands of pounds to give you the answer
We don't know how to start finding the answer
Education Otherwise has also made requests to all local authorities for the precise numbers of home educated children who are or have been subject to a Child Protection Plan. There has been a regrettable delay in compiling figures on Child Protection Plans since initially we asked for statistics on "care plans" and we believe this caused an ambiguity in some of the responses.
At the present time we can only state that there appears to be a problem with some local authorities' ability to supply accurate figures. We have had to proceed very cautiously with our Freedom of Information Requests particularly with regard to delays from local authorities as we are mindful that DCSF may regard such questions as harassment.
Read some of the verbatim responses from local authorities here.
Yesterday DCSF released further information about local authority responses to the public consultation on registration and monitoring of home education. The official view published on the DCSF e-consultation website may be found here. At first sight, there appear to be some discrepancies.
Annex A ii.pdf gives a breakdown of responses from local authorities in table form. Annex C.pdf provides a narrative overview of local authority responses. The official DCSF consultation report glosses over a number of issues raised in Annex A.ii.pdf particularly where the question was ambiguous or where it covered a number of areas. The breakdown of responses in Annex A ii.pdf reveal substantial reservations over many aspects of the Government's proposals. Both annexes may be found here.
It should also be noted that over 10 local authorities are consistently recorded as not being in agreement with the Government's proposals at all and almost half of all local authorities did not even submit a response to the consultation. It is therefore difficult to reconcile these facts with statements from the Department that the majority of local authorities are in agreement with the Government. To take one example, in Annex A ii.pdf 36 out of 152 local authorities are recorded as saying that school records would provide a useful benchmark to assess home education. The narrative overview in Annex C.pdf describes this as "most local authorities".
Young people who are not in employment, education or training are categorised as NEETs. Graham Badman repeatedly claims that home educated young people are four times as likely to be NEETs. Graham Badman was not directly involved in collecting data about NEETs during the latter half of September 2009. Baroness Morgan told Lord Lucas on December 16th that "the information gathering that followed the review did not incur any external costs as it was conducted by departmental officials".
We are aware of a number of local authorities who attempted to inform the Department in September that it was not possible to give accurate information about home educated young people beyond the age of 16. It is not clear whether Graham Badman studied the raw data or whether he simply signed off the finished letters to the Select Committee.
Home educators have repeatedly raised concerns over new data which the Government wishes to collect on home educators. We have expressed the fear that statistics will be misused and misinterpreted. Our experience with Graham Badman and the NEETs figures demonstrates that our concerns were wholly justified.
The Public Bill Committee met yesterday to question witnesses on the home education clause in the Children Schools and Families Bill. On the same day the Department for Children Schools and Families published without notice a position statement on the home education measures contained in the Bill. The Department did not send information or copies of the Position Statement to witnesses before the evidence session.
The Position Statement may be read here. The evidence session may be viewed here ( Microsoft Silverlight needed). A transcript of the session will be published as soon as possible.
Fiona Nicholson informed the Committee that Education Otherwise was opposed to the measures contained in the Bill and would not assist in training local authorities to implement the measures contained in the Bill.
Two months after the Secretary of State reassured parliament that right of access to the home and private interviews with children would be both voluntary and optional, the Department finally published feedback from the consultation which set out the real position.
"We have decided that local authorities should visit the place where education is taking place, which will usually be the family home, as part of their monitoring work. If families choose not to cooperate, and as a result are not on the register, local authorities will be able to use a school attendance order to require the home educated child or children to attend school."
MPs and Lords are being asked at every stage to accept without evidence that there is no alternative and also to accept that most questions about the future will remain unanswered since the Department has either not yet had time to make any decisions or chooses not to share any information before the Bill becomes law. A simple indication of how much the legal skeleton will be fleshed out later may be seen in the extensive regulation-making powers in six new sections of the 1996 Education Act, namely 19A, 19B, 19C, 19F, I9G and 19H.
The memorandum to the Children Schools and Families Bill notes dispassionately that all of the regulation-making powers will be subject to the negative resolution procedure which is apparently appropriate "as the registration scheme will be too detailed to be on the face of the legislation and will contain extensive administrative provision."
In the month following the publication of the Children Schools and Families Bill, the Department quietly produced a Research Paper which stated:
"The cost and benefit estimates for home education are the largest of any measure in the Bill. The size of the ranges reflects the state of knowledge about the number of home educated children. A range of 20,000 to 80,000 is used for the costs. Unit costs are assumed to be lower for the 20,000 pupils already known to local authorities as they are thought to need less ongoing monitoring. The benefits range quoted in the Impact Assessment’s summary and in the table above uses the ‘most likely’ range of 20,000 to 40,000 home educated children. The detailed analysis puts the estimated benefits for 80,000 home educated pupils at £1.6 billion"
The Select Committee challenged the figures from the Department and a revised Impact Assessment was promised to arrive "prior to the Bill Committee stage". [Addendum: After this news item was published we learnt that the revised impact assessment was signed off yesterday and made available online today. It can be downloaded here.]
At 5.15 today the Public Bill Committee will take evidence on the home education clause of the Bill from a panel which includes Graham Badman, author of the Badman Review and Fiona Nicholson, Trustee of Education Otherwise.
From time to time the Department also indicates that there are plans to conduct an Independent Government Review on the same lines as the Badman Review over what constitutes suitable education at home. This Review has always been shrouded in secrecy which the Select Committee noted had "fuelled the anguish" of home educators.
The official response is somewhat perfunctory and does not make a persuasive case for change.
The following MPs spoke on home education in the Second Reading debate:
Denis McShane, Rotherham
Jim Cunningham, Coventry South
Graham Stuart, Beverley and Holderness
Mark Field, Cities of London and Westminster
David Chaytor, Bury North
Kate Hoey, Vauxhall
Barry Sheerman, Huddersfield
Edward Timpson, Crewe and Nantwich
Tom Levitt, High Peak
Michael Gove, Surrey Heath
David Laws, Yeovil
Annette Brooke, mid Dorset and North Poole
Andrew Turner, Isle of Wight
Elfyn Llywd, Meirionydd Nant Conwy
Andrew Miller, Ellesmere Port and Neston
Sandra Gidley, Romsey
Brian Jenkins, Tamworth
Nick Gibb, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton
Over 200 MPs voted against the Government Bill.
Minister Diana Johnson who has responsibility for home education did not speak in the debate.
The Bill will now pass to Committee stage which will conclude on February 4th before the Bill is returned to the House of Commons for the Third Reading.
To mark the Second Reading of the Children Schools and Families Bill in parliament today, an open letter has been published in the Guardian signed by members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education; former Children's Laureate; the founder of Kidscape, bullying support organisation; the authors of Toxic Childhood; academics and researchers in the fields of arts, humanities and science and over a thousand other signatories.
The letter and an abbreviated list of signatories may be found in the Guardian here.
The message of the letter is:
"A change in the law is unnecessary. Parents are already required by law to provide an education suitable to the age, aptitude and ability of their children, and to any special educational needs they may have. Local authorities already have the power to take action if parents do not do this.
Given the controversy surrounding this section of the bill, and the serious criticisms made of it by the children, schools and families select committee, we call on the government to withdraw schedule 1 of the bill, and the accompanying clauses."
The Equalities Impact Assessment for the home education area of the Children Schools and Families Bill has been overshadowed by the more general Impact Assessment which was discussed before Christmas.
Until recently, Government Bills had separate Impact Assessments for Race, Gender and Disability, which have since been replaced by the single equalities impact scheme.
The current Equalities Impact extrapolates from a small research project published in 2006 which deliberately chose 3 out of 9 local authorities with Gypsy Roma Traveller home educating population. The 2009 Equalities Impact concludes that the non-accidental presence of these ethnic and minority groups means they are "over-represented".
The Equalities Impact Assessment generalises from information supplied by 8 local authorities to claim that 5% of all home educated children will have a statement of educational needs. No information is presented about home educated children with special needs who do not have a statement, which is an extraordinary omission in the present circumstances.
The Equalities Impact Assessment claims that since there are more Gypsy Roma Traveller home educated children and more children with special needs relative to the home education population as a whole, therefore any measures designed to benefit all home educated children will bring a disproportionately positive benefit to these sub-groups.
"If local authorities become aware of children with SEN being
educated at home about whom they did not previously know, it would be right
to expect an improvement in the service offered."
"A training package will be developed for local authority officers who will assess and monitor the children. It will be in addition to current CAF level 2
training material, and will be designed to cover equality issues appropriately.
There will be particular reference to SEN and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the announcement by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on 14 December concerning Criminal Records Bureau checks, whether they plan to require families intending to educate their children at home to be subject to such checks.
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Labour)
There is absolutely no question of local authorities CRB-checking home educating parents, nor of ISA registration being required in future. Vetting and barring arrangements that are appropriate for people working with children do not apply to family members.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 10 December (HL433), why they consider that individual children might be identified as a result of data released combined with other data publicly available.
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Labour)
The department's policy is to employ statistical disclosure controls to ensure that statistics including those collected for research purposes do not reveal the identity of an individual, or any private information relating to them, taking into account other relevant sources of information. These statistical disclosure controls protect against both specific known risks and more general risks including unknown risks.
The figures provided by Birmingham on the number of electively home educated children who were subject of a child protection plan are small and we are not releasing them for these reasons.
The department keeps its statistical disclosure controls under review to ensure that arrangements for confidentiality protection are sufficient to protect the privacy of individual information, but not so restrictive as to limit unduly the practical utility of the statistics.
We provided a frequency distribution histogram to assist users in understanding the range of data provided by different local authorities that can be found at http:www.dcsf.gov.uk/everychildmatters/ete/independentreviewofhomeeducation/irhomeeducation/.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 10 December (HL433), why they consider that the release of the questionnaire could make local authorities reluctant to cooperate with departmental surveys in the future, given that many authorities have already released this information.
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Labour)
Local authorities responding to requests for information from central government, or contributing to reviews such as that conducted by Graham Badman, must be able to freely and frankly express their views, and provide examples and evidence, about what is working and what needs to change. Local authorities provided information in the expectation that it would remain confidential and any breach of confidence could make local authorities reluctant to participate in similar data gathering exercises in future.
There are two specific concerns in addition to the general concern that there must be space for officials to express their views freely and frankly. The first concern is that some of the information provided by local authorities related to small numbers, or individual, children and there is a risk that these individuals could be identified if the data we held were combined with other information, including newspaper reports, or could in the future be combined with other information released under the Freedom of Information Act. Secondly, where the home educators are unwilling to co-operate with local authorities, some local authority officials have difficult relationships with some home educators in their area and then releasing this information could make their relationship worst.
They have observed the campaign of vilification and harassment against Graham Badman and are concerned that they too could be targeted by home educators locally if their responses were released.
We and individual local authorities keep the release of data under review, bearing in mind the nature and intensity of harassment and the risks this indicates. Some local authorities have decided that the risks to individual children and their employees are sufficiently low to release the questionnaire responses. These assessments can only be made at local level and bearing in mind the circumstances prevailing at a particular point in time.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 10 December (HL433), why the release of the reply to a questionnaire might lead to harassment if the existence of that reply has not; and on what evidence that statement was based.
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Labour)
We cannot say with absolute certainty that releasing Birmingham City Council's responses to the questionnaires would lead to harassment and vilification of specific individuals in the authority. This does, however, appear to the department to be a likely outcome. The internet campaign of vilification and harassment against Graham Badman and individual home educators who have declared they support aspects of the review has worried local authority officers. Some have suffered personal harassment through the internet, some have found individual home educators have ceased to co-operate with the local authority and others have come under severe pressure from repeated Freedom of Information Act requests which seem intended more to disrupt their day-to-day work than genuinely to be seeking relevant information.
We and individual local authorities keep the release of data under review, bearing in mind the nature and intensity of harassment and the risks this indicates. Some local authorities have decided that the risks to individual children and their employees are sufficiently low to release the questionnaire responses. These assessments can only be made at local level and bearing in mind the circumstances prevailing at a particular point in time.
Education Otherwise believes that Clause 26 Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill is profoundly flawed and must not pass into legislation. In addition to the devastating effect on home educating families, the proposed measures would be incompatible with existing laws and would have unforeseen consequences far beyond the present target group.
"It would never be appropriate for LA officers within the role of supporting families with home education to insist on interviewing a child alone. The LA officer is not at all likely to be someone a child knows well or trusts and such power gives the impression that LA officers do not trust parents and believe they can get to some hidden truth by seeing children alone. LA officers need to share any concerns about the child's education with parents and in cases where the LA officer has concerns about the welfare of a child, the usual safeguarding procedures apply." Gloucestershire County Council
"Parents who we have spoken to and who home educate are fully aware of the responsibility they are taking on and often find it a costly option and let down by their local authority. In this context the introduction of registration and monitoring processes held by the local authority can seem inappropriate and intrusive. The provision of information and support for parents instead, would be helpful." Treehouse charity for autism education
Every one of us can make a difference if we write to our MP before the Second Reading of the Children Schools and Families Bill on January 11th. The Government has tried to say that the new law is "about support" but this is categorically not the case and we need to put our MPs straight.
We have been told that if an MP receives three messages from different constituents on the same issue then it is a hot topic.
Also think about going to visit your MP. This is a chance to raise awareness of home education and to dispel prejudices and stereotypes. Your MP will also be much more motivated to speak in Parliament on behalf of home educators if he or she has actually met a home educating family. Read more here.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the costs of the Review of Elective Home Education in England by Graham Badman; and what were the costs of the information-gathering exercises which have followed it. [HL430]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Following careful consideration Ministers have decided that this information will remain confidential because of the potential impact on those involved in the review. There have been a large number of postings on various websites and blogs harassing Mr Badman and the apparent campaign is continuing. The department will review the position again in the new year.
The information-gathering exercise that followed the review did not incur any external costs as it was conducted by departmental officials.
"We're disappointed the Select Committee's press release has a negative headline, but we're very pleased that, in their report, the Committee supports the vast majority of Graham Badman's recommendations on home education. We will respond in full next year." Minister Diana Johnson December 16 2009
According to the Parliamentary Briefing prepared for MPs and lodged in the House of Commons Library, there were 28 recommendations in the Badman Review Report. Key recommendations were identified as:
More support to home educating families. Select Committee agreed.
After due scrutiny, members of the Children Schools and Families Committee were clearly not satisfied either with the methodology of the Badman Review or with the evidence base.
The Committee Report is critical of the Government's conflation of education with safeguarding. Significantly, the Committee does not find sufficient grounds for changing the law on home education.
The Select Committee does not endorse the Government's proposals for compulsory registration of home educated children; does not agree that visits to the home are necessary; does not believe it would be appropriate for home education officers to interview children without a parent present; is greatly concerned that home educated children with special needs are not well served by the present system; and strongly recommends that safeguarding concerns should not be addressed by the home education officer but should be passed to the appropriate agencies.
In addition the Committee is not convinced by Government's estimate of the cost of the proposals, particularly with respect to increased contact time with home educators. Nor do members of the Committee believe that the Government has adequately estimated the cost of delivering a comprehensive training programme to local authorities.
Read more from the Education Otherwise press release on the Select Committee Report here.
There will be a licensing scheme where home educators have to apply annually for permission to home educate. There will be mandatory interviews with all home educated children. Between 10,000 and 40,000 children will also have an additional interview. Children on the autistic spectrum are going to be particularly affected by the proposals for compulsory interviews, yet the Impact Assessment indicates that children with special needs will be targeted for extra interviews on top of the beginning of year and end of year interviews.
What Will Happen in the New Year?
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education will meet some time in the New Year.
In the wake of the Badman Review of Home Education, the Department for Children, Schools and Families has put forward legislative proposals for a licensing and inspection regime to be imposed on all home educators.
Government interference in home education is justified on the grounds that one in five home educated children is not receiving a suitable education, according to anecdotal evidence supplied to Mr Badman.
In this article, Dr Ben Anderson cautions against any reliance on figures supplied by Mr Badman. The information was obtained by convenience sampling where the participants were selected at the convenience of the researcher. Any information received via this method should obviously not be generalised.
By way of contrast, a comprehensive survey undertaken shortly after the Badman Report was published received responses from 93% of all local authorities, who estimated that the proportion of home educated children not receiving suitable education was closer to one in twenty.
Michael Crawshaw's article demonstrates that the Government has double counted the benefits of state intervention and has radically overstated the percentage of home educated children apparently receiving poor education. The article also shows how Government has underestimated the cost of recruiting more staff, omitted costs for supporting home education and made no allowance for enforcement costs or legal costs as children are forced into school.
Both articles should be read by anyone attempting to make sense of the Government's Impact Assessment.
This Bill is not about support for home educated children. The Government does not need to change the law on home education in order to guarantee funding for home education support. The only guaranteed money to local authorities under "new burdens" arrangements is for inspection and enforcement. Support for home educated children is not to be made a statutory requirement and the inspection criteria for Ofsted with respect to Children's Services refer exclusively to safeguarding, not to support.
It is hard to tell exactly what the Government has in store because one of the primary objectives in the Children, Schools and Families Bill seems to be to provide extensive enabling powers for future regulation of home education outside parliament.
"In its current form it is a skeleton exposing home educators and their children to the unknown because so much will depend on how the regulations are written." Lord Lucas, November 26th 2009
However, a number of things are very clear. There will be a licensing scheme where home educators have to apply annually for permission to home educate. There will be mandatory interviews with all home educated children. Non co-operation with any aspect of the process will mean that the application will fail and permission to home educate will not be granted.
Interviews will be in "the place where education is provided to the child." The place where education is provided is expected to be widely interpreted as the home, but the Government has avoided using the word "home" as this would be emotive and might sway someone in Parliament to speak out against the proposals. The precedent of changing the law explicitly to compel entry to private homes might also provoke a backlash from the civil liberties movement.
The Government has made plans on the basis that out of an estimated 40,000 home educated children, 8,000 will fail the application process for registration in the first year. Further details about the Government’s plans can be found in ‘Costs and Benefits’ on p/10 of this paper.
These decisions will be subject to legal challenge. Details of the appeals process are omitted from the current Bill, leaving it wide open for the Government to bring in back door regulations which would not be debated in parliament.
The Government is seeking to prescribe the form and content of home education both by means of school assessments of children and also by a new Government review of what is meant by "suitable education."
"What matters is that the child or young person acquires a mix of skills which will enable them to contribute to society as adults." DCSF, October 2009
Read more from the new Briefing Paper on the Government's Home Education Proposals here.
Dr House is a Senior Lecturer at Roehampton University and is a tireless campaigner against the "nappy curriculum" for Early Years. He has also been involved in the successful media campaign decrying Toxic Childhood, which was joined by many children's authors and academics.
Lord Ralph Lucas today spoke in the Lords during the close of the debate on the Queen's Speech.
He chose to address the Clause on the Registration and Monitoring of Home Educators contained in the Children Schools & Families Bill.
"I am going to devote my speech to the home education part of the education Bill - although I cannot call it that because the word "education" has been expunged from every Bill and from the title of the department. I shall refer to it as the schools Bill. Several clauses are devoted to the regulation of home education; that is, people who educate their children at home. This part of the Bill is ill thought-out and unjustified, and I hope very much that we will delete it. In its current form it is a skeleton exposing home educators and their children to the unknown because so much will depend on how the regulations are written. Nothing in it secures their rights as home educators to look after their children in the way they see best. There is an unfortunate conflation of education and welfare which makes the business of improving or looking after the education of these children much harder."
According to the this document, registration and monitoring will come into effect in April 2011. Costs in the first year are estimated to be between £20 million and £99 million.
Children in the first year will all receive 2 * 4 hour meetings with LA officer (includes planning, travel time etc). 50% of children in the first year will receive an additional 2 * 4 hour sessions.
All children receive 1 x 8 hour visit at the end of the year. 50% will receive an additional 1 x 8 hour visit.
The Impact Assessment says:
"we have not yet defined the content or rigour of a "statement of education", but it is likely to be a short, word-processed document. Exemplar curricula which parents could use successfully are freely available from the DCSF and QCA websites".
"LAs tell us that home educators who avoid interaction with the local authority tend to be providing inferior education. A survey of local authorities found that in the opinion of officers monitoring home education, 20% were receiving an inadequate education. The consequences of receiving a poor or inadequate education in later life are that the young people denied an adequate education are unlikely to achieve recognised qualifications and more likely to turn to crime or substance abuse."
"We assume that with this new legislation this pupils will progress from obtaining 1 -4 A*-C to 5 + A*-C GCSEs. In this case, the lifetime returns amount to £88,500 for each child. Assuming that 46.8% of these children achieve this level, the total benefits of the proposal is £99.5m for those affected in the first year."
"The quantitative data we currently hold about home educated children's educational attainment is limited. We do know, however, that post compulsory education, home educated young people are 4 times more likely not to be in education, employment or training than other young people."
"Recent data collected from local authorities indicates that the percentage of EHE children subject to a Child Protection Plan is 0.4%. The total number of 'other' children who were subject to a CPP plan is 0.2% We can therefore say EHE children are 2 times more likely to be subject to a CPP than other children."
"In a rapidly changing world Government could learn much from the good practice of home educators- instead it has decided to bring forward legislation that will stamp it out" said Annette Taberner of Education Otherwise who met twice with Graham Badman during the course of the review on home education.
The registration and monitoring measures announced yesterday will be combined with a review of "suitable education" which the Government announced last month.
Ann Newstead, media spokesperson for Education Otherwise commented that "thousands of home educators have had to set aside stupid amounts of time to get their heads round the political process. We have participated in a seemingly endless stream of consultations and reviews and we feel that the Government has simply ignored us, seemingly determined to impose a one size fits all state education on every child. We are shocked and disgusted."
Fiona Nicholson, a Trustee of Education Otherwise, said that the charity was taking legal advice on the drafting of the Bill presented yesterday to Parliament and would make further comment shortly.
Graham Stuart MP, Chair of the recently formed All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education told Members of Parliament that "the scheme is all about getting home educators in a headlock and forcing their children back into the Balls fold."
Read more from Education Otherwise Press Release here.
The Government consultation on proposals for registration and monitoring closed on 19 October. It has just been announced that the Government hopes to publish a response to the consultation by the end of November.
The usual procedure would be to issue draft proposals, launch a 3 month public consultation process giving stakeholders and other interested parties an opportunity to comment on the draft proposals, digest the consultation responses and then make a formal statement of intention to proceed within 12 weeks of the consultation closing.
The parliamentary web page on the new Children and Families Bill refers to the Badman Review of home education. The Government announced a Select Committee Inquiry into the conduct of the Badman Review and the Committee is expected to give an indication of its findings within the next few weeks. For further information, please read the recent Education Otherwise article on Policy Based Evidence Making.
In this shortened parliamentary session the Government also hopes to pass laws against child poverty and climate change. More information about the new Bills may be found here.
Following the Badman Report, a Bill with a clause about changing the law on home education is expected to be introduced to Parliament via the Queen's Speech on Wednesday November 18th. Parliamentary debates on the Bill after the Second Reading could start in early December.
In response, Graham Stuart MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education has devised a Petition to Parliament opposing the Badman recommendations which Members of Parliament will take to Westminster before Christmas.
Petitions to Parliament are taken by MPs to Westminster and are recorded in Hansard. We believe that the record for the highest number of constituency Petitions on a single issue was around 43. Since being launched late on Friday the home education Petition to Parliament already has co-ordinators collecting signatures in at least 180 constituencies.
The Petition of Parents in x constituency
Declares that they are concerned about the recommendations of the Badman Report, which suggests closer monitoring of home educators, including a compulsory annual registration scheme and right of access to people's homes for local authority officials; further declares that the petitioners believe the recommendations are based on a review that was extremely rushed, failed to give due consideration to the evidence, failed to ensure that the data it collected were sufficiently robust, and failed to take proper account of the existing legislative framework.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families either not to bring forward, or to withdraw, proposed legislative measures providing for tighter registration and monitoring of children educated at home in the absence of a thorough independent inquiry into the condition and future of elective home education in England; but instead to take the steps necessary to ensure that the existing Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities are properly implemented, learning from current best practice, in all local authorities in England.
Information received by EO suggests that The 'Improving Schools and Safeguarding Children Bill' which was listed in the draft legislative programme as a working title when the programme was being drawn up, has been given the final name of 'The Children, Schools & Families Bill.'
The APPG for Home Education held its first meeting yesterday evening with Graham Stuart Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness elected Chair and Lord Lucas as Deputy Chair. Tim Farron Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale was elected Secretary and David Drew Labour MP for Stroud was elected Treasurer.
All Party Parliamentary Groups must be composed of Members of either the Commons or the Lords. The group's Register must have exactly 20 members, with 10 from the Government party, plus a total of 10 Opposition/Other members (of which at least 6 must be from the main Opposition party).
Any Member of the House of Commons or Lords is subsequently entitled to join the Group but only 20 names will be on the Register.
Groups meet to discuss issues of common interest which cross party political barriers. Home educators throughout the country are in regular contact with over 200 constituency MPs as can be seen from our list here.
In the wake of the Independent Badman Government Review of Home Education, the Government intends to introduce changes to the law on home education via the Safeguarding Bill which is to be announced in the Queen's Speech on November 18th.
Paul Holmes (Chesterfield): To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, how much funding his Department has provided to each local authority in England and Wales for children with special educational needs who are educated at home in each of the last five years.
Mr David Laws (Yeovil): To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, what funding he has allocated to local authorities to support home educators following the recommendations of the Badman review of elective home education in England.
Both MPs have shown a previous interest in funding. David Laws' previous questions may be found here.
Paul Holmes: "Your Department seemed to be saying that there is. Is that new money that will be made available from January or is it money that is already there that local authorities have not made available?"
Ed Balls: "Local authorities have a responsibility to provide support for children with special educational needs."
Paul Holmes: "So the money is already there but it is the SEN budget that we are talking about."
The Association of Directors of Children's Services does not appear confident that new money will be available, saying to the Select Committee that if the figures of home educated children turned out to be much higher than the present number known to local authorities, then the authority would need to vire resources. In short, if statutory duties were placed on local authorities, then money would have to be found from another area of the council budget.
Essex has told the Government that there is a huge potential cost implication, saying that in the county there are only 2 paid staff for 700 families.
Read more from the recent Education Otherwise article on funding here.
Maggie Atkinson, Director of Children's Services in Gateshead, referred to the case of a girl in Birmingham whose mother and stepfather are currently being prosecuted for starving the child to death. The trial of Khyra Ishaq's mother and stepfather began on June 3rd and was halted the following month after three members of the jury were discharged.The retrial will take place in 2010.
19 children from Birmingham have died of abuse or neglect since 2004 and Birmingham Council has confirmed that 16 of those children were known by social workers police or health trusts to be at risk of harm. Media reports of the trial of Angela Gordon and Junaid Abuhamza indicate that school teachers had repeatedly raised serious safeguarding concerns with the council while the children were at school but that Government guidance on safeguarding procedures had not been followed.
The case cited by Maggie Atkinson is not an argument for more statutory powers with respect to home education, rather it is an argument for Birmingham Council to learn serious lessons and to address the urgent issues of recruitment, retention and training of social workers.
Read more from the new Education Otherwise article here
Education Otherwise does not believe that money will be available for support and the evidence suggests that many local authorities share our doubts. Money has been spent investigating home education and money may be spent policing home education against Ofsted inspection targets or National Indicator targets but the money will not be there for support.
Education Otherwise estimates that around £4 million is currently spent on staffing costs. Local authorities know of around 20,000 home educated children. The Government estimates that there may be 80,000 home educated children. The Government further estimates that the new system would cost £9.7 million a year after initial start-up costs and has undertaken to fund the difference between existing spending and £9.7 million.
The Association of Directors of Children's Services does not appear confident that new money will be available, saying to the Select Committee that if the figures of home educated children turned out to be much higher than the present number known to local authorities, then the authority would need to vire resources. In short, if statutory duties were placed on local authorities, then money would have to be found from another area of the council budget.
Read more from the Education Otherwise article here.
In order to justify new legislation with respect to a compulsory licensing scheme and mandatory access to the child alone in the family home, Graham Badman and the Department of Children Schools and Families have made 3 attempts to collect evidence against home educators.
Following each onslaught, home educators are able to deconstruct the data and to demonstrate the lack of solid reliable evidence. However, the damage has already been done because the general reader is left with a blur of media headlines which give the impression that home educators are twice as likely to be defective.
Graham Badman has consistently dismissed home educators' repudiation of his Report as "a vociferous minority". It is possible that the Department will continue to maintain this view even after receiving 5,000+ consultation responses.
The Department actively shapes media perceptions whereby Graham Badman tends to be reported as having "proved" or "discovered" something about which home educators are "angry."
It is all too easy to lose the plot in sifting through a mass of information, trying to understand the basis for Graham Badman's varied assertions about home educators, being only too well aware that the goalposts are probably being dug up and moved at this very moment.
It doesn't matter that each separate allegation or concern can be unpicked because by then it is too late; once more, smoke has been used to prove fire and a montage of evidence has been hastily assembled to justify Departmental policy.
Home educators have been subjected to 9 months of policy based evidence making which has seriously damaged trust in the political process.
Read more from the new article by Education Otherwise here.
"I think my view would be across the abuse scenario that every now and again something really quite ghastly and dreadful happens and while it is absolutely right that we should question and ask and seek to explore and understand it and put right any systemic deficiencies that emerge, the plain fact remains that every now and then something quite inexplicable happens that will defy our best attempts to understand and explain it."
The scheme has emerged out of the review by Sir Michael Bichard following the 2002 Soham murders but Singleton warned that it would not prevent notorious cases of abuse in future. It would not have stopped Vanessa George, the nursery worker who abused children in her care, as there were no previous concerns about her suitability of working with children.
"People who haven't come across home education before seem to think we have no social skills. I didn't find socialisation a problem - I live in a city and made friends on my street. I also went to a music college and made friends there. You have to be more active socially - it isn;t provided on a plate, so it's more like an adult social life.
People are surprised if you're not a mathematical or musical genius, or they think it must be some huge political stance taken by one's outrageously hippie parents, but it wasn't in my case."
Read more from Alex Dowty, now in his third year reading Law at Oxford.
"Thank you for your email of 25 September regarding the location of the 2007 'Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities'. Please accept my apologies for the difficulty you have faced accessing these guidelines. This problem occurred during the migration of content from the old LA Website to the current Every Child Matters (ECM) Website, which caused this link to break. My web team rectified this as soon as we were made aware and the guideline can now be seen in the elective home education section of ECM:
We wish to comment on a clause in the Improving schools and safeguarding children Bill, namely "improving monitoring arrangements for children educated at home".
We are extremely concerned that this clause has been hastily introduced without due deliberation and consideration following the rushed Review of Home Education by Graham Badman earlier in the year.
It has recently been noted by the Department that the evidence for change put forward by Graham Badman was obtained from only a small sample of local authorities and is not statistically rigorous.
As you will know the Select Committee is currently investigating the conduct of the Review and there is also a public consultation on the specific elements of the Badman Report which will require changes to primary legislation.
The call for evidence to the Select Committee Inquiry was announced on July 22nd. Work in this area has been restricted during the Summer while parliament is in recess and many local authority staff have been on annual leave.
We do not know when the Select Committee will announce its findings but we would not expect anything to be available before the Queen's Speech.
Furthermore, the public consultation does not close until October 19th hence there is insufficient time to consider the input from stakeholders before rushing to primary legislation.
Following the Westminster Debate by Mark Field in June, Education Otherwise has received emails and letters from several hundred home educators who have been to see their MP.
Throughout his Report, the author Graham Badman indicated many areas which were outside the scope of the inquiry or which would merit further research.
The Schools and Safeguarding Bill is already extremely wide in scope with an ambitious range of proposals which would if enacted profoundly change the relationship between schools and parents. Therefore it does not make sense to include an additional contentious clause related to home education while the Badman Review is still being investigated by the Department.
Trustee Education Otherwise
Chair Education Otherwise Government Policy Group References
Home educators today reacted in astonishment to news that DCSF had sent out a letter
from Graham Badman, author of the contentious Report on the Review of Elective Home
Education in England, appealing for assistance in finding more evidence to provide to
the forthcoming select committee inquiry into the Review.
Despite the number of questions posed by home educators, these were the only two direct answers:
By EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:10:56
I can see home education has come up a number of times in your questions and I thought it would be helpful to explain our thinking.
First, it's really important to say that I want parents to continue to be able to home educate their child if thatâ€™s what they want to do.
The majority of home educated children receive a good education in a safe and loving environment and that is my overwhelming priority.
However, it's also my responsibility to make sure that all children everywhere get this.
I think it was right to review home education as concerns had been raised about a minority of home-educated children and Graham Badman's report suggested ways that we could strengthen the current arrangements.
I think his report is good news for children who are home educated and their parents - for example, the report made recommendations which we've accepted to make sure that home-educated children with special educational needs have access to the services they would otherwise get through school. We'll be saying more in the next few weeks about how we will make this happen.
By EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:40:14
I know that many of you feel very strongly about the Badman Review and are passionate about Home Education. My job is to support home educators and that's what I am going to do including by responding to Graham Badman's call for extra support for home educators, especially where a child has SEN. But it is also my job to do everything I can to make sure children are safe, including from abuse or neglect. And that includes home educated children too. There have been high profile cases of 'home educated' children who have been very badly neglected. Graham makes clear that this is a small minority, though disproportionately larger among home educated children. Every child has a right to have a happy and safe childhood.
On September 2nd members of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and EO Disability Group were invited to a meeting with Diana Johnson, the Minister with responsibility for home education. This was followed by a discussion with civil servants from the areas of home education and examinations. Notes from the meeting will be published as soon as they have been agreed with participants.
The main theme was home educator's objections to the recommendations of the Badman report, with particular reference to the proposals contained in the current consultation on registration and monitoring. The meeting also considered some of the obstacles to home educators obtaining access to exam centres and the specific problem with the new GCSE controlled assessments for private candidates.
EO also sought clarification on the announcement made by DCSF when the Badman Review was published which said that the Department would make a full response to the recommendations in the Badman Report by the end of September. DCSF has said that "the fuller response from Government will be related to the other recommendations in the Badman Review which are not covered by the consultation on registration and monitoring."
A new Youtube video has just gone live on EO's channel.
In this voxbox video,"FAQs: Why Personalised Learning", parents and children share just a few of the reasons why people may chose home education, and show how personalised learning allows children the freedom to learn in their own way.
In this short Voxbox film, three home educated young people answer the frequently asked question "what about qualifications" and share their very different stories. Their experiences help to show how qualifications - or the lack of them - does not have to be a barrier tor a home educated young person going onto to college or university.
On 11th June Graham Badman published a Report on his Review into Elective Home Education and the Government responded immediately, accepting the Report's recommendations in full. Education Otherwise responded by calling the Report "unreasonable and disproportionate".
Many home educating families have been to see their MP to raise awareness about home education and to talk about the impact of the Badman Review. Sometimes families visit in a small group or invite their MP to a home education event. In other cases parents and even grandparents write to constituency MPs setting out the benefits of home education. Although it is the parliamentary recess and MPs are on holiday, some MPs are continuing to answer emails and letters and to see constituents at their surgeries.
The General Election will be held on or before June 3rd 2010. From the point when the General Election is announced no more action is taken on legislation which remains outstanding.
How to Keep Up to Date:
Subscribe to the EO Channel here
Sign up for email updates to the Education Otherwise campaign site here
Follow Education Otherwise on Twitter here
Read the email sent to over 3,000 EO members in July here
In this interview Lord Lucas, a Conservative backbencher and hereditary peer, gives his view of the current political attitude towards home educators.
He urges home educators to engage with their MPs in order to bring about a greater understanding of home education which he believes should lead to many of the invasive proposals contained within the Badman Report being discarded.
Dr Thomas is a developmental psychologist, author and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Education. Interviewed at HESFES, Dr Thomas explains about his research into how children learn and his investigation into autonomous, or informal learning.
We hope that this will be a useful resource to forward to MPs, friends, family and others as part of helping them to understand something of what home education is about.
Heartfelt thanks to all the home educated young people and to the organisers at HESFES for allowing EO to film on location. Thanks also to Lord Lucas who provided a room in Westminster for further filming.
Barry Sheerman the Chair of the Department of Children Schools and Families Select Committee is quoted in the Times Educational Supplement as saying "It's something that I have never looked at before and have always wanted to. It is an interesting area."
Fiona Nicholson, a trustee of home education group Education Otherwise, said: "There are a number of questions around the rushed nature of the review and the sweeping recommendations, which are wholly disproportionate to any evidence for change put forward by Mr Badman."
A brand new youth council formed by children and young people to represent the views of home educated children and young adults in the UK yesterday travelled to DCSF to meet with officials.
Within a week of setting up their council (HEYC) the young people had put together a website and had an agreement from DCSF that there would be someone to discuss the Badman Report yesterday. However despite the advance notice at the last minute they were told that no one was available to see them.
DCSF have confirmed that someone will be available to meet with them on 12th August.
You can read their press release here and watch a video of the event here.
The following is the text of a letter dated 23rd July from Ed Balls, sent to an MP who had received a visit from an EO member and who had written to Ed Balls passing on the home educator's concerns:
"Thank you for your letter of 29th June about home education enclosing a set of questions from your constituent.
We published Graham Badman's Report on his Review of home education on 11th June 2009 and our initial response the same day. I asked Graham Badman to carry out the review in the light of certain high profile cases and because local authorities and other organisations were consistently raising concerns with my department about the current state of the law and policy in this area.
I thought it crucial that the Review found the appropriate balance between two important principles, and I believe Graham Badman achieved: giving parents the right to decide how and where their children should be educated; and ensuring that every child is safe and gets the education they need to help them fulfill their potential.
Home education is a well established and important part of our education system. Both the review and our response reaffirmed our support for its continuation, while also stressing the importance of these principles being put into practice in every area of the country.
The Review recommended that the home education framework should be strengthened significantly, and in two different respects: first, by acting to address the small but worrying minority of cases where home educated children have suffered harm because safeguarding concerns were either not picked up at all or were not addressed with sufficient urgency. We are taking the Review's recommendations forward in this area by legislating at the first possible opportunity this year.
Secondly, the review calls for access to extra support for those home educated children who need it, including the relatively high proportion of these children with special educational needs and others who require services they would otherwise receive through school. The Review stressed the importance of ensuring that all children receive the kind of high quality education they need to succeed, with local authorities providing the right level of support to home educators to enable them to offer this to children. We made it clear in our initial response that we accepted these recommendations in principle and would set out in the autumn how we intend to take them forward.
I believe that Graham Badman's Review is fair and balanced and I am confident that it sets out a path for keeping home educated children safe and for strengthening the quality of education they receive, whilst respecting parent's right to chose to home educate, if they wish to do so. For these reasons I think the outcomes of the Review are good news for children who are home educated and for their parents.
A formal consultation on the proposed registration and monitoring arrangements for home education arising from the Review is open until Monday 19th October and can be accessed at http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm?action=consultationDetails&consultationId=1643&external=no.
The Select Committee has issued a Press Notice which you can read here.
The Committee asks for written submissions in accordance with the guidelines below by noon on Tuesday 22 September 2009.
A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and marked "Elective Home Education inquiry". The Committee's strong preference is for submissions in electronic form, although hard copy originals will be accepted and should be sent to Kathryn Smith, Committee Assistant, at:
Children, Schools and Families Select Committee
House of Commons
London SW1P 3JA
Each submission should:
be no more than 3,000 words in length;
begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
have numbered paragraphs; and
(if in electronic form) be in Word format or a rich text format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.
For Data Protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Please supply a postal address so that a copy of the Committee's report can be sent to you upon publication.
Education Otherwise has issued a Press Release commenting on the news that the Select Committee is to look into the Badman Review of Home Education.
Fiona Nicholson, Trustee of Education Otherwise said: "There are a number of questions around the rushed nature of the Review and the sweeping recommendations which are wholly disproportionate to any evidence for change put forward by Graham Badman."
Home educators who have reacted in dismay to the Report have been contacting their MPs since its publication. Ann Newstead EO media spokesperson commented "We keep a record of which MPs have been contacted and it is obvious that feelings are running very high; it's a struggle to keep our records up to date".
Read more from the Education Otherwise Press Release here
On Saturday July 4th representatives from Education Otherwise and the Home Education Advisory Service met with barrister Ian Dowty to discuss the Badman Report on Home Education. Here are some extracts from our notes:
"Argument against registration is harvesting all the data and sharing all the data. Includes hearsay and concerns about child. Having a licence to home educate implies that it is the state who registers the child, not the parent."
"If they make it a criminal offence not to register the child as home educated, then the legal option of home education will have to be widely publicised.
Pupil Registration Regulations England 2006
Primary legislation would be needed to effect a change to make it possible for state to register child. S.434 Education Act 1996 does not say that the state can register. Pupil Registration Regulations 2006 cannot be saying that the state is able to register child because this would go beyond the primary legislation.
Additionally, if the Pupil Registration Regulations were in fact saying that the state could register a child, then the state would never have to serve a School Attendance Order, it could simply register the child and then prosecute for "truancy". They cannot take the action to register as this would be the State taking an action which made the parents criminally liable if they did not ensure their child attended at school."
"Right of access to home is irrelevant. There is no educational need to go into someone's home and if there is no safeguarding issue then under current law there is no general right of access to the home. If this were mandated for home educated children, it would apply to all children. Graham Badman is effectively requiring national inspection of children."
Representatives from Education Otherwise met Iain Campbell from DCSF at the end of June to discuss the Badman Report.
Ed Balls letter to Graham Badman reflects DCSF's current position:
"I accept all the recommendations in your report that call for urgent action to improve safeguards for home educated children and we will introduce these as soon as possible, subject to identifying funding and workable delivery arrangements.
We will consider how best to respond to your other recommendations as we will need to work through their implementation and resource implications."
The new Minister with responsibility for home education in the House of Commons is Diana Johnson. Baroness Morgan is responsible for taking forward the Review recommendations.
It is not currently envisaged by the EHE team at DCSF that registration will give local authorities power to refuse to register those already home educating their children unless there are safeguarding concerns. EO disputed this reading of the Badman Report.
DCSF said that arrangements for appealing against a decision to refuse to register or a decision to deregister were being considered.
The Government has been pushing local authorities to use the Integrated Children's Service system which has cost over Â£70 million, despite repeated warnings from experts that the system was unsafe and not fit for purpose.
In a dramatic U TURN the Children's Minister Baroness Morgan has just written to councils telling them not to use the system. Read more in the Telegraph article here.
Ian Dowty, a director of Action on Rights for Children, confirmed that ARCH is currently investigating the devastating impact this will have on local authorities. The ARCH page on the Government databases may be found here
"How many people will be much more like me and have six jobs on the go, doing a variety of different things? What did school do to prepare me for that? Nothing! Everything was about if you get a degree, youâ€™ll do well. Is that really the 21st century?"
Read more from the interview with Zenna Atkins, Chair of Ofsted here.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, as required by the Code of Practice on Consultation, they have published an impact assessment to accompany the "Registration and Monitoring Proposals" consultation following Mr Badman's report on Elective Home Education; and, if so, whether they will place a copy in the Library of the House.
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Labour)
An impact assessment is not required for the consultation at this stage as the proposals are still at an early stage of development. We do not expect them to place any significant additional burdens on local authorities as most already monitor home education, and our proposals will provide additional powers that will assist local authorities in dealing more efficiently with the small number of cases where home education does not come up to scratch. If we decide to proceed with legislation we will publish an impact assessment and will place a copy in the Library of the House."
You can vote to say whether or not you feel her response answers the question on the right hand side of the page here.
Many children choose home education because they aren't protected at school. And where does Winton think home-educated children live? They have friends, neighbours and relatives; participate in group activities; and visit libraries, museums, parks and shops. There are other children in far greater need of rigorous scrutiny, including those in prison.
The Grand Committee in the Lords was on its 5th Day of debating the Welfare Reform bill yesterday.
Hansards has just published the account.
Amendment 74 was moved by Lord Lucas who, having got involved with home education through Education Otherwise during the Home Education Review, managed to get an amendment drafted very quickly to make the Bill more amenable to home educating single parents.
The Amendment was not passed - unsurprisingly - but the fact that there was a debate amongst the Lords that strayed into the whole concept of home education, and the "Badman Review", is encouraging.
74: After Clause 2, insert the following new Clause—
"Jobseekers who are home-educators
Regulations made pursuant to sections 1 and 2 shall be so drafted as to ensure that jobseekers who are home-educating a child or children shall not be required to take any employment or to attend any interview at a job centre or elsewhere which would significantly disrupt the child’s education and, if the jobseeker concerned is a lone parent, they shall be entitled to register for jobseeker’s allowance by post and shall be deemed to have met the conditions of receiving jobseeker’s allowance."
Roland Meighan has just made public his personal response to Graham Badman's Review Report.
Roland's "creditials" are impressive and he could arguably truly be called an "expert" in education and home education:
D.Soc.Sc, Ph.D., B.Sc.(Soc)., L.C.P.., Cert. Ed., he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Writer, publisher, and consultant/research er on learning systems, past present and future. His work on "The Next Learning System" has been translated into more than twelve languages. Roland is also Director of Educational Heretics Press, Director/Trustee of the Centre for Personalised Education Trust Ltd. He is also a former Special Professor of Education at the University of Nottingham and was Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Birmingham.
He is an acknowledged Educational Heretic for his view that mass compulsory schooling is an obsolete and counter-productive learning system which should be phased out as soon as possible and schools should be recycled into something more personalised, flexible and humane. He began researching home-based education in 1977, appearing as an expert witness in key legal hearings.
His response, together with a piece entitled "A Kind of Treason" can be read here.
Roland has given permission for his response to be shared with home educators, and those members of parliament and the press that home educators are in contact with, should they feel it would be useful.
Lord Lucas, the Tory Peer who contacted Education Otherwise at the launch of the Review and attended meetings between EO and Graham Badman, has mentioned on his blog that he is working through the Review Report.
Following a meeting with Baroness Morgan in November 2008, Education Otherwise and DCSF aranged to visit several local authorities to investigate ways in which some local authorities are supporting home educating families.
Reports have been sent to the DCSF and to Graham Badman's Independent Home Education Review.
You can read more about North Yorkshire and Somerset here.
Both authorities are looking for ways to make it easier for home educated young people to sit their GCSEs.
Earlier in the week Education Otherwise and the Home Education Advisory Service took part in a session at the Independent Schools Council Annual Conference entitled "Public Benefit, thinking more creatively."
Education Otherwise has just sent an article to the ISC as a follow-up to the conference session.
"My children were educated both in state and independent education for many years and had been unable to either cope or learn in what they felt were extremely stressful environments. I can only be extremely grateful and full of praise for the school and its staff and thank them for giving my children along with many other home educated children a better chance in the future."
"The whole experience was as stress free for my daughter as possible. It was wonderful to find a school locally where she could sit the exams."
"The school provide a brilliant exam centre service for home educated children at a minimal cost to parents. Thanks to their generosity and community-spirit our children have so far been able to sit two exams via the school's system.We are very grateful for their support."
"My daughter tends to get stressed in new places but she feels at ease (or as at ease as you can be when sitting an exam) there. Finding exam venues isn't easy and I am thankful to them for making the effort."
"Everything has been very straight forward and stress-free due to the friendly can-do attitude of the school."
"very welcoming, well organised and understanding. It's good to find somewhere that understands that this isn't a problem. It makes a massive difference to families like ours."
The Apprenticeships Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday June 2nd. Lord Lucas, who has attended several meetings between the Home Education Review team and Education Otherwise, made a strong contribution to the debate and received an assurance from the Minister that there would be no last minute clause in the Bill to regulate or otherwise oppress home educators.
Lord Lucas told the house:
"many of the people indulging in home education have done so to escape just the sort of situations that the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, described of terrible schools, terrible circumstances, insupportable effects on a much loved child and parents giving up their lives to support that child. To be corralled back into school under a Henry VIII clause, however well intentioned, is not something that I am prepared to contemplate. I have talked to the Minister about this and have offered her two ways forward: she can give me a promise in her speech that nothing will appear in Committee, or on Report or at Third Reading to implement any of the recommendations of Graham Badmanâ€™s review, or we can have some long debates in Committee on home education and the many aspects of it which need to be considered, because they do need to be considered. As the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, said, there is a move to integrate the whole business of child protection so that many more agencies work together to take an interest in what is happening to children. We have the childrenâ€™s database, which will mean that for the first time local authorities will know who in their area is being home educated, and will not have the excuse that many of them have used to date for not paying much attention to this and letting parents get on with doing it in their own way. Therefore, the need to understand what is happening, to protect what is happening and to support it where it should be supported is going to get to us one way or another. In my view we should be extremely positive about home education."
Mark Field, Conservative MP for Westminster has obtained a slot for a short debate on home education in Parliament next week. Mark has been learning about home education from local home educators who have visited his constituency surgery and he wished to raise awareness of some of the current issues from the perspective of home educating families.
The debate will take place in Westminster Hall from 1-1.30 next Tuesday June 9th.
Education Otherwise met with the NSPCC at the end of March following heavy criticism of the NSPCC's perceived attitude towards home education at the launch of the Home Education Review.
You can read an account of the NSPCC meeting here at the start of the meeting notes between EO and the Home Education Review team.
At the meeting, Phillip Noyes, Head of Public Policy at the NSPCC, offered to write an open letter of apology for Education Otherwise to circulate. The letter was originally sent in April but has only just been received by EO. You can read the letter here.
An article by one of Childline's outreach workers is to be published in Education Otherwise June Newsletter.
Barrister Ian Dowty who has been to several meetings with Graham Badman as part of the Government's ongoing Independent Home Education Review has written an article for the EO newsletter to be published on June 1st.
The article addresses safeguarding and welfare concerns and ends with a number of questions for home educators.
Ian also wanted the article to be published online. You can read it tell a friend
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and EO Disability Group have just published a series of recommendations for improving support to home educating families. The recommendations have also been sent to the Home Education Review team.
DCSF wanted A-C pass in new GCSEs for English Maths and ICT to be dependent on passing an assessment in functional skills for literacy and numeracy.
The Government's exam regulator objected to this as impractical and unrealistic.
Jim Knight, Minister for Schools has just conceded that functional skills won't be mandatory for these new GCSEs though the Government still hopes candidates will take a standalone F/S qualification where possible.
Two home educators went to the Government's conference on 21st Century Schools to find out what this might mean for us.
A White Paper on 21st Century Schools is due to be published next month.
At the close of the conference, home educators put some points to Secretary of State, Ed Balls.
"Pam stated that home educated young people were more likely to be prepared for the 21st century economy because of the flexible nature of their learning and their ability to use medium of all types. So perhaps Government could learn from home educators.
Pam and Roxy also explained that monitoring and assessment is intrusive, irrelevant and counter-productive and talked again about how home educated children went on to achieve success in later life.
Pam also said that when it comes to true accountability, home educating parents take their duties very seriously and don't delegate this to the state. In this regard, home educators are held to far higher account and this would surely solve the problem of accountability for the state."
"In the storm of outrage that followed the tragedy of Baby P, fingers were bound to be pointed. Inexplicably, they are now being pointed at home-educators. The estimated 20,000 parents who choose to educate their children themselves currently stand accused of motives that are suspect at best and abusive at worst.
Why they are suddenly a target is unclear. Outrageous allegations are made, and apparently accepted, without proper examination. The Independent described authorities' fears that parents home-educate to mask truancy, or to hide forced marriages or children babysitting younger siblings. An NSPCC spokesperson observed: "We have no view about home-education, but we do know that to find out about abuse someone has to know about the child." The inference is made. Mud sticks.
The suggestion is that only if children are in schools can we be sure that their parents are not abusing them, but the smug moralising is unjust and inaccurate. Victoria Climbié was not in school at the time of her death, but she was not being home-educated. Eunice Spry was jailed after abusing her foster children for 19 years: no one noticed the children's bruises because, it is said, they were home-educated. But they werefostered. Where were the social workers?
Home-educators deserve better treatment. I know, because I've been one. Between 1991 and 1996, when I was a newly appointed secondary school head, my wife taught our two daughters at home. Those five years were some of the happiest we have known, full of the joy of discovery and learning. The girls went back into the system for the secondary phase (their choice) and are now happy, self-confident, well-qualified young adults with jobs.
It worked for us, but we were regarded as odd. Some friends and colleagues were profoundly uncomfortable with our decision. People are wary of difference, but parents often turn to home-education precisely because their children are different and are bullied in school as a result. Others do it on principle or, as we did, because they reckon they can offer something better. For us, the issue was the national curriculum, which we felt had blitzed primary education.
The image often painted of a secretive approach is misleading: most home-educators do it openly and network widely."
A report by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust entitled "The Database State" has called for ContactPoint to be scrapped immediately.
The report examines 46 databases across all government departments and has rated them according to a "red", "amber" or "green" system.
ContactPoint was assessed as a "red" database, meaning that the database is "almost certainly illegal under human rights or data protection law and should be scrapped or substantially redesigned. The collection and sharing of sensitive personal data may be disproportionate, or done without our consent, or without a proper legal basis; or there may be other major privacy or operational problems."
The petition challenging the Home Education Review has well over two thousand signatories and is in the top fifty out of thousands of petitions.
Education Otherwise has just issued a press release drawing attention to the misplaced concerns of the Review and highlighting the difficulties which will be encountered by local authorities if they seek to become the parent of first resort.
In a week when many parents found out which school places their children had been allocated, Gabby Logan will be talking to Janey Lee Grace who chose to educate her four children at home. She'll also be talking to an educational psychologist about the pros and cons of home schooling.
Radio Five Live 10 till 12 Sunday morning
Produced by ARCH following funding by the Nuffield Foundation, the research explores the legal basis for assertions about children's capactity to consent to data sharing.
This is of particular concern to home educators as increasing amounts of sensitive information about children and their families are shared between education, health and social care services increasing the vulnerability of some families.
ARCH’s full report can be downloaded in pdf format here.
We have now been able to identify a few ISC schools who are consistently helpful to private candidates. ISC is going to approach these schools and ask for their help to demystify the whole process so as to spread models of good practice more widely. We are also going to talk to the main awarding bodies used by private candidates for GCSE and IGCSE.
EO raised the issue of affordability in connection with public benefit and reminded ISC that home educators were mostly on reduced income and got no funding. ISC thought it was reasonable for schools to cover their costs but not to make a profit. We touched on the problem of passing on costs to individual families who needed Access Arrangements for SEN and disability and we'll be coming back to this at the next meeting.
Half the schools responded. At the meeting next week Education Otherwise and Home Education Advisory Service will be analysing the results of the questionnaire with ISC. Our aim is to have a network of private schools who are willing to extend their examination centre facilities to benefit home educated young people. This was also one of the areas under discussion at the recent meeting between Education Otherwise and Baroness Morgan at the DCSF.
We are very keen to give feedback from home educators who have had either positive or negative experience approaching the schools on the AQA list or any other private schools.
The Department of Work and Pensions has produced an information pack with details about the recent changes to the benefit system.
These changes will be phased in over the next three years.
24th November 2008, if your youngest child is aged 12 or over, or will be 12 in the next year, your Income Support may stop during that year if you are only claiming it because you are a lone parent.
From 26 October 2009, if your youngest child is aged 10 or over, or will be 10 in the next year, your Income Support may stop during that year if you are only claiming it because you are a lone parent.
From 25 October 2010, if your youngest child is aged 7 or over, or will be 7 in the next year, your Income Support may stop during that year if you are only claiming it because you are a lone parent.
It is planned that the JobCentre will contact claimants 8 weeks before Income Support is due to stop to notify them when the last payment is due. JCP will also invite people to a voluntary interview with an adviser, who will explain what people need to do to make a claim for another benefit if they have not found paid work. The voluntary interview will also be an opportunity to set up the paperwork for Child Tax Credit payments while still on Income Support. If CTC is already in place, this will minimise any delay in payments when the new claim for Jobseeker's Allowance begins since you will only have to claim the personal allowance component of JSA.
These are notes made by Fiona Nicholson who attended a Lone Parent Stakeholder meeting at Westminster on November 13th. KU is Minister Kitty Ussher.
KU: whatever country, if no appropriate or affordable childcare this would be Good Cause for not taking a job. Childcare Partnerships.
Question: what about children of different ages for whom different childcare would be appropriate.
Stakeholders said no time to get child to childminders then travel to work and back and collect children.
KU: we'll see how it works.
Stakeholders said evidence that people who were employed were also in poverty. DWP agreed.
KU: the regime will be evaluated after introduction.
Stakeholders said they always opposed JSA regime for this group of people and believed it was better to offer constructive support. Childcare doesn't work for older children and largely isn't available.
Stakeholders reiterated: need support not sanctions. Sanctions don't have desired effect on lone parents nor on claimants with complex needs. JobCentres are very busy now implementing changes from Child Support and Employment Support Allowance. Also many JobCentres are being closed.
Initial interview for JSA to be carried out by Lone Parent Advisor
Initial interview will be carried out by Lone Parent Advisor not just by someone working in JobCentre.
KU was asked directly about this and DK replied. This follows lobbying by stakeholders.
Stakeholders asked: what happens when/if lone parent declares self vulnerable? Will there be backlash on family? What if it isn't picked up by the interviewer? Will that person's chances be blighted later?
Returned to this point later in meeting after Minister left.
Discussed with DWP/WWEG.
The following press release has just been issued by the Social Security Advisory Committee. It would be useful to draw it to the attention of MPs and the media.
The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has published its Report for the period from August 2007 to July 2008. The report was presented to the Committee's third 'Stakeholder Seminar', held in London on 13 November 2008.
Introducing the report, the Committee Chairman, Sir Richard Tilt, pointed to the Committee's commentary on the Government's ongoing welfare reform programme, its achievements, and the challenges posed by the economic downturn. Expressing the Committee's concern about the impact of the adverse conditions upon both the Department's customers and the agencies delivering benefits and services, he suggested that it might now be appropriate to rein back the pace of the welfare reform programme.
Notes for editors:
The Report features a summary of the Committee's work, including scrutiny of proposals for social security legislation and the Department's public information products, and advice offered to the Secretary of State on welfare reform issues generally.
The SSAC is the main advisory body for the United Kingdom on social security matters, except those relating to industrial injuries, war pensions, and occupational pensions. There is informal consultation with the Inland Revenue for tax credits, national insurance and Child Benefit.
Most proposals for social security regulations have to be submitted to the SSAC before they are made. When the Committee reports on proposals for regulations the report must be laid before Parliament together with the regulations and a statement from the Secretary of State responding to any recommendations.
The Committee's Chairman is Sir Richard Tilt. The other current members are Kwame Akuffo, Les Allamby, Simon Bartley, Brigid Campbell, Dr Angus Erskine, Richard Exell OBE, Alison Garnham, Professor Elaine Kempson, Laurie Naumann, Patricia Smail, Professor Janet Walker, Professor Robert Walker.
The Report is posted on the Committee's website: http://www.ssac.org.uk, where further details of the Committee's remit, activities and membership can also be found. Hard copies of the Report may be obtained from the Committee Secretariat (0207 412 1506 or email email@example.com)
SOCIAL SECURITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE PRESS NOTICE
Date: 17 November 2008
SOCIAL SECURITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Room 344, New Court,
48 Carey Street,
Direct Line: 0207 412 1507
The regulations are intended to come into force on November 24th.
SOCIAL SECURITY (LONE PARENTS AND MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENTS) REGULATIONS 2008
That this House notes the report by the Social Security Advisory Committee on Social Security (Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008 that will force lone parents with children as young as seven to seek work or suffer benefits cuts of up to 40 per cent.; endorses the Committee's view that in the absence of high quality and reliable `wrap around childcare' this could increase hardship and be detrimental to family life; further notes that the report states that `Lone parents who are sanctioned face financial penalties that will increase child poverty - an outcome at odds with the primary rationale that the Department for Work and Pensions has put forward'; and further notes that the reforms could also damage lone parents' health by causing worry and stress and have negative wider social impacts including on children and considers that the Government should accept the Committee's recommendation not to implement the regulations.
In May 2008 the Government presented draft regulations to the Social Security Advisory Committee for consultation with stakeholders and other interested parties. The SSAC report was highly critical of many aspects of the draft regulations and strongly recommended that the measures did not go ahead. Read the report here.
The SSAC consultation on the Flexible New Deal arrangements for claimants on the second year of Jobseeker's Allowance ends today.
The draft regulations do not address the issue of childcare nor do the explanatory notes or gloss provided by the Department. Appropriate affordable childcare is a critical problem for lone parents with additional caring responsibilities such as the dedicated lone parents who educate their children at home. We find this astonishing. We are appalled that the draft regulations will not be subject to even the most cursory parliamentary debate. We find the Impact Assessment not fit for purpose. We are extremely concerned that home educating lone parents will be subject to sanctions when they are unable to comply with the terms of FND. We find nothing to suggest that the Prime Contractors and their subcontractors will have any awareness of home education and this must be rectified immediately. We are aware that guidance being sent to JobCentres says home education must be treated “sensitively” but this still allows terrifying discretionary powers to Lone Parent Advisors and JobCentre Decision Makers. The position with privatised employment service contractors operating on commission for FND will obviously be hugely worse.
The consultation on regulations for Flexible New Deal closes tomorrow. Education Otherwise is in the process of preparing a response.
We are querying whether the Statutory Instrument is affirmative or negative resolution procedure. We ask whether Prime Contractors have already been signed up. We say that the Impact Assessment insults lone parents. We point out that in times of recession employers lay off experienced workers and hire others on short term contracts at lower rates of pay with no job security.
Yesterday Baroness Morgan met with representatives from Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and EO Disability Group.
The agenda included discussion of the recent "children missing suitable education" consultation; the postcode lottery with respect to Elective Home Education representatives at local authority level, comparing very different authorities.
We also talked about the lack of awareness of home education throughout the children's workforce.
Education Otherwise made the point very strongly that children are often not safe in schools and not receiving adequate education in schools which is why they are removed to be home educated.
Baroness Morgan asked how she could find out more about home education in practice and EO recommended the latest book by Alan Thomas.
This Wednesday November 5th there will be a debate in parliament on the topic of welfare and work. We anticipate that one of the the main subjects will be the Government's new regulations moving lone parents off Income Support. There is still time to get in touch with your MP to point out how all the experts and Government advisors have recommended that the measures should not go ahead.
You could use the following email as the basis for your own mail.
I noticed that there is to be a debate on "work and welfare" in the House on Wednesday November 5th and I am very much hoping that you will add your voice to the many critics of the proposed measures before it is too late.
"Social Security (Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations were laid before parliament on October 6th 2008. You can find the link for the draft regulations here http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2008/draft/ukdsi_9780110843285_en_1. By the end of the year, these measures will affect 100,000 lone parents throughout the whole of the United Kingdom. The regulations will come into effect on November 24th 2008 unless last minute representations to Ministers are successful or unless a backbench revolt halts Ministers in their tracks."
As you may be aware the following article appeared in the Observer yesterday:
Gordon Brown is facing a chorus of demands to scrap key parts of his flagship welfare reforms after his own advisers said they risked landing single parents in 'in-work' poverty and could seriously harm children's upbringing.
A report by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), which is appointed by ministers, suggests the plans to force lone parents with children as young as seven to seek work or suffer benefit cuts of up to 40 per cent could increase hardship and be detrimental to family life.
The reforms - modelled on tough US welfare policies aimed at halving child poverty by 2010 - could also damage lone parents' health by causing worry and stress and have negative 'wider social impacts' including on children, it says.
The findings are a severe embarrassment to ministers, who see their welfare strategy as a highlight of Labour's third-term agenda. The report says the changes, to be introduced fully by 2010, may have the reverse effect to that intended, particularly in an economic downturn when jobs are scarce.
'Lone parents who are sanctioned face financial penalties that will increase child poverty - an outcome at odds with the primary rationale that the Department of Work and Pensions has put forward,' it says.
The SSAC suggests that ministers are advancing prematurely, before proper 'wraparound child-care' is in place.
Last night Terry Rooney, Labour chairman of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee, said ministers should not press ahead with the next phase - forcing parents with children under 12 to look for work - until nationwide childcare arrangements were in place.
'I would certainly not go any further,' he said. 'We need irrefutable evidence that there is full, affordable childcare provision before we do more. There is lots of evidence that it is very patchy, and in London it is inordinately expensive'
A growing number of Labour MPs and pressure groups representing lone parents believe the plans, due to be rubber-stamped in the Parliament in the next few weeks, should be put off or dropped entirely.
The Observer newspaper today publishes a searing indictment of the Government's proposed benefit changes which will become law on November 24th unless the Department of Work and Pensions can be induced to see reason.
"Gordon Brown is facing a chorus of demands to scrap key parts of his flagship welfare reforms after his own advisers said they risked landing single parents in 'in-work' poverty and could seriously harm children's upbringing.
A report by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), which is appointed by ministers, suggests the plans to force lone parents with children as young as seven to seek work or suffer benefit cuts of up to 40 per cent could increase hardship and be detrimental to family life.
The reforms - modelled on tough US welfare policies aimed at halving child poverty by 2010 - could also damage lone parents' health by causing worry and stress and have negative 'wider social impacts' including on children, it says.
The findings are a severe embarrassment to ministers, who see their welfare strategy as a highlight of Labour's third-term agenda. The report says the changes, to be introduced fully by 2010, may have the reverse effect to that intended, particularly in an economic downturn when jobs are scarce."
On November 13th Fiona Nicholson from Education Otherwise will be attending a Lone Parent Stakeholder Group meeting in London convened by the Department of Work and Pensions to discuss the proposed welfare reform regulations intended to come into force on November 24th.
DWP civil servants anticipate that Minister Kitty Ussher will be there for part of the meeting. In addition to being a volunteer for Education Otherwise, Fiona is also a lone parent on Income Support. EO has just confirmed that Fiona's teenage son will be at the meeting since there is no appropriate childcare.
Education Otherwise briefing paper on the new regulations may be found consultation material available on the Social Security Advisory Committee website from the Department of Work and Pensions.
Flexible New Deal is the Department of Work and Pensions' proposal for a claim on Jobseeker's Allowance. For the first year of JSA claim, the claimant will be under the JobCentre regime ( by signing on fortnightly and having Back to Work interviews at the JobCentre) but in the second year of JSA claim, the regime will be administered by privatised employment services outside the JobCentre. Part of the funding for these services will be via commission.
Based on statistics for previous JSA claims excluding lone parents knocked off Income Support and on to involuntary JSA and also before the country was in recession, the DWP predicts that only one in ten claimants will still be on JSA after a year.
Here is an example of the sort of email you could send to your MP. It sets out the main policy issues and gives reasons why the MP should be doing something.
I have an appointment with you on Friday October 31st at 10am and I wanted to flag up in advance my concerns about the meeting of the 6th Delegated Legislation Committee this Thursday at 8.55 am to consider the relevant statutory instrument where I think the Government's proposals will go through on the nod unless something happens at the meeting. I believe that the regulations are going to be made on November 23rd and come into force on November 24th:
In addition to the documents that made up Education Otherwise's response to the "Suitable Education" consultation, the following documents were also sent to DCSF as additional evidence and were included as part of EO's submission:
Will the Merits Committee think they are sufficiently controversial to warrant debate before votes in both Houses?
The regulations have been opposed at every stage by Social Security Advisory Committee, Work and Pensions Committee, One Parent Families, Child Poverty Action Group, Education Otherwise and other home education organisations.
Recession and spiralling unemployment make it even less likely that parents with additional responsibilities and little chance of access to suitable childcare will find work in the new economic climate. These measures claimed they would lift children out of poverty. However, if benefit sanctions are applied they will have to opposite effect.
Ask your MP when will this be debated: We believe that a Motion to accept these regulations will be presented for a vote of acceptance by November 3rd (28 days from the regulations being laid).
More information about the procedure for statutory instruments can be found here.
Ask your MP whether the regulations could be amended: We believe the regulations have to be accepted into law or annulled.
November 24th was the last known proposed date to start the implementation of the new measures.
We want to raise awareness amongst MPs that this is the last chance to halt these disastrous regulations.
You can read the EO Press Release on this matter here.
The agenda for the meeting has not yet been finalised. Last week Baroness Morgan answered written questions in the House about "shielding" arrangements for ContactPoint which you can read tell a friend
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group has just received notification that the latest tally of responses to the suitable education consultation is 569. We are aware of many more submissions which have been sent via email and which are not included in the automatic identifier number.
There is still time to make your views known before the consultation closes at 5pm on Friday October 24th. For more help with making your response see tell a friend
Journalist Karen Luckhurst home educates her three children and has written an article about home education which is published in the Independent today.
"My seven-year-old son is sitting on the lawn twirling a daisy and staring into the distance. He's been there an hour, and I'm trying not to interfere – because in our house, this is education.
Sam does a lot of this – along with Lego, taking things apart and asking a lot of questions. It's called "child-led" or "autonomous" education, which means children follow no external curriculum and study what interests them. This style of learning is rare in schools, which is why I am teaching Sam and his siblings Zena, five, and Matty, four, at home. When I say teaching, I mean facilitating – that is, I offer support, resources and instruction, if needed.
It's radical stuff. How can a child left to direct their own education possibly knuckle down to hard work and fulfil their potential?"
Read the full article press notice as a stakeholder advising us of the new consultation by the Social Security Advisory Committee.
The consultation finishes on November 5th and deals with benefit conditions on "Flexible New Deal" for claimants in the second year of a Jobseeker's Allowance claim where the employment services are contracted out to the private sector. It is intended that the new regulations will come into force in two stages in April and October 2009.
We haven't had time to study the proposals in depth but it seems that DWP is proposing that Jobseeker's Allowance will be cut if the claimant does not attend interviews, training etc and generally participate in "the programme." Some categories of claimants who receive benefit sanctions will then be able to claim hardship payments. On p.8 of the explanatory memorandum the DWP says:
"The draft Regulations makes no change to the existing vulnerable
groups who can access JSA Hardship, such as those with child care
We will be posting up further information as soon as possible after October 24th (which is the deadline for the DCSF "suitable education" consultation.)
Education Otherwise has put together a briefing paper on the new welfare reform regulations.
Social Security ( Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations were laid before parliament on October 6th 2008. You can find the link here. These measures will affect the whole of the United Kingdom.
All lone parents claiming Income Support whose youngest child is aged 7 and over will be required to move from Income Support to Jobseeker’s Allowance by 2010. The only parents excluded will be those whose children are entitled either to the middle or higher rate component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or parents who are entitled to Carer's Allowance. The changes will be phased in gradually, affecting lone parents whose youngest child is 12 in 2008, 10 in 2009 and 7 in 2010.
The Government completely disregarded strong recommendations from the Social Security Advisory Committee and from stakeholders not to push through the new regulations. The Department of Work and Pensions hopes to have both the House of Commons and the House of Lords approve the regulations in time for the measures to come into force at the end of November 2008 for new claimants. All the changes will be implemented between November 2008 and October 2010.
The measures will now go ahead unless the last-ditch referral to the Merits Committee or a backbench revolt halts them in their tracks. Education Otherwise has already referred the regulations to the Merits Committee which will discuss the draft statutory instrument on Tuesday October 21st. The leaders of the main political parties have all said that they support Government objectives to "raise children out of poverty" but many individual MPs are now questioning the wisdom of these particular regulations as a way to achieve this goal.
Education Otherwise has been in touch with the Merits Committee which will be discussing the lone parent welfare reform statutory instrument on October 21st. The committee's report is expected to be published by October 23rd.
Secretary of State James Purnell has just presented a Command Paper to Parliament setting out the new regulations for moving lone parents off Income Support and on to Jobseeker's Allowance.
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and EO Disability Group have been studying the new regulations and have prepared some initial notes towards a briefing paper which you can read here.
The regulations are subject to affirmative resolution which means that both the Commons and the Lords have to agree. We are recommending that all home educators get back in touch with their MP immediately to flag up the Social Security Advisory Committee objections to the proposed regulations and to explain once again the devastating impact of the changes. We are aware that some MPs are particularly interested in this issue and have already signed an Early Day Motion which you can find here.
Education Otherwise will now implement emergency plans to refer the regulations to the Merits Committee as a matter of extreme urgency since the proposed regulations fall well within the terms of reference for referral. The address for the Merits Committee is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The EO submission to the Social Security Advisory Committee may be found here.
The revised specifications apply to first teaching from September 2010 which means that the first exams to be affected will be in 2012. EO has explained to QCA about the huge difficulties faced by home educated private candidates with respect to "controlled assessments." The new English GCSE will have 60% controlled assessment.
In order better to understand our position, QCA has asked us what home educators currently do with the speaking element of the English GCSE. We'd be really grateful if home educators could take a few minutes to complete our tell a friend
Last year we kept a tally of the number of responses to the Guidelines Consultation. With less than three weeks to go before the latest consultation affecting home educators ends, we have now set up the same facility for the "suitable education" consultation.
The latest number we received was 275.
Please note that if you send an email or an attachment as your consultation response you will NOT be allocated an identifier number at this point since these are only sent automatically during the consultation process to respondents using the online questionnaire.
We are aware that many home educators are opting to send emails instead of filling out the form so the true figure for the number of respondents will of course be higher.
You can always respond to the online questionnaire by just answering NO (or "not sure") to all the questions.
More information about how to send in your consultation response here including sample responses from other home educators and suggestions for "10 minute emails".
We will endeavour to monitor the home education support lists but it would be very helpful if you could contact Education Otherwise Government Policy Group directly with your response identifier number as soon as you receive it.
Please forward this information to your local groups.
You don't have to fill in the whole questionnaire, you can simply send an email to the consultation address here.
Here is an example of the kind of thing you might say. Please remember to take the THEMES from this and to put it into your own words because the DCSF will just discount pro forma responses where they suddenly get a crowd of people all saying the same.
The important thing is to give a bit of an idea how it will adversely affect your children and how you think it isn't fair. You could also say that it is very hard to understand.
your new guidance is really hard to understand and I don't think anyone will bother reading it
I don't think it will help them do their job properly
when my children were in school they weren't getting a suitable education and they weren't safe
my local authority will take this to mean they have to put my children back in school
what has any of this got to do with forced marriages
why aren't you doing more to help those poor young people
To whom it may concern
I took my children out of school because they were being bullied and because they weren't getting a suitable personalised education because they were being "taught to the test". In a large class the teacher couldn't give my children any attention and the school just denied there was any problem with bullying at all.
I think the Government needs to take a good look at schools and find all the children in schools who aren't getting suitable education. Otherwise you are just picking on home educators if home education is the only place where children might not get a suitable education.
As far as children's safety goes, I completely disagree with what you are saying about how children in school are safer and home educated children are more in danger.
I have serious concerns that my local authority will hear about this new guidance and think that if I'm not doing "school at home" then my children should be reported straightaway to Children Missing Education.
I can't follow the guidance at all, it's really confusing and unclear. To be honest I don't think my local authority home education consultant is likely to read it, I think she'll just look at the title and think part of her job is to go down her list of home educated children and if she doesn't like what they are doing, report them to Children Missing who won't know anything about home education at all. This whole thing just feels like you are trying to get my children back into school and I don't think that's fair on my family.
I've heard something from Education Otherwise about how all this new duty is to do with preventing forced marriages. I don't understand why you can't just have social workers on the lookout for children at risk of forced marriage, surely they must know what the warning signs are. What are you doing to help these poor young people anyway?
CYP Now says "the national database of everyone who is under 18 in England is to be used to identify children missing from education" and quotes Richard Stiff, chair of the information systems and technology policy committee at the Association of Directors of Children's Services as saying that the reports would not change the way councils treat home-educated children: "It is unlikely this will be a tool in the armoury of the state."
Home educators are working hard on this consultation. The proposed wording of the draft revised guidance focuses on targets and outcomes and implies that local authorities have additional pro-active responsibilities to chase up home educated children not receiving "suitable education". In addition the draft guidance puts home educated children in the same "vulnerable" list as children who have been trafficked or cases where the family is affected by substance abuse.
As we reported after EO's recent meeting with the DCSF, it is important to respond early to this consultation because the Government is looking to publish revised guidance as a matter of urgency. We are aware that the consultation responses are being read by DCSF as soon as they are received. One of the most striking things to emerge from the meeting is that DCSF want to publish revised guidance as a matter of urgency. Home education support organisations will be making their own formal response shortly but EO also believes that strong responses from individuals in the home education community could have a very significant impact on the final guidance.
3 September 2008 Representatives from two home schooling charities have met with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to voice their concerns at proposals that will change the definition of children missing education.
The Home Education Advisory Service and Education Otherwise have told policy officials to scrap plans that say home-educated children could be at risk of missing education. The proposals, currently out for consultation, aim to make local authorities more effective at tracking children not receiving a suitable education and list the types of children who could be missing education.
Fiona Nicholson, chair of Education Otherwise, said: "Home-educated children are outside the system, but in a completely different way from children missing education. We are concerned the DCSF has lost sight of its policy objectives. Whether or not home education is 'suitable' is nothing to do with this area of the law and is adequately legislated elsewhere."
Traditionally the time for lots of "back to school" stories in the media, Education Otherwise has received a large volume of media enquiries relating to home education.
Concerns over rising gun and knife crime levels in schools, over testing, exam marking fiascos, and a backlash against a perceived loss of childhood, are just some of the factors that the media are tying in with the rise of home educating numbers being persistently reported by Local Authorities.
The EO Media Team has coordinated three local radio interviews, including Radio Berkshire's Breakfast Show this morning, and is in consultion with three different news channels.
Home educating families across the UK have been involved in newspaper and radio articles, and their efforts are helping to bring the option of home education to the forefront of the minds of many parents struggling with the issue of school at this time of year.
For more examples of home education in the media see here.
Unsurprisingly one of the main items on the agenda was a discussion of draft regulations amending the Jobseeker's Allowance benefit entitlement for Lone Parents.
On Friday August 29th Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and EO Disability Group will be meeting in London with DCSF civil servants from policy teams in Elective Home Education, Children Missing Education and ContactPoint.
The purpose of the meeting will be to scrutinise the recently published Draft Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities to Identify Children Not Receiving a Suitable Education.
The public consultation on the draft guidance runs till October 24th and you can find more details tell a friend
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group has been studying the proposed new guidance and comparing it with the guidance published in February 2007.
The most glaring difference is that home educated children can be categorised as "vulnerable". A further possibility is that local authorities will take the guidance to mean that it is they who decide whether or not education is "suitable".
We know that some local authorities have called for a risk-based approach to home education, even going as far as to suggest screening possible home educating families before "allowing" home education to begin. We also know from the LA responses to the home education consultation that some authorities have called for a definition of "suitable" education and this proposed new guidance for Children Missing Education could be just what they think they need.
We are currently working on a detailed walkthrough but in the meantime we urge everyone to read the new consultation documents, here.
The consultation paperwork confirms that the DCSF has been talking to local authorities and asking them what they would like changed in the statutory guidance. The full consultation which we now see is the latest public stage in this process. Home education support organisations were not informed and we only learned of the pre-consultation workshops after the event. Education Otherwise will be writing to DCSF Home Education Department and Children Missing Education Team and also to BERR to highlight the complete lack of prior engagement with stakeholders which contravenes the new consultation code. You can find out more about BERR here.
Question 6 asks:
"Does the guidance make clear the duties and powers that local authorities have in relation to home educated children when parents are not providing them with a suitable education?"
We posted news on Monday that the DCSF is considering new ways of defining "children missing education" which is now equated with "children out of school not receiving a suitable education".
We know from the DCSF workshop notes available on Teachernet that the Government is considering the following:
"A definition of children who are not receiving a suitable education is suggested as “A compulsory school-age child who is not on the roll of a school, not placed in alternative provision by a local authority, and who is not receiving a suitable education at home”. Do you consider this definition to be sufficient? If not, what amendments would you suggest?"
The Government is not currently planning to examine if education in school is suitable for every child.
The public consultation will begin in August. We anticipate that it will run for 12 weeks. Education Otherwise Government Policy Group will co-ordinate briefing material and a walkthrough at the beginning of the consultation period to enable the home education community to make a comprehensive response.
Further to our post on July 6th flagging up a DCSF workshop on Children Missing Education, EO Government Policy Group has been making further enquiries and has just learned that there will be a full public consultation on revised statutory guidance (England) for Children Missing Education.
Can we urge any home educators who haven't already done so to read the workshop notes which we flagged up last week as these now have an added significance.
The petition about home educating lone parents remaining on Income Support (rather than being transferred to Jobseeker's Allowance as the Government currently intends) now has over 700 signatories. It closes on July 22nd which is the last day of the current parliamentary sitting. This is a way of flagging up the issue to the Department of Work and Pensions which will have to draft a response to the petition on behalf of the Prime Minister.
Please pass on the link to local groups. Blogging about petitions is also another good way to raise awareness:
Stephen Timms, the Minister for employment and Welfare Reform, said on April 3rd in parliament that “existing lone parent recipients of income support with a youngest child aged 12 or over will be progressively moved from income support from early 2009.” Stephen Timms went on to outline Government plans to lower the age threshold to lone parents with a youngest child of 10 in October 2009 and 7 in October 2010. As we have previously set out here, this has implications for home educating lone parents on Income Support who would be transferred to Jobseeker's Allowance and required to seek work of 16 or more hours a week n addition to home educating their children.
The Department of Work and Pensions needed to draft an appropriate Statutory Instrument to amend the Jobseeker's Act 1995. This draft S.I. then had to be considered by the Social Security Advisory Committee. As is customary with regulations which amend primary legislation, SSAC then asked for comments on the DWP proposals. Education Otherwise was one of many stakeholder organisations which gave feedback to SSAC. You can find the EO response at http://freedom.edyourself.org/ssac.htm
The Department will not present revised regulations before Members of Parliament until the SSAC recommendations have been received. Education Otherwise has recently learned that the SSAC report will not go to Ministers before August. This means that the earliest date for any revised regulations to be presented to parliament will be October 2008 because the parliamentary recess is from July 22nd to October 6th.
There have already been over 1500 Statutory Instruments published this year. In 9 out of 10 cases they are adopted without anyone noticing, because they are subject to the negative resolution procedure. However, the Statutory Instrument entitled Social Security(Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments)Regulations 2008 is subject to affirmative resolution procedure which means it has to be approved “by resolution” in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Your MP may not previously have been aware that this Statutory Instrument was about to be laid before the House and will probably not now be aware that it has been delayed. It is vital to continue to raise awareness before the summer recess and as soon as parliament resumes sitting in October. You may also find your MP more active in the local constituency during August and September. If you have already been in touch with your MP, as many of us have, you can email/ telephone or write again to give an update and to keep the issue at the forefront of attention. Education Otherwise Government Policy Group campaign site will shortly be publishing Action Points outlining some of the ways you can take this up further with your MP.
The Social Security Advisory Commission consultation on Social Security (Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008 closed on Friday June 13th. We are now waiting for SSAC to make its recommendations to Minister Stephen Timms and the Department of Work and Pensions.
Following SSAC's report, the Department will lay the regulations before parliament. The regulations which amend the Jobseeker's Act 1995 are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure and any amendments to the draft regulations must be made before the regulations are laid before the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Education Otherwise is waiting for an urgent reply from SSAC and DWP on the timeline for this and we will post up any further news here. The current draft regulations may be found here.
The petition to raise awareness about home educating lone parents now has almost 700 signatories. Please pass on http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/EOloneparent/.
An Early Day Motion has just been submitted by MP Tim Farron following a meeting with home educating constituents. Please get in touch with your MP via http://tinyurl.com/3e68ch. It is entitled "Home Educators" and the reference number is 1892. As a general rule, MPs may be more likely to be at Westminster during the week and in the constituency on Friday since this is the beginning of the weekend.
Parliament goes into recess on July 22nd and does not return until October. The regulations are intended to come into force in November 2008. It is not clear at this point how there will be time to approve the regulations through the proper channels. There is a very strong case for referring the regulations to the Merits Committee.
The Social Security Advisory Committee has asked for responses from stakeholders on the Government's proposals to move lone parents off Income Support and on to Jobseeker's Allowance. These proposed new regulations would apply throughout the United Kingdom.
They will be debated in Parliament before the summer recess in July.
Education Otherwise will submit a full response to the Social Security
Advisory Committee which is currently consulting on draft regulations
intended to move lone parents from Income Support to Jobseeker's
The consultation closes on Friday June 13th and you can read the first instalment of EO's response here.
There is still time for individuals to email SSAC with their views. Find out more
children's panel discussing issues raised by the forthcoming UNICEF report.
Most of the other children taking part were Members of the UK Youth Parliament. Any young person who is a resident of the UK, and aged between 11 and 18 years old (inclusive) has the right to stand for election as an MYP and the right to vote for their MYP.
Joshua Newstead is now to seek to stand for election in his borough in order to ensure that the rights and interests of home educated kids are taken into account; if your children would be interested in finding out more about becoming an MYP for your area, please contact EO's media co-ordinator for more information.
an article about the Government's proposed welfare reforms and the impact this will have on
home educating lone parents.
Here is a link to more information about CPNow. The following letter will be published shortly.
"Thank you for highlighting some of the problems that home educating
single parents will face if the new Government proposals to put single
parents onto Jobseeker's Allowance come into effect in November this
year. I suspect that there are not many single parents who have the
time and energy to wade through the 85 page consultation document and
so the first they will hear of this is when they read something in the
paper or when they are suddenly told the news down at the JobCentre.
The Government is currently ignoring the advice of specialist lone
parent stakeholder groups and researchers to increase the help and
support given to lone parents who want to return to work and are able
to return to work. Instead the Government is insisting on the standard
JSA compulsion/benefit cutting route ie compulsory signing-on every
fortnight, mandatory New Deal schemes, and benefit cuts for
non-compliance on the one hand which is balanced by complex
discretionary compensatory schemes for "hardship payments" allegedly
designed to protect the children when benefit payments to the parent
I predict that welfare rights workers and the Citizen's Advice Bureaux
will be absolutely swamped, because a huge amount of flexibility and
discretion is being given to staff in local JobCentres and this will
lead to a postcode lottery, thousands of appeals and complete
bureaucratic over-load. These tiers of decision-making will of course
also add immensely to the costs of administering the scheme.
The Government consultation closes on Friday June 13th, after which
the Social Security Advisory Committee will make recommendations to
Ministers and the proposals will be debated and decided in Parliament
before the summer recess in July.
I would urge all readers to write to their MPs before it is too late
and to say that these proposals will not only penalise the more
vulnerable members of society but they will also be impossible to
implement and that we should not have to wait for the experiment to be
tried and to fail before we abandon the scheme.
There is more information about how to make a stand on the Education
Otherwise Lone Parents Action Page - http://freedom.edyourself.org/loneparents.htm.
Chair Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and member of
Education Otherwise Disability Group"
EO's recent meeting with the Chair of the lone parent stakeholders' meeting, Alison Durbin will chase up any JobCentre complaints about Lone Parent Advisors.
This will cover attitude, prejudice against home education, misinformation about the date and scope of the proposed regulations and so on. At the meeting we recounted instances of where children had been traumatised by inconsiderate ill-informed JCP Lone Parent Advisors.
On Wednesday May 21st Education Otherwise went to a consultation event
jointly organised by DCSF and DIUS to give feedback on the Government
plans for 14-19 and post 19 learners.
The Westminster Government is planning to raise the participation age to 18 in England by 2015 and to abolish the Learning and Skills Council by 2010. These moves
represent a fundamental shift in English local authority responsibilities for education and training from 14-19.
On Wednesday May 21st members of Education Otherwise attended a joint DCSF/DIUS consultation event on the transfer of responsibility for 16-19 learners from the LSC to local authorities which were set in train by Machinery of Government changes in 2007.
A report of the issues raised by the conference will follow shortly.
Lone parents have additional caring responsibilities and make a vital contribution to society raising and educating children who for one reason or another do not fit into the state system.
Home education is not a lifestyle choice; for home educated children it is quite literally a lifeline.
Every home educated child saves the Government £5,000 a year in school funding.
On JSA hundreds of children will be plunged into poverty.The weekly family income will be cut by up to £60 a week.
Sufficient appropriate affordable childcare is not available in order for home educating lone parents to work outside the home.
Home educating lone parents want to work as soon as they are able to do so. Home educating lone parents should have access to a full range of support for return to employment, but increased conditionality and compulsion will only ruin vulnerable children's lives, which surely was not the Government's intention.
The petition closes on July 22nd, which is the date of the summer recess for parliament.
The direct URL is here: Lone Parents Action page to find out what you can do about the Government's proposals to move lone parents from Income Support to Jobseeker's Allowance. This page has been designed to give you a summary of the state of play.
Read our 2 page summaries, see what other home educators are saying and make your voice heard today.
The Isle of Man Department of Education is currently attempting to impose compulsory registration of home educated children as well as introducing powers for extra monitoring and assessment.
This consultation response was drafted by home educators on the Isle of Man with the assistance of a local advocate, who was also able to liaise with home education barrister Ian Dowty .Education Otherwise provided financial support with legal fees.
month-long consultation on the new regulations for lone parents. SSAC will consider submissions from individuals and organisations. The committee will consider the consultation responses and then make recommendations to Ministers. A report will then be laid before Parliament containing the regulations plus a statement from the Secretary of State responding to the SSAC recommendations.
This is Education Otherwise's position as set out in a recent letter to the Minister:
"The current plan to put home educating lone parents onto Jobseeker's Allowance will force many hundreds of children below the poverty line.
If home educating lone parents were to be moved on to Jobseeker's Allowance they would not be available for work because of their caring and teaching responsibilities. They would therefore be in breach of JSA regulations and their family income would be reduced by £60.50 a week.
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and Education Otherwise Disability Group therefore recommend that lone parents who home educate must be allowed to remain on Income Support because of their additional caring responsibilities and because they make a vital contribution to society raising and educating children who for one reason or another do not fit into the state system.
Home education is not a lifestyle choice; for many of our children it is quite literally a lifeline."
The Disability Impact Assessment accompanying this consultation mentions home educating lone parents, but states that the Government does not fund home education.
Truancy and exclusion may however be funded by the Government...
"The Government is also proposing that parents who have a parenting contract/order agreed or issued, for example, following their child's exclusion, truancy or misbehaviour at school, can restrict their availability for employment in any way providing the restrictions are reasonable in light of the contract or order."
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families which local education authorities in England provide funds for home education.  Jim Knight: The Department does not collect information from local authorities specifically on the funding which they provide for home education. However, included in the following table is how much local authorities in England budgeted to spend on education otherwise than at school and PRU during
12 May 2008: Column 1416W the 2007-08 financial year. The Department is currently collecting the financial information for 2008-09.
There then follows in Hansard an alphabetical list of local authorities in England.
The Government intends that lone parents on Income Support should be moved to Jobseeker's Allowance when the youngest child is 7. This will be introduced in stages from the end of 2008, initially when the youngest child is 12 by November 2008, decreasing to 7 by November 2010.
The Department of Work and Pensions yesterday formally referred new draft regulations on Income Support entitlement and the new Jobseeker's Allowance regime to the Government's Social Security Advisory Committee. This is the last stage of the process before new regulations are debated and voted in parliament by the summer recess on July 22nd.
Education Otherwise is currently speaking to the Social Security Advisory Committee and to the Head of the Parent Employment Division at the Department of Work and Pensions. Education Otherwise has also written to Minister Stephen Timms urging the Minister to add home educating lone parents to the category of claimants who will be entitled to remain on Income Support because of additional caring responsibilities.
EO has just learned that SSAC requested additional information to support the draft regulations. Consultation documents will be posted on the SSAC website some time around May 14th. The Department of Work and Pensions will shortly be issuing a Press Release on this subject which we will flag up here.
Education Otherwise Campaign Site will publish more news about this as soon as it becomes available. You can find background information tell a friend
On Tuesday April 29th members of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group met with Alison Durbin of the DWP to find out the timescale for moving lone parents from Income Support onto Jobseeker's Allowance.
The Department of Work and Pensions expects draft regulations for welfare reform to be presented to the next meeting of the Social Security Advisory Committee on May 7th.
At this point it has been confirmed that there are no regulatory exemptions planned for home educating lone parents.
However, it is highly likely that SSAC will consult with stakeholders and interested parties on the draft welfare reform regulations. Home educators should be aware that the consultation needs to be swiftly concluded in order to give time for SSAC to send a report and recommendations to Ministers. There will also have to be a debate scheduled in parliament before the parliamentary recess which begins on July 22nd.
SSAC meeting minutes are not posted until 2 months after the meetings. It is therefore very important to keep abreast of the consultations page of the SSAC website.
Education Otherwise campaign site will also post any further information about a consultation as soon as possible. You can sign up here for email notification of updates to the campaign site.
EO Government Policy Group also had a 2 hour meeting yesterday with the Chair of the Department of Work and Pensions division overseeing the welfare reform programme. A report of the meeting will be posted here shortly.
Press Release commenting that today's teachers' strike has revealed severe shortages
in suitable affordable childcare. EO asks when the Government will realise that this is also a huge problem for home educating single parents.
Education Otherwise points out that reforms of the welfare system mean that home educating lone parents may be forced to leave children as young as 7 for 16 hours a week.
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group is having an urgent meeting with the Chair of the DWP Lone Parent Policy Group on Tuesday 29th April. Home educating lone parents have finally been recognised as a "policy issue."
EO GPG has also been in touch via phone and email with the Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee. The SSAC has a meeting at the beginning of May where it is proposed that new regulations will be presented, permitting JobCentres to move lone parents off Income Support and onto Jobseeker's Allowance.
You can find more background information about this issue here.
We are asking all home educating single parents to write to their MP as a matter of urgency. You can use the Write to Them facility.
The email/letter should be short. It might be something along the following lines, ideally in your own words, though this is not vital if you can't think of any other way to put it:
I am a home educating single parent. My child/children and I are extremely worried about the Government's proposals to move lone parents off Income Support and to require lone parents to seek work of 16+ hours a week.
I have been told that new regulations are going to be introduced by the Social Security Advisory Committee in early May 2008 and that the policies will be introduced from November 2008.
I have taken on the full burden of educating my child/children at home. Home education saves the Government thousands of pounds every year. Home education is the only possible solution for my child's emotional and academic wellbeing [ consider giving several reasons why this is the case ]
Please ask the Minister why home educating lone parents are now being penalised in this way when we are doing such a vital job.
It is not the case that home educating single parents have greater flexibility in the job market. In fact, the reverse is often the case. We are not able to access childcare facilities at extended schools and local childminders will not take children during school hours or evenings. I am not prepared to leave my child unattended.
Please contact Fiona Nicholson of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group (email@example.com) as a matter of urgency if you require further information about this issue.
As we reported here at the end of March, MP David Laws asked the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what percentage of children educated at home had achieved five GCSEs graded at A* to C by the age of 16 years in each year since 1997; and if he would make a statement.
"The information requested is not collected centrally. Pupils who are educated at home and for whom the local authority is financially responsible are included in the Alternative Provision Survey. However, it is not possible to separately identify these pupils as they are reported in the category "Not a school" which also includes pupils educated in community homes or units, FE colleges or voluntary sector providers."
Education Otherwise is aware that Mr Laws is in touch with home educators in his capacity as constituency MP.
"to ask the Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families what percentage of children educated at home had achieved 5 GCSEs graded A to C by the age of 16 years in each year since 1997 and whether he will make a statement."
Government's 10 year Children's Plan. The themes of the day's discussions were “play”, “health” and “young people.” As with the first round of events, the home educating participants felt that the day was largely driven by the Government agenda, but that this was sometimes successfully derailed by the people taking part in the discussions.
Top civil servants from the DCSF were also present at the events, including the Permanent Secretary, the Director General of Schools, the Director General of Children and Families and the Director General for Young People. The 4 regional members of EO worked hard throughout the day promoting understanding and awareness of home education to the Government policy makers. This was a rare chance to challenge Ministers' and civil servants' assumptions about education and about families.
We are not under any illusions about these regional events. They are stage-managed by Government contractors primarily in order to provide endorsement for plans which are already formulated. However, EO believes that any Government discussion with parents about children or young people or families or education should take account of home education, which is why EO will continue to press for our members to be invited to these meetings.
As we posted here on Monday, the Shadow Schools Minister recently asked Jim Knight "if he will make it his policy to collect information on the number of children of compulsory school age who are home educated".
"We do not intend to collect information on the number of children of compulsory school age who are home educated."
EO has been waiting for Jim Knight's response. If the Minister had announced a change of policy, this could have included moves to require registration of home educated children. We are relieved to see that there is no such change of policy being announced, but this is an area to watch in future.
EO met with Jonathan Shephard of the ISC in January to explore this possibility. Jonathan Shephard followed this meeting with a presentation to the operational board of the ISC, where "the principle of helping was endorsed.".
EO has also learned that the current Chair of the ISC, Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas is in favour of widening exam centre access to home educated young people.
EO Government Policy Group is continuing its work in this area.
At the beginning of April Education Otherwise is meeting in Sheffield with DCSF national Children Missing Education team.
Denise Hunter and Iain Campbell of DCSF Darlington who have responsibility for the area of Elective Home Education will also be attending the meeting.
EO is aware of a number of local authorities who appear to have misunderstood the legislation and guidance on CME and this will form one of the primary topics of discussion at the meeting. It should be noted that the 2007 CME guidance is statutory, which puts it into a different category from the recent home education guidelines.
Further to the announcement here on Saturday 1st March, a meeting has now been arranged for Friday 4th April in London between Education Otherwise and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
Traditional coursework is to be replaced by "controlled assessments" where the candidate completes projects under exam-type conditions (eg in the school library under the eye of the teacher). EO and QCA will be exploring viable solutions for home educated candidates.
EO has been flagging up this issue on the campaign site since last June and we are pleased that progress is finally being made. The Home Education team at DCSF Darlington are also aware of EO's concerns. You can find out more about controlled assesments here.
Please adapt the letters freely for your own personal use when you write to the JobCentre or to your MP. If you send EO Government Policy Group an anonymised copy of your emails we will upload them to the site. We know from past experience that reading sample responses encourages others to take action themselves. The campaign site page on lone parents will be updated as soon as possible.
4 month consultation into the draft supplementary guidance for charities whose aim is the advancement of education.
This guidance will directly affect independent schools and is relevant to the discussion about independent schools possibly assisting with access to registered exam centres for home educated private candidates.
EO's campaign site will have more details on this shortly.
On Tuesday 4th March Terry Rooney, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee received an answer to earlier questions about training planned for JobCentre staff when the proposed benefit changes are implemented.
sample letter to MP drawing attention to earlier Government statements about exceptions and exemptions for home educating lone parents.
It would be really useful if other home educators could copy Education Otherwise Government Policy Group (firstname.lastname@example.org) in any correspondence sent to MPs. Alternatively, you could forward the mail to us so that we can upload it here and encourage more people to take action.
published a report on child poverty analysing the Government's proposals to implement changes in the benefit system whereby lone parents on Income Support will be moved to Jobseeker's Allowance once the youngest child is 12.
Throughout the report there are submissions from the Child Poverty Action Group and One Parent Families/Gingerbread stating that benefit sanctions should only be applied with extreme caution, and that the Jobseeker's Allowance regime is inflexible and in urgent need of a complete overhaul. It is worth reading the conclusions and recommendations at the end of the report (pages 104-113, particularly around p.109).
The EO campaign site will shortly be publishing a more detailed analysis of the report and some thoughts about where we can go from here . This is a priority area for home educators. You can find more background information here.
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group has expressed serious reservations to the Government's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and to DCSF about the move from coursework to "controlled assessments" and the impact this might have on home educated candidates.
Mary Griffin of QCA has now offered a meeting to EO to discuss the implications of the proposed change. This information has been shared with other national home education support organisations. You can find more information here.
These proposals were already included in the 2007 Government Green Paper but the media will probably report these speeches as though they are new initiatives. Education Otherwise is already talking to the DWP about the impact of welfare reforms on home educating parents. Please consider here.
A home educating parent will be appearing on the programme between 5 and 6.30 this evening to discuss alternative approaches to education. You can Primary Review has just published 3 more reports this morning.
The researchers have studied primary education in other countries, the testing regime in England and they have also looked at alternative approaches to education outside the state system.
The third report, entitled Primary Curriculum Futures investigates the popularity and success of alternatives to mainstream education, including home education, and asks what the Government and the state sector can learn from these trailblazers.
The media have picked up on this report and home education is currently receiving favourable attention in the press. The EO campaign site has put together a page of headlines on this topic and it would be great if home educators posted comments to the newspapers.
We have just introduced a new service on this site. You can now sign up for our mailing list. All you need to do is to type your email address into the box which appears when you click on the sign-up link. You don't need to fill in any personal details. When the campaign site is updated, you will receive an automated email giving you the title, the text and the hyperlink. The service is confidential and your email address will not be shared with other subscribers.
Other new features include an improved RSS feed where all the new entries will appear in a dropdown list. There is also the option with new entries to click on "send to a friend" where you can fill in your email and the email address of the person to whom you want to send the updated item. The email will be generated automatically and the information will not be shared with others.
made the following response saying that ContactPoint will still be going ahead and that it will benefit children in need of services by making it "easier for them to deliver better coordinated support to children and families "and that "security is, and always has been, of paramount importance. "
We assume that this will continue to be the official position on ContactPoint. The Government announced a delay in the introduction of the national children's database immediately following the news of the loss of Child Benefit data discs.
On Friday 18th January representatives of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group, together with Trustees from HEAS, were invited by DCSF to a meeting in London at the head office of the Independent Schools Council. Denise Hunter from DCSF Independent State Schools Partnership/ Elective Home Education team also attended the meeting.
The main purpose of the meeting was to exchange information about the difficulties currently faced by home educated young people wanting to take GCSEs,IGCSEs and A levels and to ascertain some basic geographical information about independent schools. There are over a thousand independent schools in this country, spread throughout England but located predominantly in the South East. One in six schools prepares pupils for IGCSEs rather than GCSEs.
Independent schools are looking for ways to demonstrate that they provide a public benefit by offering educational opportunities to children from lower income families. We are aware of a few schools in the independent sector who already provide access to examination centres.
These were very early discussions. We would hate to raise peoples hopes that we might get exam centre access this way only to find it did not happen. Ultimately the ISC board will have to decide whether or not this is something the independent sector wants to take forward.
We will of course keep our members informed of any further progress we are able to make in this area.
A positive spin-off from the meeting is that the DCSF home education representative is now much better briefed about the problems home educators have in gaining exam access. EO asked Denise Hunter to raise the following question with the Department : why are state schools not able and willing to provide this opportunity.
Are you concerned about the impact of the proposed replacement of coursework by "controlled assessments"? We have put our FAQ on this subject into a free-standing .pdf page which you can pass on to your local authority as a link or as an attachment. This format also makes it easier for printing.
Education Otherwise has accepted an invitation from DCSF officials to a meeting in London on January 18th where we will discuss ways of promoting access to registered examination centres for home educated young people. We understand that representatives from Home Education Advisory Service will also attend the meeting.
Lone parents on Income Support may find that other lone parents have a completely different regime of work focused interviews. You can find a list of pilot areas which are covered by article on lone parents for more background information.
As we highlighted on 14th December, the consultation report reflects respondents' views that any new regulations should not apply to home educating lone parents. If you are a lone parent on Income Support, now is a very good time to write to your MP. Your letter should reflect your own personal circumstances and the reasons why your children need to be home educated and why these proposals would be disastrous and traumatic for your children. Our new article on lone parents has more background information which you can use in your letter.
As we reported in mid December, the DWP has now published the consultation report on the Government Green Paper In work, Better Off. We think that we can win the battle for lone parents to continue home educating without being penalised by the benefit system. Find out more in our new article.
The Department of Work and Pensions has just published the report on the consultation In Work, Better Off.
This consultation proposed that lone parents be moved from Income Support to Jobseeker's Allowance and Incapacity Benefit claimants be moved to a new work-seeking benefit called Employment Support Allowance.
Many home educators responded individually as did home education support organisations, but we now need to ask searching questions of the Department and of the Social Services Advisory Committee. The following is from page 114 of the consultation report:
"There was a strong feeling that the system should not penalise those who have a genuine need to stay at home and care for their children, regardless of their age. There was a strong sense that support was needed long before entitlement to Income Support ceased. Support should be flexible enough to deal with changes of circumstances and individual families needs, and focused on progression and training as well as retention."
It was strongly felt that increased conditionality was not appropriate for:
parents with disabled children or whose children had additional needs;
On 19th November representatives from Education Otherwise Government Policy Group met Denise Hunter and Iain Campbell who are the new home education team at the Department of Children, Schools and Families. You can read an account of the meeting here.
300 more signatures would put it into the top 150. 1200 more signatures would put it into the top 100.
If everyone who is cross about the loss of their Child Benefit records (which include the name and age of all children and full address and bank details) signed this petition, then maybe the Government would rethink ContactPoint.
Please take a look at the new documents. The guidelines are 20 pages and the consultation summary of results is 10 pages. Home educators have in the main been favourably surprised by an early scan of the final document. Among the respondents were:
631 individual home educators;
59 young people who are or were home educated;
36 organisations representing home educators
102 "other" respondents which "included prospective home educators, organisations involved in or supporting home education, relatives of home educators and consultants"
91 local authorities comprised around 10% of the total consultation responses
EO will shortly be publishing an analysis of the guidelines and consultation report.
HM Revenue and Customs has recently lost computer discs containing the entire child benefit records, including the personal details of 25 million people - covering 7.25 million families overall. The two discs contain the names, addresses, dates of birth and bank account details of people who received child benefit. They also include National Insurance numbers.
The discs were sent via internal mail from HMRC in Tyne and Wear to the National Audit Office in London on 18 October, by a junior official, and never arrived.
At the time of writing, the Government is still going ahead with previous plans to put information about all children and young people onto a national database known as ContactPoint. This will be rolled out by 2008.
The Government has tried to reassure us about the safety and security of ContactPoint by saying firstly that access to the database will be password protected and secondly that it will only hold "basic identifying information" .
Following the unexplained loss of all the Child Benefit records it now seems clear that such a database could never be secure. Data could be put onto a disc or memory stick just as the Child Benefit records were. Passwords can be given to others and of course they can be hacked.
We already know that the Government wants half a million registered users to have a password to gain access to the database and IT specialists have already raised huge concerns about the dangers of any password system. These dangers exist independently of any security threat from hackers who could use or sell information about children's whereabouts.
Secondly, the basic identifying information will include name, address, date of birth . It will also include contact details for "services involved with the child, as a minumum, educational setting and GP practice, but also other services where appropriate. " It will record whether an assessment has been undertaken under the Common Assessment Framework, and if so it will give the contact details of the lead professional in this area.
The Common Assessment Framework records will hold a great deal more personal information about the child and the family. Once somebody has access to the national children's database, whether as a registered user or via other means, he or she will then have a gateway to all the additional information held on the CAF system, either by going via the lead professional whose contact details will be logged on the children's database or by gaining access to the CAF system directly.
This is now possible because the Government has decided that CAF assessments will be completed online and stored electronically and they are now being called e-CAFs.
Home educators who are worried about this can write to the press and also get in touch with their MPs. It might be necessary to include some of the above information about ContactPoint and e-CAFs in order to explain your concerns.
Education Otherwise has issued a Anti-Bullying week which starts next Monday 19th November. There is likely to be quite a lot of media interest in this issue. Please email EO's media co-ordinator Ann Newstead if you want to discuss the implications of sharing your experience of bullying.
Education Otherwise yesterday welcomed a personal assurance from the Secretary of State, Ed Balls, that home education would continue to be a legal option for young people between the ages of 16 and 18.
Annette Taberner of EO Government Policy Group told a meeting at the Institute of Education in London that there was a poor level of understanding about home education and many barriers and difficulties are faced by parents.
EO Government Policy Group has put together a few notes to help you complete the consultation. Home educators might want to note that this consultation covers bullying in schools and what the Government proposes to do about it. The consultation also sets out the role of social workers, health professionals and teachers and the expanded role for the new Local Safeguarding Children Boards.
DCSF has told Education Otherwise that the consultation report and revised Home Education Guidelines for local authorities will be published by the end of November. EO is meeting officials from the Elective Home Education Team, Department of Children Schools and Families on November 19th.
The Netmums survey is now closed even though the site still allows us to make a response. Education Otherwise has pointed this out to DWP and said that members did not realise that their feedback would be wasted. We are suggesting that you paste the survey questions into the body of an email or document, type in your answers and send to the DWP consultation address, email@example.com. A list of the questions may be found here.
Education Otherwise has received confirmation from the Department of Work and Pensions that interested parties can have an input to this consultation in a variety of ways, and not just by responding to the 16 consultation questions.
Here are some options you might consider:
Sending email/letter to the DWP consultation address setting out your views. Several of the sample responses have done just that.
On Monday 15 October, Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform, Caroline Flint, hosted an online Question and Answer session on ParentsCentre about helping single parents find work.
Caroline Flint joined the Parents' Centre Forum
on September 21st and asked for comments on the Government's proposed strategy.
Home educators repeatedly tried to get her to answer their questions about what will happen to home educating lone parents and parents of disabled children if the Government proposals go ahead. A pdf of the questions is available here. It might be worth pointing this out in your consultation response.
The terms of the "Flexible New Deal" for JSA claimants are set out in the Annex to the DWP Consultation document.
You can also find out more from the Introduction particularly the section entitled What Is The Difference Between Lone Parent Income Support And Lone Parent Jobseeker's Allowance And Why Are These Proposals So Bad?.
The Government is proposing that lone parents on Income Support should be transferred to Jobseeker's Allowance when their youngest child is 12. This would happen from 2008.
It is further proposed that this age be lowered to 7 from 2010.
Jobseeker's Allowance is a completely different type of benefit from Income Support. With JSA the claimant has to be actively seeking work and has to "sign on" every fortnight. If claimants don't comply with mandatory interviews, Action Plans, work experience, job offers etc then benefits are cut.
The Department of Work and Pensions is currently consulting on these proposals. The consultation ends on 31st October so there is still time to have your say.
We have put together background research from One Parent Families/Gingerbread plus the address for your answers.
"I spoke on the phone yesterday to Roger Pugh the designated consultations co-ordinator. He subsequently confirmed in writing that the Department wishes to gather feedback on ANY issues relating to these Government proposals and that people are NOT bound by the 16 consultation questions. You can email or write to the Department at the following addresses:
Minister Will Be Live on ParentsCentre Forum Monday 15th October. The consultation ends on 31st October.
"On Monday 15 October at 2.30pm, Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform, Caroline Flint, will be hosting an online Question and Answer session on ParentsCentre about helping single parents find work.
Caroline Flint would like to hear about the support you feel you need to find suitable work. She is also interested to hear from single parents who are working - how you found your job, how you are managing to balance work and family life.
Caroline Flint will be online for about an hour and the webchat will appear in real time. After the webchat the Q&A session will be available to view on the ParentsCentre website. "
Caroline Flint joined the Parents' Centre Forum
on September 21st and asked for comments on the Government's proposed strategy. A number of home educators have already put forward their views. You can read the messages without signing up as a member but you will need to join in order to post.
EO Campaign site has also put together a Walkthrough on the DWP consultation which includes links to several sample responses.
The DWP is currently running a consultation about the best ways to get parents off benefits. The proposals will particularly affect Lone Parents on Income Support and also parents of disabled and SEN children.
The consultation ends on October 31st.
EO Government Policy Group and EO Disability Group will both be making a full official response to this consultation on behalf of Education Otherwise.
However as we have seen with other Government consultations, officials have to sit up and take notice of home educators if a sufficient number of us also respond individually.
Unfortunately there isn't an online interactive form where you can just type in your answers as thousands of us did with the Guidelines Consultation, so we have written a Walkthrough.
If you have any difficulties responding to this consultation please send feedback to:
Department for Work and Pensions,
Consultation Coordinator, Room 2A,
Hull HU2 8NF
Home educators and members of Education Otherwise were filmed earlier this week and a series of articles have featured on the Channel 4 News website.
There was also a short filmed feature on the midday news, with the full item being due to run at 7pm.
The DCSF might talk theoretically about Gypsy Roma Traveller home education but we think it is more important to try and forge links with the communities themselves. Rokker Radio is the only radio programme for the travelling community in the UK and last night they had a feature on home education, focusing on the Lighthouse Project in Epsom. Unlike other media reports, this programme featured a Romani journalist letting Gypsy and Traveller children present their experiences in their own words.
EO was happy to make a contribution to this feature. You can listen again here. The item on the Lighthouse Project is approximately 50 minutes into the programme.
Please publicise these petitions through posts to local lists, blogging and email signature links.
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to abandon plans to create the Information Sharing Index, a national database of all children aged between birth and eighteen. More details.
Submitted by Sharon Crawford ï¿½ Deadline to sign up by: 20 December 2007
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that all parents are informed of their legal right to Home educate their Children. More details.
Submitted by Jacqueline Wood of Natural Learning for Life ï¿½ Deadline to sign up by: 03 November 2007
This consultation is important because the government is proposing targets for the local authority to improve the outcomes of "the poorest 20%" and this is defined as nursery and childminder provision. The local authority will be working closely with the JobCentrePlus.
Home educators should be aware that from 1 September 2007 there is new statutory guidance on pupils who are excluded from school. For the first 5 days excluded pupils are not allowed in public places during school hours "without reasonable justification" and when they are challenged and apprehended a fixed penalty notice may be issued.
This follows sections 103-104 of the Education and Inspection Act 2006. When this new duty was first announced, concerns were expressed that home educated young people out and about on their normal business might be mistaken for pupils who had been excluded.
Education Otherwise has written to the DCSF requesting that LAs remind police officers that home education is a valid legal option and that home educated young people are emphatically not the subject of this new guidance. This could also usefully be added to the agenda for any forthcoming meetings with local authority officers.
School's out: when education is strictly a family affair
An estimated 55,000 British children are educated at home, and the numbers are growing. It is legal, as long as the parent ensures the child receives an education, although they don't have to follow the national curriculum and don't have to sit GCSEs, although many do. They will usually be visited by an officer from their local authority around once a year.
"There isn't a stereotype of the person who decides to home-educate their child," says Ann Newstead, a spokeswoman for Education Otherwise, a support organisation with 4,000 members. Newstead educates her five-, nine- and 11-year-old sons at home in Kent. "The families I know are from very different social and economic backgrounds. There are many reasons why they choose it - the school system might not have worked for their children, they might have been bullied or had special educational needs. They might have religious views and they don't like the way the world is presented to their children in schools."
The Government and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority are working together to introduce "functional skills" element to GCSEs and specialist diplomas after complaints from businesses that school leavers lack basic skills for employment. Read the article on "Food for Thought".
The Third Home Education Fair is taking place on 15th September 2007, at Westbourne Grove Church, Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London W11 2RW (corner of Ledbury Road and Westbourne Grove) between 1pm and 5pm. There will be talks by academics in the field of home education and workshops on various areas of home education , and for the first time a panel of young adults who were home educated will talk about what the experience meant for them. Plus there will be plenty of time to visit stalls of national groups such as Education Otherwise, Choice in Education, and Home Education Advisory Service will run stalls offering information, books and leaflets - including details of the many home education groups across London and the South East. Children can enjoy craft activities in the play area, while home educated young people will keep everyone supplied with tea and home-made cakes.
This is the last chance to respond to the government's consultation on draft guidelines for local authorities. We are not asked questions about the SEN section in the consultation, but Education Otherwise Disability Group have assisted EO Government Policy Group in formulating the official EO response and have also supplied some notes which address disability discrimination issues in the SEN section of the guidelines and elsewhere.
Norwich recently hosted the 8th EO Regional Campaign Workshop focussing on how home educators can get the best possible outcome on the Guidelines for Local Authorities. Click here for a report on the workshop which also includes a crib sheet for responding to the Guidelines Consultation.
There is less than a week to go before the Consultation on Home Education Guidelines closes on Tuesday July 31st. This will be your very last chance to influence the written information which goes out from the Department to every single local authority in England . If we get this right it will improve the way your local authority treats home educating families.
Here are a few consultation responses from home educators which you might find useful to bear in mind when you make your own submission.
Barrister and home education expert Ian Dowty has been retained by Education Otherwise to give his professional opinion on the Government's draft Guidelines and also to assist the EO Government Policy Group with redrafting EO's consultation response. Ian will be readily available throughout the redrafting process above and beyond the call of duty and home educators have good reason to be extremely grateful to him.
Many people will know Ian from HESFES and from the help he has offered to home educating families over the years.
Ian is a barrister and solicitor. He works as a consultant for McCormacks Solicitors LLP who are based in Mile End Road, London E3 and also in Essex.
What can YOU do to protect your freedom to home educate in the way you feel is right?
The main thing you can do is to make a response to the Consultation on draft Guidelines and to encourage everyone you know to make a response as well.
The deadline is July 31st but the sooner you respond the better. EO had a meeting with the person who is overseeing the consultation response where we learned that the department is notified every single time a new response comes in and they are reading them all immediately and forming provisional conclusions on the themes and patterns in responses. We already know that some unfriendly local authorities have made their voice heard LOUD AND CLEAR.
There is also a link to the draft Guidelines from the Consultation page - http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/conDetails.cfm?consultationId=1479.
After you have read the draft Guidelines you will probably be wondering what all the fuss is about, because they look quite friendly to us.
But it is important to realise that these are only a draft. We think that local authorities might say that they are unworkable or that they want far more about academic standards or access to the child. We know that the department will weigh up the responses so we must speak out now. We only narrowly a consultation on changing the law on home education monitoring so we MUST let them know that good Guidelines are The Way Forward.
Fill in your name and email address. You don't have to put your home address if you don't want. You can also tick a box if you want your response to be confidential.
Click on Next (blue box at the bottom left of the page).
On page 2 click on the box that describes you as Home Educator.
Click on the blue Next box at the bottom left of the page.
On page 3 start answering the questions. You have the choice each time: Yes/no/not sure/no response. "Not sure" is a perfectly valid response and it also obliges the department to look more closely at your subsequent written answer because this is where you EXPLAIN why you aren't sure. Of course if you ARE sure then put Yes or No!.
Type your answers in the Comments boxes.
There are only 8 questions plus a Comments box at the end for any other points you want to make.
There are some other responses up on the internet already which might give you an idea of the kind of points you could make, but the main reason to respond as an individual is to show the government that this consultation is attracting huge grassroots attention, which will make it harder for the government to impose anything which clearly goes against the majority of what respondents want and don't want.
On Friday 22nd June members of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group, together with EO Local Contacts in South Yorkshire, met with Helen White who is co-ordinating the DfES consultation response on Home Education Guidelines. You can draft responses and links for you to download which we hope will be useful in giving you ideas for making your response. It is important that we all use our own words ! Education Otherwise Government Policy Group will be making the formal response on behalf of EO in due course but the time is ripe for individuals and local groups to get their message across to the DfES.
DfES proposes that all 16-17 year olds be registered with Local Authority so prospective employers can check to see that they are in approved "education" before hiring them.
This document is included in the DfES Consultation on raising the school leaving age, which closes today.
Among other things, it contains proposals for Local Authorities to keep a register of the education of all 16/17 year olds so that prospective employers can make sure that they are taking on someone who is "approved". At present there is no mention of home education or any exception for home educated young people, who would be expected to attend college for a minimum of 16 hours a week ( 5 hours a week if they are in employment or self-employed ). Attendance Orders would be served on young people who did not comply. Various legal sanctions are proposed both on the young person and on the parent.
Please take a few minutes to tell the DfES what you think about this.
Following news of the Brighton and Hove Home Educators' website reported here on June 9th, the Education Otherwise Government Policy Group Campaign Team has been notified of a further two websites set up by local home educators in North Yorkshire and Worcestershire:
The Government is looking to raise the school leaving age from 16 to 18. The first year this would take effect is 2013 when it would be raised to 17 and then in 2015 it would be raised to 18. The rationale for this, following the Leitch Report is that England needs a better qualified workforce in order to compete in the global market.
Anyone home educating a child of 10 or under will be directly affected by these proposals.
The main thing to note is that "education" is now being defined as "attendance at school or college" and "working towards accredited qualifications".
The current proposals do not make any exceptions for home educated young people, or young people with SEN or young people who work for someone else or young people who start their own businesses. All of them will be compelled to attend school or college and follow what the Government deems to be an "appropriate course" , else they or their parents (or both!) will be subject to legal sanctions. The only concession being made at present is that young people in employment will attend 5 hours a week instead of the 16+ hours stipulated for everyone else. This is in marked contrast to how "full time education" is currently defined in Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act as "by regular attendance at school or otherwise" and it could obviously turn out to be the thin end of the wedge.
Please consider making your own response to this consultation. You can reply online and as always you don't have to answer every question and if you feel the questions are too restrictive and ignore the central issues then you can say this in the comment boxes throughout and also at the end of the response. You can either use the EO response as a springboard and/or make a personal response based on how you judge that these proposals would affect your family.
All national exams should be abolished for children under 16 because the stress caused by over-testing is poisoning attitudes towards education, according to an influential teaching body.
In a remarkable attack on the government's policy of rolling national testing of children from the age of seven, the General Teaching Council is calling for a 'fundamental and urgent review of the testing regime'. In a report it says exams are failing to improve standards, leaving pupils demotivated and stressed and encouraging bored teenagers to drop out of school.
The attack comes in a study submitted to the House of Commons education select committee and passed to The Observer. The council says that schoolchildren in England and Wales are now the most tested in the world, facing an average of 70 tests and exams before the age of 16. Standard Assessment Tests, or Sats, currently taken by children at the ages of seven, 11 and 14, should be abolished, it concludes.
It says: 'The GTC continues to be convinced that the existing assessment regime needs to be changed.' The submission, which has emerged as more than a million teenagers sit their GCSEs and A-levels, says teachers are being forced to 'drill' pupils to pass tests instead of giving a broad education. Some are under such pressure from trying to keep schools at the top of league tables that they have gone further and fiddled results or helped children to cheat, according to Keith Bartley, chief executive of the council, the independent regulatory body set up by the government in 2000.
Yesterday, it emerged that Vanessa Rann, a 26-year-old teacher found hanged in her home, was being investigated for allegedly helping students to cheat in a GCSE exam.
'The pressure is on and it is growing,' Bartley, whose role includes advising ministers on education policy, said in an interview with The Observer. 'What we are saying to the government is that we do not think their policies are best serving the young people in this country or their achievement. 'The range of knowledge and skills that tests assess is very narrow and to prepare young people for the world they need a set of skills that are far broader.' Exams as they stood, he said, were 'missing the point'.
Bartley argued there was no need to have one day each year when the 'nation's 11 year olds were in a state of panic'. Instead, he called for a 'sampling' system under which less than 1 per cent of primary schoolchildren and less than 3 per cent of secondary students would take national tests. The move would in effect mean the end of school league tables, which are based on national test results. 'You do not have to test every child every four years to know whether children are making more or less progress than they used to,' he said.
To tell parents how individual children were doing, teachers would also be able to access a 'bank of tests' that they could use whenever they chose to make their own assessment on performance. The new system would bring England in line with Wales. It is a shift that teachers, educationalists and parents are increasingly arguing for. Earlier this year Ken Boston, chief executive of the Curriculum and Qualifications Authority, called for the system to be overhauled because it was distorting what was being taught. Psychologists have reported going into schools at unprecedented rates to tackle exam stress, with children as young as six suffering from anxiety.
Yet the government has so far refused to move. 'We are firmly committed to national testing and performance tables,' a spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said.
'These accountability measures are essential to maintaining and extending the improvement in standards we have already achieved,' she said. 'Parents need and greatly value the information they get from tables. Transparency and accountability are not negotiable.'
Randomly selecting a sample of pupils as Bartley suggested would not 'be practical or effective', she said. The department last week announced the start of a pilot scheme that will see pupils take shorter tests more frequently when they are ready for them. The idea is to measure progress better and personalise education. But critics say it will simply increase the burden on children.
But the government has supporters. On a poll running on the Parent Organisation website, 59.4 per cent of parents say their children do not react badly to exam pressure."
Anushka Asthana, education correspondent, The Observer, Sunday June 10, 2007
Groups can respond collectively and individual members can also make a response to the consultation any time between now and the end of July. You can respond online (via the DfES e-consultations website) or on paper (there is a form to download on the e-consultations website or you can write to the person at the DfES who is responsible for Elective Home Education: Elaine Haste, Department for Education and Skills, Mowden Hall, Staindrop Road, Darlington DL3 9BG). Completed forms should also be sent to Elaine Haste in Darlington.
Alternatively you can contact the Departmentï¿½s distribution centre Prolog on 0845 6022260 and ask for all the consultation documents and response form relating to consultation 1479 Guidelines on Elective Home Education launched on 8 May.
If you are responding online you can register and save your response so that you can return to it over time and improve it and add extra points before you press send.
Could your local group do any of the following?
In Brighton there is a draft response available for people to adapt. Members of the group have printed 50 copies of the leaflet and are handing them out at the local home education groups in a little pack with the consultation form and a pre-addressed envelope. They also have printouts of the draft Guidelines to give to local home educators who may not have access to a computer or printer.
A home educator in London heard about this and has arranged with the Brighton team to make available a HESFES home education camp.
Another option is to attend Children and Young People's Scrutiny Board Meetings in order to make contact with policy makers and to raise the issue of the Home Education Guidelines. Home educators in Sheffield have already done this and you can contact Fiona or Annette for details or find out more from the reports Fiona has written about the making contact with your Local Authority.
Or you could get in touch with the Council via phone or email and ask for a meeting with someone who is responsible for policy making on Elective Home Education. This has just happened in Westminster where the home education group found the LA surprisingly open to discussions on the Guidelines. We also know of meetings which have been arranged with Children and Young People's Service Managers in Doncaster and Leicester and we can put you in contact with the organisers of these meetings if you want some pointers as to how this might be done in your own area. Home educators are finding that Local Authorities want to discuss the Guidelines and are open to our input in terms of the LA response to the Consultation. Please email for more information.
Chair of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group
"This consultation invites YOUNG PEOPLE to comment on the Governmentï¿½s proposals to change the law so that they have to stay in education or training until they turn 18. Reach magazine explains whatï¿½s behind the plans and asks young people what they think about them. If you are an ADULT and wish to comment on these proposals, please respond to the Raising Expectations: staying in education and training post-16 Green Paper consultation, which can be found below on this website. Please send us your views by 14 June 2007."
You can complete this consultation online. If you register at the site you can partly fill in your response and save it and return later. You can also print out your response or save it to disk so that you can show it to other people. Please email us if you have any more questions.
Below are a few of our thoughts which might help you get started. Bear in mind that the Government is not planning to introduce this until 2013, so it is consulting today's teenagers about proposals which will not affect them directly, but rather will affect younger children including of course younger brothers and sisters in home educated families. You can leave any questions blank if you prefer not to answer.
Respondent Information Questions
Please tick the boxes that best describe you.
If you're a young person's organisation, school or other group, please tell us who you are and how many young people are represented by your response.
You could reply here on behalf of your local home ed group or a group of home educated friends.
This questionnaire asks whether you agree, or disagree, with some simple statements about education. Please tick the box that best describes how you feel. Feel free to add extra comments where you want to.
The Government's suggesting that from 2013 all young people will have to stay in training or education until they're 18, rather than 16 as it is now. Do you agree that this is a good idea?
For some young people it would be more suitable to take a break and return later when/if they see the value. If young people's interest is not engaged at 16 there is no point in compulsion. Opportunities need to be kept open for later. Motivation is the key. You should look at the idea of a Gap Year.
For young people who like hands-on work, there will be more apprenticeships, more on-the-job training plus new Diplomas that combine practical work and theory. For anyone who enjoys academic work, there will still be GCSEs and A levels, plus the International Baccalaureate. With all these choices, do you agree that there will be something for everyone?
Why are you pigeonholing young people into "academic" or "good with their hands" ? Why is home education not recognised as a valid educational option ? Why is there so much emphasis on qualifications and regulations when so much more could be achieved by being flexible and open-minded. This approach will foreclose many innovative routes into employment. There are many non-standard routes which are simply not recognised by these over-rigid and dogmatic proposals. It also discriminates against self-employment and being entrepreneurial. Too few teenagers are entrepreneurial as it is. It also discriminates against small businesses taking on young people because they could not provide the formal training element leading to a mandatory qualification.
a) Schools, colleges and employers can all help you decide what's the best route for you as you approach 16, and they'll help you switch if it's not working out. Do you agree that offering support and advice will help young people to choose the right course and do well in it?
We aren't convinced that there will be flexibility to switch. Later you say that young people will be penalised if they don't attend. This question is at least two questions. Parents and extended family and family friends are not mentioned as a source of support and advice; why is this being restricted to professionals ? The question is loaded because it assumes that the answer to any question will be to "choose the right course and do well in it ". But what if the answer is NOT to choose a course at all ? Can these professional advisers in the system think outside the box ?
b) What do you think would help you to choose the right course and do well in it? You can tick more than one box if you like.
Advice from Connexions
Advice from young people who've done the course before
Other - please specify
Parents and extended family can be source of advice and support. Home educated young people have had more experience of the world of work since they have not been shut away from the real world in an institution for 11+ years. For institutionalised children and young people there should be more visits to different workplaces, meeting many more people doing different jobs and learning more about different pathways to interesting and fulfilling employment beyond schoool and paper qualifications ( we recognise that this could be hard for schools to arrange). Learning mentors could also be very useful here. Colleges should promote their taster sessions to include a younger age group (eg on Saturdays) and the funding for this should be equally open to home educated children and young people. Why has funding for this been cut in the past?
a) The Government's thinking about helping young people with the cost of learning. Do you agree that giving them financial support would help them stick to their course?
It looks like young people will be compelled to stay in education/training so to be cynical why would you need to offer financial support if they have no choice?
b) What kind of financial support would help? You can tick more than one box if you like.
Money for books
Money for kit/equipment
Bonus payments for doing well on your course
Other - please specify
We checked all these but we aren't convinced that any of this will be forthcoming. There should be funding for short courses/evening classes for home educated teenagers. These proposals do not address the increased costs on families on low income and the loss of potential earnings to support the family. We also wonder how home educated teens will qualify. This is all still rigid inflexible and prescriptive when it talks of "your course".
Do you agree that you - not your parent(s) or carer(s) - should be responsible for attending school or training once you turn 16
Home educated young people 16+ would be responsible for their own education.This does not mean that they can be penalised for "non-attendance" since they may reasonably decide that they can better educate themselves in a different and more flexible way than those suggested here. The question you are actually asking here is "who can we blame when it doesn't work : the parents or the children". This is the wrong question!
a) If young people ignore the warnings they've been given and still refuse to attend, do you think it's fair to penalise them?
Of course it isn't fair. If Britain has one of the highest "dropout rates" the Government should be looking at the reasons for this. Compulsion is not the solution. You are not addressing the real issues.
b) How do you think they should be penalised? You can tick more than one box if you like.
By giving them a court order that makes them complete their courses
By taking away their driving licence
By giving them a fine
By giving them a criminal record
By stopping any financial support they're getting
Other - please specify
None of the above and nothing else either. If the financial support was dependent on attendance you would presumably stop it if they didn't meet the terms and conditions. We are not saying this is necessary or desirable but we don't really understand why you are asking us if this "should" happen.
Even if you think young people are responsible for attending their courses, do you agree that there should also be penalties for parents who help their children break the law by not going to school, college or training?
We don't think that young people are "responsible for attending their courses." What about the thing you said earlier Q. 3 a) "they'll help you switch if it's not working out" ? It now seems clear that education and training providers are acting as enforcers in this rigid inflexible system. Learning is not to do with "attending". There may be perfectly good reasons for not attending the institution for instance if you have curriculum material and access to online learning opportunities why should "attendance" be an issue ? This is another example of not thinking outside the box.
Do you have any other comments or ideas about these proposals?
This is where you can let rip!
By the way, did you find this questionnaire easy to understand and fill out?
The Consultation was launched on Wednesday 30th May but runs for less than 3 months since it ends on Monday 2nd July.
It should be viewed in conjunction with other consultations on/with teens (eg the 2 which end soon on 14th June):
Increasing the Leaving Age - Have Your Say
This consultation invites YOUNG PEOPLE to comment on the Governmentï¿½s proposals to change the law so that they have to stay in education or training until they turn 18. Reach magazine explains whatï¿½s behind the plans and asks young people what they think about them. If you are an ADULT and wish to comment on these proposals, please respond to the Raising Expectations: staying in education and training post-16 Green Paper consultation, which can be found below on this website. Please send us your views by 14 June 2007.
Raising Expectations: Staying in education and training post-16
This Green Paper sets out proposals to require all young people to remain in education or training until their 18th birthday, from 2013. There are significant benefits to be gained from young people staying in learning for longer ï¿½ for individuals, the economy and society. Introducing compulsion could be the way to get beyond our existing stretching targets for increasing post-16 participation. The document sets out for consultation our proposals for implementing such a requirement in a way that ensures everyone can benefit. The proposals apply to England only.
Also the consultation on 14-16 funding which ends Friday 1st June:
Announcing the new entitlement Bill Rammell, Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education said:
"The entitlement will encourage young adults to continue studying until they achieve the equivalent of 2 A levels and make sure they can get the qualifications to improve their life chances, social mobility and contribute to the economy."
"We need to recognise that many young people continue their initial education into their early twenties. It is important that we support them and help them succeed and progress on to higher education where they can. "
The new entitlement will be available from August through colleges of further education and other providers of high quality education and training who have satisfied the Learning and Skills Council quality assurance process.
Yesterday in Parliament Jim Knight Secretary of State for Schools provided 3 written answers to questions about home education.
Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley, Labour) | Hansard source
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of children who receive education at home; and if he will make a statement.
Jim Knight (Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills) | Hansard source
We do not collect information about the number of children whose education is arranged by their parents. A recent study on the prevalence of home education in England, conducted by York Consulting estimated that there were around 16,000 children being educated at home that were known to the local authority. We have not made any estimate of the number of home educated children that are not known to their local authority.
Sarah Teather (Brent East, Liberal Democrat) | Hansard source
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what advice he has given local education authorities on monitoring the emotional and physical welfare of home-educated children.
Jim Knight (Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills) | Hansard source
We have recently published draft guidelines which set out advice to local authorities and home educating parents on their respective responsibilities. In the guidelines we refer local authorities and all agencies to the principles set out in "Working Together to Safeguard Children" (Home Office/Department off Health/DfES/Welsh Office, 1999). The guidelines also explain that section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002 requires local authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. If there are welfare concerns about any child, including a home educated child, the local authority can insist on seeing the child concerned to make appropriate inquiries.
Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley, Labour) | Hansard source
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he has taken to ensure that education given at home is to the same standard as that in schools.
Jim Knight (Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills) | Hansard source
The Government believe that for most children school is the best place for them to be educated. However, there are circumstances where parents choose to educate their children at home, and we respect the decisions that these parents have made. On 8 May we published draft guidelines for consultation which set out how local authorities can best support home educating parents. Home educating parents must provide a suitable education for their children. Local authorities can make inquiries to establish whether suitable education is being provided, using section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996 to support their inquiries with a formal notice where necessary. The parents of any child who is not receiving an adequate education may be served with a school attendance order.
You can track this type of question by filling in an online form at They Work For You requesting email alerts when particular MPs speak or when particular topics (such as home education) are mentioned.
As the published results of the Definition of Full Time Education e consultation has shown, many of the DfES consultation do not get many responses, although EO Government Policy Group has responded to 10 consultation in the past 5 months. Home educators - particularly given our amazing network and linkage (which continues to take the powers that be by surprise!) are in a unique position to make a massive impact on the Consultation on Home Education Guidelines.
We have the potential for hundreds of individual home educators to make a response, together with submissions in the name of local groups, national email lists/groups, and the home education organisations. Let us not forget that over 1,600 people signed the Downing Street petition against more interference by Local Authorities.
We can also shape the responses made by Local Authorities by requesting meetings to discuss the Guidelines with them.
The Education Otherwise Government Policy Group has been tasked with providing a response in the name of Education Otherwise. We are eager to have the opinions, feedback and comments from as many home educators as possible: we are a diverse community and feel it is important that any response that we make reflects that diversity.
It is our intention to "flag up" one question a week from the Consultation, on as wide a platform as possible, to encourage home educators to consider and debate each one. The comments can then be summarise as bullet points - hopefully reflecting either areas of consensus, or areas of diversity, which in turn we hope will benefit all who are considering making a response.
In addition to this the EO GPG will have a constant focus on the SEN section of the Guidelines and are also be requesting a meeting with the DfES to discuss SEN in relation to Every Child Matters.
There is no intention to collate who says what. We hope it will simply serve as a focus, and as a starting point, for these important discussions.
We are hoping that the posting of the questions will encourage people to forward them to their local list/group, in order to help these groups discuss the issues in and think about making a response themselves.
It is likely that the most detailed debate on these issues will take place on the HE consult list which was set up specifically for this purpose - HE Consult UK.
EO Members may also want to participate in discussion with Members of the Government Policy Group in the Government Consultation Area of the EO Members Forum.
The Consultation encourages responses particulary from "home educators and local authorities": there are more of us than them! We need to ensure that the overwhelming majority of responses are from our community, and that the many points, issues, questions and frustrations that we have all felt over the years are raised during this consultation on these guidelines. Leaving aside the thorny issue of whether or not Guidelines will be produced, effective, useable or make any positive contribution to LA/HE relationships in the future, this is still a chance to get our views known, and recorded, which is at least a step forward.
A spokesperson for Education Otherwise, Fiona Nicholson commented:
"There are many reasons why children might not be on a school roll and one of these is home education. DfES Statutory Guidance published in February makes it quite clear that that home education is not a case of "children missing from education". It is quite simply not the case that home educated children are "missing schoolchildren."
EO and the home education community require the BBC to amend their article and make it clear that home education is a legal option under Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act.
In addition EO will be asking the BBC why they are undertaking research at this time.
The government plans to spend £300 million on an information sharing index, now called ContactPoint where up to half a million people working with children can check data. There was widespread opposition to this plan but the DfES rationale for the database was that it would help to find "missing" children.
Are we now to understand that this national database will not go ahead because people will be encouraged by the BBC to "shop" their neighbours instead?"
"Gordon Brown will today announce a review of the nation's numeracy strategy with a renewed focus on why 150,000 children leave school every year unable to count.
He will also promise to find funds to ensure that by 2010 more than 300,000 at-risk pupils a year benefit from one-to-one tuition in maths, with 30 to 40 hours a year for those with greatest need.
Mr Brown is supported today by the education secretary, Alan Johnson, who in an interview in the Guardian admits that a lack of motivation in children, largely stemming from their parents, lies at the heart of some children's failure to progress in reading and numeracy."
Fiona Nicholson, Chair of the EO Government Policy Group and Local Contact for Sheffield, will be debating home education with Tony Mooney on BBC Radio 5 Live on Sunday 13th May around 10.30 am.
Fiona will be in the BBC Radio Sheffield studio while Mr Mooney and Julian Worricker will be in the London studio. Her son Theo will probably come into the studio to have his say. Theo is 14 and has never been to school or nursery. Theo also lives in a council flat and will not be doing GCSEs, both of which things greatly concern Mr Mooney.
It might be worth mentioning the Helpline as well. The new EO Helpline Number is 0845 4786 345. The previous Helpline number still works but EO is moving over to the new one because it is cheaper for callers and for EO.
If you are speaking to someone on the phone you can always tell them to put "Education Otherwise" into any search engine.
Here are a couple of links where Mr Mooney writes about being a home education inspector and also a private tutor:
"In many cases, the parents are not equipped to push their child along, especially in the final two years of schooling. Few parents can afford to employ home tutors...The ones who can afford it seek help from home tutors for GCSE work...."
As Fiona said to the BBC producer, "I think we see a theme beginning to emerge here..."
We have very good news to report on the threatened changes to the monitoring of home education.
In December the DfES indicated to Education Otherwise that home educating parents would shortly be required to give details of their child's programme of work. There would also be a definition of "suitable" education, possibly including age specific targets. We also heard calls for a broad and balanced curriculum to be made a legal requirement for home educating families. In general the plan was for more surveillance and monitoring from the LA to make sure we were "doing it properly".
In the light of this, hundreds of home educators were pleased to receive the following email on 8th May cancelling the proposed consultation
Elective Home Education
Department for Education and Skills
The new consultation only relates to written Guidelines for Local Authorities, not to any of the changes previously threatened. This is very good news.
The home education community saw earlier drafts of these Guidelines several years ago but they were never finally published. Education Otherwise Government Policy Group has been recommending that the DfES concentrate on workable Guidelines and we welcome DfES e-consultation website and is open to everyone, not just national organisations.
Fiona Nicholson immediately queried an anomalous statement about compulsory registration in the Disability Impact Assessment which accompanied the Consultation
Document with Helen White of the DfES Consultation Unit as follows:
Dear Ms White
Many thanks for this email.
Can I just clarify something on behalf of members of Education Otherwise?
I notice that in the Disability Impact Assessment it says "The consultation proposes new legislation which will require all home educating parents to register with their local authority."
I can't find any other reference to this in the consultation document.
Chair of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group
And received the following reply:
Apologies for that. I've just removed the reference from the DIA. This related to a previous proposal that we are now not consulting on or taking forward as an option following discussions with home educators and local authorities.
Thanks for pointing this out to me!
It is good to know that the DfES have now dropped this element from a previous proposal.
This consultation was launched on Friday 4th May and closes on Friday 27th July. It is about Contactpoint which is "the quick way for a practitioner to find out who else is working with the same child or young person, making it easier to deliver more coordinated support."
This is the next phase of the implementation of the national database or Information Sharing Index.
Education Otherwise will be making a comprehensive response to this consultation on behalf of EO members as we did with the original national database consultation in December 2006
EO Government Policy Group will also be posting draft responses on internet lists as a springboard for individual and local group consultation responses. We have a long lead time on this consultation and we can make an effective concerted response as happened with the Full Time Independent Education consultation where over a 100 individuals made a consultation response.
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and EO Media Group have been in correspondence with Jeremy Sutcliffe, the Letters Editor of
the Times Education Supplement since two articles hostile to home education were published in the TES on Friday 30 March.
We are pleased to report that Jeremy Sutcliffe has now passed a great deal of background information about home education methods and
research to journalist Madeleine Brettingham and also to the TES newsroom.
Mr Sutcliffe also published the following from Fiona Nicholson on the TES Letters Page.
Home educators. Published: 27 April 2007
"We are sometimes told that some local authority elective home education (EHE) advisers believe there are grounds for concern for
some home-educated children (TES, March 30). This is presented as fact but needs to be challenged as it is a matter of hearsay. Since
cases may not be cited due to confidentiality, we are in the dark about evidence for these allegations. There is no funding for EHE at local authority level and no training for advisers, nor funding for educational resources. While advisers might be well informed and supportive of EHE, sadly it remains
unclear because there are no national standards for EHE advisers. We are recommending that local authority personnel who come into contact
with home-educated children should undergo regular professional training in EHE.
Fiona Nicholson Chair, Government Policy Group, Education Otherwise"
On April 25th the DfES launched a consultation aimed at young people. It is called "Increasing the Leaving Age - Have Your Say" and it is open for responses till June 14th.
This is what the DfES website says about it:
This consultation invites young people to comment on the Governmentï¿½s proposals to change the law so that they have to stay in education or training until they turn 18. Reach magazine explains whatï¿½s behind the plans and asks young people what they think about them. This forms part of the Raising Expectations: staying in education and training post-16 Green Paper consultation, directed at adults, which can be found below on this website. Please send us your views by 14 June 2007.
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group will be empowering young people to respond to this consultation. Please send this link to home educating teens and to local message lists. If you have any questions, please write to the EO GPG or use the contact details on the Home Page.
Chair of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group
Abusive foster carer Eunice Spry was yesterday jailed for 14 years. The abuse ended in 2004 when the last child escaped Spry's home. Gloucestershire County Council has now implemented measures from the Children Act which came into force in November 2004. These measures include a Local Safeguarding Children Board in every Local Authority. [see previous press releases from EO regarding this case, issued 22nd March.]
We are informed that the sentencing of Eunice Spry which was due to take place on April 10th has now been delayed for at least a further week pending sentencing reports. In the light of this news we have put the press release issued 9th April into the archive and will be issuing an updated statement to the media as soon as we have more details.
Education Otherwise have been misquoted by the Times Educational Supplement and the EO Media team have now made a formal complaint to the Editor as follows. Fiona Nicholson, Chair of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group is also in correspondence with Jeremy Sutcliffe, Letters Editor of the TES, who is currently refusing to publish EO's complaints letter.
"Subject: NOT FOR PUBLICATION - Letter of Complaint
[Hard copy posted Monday 2nd April 2007]
Dear Ms Judd
I write on behalf of Education Otherwise with reference to the article by Madeleine Brettingham in the TES of Friday March 30th, entitled "35,000 lost to schooling" and the additional story "Home Truths", which were read with shock by home educators across the country. Members of Education Otherwise (EO) are angry at this misrepresentation of home education and have urged this response to the TES editor.
Both the front page and article on page 20 were written on the basis of personal opinion of just two home education inspectors; one of whom, Tony Mooney, also works as a private tutor. Mr Mooney also makes frequent media appearances criticising home educated children and their parents.
As an organisation, EO were approached by Madeleine Brettingham, who explicitly stated that she was in the "research stage only" of a piece, and asked to comment on recent "concerns" raised to TES by "a number" of home education inspectors. Amongst other things, EO was told during the conversation that these inspectors felt up to 1/4 of families home educating were not, in fact, educating their children.
As National Media Contact for the Charity, I spoke at some length with the reporter, going through point by point a number of issues that TES said had been raised.
When the articles were published EO was shocked to find that the articles contained no factual basis but were selectively anecdotal. There was no attempt to balance the opinions expressed within them with any evidence from home educators. Nor did Ms Brettingham canvass the views of any of the 100+ Home Education Advisors working for Local Authorities, which EO would have been more than happy to supply, relying instead solely on the contribution of two inspectors who also work as freelance journalists.
All the recent research indicates that the total number of home educated children is between 34,000 and 60,000. It was therefore reckless and inaccurate to make "35,000 Lost To Schooling" as your headline. The total of 140,000 was therefore a figure chosen by someone for the purposes of impact, and further compounded by the anecdotal speculation about "one in four" home educated children being failed by their parents. These figures simply cannot go unchallenged.
Moreover, it is of particular concern to Education Otherwise that many highly inaccurate and misleading statements were made with regards to children with Special Educational Needs.
As an organisation representing parents who are committed to their children's education, Education Otherwise does not believe that the publication of these two articles in a educational supplement such as the TES, was either fair or professional.
We strongly urge the TES to provide home educators with a right to reply. We should also like you to make it clear in an editorial statement that the views expressed within the piece are not endorsed by the TES.
We look forward to your response.
National Media Contact
Government Policy Group
For and on behalf of Education Otherwise"
The Select Committee is also concerned that some schools are "excluding victims of bullying on health and safety grounds."
The NUT leader Steve Sinnott said that "the inclusion of children with special educational needs in mainstream schools is being carried out without sufficient preparation and resources"
However, following the 2004 Children Act and the 5 outcomes of Every Child Matters which include "being safe", here at EO Government Policy Group we would also like to acknowledge the positive efforts made by some Local Authorities. Sheffield Council for example is taking additional measures to combat bullying and are strongly urging schools to log bullying incidents so that the problem can be analysed and tackled on a city-wide basis. We believe that more authorities should be following this example and it should not be left to the decision of individual headteachers.
Following reports in the local and national media Education Otherwise, the largest organisation representing home educating families, issued the following statement:
Parents throughout the country have been horrified to learn of the serious and prolonged abuse of children revealed in the case of foster carer Eunice Spry.
It is clear that many people: teachers, members of the family's church, health workers and neighbours, raised concerns over many years.
In a press interview Ms Jo Davidson, Group Director of Children and Young People's Services at Gloucestershire County Council admitted that "agencies and individuals failed to pass on vital information to each other.... nobody had a consistent overview of what was happening."
This is another case of social services provision failing to protect children's welfare. The Children Act came into force at the end of 2004 and brought with it integrated Children's Services and multi-agency co-operation, plus the establishment of local Safeguarding Children Boards. In addition, more stringent requirements were introduced for foster carers. We understand that the abuse in Gloucestershire took place before the law was changed.
However, Ms Davidson does not appear to recognise that the local council already has measures in place which are designed to protect vulnerable children in the future and has instead used the case to demand stronger safeguards for children who are home educated.
This call is being made at a time when home educating families are awaiting the launch of a full public consultation into home education.
Education Otherwise deplore the way in which the regulation of home education is being used as a smoke screen to draw attention away from the historical failings of the local authorities in this case.
Child welfare legislation applies equally to all children irrespective of their educational setting.
Home education cannot be made the scapegoat for this tragedy.
A foster carer in Gloucestershire, Eunice Spry, has just been convicted of abuse of children in her care. The court has apparently been told that the foster mother kept the children out of school. Home educators will be horrified and saddened to hear about what happened to these foster children over a period of many years. We have also read that doctors, teachers, neighbours and members of the foster carer's church all raised concerns about the children but the abuse was not prevented. None of the bystanders seem to have felt able to intervene in this tragic case.
It is possible that there may now be calls from some people for greater monitoring of home education but visits from the LA inspector, who is primarily concerned with education rather than welfare, are unlikely to have been more effective than the contacts with doctors and the local community. It is concerning that something like this could occur. These children have been failed by those who knew them, and our hearts go out to them.
1,616 home educators recently signed the Downing Street petition against more interference from the Local Authority in our children's education. The Prime Minister's office has now responded as follows:
The Government respects the rights of parents who choose to educate their children at home. Local authorities have a limited scope for intervention if it appears to them that a child in their area is not receiving a suitable education. We do not believe it is unfair for local authorities to scrutinise the quality of provision when legitimate concerns are raised. This should be done sensitively, and recognise that home educators do not have to follow the National Curriculum and have a broad discretion as to how and when education takes place.
The Campaign Team would like to reserve judgement on this pronouncement since it only gives a partial view of the current situation and offers no reassurance about, nor seems to show any awareness of, any changes which may be in the pipeline.
Parents are being urged to play a bigger part in their children's education.
Launching the "Every Parent Matters" strategy Alan Johnson MP said that one of the most important things a parent could do to boost their child's chances was to read to them.
Extra advice and support is also being offered to parents with numeracy and literacy problems, encouraging them to participate in learning activities with their children.
The Parenting Strategy urges fathers, and working parents, to be more involved with their children. Activities that are offered to working parents outside office hours are also given prominence.
Mr Johnson said the parenting strategy had to be "bias-free", adding: "It's what parents do, not who they are, that makes the difference."
Some may wonder how the call for more parental involvement with their children can be squared with initiatives to extend childcare in extended schools and the proposals which promise to send more single parents out to work when their child reaches 12 years of age.
On the back of the report home educators were asked to contribute to BBC Radio Gloucestershire. (Mark Cummings show, 15th March - click on the Listen Again link, select the Mark Cummings show then use the forward buttons to go forward. 1 hr 55 in, is a news item followed by an interview with an HE Mum, Mary, at approximately is 2 hrs 15 into the programme.)
Alan Johnson is Labour MP for Hull. He is also standing for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. The election for Deputy Leader will take place early Summer 2007.
Mr Johnson was also in the news at the end of February when he said that parents needed practical support for bringing up their children rather than tax incentives to get married. "It's the child that is at the centre of this, it's the parenting that matters, it's not the form of the relationship. " he told GMTV.
There seems to be a new pattern emerging of difficulties with truancy sweeps.
Three of the members of EO Government Policy Campaign Team have met recently with Local Authority officials and police officers to sort out local complaints about the abuse of Truancy Sweep Protocols
The recent incidents involved the new "community police" volunteers who have been given a crash course in just a little legislation which they have then incorrectly applied to truancy watch patrols.
We are putting together some guidance on this issue. In the meantime we are happy to help through the Campaign's contact e-mail should others experience difficulties and we would be grateful if others would share any recent experiences.
We need to challenge what is happening on the ground as more and more professionals with no knowledge of home education overstate and misunderstand their powers and responsibilities.
Warrington hosted a very positive and useful Campaign Workshop, welcoming home educators from Manchester, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Lancashire and North Wales. Most of the people at the workshop did not know each other before the event so the day was a great opportunity for making contact with home educators from neighbouring areas. The workshop also provided background information on the DfES from 3 members of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and lots of ideas for how we can save home education as we know and love it.
Alan Johnson, Education Secretary, is introducing more reforms of 14-19 education beyond the narrow academic qualifications. In principle this is a good thing, but here at the EO Campaign Website we wonder just how far schools can go in delivering this personalised learning when it will all still be based on exams and qualifications.
Home educating families are free to embrace more flexible ways of working and learning in response to changes in the world of work and career opportunities, but schools will have to absorb the costs of developing a new exam syllabus and teachers will still have to teach to the test. We think it is time for schools to catch up with home educators.
Last autumn Campaign Team Member Annette Taberner wrote to several members of Parliament expressing our concern about the new duty on Councils to identify "children missing education."
This measure is not designed to have any effect on home educated children who are "missing school" not " missing education."
Many people will be aware though that other measures not designed to affect our community have had an impact in the past. For example in Sheffield we have had problems with truancy watch sweeps over several years ..
To avoid further problems of this kind the Government Policy Group are pressing for meaningful consultation with the DfES at the earliest opportunity. Sadly, they have not yet agreed to a meeting and we dispute that the actions they have taken so far could be called meaningful consultation.
You will see we now have a written assurance from the minister that:
"...the statutory guidance now makes it clear that the new duty does not apply to children who are being educated at home, as these children are not "missing from education". ....The guidance also makes it clear if the local authority discovers a child identified as " missing from education" is being home educated, no further action should be taken unless there is cause for concern about the child's safety and welfare."
This could be a very useful document if we find we are experiencing difficulties at a later date.
On Saturday March 3rd Sunderland hosted the latest all-day Home Education Campaign Workshop which was well-attended by home educators from all but two of the Local Authorities in the North East region who were keen to share their many and varied experiences of the authorities' attitude to home education. Annette Taberner and Fiona Nicholson of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group took an afternoon session on the implications of the 2004 Children Act and the current state of play with the DfES. The workshop also had presentations on working with the media and building a positive relationship with MPs. It was a positive experience which allowed parents to meet each other and share their experiences, concerns and information. The day ended with a firm commitment to extend our Regional Network and to continue working together.
Letters have been published in the Guardian from Lord Laming and from Fiona Nicholson of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group.
This is what Fiona wrote:
Liz Davies is correct to see the children's database as a surveillance tool. Catherine Ashton said in the Lords on May 24 2004: "I would not say that he [Lord Laming] was the author of the proposal for databases but that has been part of our discussions with him in trying to implement effectively what should be done." The agenda had been decided in advance of Laming's report.
In December, Education Otherwise, the home education support charity, submitted a response to the DfES on the information sharing index. Parents are being told the database is necessary to protect children, yet IT professionals say the database cannot be made safe from abuse.
Frontline staff working to protect vulnerable children have also expressed disbelief that investing hundreds of millions in IT can be the best way to safeguard children.
The government's own information commissioner has issued a detailed report advising extreme caution in proceeding with the database. The child protection register is being abolished and money diverted into unwieldy computer systems.
Local authorities are advising government that they will be unable to meet many of the deadlines. The conceptual framework for the information sharing index did not take account of the divergent IT systems in our local authorities.
The thought that half a million practitioners in health, education, social services, youth work and IT might have access to detailed information about the nation's children is a cause of grave concern to thousands of home-educating parents.
Education Otherwise, Sheffield
The home education community has reacted unfavourably to the Report On the Prevalence Of Home Education which recently appeared on the DfES website.
This report is significant because it deals directly with the question of how many home educated children there are in this country. We can be sure that Local Authorities and the DfES will be looking closely at this report.
Briefing on the York Consulting Report
There have been a number of articles in the media about this report. Ann Newstead of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group has spoken to the BBC in connection with this article which also includes a link to this campaign website.
The reason why this website is called "Freedom for Children To Grow" is that those of us here at Education Otherwise Government Policy Group Campaign Team believe that constant testing and the imposition of one-size-fits-all from birth onwards are not the best way to raise the next generation of UK citizens.
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group
February 2007, Sheffield
The original letter from Paul Lavery at the DfES stated that the consultation would run until 26th February but, when the consultation went live on the department's e-website, the closing date was posted incorrectly as 22nd February.
This week the Nationwide Building Society was ordered to pay £980,000 for poor information controls following the theft of a laptop computer. Philip Williamson, Nationwide's chief executive said, "We have extensive security procedures in place, but in this isolated incident our systems of control were found wanting."
Home educating families in Scotland will already be aware of the Scottish Consumer Council Report, but I am taking this opportunity to encourage all home educators in England to read them because I believe that the DfES will be looking closely at what is happening in Scotland.
The Press Release and the Summary of the Report are only 3 to 4 pages long and also give useful background information to the current situation in Scotland.
The Scottish Consumer Council recommends a "positive partnership" between home educating families and the local authorities.
Education Otherwise Local Contact in Sheffield
Member of Education Otherwise Government Policy Group
In light of the recent UNICEF report into children's wellbeing Fiona Nicholson, a Spokesperson for Education Otherwise, the charity which has been supporting home educating families for the past 30 years, points out that home education has proved a lifeline for thousands of children and young people. Headline page for original article and link to UNICEF report.
On Sunday 11th February Okehampton hosted the second in the series of regional workshops about the proposed changes to the monitoring of home education organised by local home educators in conjunction with Education Otherwise Government Policy Group.
Held in conjunction with the EO Council Meeting and AGM, the workshop was well attended from all over the south west. Read the full report.
At its Council meeting on the 10th February, Education Otherwise set aside resources for the Government Policy Group and Campaign Team, to support home educators opposing changes to the law on home education. The funding will enable local workshops to be run around the country, and information on the Consultation to be sent to every Member on how home educators can take action. Significant resources are also available for national events, expert references, and media activity if this is needed.
At this point in time it is not clear what approach will be needed. This decision by the Members' meeting ensures that the Team are in a position to respond to opportunities as they arise.
A large and successful South West Workshop was held as part of the Council meeting, and a full report will be available on this site shortly.
It has come to our attention (thank you PAUL on the EO list!) that the Government plans to put stricter limits on accountability for issuing Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs).
At present there is a cap of £600 on any single request and the person's time spent fulfilling the request is costed at ï£25 per hour.
Under the proposed new changes this will remain in place but any time spent debating whether or not to fulfil the request (or taking legal advice on the issue) will also be costed at ï¿½25 an hour and many MPs are rightly concerned that this could lead to "difficult" or "inconvenient" requests being summarily denied on cost grounds irrespective of ANY public interest argument.
We urge everyone to read the Hansard debate linked here and then to write to their MP, and also to the local and national press, wherever possible.
The absolute deadline for debate on this is 8th MARCH.
Why does this matter to us? To put things into perspective for you, if these new rules had been in place we would for instance still not know about the DfES proposed changes to monitoring, which were only uncovered after persistent FOIs from Stephen Tarlton (EO Local Contact in London and a new member of EO Government Policy Group).
We will be issuing an update on this following the EO National Gathering in Okehampton Monday 12th.
A home educating mum today launched an initiative allowing the children within the home education community to express how they feel about it. She says:
"Whichever home education approach families believe in, whatever our views, all home educating families have one main thing in common, and that is the well being, happiness and welfare of our children; making it possible for each child to reach their full potential. Only home education can cope for our childrens' every need. As Mr Blair says "Every child matters!" and Everyone of us are doing the very best we can for our children, making sure every child DOES indeed matter! Children often have ideas why they are proud, happy, delighted, smiley about home ed and Hands Up 4 Home Ed provides a venue for us to celebrate the children's achievments and skills. We might even all take part in a national undertaking to visit Downing Street with our "hands" waving " telling Mr Blair that all our children DO matter very much?'"
"Hands Up 4 Home Ed" is asking every child to do an outline of their hands and decorate it with their first name on each palm. On that beautiful pair of hands, they are asked to write a wish for their lives, for their home education, putting family first. Visit Ideas section for suggestions on how your local group can take hold of the vision too.
"The traditional school timetable should be abandoned and replaced by a radical approach in which subjects are taught together and entire weeks or days are turned over to single topics, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will say today. Teachers will be encouraged to engage in joint subject teaching across a range of subjects and lessons will be divided into different lengths, some lasting no more than a few minutes.
"We have to show students the link between the subjects so that learning makes better sense to them,"
Under guidance accompanying today's Key Stage 3 document, schools may also decide to adopt a total immersion approach to a subject, such as ICT, and to spend an entire week studying it, with teachers in every subject area focusing uniquely on the use of ICT in their own field for that week."
This sounds like home education to us!
The link includes a Comment Box so that you can have your say. You can also write today to The Times Letters Page.
Your letter stands much more chance of being published if you link it directly to the published article in The Times rather than writing more generally about Home Education. You need to keep the letter short and to include full name, daytime phone number and snail mail address in your email. These will not be published.
If a number of us write today the Times may decide to do a feature on Home Education! Check the other broadsheets to see what they are saying as well.
Education Otherwise was established in 1977 by a small group of home educating families. One of these families was Iris Harrison's, whose diary for this critical time in the history of home education in England is now available on this website.
The South West Regional Workshop is to be held on Sunday 11th February at Oakhampton Youth Hostel, starting at 11.00am - finishing at 2.00pm. See invitation flyer for further details. PLEASE NOTE: This workshop is by invitation only.
On Sunday 28th January Sheffield saw the launch of the first of a series of regional workshops about the proposed changes to the monitoring of home education organised by local home educators in conjunction with Education Otherwise Government Policy Group.
Despite the short notice the workshop was well attended and participants were very enthusiastic and said they now felt motivated and informed to go and do their bit.