Sunday, May 09, 2010

Local Authority muscle flexing

I have come across several examples recently where local authorities are jumping ahead of their actual role and responsibility with respect to Elective Home Education. They were hoping that, by now, the new powers of the heinous Children, Schools and Families bill would be theirs. But instead, of course, the CSF bill ran out of time and Is Not And Will Never Be Law. [pause for loud cheers]

There is another reason, of course, why the EHE teams are busily sending out letters demanding visits and information that they have no right to demand. In a week or two, the conservatives will get their hands on the account books and (shock) will be announcing that the UK is pretty much bankrupt and they will be cutting back massively on all public spending. Cue EHE running around frantically visiting people they have no business visiting. "You can't make us redundant. Look how buuuuuuuuuuuuuusy we are monitoring the chiiiiiiiildren".

This month, more than any other month in history, is the month to be sending, or advising people to send, letters like this:

Dear subcontracted agency busybody,

We deregistered Child from school on DATE, and since then have been providing her with an education suitable to her age, ability and aptitude. I provided you with written information about our educational provision on DATE at the request of your colleague X. We have had no response from the LA about the education we are providing.

Please explain, in writing:

1) In what way the educational provision as communicated to the LA on DATE was deemed to be unsuitable if, indeed, it was considered unsuitable

2) Why we were not informed in a timely manner of this judgement (if it took place) and why no dialogue with us was entered into in order to support us in developing the educational provision to meet legal requirements

3) why, if the education was judged suitable on DATE, you have sent the letter of DATE, requiring more information/ a visit.

If, indeed, the information we sent you on DATE has raised concerns, please let me know what those concerns are, and I will be happy to write to you again in order to allay them; since I am awaiting information from you about the nature of your concern with the educational provision as it was communicated to you on DATE, and information about what evidence you now need, it is not, of course, possible for me to provide the evidence within 14 days as you asked. I expect you to provide me with the information I require, or to write a letter of apology for mistakenly sending your form letter of DATE, within 7 days of receiving this letter.

I am copying this letter, together with your letter of DATE and the information I provided on DATE 2009 to the Head of Childrens Services at XXXXX Council in the hope that action will be taken to prevent this sort of communications failure on the part of the EHE team in future.

Yours sincerely,

Or even a letter like this:

Dear Mrs LA Numpty,

Thank you for your letter of DATE.

You wrote to me claiming that your "department has a duty to monitor arrangements where parents have decided to educate children 'other than at school'". Please would you tell me which part of the law you are referring to? In the 2007 elective Home Education Guidelines for LAs, available here: it clearly states (paragraph 2.7) that "Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis." Has this been superceded? If not, please would you explain why you have made the statement quoted above?

We received a visit from you/your colleague X on DATE. We have never received your report from that visit. Please explain, in writing:

1) why the LA staff member's opinion of our educational provision on that occasion has not yet been communicated to us
2) Why, if the education was judged suitable at the visit on DATE, you wish to evaluate it again.

If, indeed, the visit of DATE raised concerns, please let me know what those concerns are, and I will be happy to write to you again in order to allay them.

We will not be available to meet you on the date you requested, and would prefer to keep all future contact in writing, as per paragraph 3.6 of the 2007 EHE guidelines.

Yours sincerely

Enough is enough.


Jacky said...

My LEA are trying to 'force' me into our third visit in 18 months. We educate autonomously but the bloke who visits is an ex headteacher. He says all work should be dated and asks my son to read for him. My son refuses and doesn't like showing his work either. I've quoted the law to them on previous occasions and, although they acknowledge it, they still insist that their way is to have visits. It's really getting me down and I'm seriously considering moving to an area where, if we're not left alone, there is someone who actually understands child led learning.

emma said...

There are bits in the letters above that you might find helpful.

I think I would say to your lot:

"I understand that you prefer to operate through home visits. However, this is ultra vires. Not only is there clear support in the 2007 EHE guidelines for families to provide LAs with evidence in writing only, the law states unambiguously that "Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis."

You have assessed the quality of education I am providing, through the medium of a home visit, not once but twice in the space of a year and, on both occasions, have found it suitable. This being so, I expect you to explain the legal basis for your expectation that you should assess the quality of the education yet again or, in the absence of such justification, to cease harassing my family. I also expect you to keep any future contact in writing".

I would then copy it to the head of children's services at the local council, your new MP (with a letter explaining that there is some dodgy ultra vires practice going on in the LA, which might even constitute a misuse of public funds), and I would also send it to Michael Gove MP with a covering note saying that if, in a few weeks' time, he is called on to make large budget cuts, then EHE departments creating ultra vires work for themselves by routine monitoring (where they have no duty to routinely monitor) might be a splendid place to start.

Carlotta said...

Thanks for these letters, Emma. I feel I may well have need of one or both of them in the near future.

emma said...

Oh, I'm very sorry to hear that, Carlotta :-(

Anonymous said...

just tell them no home viists thanks!