Friday, 22 July 2011

How to attract unfavourable attention from your local authority

Some readers probably feel that they are not yet proper home educators, because they are still on quite amicable terms with their local authority. There is really no need for this, as putting people’s backs up is a fairly straightforward business. It is not hard to draw attention to yourself and make your local authority think that there is something fishy going on. Let’s see the best way to go about this.

Some parents welcome visits from their local authority as a chance to talk over concerns and ask questions about their child’s education. They would ideally like to see their EHE contact more often than once a year. These people are what we call traitors and fifth columnists. Always keep an eye out for such characters on the lists and forums and be sure to denounce them, saying that they are making the lives of genuine home educators a lot harder, by encouraging local authorities to expect visits as a matter of routine. Remember, any professionals who ask questions about the fact that your child is not at school are not really motivated by concern about your child’s welfare or education. Be sure to brush off any questions and remind those asking them of the legal situation. A few friendly words might reassure the person and the matter will end there; that’s not what the true home educator wants at all. Best of all, refuse brusquely to answer any question at a hospital, clinic, GP’s surgery or anywhere else. Become upset and angry if anybody asks the most casual and innocent question about your child’s non-attendance at school.

The fun really begins when having aroused the liveliest suspicions in the minds of concerned professionals about just what is going on with your kid, you then get a letter from the local authority. Typically, this will be couched ina chatty and friendly way, asking if it would be possible for somebody to pop round for a chat. There are Quislings and collaborators who give in to this sort of approach, which is in reality little short of fascism. Do not be one of them. Instead, contact all the Internet lists to which you belong and send an agonised appeal into cyberspace, announcing that you are being hounded and pursued. Explain that your child is so sensitive that he is likely to have a nervous breakdown if any unfamiliar adult enters the home. With luck, you will find other like-minded individuals who will help you to compose a really snotty letter to the local authority. This will achieve the double purpose of both putting their backs up and also leading them to suppose that you have something to hide. The stage is now set for confrontation and you may look forward to an increasingly fraught atmosphere. It would be no bad thing if your child were to pick up on this atmosphere and become distressed himself. Here’s a handy tip. Why not tell him that the bad guys are trying to force him to go to school? If this does not distress him, then why not hint that some people might want to take him away from his mother altogether? His inevitable anxiety will then provide you with yet another grievance. This strategy is particulary effective for children who are on the autistic spectrum.

It is not hard to spend years at daggers drawn with your local authority and the more fighting you manage with them, the more you will know that you are not one of those supine wretches who sell out at the first opportunity to the forces of the state. They may prefer a pleasant relationship with their local authority with a good natured hour once a year to chat things over; you are made of sterner stuff. If you ever have the nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you have turned into a a quarrelsome crackpot who argues for the sake of it, just spend some time on Home Ed Forums or HE-UK. You will soon be reassured that this behaviour is perfectly normal for a good home educator!


  1. Just written an impassioned response to this and the computer ate it...grrr.....

  2. What I was trying to say ( but more briefly!) is that if you don't want a home visit, the first response should be " no thanks" and families should find an alternative method of satisfying the LA. Until that approach has been tried, any other actions are clearly ridiculous and those who advise anything else aren't helping at all.

  3. Yes, very funny. I don't disagree with some of the points you are trying to make.

    The trouble is that in some areas, you have complete idiots in the relevant dept ('School Improvement Dept' or something else just as stupidly named) who will send notes or ring up or stnad outside your home, demanding (not politely requesting) to make a home visit and telling you that your child MUST be present. And when they get there, they will do one or more of the following:

    1. Announce that your child has autism, contradicting the diagnosis other medical professionals have already given, without even the benfit of having met the child.

    2. Urge you to buy their book written about how to control behaviour in schools (?)

    3. Tell you that your educational provision is satisfactory, write a report saying it was and yet refer you to social services for unsatisfactory provision which they then are forced to retract at a later date, after your family has been through hell.

    4. Insist on a visit a year after you have put your children back in school because they heard you once told someone you might HE again at some point in the future.

    I used to have visits and got rather irritated with parents who didn't want them. Our area used to have good relationships with the LA. Then, it all went Pete Tong. Now, you'd be taking a big risk if you agreed to a visit.

    The most commonly heard verdict on a visit used to be, 'It was really, good. I'm glad we had it!' Now it's, 'I bitterly regret letting them anywhere near me and my children. Whatever you do, don't let them visit.'

    When did it start to go wrong? Right after the Badman report came out.

  4. Old Webb says-The fun really begins when having aroused the liveliest suspicions in the minds of concerned professionals about just what is going on with your kid, you then get a letter from the local authority. Typically, this will be couched ina chatty and friendly way, asking if it would be possible for somebody to pop round for a chat.

    I escaped from cellar Peter tricked me and locked me in! LOL

    Letters from LA are not alwaying so nice and often worded that if you dont have a visit this could lead to a SAO. or a refer to SS! many so called professionals hate home education and want to ban it.
    Those so called professionals dont like telling you that you dont have to have a home visit i wonder why? thought they liked following the law of this land?

    if people want a home visit have one but those that dont should also be respected?

    Hello Julie had any cosy meeting with HCC? not heard a word from HCC thought we where going to get loads of resourses from them?

    HCC are a rubbish LA and we should sack the lot of them! think of the money we would save?

  5. anon says-When did it start to go wrong? Right after the Badman report came out.

    Badman gone chucked into the wastepaper bin along with his crap report on home education! Badman got his feet up now pipe and slippers i can see it now Old Badman shaking his head wondering how it all went so wrong and why Balls does not return the phone calls!

  6. Or you could just keep being out when professionals visit, like you did, Simon, when the Health Visitor came calling. Sounds like the Health Authority fell down there, since this was obviously suspicious behaviour. Mind you, they met a well spoken professional adult when they arrived at the home so obviously all was well and there's no way you could have been keeping the child away from their eyes to hide any bruises. Because middle class professionals never abuse children, do they?

  7. I think you've forgotten two small, but important things, Simon.

    Firstly, in this country we have a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The rest of the EU may have the Napoleonic Code which goes the other way around, but we do not. This means that, unless there is proof to the contrary, I should be assumed to be doing what I say I am and not doing what I shouldn't be. This is why the police don't pop round once a year to check that you aren't growing cannabis or storing stolen goods.

    Secondly, the current EHE regulations make it clear that visits are optional and that it is the parent's right to choose how they provide evidence that they are meeting their legal responsibility to ensure a child is educated in accordance with their age, aptitude, ability and any SEN they may have.

    This responsibility is why parents of children who truant can be sent to prison. It is not the state or the council's responsibility to ensure a child gets an education. It is the parents. The Council should act if it appears to them that the child is not receiving an education, but they have to have some proof first. Not having visits is not such proof.

    I fully understand that you do not like the law as it stands. Nor do many councils and local authorities. That is very sad for you all, but it does not entitle councils or LA's to happily ignore the law and impose their own 'policies'.

    You were fortunate enough to live in an area that has a rational and reasonable attitude to HE and have been endowed by nature with a character that makes you intimidating rather than intimidatable. It would take an extremely brave or stupid council officer to try to push their luck with you.

    Not everyone else has your luck, or your attitude. I wouldn't at all mind a 'good natured hour once a year to chat things over'. What I got was a crass, judgemental individual who distinguished themselves by telling an autistic five year old that if they did not work hard enough they would be sent to school or Mummy would go to prison. I did not post about that on the lists. I complained to the Council and explained that I would no longer invite them into my home because of the effect their attitude had had on my child.

    I am sure there are rights and wrongs on both sides of the fence, but people who have trusted and had that trust abused are far more likely to want to warn other people not to be quite as naively accepting of the theory that all LA staff are automatically reasonable, balanced and willing to give you a fair hearing as they once were. Sadly, it is all too often those who try to be helpful and cooperative who get done over most thoroughly.

    When I started home educating it never occurred to me that a school or council would lie about their legal position or responsibilities or assume powers that they did not have. Experience has taught me to check everything and make sure all contact is in writing. Like many others, I wish I hadn't had to learn this lesson the hard way.

    I don't get upset when people ask where the children are educated. I do get annoyed when so-called professionals abandon the reason we are seeing them to lecture me about how my children would be better of in school without having any knowledge of what facilities they need, or what facilities are available in my area. I can indeed be brusque with them, but I am nothing like as dismissive, patronising, and occasionally rude as they are to me.

    Not one of your better posts, Simon.

  8. ' Because middle class professionals never abuse children, do they?'

    Not really funny. See:


  9. It wasn't meant to be funny, you idiot! Of course middle class parents abuse their children, that was the point.

  10. Since we know middle class parents can and do abuse their children, do you think the health authority failed in your case? When the father kept being out with the child when the health visitor came calling, should they not have referred your family to social services for further investigation? This seems to be the thrust of your argument. That parents who refuse visits are going to look suspicious and and attract unfavourable attention as a result. Yet all they are doing is refusing a visit they are not required to accept in law, just as you did. At least they have the politeness most of the time to cancel visits up front and don't just go out when they are due to arrive, which is surely more suspicious?

  11. Surely the point here ( at least the point I was trying to make) is not about what to do with hostile LAs- I know they exist, but how to handle any LA at first contact. I have no problems with anyone choosing not to have home visits -as I have said before; but if an LA ask or demand such a visit, the first sensible response surely should be ( if you don't want a visit) " no thanks"

    Yet we seem to come across those who encourage all sorts of sometimes aggressive responses as a first reply, which I don't think is at all helpful.

  12. I always point out to people that visits are not mandatory (because much LA documentation does not make that clear) and that if you choose to meet elsewhere or not at all then that's fine too. Some of our locals enjoy their visits, and the inspector comes over as nice and friendly and is happy with all the options. However, he's just retired so we all get to start from scratch again and train up a new one.

    I think a lot of people either are unaware that they can refuse and so accept a visit they're rather not have, or politely say no and then find that the LA insist. With the general LA track record, I don't think you need too much insistence on their side to ramp up to an aggressive response because a clueful LA won't push things to that point.

  13. 'Middle class professionals never abuse children do they?'

    As do some home educators.

  14. Well duhhh... You will find child abusers within any group you care to mention. What is your point?

  15. Abuse comes in many forms, judging by your comment you appear to have negative and unpleasant personality traits, it seems you're verbally and psychologically abusive.

  16. 'Abuse comes in many forms, judging by your comment you appear to have negative and unpleasant personality traits, it seems you're verbally and psychologically abusive.'

    Oh goodie, Mr Abusive Amateur Psychologist is back. Must be the school holidays...

  17. Oh goodie the bigot is back.

  18. Do you speak to people on a face to face basis with a 'Well duhhh...' attitude?

  19. 'Oh goodie the bigot is back.'

    You have a limited repertoire in the repartee department.

  20. Where as you clearly have a stunted mental capacity that is deeply entrenched in the 'us' and 'them' rut.

  21. Who are you talking to now?

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