Lots of questions from a newbie

Dad23

Well-known member
Hi all,

Delighted to be here.

I've got three children between 6 and 9 and we're considering HE for all of them. I have some questions. Hope this is the right place to post them.

1. I'm not sure we're considering HE for the right reasons.

None of our kids have any SEN, they are all happy at the local state school (OFSTED outstanding) and doing very well. They get excellent reports on all counts - academic, behaviour, social etc., and they've made friends in the school. We are considering HE purely because we feel we can do far more with them than the school can. My wife's a qualified teacher and full-time mum. I work from home running my own business with very flexible work hours (and I used to be in the education business a long time ago).

We just don't feel they're learning very much in school. They are intelligent kids (I would say that, wouldn't I :)) and, I feel, are being a bit "wasted".

Is that a good enough reason?

2. What's the best way to avoid raising red flags at the council? One of our DCs is very little and underweight. The GP is fine with it, but we opt out of nurses examining her at school and/or weighing her. The last thing we need is for social services to have HE as an additional "weapon" should they ever decide to interfere.

3. We live in a county that seems to be au fait with HE. They have this page on their site about advantages of registering with them for HE. We'd like to do that and would be happy to prove that we're providing the children with a good education and even let them come over and have a look at what we're doing. We're not anti-establishment, we simply want to do what's best for our kids. Some threads here seem very anti-registration. Are there any good reasons why we shouldn't register?

Thanks in advance for any help.
 
Not being stretched at school is as good a reason as any to opt out of the system. You'll be able to achieve the same level of progress in much less time without the crowd control overhead. Note that being a teacher isn't always an advantage - I know several who approached it as per training and ended up ignoring a lot of what they'd been taught because it's not necessary with a very small class.

As for raising red flags, all you need to do is inform the school in writing that you are deregistering your children (late Friday afternoon, handing in a letter in person so you know they've got it) with immeidate effect because you are now educating them at home. It's up to them to tell the local authority.

On the registration front, you won't have a choice (unless the school is unusually incompetent) because the school will tell the LA and they will contact you if you don't contact them first. From the perspective of home educators, registration in the first instance provides no benefits and several disadvantages, given that the LA will want to come visit you and/or expect reports, so all you get is bureaucracy from the process. If you've got a hostile LA then you'll find they demand to come visit you at home, regardless of whether you want them to, or the fact that the law doesn't give them that right. Some people are quite happy with visits from the LA inspector, others are not, so you'll only find that out when you see if you get on with your local people.

You don't have to fill in their forms (which often ask questions that aren't relevant or to which you don't yet have answers) and you don't have to let them in your house. Once you've established that, you may wish to do either voluntarily - some people find a visit, either at home or on neutral ground, to be easier than writing up their activities.
 

Dad23

Well-known member
Thanks for the reply, llondel.

Achieving the same level of progress in a very short time is one of the main appeals. :) That would leave a lot more time for the children to explore stuff of interest to them. My son's several years ahead of his class in maths, for example, and with the best will in the world the school can't really cater for him properly (despite the IEP and the extra funding and their genuine interest in "meeting the challenge").

I don't want to upset anyone here, but the LA has a job to do. There must be parents who take children out of school and do nothing with them and the LA has a duty to those children. How does the LA know that I'm not one of "them parents" if I make it difficult for them to do their job? Isn't that more likely to make the LA hostile?

Is bureaucracy - with the home visits and record inspection - the only disadvantage of "cooperating" with the LA?
 

Admin

Administrator
You are probably in the same position now that we were in 18 years ago when we took two of our children out of school as they were simply coasting without being remotely stretched. We left the youngest in for a further two years until he decided he wanted to leave (due to a change in teacher).

We thought we would take it a year at a time as it wasn't a one way ticket and the children could have gone back if they had wanted to. As it happens, the youngest did go back in his early teens, but it was not a success and the school was glad to wave him goodbye after an experiment in which he realised he was miles ahead academically, bored out of his mind and indignant at being treated 'like an animal'. He walked one day and didn't go back, despite our being in Scotland where the consent anomaly applies. Let's just say they were delighted to see the back of him and we had the confirmation letter by return.

It is incredibly difficult to do 'nothing', either as a home educating parent or a home educated child. Providing the access to learning resources is a bit like providing a healthy diet and, as far as I am aware, the state doesn't (yet!) intervene in family feeding regimes unless there is reason to suspect they are inadequate. Education is not limited to school type lessons (thank goodness) just as diet is not limited to meat and two veg. There is a whole world to explore out there and not everyone has the same taste when it comes to education or to nutrition.

As for being one of 'them parents', who exactly is qualified to judge? We know from bitter experience just how limited LA personnel are in out-of-classroom experience, and many don't have much in the way of knowledge, vision or competence either. Some are positively dangerous. :scared: These are exceptions, of course, just as there are exceptions when it comes to parenting, plumbing, whatever...


Like llondel, I can't think of any benefits at all to registering with your LA as you are not a box that needs to be ticked but a parent who has broken out of the box. :)
 

Dad23

Well-known member
I read some of your back story elsewhere on this site. It's an exciting life you've had.

I'm not worried about doing nothing. The kids love learning with us and I'm looking forward to exploring stuff with them - from scuba diving to Astronomy to learning new languages. They'll be taught all of the national curriculum as well if I get a spare afternoon or two. :whistle:

I'm aware of how dangerous LA people are - that's why I want to keep them onside as it were. :)

I get the feeling from these boards that most posters are very anti-LA. I don't mind if my cooperation allows their staff to tick a box or two. After all, they've got a job to do. I just don't want to make any enemies either at the LA or the school (we get along very well with the head and teachers, my wife helps a lot in the school and I'm a governor).
 
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I'm aware of how dangerous LA people are - that's why I want to keep them onside as it were.
Up to a point, yes. If the only way to keep then onside is to allow yourself to be pushed back and back then at some point you need to draw the line and push back. Knowing what's reasonable from their side is key to understanding when they're over a line and how far you're going to let them go before pushing back.

Some people do get on just fine with their LA, but as with anything, the stuff you'll hear most about is when things go wrong and people get upset and complain. Being aware of typical causes may help you remain one of the happy ones by sidestepping any bad behaviour.

For the record, I get on just fine with my LA - we're not registered so they don't hassle me and I turn up to group meetings that are organised between the LA officials and parents where no names are asked. Things might be a bit less smooth if we were known to the LA.
 

HomeEdMum

Well-known member
Hi Dad23,

the job of the LA is to act if there is information to suggest that a child is not in receipt of a suitable education. In England and Wales, they are also empowered to make an informal enquiry to see if that is the case; for example, if they do not know where a child is being educated. If there is no information that would cause concern, they have no further duty toward the child and there should be an assumption of innocence. When they do ask for information, the job of the parent is to reassure them that there is no appearance of failure to provide a suitable education and the standard you should aim for is that your information should be sufficient to satisfy a reasonable person on the balance of probabilities only. According to law, they should then leave you alone to carry on unless some new information gives them cause for concern.

Here is a view on home visits that was written some time ago but is still worth reading today: http://ahed.pbworks.com/w/page/1553181/Sarah+Fitz-Claridge+writes+on+home+visits
 

Dad23

Well-known member
HomeEdMum, that was brilliant! Thanks so much.

It couldn't answer my LA question more adeptly or completely.

I've decided that I won't allow them a home visit. I'll put together the necessary "evidence" and mail it to them.
 
Hi again Dad,

I just thought I'd respond to this one as well.

The problem with LAs - and not just from an ed welfare point of view but with every single agency - is corruption and malpractice. Doing a good job with your children isn't enough - there are thousands of people now, up and down the country, who can tell you horrific stories of how they were lied to and lied about by doctors, health visitors, social workers, education welfare officers, police officers, etc etc etc.

That doesn't mean that every single person in the public sector lies and fabricates cases against people, but it does go on with alarming regularity and you have no way of knowing which kind of public sector person is going to rock up on your doorstep.

As your children are already in school the LA will be notified automatically when you de-regiser so you will be effectively 'registered' with the local education department whether you want to be or not - despite the fact it's supposedly a voluntary process.

Simply refusing to jump through hoops is enough to raise a red flag with a lot of them; the public sector is power crazy these days and they expect to be obeyed. You generally find the people who get a lot of hassle are those who have tried to be nice and helpful - they just keep moving the goalposts and forcing families to do more and more to defend themselves. My advice to anyone would be to always keep anyone you don't know personally at arms' length, never do more than you are required to by law and never assume anyone you are in contact with is trustworthy.

Sorry to be gloomy but my experiences have left me bitter. I was harassed and hounded for six years by the NHS, social services, ed welfare and the police - and I used to be a teacher as well! Before all of that happened I was a nice, compliant, helpful kind of a lady - and it proved to be my downfall. Now I'm a grumpy old bat, I know my rights inside and out and I don't give an inch - and it took that before we finally got some peace and quiet.

Obviously I hope you don't get hassle and, of course, not everyone does, there are people out there with good relationships with their local authorities, but you do need to keep your eyes open and be aware that when it comes to acting within the law - they don't have to!
 

Dad23

Well-known member
We have our own stories about health visitors and doctors, I can tell you.

Just one quick example. When my wife was pregnant for one of our children, there was an area of concern with the health of the baby and my wife was under pressure from the consultant to take a certain drug. All sounded very well meaning till I did a bit of investigation on that drug. It turned out that this consultant had written several papers on it, one part-funded by the manufacturer, and was still researching it. It also turned out that our hospital was prescribing it for about 30% of pregnancies against a national average of less than 2% for no discernible reason except this one consultant's continued research. My wife didn't take the injection and the baby turned out A-OK.

On a related note, we haven't had any of our children vaccinated. I spent months of full-time research before coming to the conclusion that the risk-benefit in our particular case was in favour of them not having DTP, polio, MMR or anything (except Rubella for the girls). But it doesn't matter how informed your choice is. If you haven't conformed then the presumption is that you're a bad parent. ;)

So I see where you're coming from. Sorry to hear of your bad experiences with them. It must have been very stressful. Thanks for the warning.
 

Diane

HEdups
I think what all of us who are outside the system keep in mind is that denizens of the system want to ensure that everyone is inside the system.

There has recently been an assault on home education by the Labour government, bolstered by research that was shoddy and just plain wrong, so we could see how far the politicians and civil servants will go to bring free thinkers like home educators into line.

LA people are part of the system. They cannot see past the system and are often full of prejudice against someone who is outside the system. Add to that the fact that, by withdrawing your child/children from schools, you are telling them that their system isn't good enough and/or has failed your child/children and you can see where they're coming from...

Diane
 
Dad23, sorry to hear you've had problems in that area already. It does mean, though, that you are already aware that failing to conform can cause all sorts of problems, so it won't be too much of a shock to learn that it's not just doctors and hvs that can do this (and I will add that it isn't all of them; one GP in particular really fought my corner against SS and even went as far as rolling her eyes and muttering 'morons' which was greatly appreciated at the time!).

But I really hope that isn't going to stop you enjoying something as wonderful as home ed! I can still remember the first day we didn't go back to school and it was heavenly! I have really loved the time I've spent with my son, watching him change from a mono-syllabic child who didn't play or interact into a cracking little monkey with a wonderful sense of humour who never stops talking :) In a way I'm grateful we had such crap experiences with the public sector because without them I'd probably never have done this and would still be trudging along feeling a vague sense of something being out of place but not knowing what it was. Enjoy! :)
 

HomeEdMum

Well-known member
Dad23, sorry to hear you've had problems in that area already.
agreeing with that Dad23.

It is a shame that so many people have to put up with this sort of experience. We too, have had more than our fair share of ineptitude, corruption and prejudice from the LA.

But there is nothing that could persuade me not to spare my children the heavy hand of the state in their lives and thinking. They have benefited from the freedoms they have been allowed to enjoy.

The family is now, as far as I can see, the only environment in which the freedoms of children can be respected properly and in which the state does not label, monitor, test, record and dictate every aspect right down the the content of their education, the expected "learning outcomes" and developmental milestones that must be acheived from the cradle to near adulthood.
 
The family is now, as far as I can see, the only environment in which the freedoms of children can be respected properly and in which the state does not label, monitor, test, record and dictate every aspect right down the the content of their education, the expected "learning outcomes" and developmental milestones that must be acheived from the cradle to near adulthood.
This is sadly very nearly true, I don't think HEers are the only ones to see this, I do think we should be doing all we can to enable social circles for our children that disproove the quote above.

That said I do work on the basis that it is witin the family that they are free from such stupidity and that it's our parental role to continue to protect them from it.
 
Hello and welcome Dad 23,

I don't post very often, usually because other people have already voiced the thoughts I've had - and usually more eloquently than I'd have put them. You've already had some good feedback, but I thought I'd pipe up this time.

We're in Scotland, have been home edding 2 DDs, 10 & 11 for five years and recently met our new Educational Support Officer. I invited him to our home :shocked: I know, we like to live life on the edge, but he was just brilliant. Really supportive and completely horrified at what we'd been through in the local school. The last liaison officer we had was very nice too. So, just to say, they're not all bad. I think Highland Council have a fairly decent rep - our permission to withdraw the girls from school all happened very quickly and smoothly.

I've just recently discovered that the brother of one of the boys who assaulted my daughter at school shouts abuse whenever he sees the girls (small village, can't be avoided). He yells stuff like "skiver". Funny, because most kids they know are so in awe of them not going to school. Straight from the mouths of the parents...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you will always come across people who are suspicious or even scared of what you are doing because it challenges the status quo - it makes them question what they are doing and they become defensive and sometimes incredibly unpleasant. On the other hand, support can come from the most surprising places...

... and in case you're wondering, we've never had any regrets about freeing our girls from that house of horrors (different situation to yours, I know).

Good luck :)
 

Dad23

Well-known member
lorr64, I'm delighted to hear your girls are happy and thriving now.

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome and taking the time to extend your advice / share your experiences.

But I really hope that isn't going to stop you enjoying something as wonderful as home ed!
I still have to convince the wife, :) but I'm getting there.

We are meeting up with the local HE group this week and taking the kids along for a couple of hours. We've been speaking on and off with the children about how they'd feel if they were HE. One daughter isn't impressed with having to "leave" her school friends. So it's lightly, lightly there. But I know how this one ticks and I have a plan. By the time we deregister she'll be begging for HE :)

I am waiting for Andy to get back about hesfes (it's been several days).

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you will always come across people who are suspicious or even scared of what you are doing because it challenges the status quo - it makes them question what they are doing and they become defensive and sometimes incredibly unpleasant.
I found that a good way to annoy them is to just smile. A supercilious, condescending one if you can ... or just any ol' smile if you can't. If they are people in a position to pose a threat I do a good village idiot grin while plotting my defence.

That doesn't mean that every single person in the public sector lies and fabricates cases against people, but it does go on with alarming regularity
The mistake parents often make is in assuming the "professional" has the child's best interest at heart. The way I see it is that these professionals have a lot of competing interests. Take doctors, for example. Their duty to the health of the wider population takes precedence over the health of an individual child (hence their generally enthusiastic promotion of vaccinations). There are higher priorities. His priority to himself/his job/his surgery/the NHS etc., all come before your child. The same applies to teachers and schools. The more your child is left to the care of the system, the less you'll know when their interest competes with that of the organisation's.
 
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