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CME2010

Page history last edited by starkfamily1@... 11 years, 6 months ago

 

CME 2010:

 


 

 

Letter: 

The following letter has been sent to Mr Gove from AHEd members on 19th Nov as set out below. (The letter was also forwarded to Mr Graham Stuart, chair of the education parliamentary select committee; Lord Lucas, who has been involved with the home education community on EHE issues; and Nick Gibb MP, lib-dem spokesperson on education.)

 

Dear Minister,

  

Re : Children Missing Education

 

We 1 write to draw your attention to and ask for your expertise and advice about how best to deal with section 436a of the Education Act 1996, introduced by Section 4 (1) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (c. 40)2 and its associated guidance, “Revised statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving a suitable education, January 2009”3, which was preceded in 2007 by "Statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving education" 4.

 

We believe that Section 436a contradicts the following but previously established Section 437 of the Education Act 19965, and along with the statutory guidance incites ultra vires actions by local authorities.

 

As home educators, our foremost concern is naturally with the intrusion into our freedom to educate our children as we see fit and in accordance with the well established principles of Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 6 and its predecessor, Section 36 of the Education Act 1944. However, we are sure that you will also appreciate the implications for all parents of these intrusive, controlling measures over the family by the state, which essentially take the primacy of responsibility for children away from their parents. We are extremely concerned that this may set the standard for future intrusions and we hope to reverse the state of play as a matter of urgency.

 

We hope to seek your assurance that it is possible to remove Section 436a from Statute and for your instruction on how that may be achieved.

 

The following notes are a short explanation of why we feel this section is so confusing and destructive:

 

  • Section 437 Education Act 1996 is couched in negative terms which rightly comply with the well established principle of the presumption of innocence and with the primacy of parents, not the state, in the private matters of the family in the absence of due concern. It also provides adequate measures for action where a child not registered at a school is believed not to be in receipt of a suitable education and at the same time protects parents and children from undue harassment. 
  •  
  • Section 436a Education Act 1996 is a point of confusion for local authorities. The section states that the authority must establish the identities (so far as it is possible to do so) of children … not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school …

 

This has been taken by LAs as an instruction to ignore the presumption of innocence of parents of children of compulsory school age, particularly those who are electively home educating, and actively search out, assess and monitor all elective home education.

 

  • The “Guidance on Identifying Children Missing a Suitable Education 2007” followed a public consultation during which Elective Home Educators warned of the likelihood of this problem occurring and so sought and were given the following reassurance contained therein: 

 

“3.3.16. If it becomes known that a child identified as not receiving education is being home educated, this should be recorded on the local authority’s database and no further action should be taken unless there is cause for concern about the child’s safety and welfare.”

 

  • The “Revised statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving a suitable education, January 2009” omitted this wording and now instead states:

 

“87. .. local authorities should make inquiries with parents educating children at home about the educational provision being made for them.”

 

and

 

“92. In order to discharge their duties in relation to children not receiving an education, local authorities should make inquiries with parents about whether their home educated children are receiving a suitable education.”

 

The parental responsibility to ensure suitable educational provision as set out in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 and reinforced by section 437, is replaced by an invocation for local authority action whether or not there is due cause for concern. The presumption of innocence is selectively removed from those choosing elective home education, creating clear discrimination.

 

This ambiguity has also led to local authorities believing they have a mandate to produce a register of elective home educators and to monitor their education; both issues which were strongly contested during the last government and which the Coalition has assured us are not intended.

 

The home education community has experienced similar “mission creep” with truancy legislation7 and hopes to prevent a similar scenario worsening here.

 

There are many examples we could provide of where Section 436a has been used inappropriately, causing distress to innocent children and their families.

 

We believe that the previous government has created Legislation that unnecessarily jeopardises the freedom and rights of families and we now look to the Coalition to restore this section of the Law to a workable state of consistency and fairness. We look forward to your support and advice.

 

Yours

          (Chair, AHEd.)

For and on behalf of AHEd members.

Email:

Tel:

 

REFERENCES

 

1. Action for Home Education (AHEd) is an action group of home educating parents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland whose purpose is to defend and advance home education rights and liberties and to promote fair and equal treatment for all home educators. All members can take an equal part in the work produced by AHEd. AHEd is an affiliate of the Scottish home education association, Schoolhouse, which supports families in Scotland

 

2. 436A Duty to make arrangements to identify children not receiving education

 

(1) A local education authority must make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but—

 

(a) are not registered pupils at a school, and

(b) are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.

 

(2) In exercising their functions under this section a local education authority must have regard to any guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State.

 

(3) In this Chapter, “suitable education”, in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have.”

 

(2) In section 437 of EA 1996, in subsection (8) omit the definition of “suitable education”.

 

(3) In section 580 of EA 1996 (index) for the entry in the second column which relates to the expression “suitable education (in Chapter 2 of Part 6)” substitute “section 436A(3)”.

 

3. Revised statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving a suitable education, January 2009

 

87. Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 requires local authorities to make arrangements to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children who are not pupils at schools and who are not otherwise receiving suitable education. In order to comply with this duty local authorities need to make arrangements which will as far as possible enable them to determine whether any children who are not pupils at schools, such as those being educated at home, are receiving suitable education. In order to do this local authorities should make inquiries with parents educating children at home about the educational provision being made for them. The procedures to be followed with respect to such investigations are set out in the EHE Guidelines, 2.7-2.11 and 3.4-3.6.

 

92. In order to discharge their duties in relation to children not receiving an education, local authorities should make inquiries with parents about whether their home educated children are receiving a suitable education. The Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities make clear that parents who home educate may take a number of equally valid approaches to educational provision for their children.

 

4. Statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving education [2007]

 

 3.3.16. If it becomes known that a child identified as not receiving education is being home educated, this should be recorded on the local authority's database and no further action should be taken unless there is cause for concern about the child's safety and welfare. Monitoring arrangements already exist for children being educated at home. Where there are concerns about the child's safety and welfare, Local Safeguarding Children Board procedures must be followed.  –

 

5. Education Act 1996 S437 School attendance orders. E+W 

 

(1)If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.

 

(2)That period shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.

 

(3)If—

 

(a)a parent on whom a notice has been served under subsection (1) fails to satisfy the local education authority, within the period specified in the notice, that the child is receiving suitable education, and

 

(b)in the opinion of the authority it is expedient that the child should attend school,

the authority shall serve on the parent an order (referred to in this Act as a “school attendance order”), in such form as may be prescribed, requiring him to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order.

 

(4)A school attendance order shall (subject to any amendment made by the local education authority) continue in force for so long as the child is of compulsory school age, unless—

 

(a)it is revoked by the authority, or

 

(b) a direction is made in respect of it under section 443(2) or 447(5).

 

(5) Where a maintained F1. . . school is named in a school attendance order, the local education authority shall inform the governing body and the head teacher.

 

(6) Where a maintained . . . school is named in a school attendance order, the governing body (and, in the case of a maintained school, the local education authority) shall admit the child to the school.

 

(7) Subsection (6) does not affect any power to exclude from a school a pupil who is already a registered pupil there.

 

(8) In this Chapter—

 

    *      [F2“maintained school” means any community, foundation or voluntary school or any community or foundation special school not established in a hospital; and]

 

    *      “suitable education”, in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have.

 
6.  Education Act 1996 S7Duty of parents to secure education of children of compulsory school age. E+W

 

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—

 

(a)to his age, ability and aptitude, and

 

(b)to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

 

7. http://ahed.pbworks.com/w/page/1553259/Truancy-Patrols-two

 

This account traces the history of home educators’ representations to parliament upon recognising that we would be oppressed when encountering truancy patrols conducted under the powers contained in the Crime and Disorder Act. It has been a brutal lesson in the uselessness of ministerial assurances and government guidances that are widely ignored, and of the necessity for our rights to be safeguarded in legislation.

 

8th December 2010 (update)

 

To date, no response or acknowledgement has been received from the Minister or any of the recipients. We have today (8.12.2010) written to Michael Gove again "on behalf of the committee and members of AHEd to ask if (the Minister has) had time to consider our letter to you of 19th Nov, below, and to respectfully enquire how long will it be before we can expect a reply." The original letter has been forwarded to all the members of the Parliamentary Education Select Committee for their informatin and consideration. Meanwhile, continue to await events. 

 

Thank you for your emails:

 

Dear Ms Stark, 

Thank you for your recent emails.

 

Your original email was received on 19 November and passed to the appropriate policy team for response.  Please note that the Department aims to reply to written correspondence within 15 working days.

 

If you need to write again on this issue, please quote the following reference number 2010/0097020

 

Yours sincerely

 

Department for Education

 

Telephone

 

 

 

Get Involved

 

If you would like to speak to your MP asking him to support AHEd and put an end to the CME anomaly, you may find this postcard helpful: http://freedomineducationunderthreat.blogspot.com/ 

 

Comments (3)

Clare said

at 5:49 pm on Nov 19, 2010

I really hope the Minister sees the sense in getting rid of 436a - it seems to have only served to exacerbate the prejudices and ignorances of some LA personnel.

starkfamily1@... said

at 5:07 pm on Dec 8, 2010

Prejudice indeed but they cannot be ignorant. Nick Gibb said in a letter to the chair of the education select committee last year, "local authorities have followed the passage of the (CSF) Bill with great interest and ... local officials are well aware that the registration and monitoring provisions did not become law." http://www.home-education.biz/forum/england/12581-home-education-letter-from-nick-gibb.html However, Nottingham City recently wrote to all known home eddors saying that the findings of the Badman review have been "put on hold" and sending them a newsletter in the meantime with useful addresses including how to get your child admitted to one of their schools

starkfamily1@... said

at 3:30 pm on Dec 19, 2010

19 Dec. I've removed the reply as suggested in case any LA bods think it is a great wheez for justifying the unjustifiable and while we consider our response.

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