Tally-ho! call by Borders Council to overturn home ed hunting ban


Latest HEF blog post: Tally-ho! call by Borders Council to overturn home ed hunting ban

Scottish Borders Council apparently doesn’t have enough to do. Not content with adhering to the primary legislation and guidance framework, in which their role in relation to elective home education is rightly very limited since the provision of education is a parental responsibility, their ‘joined up’ education and children’s ‘services’ are desperately keen to hunt down (with doggedness) any children of compulsory education age who do not use their schools and who may or may not even exist. They apparently plan to leave no haystack (of which there must be many in the rural Borders) unturned in the hope of finding at least one rusty needle which may be in need of threading through their Curriculum for Compliance.
Tally ho! or Cry Havoc! let loose the dogs of war?


Regime change confirmed in Scottish Borders

The minutes of this Scottish Borders Council meeting make for entertaining reading, but taxpayers may not be so amused when they realise how highly paid public sector employees are failing to get the law right and proceeding to present ill informed reports and recommendations to elected members.

The less than dynamic duo from SBC appear to believe, wrongly, that council schooling enjoys superior legal status (in terms of parents discharging their responsibility to educate their children) when that little word "or" confers equal legal status to "other means", including independent schooling and elective home education. Hell, they can't even get the terminology right and drone on about something called "Home Schooling", despite having government guidance relating to Elective Home Education right in front of them.

We have to wonder why they never bothered consulting with local home educators and/or Schoolhouse before placing so many school kid errors on public record. They may soon find the law of unintended consequences kicking in as a result of this unwelcome regime change, when everyone had been getting along just fine for the past few years. Home educators may decide to call off the engagement completely and/or make them work a great deal harder at getting things right in the future. It may involve questions about relevant qualifications and experience (outside state schooling), marking their "work" and monitoring their progress towards compliance with our expected outcomes. We suspect a lot of red ink may be needed. :croc:

Agenda item: Non Schooling and Home Schooling
Meeting of Scrutiny Committee, Thursday, 20th August, 2015 10.00 am (Item 2.)
Presentation by the Service Director Children and Young People

2.6 Ms Manson went on to provide Members with information about home schooling in the Scottish Borders. There were no national comparator statistics available but within the Scottish Borders, the figures included 32 families who were currently home educating with one on a part time basis only and there were 42 pupils or 0.28% of the total school roll who were being home educated. 50% of those being home educated lived outwith a town or village in the Scottish Borders but there were examples of how these families could be supported in formulating a programme of education for their children. Legislation stipulated the duties and rights of families and the Local Authority when a child/children were being home educated. Families were only bound to respond to enquiries by the Local Authority whilst Local Authorities were only entitled to make formal enquiries. Most of the pupils who had been withdrawn from school were removed during their primary education years and the main reason given was anxiety and/or stress. Ms Robertson explained that successful early intervention could avoid withdrawal from school by reassuring parents and adapting the way in which teaching was delivered. There were a number of ways in which the Council could prevent disengagement with parents, such as the introduction of a Risk Matrix to identify children early, working to enhance the reputation of schools in the area and promote a wide range of activities and curriculum choices. Ms Manson advised Members that some families had never entered the education system and were therefore "invisible" to the Authority. This could be a cause for concern and it was important to find ways in which to engage with these families.

2.7 Discussion followed and officers responded to a number of questions raised. With reference to potential withdrawals following the summer break, Ms Manson advised that sometimes families had been considering this option during the holidays but it could as easily have been a totally unexpected decision. Provision of a sample curriculum was discussed as a "vanguard" for encouraging parents to remain engaged with the Council. Members were advised that only a small number of requests for home schooling were refused and these were normally on the grounds of child protection concerns. Ms Manson agreed that sports and leisure opportunities could be key to continued engagement with families and indicated that partnerships were currently being developed which would form part of the strategic plan within the new People department. Various education options were available to parents and part time home schooling allowed children to access school-based facilities at times which suited their family situation. Members raised concern about the lack of legislative authority given to Councils to monitor home schooling and were advised that parents could refuse to provide any information on the grounds of the Data Protection Act. There was also no evidence available to verify that these children were being home educated as opposed to working outwith the home. A question was asked in relation to the amount of maintenance allowance paid to parents who were home educating their child/children and Ms Manson agreed to investigate and provide this information to Members in due course. Members were advised that each primary school had access to a Home Schooling Link Worker (HSLW) to provide additional support. A different system was in place for secondary schools to access this type of resource available to them. Ms Manson considered this to be a strong and positive position from which to move forward. Members were advised that additional support needs were assessed on an individual basis and could include requirements such as transportation support. Should a pupil with such needs move into a different catchment area, then the assessed support would be provided.

2.8 Councillor Aitchison, Executive Member for Education commented on the excellent work Ms Manson and her team had undertaken and acknowledged that the new team of officers was now in place and moving forward to meet further challenges. He detailed some of the work currently in progress and in highlighting the importance of Parent Councils in preventing disengagement by some families, emphasised that this would be best served when the Parent Council represented all families within that school. Councillor Aitchison went on to emphasise the importance of active inclusion within classes and suggested that seclusion could be used as an alternative to the ultimate sanction of exclusion. There was no doubt that there were challenges ahead and Councillor Aitchison was confident that Ms Manson's team was equipped to meet those challenges. He thanked the Scrutiny Committee for inviting Ms Manson and Ms Robertson to attend the meeting and for providing the opportunity to receive feedback from the Members. The Chairman thanked Ms Manson, Ms Robertson and Councillor Aitchison for their presentation and for the answers to Members' questions. Members expressed concern regarding the lack of powers available to the Council to ensure that all children within the area were receiving an appropriate standard of education.


(a) NOTED the Briefing.

* (b) AGREED TO RECOMMEND that Scottish Borders Council write to the Scottish Government requesting that the 1980 Scotland Education Act be amended to give Local Authorities the power to enforce Section 37 of the Act in order to ensure that children who were being home schooled received a satisfactory education appropriate to their age and aptitude.
We'll be submitting a FOI request to Scottish Borders Council for all documents and correspondence relating to elective home education (and "home schooling") in due course. We'll also be cross checking with the Scottish Government just to make sure we get a copy of the SBC clype for fisking. It's all a bit tiresome really, but home educators don't appreciate being lied to, or lied about, by long nosed puppets. :lie:


Coming back to this thread to report on the FOI requests regarding home educated related correspondence and discussions between councils, the Scottish Government and other agencies.

Fife has not been chinwagging with others about HE, allegedly! We clearly misjudged them.

But the Scottish Govt has exceeded the statutory time limit....

Moray has asked for clarification, presumably a delaying tactic to reset the clock.

And last but not least, we're waiting to hear from Perth & Kinross Council, whose chief executive coincidentally chairs the GIRFEC implementation group.

We are leaving Scottish Borders a bit longer as their foot stamping letter demanding that Scot Govt change primary education legislation to suit their power-over ambitions may not have been sent immediately after the meeting referred to. We'll be asking them in due course, along with a few other suspects for cross checking.