Okay…so I am playing catch up for those couple of days that we were snowed in while on holiday in London. But this was the blog I intended to write as a part of the #HomeEdLaw series.
Today, I want to give a COMMON SENSE approach to dealing with Local Authorities. A reminder of what you DON’T have to give them and some options for what you might give them instead to demonstrate those ‘reasonable expectations’:
- consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers – it is expected that parents or significant carers would play a substantial role, although not necessarily constantly or actively involved in providing education
- recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations
- opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
- access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child – such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and crafts materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and other adults.
Let’s look now at the very long list of the things that case law says we are NOT obliged to do…
- teach the National Curriculum
- provide a broad and balanced education
- have a timetable
- have premises equipped to any particular standard
- set hours during which education will take place
- have any specific qualifications
- make detailed plans in advance
- observe school hours, days or terms
- give formal lessons
- mark work done by their child
- formally assess progress or set development objectives
- reproduce school type peer group socialisation
- match school-based, age-specific standards.
Remember too that you do NOT have to let them into your home or provide them examples of your little human’s work.
3.6 Some parents may welcome the opportunity to discuss the provision that they are making for the child’s education during a home visit but parents are not legally required to give the local authority access to their home. They may choose to meet a local authority representative at a mutually convenient and neutral location instead, with or without the child being present, or choose not to meet at all. Where a parent elects not to allow access to their home or their child, this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the education provision being made. Where local authorities are not able to visit homes, they should, in the vast majority of cases, be able to discuss and evaluate the parents’ educational provision by alternative means. If they choose not to meet, parents may be asked to provide evidence that they are providing a suitable education. If a local authority asks parents for information they are under no duty to comply although it would be sensible for them to do so. Parents might prefer, for example, to write a report, provide samples of work, have their educational provision endorsed by a third party (such as an independent home tutor) or provide evidence in some other appropriate form. (EdYourself)
As it says…sensible to do so. Common sense. Before things get to the point of School Attendance Orders and courts, it makes sense to give them something. To meet them half way. Then when or if you do end up in court, you will appear to be acting within reason.
My PERSONAL do’s and don’ts look something like this…
- Allow any Home Education Officer into your home UNANNOUNCED…it is called ‘door-stopping’ and is poor practice. What is more, there have been instances of people impersonating Home Ed Officers in order to access homes.
- Give them any more information that you feel uncomfortable providing…a good response is… ‘Let me consult some legal experts on that and I’ll get back to you.’
- Ever allow anyone to see your child without a parent or another adult you trust present. A CRB/DBA or whatever they are calling a background check this week does NOT mean someone is not pedophile. Just that he or she is good enough not to have gotten caught at it yet. And what better job could one have than a Home Ed Officer where they have the power to threaten #LittleHumans and parents with sending a vulnerable person back to school where she may have been bullied?
- Ignore any official correspondence… at least acknowledge you received it.
- Network with other home educators. They are your best source of information and support when it comes to dealing with YOUR local authority. Word gets around quickly about bad practice and pushy Home Ed Officers.
- Educate yourself on your RIGHTS and your RESPONSIBILITIES. This series is only the basics…the more you know the more power you have.
- Talk to your #LittleHuman about their fears/concerns. Reassure them that you are prepared to fight for their rights to the education that they want. That someone cannot just force them back to school without a legal fight. And that takes time, folks. So far at least, case law has been predominantly on our side. So if you have followed these common sense approaches and can demonstrate those four things, you are in as good a position as possible.
- Take care of yourself and your family. This fight is for the long-term and we all need to be aware of burn-out.
BUT…case law is a living and changing thing. Right now there is a huge case brewing in Westminster that could change everything I have written about…
Mother of Matilda star prepared to ‘go to jail’ over home schooling row
This family has abided by the law…to the letter. In fact, they have gone BEYOND what the law requires and even provided examples of work (something this Mom would not be willing to give). Yet Westminster council has taken a very narrow and hard stance that they must meet with them or provide a letter from an educator (something I might do though, since I know three of them…two of whom are home educators themselves). The council is wilfully ignoring the law and pushing to expand it.
If these parents do stick to their guns and take this all the way, then it is possible…though given the previous rulings not likely…that the courts could amend previous case law. So it is important that we support this family and keep our eyes and ears open.
Tomorrow, I will end this series with my personal views on the matter. How far are we at #HomeCrazzyHome willing to go for PanKwake’s right to the education that works best for her.
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