There were quite a few comments made to my recent post about offrolling. A couple of people took issue when I claimed that around 8% of children supposedly being home educated are not in fact receiving a suitable, fulltime education. I gave as my source the statistics from a number of local authorities which were sent to Graham Badman in September. It was suggested that I should take Tania Berlow's compilation of these data as being definitive. I shall work according to her spreadsheet for this post.
Considering the amount of work which she has put into the thing, it seems a little churlish to complain about her misuse of the expression ultra vires. Briefly, this is a legal term which means literally, "Beyond the powers". It is more commonly found in corporate law and refers to a company or other body making arrangements or carrying out actions which are beyond their legal powers. As far as I have been able to see, many home educators use the words to describe a statutory agency who claim to have more extensive powers than is in fact the case. This is ridiculous.
A genuine case of ultra vires action would be if a local authority were to prosecute parents for their child's truancy even though they had deregistered their child from school. What actually is happening is that local authority officers are saying that they must have this or that piece of evidence or claiming that they are entitled to see a child. Such claims alone are nothing to do with ultra vires action. There are several old and well established idiomatic English expressions which cover this sort of nonsense, "Trying it on" is one. Another would be, "Coming the old soldier".
Anyway, according to Tania Berlow's spreadsheet, the LAs claim that 2.35% of the home educated children known to them are not receiving any sort of education at all. Another 3.35% are not receiving a full time education and 1.71% are not receiving a suitable education. This comes to 7.41% of children who are not receiving a suitable, efficient and full time education, at least according to the local authorities. Another 4.51% refuse to have any contact at all or supply any evidence to the local authorities. It is a fair guess that many of those families too are not providing an education. This is why I originally said that according to local authorities 8% of home educated children are not receiving a proper education. I also suggested that we should treat these figures with some caution.