Friday, 29 March 2013

Ian Dowty's legal opinion on flexi-schooling

I thought that readers might be interested to hear what Ian Dowty has to say on the subject of flexi-schooling. As readers probably know, he is a lawyer whose own son gained a place at Oxford after being home educated. This is a message that he sent to Alison Sauer;

 Flexi-schooling is legally possible (apparently), but the bottom-line is that it's at the discretion of a school's head who can start it or stop it at any time. You can't make any head do it, whether they "refuse" for good or bad or policy (whether local or central) reasons. That would be the case even if "or otherwise" included flexi-schooling, which is about as far as you can go, surely? If I've missed something, let me know and I'll gladly reconsider.

In my view it is better by far to leave the legal position alone and to win hearts and minds over to flexi-schooling with solid examples of how it works and the projects/schools based on it. If you want to make it something a parent can insist on, it seems to me that you have to address the problem that it might deprive a place to a child whose parents want full-time school. Alternatively you could perhaps argue that it could alleviate the problem of a shortage of places if 2 parents wanting flexi-schooling shared a school place.

You might want to point out to the DfE that its latest guidance issued on 22nd March seems to be wrong where it says " Pupils should be marked absent from school during periods when they are receiving home education." Since they are absent with leave of the head they cannot be "absent" and should not be marked as such - s444(3) Education Act 1996 makes it clear that "The child shall not be taken to have failed to attend regularly at the school by reason of his absence from the school— (a) with leave". If a child is marked as absent, the LA can use the register as evidence in court that the child is not attending regularly and this might give rise to an erroneous prosecution of a child who is actually deemed by s444(3) not to be absent. They ought to leave the law alone too :)


61 comments:

  1. I hope 'that Bucket woman' listens!

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  2. 'I hope 'that Bucket woman' listens!'

    I'm afraid that she has already said that she does not agree with Ian Dowty. She is instead pushing a document that she, Wendy Charles-Warner and Peter Humphrey have produced.

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    1. As someone commented already, the business angles have come out in that document, a database that CPE-PEN would manage and of course her favourite thing to do, guidelines that are specific to flexischooling. I bet there is a secret group in situ helping her to write new guidelines for flexischooling.

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    2. I do wonder why only Alison and Peter put their names to it. Why didn't Wendy?

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  3. Can I divert this slightly, Simon? Am I the only person who noticed that EOTAS got more prominence in the attendance guidelines (As in provision made by Councils for children who cannot attend school for whatever reason.)

    And, being contraversial, isn't this something HE'ers should be talking about?

    I am NOT saying HE is anything except a brilliant option, but it really should be for people who want to do it, not for people that the system don't want.

    At the moment, that part of the system doesn't seem to work very well and it amuses me in a sick sort of way that some of the same LA's who express such grave concerns about home educated children view 5 hours of tutoring a week as quite adequate if they can't find anywhere to put a child.

    Happy Easter everyone
    Anne

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  4. Sorry. Don't in para 3 should have been 'doesn't.' I do wish you could edit posts here...

    Anne

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  5. 'I do wonder why only Alison and Peter put their names to it. Why didn't Wendy?'

    For some reason, Alison Sauer and Wendy Charles-Warner try not to draw to much attention to their close collaboration in things like this. A similar thing happened with the briefing document on the Welsh proposals, which was jointly written by Wendy and Alison, but bore only Wendy's name. This time, Alison's name is on the document, but Wendy's is not. They were still both involved in the thing. You also need to bear in mind that Ian Dowty is not the only source of legal knowledge floating around. Wendy Charles-Warner's daughter is a barrister in Leeds.

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    1. Apparently Alison Sauer has had Daniel Monk take a look at her briefing paper, so I don't think Wendy's daughter has been involved.

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    2. I guess Wendy's interpretation of the law wouldn't be widely respected. I thought she was a lawyer. Alison promoted her on every Facebook group they were on as one. She even gave an explanation of libel and the defences one can use

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  6. Apropos of whether the new briefing paper was also written by Wendy Charles-Warner, we must recall that Alison herself said that this was so:

    'Peter, Hafod and I are currently working on a briefing paper regarding the debarcle around flexischooling - will take a week or so.

    In the meantime is anyone in the constituencies of any of the shadow education ministers? Namely

    Stephen Twigg MP
    Kevin Brennan MP
    Sharon Hodgson MP
    Karen Buck MP
    Lisa Nandy MP

    or knows
    Rt Hon Baroness (Bev) Hughes
    Baroness (Maggie) Jones

    Question time and any questions. Anyone fancy going and raising a question??? We can help you word it.'

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    1. I still can't make up my mind as to whether I should be outraged or insulted. We can help you word it pffft.

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  7. I'm surprised that Alison, Hafod and Peter weren't invited to appear on Question Time. After all they have their collective fingers on the pulse of the inner workings of Westminster. ;)

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  8. Would it be safe for Hafod to appear on Question Time? I wouldn't want anything on my conscience...

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    1. It is fine, she did after all appear in her local paper featuring her whiz kid of a grandson who allegedly takes flying lessons and is allegedly doing degree level courses. She even appeared with her photograph and name together and listed her general whereabouts.

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    2. The old chestnut of "when it suits"

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  9. You are funny people aren't you? Wasting a perfectly good bank holiday weekend in trying to denigrate others who, from what I read, you appear not to even know.

    I looked in on this having heard about the blog and wonder at the purpose.

    A self professed grumpy old man obsessing about a report, that probably has no effect on him whatsoever. Whilst several other people use it as a springboard to make asides about people they think wrote said report (although they don't know) and who they also don't know.

    Why? How does it improve your own feelings of self worth? What does it contribute to you?

    Sad, sad souls.

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    1. Whilst several other people use it as a springboard to make asides about people they think wrote said report (although they don't know) and who they also don't know.

      Do you mean that Alison Sauer lied on her public wall about who wrote the briefing paper? I'm shocked!

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. I found this blog by looking for home education and it came up as the first result in the Google search. I have found what I have read to be very informative. Thank you for taking the time to analyse the issues in a methodical way.

      "You are funny people aren't you? Wasting a perfectly good bank holiday weekend in trying to denigrate others who, from what I read, you appear not to even know."

      You are doing exactly what you accuse others of doing.

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  10. ' I have found what I have read to be very informative. Thank you for taking the time to analyse the issues in a methodical way. '

    Thank you, Charity. It is seldom enough that I receive any thanks for my efforts here!

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  11. Rather depends upon how reliable you want your information to be Charity doesn't it?



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    1. Typical of Alison Sauer and her acolytes to assume that one would not do one's research before commenting on a blog post. Take no notice Charity.

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  12. 'Who is Alison Sauer?'

    She is rather a controversial figure in the British home education scene. A home educating parent herself, she runs a business which offers training to local authorities on the best way to deal with home education. Because she has a financial stake in this way, some people mistrust her and feel that she is not objective. Currently, she runs an outfit called SC Education which promotes flexi-schooling. Again, this could be a conflict of interest when she is campaigning about home education. She is a close associate of Mike Fortune-Wood, who runs the Home Education UK site and also of Wendy Charles-Warner, the Education Otherwise representative in Wales.

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  13. Good grief. Get your facts right Simon. You're way behind the times with that post.

    Charity, an unbiased opinion by a reader: Alison Sauer is a perfectly normal person as far as I can tell from things she writes. Simon Webb has been obsessed with her for some considerable time and, because of that, tends to attribute anything that he takes a pet against as emanating from her. He keeps photos of her in various costumes (or so he has said in the past) and makes comments about her on a regularly basis. Generally, from what I can tell, the comments are not accurate.

    It is quite usual for anyone who disagrees with Simon in any way to be referred to as an acolyte or follower of Alison Sauer. Presumably because the people who blindly follow this blog taking it as true, feel that only people influenced by her can possibly disagree with Simon. Logic tells me that is nonsense but I doubt that logic will be allowed to interfere with their views.

    If you take Simon's blogs as being sometimes amusing, sometimes interesting, sometimes less so but always with a pinch of salt, you can't go wrong.

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    1. "Good grief. Get your facts right Simon. You're way behind the times with that post."

      Simon you are behind in the times because her LA training business went bust and so did her flexischooling business SC Education. The main link doesn't work any more and if you Google it you get links to other pages from that site.

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    2. I meant to say 'rumour has it that her LA training business went bust'

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    3. 'I meant to say 'rumour has it that her LA training business went bust''

      It isn't so much that it went bust as that there are only a hundred and fifty or so local authorities to train. Not all will want to pay for training and those that do will only want her services every few years. This means that you soon run out of customers! Which is why she moved over to flexi-schooling, because it seemed to have more scope for expanding the business.

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  14. ' Get your facts right Simon. '

    Note that the person who makes this comment does not tell us which, if any, of the facts are wrong.

    'he takes a pet against'

    Northern dialect expression. Suggests that whoever made this comment is from the north of England. Does this call anybody to mind/

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    1. You mean Alison Sauer herself is commenting here?

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  15. 'You mean Alison Sauer herself is commenting here?'

    Well, I think it would be rash to discount the possibility! My wife is from Grimsby and talks of people 'being in a pet'. When you move a little North-west, the use of the idiom changes and one says things such as, 'takes a pet against'. This is definitely more a Lancashire thing than it is Lincolnshire or Yorkshire. Alison lives in Barnoldswick. Also, if my brief and I think fairly objective account of Alison Sauer were factually incorrect, I think the person who commented would have pointed out the inaccuracies. That this was not done, suggested that the facts are as stated.

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    1. "This is definitely more a Lancashire thing than it is Lincolnshire or Yorkshire. Alison lives in Barnoldswick."

      Barnoldswick is in Lancashire therefore it could be her.

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  16. 'Simon you are behind in the times because her LA training business went bust and so did her flexischooling business SC Education. The main link doesn't work any more and if you Google it you get links to other pages from that site.'

    Actually of course, to be strictly accurate SC Education did not exist in the first place! She was trading under this name, but it was not registered at Companies House; which is sailing pretty close to the wind.

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    1. Did she claim it was a limited company? It's perfectly legal for a sole trader or partnership to name and run a business without registering it at Companies House. It's only companies that have to register at Companies House.

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    2. I see from the link you provide below that she does not call it a company, so of course there is no need to list it at Companies House.

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    3. Oh yes there is a reason. What a silly supposition. I take it you're not an accountant or work for HMRC

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    4. 'I see from the link you provide below that she does not call it a company, so of course there is no need to list it at Companies House.'



      You will observe from the link that I posted that:

      SC Education is a trading name of The Sauer Consultancy Limited
      Registered in England No: 04302386

      The clear intention is to lead those dealing with SC Education to think that they are coming into contact with a limited company, with all that this implies. The problem is that there is already a company called SC Education Limited with a registration number of 04890774. This is bound to cause confusion in the minds of those dealing with Alison Sauer's company. It might even be a little misleading. The same thing happens with her latest company. There exists a company called Midlands Productions Ltd, 04918979, Alison has now started a company called Midlands Productions Limited, with a number which is 07965459.

      This can all be a little confusing and lead to people not being sure with whom they are dealing. It was suggested above that one could trade as SC Education without registering the company at Companies House, but this is not really possible if you use a similar enough name to a registered company, so that people might get muddled up.

      I am happy to discuss Alison Sauer's business dealings in greater detail, but you might first wish to check with her that this is what she wants.

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    5. Simon writes,
      "I am happy to discuss Alison Sauer's business dealings in greater detail, but you might first wish to check with her that this is what she wants."

      An attempt to end this conversation? But why should I care what Alison wants? I disagree with much that she does, but also dislike people who groundlessly smear others through ignorance or intent.

      Delete
  17. "SC Education. The main link doesn't work any more and if you Google it you get links to other pages from that site."

    When I Google that I get South Carolina Education, is that Alison Sauer's business?

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    1. '
      When I Google that I get South Carolina Education, is that Alison Sauer's business?'

      This is what you want:


      http://www.sc-education.co.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/PDFs/Flexible_Future_Conference_2012.pdf

      Delete
  18. 'Alison Sauer is a perfectly normal person as far as I can tell from things she writes. Simon Webb has been obsessed with her for some considerable time and, because of that, tends to attribute anything that he takes a pet against as emanating from her. He keeps photos of her in various costumes (or so he has said in the past) and makes comments about her on a regularly basis.'

    This might be because practically everything which crops up in this country involving home education seems to have Alison Sauer's fingerprints on it! In the last nine months or so we have had the Welsh consultation; Alison Sauer was heavily involved in coordinating the responses to it. We have also had the flexi-schooling business; Alison Sauer is coordinating the responses again. Then there was the select committee; Alison Sauer gave evidence. It is very hard to comment on the home education scene in this country without stumbling across her in some role or other.

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  19. Simon wrote,
    "Has she reached an agreement with the former directors of SC Education to use their company's name?"

    Another groundless smear from Simon.

    This is very different from your original claim that they were running a company without registering it at Companies House. The document you linked to clearly states that SC Education is a trading name of The Saur Consultancy Limited and this is registered with Companies House.

    Re. your new point; it is perfectly legal to re-use the name of a company that has been dissolved (as SC Education Ltd was) without permission. I found several sources that confirmed this including:

    http://www.completeformations.co.uk/companyfaqs/company_name/dissolved_names.html

    http://www.formationsdirect.com/dissolvedandstruckoffcompanies.aspx#.UVrUlVfJK4Q

    http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/about/gbhtml/gp4.shtml

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    1. I see Simon has deleted the post I originally replied to, but my reply still stands. Alison Sauer's actions are entirely within the law, despite Simon's attempts to show otherwise.

      Simon's replacement post includes,
      "The clear intention is to lead those dealing with SC Education to think that they are coming into contact with a limited company, with all that this implies."

      They are dealing with a limited company. As it clearly states on the paperwork, "SC Education is a trading name of The Sauer Consultancy Limited. This company is a registered limited company and the paperwork makes it clear that this is the company you are dealing with.

      Simon writes,
      “It was suggested above that one could trade as SC Education without registering the company at Companies House, but this is not really possible if you use a similar enough name to a registered company, so that people might get muddled up.”

      This only applies to currently registered companies. SC Education Ltd was dissolved so it would be perfectly legal to register a new company with the same name or to use it as a trading name.

      Delete
  20. 'I see Simon has deleted the post I originally replied to, but my reply still stands. Alison Sauer's actions are entirely within the law, despite Simon's attempts to show otherwise.'

    I have not deleted any posts and nor did I suggest that Alison Sauer was breaking the law. Since there seems to be some confusion about this, I shall make it the subject of a post in its own right; exploring the matter in some depth. As a matter of fact, SC Education represents itself as a limited company and does not always mention the association with Sauer Consultancy, but more of this later.

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  21. 'Simon writes,
    "I am happy to discuss Alison Sauer's business dealings in greater detail, but you might first wish to check with her that this is what she wants."

    An attempt to end this conversation? '

    Not at all. I am perfectly happy to discuss Alison Sauer's business interests in detail, but did not want to be accused of running a vendetta!

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  22. Simon writes,
    "I have not deleted any posts"

    So you are saying that I was lying when I said you wrote,

    "Has she reached an agreement with the former directors of SC Education to use their company's name?"

    I copied and pasted this directly from a comment with your name against it. I have a screen shot of the comment and a download of the whole page.

    Can you explain this? Your deleted post is copied below as a reminder.

    ============================

    ‘I see from the link you provide below that she does not call it a company, so of course there is no need to list it at Companies House.’

    She has claimed that Sauer Consultancy is trading as SC Education. This suggests that she is trading as a company and not a sole trader. It would lead people to believe that they were dealing with a limited company. Since a company of that name has in the past been registered at Companies House, this can be a tricky area. Has she reached an agreement with the former directors of SC Education to use their company’s name? It is to avoid confusion of this sort that Companies House does not encourage people to call themselves something different as the whim takes them.

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  23. Simon wrote,
    "and nor did I suggest that Alison Sauer was breaking the law."

    I didn't say that you had. I was simply pointing out that your comment,

    "She was trading under this name, but it was not registered at Companies House; which is sailing pretty close to the wind."

    is a meaningless slur. Using a trading name that happens to be the same as the name of a dissolved company is perfectly legal and not, 'sailing pretty close to the wind' at all.

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    1. “I didn't say that you had.”

      I take that back, since reading back I see I have said this. But you did suggest that they should have gained permission to use the SE Education name and may not have done so, and that they represented a business as a company without registering it at Companies House, both of which are illegal. So no, you didn't say, 'Alison Sauer broke the law', but you implied that they had.

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  24. This begs the question as to why she did not register SC Education Limited in her name; if the other company was dissolved she could have registered it as her own and would have had more prestige as a limited company. She seems to like the prestige that goes with having a limited company; all you need to do is search for her on the directors website, she is or has been the 'director' for several companies.

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    1. Not really. It costs time and money to register and maintain accounts for separate limited companies. It's easier and cheaper to use a trading name under an existing limited company. You still have the benefits of a limited company without the extra costs in time and money. It's a common enough practice so I've no idea why people are paying so much attention to this example.

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  25. It was I who wrote the comment 'takes a pet against' and not only am I not called Alison (Sauer or otherwise), which would surprise my wife if I were, but I have also never been to Lancashire in my life.

    This is simply another example of the aforementioned obsession.

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    1. It looks like the re-enactment costume has changed and she's a man this time. ;)

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  26. 'It was I who wrote the comment 'takes a pet against' '

    Excellent! In such a case, you might be able to tell us what you meant when you said:

    'Good grief. Get your facts right Simon.'

    If, as you obviously think, I made any errors in the brief account that I gave for Charity, please help us to set the record straight.

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  27. Simon said,
    "The same thing happens with her latest company. There exists a company called Midlands Productions Ltd, 04918979, Alison has now started a company called Midlands Productions Limited, with a number which is 07965459."

    Again, perfectly legal since the other company was dissolved. Given the number of companies that fail every year, I suspect that we might run out of suitable names for companies pretty quickly if all past and current names were unavailable to new companies.

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  28. Simon said,
    "I have not deleted any posts"

    So did you, or didn't you delete your comment?

    ReplyDelete
  29. 'Simon said,
    "I have not deleted any posts"

    So did you, or didn't you delete your comment?'

    I can see that there has been a misunderstanding. I certainly edit and change my own comments; if, for example, on reading them through they seem clumsy or badly worded. I suppose this is because I am a writer and used to working in this way with what I have written. When I saw your comment about deleting a comment, I naturally assumed at first that you were accusing me, as others have in the past done, of deleting some comment of yours. It never for a moment occurred to me that you would draw attention to the fact that I had deleted and reworded a comment of my own, on my own blog! So yes, of course I do this with my own comments. I do it practically every day. Perhaps if those commenting here were not so pedantic and finicky, I might not edit so frequently, but as I am sure you know, if a single word that I write is open to misinterpretation; you can be sure that somebody here will misinterpret it. I have to be very precise.

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    1. I'm surprised blogger doesn't include information about edits next to comments. All other discussion forums I've used do this -it reduces confusion, especially when comments are changed after they have been replied to.

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    2. Simon wrote,
      "I can see that there has been a misunderstanding."

      So you didn't realise that I was replying to the post you had written and deleted - an easy mistake to make I suppose, though I'm surprised you missed your name at the top of the quote.

      Simon wrote,
      "It never for a moment occurred to me that you would draw attention to the fact that I had deleted and reworded a comment of my own, on my own blog!"

      I must admit I was surprised when you said you had not deleted you post because I fully expect people to delete unsatisfactory posts and to replace them. I only mentioned that it had been deleted in case anyone wondered where my quote of you had been taken from. It may have looked as though I were putting words into your mouth and misrepresenting you views.

      Delete
  30. 'I'm surprised blogger doesn't include information about edits next to comments.'

    For all that I know to the contrary, they may well do. As I have pointed out over the last few days, this is only a little hobby of mine; not my life's work!

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    1. I meant on this page next to each comment. You would have to be extremely unobservant to miss it if it existed.

      Delete