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DfES correspondence

Page history last edited by starkfamily1@... 17 years, 1 month ago

DfES Correspondence - Consultation procedures, complaint:



AHEd Working together


This is the letter to Elaine Haste in response to her reply about our complaint to the Better Regulation Executive, re consultation procedures. This letter was posted March 13, 2007.


Dear Elaine Haste.


Case reference: 2007/0007653


Thank you for your response to being copied in to AHEd's formal complaint to the Cabinet Office, Better Regulation Executive, about DfES consultation procedures. AHEd is in correspondence with the BRE, but we respond here to your personal comments.


You appear to confirm that a public consultation on possible home education monitoring arrangements will take place despite some departmental hesitation and delay. (Please note that we object to your description of this mooted consultation as being about “possible changes to home education monitoring arrangements” as there is currently no legal requirement on any public body to monitor home education. There cannot therefore be changes to arrangements for a duty that local authorities do not have.)


In an email sent to home educator Stephen Tarlton in early October 2006, Mark Houston of the DfES Public Communications Unit wrote that the DfES intend "to explore what light touch changes we might implement to strengthen the monitoring arrangements for home education". This suggests a decision has been made, without consultation with stakeholders, that legislative changes ARE necessary and WILL be implemented. This appears to contradict your current statement that “indeed, final decisions as to what might be included in any consultation have not yet been made.”


You will note from our official complaint to the Cabinet Office on 31st January 2007 at points 3 and 4 that we expect any consultation that is to affect home educators as primary stakeholders, to include home educators at all stages of the process in accordance with the Cabinet Office code of practice and moral imperatives. This includes discussions on content and format of any consultation in accordance with the requirement that you act transparently and with accountability and encourage public commitment to any policy.


However, your own comment, “as the content of the consultation is still under review within the Department, no further meetings are expected to take place until the way forward has been decided”, suggests that the form of those changes is also not open to discussion with stakeholders.


AHEd would like to reassure you that being included in the early stages of the process would not be a “burden” and in fact being excluded is causing a great burden due to uncertainty, speculation and mixed messages coming from various DfES staff and politicians. We would also appreciate your clarification about whose and what expectations would be raised by including stakeholders at all stages of the consultation process?


Regarding the 2005 limited consultation on draft local authority guidelines from which the imminent intended consultation was proposed, we are pleased to hear that you are reviewing your decision to publish these guidelines in the near future without wider consultation. It is essential that any guidance issued by your department should emerge from a full and open consultation process, involving all the relevant stakeholders at all stages, as described by the Cabinet Office. No credence could be given to any guidance produced without being subject to the full and proper process.


We would also like to make it clear that there has always been significant interest in these consultations in the home education community and that many parents felt they were very badly represented in the consultation on guidance for LEAs. Your lack of earlier awareness of the interest is due to the DfES’s deficient policy on identifying, reaching and including stakeholders. It is also unacceptable to rely on conducting consultations primarily on-line and ridiculous to expect those without internet access and other hard to reach groups to approach DfES for hard copies of consultation documents about which they have not been informed.


We now expect the DfES to:


1. Recommence preliminary discussions with all affected stakeholders about your proposal to hold a consultation on monitoring home education. As we outlined in our original complaint, the steps taken so far do not comply with the Cabinet Office Code of Practice on consultation, and so the consultation can not legitimately proceed on the basis of these steps.


2. Inform AHEd and others in the home education community about the proposed content of any consultation on monitoring in order that we, as primary stakeholders and end users, may have input at this formative stage.


3. Reassure AHEd that all DfES consultations will be rigorously checked and monitored for compliance with the Cabinet Office guidance, particularly the requirements to identify, reach and include all stakeholders at all stages.


4. Confirm that the guidance to Local Authorities will not be issued without a full consultation process, involving all affected stakeholders.


5. Add AHEd to your mailing list for all issues affecting elective home-education particularly public or limited consultations, as part of your commitment to keeping stakeholders informed.


Yours sincerely,


(AHEd Chair) for the committee and membership of AHEd.


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  1. Source 1 Our complaint


  1. Source 2 Reply from DfES


Another Inadequate Reply


This reply was received Wednesday April 4th from info@dfes.gsi.gov.uk


Case Reference 2007/0018190


Dear Ms Stark,


Thank you for your email dated 13 March regarding home education. Your comments on our intended consultation on possible light touch changes to monitoring arrangements have been noted.


As I previously indicated, the Department is still considering all the possible options, and at this stage final decisions have not yet been made regarding the consultation on light touch changes to monitoring arrangements. However, the Department is committed to consulting on any proposals affecting home education.


I can confirm that the Department will take appropriate steps to ensure any consultation fully complies with Cabinet Office guidance. I have added AHEd to our mailing list and you will receive an email alert as soon as we have confirmation of timings.


Yours sincerely,


Elaine Haste



0870 000 2288


Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2007/0018190.

Comments (1)

Dani said

at 11:28 am on Feb 26, 2007

I think this is a good start. I think we should respond quickly. I'm not sure about saying that LAs are using the draft guidance to justify ultra vires interference. Actually, the draft guidance is not bad (not excellent, but not nearly as bad as common LA practice), and if LAs were abiding by that, our lives would be much easier. The real danger is that the draft guidance will have been substantially altered following the previous consultation and that a worse version will be issued without further consultation. So I think our response needs to strongly support the further consultation option. Not sure how to word it at the moment. May come back to this later.

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