Received a letter from the council(8 Posts)
I have received this letter from the council: postimage.org/image/17xoinp2c/
We are autonomous home educators. We would prefer not to have a visit. How would you square autonomous education with them so that they are satisfied?
Thanks in advance for any advice!
wow! that is a fabulous letter. One enlightened LA.
I would send them an educational philosophy - just one page explaining what you think education is all about. Make sure it's really your own :-) There used to be a sort of form-EdPhil doing the rounds among autonomous HEers but I think the LAs have mostly got wise to that by now. (and a good thing too because it was cheeky mc cheek to just crib something off the internet)
In that philosophy, it will explain that there is not going to be educational product to show the LA, and that at the moment a visit would not be beneficial to your family, but you'll be in touch if that changes.
If it doesn't compromise your child's privacy too much, you could send them a mock-up of a sample week with how different things turned out to be educationally valuable, or just some highlights of a particular week/day. Were I to do that, I think I'd include my light bulb moments too, and my moments when something I'd recently learned stood me in really good stead while helping a family member. Showing that everyone in the family unit is learning all the time, not just the children :-D
That's not a bad letter, they acknowledge that you are not obliged to have a visit and that there are other ways to give them information rather than having a home visit.
We are autonomous home educators-in ten years we never had a home visit, and the children chose not to show them any work, nor to meet with the LA.
Instead we sent in an Educational Philosophy with a brief written report of the things we had done, and a list of educational resources we have to hand.
The LA were content with that.
We didn't give them plans for the future, explaining that we saw education as part of life, and not separate to it, and that we are facilitators of our children's individual interests and education. We couldn't have given them plans actually as we didn't know where the children's interests were going.
I had a lot of contact with some of the Local Authority HE Advisers in the Midlands, and what they all declared themselves to be looking for, was parents who were engaged with their children's education. I think if you explain your Ed Phil and tell them what you have been doing so far, you'll be fine.
This letter shows far better awareness of the law and of their responsibilities than most LAs' letters. I would still take issue with the claim that "Department for Education guidelines encourage Local Authorities to make informal enquiries regarding the education which home educating parents provide in order that they may satisfy themselves that this is a full-time education suitable to a child's age, ability, aptitude and any special needs he/she may have." Unless there is some guidance from DfE which I haven't seen, this is not the case.
In fact, the 2007 EHE Guidelines for Local Authorities issued by the then-DCSF stated that
"2.7 Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis.
However, under Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996, local authorities shall intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education." (Emphasis is as shown in the original document.)
LAs sometimes claim that the subsequent Children Missing Education legislation places a positive duty on LAs to attempt to satisfy themselves that a suitable education is taking place whenever they are aware of the existence of any HE child, and not just in cases where it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. However, the CME legislation refers back to the EHE guidelines and directs LAs to carry out their duties in compliance with the EHE guidelines, so it is clear that those guidelines have not been overridden.
Some of the more militant HE parents point this out to their LA and refuse to supply any details of their child's education unless and until the LA can demonstrate good reason why it appears to them that a suitable education is not taking place. (An LA's statement that "we don't know whether it is or not" isn't the same as an appearance that a suitable education isn't taking place!) Although I personally do take this militant line, I should say that I believe the vast majority of HE parents don't choose to do so, preferring to submit information in response to routine enquiries.
If you feel it is best to comply with your LA's request then I agree with previous posters: an educational philosophy with some examples would be good.
There is one small point to which you might like to draw their attention in a covering letter. That is the phrase "it is your intention to home educate your children".
If your children are not yet of compulsory education age, or if they are of compulsory education age and are still registered at school, then according to the legal definiton of home education, they are not yet being home educated. In this case, the LA does not need any information from you now. To suggest that they do is implying that you need advance permission to home educate, which you do not. You can tell them that their enquiries are premature, remind them that your children are underage (or that they are still at school) and invite them to write to you again once you are actually home educating.
On the other hand, if your children are already of compulsory education age and are not registered at school, then you are already home educating them. If you were not, you would be in breach of the law. (Technically speaking, you would not have been allowed to remove them from school unless they were already receiving education otherwise than at school. That's a bit odd, I know, but that is what the law says.) If this is the case, it's wrong for them to say that you intend to home educate. You might like to include a line in your letter such as this: "I would like to clarify that my children are already being home educated. They began to be home educated on xx date."
The letter says you can send in a report, so you're fine not to meet. The LA has also waited since April (for whatever reason) rather than breathing down your neck straightaway.
I've got some info on my website about writing an educational philosophy and report:
3 elements educational philosophy: belief statement, resources, how you put it into practice
educational philosophy: useful links
I also wrote the Education Otherwise web page and Information Sheet on educational philosophies (aka "ed phils")
I haven't ever found autonomous home education to be a problem in and of itself and I've met a lot of LAs. As julienoshoes says LAs are looking for engaged and committed parents. If you simply say "we are autonomous" though then that doesn't really tell anybody anything.
Imagine you were explaining it to your grandad if he said "what, so they just muck about, then?"
Hi, I'm planning to home educate my daughter too (she's 3). I'm interested to know how you came to have this contact with the council in April. Did you not return a primary school application and they queried that? I'm trying to work out what to do re an application to a school or not, later this year.. x
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