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14 year old leaving the house during the school day

(9 Posts)
Iamaworrywart Sun 11-May-14 08:35:26


My son recently started online home schooling. He finishes his lessons most days by lunch time. Is it ok for him to leave the house to go to the shops etc by himself during the "normal" school day for most children? Is he likely yo be questioned by staff in shops of stopped by community police officers?

Any comments gratefully received.

streakybacon Sun 11-May-14 08:59:21

No problem at all. HE doesn't have to follow a school timetable.

You can get cards from Education Otherwise etc that show the child is home educated in case they are stopped. Some LAs issue them too when children are registered with them as HE - might be worth asking yours. Or you could print your own.

I used to give my son a laminated card with phone numbers of EHE team and other professionals involved, in case he was stopped by police or security so they could contact someone for verification, but it was never needed.

Saracen Sun 11-May-14 09:30:18

It is totally fine. My teen is out and about on her own constantly in the daytime. If your son went to a private school with different school holidays, then no one would bat an eyelash about him being out during his holidays when state schools are still in session. Same with home ed.

Whether your son is likely to be approached by police depends on where you live. I live in a busy city which is a tourist destination and also has many private schools. There are always various kids around. I've never heard of a home ed kid being approached here. Friends in smaller towns have had experiences with police but not bad experiences. They say the local police soon learn to recognise their kids.

Your son should be fine if he just explains that he is home educated and doesn't follow the same hours as schools. If your son would feel more comfortable carrying a card as streakybacon suggests then he could do that. But there is no requirement to supply any form of ID or prove he is home educated, or even to give his name.

Iamaworrywart Sun 11-May-14 11:51:09

Thanks Streakybacon and Saracen. I feel a lot better now, my friend had asked a police officer linked to the school she works on and was told that HE children shouldn't normally be out and about in normal school hours and it made me a bit paranoid!

Saracen Sun 11-May-14 12:50:46

Yes, there are a lot of odd rumours going round about home education.

I look at it this way. When a young person is out then the only reasons the police might have for stopping him are

1) They think he may be in danger (eg a very young or vulnerable child out on the streets alone) or
2) They think a law is being broken.

Your son is old enough that presumably they wouldn't worry about his safety unless it's 3am.

The only law which might be being breached is the truancy law. If your son assures them that he is home educated, that means he isn't registered at a school and therefore isn't subject to truancy laws. They should take his word for it unless they have good reason to believe otherwise, for example:
- he's personally known to the officer as a pupil at a school
- he's wearing school uniform
- he'e just been seen leaving a school

I've told my daughter that if she is stopped, she only has to say that she is HE and then she can go. If an officer tries to prevent her leaving, she should say she wants to go now. "Are you detaining me?" can be a useful phrase as the officer must then either say "no, you may go on your way" or else must take her into custody. They will be reluctant to do that as they know there may be big trouble if they wrongfully detain her. The same applies to parents who are out with their HE children. But it's very very unlikely to come to that.

Your son may be a child, but that doesn't change the fact that like other people in this country, he has a perfect right to go about his lawful business. Home education doesn't equate to house arrest. You could even argue (I certainly do!) that mixing with the rest of society in shops, cafes, parks and buses is an important part of young people's education. Shut them away from society for most of every day against their will and you may inhibit their social development, which explains why so many school-educated teens seem alienated, angry and ill at ease with adults.

Yikes, get me started and I never shut up! grin

morethanpotatoprints Tue 13-May-14 12:30:19

My dd is only 10 but I daren't let her walk to her music lessons on her own as she is stopped everytime and she is a bit embarrassed and unsure what to say.
Her lessons are during the morning and there are so many people about.
We often get asked in town quite a lot, but not by officials.
You tend to get used to it after a bit and most people are nice and legitimately interested.

maggi Tue 13-May-14 16:21:38

I used to feel paranoid when we first began HE and people who knew us were all full of questions. Now (2yrs later) my ds is taller than I, and we are so relaxed when out (which is all every day!) that nobody asks anything.
If we are booking an appointment, people still try to do it around school hours regardless of the fact I tell them ds is available anytime as he is home schooled. Once when ds tried to get on a bus the driver refused to sell him a child ticket claiming he (the bus driver) would get into trouble for transporting children around during school hours and made ds buy an adult ticket. What rot! I'm glad I wasn't there because we certainly wouldn't have been allowed on the bus after I'd said my mind.

balibali293 Mon 19-May-14 01:56:17

If you are worried, your council can give you a Home Ed card to show if you (or your son) are questioned about it. Apart from that, if he says he is home educated, all they can do is take his details and check them later.

Saracen Mon 19-May-14 08:28:26

You're right, bali.

However, it's worth pointing out that people don't have to give their details to the police as a matter of routine. Home educated kids have a right to privacy and to go about their business just like anybody else. The presumption should be that they are telling the truth about being home educated unless the police have good reason to believe otherwise.

Not all home educated children are known to the LA, of course, so it wouldn't necessarily be possible to check a child off against a list. I expect the OP's son is known to the LA as he has come out of school recently by the sounds of it. Giving his name might be a simple thing to do if that is what he wants to do, but he doesn't have to if he objects to the idea. (Personally, I object to giving my name to the police as a matter of routine if they don't have some evidence I've committed a crime. But I know that others feel different about it.)

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