ADCS press release June 09 (Long)

This is a link to the June 09 press release from the Association of Directors of Childrens' Services.

I wrote a letter to them regarding the press release and have copied it below as Ali thought it might be of interest.


I am a home educator, and I have just read the report concerning the home education review on the ADCS website.

Unfortunately, there are some misunderstandings implied in this document which I would like to clarify.

The document states the following:

"Association says that currently, local authorities do not have a way of ensuring that home educated children get the same opportunities as those who attend school. "

The law does not state that home educated children should get the same opportunities as those who attend school, but rather, that their parents ensure they receive an education. Those are two very different concepts.

This is what the law states as the Duty of the Local Authorities.

Duty of Local Authorities

Sections 437 to 443 of the Education Act 1996 place a duty upon local education authorities to take certain actions if it appears that a child is not being properly educated.

If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education. (s 437 (1))

If the parent, whose duty it is to cause their child to receive an education, has decided that the services of a particular school is not suitable, then it is not the duty of the Local Authority to ensure the child has access to the services that the parent has rejected for their child. You wouldn't ensure that a child going to Summerhill, Montessori or a Steiner school gets the same opportunities as a child who goes to a state school. The parents chose to reject the state option when they sent their children to a private and alternative school. It's the same with a home educated child.

It is clear from the above quoted statement in law, that the only thing that the local authority should be concerned with, is if a child is being properly educated. Properly educated means that they are able to live and contribute in the society in which they live. This can happen in a variety of ways, and does not mean that they have to get it using the 'same opportunities as those children who attend school'.

Also, why do you presume that the opportunities afforded at school are better than those afforded under home education? In fact, school attending children should have access to the personalised, individual attention, and all the trips, that home educated children have. That would be a first class education.

Everybody I know, who home educates out performs the local schools on all the examples that are stated, and I quote:

"opportunities such as taking part in school activities, trips and even public examinations, as well as making sure that they are healthy, safe and achieving well academically. "

How can a home educated child take part in 'school activities'? This is nonsense. They are SCHOOL activities, and a home educated child does not go to school!

Trips. My children go to almost every Royal Institue of Great Britain science lecture for schools. There are often a couple a week. It's interesting to note, that very often, there are no schools present at these fine lectures, despite the fact that they are free, always of excellent quality, always based on Key Stages, and easy to get to in Central London.

We frequently visit museums, galleries and other institutions in London.

My daughter attends about 9 operas and ballets a year.

We have been to every educational lecture at the Science Museum, at least twice.

We have been on numerous geography field trips.

We go to many other fine trips organised by home educators within Central London and further afield.

We camp with other home educators at least twice a year.

Public examinations are easily obtained via college or by using the Open University or other online providers.

Furthermore, it is not a school's job to ensure that children are healthy and safe, it's the parents. The responsibility of children ALWAYS lies with the parent. The school only acts in loco parentis.

As far as achieving well academically goes, sort out the situation in schools please before you start interfering with home educators. My local schools are dire, the worst of which cannot even manage to get 3 in 10 pupils passing their 5 A - C grade GCSE's. That leaves 70% who are not achieving well academically. I would say schools need your help more than home educators do!

Some statistics from the league tables for Enfield/Freezywater 2009 of pupils reaching 5 A - C grade GCSE's.

Albany school - 26%
The Gladys Aylward - 29%
Lea Valley High - 38%
and the best of my local schools
Kingsmead - 43% - which is still less than half of all the pupils.

What marvellous opportunities are my children missing out on there? If they want drama, I can send them to a drama class. If they want dance, I can send them to a dance class. If they want sport, I can enrol them in whatever sport they choose to do. If they want music, they can learn any instrument that takes their fancy. How can a school compete with such personalised and individual attention? Aren't those the buzzwords in education today? Unlike some schools, we live those concepts on a daily basis, we don't just pay lipservice to them.

My daughter, in one year, took part in the London youth games, spent three months in Madeira learning portuguese, joined a swimming club and now swims to a competitive level, learnt the flute to grade 3 standard, has improved her maths in 7 months to a year ahead of her chronological age, reads voraciously, has been told her English is good enough to start her English GCSE by an A level examiner, and she's only 11. Her first three years of home education (year 3 - 5) were completely child led and informal.

My two children have different abilities and work at different paces. The education they receive is tailored to their age, aptitude and ability. Read THEIR age, THEIR ability and THEIR aptitude. Not an average age determined by the current Key Stage.

This has all taken place naturally, at a nice easy pace, with plenty of time to visit friends and go on trips. There is honestly nothing as good as home education and actually, I urge you to research it more, with a view to providing more information to parents on how good an option it is. There is plenty of research already out there both in the UK and the USA.

Another interesting statement in your document is as follows:

"The whole system is designed to ensure that children are healthy, safe and able to make a positive contribution to society, whatever their background or home environment. "

Not entirely it isn't. It's designed as childcare for the demands of a modern two working parent family. Increasing the leaving age has been designed to keep the unemployment rate down because there are no jobs. I concur that for some families, school is the only way their child would have a chance of getting an education, but we are not suggesting that all children become home educated. Only that you fully research the efficacy of home education so that you base your policies on facts, and concentrate your efforts on improving failing schools, for those children who have no other options.

"Schools increasingly act as a central focus for all kinds of services to children and families as well as providing opportunities for children to interact with their peers and with other adults. "

How often is a child told to "Be quiet. You're here to learn, not to socialise".
Besides, socialisation is not the school's responsibility. School is there to educate on behalf of the parents who choose to use their services. This is clear from the phrasing of the law.

"Under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996, it is the parents' duty:
"... to cause (the child) to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his (or her) age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he (or she) may have either by regular attendance at school or 'otherwise"

Interestingly, how does school teach a child to interact with other adults? Whenever they say something, they have to put their hand up. This doesn't happen in real life. If they do speak without putting their hand up, as is the NORMAL conversational way, they get told off, or given detention.

At school, you're not really expected to really speak to an adult unless spoken to, and certainly, not to go off topic.

In real life, where home educated children live, they speak to peers and adults all the time. There are firstly the adults in their family and then their neighbours. Then there are the adults in the libraries, leisure centers, museums and shops. I could go on, but our children get to really interact with people in the real world. It doesn't need to be something that is 'designed'. R. Meighan states the most efficient method of learning is 'purposeful conversation'. This is something we do with our children naturally and frequently. The passive mode of education, imparted from the front, as practised in schools, is actually the least effective method of passing on information.

If schools are doing such a good job of 'socialising' children, how come there are so many reports about how ill prepared school leavers are for the real world?

Rather damningly, there is a list of articles from the literacy trust about how badly school leavers fare in literacy, even to the point of needing remedial English at university.

I could go on, but a simple search on google will bring up many more articles which prove my point.

I would assert, that by not attending school, our children get to see the real world and how it works first hand and are much better prepared for life at university, and after.

Finally your report states:

"whether that be support for learning or behavioural difficulties, health problems or safeguarding concerns –as they will not come into contact with professionals to point them in the right direction "

Many children with behavioural or special educational needs are removed from school to be home educated, precisely because the LA/schools do not give their children the support they need and their children suffered as a result.

By educating them at home, their education can be tailored to their personal needs, taking into account any difficulties they might have.

I know I have brought up alot of points to consider, but it is now necessary for people making policy or policy statements to have really researched the facts before publishing opinions and ideas which are simply erroneous assumptions.

Kindest Regards
Thanks for a great letter Gizzie.
My only criticism is that you should have "gone on" and provided a toilet rolls's worth of links about the inadequacy of preparation of school - leavers.




Has some one done this?
If not can we start a thread?

Are not our most powerful arguments the ones that the "customers" of skool have provide us with? (
Roused from my slumbers...

Here is my letter to "Kim"

(The list of damning docs would be a bloody toilet roll.
"Front bench" quotes would be interesting...)

Dear Kim Bromley-Derry,

You say "Local*authorities*do*not*have*a*way*of*ensuring*that*home*educated*children*get*the*

Respectfully, I don't think you get it.

My daughter spent 2 years at a "very good" school and she gets MORE of the above now that she is being educated "out of school" ie in the real world. More activities and far, far more trips. And "public examinations".... whatever possessed you to think that these weren't available to kids educated out side school?

You say, (glibly in my humble opinion),
"schools*do*much* more*for*children*than*simply*fill*them*with*facts"

Really? You might want to speak to some university Vice Chancellors on that one.

Learning by rote kills verse for life
"many people's aversion to verse dates back to uninspiring teaching with the emphasis on rote-learning."

"disaffected pupils are turning to street crime because the Prime Minister's education policies have made their schools into exam factories, an academic warned.

"the multibillion pound investment in education since 1997 has been undermined by a failure to teach pupils the basics by the time they are 11, according to the biggest review of primary education in 40 years"

Today's Guardian reports that the government is to abandon its national strategies for schools when it announces its white paper on education next week. That means that the much-loathed literacy and numeracy hours in primaries, with their rigid, minute-by-minute dictation of how every teacher must structure and deliver their lesson, will stop being compulsory from 2011.

Where have you been? Everyone knows that our schools are broken. Labour said it of the Tories. The Tories said it of Labour. Now Labour admits it.

School is a "kid on" environment. It is a babysitting service for most people.

You say that, "Our members are actively involved in the strategic planning, delivery, commissioning and management of services for children"

Curiously I'm "actively involved" too, for my children, and with all due respect, my wife and I can do that job better than you can.

I think you would be better concentrating on ensuring that children inside school walls can get the quality of education that their peers "outside the walls" do.

What if you tested yourself against your own objectives?

You say:


a huge number of children certainly don't enjoy school, if you think they all do, you are living in cloud cuckoo land.

see above and any Tory front bench speech on education or/any Labour front bench speech when in opposition

"Be Healthy"
eh? report to Mr J Oliver to have your homework marked on this one, (what were you doing when the LEA's caved into the junk food and turket twizzler merchants?)

"Stay Safe"
If schools were/are safe , then why this"?
The Government has made tackling bullying in schools a key priority and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has made clear that no form of bullying should be tolerated.

See above

“Achieve*economic*well being”.
Bleak prospect for school leavers as youth unemployment soars

.....well maybe that one wasn't entirely your fault.....

I would be interested in your response to the points made above.


Just as a matter of interest, a certain Scottish school achieved the following results:
At 'A' level - 100% pass rate, with 82% at A and B grades
At GCSE - 97% pass rate, with 81% at A*, A and B grades (22% A*)
82% of pupils were accepted by their university of first choice and 95% of first or second choice.

Unfortunately, this was not a state school....
Just as a matter of interest, a certain Scottish school achieved the following results:
At 'A' level - 100% pass rate, with 82% at A and B grades
At GCSE - 97% pass rate, with 81% at A*, A and B grades (22% A*)
82% of pupils were accepted by their university of first choice and 95% of first or second choice.

Unfortunately, this was not a state school....
and not very Scottish either if it is taking English exams... :bolt:
That was a silly comment; not up to your usual standard! What exam system they use is not the point, is it?
Why is it silly? Why is it not the point?

IMO, it is the point! If you are a school and you are in Scotland, what reason can you have for using an examination system from another country? The only advantage I can think of is a financial one. If the children sitting those exams can consistently attain higher marks then it makes the school look better meaning they get more pupils and more income. Cynic? Me?

Bear in mind, I have a child at a Scottish private school (long story) and went to the same one myself.
I looked at this a while ago and found that they seemed to be split almost evenly 3 ways.
1. Offering only SGs, Intermediates, and Highers
2. Offering only GCSEs and A Levels
3. Offering Intermediates, Highers, Advanced Highers and GCSEs, As
A couple also offered IGCSEs and the International Baccalaureate

I noticed that the schools that offer a combination of English AS and A Levels and Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers often offered specific subjects in the English system. The reasons given for offering both Scottish and English is because they believe that this offers the best course content to students. A small number of independent schools in Scotland now offer the International Baccalaureate while others are considering introducing this.

I think that the schools such as Fettes that only offer the English system do so cos they want their best students to try for Oxford and Cambridge.