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Registering home educators

(39 Posts)
Pipestheghost Fri 22-Jan-16 09:44:29

A discussion on 'The Wright Stuff' coming up on this topic.
I wandered what home educators views are on this subject.

Mumstheword21 Fri 22-Jan-16 14:18:55

If they do some basic maths, it goes something like this:

Number of births registered - number of pupils on school roll = number of children HE'd.

Simples wink

RancidOldHag Fri 22-Jan-16 14:23:01

Simple to account for private schools as well as state, children who have emigrated either permanently or temporarily, number of children either in or out of school) who were not born in the UK? For every year of compulsory schooling?

Saracen Fri 22-Jan-16 14:44:31

Haven't seen it - has the episode been aired and if so, when?

The subject featured on this morning's Victoria Derbyshire show. Nothing we haven't heard before. Barry Sheerman puts forth two reasons for registering home educators, neither of which stands up to scrutiny.

First, he suggests that registering home ed families will somehow make it easier to prevent HE children from being abused or neglected. But in every single serious case which has ever hit the media, the problem wasn't that nobody knew of the existence of these particular children or suspected that something was amiss. They weren't "hidden" at all. The problem was that Social Services did know, but failed to act. In fact, in the Serious Case Review relating to Khyra Ishaq, the judge observed that one contributing factor was a confusion of roles. SS for some reason expected the council's home ed team to be dealing with the welfare issues which SS already knew about, and therefore didn't go in themselves to do their job. The abuse of these poor children is undeniable. It is nothing to do with home education and there is no need for a register.

Second, Sheerman observes that some parents say they are home educating while actually sending their children to unregistered illegal schools. This is true. Ofsted is getting very frustrated that illegal schools get reported to DfE and no prosecutions have been brought. It appears that some action will finally be taken now. Again, it isn't that these schools are operating in great secrecy. (How can you hide an entire school??) It's that no action is being taken against them. A register of home educated children will make no difference here.

It is daft to insist that the government needs more powers in regards to home education. What they need is to use the powers they already have!

AuntieStella Fri 22-Jan-16 14:51:16

I think the current interest arises from what happened to Dylan Seabridge

Op: can you clarify whether you work for the TV show you mention?

Pipestheghost Fri 22-Jan-16 14:55:02

The discussion mainly focused on the 'wellbeing' of home ed children rather than the 'education' aspect.
A point of discussion was that home ed children can become 'invisible' and that Councils should 'check up' on them and compile their own registers.
Who will do that and also pay for it remains to be seen.

Pipestheghost Fri 22-Jan-16 14:59:50

Ha, I don't work for them, but yes it was related to Dylan Seabridge.
My dc's are in state ed, but if it was financially viable (which it isn't atm) home ed appeals to me.

NewLife4Me Fri 22-Jan-16 15:01:04

I think the register would lead to further intrusion.
If it is a case they are looking to check for abuse then all parents should have to register for visits when their children are on holiday from school.

The only thing missing from a H.ed child's life is school.
The only thing missing from a schooled childs life whilst on holiday, is school.


Saracen Fri 22-Jan-16 15:17:23

Agree with NewLife4Me. Children under the age of five are the ones at greatest risk of abuse and neglect. Are we going to send someone round to make routine checks on all of them too? Who, and how?

It isn't just that we dislike being put on a register, though some of us do, and some of us suspect that it would be used eventually for the purposes of curtailing our educational freedoms.

The point is that a register wouldn't achieve the aim of protecting children. Nobody who has suggested registering HE children has explained how it could actually be used tackle the problems it is meant to solve.

...If anyone here wants to attempt such a proposal, I'm all ears!

RancidOldHag Fri 22-Jan-16 15:20:26

What a schooled child has is 190 days (give or take illnesses) when they are eyeballed by teachers who are trained in spotting warning signs, and no longer than 7ish weeks at a stretch without someone external to their family seeing them.

It's a straw man argument to suggest adding to a schooled children's 190 observed days as some sort of parity to an occasional check on those educated elsewhere.

Saracen Fri 22-Jan-16 15:38:33

And yet there hasn't yet been a case made public in which a home educated child WAS hidden away and abused without anyone noticing!

Where parents are adept at hiding abuse, people outside of the family are not likely to know. Not busy teachers who don't see children in their home environment and rarely have meaningful one-to-one conversations with them, and not home ed "inspectors" on a two-hour annual visit which is meant to be looking at education anyway. Where the abuse or neglect is not subtle, there are people who see and report it. Teachers do, when children are at school. Neighbours and relatives and GPs do, when children are not at school.

Saracen Fri 22-Jan-16 15:40:16

"7ish weeks at a stretch without someone external to their family seeing them"

Seriously, how is that possible?

ommmward Fri 22-Jan-16 15:54:10

Quoting form the BBC report:

"During employment tribunal proceedings, a lawyer and a head teacher contacted social services after they became aware Mrs Seabridge suffered from mental ill health and her child was home educated.
Education officials visited the Seabridges but they had no power to see Dylan."

So... social services passed the buck to the education welfare officer assuming it was an education issue where, if social services had dealt with it themselves, Dylan would have been seen and, presumably, there would be some possibility of his parents' care for him being looked into.

Just for one moment there, I thought "Oh. This could be the case that those with the agenda of intrusion are searching for, at last, where a child genuinely did fall below the radar and it will be used as justification for massive state intrusion into family life" but no, he was known about, and concerns were raised, but he fell through the social services net.

The answer? Better resourcing for social services, maybe, so that there isn't such a temptation to buck pass to education welfare? There has to be something about the targets and tick box culture that could be removed to help social services be more effective, too, without reducing accountability.

QueenStreaky Fri 22-Jan-16 16:16:34

Let's not forget that children aren't guaranteed safety even when they attend school, monitored by OFSTED, observed by countless professionals and other parents. In numerous high profile abuse, harm and even death cases, school staff have passed on concerns to other agencies and very little, if anything, has been done to support the family. The bottom line, as we all know, is that HE in itself is not a safeguarding issue, and should never be treated as though it is.

RancidOldHag Fri 22-Jan-16 17:58:53

""7ish weeks at a stretch without someone external to their family seeing them"
Seriously, how is that possible?"

Longest school holiday is approx 7 weeks in most of the home nations.

And Dylan Seabridge was indeed hidden, and I think it's a bit off to deny his existence when he has been so clearly mentioned earlier in this thread.

Safety will never be guaranteed, whoever is in contact with the child, because it relies on human judgement which can be wrong. But things going astray are more likely to be picked up on when a child seen by third parties.

ommmward Fri 22-Jan-16 18:30:23

I'm not denying his existence at all. I'm saying that he was known to social services and to education welfare but that, although there was evidently some concern about his welfare, it was not enough for social services to act upon, for whatever reason (presumably his parents satisfied the education welfare people that they were indeed providing him with an education, since that investigation did not go further)

Would compulsory registration and monitoring prevent this sort of thing? How often would a safe and well check need to happen to prevent scurvy? If the disease takes about 2 months to kill someone, from its onset, then that would need safe and well checks every month to make sure someone wasn't showing symptoms. Scurvy is naturally very rare in this country: I just looked at this and it told me that there were 5 scurvy deaths in England and Wales in the decade up to Dylan Seabridge's death, presumably including him.

It is tragic and awful that his family were unable to care for him adequately, for whatever reasons. It is tragic and awful that social services were unable to step in on the basis of the concerns raised by his mother's employers. But how many millions of pounds would it cost the State to prevent such a death ever occurring again, given that it so far is a once-in-a-century occurrence, and how much damage would be done by the necessary intrusion into thousands of perfectly functioning families? How do we balance that damage against the potential gain for maybe one or two children in a generation?

I don't have answers here, but I'm wary of changing the law because of a knee jerk reaction to a single case.

RancidOldHag Fri 22-Jan-16 18:46:46

The inquest found he was 'invisible'.

There was no contact with any authorities for 7 years leading up to his death.

We shall never know if intervention would have made a difference to that particular boy.

According to the BBC report, the Welsh Government has been formulating its new policy since 2013, so whatever the proposals are they are not going to be knee-jerk.

Mumstheword21 Fri 22-Jan-16 19:43:02


"What a schooled child has is 190 days (give or take illnesses) when they are eyeballed by teachers who are trained in spotting warning signs, and no longer than 7ish weeks at a stretch without someone external to their family seeing them."

Didn't work out so well for poor little Daniel Pelka (and the many many others that a quick Google will tell you are school educated as opposed to the comparitive minority that are home educated...let's face it, they have to delve back to 2013 to find this case)? Also found to be 'invisible' despite the fact that he was at school. How many schooled children are 'invisible' and completely failed by the ridiculous system that is social services?

How many children are failed by a school system that turns them towards HE as the only means to guarantee the safety and well being of their child?

Whether or not a child is at school has very very little bearing on anything I'm afraid. Same goes for radicalisation and all of the other random suggestions that have surfaced recently (though of course, it's not like it's a huge co-incidence at all!!).

Just imagine if registering with a state organisation could completely guarantee the protection of all of the children? Ha...just imagine, now wouldn't that be something?!

Pipestheghost Fri 22-Jan-16 20:07:45

Mum I agree that the school system and social services fail many children, sadly.
I totally understand why many families choose to home ed.

RancidOldHag Fri 22-Jan-16 20:36:50

Yes, I agree, too many children are failed.

All systems need improving, whether for schoolchildren or those who are educated elsewhere.

(That is of course against a backdrop that the vast majority of parents, whether they use schools or not, are bringing up their children just fine).

Nigglenaggle Sat 23-Jan-16 20:38:48

Do school children really go 7ish weeks without seeing anyone outside their family??? shock It's scandalous, we should start inviting them to our groups in the holidays!

RancidOldHag Sat 23-Jan-16 21:06:57

No, of course that's not the case.

The maximum time a schooled child could be invisible is 7 weeks. Which is what I thought I'd said. And my apologies for being in sufficiently clear.

Nigglenaggle Sat 23-Jan-16 21:38:06

Hopefully you didn't miss my sarcasm ^^ My point was rather that home educated children don't live in a box. My kids don't go a day without seeing many people outside their family. In fact home ed is rather socially demanding, and it's somewhat of a chore picking between the myriad different options to find the activities your child will most enjoy. Many of these people the children see on a regular basis, and they build relationships with the other adults, as well as the children. As there's a much higher adult to child ratio in home ed than in school, if anything there are more pairs of eyes to pick out something amiss. Just because a school is not casting eyes on these children, it doesn't mean they are unseen. Of course sometimes, sadly, abuse or neglect will be missed, as it is in school - because no bugger has a crystal ball or is omnipotent. Yes, if you are mad/a complete twat you could lock your child away and never let them out, but as happened with poor Daniel Pelka, you can also do this in the evenings, at the weekend or in the school holidays (for 7ish weeks, apparently).

We are primary home edders, but I've watched some very troubled children come out of school and blossom. It's lovely to see. Any attempt to increase regulation is likely to impinge on the welfare and education of these children. They are there because they don't fit in one box and won't benefit from being pushed into another. This is why home edders get so concerned about monitoring and interference. To adversely affect all, including some very vulnerable children, in order to have a teeny infinitesimal extra chance of possibly picking up a minute percentage of neglect cases is not worth it IMO.

Before I am flamed, of course the little boy who died matters, I'm just saying I don't think extra regulation would have helped him, and it would have harmed others. But the ones it harmed would, of course, be invisible to those outside the home ed community.

RancidOldHag Sun 24-Jan-16 09:44:16

I genuinely thought I had written so badly my meaning was lost, and you were poking fun at me based on a misunderstanding.

I'm not taking issue with anything you say about what HE can be like. Most families, regardless of educational choices, are active, positive and visible. Not reclusive abusers.

There is no reason to expect any impact on your family, other than the time it takes to comply with the putative register that the Welsh government has been considering over the last couple of years or so since the serious case review.

If they were trying to impose something onerous, or something that changed your choices about education, that would be quite a different matter to what has leaked so far which is along the lines of a basic register that your child exists and occasional consideration of whether they are ok.

That the existing systems sometimes fail, by missing what is going on, or a case being bungled once a problem has been identified, is not a reason to stop looking at how to make systems work better and examining how every child could be reached.

'The little boy who died' had a name, Dylan Seabridge.

The serious case review has yet to be published, but it seems when concerns were eventually raised, and education officials visited the Seabridges, but had no power to see Dylan. The parents, incidentally, dispute the cause of death according to at least one account. So it is quite possible there was more going on, including things which would be spotted in a visible child, or one who had been produced at that point. We don't know yet - so that speculation might be wrong, and I expect we'll know more when the review is published.

Having your DC be registered and seen might not make any difference to them, because you are not abusive parents. Just like the time school staff spend being trained in child protection doesn't make any difference to most families there because they are not abusing their children. But it's done, and the opportunity cost is accepted, because of those it does protect. Those ones don't make the headlines.

Saracen Sun 24-Jan-16 14:12:53

"There is no reason to expect any impact on your family, other than the time it takes to comply with the putative register that the Welsh government has been considering over the last couple of years or so since the serious case review.

If they were trying to impose something onerous, or something that changed your choices about education, that would be quite a different matter to what has leaked so far which is along the lines of a basic register that your child exists and occasional consideration of whether they are ok."

If what you say were true, and if I could somehow be assured that such a register would never be used, not a problem! But a register on its own is pointless, so that would be a waste of time. Then what EXACTLY do you mean by "occasional consideration of whether they are ok"? What is it we would have to comply with? Do you not mean mandatory home visits where the child is seen by some sort of inspector who assesses welfare? In other words, Social Services should be sent knocking on the doors of all HE families even when there have been no referrals made by anyone who has cause for concern?

How does that make any more sense than sending SS to check up on every single family in the country where there is a child aged under five? Or are we going to do that too?

How could anything less have saved Dylan Seabridge? It isn't as Social Services didn't know about him.

I really really hope you are not suggesting we should send people from the education department out when we are actually wanting to check on welfare. That is a recipe for disaster. This is exactly the confusion of roles which was identified as a contributing factor in Khyra Ishaq's death: Social Services didn't bother to visit despite there being documented problems. They seem to have assumed the home ed department was doing welfare checks. But the education people quite rightly have no right of access. They are meant to concern themselves with education, and proceed through the courts if a child seems not to be receiving a suitable education.

If you are able to envision some way a register can be used which would have prevented such tragedies, while not having a significant impact on families who are not endangering their children, please share the details! I have never heard any remotely workable proposal from anyone.

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