Thursday, 9 June 2011

The new EHE guidelines for local authorities

When Alison Sauer began writing extensive new guidance for local authorities, telling them how they should deal with home educating parents, it was not hard to foresee that it would all end in tears. For one thing, she had no clear mandate to undertake this work on behalf of other home educators and for another, there was an obvious conflict of interest in that she runs a company which trains local authorities in how to deal with home educating parents. In other words, the whole thing looked to many like a job creation scheme for the Sauer Consultancy; the company which she and her husband Ralph set up. A further complication which raised eyebrows was that the job of writing these guidelines had not been put out to tender, but apparently awarded to the Sauer Consultancy under a nod and a wink from the chair of a Commons select committee.
Something which has raised the liveliest suspicions about those involved in this project is that it has all been done on the quiet, with Alison Sauer refusing even to confirm that she is involved in the business at all. This is frankly odd. The story went round that various people were helping with this, including Tania Berlow, who said last year:

I am the only person who has stuck their head above the parapet and has said publicly that I have become one of many who are now inputting into a draft process which will be opened to all HErs once it is drafted.

The allegation is now being made that Alison Sauer alone wrote these guidelines single-handedly and ignored anybody else’s suggestions.
The Sauer Consultancy does not just advise local authorities on home education, but covers a wide range of ’cultural services’, whatever they might be! They provide:

Project Management
Export and Cultural Consultancy
Tenders and Contract Management
Training in Tenders and Contract Management

Their clients include private companies both in this country and abroad; it is not some little outfit just concerned with home education. Just why a commercial enterprise like this was given the job of writing new guidelines for local authorities is something of a mystery. Were any other companies approached and offered the job? Will the Sauer Consultancy benefit if the guidelines are adopted, for example by training local authorities in their application and interpretation? Did Graham Stuart, Chair of the relevant Commons select committee, offer this commission officially or is it just some private project of his? What is his connection, if any, with the Sauer Consultancy? Until these questions are answered, I think that we might all be a little cautious of the new EHE guidelines, regardless of their actual content. The conflict of interest when a business is asked in this way to produce statutory guidelines regarding a field of work in which it is involved is enough to raise cause grave concern.

There is one final problem, one which nobody seems yet to have noticed. The Children Schools and Families Bill 2009 was examined by the Commons Children Schools and Families select committee. This was an impartial examination of the parts of the bill which worried home educators. I know; I was one of the witnesses who gave evidence to the select committee. The job of the select committee is to examine such things. What will happen if questions are asked about these new guidelines? Suppose that some sections of the home educating community cuts up rough about them as they did with the Badman report? The Children, Schools and Families select committee can hardly be expected now to view the matter objectively, because its Chair, Graham Stuart, was intimately involved with producing them in the first place. He could hardly offer an impartial opinion on something for which he was himself responsible. quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


  1. Firstly, I dont believe for one second that Alison Sauer wrote these guidelines alone, or to further her career. I know that the government asked for imput and it seems that she was the writer but not sole contributor. I dont think its very helpful to guess her reasons, motives or anything else.

    So are these then, the actual guidelines being sent out for everyone to comment on? Is there someone/somewhere we send these comments to?
    Have you any comments on them? Are they any good? - although you would have to try and answer this question without bias towards the person writing them and look at the content instead.

  2. 'you would have to try and answer this question without bias towards the person writing them and look at the content instead.'

    I have no bias at all about the person who wrote them. It is the process which I am dubious about. I have posted a link to them.

  3. The "guidelines" currently in circulation have not been released by Graham Stuart MP and are not the version he is currently working on. Graham will, in due course, be putting suggestions for guidance up in a public place where all home educators will be invited to have their input.

  4. Thanks for explaining that Alison. I thought we would have heard if they were the 'actual' guidelines. :)

  5. Who knows what is going on? Alison says one thing, one of the other "authors" (who seems to have actually been an editor,) tells us she is very unhappy with them and only joined in the whole process in the first place to get a look at what is going on. Apparently this other person also says that the impetus for this process came not from GS but from Alison and that she also was the sole instigator of the whole 20 day day debacle.

    So who is telling the truth?

  6. Not on 'the lists' so have no clue what is going on, but what Julie is saying is pretty upsetting if true.

  7. To be fair, what was actually said was that Alison suggested to GS that _a_ school place should be kept free for 20 days when off-rolling is suspected (ie that no other child should be enrolled, as I interpreted it); not that de-registration should be suspended, or that this should be done as a matter of course. It was specifically a suggestion for dealing with off-rolling. The real problem was GS's interpretation of it.

  8. 'Apparently this other person also says that the impetus for this process came not from GS but from Alison'

    THIS was the bit I found upsetting, if true.

  9. "To be fair, what was actually said was that Alison suggested to GS that _a_ school place should be kept free for 20 days when off-rolling is suspected"

    How could this possibly ever work? If it happens it's the school that is initially at fault (for off-rolling) and it would be the school policing it since they are the ones that take names off the registers and offer places to other children.

  10. "quis custodiet ipsos custodes" lol I like what you did there. Nothing like quoting someone's words back at them!