State funding and tax breaks for home educators?

Admin

Administrator
Home Ed Forums is now three years old (and won't be accepting a free nursery place :)), but the same issues keep on coming up, as they do, and it's important that we keep them live for the benefit of both visitors and members.

One of the most persistent is the issue of funding (or tax breaks) for home educators.

Newbies in particular often express surprise that there is no state assistance for home educators by way of grants or tax relief and many want to access flexible schooling or funded alternative placements, often because the school system has failed to meet their children's needs through no fault of their own.

On the one hand, some home educating and privately schooling parents (not to mention childless people) feel aggrieved at having to fund state schools through their taxes without having recourse to any of the 'public' money available to state schoolers.

On the other hand, many home educators believe that the inevitable strings that accompany any form of state funding would compromise the very nature and benefits of home education.

This is an issue that has potential to cause deep divisions in the diverse home ed 'community' which has so far defied serial herding attempts by governments and indeed home ed organisations and 'experts' who believe they know best for everyone else as well as themselves. Presenting a united front is (arguably :lol:) not in our best interests and this website was founded in the belief that a plurality and diversity of supportive communities and networks, formal and informal, serves the 'whole' better.

Having recently come across a few threads on Facebook and other groups which have left me without the will to live, I am detecting some fundamental shifts in the popular perception of what defines 'home education' and a distinct and perhaps growing split between

'homeschoolers' who are in favour of the so-called (but disingenuous) free schools agenda and would be happy to accept funding/resources, individually or jointly, without appearing to understand the rationale behind them or thinking through the implications.

and

'home educators', usually of the more libertarian persuasion and/or long-in-the-tooth variety, who would rather crawl over broken glass than accept any form of state funding, regardless of their own position in the economic pecking order.

The Bedford project and Notschool are two examples of state funding for the 'inclusion' (or frog boiling, depending on your point of view) of home educators, which have been widely critiqued and have divided home educating opinion.

I know I have asked this casually before, but are we now moving towards a pronounced split between homeschoolers and home educators (for want of better descriptive terms)? Does the former camp jeopardise the continued existence of the latter, as has been mooted, or is it just a question of 'each to their own'?

Please add your comments to this thread, which I'll sticky as it's an important issue. I am aware there are some robust opinions on the subject, but believe it would be good to air them (in suitably respectful tones, of course :)).
 
I'm generally in the "don't trust the state" camp, simply because I've seen how things started with good intentions can be subverted by a change of personnel on the state side.

However, I'd like to see the state offering services that may attract a small fee under some circumstances. These services must be optional, and no judgement made on those who opt in, nor those who opt out. Such services would include home visits and access to a confidential advisor who can assist with the same sort of regime that exists around medical and legal services. This would allow those who like the existing system to continue under it, allowing the rest of us to continue to opt out entirely, should we wish. Any inspection/enforcement under the law should be carried out be another person.

Other services may be provision of exam centres, access to school facilities such as labs and workshops out of hours, although I see this as a more general community thing that would allow schoolchildren who want to learn to also get more useful time away from disruptions. Ideally it should be open to all without need to register, and if there's a fee to be paid to cover costs, it should be OK to pay this in cash and not have to give contact details.

The hard part is how to achieve this without it being subverted by a control-freak government at a later date. To do this, we need to totally change the nature of our interactions with local and national government. They need to stick to the law an accept that we don't need to provide reports or accept visits. Donaldson is either superseded or interpreted to mean that they're allowed to make an informal enquiry on first discovering a home educated family, in order that they can then tick the 'home education' box on their forms. After that, stick to the "if it appears..." and stop fishing.

To achieve this, we need to encourage as many home educators as possible to refuse visits, provide the bare minimum when reports are requested/demanded by the council and ultimately challenge them to stick to the law as it is written. At the same time, we need people to attempt to educate them into how they should behave, and how much easier their job would be if they abided by the law and provided carrots instead of sticks. It's also a long-term project, because I suspect there are many of us who are very short on trust after Badman, and it'll be a long time before we believe what they say, so they're going to have to prove it by actions. I'm optimistic enough to believe that if they have to keep proving it by actions, then eventually that'll be the norm.

I did mention something last year after the APPG meeting about the different 'types' of home educator in terms of what was expected from government, it looks like it's becoming more apparent. Before we accept state assistance, we need to be sure that the string attached are not tied to anything nasty at the far end, and change government attitudes to make sure they never try to tie them to anything.
 
While I generally sit in the "I'd rather not have any money/help as I think it will come with nasty strings" camp - I am finding it very expensive to cover the costs of sitting exams and am getting increasingly cross that I have to pay ferry fares and exam centre fees for mine. This cost is a very real problem for home educators in a way that I don't think access to resources for younger children is. I would overall rather the authorities would just go away and leave me alone rather than give me money and interfere, but I still struggle with these costs and think there must be a way to get cheaper access to exams for 14-16 year olds. I know a few friends who have gone into school at this age because the costs of exams was prohibitive which is a shame.
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
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I don't see how they can justify charging British citizens for exams taken whilst the child would be given free access if at school.
I cannot be justified as an 'economy' measure as schools enter children who are not ready as is shown by the results and I would be very suprised if Home Educators did not get better percentage passes than the schools simply because only those interested in and ready for them would take them.
 
Although money is always nice, unfortunately if it comes from the Government it is always going to come with strings attached so they can tick whatever box. At the very minimum, free access to exams would be useful/helpful, but again with no strings.

As for the Home Schooler/Home Educator argument, I am getting increasingly despondent about the newbies seeking permission/help/reassurance from LA's. The LA's are most likely responsible for the schools that forced them to enter into our most extraordinary world. They need to take that final step to freedom.
 

pendlewitch

Well-known member
IMO there has been a massive shift in recent years, which seems to have (somewhat ironically I think) sped up since Badman.

I despair when I read people talking about *home schooling* tbh I hate any term with the school word in it - radical unschoolers a particular irritation of mine! However, I am a grumpy old bat/long in the tooth HEer with a seemingly firebrand attitude to life, liberty and personal responsibility and feel increasingly alienated from many of those who are now entering this *community*. I blame the national curriculum! :fencing:
 
I am getting increasingly despondent about the newbies seeking permission/help/reassurance from LA's.
I've abolished the term 'Local Authority'. It's the council, and they have no authority, they're supposed to be there to serve us.

As for seeking permission/whatever, my standard advice is as I mentioned above, refuse visits, minimal reports and also to let the local and/or national EHE groups know what the council is trying to get people to do so we can collectively point out what they're doing wrong, what to do about it and prepare others in future to know this up-front.
 
I don't profess to know the answer to Ali's question.

I have however one thought: if "HomeEd Lite" becomes more pervasive, (and I can imagine that happening), it, with a much larger user base, might subvert "skool.
At the same time the accommodations it makes with Govt. might harm the hard core, libertarian HR'ers.

Thoughts?

R
 

pendlewitch

Well-known member
I suspect you are looking into a particularly reliable crystal ball, and I also think that gov knows this is a likely outcome; hence the interest in various alternative provisions that they can still keep an element of control on.
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
.

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ELECTIVE HOME EDUCATION - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS​
Circumstances in which local authorities can claim funding for children in Elective
Home Education​

Local authorities may, in certain circumstances include home educated children on the
Alternative Provision Census under the category Not a School. This will only be in cases
where the LA has assumed a degree of financial responsibility eg by paying for FE
courses or SEN support.

1. LAs opting to pay for FE courses are required to do so from the start of the
academic year in September but do not receive a refund until the following
Spring. By what method can the LA pay for these courses up-front while LAs
have no budget for home education?


This is no different from funding anything else: all DSG is based on pupil numbers from
the previous January. If an LA needs to anticipate DSG funding, it can do so because
it has the facility to move DSG between financial years.

2. Is there to be any Start-Up Funding or special one-off grants for LAs with no
home education budget who wish to start funding FE courses?


No. They should if necessary anticipate DSG funding as in the previous answer.

3. Are there restrictions on the percentage of the unit of DSG (eg 10% or 15%)
which can be top-sliced by the LA for administration purposes?


No. But any spend against DSG has to fit within the definition of the Schools Budget in
Regulation 5 of the School Finance (England) Regulations. Most administration comes
within the Non-Schools Budget and cannot be funded from DSG – see paragraph 20f
of Schedule 1 to the Regulations.

4. Where home educated children begin studying FE courses at Key Stage 4 (14-16)
and the LA opts to pay for the course, can these children be entered on the AP
Census?


Yes.

5. Can the AP Funding only be used to pay for places at the local FE College, or
can it also be used to pay for other forms of Alternative Provision which are
recognised by the LA?


It can be used to pay for any form of alternative provision.

6. Can the LA use AP Funding to pay for a package of costs incurred in supporting a home educated young person to take examinations (eg entry fees,
assessments associated with access arrangements, invigilation fees, revision
classes, text books, course materials)?


Yes, but if this were all they were paying for it would not amount to substantial financial
support which justified entry of the young person on the AP form.

7. Are any items from the above list specifically excluded from AP Funding?

No.

8. Can the LA use AP Funding to pay for FE courses which take place out of the
borough or LA administrative area?


Yes, it makes no difference where the course takes place.

9. Where home educated children are unable to attend traditional college classes,
can the AP Funding be used to pay for online FE courses?


Yes, provided the total that the LA is paying amounts to substantial financial support.

10. Where a learner with significant additional support needs wishes to study FE
courses, can the LA claim dual AP Funding ie a unit of funding for the FE course
and an additional unit of funding for SEN support?


No. Each young person can only be entered once.

11. Where a child is accepted to study an FE course and the LA is paying for the
course, does the child have to have reached a particular age (eg 14) before the
LA can claim AP Funding?


No.
.
12. The Department has said that the LA can claim back money spent on SEN
support. Does the Department take a view on what is meant by SEN support or
may this be agreed on a case-by-case basis between the LA and the family?


It can be agreed on a case-by-case basis. The total support needs to be substantial to
justify an entry on the AP census.

13. Are there any types of SEN support equipment or services for which the LA
would not be allowed to claim?


No.

14. Where the LA is paying for SEN support, is it necessary for the home educated
child to have a statement of SEN or to have been formerly on School Action Plus
before the LA can claim funding?


No.

15. Is there any obligation for the LA to fund SEN support where the child has a
statement of SEN?


The LA needs to ensure that the provisions in the statement are delivered, which might
entail a need for funding.

16. Is there any obligation for the LA to fund SEN support where the child was
previously on School Action Plus?


There would not be an obligation. An LA would be able to fund support under these
arrangements where it wished to do so.

17. Can part of the AP funding be used for an assessment of a learner's additional
support needs, such as paying for educational psychology services?


No. Education psychology services are part of the Non-Schools Budget (paragraph 1
of Schedule 1 to the School Finance (England) Regulations, and therefore cannot be
financed from DSG. Support from this budget should be available to all learners who
need it irrespective of whether they are educated at school or not.

18. Under what circumstances can the Pupil Premium be claimed for children in
Elective Home Education when these children are entered on the AP Census?


Free School Meal Eligibility

•**************The relevant LA / AP Provision have confirmed that they are entitled to free

school meals, or

•**************The relevant LA / AP Provision have seen the necessary documentation (e.g. a
TC602 Tax Credit Award Notice) that shows that they are entitled to free school
meals.

Conversely, if pupils are in receipt of free school meals but the LA / AP Provider
has confirmed that they are no longer eligible and the provision is to be withdrawn
then ‘false’ should be applied.

Children whose parents are in receipt of one of the following are entitled to receive free
school meals:

•****************Income Support (IS)

•****************Income Based Job Seekers Allowance (IBJSA)

•****************An income-related employment and support allowance

•****************Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

•****************Child Tax Credit (provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit) and
have an annual income which from 6th April 2010 does not exceed £16,190 as
assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs*

•****************Guarantee element of State Pension Credit.

* Note: Where a parent is entitled to Working Tax Credit during the four-week period
immediately after their employment ceases, or after they start to work less than 16
hours per week, their children are entitled to free school lunches.

Children who receive IS or IBJSA in their own right are also entitled to receive free
school meals, or

Services Children Indicator

This indicates if a child has a parent (s) who are Service personnel serving in regular

HM Forces military units of all Forces, or in the Armed Forces of another nation and
stationed in England, and exercising parental care and responsibility.

This is only relevant to children whose parents are designated as Personnel Category
1 or 2 which are shown on the MoD website. All parents will be aware of their
Personnel Category.
 
I have however one thought: if "HomeEd Lite" becomes more pervasive, (and I can imagine that happening), it, with a much larger user base, might subvert "skool.
At the same time the accommodations it makes with Govt. might harm the hard core, libertarian HR'ers.
Imagine there were a million home educated children in the UK. Can you really see the government sitting back and letting us get on with it? This is why we need to work hard on changing the approach of local EHE departments now, because home education is growing (ironically, the publicity from the Badman campaign is partly the cause of this) and if they're on our side, we can minimise the effect of changes.
 
Having recently come across a few threads on Facebook and other groups which have left me without the will to live, I am detecting some fundamental shifts in the popular perception of what defines 'home education' and a distinct and perhaps growing split between

'homeschoolers' who are in favour of the so-called (but disingenuous) free schools agenda and would be happy to accept funding/resources, individually or jointly, without appearing to understand the rationale behind them or thinking through the implications.

and

'home educators', usually of the more libertarian persuasion and/or long-in-the-tooth variety, who would rather crawl over broken glass than accept any form of state funding, regardless of their own position in the economic pecking order.
It's more sophisticated than this. I have managed to identify at least 6 distinct factions within the HE community although some degree of overlap exists between them. These are described in a draft of an article I have written about the controversy of financing HE. The article concludes that a citizen's income or children's allowance available to all will be the only widely accepted means of government finance for HE parents.

Imagine there were a million home educated children in the UK. Can you really see the government sitting back and letting us get on with it? This is why we need to work hard on changing the approach of local EHE departments now, because home education is growing (ironically, the publicity from the Badman campaign is partly the cause of this) and if they're on our side, we can minimise the effect of changes.
Is HE growing? I thought that the recession and cutbacks to benefits are causing the numbers of HE children to fall.
 
Is HE growing? I thought that the recession and cutbacks to benefits are causing the numbers of HE children to fall.
It's possible that we've peaked and numbers are falling now as benefit cuts kick in and parents are forced to work (although how this improves family life as expounded by Cameron I'm not sure). The number of new home educators tends to show a local peak in September as parents choose home education when their child fails to secure a place at the 'correct' school, and then falls again as these children return to the system.
 

Admin

Administrator
It's more sophisticated than this. I have managed to identify at least 6 distinct factions within the HE community although some degree of overlap exists between them. These are described in a draft of an article I have written about the controversy of financing HE. The article concludes that a citizen's income or children's allowance available to all will be the only widely accepted means of government finance for HE parents.
Any chance of sharing your article, Riaz? I think you are right and that it is more complex and factional than a two way split, but that still seems to me to be the most pronounced.

Child benefit is probably the only meaningful precedent for the universality principle in terms of direct citizen funding, but that universality is coming under increasing threat as CB withdrawal has already been proposed for 'problem' families, i.e. those who stray from state dictated pathways to their designated stalags.

Sheila's latest comments on the problem families thread illustrate that the only universality we're likely to encounter is citizen frog-boiling to further Dave's Big Society as a seamless continuation from the last bunch of Fabian control freaks.
 

Admin

Administrator
I have however one thought: if "HomeEd Lite" becomes more pervasive, (and I can imagine that happening), it, with a much larger user base, might subvert "skool.
So if the ptb are so keen to promote "HomeEd Lite" to non school choosers and users, it is surely a form of discrimination not to offer "Devo Max" to schoolies?

;)
 
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