Monday, 21 September 2009

It's Still Easy to Home Educate in the Country - BUT...

Whilst I agree with Simon that it is very easy to home educate in this country, something that some head teachers of nearly expelled pupils are quite happy about, I am very concerned about the three week cooling off period recommended in the Badman review.

The state, quite frankly, has no business telling parents how long they can wait before they take their children out of school to home educate them, regardless of the reason the parent wants to remove the child.

If it is due to bullying, the parent doesn't get a whiff of bullying and then say "right, I'm getting you out of there Johnny!". It's usually after quite a long time of trying to work with the school and sort the problem out. The solution of removing the child from school to teach them at home is usually made when all else fails and it is clear that the school cannot or will not deal with the problem, and the child is under so much stress that there is no hope of them learning anything at school under those conditions.

To make a child endure another three weeks of that nonsense, when the parents have probably tried for at least a year to sort things out, is arrogant.

Because we know that in law it's the parents responsibility to educate their child, then what place does the state have in telling parents what they should do, when the school had it's chance and blew it?

Another worrying recommendation, is that the school write a report on the expected outcomes of the child who is to be home educated. WHAT A LOAD OF ........ Well, it's hardly the place to swear, but that recommendation REALLY winds me up.

My son's final report before he left reception said that he could read. He couldn't. If they had put on their expected outcome report that they expected him to be a free reader after a year, I would have failed to ensure my child reached their expectation and the LA might say, well, you're clearly not doing a good job, here, have this Statutory School Order on us.

To give a realistic educational expectation on a child who has learned nothing in school, will only serve to highlight the inadequacies of the school, therefore, the school is bound to inflate what the child would be expected to achieve, making it impossible for home educators.

So, whilst it's still easy to home educate in this country now, I have given two of the less spoken about recommendations in the review that could seriously impair our ability to home educate in this country if they go through.


  1. The bit about the twenty day "cooling off" period contained in Recommendation 1 of the Badman Report is actually intended to work to the advantage of parents! An awful lot of children seem to be deregistered from school due to bullying. As things stand, the school often does not take parents concerns seriously. Parents do not take the decision to withdraw a child from school lightly and it is generally after a lot of attempts to get the school to tackle the problem. If the school is slack about this and the parent then withdraws the child, then the school can shrug and say, "Oh well, cross them off the roll!" There is no consequence for them at all. Under Recommendation 3 though, local authorities will be required to analyse the reasons why parents chose home education and forward their findings to the Children's Trust Board and ultimately the DCSF will get sight of them.

    What this will probably mean in practice is that schools and LAs will come under scrutiny if the main reason for home educating in their area is bullying in schools. Schools will have a powerful incentive now to tackle this problem. Too many children being withdrawn due to bullying will start to cast a shadow on a school rather as exclusions do now. A parent's announcement that they will be deregistering their child will now be an indication that they are deadly serious about this and that the school had better sit up and take notice!

    I can't see why anybody would not wish to write out what they hoped their children would be achieving in a year's time. Unless of course the local authority is going to be ruthless about pursuing those whose children do not reach their expected outcomes. This does not happen now and I can't see why it would happen in the future. A lot of LAs make reports on home educated children which estimate their current abilities and sketch out what progress they might make over the coming year. I have never heard of any child being forced back to school because he could not reach these targets. You are quite right of course about schools lying about what puils are capable of. I remember with pleasure seeing a report for my older daughter which stated confidently that she was, "one of our most able linguists". This was not at all true!

  2. most home educators will not be taking any noctice of uncle Badman and his crazy ideas his report is a load of crap!

  3. Really quick post - but someone who has actually got the time to study the detials of this...if they exist? - answer me this the "cooling off" period really a time that has to elapse before a child change home educated, or is a time before they are taken off the roll - so that parents can change their moind without losing the school place? If it is the latter, then that seems reasonable - people do change their mind and can't easily return to school if the place is gone. Simon, how did you read the proposals?

  4. Ah, Simon - cross posted at the same time - so you agree with my intrepretation?

  5. Yes Julie, I don't think that anybody is going to be prosecuted for truancy if they announce their intention to deregister and then remove their child at once. I think it is a warning shot across the bows for the school, who know that things are now serious and they have to sort out any problems. I can't see LAs being keen to have their dirty linen washed in public about bullying and so. My guess is that schools will be instructed to take any steps necessary to stop matters reaching this point. I think it is good news for parents rather than otherwise.

  6. Reading through the relevant part, it says, "schools should retain pupils on roll for 20 school days so that should there be a change in circumstances, the child could be readmitted to the school." In other words, the assumption here is not that the child should remain at school during those twenty days, otherwise there would be no talk of "readmitting" him. The idea is that the child will leave, but remain on roll for twenty days to give the school a chance to sort things out. Sounds fair to me, the idea being that if the parent were satisfied with any solution they would not have to go the the hassle of re-applying for their child to go back to school. As I said, this is for the parent's benefit, not some sinister plot to trap children at a place where they are being bullied..

  7. Simon- Uncle Badman review is a load of rubbish and most home educators will not being takeing any notice of it come to think of it most home educators take no notice of there LEA now and often just tell them to F off.
    We told Hamoshire LEA to F off and have not heard a thing since i wonder why? where is uncle Badman i want to tell him to shove his report up his ?

  8. Julie-people will just carry on as before not asking a school if you can nor cant home educate you just leave you not going to ask a crap school if you can leave.Old Badman does not live in the real world where people will take action and there is f all he can do about it i guess that is what hurts him people wil just take no notice of his crazy ideas!

  9. I think that is a really good idea- people deregister their children in a response to all sorts of crisis, but some can't or don't want to do home educate in reality , and then if the school has a waiting list the place may be filled before they really consider what they want; so this would be a positive move.

  10. Julie no its not a postive move to stay at a crap school which has allready let down your child? that is uncle Badman way stay it all be ok and pigs will fly! uncle Badman is not well and needs to get treatment for his illness. any doctors out there who could help him? he got his facts all wrong to did you see he got to write to all the LEA for help? he got his calims over child abuse incorret and is now worried that select commitee will find this out he is such a pratt! upside down uncle Badman i wonder if he checks to make sure his trash bin is tightly shut? can you just thin kwhat ti would be like to live with this old man? have you checked darling? filled your form out? is it safe? you better re-check it!


    Home educators today reacted angrily to the news that the DCSF has granted Graham Badman extra time to gather 'evidence' for the Select Committee Inquiry into his report on Elective Home Education in England, in which he controversially claimed that home educated children are at greater risk of abuse than schooled children. Formal submissions have been requested by 22 September, whereas Mr Badman's personal 'good will' deadline has been extended until 1 October.

    Barbara Stark, chair of the home education action group AHEd , expressed incredulity at the development, commenting:

    "Our members and supporters have been working hard to ensure their submissions to the Select Committee meet the given deadline, only to find the goalposts being moved for the benefit of Graham Badman and his chums in the local authorities. It is a sign of utter desperation that the author of a report whose draconian recommendations have already been accepted by the DCSF without question is now pleading with local authorities to provide some actual evidence to back up his claims.

    "Mr Badman should perhaps have asked AHEd since we have already done the work of canvassing every local authority in England using the Freedom of Information Act and have produced an analysis which has been scrutinised by a professional statistician. Our data demonstrate that school going children are more likely to suffer child abuse and neglect than electively home educated children, which directly contradicts Mr Badman's alleged findings. We will obviously be interested in the returns he receives from these same local authorities since he has chosen to duplicate, at great
    public expense, our own voluntary efforts to establish the true situation."

    According to home educators, Badman's letter is tantamount to an admission of guilt. It is widely believed throughout the home education community that his report and recommendations were based on personal prejudice rather than robust research, that the consultation was a sham and the conclusions had been predetermined by the DCSF as a means of regulating elective home education out of existence.

    AHEd member Pete Darby commented, "That the DCSF are forwarding this appeal on behalf of Mr Badman demonstrates that the repeated claims of his independence are a sham. He is, was and always has been a tool of the minister to implement a pre-determined policy."

    Ms Stark concluded:

    "Since home educators highlighted the fact that such a small sample (25 out of 150 local authorities) bothered to respond to Graham Badman's original call for evidence, he is now appealing for additional information in a vain attempt to gain some credibility for his seriously flawed report.

    "The DCSF is aiding and abetting this exercise by allowing him special privileges while dragging its heels in responding to outstanding FOI requests from home educators and defending the indefensible. We will be watching closely."

  12. "schools should retain pupils on roll for 20 school days so that should there be a change in circumstances, the child could be readmitted to the school." Riight. So if this is to be interpreted reasonably, parents (and pupil, presumably) will have the opportunity to return to the school, should the school resolve whatever problems may have caused the deregistration in the first place. Sounds reasonable, so could someone please explain exactly why so many people are so outraged by this?

    Is there a specific part of this document that prevents parents/guardians from removing children from a school should the parents/pupil wish to deregister for whatever reason?

    gizzie: I may be somewhat picky, but if someone told me a child of mine could read, and the child evidently couldn't, I'd insist they change their report.

  13. Mam Goudig_ what stay on a roll of a crap school that you want to leave you let your child stay at a crap school would you? you really think that before things have come to a head that the parents have not tried? yes it does say that you can not remove child for 20 days but of course most home educators will not take any notice of it!
    We will nerver surrender to Badman?DCSF Ed Balls we will never comply and we have done this since June 23rd 2003 we will never give in.

  14. It may not be a question of being picky. It may be a question of whether you have any fight left in you, or not.

    Some parents are just exhausted after what could be years of trying to advocate for their child inside the education system. When the last straw comes and the child is finally withdrawn and a vindictve school tells fibs on a report projecting anticipated progress, who knows if parents would have the understanding or energy to fight just a bit more.

    This isn't an unbelievable scenario. It happens all the time in the SEN field. You just have to be on HE-Special for a short time to read the most appalling accounts of schools' behaviour towards pupils and children. Especially, I'm afraid to say, some special schools.

    It can also take some parents longer than a month to work out what their child actually CAN do and what they ARE capable of.

    Mrs Anon

  15. So if this is to be interpreted reasonably, >>>>>>>>parents (and pupil, presumably) will have the opportunity to return to the school, should the school resolve whatever problems may have caused the deregistration in the first place. Sounds reasonable, so could someone please explain exactly why so many people are so outraged by this? <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    Because it's a change in the law which imposes unreasonable interference with the parents' duties towards the child's welfare.

    We don't yet know whetther the child will be forced to attend the school during the 20 day cooling off period. If so, it may force parents into allowing 'truancy' in order to rescue the child from a dangerous situation.

    Or it may require the parents to ask a doctor for a medical note to explain the absense. Or it might interfere with the parents' plans to find an alternative school right away, because the child is still on roll elsewhere.

    And what evidence do you have that LA's are going to interpret the new regs 'reasonably' anyway? I worked for 3 of them during the 10 years I was teaching. They aren't known for their 'reasonableness'.

    I believe (knowing what I do, from the inside of schools) that some vindictive schools will use that period to gather 'evidence' which will then be used by the LA to prevent de-registration.

    The only people to benefit will be the lawyers.

    Mrs Anon

  16. As for the child being "forced to attend school" as you put it, during the twenty day period, the wording of the recommendation suggests that this will not be the case. Clause six of Recommendation 1. says, "so that should there be a change of circumstances, the child could be readmitted". The assumption is that the child has left the school.

    Since a lot of children are withdrawn from school following rows and disagreements with the staff, it seems to me a sound scheme that there should be such a cooling off period before any irreversible decisions are taken.How would a local authority prevent de-registration? I have not heard of this happening and would be interested to know the mechanism involved.

  17. Actually, I think it may encourage some prospective home educators to give it a go; we live in an area where some schools are oversubscribed and some people who contact me say they want to give home ed a go but know that they will lose their school this would improve their choice, not restrict it!

  18. "How would a local authority prevent de-registration? I have not heard of this happening and would be interested to know the mechanism involved."

    They wouldn't need to prevent d-registration, they could prevent registration (as a home educator).

  19. HCC is a crap LEA over Home education i have the proof in writing

  20. "They wouldn't need to prevent d-registration, they could prevent registration (as a home educator)." - true, but I don't think that this will affect what happens in the 20 days cooling off - presumably the refusal to register will occur after they have had the intial visit and submitted plans etc. I obviously don't want that - but I can still see the "cooling off period" being a good thing!

  21. Julie-no visits here or meetings or plans! or anything else HCC is a crap council for home educators and it officers do not tell the whole truth! Jack Cawthra should resign at once and allow some one who really does care about our children to do the job.Got the evidence here in wrting signed by David Kirk(he is the fool in charge of children service) you want to see what he and Jack Cawthra wrote? got all sorts of infromation including the sly emails the LEA officers send to each other about the family. and you can tell fro mthe tone of the emails and content that the LEA distrusts parents just liek you and simon do!

  22. Hi Julie, I was replying to a specific query raised by Simon in response to a comment by Mrs Anon.

    Mrs Anon said,
    "I believe (knowing what I do, from the inside of schools) that some vindictive schools will use that period to gather 'evidence' which will then be used by the LA to prevent de-registration."

    Simon said,
    "I have not heard of this happening and would be interested to know the mechanism involved."

    I said,
    "They wouldn't need to prevent d-registration, they could prevent registration (as a home educator)."

    I just suggested a possible mechanism that an LA might use to prevent de-registration, or at least force the family to break the law or return the child to school.

    I have mixed feeling about the idea of a de-registration delay. On the one hand, it may be useful for a few families to have the easily available school place to return to if they have made a too hasty decision. However, isn't it likely that some parents will use the process to put pressure on a school to provide suitable services when the family have no intention of home educating and fully intend to take back the school place within the 20 days? Good in a way if it gives additional powers to these parents but it could confuse the issue and potentially be harmful for those genuinely intending to home educate.

    It provides a window during which an LA might gather evidence to use to pressure the family to return the child to school with the constant threat that they may not be given permission to home educate. 20 days is a long time for a family to be in limbo waiting to know if they will be allowed to home educate, especially if the family has already been stressed by bullying or school phobia problems. 20 days of worry about being forced to send your child back into danger or an extremely stressful situation. How would this be for a child already pushed to the point of suicide?

    If the availability of a school place is the important issue, why couldn't they make it a requirement for the school to not fill the empty place for 20 days and they must accept the child back if the family apply for a school place within 20 days? Why the need to keep the child on the register? Though even this may not help as the LA could still pressure the family to re-apply for the school place. The combination of a de-registration delay and the right of the LA to refuse registration allows too much scope for abuse of the system by the LA.

  23. Just had another thought about possible abuse of the 20 day delay. If the child is not required to attend school during the 20 days, what would stop parents sending a de-register letter, taking the school place within the 20 days, and then de-registering again? No requirement to attend school, no truancy, no home education, no law broken.