Issued a notice by local authority(9 Posts)
i am home edding my year 3 ds while on a waiting list for the local school. The LA offered me a school half an hour's drive away that clashes not only with my start/finish times of the two schools I need to get to, but also with my ds2's bus drop off time from his special school.
I had to refuse and have also informed the LA that I am home educating until a place becomes available
I have now been served with a notice under s175(1) of the Education Act 2002.
What should I do?
Did you send an official deregistration letter? You'll find one here
Have a really good read of the 2007 Elective Home Education guidelines here This is what your local authority should be acting in accordance with.
Your LA would be completely within their rights to ask you to provide evidence about the form that the education will take. Some people do a plan; some people give an educational philosophy (one page of A4 explaining the kind of approach they are taking and the opportunities they are offering); some people collect a portfolio of work. Some people accept a home visit from the LA so they can come and judge the educational provision (but many people refuse to accept a visit on those grounds, and the LA has no legal right to insist on one). So if it is just that they are not clued up about what ought to happen when someone deregisters, then you just need to provide them with evidence that you are providing an education (allowing for an "unschooling" period, as is noted in the 2007 guidelines).
Your LA may have flagged this as a welfare concern. From the outside, someone removing their child from school and then refusing an offered place at another school might mean that you are abusing that child and wanting to hide the abuse. In that case, you are very well advised to let them come and meet the child, talk with them honestly about what's happening and why you are temporarily home edding. Show that your house is neat and tidy, your children are healthy, happy, have appropriate places to sleep (rather than just having to lie on the floor in their clothes or something), are properly fed etc etc etc. As soon as the conversation turns to education, make sure you have the guidelines with you, and you know the law, and you are able to say "oh. that's really confusing, because this here in your official guidelines says I can choose the form of evidence to provide about his education. So what's the basis for you saying I have to sending you all his work? (or whatever they come up with) I was going to send a learning diary after three months so that you can evaluate the provision once we've settled into it"
I did officially de-register. Yhey also know how I am home-bedding. They have given me 15 days to respond, but it is school hols plus they are shut, so I have a few days only
What is it they want you to provide evidence of exactly?
They have asked for evidence I am providing an efficient blah blah education
I think I will send them my plan again, but having already sent it I don't see the point. I think they just want to issue a school order personally
Oh, this is ok, don't worry - it's not to do with a school attendance order (they would need to get WAAAAY down the road before they could do that). So you write back, with the plan, and say "here is the plan again". Politely. Get something in about how the 2007 EHE guidelines allow for a period during which you establish the style and content of the home education (quote the relevant paragraph at them), and say that of course, the plan may be subject to revision as your experience of home education develops, and you glean wisdom from other HEers in the area. If you can get something in about getting networked with the local home edders that would be good, and shows them that you are going to be difficult to isolate and bully (and just shout if you need help with that - also search for facebook groups or yahoo groups in your area). And then you can end by saying something like "Please feel free to contact us again in 3 months, by which point we will be ready to give you more detailed evidence about the home education we are providing (assuming that a suitable school place has not come up in the meantime)."
Very odd. I've looked up the legislation to which they refer, here: www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/32/section/175
"175 Duties of LEAs and governing bodies in relation to welfare of children
(1)A local education authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that the functions conferred on them in their capacity as a local education authority are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children."
This is just a general principle guiding the LA's conduct in carrying out their usual duties. I don't understand how they can have "served you with a notice" under this legislation.
Did they threaten you with a School Attendance Order in their letter? If so, they've made a copy-and-paste error and quoted the wrong legislation to support their request for info. However, you should still respond promptly so as to fend off any possible prosecution. I don't agree with ommmward that the LA can't issue a School Attendance Order at this early stage. They shouldn't go straight to an SAO: it is considered bad practice. The 2007 government guidance to LAs regarding home education tells them not to - see below. But that doesn't mean they can't. Some LAs deliberately ignore the guidance, and some are just hopelessly incompetent.
("3.16 If a local authority considers that a suitable education is not being provided, then a full written report of the findings should be made and copied to the parents promptly, specifying the grounds for concern and any reasons for concluding that provision is unsuitable. If the authority is not satisfied that a suitable education is being provided, and the parents, having been given a reasonable opportunity to address the identified concerns and report back to the authority have not done so, the authority should consider sending a formal notice to the parents under section 437 (see paragraph 2.7) before moving on, if needed, to the issuing of a school attendance order (section 437(1)).")
I suggest you write back quickly by recorded delivery to ask for clarification. Something like this:
"Thank you for your letter of [date] regarding the education of my child [name]. I confirm that I am still home educating him.
For your reference, I enclose an additional copy of the education plan which I sent you on [date]. I understand you have a duty to act if it appears to you that my child is not receiving an adequate education. If this is the case, please write to me explaining what evidence leads you believe that I am not educating him suitably, and I will be glad to provide you with further information."
They can ask you for the moon if they want, in terms of detailed information about the child's education, frequent meetings at your home etc etc. But there is no legal basis for it. You've already given them some information. Unless they have something which causes them to think otherwise (e.g. neighbour accusing you of putting child to work in a sweatshop), they should assume all is well.
IMO the main principle now is to keep a dialogue going so they can't conclude you are ignoring them and that they need to escalate matters. Either just give them what they want, or else challenge why they need it.
Is this still an issue? I am happy to advise if you would like to PM me.
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