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Consultation on Def of full time education

Page history last edited by starkfamily1@... 13 years ago

This response has been sent off to Paul Lavery at DfES and the consultation unit at DfES, 22nd February 2007. Thank you to all who took part in writing it.

 


 

 

Definition of Full Time Education in Independent Schools.

 

 

AHEd Response

 

This is the response of Action for Home Education. (AHEd)

 

please note: AHEd calls for this consultation to be withdrawn on the grounds that it is fundamentally flawed, highly misleading and risks adversely affecting home educators by inadvertently or intentionally redefining a “school”, a move that should not be attempted without altering primary legislation

 

Please mark an x in the box below that best describes you as a respondent.

 

X Voluntary Organisation

 

Please Specify:

 

Action for Home Education, (AHEd) is an internet based home education support and information group with an interest in the rights and freedoms of families electing to educate their children from home, within their natural communities and outside the schooling system.

 

1 Do you agree that where a school provides more than 20 hours of education per week, it should be treated as providing full time education and should be required to register with the Department for Education and Skills?

 

Disagree

 

Comments: Disagree

 

It is impossible to respond otherwise to this question given that the question’s wording is nonsensical; the definition of a “school” in the Education Act 1996 includes the fact that it is an educational institution providing full-time education. Therefore when discussing a “school” it would already be considered to provide full-time education whatever the hours.

 

If it is the intention of this consultation to redefine a “school”, then that should be explicit in its title and its questions and it should be more widely distributed for consultation.

 

2 Do you agree that where schools are providing fewer than 20 hours per week but the education provided constitutes the major part of that child's education, they should be required to register with the Department for Education and Skills?

 

Disagree

 

Comments:Disagree

 

It is impossible to respond otherwise to this question given that the question’s wording is nonsensical; the definition of a “school” in the Education Act 1996 includes the fact that it is an educational institution providing full-time education. Therefore when discussing a “school” it would already be considered to provide full-time education whatever the hours. We understand that all “schools”, independent or otherwise, are already required to be registered.

 

It is also highly subjective what each parent, who is legally responsible for ensuring his or her child’s education and for choosing the form of that education, may consider to be the “major” part of that education.

 

It would in any case be unreasonable to define an educational setting for all those using it, based on individual assessments of whether the setting was providing a major part of a single child’s education.

 

If it is the intention of this consultation to redefine a “school”, then that should be explicit in its title and its questions and it should be more widely distributed for consultation.

 

3 Do you agree that where there is uncertainty as to whether a school is providing the major part of a child's education we should rely on Ofsted's opinions?

 

Disagree

 

Comments:Disagree

 

It is impossible to respond otherwise to this question given that the question’s wording is nonsensical; if a setting is a “school” it is already registered and Ofsted’s opinion would not be required.

 

Furthermore, it is the parent’s right, as the one legally charged with ensuring their child’s education and choosing the style and setting for that education, to define what is the major part of their child’s education, so long as it is suitable to the child’s age, ability, aptitude and special educational needs. It is not within Ofsted’s remit or area of expertise to assess individual children’s whole educational experience to decide what is the major part of their education and where it takes place.

 

4 Have you any other comments?

 

Yes.

 

Comments:

 

Questions 1 to 3 do not accurately reflect the consultation paper:

 

The purpose of the consultation is said to be to define full time education in independent schools, whereas the questions are neither specific to independent schools nor specifically about the definition of full-time.

 

AHEd calls for this consultation to be scrapped on the grounds that it is fundamentally flawed, highly misleading and risks adversely affecting home educators by inadvertently or intentionally redefining a “school”, a move that should not be attempted without altering primary legislation.

 

If providing over 20 hours of education required registration as an independent school with the DfES this would include all families home educating a child with a statement of special educational needs or home educating 5 or more children without a statement. It may also affect groups and individuals providing educational activities to a child, in person or virtually (online) whether the child also attends a school or not.

 

The consultation proposals state that the intention is to remove doubt about what constitutes full-time education so that it will be clear which education providers are obliged to register with the DfES and subsequently to meet regulatory standards. However the proposals lack the clarity required to prevent unintended targets from being caught up in the "government regulated" net and protect them from unwarranted intrusion in their private provision. This is of great concern because we believe that the requirements set out in the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2003 impose limitations which restrict the possibility of adapting education provision to the particular needs of a child and exclude some well established education philosophies. Parents have a duty to ensure an education that is suitable to their child and such regulatory control would make this very difficult, if not impossible, for home educators.

 

The proposals also state that such registration and regulation will ensure that children are taught effectively, in a safe and secure environment. This unfairly suggests by default that unregulated education provision is NOT effective, safe or secure and suggests that parents should not be able to decide for themselves whether they wish to avail themselves of services that are not being state regulated, over and above an arbitrary number of hours. If there is concern that some parents are providing an education that is not effective, safe or secure there are already adequate remedies in law to deal with that situation without having to define full-time, to re-define a school or to introduce state regulation of the diverse approaches to education that currently do not include use of “schools”.

 

It is also a fact that being registered with the state does not ensure that an education provider is effective, safe and secure, as witnessed by the many families who have chosen home education specifically to remove their child from situations that were ineffective and unsafe in state registered institutions.

 

Any proposals which interfere with the freedom of home educating families to choose the how, when and where of their education provision will be powerfully challenged by AHEd members and the wider home education community

 

Summary of results

 

The summary of results can be viewed via this link:

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

 

The proposals were overwhelmingly rejected. Only two LAs responded. DfES comment:

 

"We are exploring the best way to proceed, in light of the consultation responses that we have received. Once we have reflected on the consultation responses, we will decide how best to achieve the Government’s objective of ensuring clarity as to what kind of provision should be regulated:

§ as an independent school;

§ as local authority arranged alternative provision;

§ as home education.

 

Some respondents, including local authorities, felt that it would be helpful if a definitive description of ‘full time education’ could be determined, in the context of independent schools. They thought that different interpretations of this term by different bodies could cause confusion. Several respondents also called for clearer guidance on standards and expectations for ‘education otherwise’ providers."

 

It is a matter of concern that the DfES comments on the results of the consultation highlight those of the two local authorities who responded, that home education should be regulated as to standards and expectations. This was outside the terms of reference of the consultation.

 

Further Concerns

 

To see how the definition of full time education is causing problems in other areas have a look at our page on how this affects benefits to young people in further education in our letter to Patricia Hewitt.

 

Consultation report, press release.

 

Press release on the report to the definition of full time education in independent schools consultation is on the AHEd press releases page with a link to the consultation report.

Comments (2)

starkfamily1@... said

at 4:46 pm on Jan 18, 2007

Pete, you are quick off the mark. :-) I only just made this page and come back to put a link on and you are already on the case!!! Hope everybody is as keen.

starkfamily1@... said

at 12:09 am on Jan 20, 2007

You asked, "Do we want to put anything about unintended consequence to home educating, disproportional response to a non-problem, or anything here?" Certainly, and we should perhaps mention it as a perceived attack on home education freedoms and that it is harmful to children. Once again, they cannot have considered the impact or who the affected stake-holders are according to cabinet office guidance, can they?

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