Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Home educators refusing visits

I have over the years watched with interest the tremendous lengths to which  some parents will go  in order to avoid allowing a local authority officer to visit their home in connection with the education that they are providing for their children.  Very often, the reason for this reluctance is the claim that the children themselves would be distressed,  frightened or upset by such  a visit. I am bound to say that if I was a local authority officer, this would immediately rouse my suspicions that all was not well in the household! Ordinary children meet all sorts of adults under a variety of circumstances; both out and about and also in their homes. A knock at the door by the man who wishes to read the gas meter should not be traumatic for any reasonably well-balanced child and nor should the entry of an officer from the council. Unless a child has a learning difficulty or is on the autistic spectrum, there is something odd and a little alarming about a child who is disturbed by the presence of strangers in her home.

     I think that the problem when a child displays behaviour of this sort usually lies with the parent, rather than the child. Some parents hold up the local authority to their children as a species of bogyman. They tell the child that the council want to drag them away from their parents and make them go to school, for instance. This naturally worries the child and makes the prospect of a visit  scary.  We saw this during the Badman enquiry, when some parents with children on the spectrum were warning their children of the possibility that they would be forced to go to school. More than one mother reported with satisfaction that her child had had a meltdown as a consequence of this.

     I have an idea that if parents stopped being silly about the local authority and just treated visits as being of no greater importance than a visit from the postman or the man to read the meter, then most of these problems would melt away. The average child is not scared of meeting unknown adults in her own home and if she is, then there is generally something wrong. 

     Sometimes the spectre is summoned up that the local authority officer might actually wish to speak to the home educated child or, worse still, ask her questions! I am irresistibly reminded of the incident in Kent when Graham Badman visited a group of home educating parents and their children. He asked one child what she wished to be when she grew up. A normal enough question from a random adult of the kind that most children encounter regularly without becoming hysterical. She replied that she wanted to be vet, whereupon Badman reminded her that she would need a very high standard of mathematical knowledge for such a job. He asked whether the child knew, for example, about square roots; a reasonable enough question given her age and professed ambition. The result of all this was that with increasing  anxiety being displayed on the part of the parents and the extreme timidity of the children, that some of the children burst into tears and began fleeing in terror. This is not normal behaviour on the part of children asked casual questions of this sort and itself raises serious doubts about the type of life that they had been leading.

     Normal, well balanced children are perfectly capable of withstanding unknown adults asking them what they want to be when they grow up or  how much they know about maths. There is, to my mind at least, something a little unsettling about the idea of ten or eleven year-olds who are so protected from everyday life that this sort of thing could cause them to run away in fear. When parents decline visits on such grounds as these, that is to say that it would upset their children, I tend to assume that their children have perhaps led very sheltered and protected lives, not acquiring the ability to withstand the rough and tumble of everyday life.  I do not see this as a good thing, to teach children to fear strangers and become distressed if asked questions. As I said earlier, if I was a local authority officer, this sort of thing might cause me to ask just what sort of lifestyle these children are living that they would be unable to cope with meeting new people and speaking to them about their lives. 


  1. Those who are the most vociferous in opposing visits by the Local Authorities tend to hide behind the philosophy 'autonomous education' as a way of not providing an education to their children. Perhaps they are the most threatened because they know that the LA people will see through their facade of educational neglect.

    1. As an autonomous educator I was against home visits because of the negative affect it might have on our children's view of their own education. The LA may even have concluded, as you have, that we were neglecting their education. But since all of our children have since gone into further and higher education without problems, it seems that they would have been wrong. This is the first generation of our family to attend university. AE has worked fine for us, but if we had allowed visits to continue we would have had to change our education approach, so I'm very glad that we managed to avoid visits.

    2. You're an idiot. I don't want a visit because I'm not legally obliged to do so. 'Nuff said.

  2. Old worn out Webb says " Some parents hold up the local authority to their children as a species of bogyman. They tell the child that the council want to drag them away from their parents and make them go to school, for instance"

    LEA officers can start the process of a school attendance order if he does not like the family or the house or you answer a question the wrong way or the child answers wrong way. LEA officer look to gather evidence that no education is taking place and can then claim the education is no good for the child.
    Ask an LEA officer if a child should be at school or home educated and most would say school.

    How do we know what crazy old Badman said to those children was he taped? i do know that a number of children wrote to old Badman asking for a meeting with him but he never give a reply
    The law not going to be changed on home visits and parents can say no thanks to a home visit and they is nothing an lEA officer can do about that bet that hurts!

    1. I have had home education visits for my son for the last few years - but despite knowing my son is well-educated and happy at home, I will admit we both dread the visit. We have to present a wide range of educational work etc., and demonstrate this to the Education officer - whilst being interrogated on our knowledge. All this takes place within about an hour and a quarter. Who else but home educators gets quizzed about all the subjects that have been learned/ studied over a year - in a 75 minute visit? If you can't answer a question, it goes on the 'report' as something to consider studying! My son has been an avid reader since the age of 6 (he learned to read aged 2!), he excels at maths - I know he is well ahead of his year group because we have the study books (completed!) but none of his 'reports' reflect this. Why not? I don't even read the reports to him now as it is demoralizing. If I can refuse the home education visits, then I would very much like to as they are no help to us at all.

  3. Or, of course, Simon, it could be that the person the LA sends to the house throws their weight around and makes themselves unwelcome?

    People who start off by describing themselves as 'Monitors' and 'Inspectors' and represent themselves as having powers that they do not have do not tend to make themselves welcome guests.

    Nor, in my experience, do guests announce that they will come at preset dates and times without checking that it is convenient for you, or that they will bring other people with them.

    Your analogy about the electricity meter reader is a little disingenous, because the meter reader does not have power to send a child back to an environment that was totally wrong for them. Both mine are fine about having meter readers, electricians, plumbers etc in the house, but do not want people that they perceive as judging them and trying to twist what they say. Maybe that is their autism. I suspect it is their common sense. After all, you don't cuddle a tiger, do you? You leave it in it's cage and admire it from a safe distance.

    I did have visits at first, but I always made it clear that I was inviting them, and when they failed to comply with the EHE guidelines, misrepresented what I'd said and dealt with my son in a way that upset him, I stopped having visits.

    I would have liked to have worked with them, but their concept of that involved me being a doormat. As you may have noticed, I am not natural doormat material.


  4. “They tell the child that the council want to drag them away from their parents and make them go to school, for instance.”

    It’s not always the parent’s fault that children have this view. My niece was a school refuser and part of the attempt to get her into school involved her being picked up from home and taken to school by an education welfare officer. And whilst they could not lay hands on my niece, they applied great pressure (threat of prosecution for truancy) on her mother to drag her to the car and force her to go to school. Her mum literally had to drag her out of the house, peeling her fingers from the door posts. Clearly children talk to other children about such experiences. I think this may give some clue as to why some children might fear council employees.

  5. Simon Webb wrote:

    "there is something odd and a little alarming about a child who is disturbed by the presence of strangers in her home."

    Fascinating; it's not OK for a child to be disturbed by the presence of strangers, but it is OK for Simon to be alarmed by such a child.

    Given the antics of some of the social services types who want to invade our homes, it's wise to be wary of them; competence and honesty doesn't seem to be a strong point.

    1. Simon says we shouldn't be upset by strangers -like these social workers from Haringey- wanting to come into our homes:

      Baby P council under fire for launching 'unlawful' abuse inquiry

      Couple falsely accused of child abuse win damages from Haringey council

      This is merely the tip of the iceberg, and if they do this to their own kind (other social workers), then HE families have little hope.

  6. I actually have nothing intellectual to say, because it would be a waste of my brain power, Simon you are a tosser!

  7. The AE mafia are currently calling other people in our area, who accept visits, idiots, dupes, spies and collaborators. Nice.

    1. It's a bit pointless moaning about it here. Nothing will be achieved and we have no way of knowing if you are lying or not anyway.

    2. I don't particularly care whether you do or not. Those who recognise the picture may feel encouraged to know they are not alone in dealing with it.

      In any case, nothing wrong with a bit of pointless moaning every now and then.

    3. Maybe you're right. I remember people who followed a more parent-led approach complaining that autonomous educators were just lazy and neglectful and should maybe be reported to the authorities. Those who did not want visits were told they were trouble makers who would make life difficult for those who were happy to have visits (how?). We were told that we should just lie to the LA visitor about our provision, keep our heads down and not rock the boat.

      Maybe the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction these days?

  8. I've been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or blog posts on this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this web site. Reading this information So i am satisfied to express that I have an incredibly just right uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed. I such a lot without a doubt will make certain to don?t disregard this web site and provides it a look regularly.

    Feel free to visit my web-site her response

  9. Hello, this weekend is fastidious in support of me, for the reason that this time i am
    reading this wonderful informative paragraph here at my home.

    Have a look at my web-site :: diets that work for women

  10. I am in fact glad to read this weblog posts which
    contains lots of useful facts, thanks for providing such statistics.

    Feel free to visit my web site blog

  11. My family always say that I am killing my time here at net, except I know I am getting experience all the time by reading thes nice articles or reviews.

    My blog post: parkeren Schiphol P1

  12. excellent post, very informative. I ponder why the opposite specialists
    of this sector don't realize this. You must continue your writing. I am sure, you've a huge readers' base already!

    Feel free to surf to my blog post; over At this website

  13. Paranoia is created in the mind. It is sustained by the illusion that you have an 'enemy'. Every worker - even those employed by the government is a human. Many of these workers are operating in their ego and that is what comes across as too authorative to some parents but it is nothing to rear. All you have to do when someone is throwing their weight about is to point it out to them and they will stop! I have done this hundreds of times and it works. Don't teach your children to be afraid of some people as if some people have a kind of power they don't - how will they survive in the world like that? Be the mirror of what you want to see and teach your children the law of attraction and show them how powerful they are and how they can reflect back any energy shown to them. The children will grow confident when they see how you are confident and how you battle 'evil' with good, that is not saying the authorities are evil or even less so the people who work with them but that the perception of evil is an illusion in that if we are whole then there is not an enemy as such that can harm us.