letter received from elective home education co-ordinator(11 Posts)
I withdrew my 12yr old son fom school officially in march 2011. I have received a letter asking me to fill a small booklet in giving details of the educational provision that I am organising for my son and then He will arrange an education review. Also the letter states that once we have established a routine and organisation of education at home, arrangements can be made for an elective home education consultant to meet my son and I.
Has anybody else received such a letter? Did you fill the booklet in? Am I required to the things asked by law?
The law says the LA can make informal enquiries if they have reason to believe an education is not taking place.
Once a LA does make enquiries-which they are now doing- case law says you should give some information, or the LA could decide that there was such a reason.
BUT the way you give the information is entirely up to you.
You can choose whether or not to fill in the booklet. In our LA they send out a four page questionnaire-we chose not to fill it in, instead we said we'd send out an 'Educational Philosophy' (kind of why we do it) and a BRIEF report (saying what we had done, with a list of our resources)
We declined to have a home visit, meet with the LA or have any kind of educational review.
The Home Education Guidelines for LAs where the Governement tells the LA about the law on Home Ed says:
3.6 Some parents may welcome the opportunity to discuss the provision that they are making for the childs education during a home visit but parents are not legally required to give the local authority access to their home. They may choose to meet a local authority representative at a mutually convenient and neutral location instead, with or without the child being present, or choose not to meet at all. Where a parent elects not to allow access to their home or their child, this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the education provision being made. Where local authorities are not able to visit homes, they should, in the vast majority of cases, be able to discuss and evaluate the parents educational provision by alternative means. If they choose not to meet, parents may be asked to provide evidence that they are providing a suitable education. If a local authority asks parents for information they are under no duty to comply although it would be sensible for them to do so.10 Parents might prefer, for example, to write a report, provide samples of work, have their educational provision endorsed by a third party (such as an independent home tutor) or provide evidence in some other appropriate form.
section 3.13 goes on to say:
Home educating parents are not required to:
teach the National Curriculum
provide a broad and balanced education
have a timetable
have premises equipped to any particular standard
set hours during which education will take place
have any specific qualifications
make detailed plans in advance
observe school hours, days or terms
give formal lessons
mark work done by their child
formally assess progress or set development objectives
reproduce school type peer group socialisation
match school-based, age-specific standards.
so in short, you need to answer their enquiries, but how you do so is entirely up tio you.
Thankyou julienoshoes for your reply, thats really helpful, I'll have a think and decide which way to send the information, thankyou again
Further to what Julie says, you can regard this as a one-off. Provided the LA does not raise any reasonable concerns about the information you provide to them, there is no legal basis for them to monitor you in future.
Most LAs ignore this and seek updates from parents on an annual basis, even though the parents have already provided satisfactory information in the past. In the likely event that your LA contacts you again next year, you can write to them quoting the law and declining to provide more information.
My LA and I have the same routine every year: they write asking for an update, I explain to them why there is no obligation for me to provide one and would they please stop sending these requests, and they reply along the lines of "Oh, OK, we'll be in touch again next year"!!
The important thing is formally to acknowledge any communication from the LA, rather than just stopping at the "I can't fill this in but something really bad will probably happen to me if I don't" stage.
Here in Sheffield they used to send out a huge form asking about subjects/hours etc and people would either freeze in panic (aargh, we don't do it like that!) or get angry and think "what on EARTH do they know about home education". When I got the form I wrote NOT APPLICABLE in all the boxes and then sent in my own thing, which worked fine. After many many years the council finally took notice of feedback saying it's oppressive and counter-productive to send out these forms without making quite clear that they are optional/only a suggestion for how you might give info.
We filled in a form etc 2 years ago when we took our dd out of school. We have seen the LA twice and both times they have been really nice, no problems whatsoever.
Some of them are really nice. But it's a dicey business, choosing to meet with people who have power over you and can put a different spin on the encounter than you would have.
Even if other home educators in the area have met with the same person and had good experiences, that doesn't guarantee that it will be so positive for the next person. I've heard many good things about one particular LA chap in our area, but he has lied to our family on the phone on two separate occasions, telling us that home visits were a legal requirement. After the first time, I wrote quoting the law and he quietly went away. Five years later, he approached us again after my dd came out of school, and gave my dh exactly the same line as before. On our local HE list, there have been horror stories about his behaviour from two families in the last week!
I think many of the benefits of having a home visit by an EHE person from the LA could be achieved by asking a supportive HE parent to visit to discuss how the education is going. Such a person has no power over you, so there isn't the same risk as when you invite someone from the LA to see you. One of the parents in my area has made this offer. She is a warm and supportive person who says she'll be glad to visit families, eat homemade cakes and drink tea, look at the children's work (or not), chat with the kids (or not), hear how their year has been, and then go away. She knows ten times more about home education than anyone at the LA.
In my area the front liners are nice people who want to be supportive to home edders, but those higher up the hierarchy have other agendas and I avoid them at all costs.
I choose to have annual visits from our 'HE advisor', though frankly she knows very little about HE and she's still on a very long learning curve. I have asked for her advice in the past and she has had no idea how to help me. However, I believe it is in my best interest to maintain a positive relationship with this person because those further up the ladder would be very keen to find something to question about a parent's approach to HE and I don't intend to give them ammunition to throw at me.
I find it easier to spend an hour a year drinking tea with our 'adviser' than it would be to deal with suspicion and negativity that would result from refusing. They are looking for reasons to distrust home educators in my LA so I play their little game and they leave me alone.
OP's question wasn't just about the home visits though but about filling in a booklet. I know that received wisdom says "keep it all in writing" but I do have a concern that you've committed yourself to something by putting it in writing, which is especially tricky when you've only just started home educating. I also think that the format of a questionnaire can subtly dictate how you present your information and can convey meta-messages about what is valued and what sort of answer is acceptable. For instance if there are questions on the lines of "how many hours a day will you spend on xyz" or "how will you ensure that your child is ready for GCSEs" then how many people are going to think it's OK to leave it blank or say "we'll see how it goes" or "that's not really relevant to my view of home education."
I guess for me it's akin to the difference between filling in a job application form [hmm, there seems to be gap here, so what WERE you doing between 1989 and 1998...]and sending in your own CV and covering letter.
Govnt Guidelines don't say anything about having to fill in a form!
"If a local authority asks parents for information they are under no duty to comply although it would be sensible for them to do so.10 Parents might prefer, for example, to write a report, provide samples of work, have their educational provision endorsed by a third party (such as an independent home tutor) or provide evidence in some other appropriate form."
I was happy to meet someone because the advisors in our county have a good name for being helpful and supportive of all kinds of information, but I wasn't going to fill in their stupid questionnaire.
I wrote and told them that! I gave a very brief outline of my philosophy and said I was happy to meet someone - at my convenience .
They didn't bat an eyelid and in fact the advisor when he came asked what I didn't like about the questionnaire. I pointed out how stupid questions like "list all the people who will be teaching your child and their qualifications" were. They took on board what I said and said they would improve it.
I'd choose a format that suits you, not one that ticks their little boxes!
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