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AHEd Press Releases

Page history last edited by starkfamily1@... 14 years, 5 months ago

Ahed Press Releases.


Press releases - 2





Need for a strong voice for elective home education.




MEDIA INFORMATION FROM ACTION FOR HOME EDUCATION: For immediate release, Saturday 6th January 2007


For further information contact enquires@ahed.org.uk




Action for Home Education (AHEd) 1, an internet-based rights group for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, launches today in Derby with a pledge to act to protect the rights of parents and

children who wish to enjoy home-based education without undue state interference, which they claim has reached an intolerable high and is set to worsen.


AHEd has arisen from a network of committed home educating parents whose experience spans more than 25 years and in response to the increasingly urgent calls from many different groups and individual home educators, for an action group to complement the work of current home education support groups. AHEd is an affiliate of the Scottish home education association, Schoolhouse, who support families in Scotland 2, and a member of the Centre for Personalised Education Trust 3, whose trustees include the highly respected academic researcher on home-based education, Dr Roland Meighan, and whose member organisations are all committed to supporting personalised education.


Commenting on the urgent need for an organisation to tackle the challenges facing home educating families, co-founder and chair of AHEd, Barbara Stark, who has home educated her own children since 1980, said: "For years home educators have tolerated unfair treatment and ultra vires practices by Local Authorities whose understanding of home-based education is, with few exceptions, minimal or non existent. We are tired of being subjected to unreasonable suspicion and unfair scrutiny when we are doing the very best for our children. We believe there are moves afoot by government to restrict traditional freedoms to educate children outside the school system and we are determined to do our utmost to prevent this." 4


According to New Labour mantra, every child matters, yet it blatantly attempts to prescribe the same diet of schooling to every child regardless of his or her individual needs and wishes.


AHEd asserts that EACH CHILD MATTERS, individually.


Each child matters individually to parents and it is parents who have the duty to make important educational decisions. But AHEd members are deeply concerned that current proposals by government threaten to remove parental responsibility and substitute the state as the arbiter of what is best for children - from what goes into lunch boxes to what is put into minds; from the portions of vegetables eaten per day to the content of every lesson at every stage for every child. As an alliance of concerned home educating


families who put our children's needs first, we intend to make our voice heard by government."


Home educating parent and co-founding member of AHEd, Mrs Tech Wood, added: "We must not allow the dark side of the state to create this unreasonable intrusion into private and family lives. There is a real danger that we will lose our choices on the basis that government no longer trusts parents to act in the best interest of their children. The time has come for us to stand up and defend our rights. We know from experience that our children thrive on an education that is tailored to their individual needs. Current and future generations must be allowed to continue to benefit from real choice in education because despite government rhetoric - EACH child matters."


EACH CHILD MATTERS and in order to provide properly for their individual needs, the freedom to choose the how, where and what of our children's education is essential.




Notes to Editors:


(1) http://www.ahed.org.uk


(2) See www.schoolhouse.org.uk For comment, contact the Schoolhouse Press Officer. ()


(3) http://c.person.ed.gn.apc.org/index.php


(4) DfES are undertaking a review of local authority arrangements for home educators and have written to home educators saying that the state now wishes to prescribe the form of education that takes place in the home and impose compulsory home inspections upon families in order to question children in a new role as the decider and monitor of what all children should learn including those in private provisions and in their homes. DFEs have made it clear that they are considering changes in primary legislation to enable this. Current law makes parents responsible for the education of their children and does not support the level of surveillance and interference indicated by the department. The department has described these planned changes as 'light touch changes.'


For varied comment from home educators related to this agenda see: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2006-11-27b.103174.h


Other Issues of concern to AHEd


· The Education and Inspections bill section 94 puts all children of compulsory education age who are present in public during school hours at risk of being stopped, questioned and removed to a designated place when they have committed no crime. Excluded children will be confined to house arrest. Home educators fear their children will be similarly abducted or removed, given that current truancy procedures already involve them and cause them problems despite government promises to the contrary.


· Every Child Matters


· Children Missing Education


· Registration regulations



AHEd welcomes Blair Support



For immediate release, Monday 8 January 2007




Newly formed home education action group AHEd 1 has welcomed the Prime Minister's unequivocal backing of the decision by his Communities Minisiter(?) Ruth Kelly's to send one of her children to a private school where she believes his special educational needs will best be met.


Commenting on the controversy, AHEd Chair Barbara Stark said: "Action for Home Education applauds the Prime Minister's comments reaffirming all parents' absolute right to 'make choices about their children's education which are best suited to their children's needs irrespective of who their parents are or what job they do'. 2 "As home educators, we agree with the Prime Minister on this. Indeed, we have been making this point for decades.


"In the light of such unequivocal support from the Prime Minister, we suggest and expect that the proposed consultation on monitoring of elective home education will be scrapped. The money saved should be spent getting all Local Authorities to act within the perfectly adequate laws that already exist and in making it known that home education is as valid an option as school for ALL parents and children, 'regardless of who they are or what job they do'."




For further information contact (Chair) on xxxx




1 See www.ahed.org.uk


2 ".... the Prime Minister supported absolutely the right of parents to make choices about their children's education which are best suited to those children's needs, irrespective of who their parents were and what job they did." Morning press briefing from 8 January 2007


Blair support and the DfES




For immediate release, Monday 15 January 2007




Lord Adonis has written to home educators repeating statements made by the DfES, saying that the right of parents to choose the education provided for their children is an "anomaly".


Now AHEd 1 has written urgently to Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education, seeking reassurance that there are no plans to interfere in parents' right to choose the type of education they want for their children.


Tony Blair recently supported "the right of parents to make choices about their children's education which are best suited to those children's needs" 2 but plans coming from the DfES for a consultation on elective home education cast doubt on the commitment of the department to the Prime Minister's principled stance by threatening to regulate flexible choices in education out of existence. AHEd chairperson, Barbara Stark commented, "What would the implications be for families who have children with special education needs, but are not as wealthy as Ruth Kelly, if resources are wasted on chasing and bullying loving, law abiding, committed families trying to get them to comply with a host of regulations that are not suited to the needs of their child? Couldn't these resources be better spent improving the system that so often fails children?"


Thousands of families whose children are failed by the state education system, make the decision either to send them to a private school where they can get the education they need, as Ruth Kelly has, or they decide to educate their children from home themselves where they can adopt personalised, flexible and creative approaches to educating their children that are not possible within the state system. But the DfES is preparing a consultation in which they are considering how to remove this flexibility, which is so important for all parents and children whatever choice they make.


The letter from AHEd (Action for Home Education,) states, "It is essential that parents should be able to make decisions about the education of their children. For thousands of parents home education is, far from being an anomaly, the means by which they provide an education that is efficient and suitable, as required by law." AHEd calls on the government to abandon the proposed consultation in its present form and require instead that Local

Authorities should act within the perfectly adequate laws that already exist.


AHEd chair


Action for Home Education (AHEd)








1 See www.ahed.org.uk


2 ".... the Prime Minister supported absolutely the right of parents to make choices about their children's education which are best suited to those children's needs, irrespective of who their parents were and what job they did." Morning press briefing from 8 January 2007


3 The DfES has written to home educators about their proposed consultation on monitoring of elective home education with plans that could impose a state sanctioned uniform education on all children regardless of their individual needs. One size does not fit all!


flawed consultation process complaint




For immediate release, Friday 2nd February 2007


AHEd formal complaint: Government department ignores their own guidance. (Families threatened by DfES ignoring the Code of Practice on Consultations set out by the Cabinet Office.)


The recently launched national home education action group AHEd (1) has sent a formal complaint to the Cabinet Office following complaints by its members that the DfES has failed to consult adequately with relevant stakeholders in consultations and policy proposals relating to home education. (2)


Barbara Stark, Chair of AHEd, commented: "Home educating families are being effectively marginalised by the DfES in


what we believe to be a deliberate attempt to bypass proper public consultation on new policy proposals which will affect our members directly. We have discovered that the DfES is introducing bias into the process by using skewed research findings, and we are dismayed and disappointed that representations by experienced home educators, whose lives may be crucially affected by this exercise, have been sidelined or completely ignored.


"We have been very patient during two years of exclusion, but enough is enough. We feel directly threatened by the prospect of a state sponsored attack on the fundamental right of parents to choose the type of education most suitable for their children and will vigorously resist attempts to impose a state inspectorate of families to dictate the how and what of educational provision for our children regardless of the individual needs of each child.


"Once again, in the pursuit of the Every Child Matter agenda, the government is forgetting that each child is an individual with individual needs. Home educators are the experts in listening to their own children and meeting their own children's individual needs, and they quite rightly refuse to be marginalised in matters that are of fundamental importance to them. We demand the right to be heard in any consultation which affects our children's lives and trust that the Cabinet Office will give due consideration to our formal complaint."


AHEd contends that current proposals by the DfES are a matter of serious concern for all parents and children and believes that the state must not be allowed to remove flexibility and individual choice in the education of children or further erode the right of parents to make appropriate decisions in the best interests of their children.


AHEd members are angry that the DfES has completely disregarded the Code of Practice on Consultations set out by the Cabinet Office (3) and has conveniently chosen to consult with selected local authorities who have already demonstrated hostility towards elective home education and who are seeking new and invasive powers which home educating families believe will be harmful to their children. Since the current legal framework will not support the new 'big brother' regime that is being demanded by some local authorities, they are pressing for legislative changes, which AHEd has described as "anti-children, anti-democratic and highly likely to be abused".


Ms Stark concluded: "The current consultation exercise is fundamentally flawed due to the failure of the DfES to follow proper procedures and we believe it should be abandoned forthwith. As the primary stakeholders in any discussions relating to home education, we demand that the DfES include our expert voices in any consultation that affects us. Nothing less will do."




For further information, contact (chair) on tel: (xxx)




(1) See www.ahed.org.uk

(2) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/Complaint-to-Cabinet-Office

(3) http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/regulation/consultation/.


F/T education - another flawed consultation



For immediate release, Thursday 22nd February 2007




Just three weeks after recently launched national home education action group, AHEd, (1) filed an official complaint with the Cabinet Office (2) about the misuse of consultation processes by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), another consultation has drawn damning comments. (3)


In an official response to the consultation on defining full-time education in independent schools, lodged on the deadline today, (4) AHEd complain that the consultation is "fundamentally flawed, highly misleading and risks adversely affecting home educators by inadvertently or intentionally redefining a school". AHEd say the questions are nonsensical and have called for the consultation to be scrapped.


Barbara Stark, chair of AHEd commented, "This is another so called consultation that threatens the traditional rights and freedoms of all parents to choose the where, when and how of their children's education, a right firmly embedded in primary legislation that cannot be repealed simply by the misuse of the consultation process that can only lead to badly written guidance.


AHEd's consultation response declares that AHEd members and the wider home education community will powerfully challenge any such efforts by government.




For further information, contact (phone.)




(1) See www.ahed.org.uk

(2) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/Complaint-to-Cabinet-Office

(3) http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/conDocument.cfm?consultationId=1442

(4) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/Consultation-on-Def-of-full-time-education


No place for child abuse



For immediate release, Friday 23 March 2007


NO PLACE FOR CHILD ABUSE AT HOME OR AT SCHOOL, SAYS AHEd - national home education organisation cautions against knee-jerk reaction in the wake of the Spry abuse case


Action for Home Education (AHEd) has today expressed its shock and sadness in the wake of a child abuse case in Gloucestershire where three children were subject to a sustained period of violence at the hands of foster parent, Eunice Spry, who had been approved as a carer by the local authority. (1)


Commenting on the case, AHEd Chair Barbara Stark said: "AHEd has delayed commenting on this case until the facts were known, but it appears that these poor children have joined the growing cohort of those who have been failed by the very services that are designed to protect them. They were known to health and social services, concerns were raised by members of the public and allegedly investigated, but no action was taken to remove them from an unsafe environment. Indeed, it has been reported that the police returned the children to the family home after they had run away following their disclosure of abuse.


"AHEd is dismayed to note that, rather than holding their hands up and pleading guilty to failing to use existing powers, Gloucestershire County Council has chosen to focus on the fact that the children were allegedly home educated, concluding from one isolated case that home educating families are universally in need of greater monitoring and control.


Instead of using home education as both a scapegoat and fig leaf, we believe the council and its officers should take a long hard look at themselves and accept full, unequivocal responsibility for their own failings."


AHEd cites the extensive local authority interventions which were available, but apparently not implemented, in the Spry case, including powers under the Children Act to ensure compulsory measures are taken to ensure the protection of children who are at risk. The children in this case had been in contact with, and subject to investigation by, a number of agencies, all of whom failed to take action. It would therefore seem unlikely that an education officer seeking to establish that the family's home education provision was adequate by making an occasional visit could have detected signs of child abuse when police officers, medical professionals and trained child protection specialists had not done so.


AHEd contends it is even more astonishing that Gloucestershire County Council, whose own officers approved the perpetrator of these crimes both as a county council carer and as an adoptive parent, should now be seeking to create an extra tier of regulation and monitoring for bona fide home educating parents whose children are patently not at risk when children's services across the country are already chronically underfunded to the point of crisis.


Ms Stark continued: "The knee-jerk reaction to this case, which has seen a deliberate link being made between home-based education to child abuse, is a sign of utter desperation on the part of the authorities. Calling for extra powers over home education on a universal basis when resources are already severely stretched is frankly tantamount to increasing the size of a haystack in which ever smaller needles need to be found.


"AHEd utterly condemns violence and abuse against children in all settings, whether at home or in school where many children suffer bullying and abuse on a daily basis. The Spry case has clearly demonstrated that we as a society have a long way to go to ensure that all children can be free from harm at the hands of adults and other children.


"AHEd is an organisation which has children's wellbeing and development at the very heart of its agenda and we deplore any suggestion that home educators should be subject to disproportionate and discriminatory intrusion by the very statutory agencies which have once again demonstrated their failure to protect children whose plight had been repeatedly brought to their attention."






(1) See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/gloucestershire/6449027.stm


For further information, please contact xxxx or


Health Benefits Denied to HE young people.


MEDIA INFORMATION FROM ACTION FOR HOME EDUCATION: For immediate release, Tuesday 24th April 2007


For further information please contact ( ) tel: (xxxxx xxx xxx)





AHEd [www.ahed.org.uk] has written to the secretary of state for health, Patricia Hewitt MP, after members complained that their children are being denied health benefits to which they are entitled by virtue of their status as children in full time education.


The law states that children must be educated either by regular attendance at school, or otherwise. Thousands of children are educated at home, outside the school system, and numbers are increasing due to failures of the state system to meet the needs of children. Children in full time education are entitled to free sight tests and help toward the costs of spectacles until they reach 18 years. However, children who are in full time education that is based at home are being told that they cannot have this help once they are sixteen, because the department of health has produced a leaflet that defines education as only that which takes place in an establishment. Each establishment is issued with a registration number by the DfES.


“It is bad enough that some government officials are in the habit of responding to the growing home educating population by stating that the best and right place for children is in one of their schools,” said Barbara Stark, chair of AHEd, “but for this prejudice to be so ingrained that it affects policy to the extent that the department discards the health needs of children whose education is home based, quite legally and properly, is a scandal! These are children in full time education, and yet they are the only category of children in full time education who are denied access to health benefits when they visit the optician.”


Home based education has equal status in law with school education and is recognized by HM customs and excise, the DfES and the Child Benefit agency. AHEd, therefore, believes that the leaflet, HC11 which wrongly defines full time education as only that which is received in an establishment, is the result of oversight due to common prejudice, and not an attack on home education or refusal to recognize a legal alternative. However, this has resulted in blatant discrimination against some children that is at odds with the government's "Every Child Matters" agenda to ensure that children are healthy. Barbara Stark commented, “We don’t think this is a sinister move to prevent our children who need glasses from utilising an education provided outside the school system, but either our children matter as much as children educated at state schools or they do not and so we have asked the secretary of state to make sure that the advice is amended to include a definition of full time education in line with the Education Act to ensure that home educated young people are not excluded from health benefits as they currently are.”


Action for Home Education (AHEd)





Downing Street Supports Current Legal Framework




MEDIA INFORMATION FROM ACTION FOR HOME EDUCATION: For immediate release, Wednesday 2nd May 2007


For further information please contact Barbara Stark tel: ( )




- Prime Minister reaffirms home education as an equal choice to schooling


The Prime Minister has reaffirmed the right of parents to educate their children outside the school system in accordance with their own philosophy. (1) The statement, issued in response to a petition raised by a member of the home education community, (2) has been broadly welcomed by Action for Home Education (AHEd), (3) whose membership has expressed ongoing dissatisfaction with biased responses from the DfES and Local Authorities on a number of issues affecting home educators in England and Wales.


The Prime Minister's response affirms the legal position that home educators have a broad discretion as to how and when the education of their children takes place, and that local authorities should act within the law and with sensitivity in any cases where legitimate concerns are raised.


AHEd spokesperson, Barbara Stark, said, "This statement is particularly welcome after recent comments revealing a pro-school bias from the DfES in which it has been repeatedly stated, to home educators and in the media, that school is the best place for children to receive an education. As the Prime Minister rightly recognises, this is a matter for parents to choose and not the government to dictate, since it is parents who have the right to decide what is best for the education and upbringing of their children.


"The Prime Minister's response to the petition confirms the legal status of parents in this country who wish or need to educate their children outside the school system. Home education is equal in status with school education, and research (4) shows excellent outcomes for children who have been home educated.


Mrs Stark continued, "Meanwhile, the Public Communication Unit of the DfES was last week forced to admit that the department's bias is not based on evidence, but is simply a 'general belief'. (5) Our members are therefore very concerned that, on the basis of this general belief, the DfES is still planning to consult on proposals to 'tighten up' on home education - something which could adversely affect the welfare of thousands of children

who are already subject to discrimination, ignorance and bias on the part of education officials. (6)


"The Prime Minister's statement undermines the need for any such

consultation by asserting the current legal position in which adequate statutory interventions are already available to local authorities where problems are identified. This is all the more important in the light of the institutionalised discrimination within the DfES and local authorities that has been uncovered by AHEd members.


"AHEd is currently pursuing a complaint against the DfES for their handling of consultations affecting home education because they have failed to follow Cabinet Office guidance for consultation and have effectively excluded home educators from the process." (7)




Information for Editors:


(1) http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/HErights/


(2) http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page11289.asp


(3) www.ahed.org.uk


(4) "Home-Education: Aims, Practices and Outcomes." (Paula Rothermel, University of Durham 2002.)



(5) Matt Vallily wrote to AHEd (25.04.07) admitting that statements asserting that school is best or the right place for children to receive an education are the result of, "a generally held government belief, whilst recognising that in some cases parents will be of the view that school is not the best option. However, it is not a question of these views being taken on the basis of statistics." Mr Vallily concludes, "There is nothing

further I can add on this issue."


(6) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/Letter-to-Patricia-Hewitt%2C-MP-


(7) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/Index-to-pages#AHEdcomplaint





MEDIA INFORMATION FROM ACTION FOR HOME EDUCATION: For immediate release, Thursday 10th May 2007


For further information please contact ( )tel: ( ) email:enquiries@ahed.org.uk




Action for Home Education - AHEd [www.ahed.org.uk] has today cautiously welcomed the re-consultation on Home Education guidelines in England, launched by the DfES this week. (1) This follows AHEd's official complaint to the Better Regulation Executive (2) that the initial consultation excluded home educators and was conducted without sufficient regard to the Cabinet Office code of practice.


AHEd spokesperson, Barbara Stark, said, "We are pleased that the DfES has now decided to consult properly and our members can finally get on with composing their responses after time and public money were wasted on the poorly conducted previous consultation.


The pro-school bias, recently admitted by the department as a "general government belief" without proper foundation, (3) causes us some concern. Whilst at first glance the proposals are a relief compared to some recent suggestions from Local Authorities pushing for changes to the law, we have already identified a number of concerns which we will be addressing in our response to the DfES."


In a letter to a home educator announcing the consultation, the DfES wrote, "The Department has recently decided not to pursue any changes to monitoring arrangements. Instead we are consulting on draft guidelines for LAs." (4)


Commenting on this Barbara Stark continued, "Our initial complaint pointed out that the process of preparing the consultation document about the need to alter legislation, was based upon flawed and biased research and also excluded the primary stakeholders: i.e. home educators. The decision of the DfES not to seek changes to the law also accords with the Prime Minister's Office, which supports the current legal framework and the right of parents to choose the form of education provided for their children. (5)


We would be very pleased if all Local Authorities in England showed the same regard for the current legal position of families. Thousands of children are educated from home, outside the school system, and numbers are increasing due to failures of the state system to meet the needs of children. We hope that the guidelines will result in agreement about how to function within existing law. It is important for these children and their families that their views are included in consultations that affect them fundamentally."


"We will work hard to achieve guidelines that are legally accurate and promote fair and reasonable treatment of home educators who face ignorance and prejudice, but experience in other parts of the UK indicates that those authorities who currently abuse their powers may continue to do so as the guidelines will not be statutory."




Notes for Editors:


(1) http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/conDetails.cfm?consultationId=1479


(2) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/Complaint-to-Cabinet-Office http://ahed.pbwiki.com/BRE-Writes


(3) Letter from Matt Vallily to AHEd, (25.04.07) admitted that statements asserting that school is best or the right place for children to receive an education are the result of, "a generally held government belief, whilst recognising that in some cases parents will be of the view that school is not the best option. However, it is not a question of these views being taken on the basis of statistics." Mr Vallily concludes, "There is nothing further I can add on this issue." (DfES, Public Communications Unit.)


(4) " The Department has recently decided not to pursue any changes to monitoring arrangements. Instead we are consulting on draft guidelines for LAs." From: Elaine.HASTE@dfes.gsi.gov.uk Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 10:24 AM Subject: RE: Dfes consultation on home education


"Following these discussions it has been decided not to propose any changes to monitoring arrangements or legislation so this consultation is solely on the issuing of guidelines" From: Helen.WHITE@dfes.gsi.gov.uk Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 11:14 AM Subject: Consultation on Home Education


(5) Downing Street Comment: ) http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page11289.asp


AHEd press release: http://ahed.pbwiki.com/AHEd%20Press%20Releases#DowningStreetSupportsCurrentLegalFramework


Consultation report (Full time education consultation.)




MEDIA INFORMATION FROM ACTION FOR HOME EDUCATION: For immediate release, Tuesday 22nd May 2007


For further information please contact ( ) tel:( )





The DfES has published a summary of responses to the consultation on defining full-time education in independent schools. (1) The consultation drew damning comments from AHEd (2) in February as "fundamentally flawed, highly misleading and risks adversely affecting home educators by inadvertently or intentionally redefining a school". (3)


AHEd's consultation response (4) declared that AHEd members and the wider home education community would powerfully challenge any efforts by government to threaten the traditional rights and freedoms of all parents to choose the where, when and how of their children's education. The summary of responses from the DfES shows stiff opposition with at least ninety four percent of respondents not able to agree to any part of the government's proposals.


AHEd members are glad to see that the proposals received overwhelming rejection and claim that this result highlights the strength of feeling against over-regulation of provision where parents have elected to take full responsibility for their children's education. However, the DfES overview states that they are now exploring the best way to proceed to achieve the Government’s objective of ensuring clarity as to what kind of provision should be regulated. Home educators, including those who use tutorial services or meet to share educational activities, hope this means the DfES will now stop trying to regulate their private arrangements.


AHEd Chair Mrs Barbara Stark, said, "Home education is very different from school education and it is simply not fitting to try to impose school regulation upon home educating families. Home educating parents are well informed about their responsibilities and are already well regulated by the requirements of the Education Act 1996 which provides for local authorities to challenge them where a child is at risk of not receiving a suitable education. The consultation has born out what our members knew all along, that the proposals are unworkable and unacceptable, and we hope the Department now also recognises this "




Notes for Editors.


(1) http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/conResults.cfm?consultationId=1442

(2) www.ahed.org.uk

(3) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/AHEd%20Press%20Releases#F/Teducationanotherflawedconsultation

(4) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/Consultation-on-Def-of-full-time-education


Manchester gagging employees re right to home-ed




For immediate release, Friday 7th September 2007





The home education action group AHEd (1) has written (2) to Pauline Newman, the Director of Children's Services at Manchester City Council, demanding that misinformation on the Councils' web site about the rights and duties of home educating families, be changed to reflect education and human rights legislation.


AHEd have also said that the council should provide all parents with full information about the fact that school is not compulsory and that they all have a choice to educate their children from home. Currently the Council tell their staff not to "... suggest this option to either parents or children of school age."


Barbara Stark, Chair of AHEd, commented: "Manchester City Council have decided to censor information about the full range of educational options open to parents and children in their area. Manchester parents are being patronised; treated like naughty little school children who can't be trusted to make their own informed decisions. AHEd members are outraged that the local authority should abuse their position in this manner and expect Ms Newman to act swiftly to correct this condescending policy.


for further information contact:

(Chair, AHEd.)

(phone number)


(1) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/


(2) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/Letter-to-Manchester-re-gagging-policy


Cheshire County Council calls for tougher guidelines


Cheshire County Council's Calls for Tougher Home Education Regulations



For immediate release: Thursday 18th October 2007




AHEd (1) members have accused Cheshire County Council of discrimination against home educators because of the council’s apparent attempt to use government guidelines as an opportunity to modify the law in line with their prejudice rather than clarify it, following calls for tougher guidelines on home education including compulsory registration of all home-educated children. (2)


The home education action group AHEd has written (3) to Shirley Harris of Cheshire County Council and the Cheshire Children’s Services asking if they have misunderstood the current legal position or are in fact calling for a change in legislation. “What they may not realise,” says Barbara Stark, spokesperson for AHEd, “is that, apart from the moral aspect of removing the right to parent one’s own child, the changes for which they are calling would leave Local authorities wide open to mass litigation from disgruntled parents unhappy with the provision in some of the country’s failing schools including those in Cheshire.”


“Furthermore, in calling for a separate compulsory registration system for home educators, Ms Harris, appears to be demonstrating a lack of faith in the efficacy of ContactPoint, the children's database, which nominally should provide a system of de facto registration of all children including those being educated otherwise than at school. If she does not believe that the database will be efficient, perhaps the electorate in Cheshire would be interested to hear that their councillors consider the hugely expensive project unlikely to work?


In a letter to the County Council AHEd complained about Ms Harris’s failure to understand that parents are not accountable to the state and that quality assurance and accountability procedures put into place for those who utilise public services cannot be imposed on families. “At the very least there would have to be legislative change introducing rigorous statutory regulation of every aspect of parenting standardized in all families,” said Mrs Stark, “Is this really what Ms Harris requires?” she asked.



Notes for Editors:

for further information contact: Tel: xx email: xx

(1) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/About-AHEd

(2) http://www.cheshire.gov.uk/PR/2007/september07/326-07.htm

(3) http://ahed.pbwiki.com/Cheshire-County-Council-One




Defamatory public consultation responses




For immediate release, Tuesday 26th November 2007 


Home Educators quiz DCSF ministers about defamatory public consultation responses 


Home educators (1) have written to ministers (2) seeking urgent reassurance that ministers will not give regard to hearsay about alleged risks inherent in home education when evaluating responses to their recent consultation, (3) after receiving a copy of a leaked document declaring home education a high risk area for child abuse. (4)  


“About the same time we received the NASWE document,” says Barbara Stark, AHEd chair, “we also became aware of networks disseminating a draft consultation response in London and to nine other regional partnerships for the purpose of influencing their responses. Local authorities have reported that they based their own responses on the draft.”  (5)  


NASWE (6) and the London Children's Safeguarding Lead Network (7) both actively canvassed for stories of child abuse and harm to children and came up with five cases of which we are aware. Another case cited has already resulted in a serious case review that found the significant factor was shortcomings in the children’s services and not home education. In fact, the case histories provided supply evidence that children are put at risk because current legislation is poorly understood and poorly used by NASWE members. Nevertheless, NASWE, an organisation dedicated to promoting school attendance, concluded that these cases highlight a need for tighter regulation and monitoring of home education including routine and compulsory interview of children in their own home by strangers, forcibly if necessary. “NASWE aims represent a prejudicial vested interest against home education,” says Mrs Stark, “but we are still dismayed at the level of ignorance and prejudice displayed in the NASWE response.”   


AHEd is very concerned that organisations have corrupted the consultation process by gathering stories to fabricate a case against home educators and unduly influencing the responses of local authorities. AHEd members are naturally concerned about any serious child protection issues whether they involve children who are home educated or not. What we will not tolerate, is any dubious claim that any home educated child has been let down by current statute. AHEd members will resist vigorously attempts to promote the creation of stricter regulation of home education and further powers to compensate for the existing and historical failures of public services to children, especially where this involves defaming a law abiding minority group.  





notes to editors


for further info please contact:  


(Chair, AHEd,) Tel: xxx


email: ahed@ahed.org.uk or xxx


(1)   http://ahed.pbwiki.com/About-AHEd

(2)   http://ahed.pbwiki.com/EHEguidanceletter


(3)   http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/conResults.cfm?consultationId=1479


(4)   http://ahed.pbwiki.com/NASWE%20Supplementary%20info%20to%20EHE%20guidelines%20consult%20response


(5)   http://ahed.pbwiki.com/London+Safeguarding+Network


(6)   http://www.naswe.org.uk/


(7)   http://www.londoncpc.gov.uk/




For immediate release, 1 June 2008
Families fight back in the face of Government forced labour regime
Parents and children across the UK are being urged to ask their MPs and Children's Commissioners if they will fight for families in the face of the UK Government's proposed new Social Security regulations which are due to come before the UK Parliament before the summer recess.[1]
Under the new rules, lone parents who depend on Income Support while caring for their children will lose benefits unless they actively seek work as soon as their youngest child reaches 12 (from November 2008), with the age threshhold reducing to seven by 2010.
The Every Single Parent Matters? campaign [2] has been launched by Schoolhouse, Scotland's national home education support organisation, and AHEd,its counterpart south of the border, in response to the draconian measures, which they have jointly condemned as a "forced labour regime for lone parents".
The campaign will involve a postcard lobby of MPs and Children's Commissioners throughout the UK by parents and young people who oppose the Government's plans to impoverish lone parents whose first priority is caring for their children. 
The launch has been timed to coincide with the short consultation [3], which ends on Friday 13th June, prior to the regulations being brought before  Parliament.
Launching the campaign, AHEd Chair, Barbara Stark, said:
"These regulations will effectively transfer parents' responsibility to decide what is best for their own children's care on to job centre bureaucrats, who will simply follow the government mantra to 'get lone parents into work' regardless of family circumstances. 
"Financial sanctions will be imposed on lone parents who fail to comply because they already have a full time unpaid job, and the loss of benefits will plunge already poor families below subsistence level. If parents are punished in this way, their children will pay dearly."

Schoolhouse Convener, Alison Preuss, added:

"The UK Government has made it clear they see no value in parenting and would rather see mums and dads out flippping burgers on the minimum wage, topped up with tax credits, child care subsidies and housing benefits, than caring for their own children. This will of course cost the public purse far more than providing the safety net of Income Support for families, especially where children have special needs.
"Despite assurances from the Government that flexibility will be built in to the new system at local level, lone parents have reported that Job Centre Plus staff have already stated there will be no exceptions."
While Social Security matters are reserved to the UK Government, campaigners argue that the new regulations will impact adversely on children and families and should therefore also be a matter of concern to the devolved administrations. MSPs and AMs will also be asked what they will do to support lone parent families.
AHEd and Schoolhouse will collate the responses from elected representatives and Children's Commissioners and make these available on their websites, along with details of non respondents.
For further information please contact:
Barbara Stark  ahed@ahed.org.uk 






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