Friday, 10 June 2011

A problem with the EHE guidelines

Alison Sauer tell us that the version of the EHE guidelines to which I have posted a link here is not the final version which was sent to the Chair of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee. Nevertheless, it must still give us an insight into Alison’s thought processes and one particular point leaps out when we read it. As far as one is able to understand, these guidelines are intended to advise local authorities on the law regarding home education. They are supposed to stop LAs from making up the law as they go along. It is reasonable then to assume that when these guideline say that such a thing must be done or may not be done, that this is in reference to the legal situation. Unless this is the case, then the things are pointless.

On page 14, we find a section headed Second Opinion. This relates to the situation where a local authority has doubts as to whether a suitable education is being provided to a child. It says:

If at any stage the parents disagree with the Local Authority’s decision that there are serious concerns, then they may ask for a second opinion. This must come from an EHE officer who deals with home educators in another Local Authority area.

Observe, this opinion must come from such an officer. Now local authorities do not generally pass cases around to each other in this way. Why on earth should a local government officer in Somerset start assessing a kid living in Yorkshire? However, if these guidelines are to be believed, then they will be legally required to do so in the future. They must do it; this is after all a guide to the law on home education. There are only two possibilities here. Either this document is not a guide to the legal duties of local authorities at all and is just a list of things which Alison Sauer would like to see local authorities doing; in which case the thing is a complete nonsense. Or, and this is alarming, it contains guidance to some future legislation which will indeed impose a duty on local authorities to swap information in this way. These are the only two possible constructions one may put upon page 14 of this paper and I for one am very curious to know which is the correct one!

1 comment:

  1. This bit concerned me too. When people use the word *must* with no legislation to back it up, alarm bells start ringing.