Friday, 1 June 2012

Why do some local authorities lie to and mislead parents about home education?

One of the things which irritates some home educating parents is the apparent willingness of local authorities to lie to them and misrepresent the law about education. This is a recurring theme on some forums and lists.What motive could  local authorities have for doing this? Hatred of home educators?  Sheer wickedness? I want today to look at an example of this sort of thing known to me and to consider why such tactics may be quite justifiable and in the best interests of children.

 In the London borough of Tower Hamlets, where until recently I was doing a lot of home visiting, there are many Bangladeshis and British people of Bangladeshi origin. A lot of them are from the Surma valley and speak not Bengali but Sylheti. It is not at all uncommon for the children of such parents, even those born in this country, to speak only Sylheti when they start school. This is a problem, but not one that anybody will discuss openly, for fear of being called racist. If the parents were not told constantly that the law required them to send their children to school at the age of five, many would not do so. The result could easily be young people who not only could not speak English at five, but could reach the age of twelve or so without speaking anything but Sylheti. This is especially the case with girls.

Here is a perfect example of why I feel that local authorities are both justified in giving out untruthful and misleading information to families and also paying more attention to one minority group, having different rules for them if your like, than are applied to white, English families. The chances of a white child born in this country reaching the age of five without learning to speak English are effectively zero. The chances of a child from a Sylheti speaking family in East London doing so can be high. This is a disaster for the child’s future prospects and he may never be able to take full advantage of the free education which he receives. The educational outcome for children of Sylheti origin is awful. It is disguised by the fact that monitoring often does not distinguish such children from other ’Asians’. Gujarati children tend to do brilliantly at school, better than white English kids and so they raise the average attainment for ’Asians’.

This is one example where a local authority needs to apply stricter rules to one ethnic group than another. It is also why in some areas, parents are told that the law requires them to send their children to school. In coming days, we shall be looking further at the implications of this sort of situation and what it can tell us about the reasons that local authorities often tell lies about the legal position of home education and do their best to discourage some people from undertaking it. 
To recap, if a Sylheti family in Stepney decided not to send their daughter  to school at the age of five, there is every chance that this child would not learn to speak English. She could remain in the home and marry young, never being able fully to participate in ordinary life. The local authority wishes to prevent this from happening. Should they tell these families that the law requires them to send their children to school at the age of five, which is not true? Or perhaps  they should not discriminate in this way against one cultural group. Maybe they should crack down upon anybody who failed to send a child to school and start insisting that they can visit the family and talk to them in person? This sort of stratagy, where all parents are treated in the same way has caused a lot of trouble and ill feeling in some parts of the country, because it treats loving parents who genuinely wish to educate their own children as being potentially negligent. What do readers think? Should we go out of our way to protect girls who are at risk of never receiving a proper education and remaining second class citizens? Or should we on the other hand pursue all parents who do not send their children to school at the age of five and behave as though they are all careless of their children's welfare?


  1. once you allow LEA to tell lies and be able to get away with it more lies will follow we teach our children to tell the truth you can not have a small group of people freely allowed to get away with lieing! plus what damage will these lies do to a family? you can not run any department built on a pack of lies maybe that is why so many LEA have very little respect from Home educators.

    once had a long chat with a county council over lies told by an LEA and he agreed that it must not be allowed other wise more lies will happen your never get the truth about something if a council officer knows he is allowed to lie! there must be held to account for not telling the truth.

  2. Get over it...what you're saying and doing serves no purpose.

  3. The simple fact is (to me) that however worthy the cause, institutional lying is never acceptable.

    1. Such moral indignation, prehaps you should take that up with EO and one or two of the home ed internet gurus.

  4. Interesting title, but I am yet to see from your post how it answers the question initially you posed.
    How is it ok to lie to everyone just in case they might be an ethnic minority family with English as their second language? Given how few of these the LAs are likely to find, I hardly feel it supports the case for lying en mass.
    Even in the example given above, the current law can be applied as follows:
    The LA can contact the Sylheti family and ask what education they are providing. Said family then have to satisfy the LA that education is being provided.
    If the LA are still not satisfied they are perfectly entitled to follow this up, with regular monitoring even going as far as serving an SAO if they deem necessary.
    Nowhere here would extra monitoring of all HE families alter the procedure the LA must follow or have any impact on the outcome of the case in this example and lying to all HE families wont alter the procedure or outcome either.

  5. 'How is it ok to lie to everyone just in case they might be an ethnic minority family with English as their second language? Given how few of these the LAs are likely to find, I hardly feel it supports the case for lying en mass.'

    I'm sorry, I obviously did not make myself clear. I gave these parents as an example of parents who would not be able to deliver a suitable education; a group of such parents of whom I hvae personal expereince. i did not mean to suggest that they are the only ones in that position.

    1. Oh I understood what you meant. What I meant, and what I clearly didnt state plainly enough was that those who "would not be able to deliver a suitable education" are really such a small group that it still wrong to lie to the whole HE community in the hope of catching the very very few who might not be up to scratch.

  6. Hello Julie you still have meetings with your friends in the LEA?
    i missed our chats on here i have kept the letters and records where the Hampshire LEA lied about Peter/famliy

    1. Mr Williams, you really sound rather obsessive regarding, Mr Webb, your LEA and others to whom you appear to bear quite a grudge.
      The simple fact is your LEA must have washed their hands of you and your son by now and your case consigned to the bin.
      However, anyone reading your rantings must be considering what a poor example you have given your child by behaving the way you continue to do. It really must be horribly embarrassing for your family, particularly as you've identified them all over the net and other media.

  7. family where intersted in the lies Hampshire LEA had said about Peter! Peter grandad was very angry over those lies one officer had done which i have in writing!

    1. Personally speaking...I wouldn't allow you to own a goldfish let alone home educate a child.

  8. but i do home educate! and there nothing you can do about it? bet that hurts!
    Hampshire council tell lies

  9. Doesn't hurt me....your kid might be SERIOUSLY affected though.

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