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a page for information, news and comment in Birmingham



related links:

Meeting the LA Education Department

Guidance on improving LEAs



EHE consultation


Birmingham LA

Inclusion Support Education Centre

Lead Officer for EOTAS, in the Children Young People and Families Directorate of the Local Authority


1 Do you agree that it is helpful for the DfES to issue guidelines to local authorities?




It is essential that local authorities receive clear guidance as to how they can effectively work within legislation and safeguard the educational rights of children educated otherwise.

Guidance should be cognisant of the ECM outcomes and the right of all children to an education that equips them to achieve and make a positive contribution.


2 Do you agree that the description of the law (paragraphs 2.1-2.3) relating to elective home education is accurate and clear?




Comments: The description is an accurate reflection of the law, but cannot be clear because the law creates a lack of clarity in itself. This lack of clarity is difficult for the majority of home schooling parents in this LA.


3 Do you agree that the description of local authorities’ responsibilities (paragraphs 2.5-2.11) is accurate and helpful?






This section raises more questions than answers. Other than making a professional judgement, it is difficult to see how one can assess whether or not a child is making “reasonable progress” where there are no criteria suggested that might satisfy the “many approaches” that might be adopted by home schooling families.


2.7, like other parts of the document, could be considered contradictory. Other than in extreme cases, it is difficult to see how the LA would be made aware of concerns about a child’s suitable education, without some form of routine monitoring.


It is quite amazing that we have no measurable standards for local authorities to use to define “efficient full time education…. suitable to age, ability and aptitude”.


4 Do you agree that the section on contact with the local authority (paragraphs 3.4-3.7) is accurate and helpful?






The quidelines are somewhat contradictory and confusing, such as in 3.4… where parents do not want any involvement with the local authority, the LA should not automatically assume that there is a problem which needs investigating. Instead, the LA should take a risk based approach, taking into consideration the individual and community’s circumstances”. LA officers do liaise with Traveller Education Support Services, but the majority of “uncooperative” families do not fall into this category. There is no advice here on how to approach such families.


Section 3.5 makes it seem straightforward to make progress with families where there are concerns about the education which may, or may not, be provided. It is relatively straightforward to deal with the crisis situations, but much more difficult in the many cases where the LA has concerns, but the evidence is “a lack of evidence”, ie little or no information about the educational plans, no evidence of real teaching and learning, and no way of assessing progress being made by the child. Home schooling parents in this LA rarely produce plans, and 3.10 and 3.11 suggests they are not essential.


Section 3.6 appears very woolly. Bearing in mind the minimal requirements placed on home schooling families, the reasonable concerns of the LA may well conflict with parents who may have different aims and priorities for their children.


5 Do you agree that the section on providing a full-time education (paragraphs 3.11-3.14) – and in particular, the characteristics of provision (paragraph 3.13) – is accurate and helpful?






In 3.11 there is a clear simple list of what is not required. But nothing to help safeguard children’s education to standards that best equips them in today’s society.


This is a recipe for supporting many parents who are neglecting their children’s education.


The outline of expected characteristics, 3.13, is too vague to be of real use.


When the LA does follow up cases of concern, such action does not usually improve the relationship between home schoolers and the LA, nor are the families always supportive when a child is directed back into school.


6 Do you agree that the section on developing relationships (section 4) is useful?







Insufficient information on which to make a proper response.


7 a) Are the suggested resources in section 5 and appendix 2 useful?





7 b) Should any other contacts be included?


Not sure.




Always difficult to know who to include or omit.



8 Please use this space for any other comments you wish to make about the guidelines


We are seriously concerned that an opportunity has been missed here to safeguard these children to achieve the Every Child Matters outcomes. Children educated otherwise are held effectively outside the protections that we give to other children.


These guidelines fudge the real issues, including the conflict that can arise when considering the rights of the child, (where the LA would place the priority), against the rights of the parent.


  • What is there here that empowers a local authority to act where they suspect a child is receiving a minimal education at home?


  • Why are home educating parents not required to provide even their plans and intentions?


  • And why are EO parents set as a unique grouping who are not held accountable for the decisions they are making for the educational outcomes of their children?


The absence of the above answers in this guidance leaves many parents able to neglect their children’s education; whilst those parents who can genuinely deliver a quality education are left compared to that majority who cannot. Further it leaves the LA powerless to safeguard a number of children whose education is being prevented or neglected.
























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