Sunday, 30 September 2012

A treat for readers!

I thought that readers might like to read what Myra Robinson, a local authority officer in the north of England, has to say about home education. I was on a television programme with her a few years ago and formed quite a favourable impression, but of course readers must judge for themselves.


  1. Thanks, Simon, you've summed up exactly the problem I have with some LA's. To quote from her article

    "A more serious case of a girl with a Statement of Special Educational Need. Her Statement should be reviewed annually, but since her parents withdrew her three years ago, I’ve been unable to establish any contact at all. Sometimes the curtains twitch and a dog barks. It’s rumoured that the house is used for drug dealing so I always visit with a minder – and put a note through the door when they don’t respond."

    Her statement should indeed be reviewed by the LA annually but the parent does not need to participate in the review, although they should be invited to. Statements reflect the provision that should be made by the LA for the child if they were at school. All the parent has to do is make provision appropriate to age, ability, aptitude and SEN.

    And 'it's rumoured' that the house is used for drug dealing. So there's no evidence then? The police haven't investigated? We're back to 'innocent till proved guilty - unless you home educate' again here

    Further down the article she says that she leaves "very clear simple outlines of what I think they should be working on together."

    What she thinks they should be working on, is her opinion, not the law.

    If she feels an education with the 3a's and one s isn't being provided and that the situation is irretrievable, then that is what SAO's were invented for.

    In fact, all the situations she's listed were cases that to me seemed to call for official intervention IF the concerns were substantiated. The existing law very clearly allows it yet she hasn't done it and complains instead that she hasn't got enough powers.

    I think this sums it up - "They do not have to meet me, they do not have to follow the National Curriculum, and I have no legal right to visit the home. However, we feel it is good practice to maintain a database and have regular half yearly contact. After all, there could be child protection issues if no one outside the family ever sees the child."

    To rephrase this as Simon often does, she doesn't like the law as it is, so she ignores it, then justifies it with the current favourite monster under the bed 'child protection issues.'

    The best she can manage for the majority of home educators who do do a good job is 'they strive to do their best for their children.' Thus insinuating that their best somehow isn't actually very good.

    All in all, this article left me fuming. Which is good for my family because I shall now indulge in therapeutic baking again and they'll have drop scones for tea. For some reason, they like it when I follow your blog...

  2. 'All in all, this article left me fuming. Which is good for my family because I shall now indulge in therapeutic baking again and they'll have drop scones for tea. For some reason, they like it when I follow your blog...'

    I had a sneaking suspicion that you would take that line...

    1. How nice for you to have it confirmed.

      Seriously, I'd like to know what you think of her article and particularly, your views on why she isn't using SAO's if the situation is as bad as she claimed.

  3. they rolled her out to support crazy old Badman she more crazy than he was! Myra wants to wipe out home education she hates it!

  4. Not brave enough to allow comments on her 'blog', I see ;-)

    Misquotes the Education Act 1996, and a generally pathetic attitude to her job. Why on earth hasn't she issued school attendance orders? She has/had powers but fails/failed to use them. I hope the children she refers to read her blog at some point in the future, because if they recognise themselves and feel the have suffered as result of her failure to carry out her duties, I think they would have a good case. I believe she has provided enough evidence of her negligence on which to base a claim (if her information is accurate and she hasn't left out important information). She clearly has evidence sufficient to suggest that a suitable education is not being provided in some of these cases.

  5. She says,

    "It shouldn’t be that parents always have the right to withdraw children from school, but that children always have the right to be educated."

    Both are true in law, children do always have the right to receive an education, and it was her duty to act as a safety net when the child's right to an education was being neglected. She has described herself failing to act as that safety net. I'm getting more and more annoyed the more I think about it!

  6. I hope she has a better understanding of the law now that she works as a Magistrate. She didn't bother to use the powers given to her by various Acts and case law whilst inspecting home educated children and then misquotes text from the Education Act 1996 twice in her article!

    1. God help any one who up before her with her ignorance of the law.

  7. If the Welsh government holds any kind of public hearing, perhaps they'd like to invite her to provide evidence and to speak in support of the proposed legislation.

    I'd be willing to contribute to a fund to pay for her travel to Cardiff and overnight accommodation. I guess we'd also have to cover the costs for her warders, but it would be well worthwhile, particularly if there's an opportunity for cross-examination.

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