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a page for information, news and comment in the London Borough of Havering


Table of contents:


related links:


Meeting the LA Education Department

Guidance on improving LEAs


EHE Consultation


London Borough of Havering

Scimitar House 23 Eastern Road Romford RM1 3NH


Education Otherwise Manager – LA officer responsible for monitoring Elective Home Education


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






Clarity would be helpful. It would enable both parents and LAs to understand their responsibilities within the current legal framework. If clear guidance sets unrealistic responsibilities and expectations these could then be challenged. This could well highlight the urgent need for legislative changes in order to safeguard the welfare of this potentially vulnerable group of children and young people.


In the best interests of the children & young people it must be possible to achieve an improved balance between parents’ rights and LA responsibilities.


Under the present guidance there appear to be expectations and responsibilities placed on LAs to monitor and report on the suitability of the education being provided, together with safeguarding responsibilities under the Every Child Matters Agenda.


These expectations can be difficult to fulfil for three principle reasons:


1) The LA may not be aware of all children and young people being home educated as there is no compulsory registration system in place. Children who have never been in school; left private education or who have transferred into the LA from another Borough without leaving any forwarding information. (latter group are often vulnerable children) may not be known or choose to make the LA aware of their election to home educate – therefore LA unable to monitor. A contact point would assist but has its limitations.


2) Currently there is no obligation for parents to meet with the LA representative or to ensure their child(ren) and young people meet with any professional. Under these circumstances how can any LA ensure these children matter? Only ‘Every School Matters’ and the children who attend them.


3) Under current guidelines when the parent does agree to meet with the LA representative they are only entitled to comment on education related matters. If the children’s educational programme appears adequate then there are no grounds for Social Care to instruct the parent to return their child to school where their welfare needs can be monitored, even if they are considered children in need of protection.


It is true that many children benefit from and would wish to continue with home education by parents. However, it would be naïve to assume that all children are indeed happy with home education but they may never have the opportunity to converse with professionals in any field who could assist in extricating them from their situation. The ECM Agenda clearly gives ‘the voice of the child’ some priority. It does not appear to do so with Elective Home Education. It would be equally naïve to assume that a non confrontational approach to Elective Home Education on the part of the LA will disperse past years of anger and confrontation with authority on the part of the parents.


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: Accurate with regard to the right of parents to elect to home educate their child(ren).


This omits any rights of the child to have an independent view on their education and has no regard for the safety and welfare of the child(ren). It omits the spirit and safeguarding afforded by the Every Child Matters Agenda. The ‘voice of the child’ relates to this section also. Issues outlined in the previous section were raised at the consultation stage for Every Child Matters and by Havering’s Chief Education Officer when visited by the ECM Inspectors.


Article 2 Protocol 1 - In instances known to this LA the children are being denied the right to education by their parent. In discussion with colleagues in other LAs this is replicated in their areas. The Protocol supports parents’ right that ‘such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions’ but does not imply that they have a right to anonymity. Registration would not affect their entitlement to educate in the manner of their convictions.


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






Para 2.5


Mostly accurate


Would challenge ‘all children should make reasonable progress.’ Unlikely we are aware of all home educating families. Request for evidence of work, if and when produced, could well not have been undertaken by child if not seen and no previous knowledge of the child. If the level of work meets with parental expectations then it is not within the remit of the LA to make a judgement on what is reasonable for that child – against what standards and targets is progress to be legitimately measured? This sentence should be omitted under current legislation. If it is to be retained then legislation should be amended in order to indicate some measure of assessment and permit access to the child. Para




By making the guidance clear that ‘the duty does not apply to children who are being educated at home.’ It is in direct opposition to the LAs responsibility for good practice in safeguarding children. The two are not compatible. Para




As 2.5 above – a request to the parents may produce some evidence but to form a judgement from the quantity and quality of evidence from persons unknown as supplied by the parents is highly questionable. It would only be relevant to satisfy LAs concernsif you were aware of the capabilities of the child concerned. Eg parental submission – child had set up a website on saving the whale.-web address supplied - sole educational evidence provided. Several issues raised. Was this her endeavour? what were her previous IT skills – did this indicate progression? and did the limited quality of the site reflect her educational ability or not? It provided no reassurance as to any safeguarding concerns.


Para 2.8


Emphasises parental rights. It should alert parents that refusal to provide evidence could raise safeguarding issues with the LA which may or indeed may not, be justified but may have to be investigated.


Para 2.11


States the LA’s duty without the law giving them any mechanism to carry out their responsibilities.


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






Helpful only to parents.


Para 3.4 It is correct advice to seek support from local TESS for the Traveller community but many in the settled community do not have the knowledge, skills and resources to undertake home education but there is no equivalent community group to consult. Too much emphasis on Traveller group who often employ tutors, follow distance learning programmes or are part of the e.lamp project. Deflects emphasis on groups who are causing concern including parents with mental health issues.


It is difficult to rely on a risk based approach as past experience in this field has indicated that seemingly competent parents in good economic circumstances can prove the most able in disguising total lack of any educational programme. Their children may indeed not be at risk from a safeguarding point of view but paedophilia and sexual abuse are not easy to identify without closer involvement with a family and are clearly not limited to areas of social deprivation. The assumption that parents always respond in a totally truthful manner is clearly not always the case. Para


3.5 No provision is made to hear the voice of the child. Their participation is determined by the parents and where the child can participate there are occasions noted of ‘frozen watchfulness’ where the child is looking to the parent for affirmation that they have conveyed what they were told to do. Fear of retribution in answering incorrectly could be a cause for concern. This may even nullify the value of introducing an independent advocate.


Para 3.6 Indicates again a naivety that parents are eventually willing to meet with the LA. The reality is somewhat different - as an LA we have offered neutral venues at a place and time of their choice, with independent interviewers from another LA if they so wish. Where possible the LA has adopted a non confrontational approach since 2001. Most parents are now aware of the limited powers of the LA with regard to Home Educated children and appear to rely on delaying tactics to ensure that their young person has reached a stage where practicably it is too late to issue or be obliged to comply with a SA Order. This is especially applicable to a rapidly increasing group who are withdrawing their children in KS4 to avoid prosecution for non attendance.


Para 3.7 Always an option but some choose not to avail themselves of any of these options.


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?






Para 3.11/ 3.12/3.13 Agree with these paragraphs:


Reflects the guidance in Havering LA leaflet and visiting Tutor Advisers seek to support the parent and child in their Home Education experience whether autonomous or structured approach. Para 3.13 no problem – accurate and helpful.


3.14 Crux of problem – if you are unable to meet with child or parent or have any discussion which could confirm written evidence it makes nonsense of what LAs can reasonably expect the provision to include. If the parents’ co-operate with the LA we can, through a variety of mechanisms, assist with working towards putting some or all of these characteristics in place. Whilst parents are trying to work towards improving the home education experience they would be given support, however if it became clear to all participants that this was no longer in the best interests of their child we would attempt to come to an amicable agreement in seeking an appropriate school place for their child without resorting to the need for a SAO.


Para 3.15 Some clarity in this area would be appreciated. It is not clear how this is meant to be interpreted in practice, especially if the parents are not willing to co-operate with the LA.


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


Not Sure




Agree with overall content but clearly weighted towards interests of parents. As an LA we enjoy good working relationships with the majority of our families and for them section 4 is indeed quite valid. Some of the educational content may be marginal but if it is the parent and child’s wish to continue to home educate then we respect their wishes and try to assist in making it as fruitful as possible linking with Connexions, Further Education and the working world. However there is a residual core in each academic year who, despite non confrontational approaches and every endeavour to develop good relationships, decline to respond or are actively aggressive. It is unrealistic to envisage an effective partnership being established. Case files available. 4.7 No legal right of access, even at an independent venue, contradicts the responsibilities of the LA.


Analysis of the past academic year gives the following breakdown. In 2006/2007 there were 107 Home educated students who, from my perspective, 75% were marginally to well home educated with no apparent welfare concerns. However 25% I viewed as having welfare concerns – some of these had been on the Child Protection Register but had not co-operated and were now closed. Evidence of case files can substantiate this. Reality is that 27 children may be at some form of risk in one authority alone. If this is replicated throughout the country this is a small but significant number who are entitled to protection through the Every Child Matters Agenda – it may be that the Home Educating parents may have to surrender some autonomy in order to take shared responsibility for protecting this potentially vulnerable minority.


It is my view and that of a wide range of professional colleagues that:

1. All home educated children should be registered with the relevant LA

2. All children should be seen by two professionals at least twice per year.


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





Mostly of assistance.


5.6 Unlikely many Head teachers will accept pupils on flexi schooling so long as there are attendance targets in which authorised absence also contributes to their overall attendance score. 


7 b) Should any other contacts be included?






Contact list appears to be quite comprehensive.


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




Guidelines assume all Home Educating parents are doing so in the best interests of the children. The reality would appear to be that a small minority have a hidden agenda which should be monitored in the interests of those children’s safety. Failure to safeguard these children by enforcing compulsory registration and regular meeting with professionals appears to create an accident waiting to happen. Any requisite amendment to legislation to safeguard these children should be an urgent corollary of the Every Child Matters Agenda.


Should you wish for any further information or case examples to support the views expressed in this consultation I would be pleased to share these with you. More detailed examination of any LA Elective Home Education client group over recent years would almost certainly demonstrate similar characteristics.






























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