Welsh boy died of scurvy, fingers pointing firmly at HE again

[Thread moved from Media to HE Law & Policy forum due to policy implications]

Yet again incompetent services choose to blame Home Education instead of themselves for their inability to act. No amount of oversight by education authority would have saved this little lad, unless they have trained their inspectors in medicine as well as teaching.



Of course, being in full sight of teachers, teaching assistants, social workers and doctors made all the difference to this poor child


When are these people going to start doing the jobs they are paid to do and stop pointing the finger elsewhere? :sick:
The 'story behind the story' is the timing of the leaking of this 'draft serious case review. We have just had the commencent of this:

Improving information in identifying children missing education - Government consultation

Inevitably the latest BBC report says:

Home school worry after Dylan Seabridge's scurvy death

Child protection charity NSPCC Cymru has long-supported the idea of a register.
"Every family has a right to choose how to educate a child and home learning alone is not a risk factor for abuse or neglect, but it is important to ensure that they do not fall off the local services radar," a spokesman said.
"We know that the overwhelming majority of parents want a safe learning environment for their children. A register would help to ensure this is the case for every single home educated child."
This is clever media manipulation designed to coerce public opinion in favour of a register. As has been pointed out, Social Services were already aware of the child. So, is this another case of us being asked to suffer more rules becuase of their failings?
Poor little lad. I know that, ironically enough, there are so many parents like me who have children with health problems and we're constantly banging our heads against walls trying to get help for them (either that or forking out to go private!). My son's had some sort of unidentified health issue for two and a half years now, fatigue, odd aches and pains, a peculiar loss of faculties for 24 hours or so at a time and they have endlessly fobbed me off with growing pains/puberty/behavioural issues and I'm back to my usual stance of having to check things out myself and then go in asking for specific things to be ruled out (all the while running the risk of fabricated illness accusations). It's unpleasant to see the way they keep touting a register for all; I can only see it making no difference at all to parents who are up to something dodgy and a whole raft of problems for those who aren't :blah:


Dylan Seabridge, Section 47 and home education regulation

Gill's post says it all... it was a straight s47, what were they playing at? And how dare they claim not to have statutory powers in relation to child protection referrals, which this clearly was a full year before the child's death. :laser:

Dylan Seabridge, Section 47 and home education regulation

The tragic case of Dylan Seabridge has mysteriously resurfaced across mainstream media, yesterday and today. Dylan was known to be home educated by his local authority, but education staff did not see him because home educated children are not usually compelled by law to see education officials.

Concerns about Dylan's safety were raised amongst officials more than a year before his death, but no action was taken on these concerns. Instead of social workers, bizarrely, education staff were notified to merely make inquiries into his home education.

So we need more regulation of home educators, the argument goes. This would save their lives and prevent them from dying from neglect - even though cases like that of Daniel Pelka who attended school and still died, clearly demonstrate this to be false.

And yet we already have legislation to compel access for children who are suspected to be at risk of harm: Section 47 of the Children Act 1989:

(4) Where enquiries are being made under subsection (1) with respect to a child, the local authority concerned shall (with a view to enabling them to determine what action, if any, to take with respect to him) take such steps as are reasonably practicable —
(a) to obtain access to him; or

(b) to ensure that access to him is obtained, on their behalf, by a person authorised by them for the purpose,

unless they are satisfied that they already have sufficient information with respect to him.
Calls for a compulsory register have been coming from Neil Carmichael and others since last October, and I heard an interview between that man and home educator Clinton Lee yesterday evening, in which Mr Carmichael quite despicably waved the shroud of Dylan Seabridge to make his case.

I would like to respectfully suggest that Mr Carmichael considers using his position as Chair of the Commons Select Committee on Education to make inquiries as to why the current law is being ignored in respect of children whose local authorities "have reasonable cause to suspect [they are] suffering, or [are] likely to suffer, significant harm" instead of wasting public money campaigning for expensive, unnecessary and unhelpful extra legislation.
There are other deeply worrying matters to consider here, most especially the leaking of a draft unpublished report at a very convenient time for the WAG which is trying to push its surveillance / social control agenda to the point of a parent licensing regime. According to what we are led to believe by the media circus, which will itself have only partial information, Dylan's parents have not been prosecuted, the cause of death was disputed by them and another doctor, and there was a sibling who was apparently also home educated but we know nothing about his state of health.

Scurvy isn't quite as rare as we are led to believe and has even affected that upper class, marble mouthed Lib Dem politician and GIRFEC cheerleader from Aberlour, Alex Cole Hamilton.

Dylan's grave has been unashamedly robbed in order to score political points and the outrage that is sadly missing when it comes to the systematic abuse of children in the care of the state is nothing more than another smear campaign to go along with the radicalisation and extremist allegations that have recently been levelled against home educators without a shred of evidence.

Until they have all children in warehouses from birth and all parents in workhouses, there will be no respite from these fascists. Meanwhile the majority of the general public is busy watching Big Brother on the box, too dumbed down to bother.


The history of vaccines causing scurvy

A few tweets have appeared with links to cases of vaccine induced scurvy being mistaken for child abuse. Since Dylan had a home ed brother I'd like to know what his health was/is like.

The history of vaccines causing scurvy. Many parents falsely accused of inflicted injury – the infamous shaken baby syndrome

Vaccine-Induced Tissue Scurvy Globally Misdiagnosed as Child Abuse

Prosecuting the parents may have opened a whole can of worms in terms of the accepted diagnosis since they appeared to have a doctor from Ghent University disputing the cause of death.


Any Answers, BBC R4

Listen to Any Answers here.

Jill, Barry and Maria contributed live on air but the time was too short to do the subject justice.

The 'anonymous' paediatrician's claims re home education and SCRs were demonstrably false, as they have all cited multi-agency failure to exercise exiting powers. I think he was parroting from 'cascaded' misinformation by NSPCC who have already had to apologise for smearing home educators on the basis of fabricated 'evidence'. Gill covers these specific malicious falsehoods here.

The usual Twitter trolls and bigots have had plenty to say and some of them belong in a Nazi uniform.


Pembrokeshire criticised for abuse allegations handling

Pembrokeshire Council was clearly failing many children in its own care, not just young Dylan Seabridge during the period before he died in December 2011.

Here's a paedophile Pembrokeshire head teacher from our professional abusers' gallery

Joint investigation by CSSIW and Estyn in Pembrokeshire County Council

This report details the investigation into allegations of professional abuse and the arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children in education services in Pembrokeshire County Council.
4. The local authority identified 25 cases of allegations of professional abuse during this period. These were discussed at a further meeting in April 2011, where inspectors from Estyn attended in addition to those people at the first meeting.
11. The local authority has clear responsibilities for safe recruitment as part of their safeguarding duties. This includes undertaking Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks and taking up written references for all employees and volunteers working with children. Although some information had been removed for copying, the corporate human resources files examined by inspectors were not properly collated or cross referenced and some were incomplete, Important information about allegations, investigations and their conclusions, and any resulting disciplinary action were missing from several of the files. This failure to maintain accurate files had a direct impact on the authority’s ability to protect children, young people and staff.
Pembrokeshire criticised for abuse allegations handling

A report exposing Pembrokeshire council's failings over child abuse allegations has been described as "deeply disturbing" by Wales' children's commissioner.

Keith Towler was reacting to an inquiry - started after a headteacher was convicted of abuse - cited "longstanding and systemic" problems.
Pembrokeshire County Council said it wanted to assure parents it was working tirelessly to ensure children were safe.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government is sending a team to oversee changes and a helpline has been set up for parents.

The report comes on the same day that Pembrokeshire's policies and systems for safeguarding children and young people were judged not fit for purpose by schools inspectorate Estyn.
Reports of serious failures in child abuse cases in Pembrokeshire 'deeply disturbing'

A report into a council in which the good reputation of education professionals outweighed the duty to safeguard children has been described as "deeply disturbing".

The damning document, by the schools inspectorate Estyn and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, revealed Pembrokeshire council’s shocking failure to safeguard children and manage allegations of child abuse in schools.

The report investigated 25 cases of allegations of child abuse in the county’s education services by professionals, ranging from headteachers to youth workers, between April 2007 and March 2011.

It reviewed 14 cases more closely, and of these found that almost half of the cases referred to more than one child and 35% involved children with additional learning needs.

Two of the cases – one in a primary school, the other in secondary – were treated under “organised or multiple-abuse” procedures, where there may have been more than one abuser or where an individual may have groomed children for abuse.

The report found that in three cases a decision was taken not to suspend the accused, despite views of social services and the police to the contrary.

In two cases, the authority decided to assign the accused to different duties in another location rather than suspend them, leaving them in a position of authority and trust.

In half of the cases, there was no evidence parents had been given full information about an allegation.

The report found that the lack of joint working between agencies had “adversely impacted on decisions making and the management of the cases”.


The case against home education registration

Some excellent ripostes from home ed bloggers on the thin end of a very thick wedge. As Grit says, follow the money. Home educated children and their families are mere commodities, a largely untapped market for rentseeking vested interests.

From Gill's SIP blog: "But what's wrong with compulsory registration for home educators? What difference would it make?"

I've even heard this question coming from home educators in the past few days - albeit relatively new ones: people who weren't home educating in 2009, the year of the Badman Review.

The review used Daniel Monk's extremely dubious conclusions to recommend a conditional, annual, compulsory registration scheme for which we would have to regularly reapply and the success of each family's application would depend on the results of their ongoing monitoring and assessment by local authority officials, who would have the legal right to enter our houses and interview our children alone. If you don't believe me, read the recommendations.

These recommendations were incorporated into the Children, Schools and Families Bill, which would have become law if the 2010 General Election hadn't prevented it just in time because the incoming Conservatives (and Lib Dems) rejected it. We were very lucky with the timing of this effort, but the Badman Report remains on file at the government website and some people who had pushed for it remain disappointed that its recommendations were not implemented.

The point is, compulsory registration for home education is NOT just a process of taking our names and adding them to a list. Yes, people who have deregistered their children from school are on local authority registers already and I can understand why some of them might wonder what real difference it would make if we all were, but the answer is above. The current situation, in which some of us can legitimately avoid being on register, protects everyone - including those who are currently registered - from the Badman Recommendations.

Right now, the local authority has to issue a School Attendance Order and then have this enforced by a court to compel a parent to register her child at a school. Under the Badman Recommendations, the parent's failure to comply with the registration criteria would be sufficient. It turns the entire premise of the parent's duty to secure educational provision on its head, as this becomes more of a local authority duty instead, but they were going to do it anyway - and obviously some influential people still want to.

Our children are all registered already, within six weeks of their birth according to the Registration of Births Act 1953. School attending children are then added to school registers, but all of our children remain on the birth register. If, as some campaigners suggest, "All they want to know is how many of us there are," the remaining names are there, all presumably being educated "or otherwise", unless it appears to the local authority that this might not be the case.

All of the information a compulsory home education register might provide is therefore currently stored and available. The only possible remaining reason for wanting to go to the trouble and expense of creating and maintaining such a new register, is therefore monitoring and compliance at the expense of our children's education.
From the mighty Grit: The problems with registering and monitoring home educators

'How do we make make home schooling safe'? 'How do we make school safe'?
I hear on the radio the fretful inquiry, 'How do we make make home schooling safe'? And straightaway I ask that of school, too. Tell me the number of children who attend school and who are abused and it's not noticed. Tell me the number where abuse is suspected and not acted upon. Tell me the number of children suffering abuse from someone at the school. Talk to me about bullying, emotional manipulation, fear of the playground, attack by predators on school premises. Is school keeping children safe, and observation by professionals working? How accommodating do you think a home educator will be, having withdrawn a child from school where abuse has been ongoing, to allowing themselves to be inspected in case they, the parent, is repeating that abuse?

The system in place can work, but when it doesn't, someone has to be blamed.
The child in Pembrokeshire died a few years ago. But only now is the case splattered all over the media? The time is right... or so think the powers-that-be. But the child in Pembrokeshire was visible to professionals who already knew about mother's state of health, and they already alerted the local authorities. So forgive me, but how is beginning an expensive and time-consuming registration process on all home educators going to help? You get mad parents everywhere. The only answer I can think of is: first to distract attention away from the failings in this case and others of the bodies that already exist to protect children - social workers already have powers to see a child where education officials do not. And second, to gather us all up on a very large surveillance system so that we can be watched: our actions, choices, preferences recorded, managed and ultimately, sold. Follow the money. Someone can make a great deal of cash out of this one.
From Jax at Live Otherwise: The death of Dylan Seabridge – home education in the news

And with nothing else to blame, it’s home education in the firing line. As Dylan was home educated, that obviously means he was invisible. From Neil Carmichael (chair of the education select committee and MP for Stroud) proposing a register on Radio 4, to the BBC Any Questions show today asking ‘do we even need homeschooling?’ everyone is up in arms.

We should be registered. We should be monitored. Our children should be tested regularly, seen monthly, and get at least 4 good GCSEs. (Yes, I’ve seen someone saying exactly that.)

But, as one home educator asked Neil Carmichael – how will putting my child’s name on a list make them safer?

It won’t. It can’t. So either this registration proposal is just a waste of time, or it’s the thin end of a wedge we’ve seen before. Get ready for schemes of work, annual inspections for all home educators and school at home for one and all.


Adding Michelle's public comments about the growing hysteria and 'homeedophobia' to the thread for reference:

Once again Home Education is in the media spotlight and once again for spurious reasons. The powers-that-be have been grave-digging again, this time they have dragged up the case of boy named Dylan Seabridge who died of scurvy (his parents refute this claim and have not been found guilty of any crime).

Dylan was home educated. Pembrokeshire Council knew about Dylan Seabridge at least a year before his death and they had attempted to visit him at his home. Dylan’s parents turned them away. The Guardian newspaper states;

“A well-placed council source said that officials did try to visit Dylan but were denied access to him. They had no evidence that he was being mistreated so did not have the power to force the Seabridges to show them the child.”

Of course if they had genuine concerns they absolutely did have the power to access the child, these are existing powers that the police and social services could have implemented had they so wished.
There are now calls for the registration of home educators and more intrusive regulations because yet another local authority failed to implement fit-for-purpose existing powers. The government need a scapegoat, the LAs who have failed need a scape goat and we, the home educators, are it!

FYI - Section 7 of the Education Act clearly states that the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, aptitude and ability and special needs he may have. This means you if you are a parent. You are responsible for the education your child receives, not the state, not the school – you! If you delegate the job of educating your child to a school and the school fails, and judging by the high rates of poor literacy and numeracy of school leavers there are a lot of failings, but its still your responsibility. This is why you can’t sue the school or the LA.

This brings me to the registration issue, the issue which many organisations and government agencies claim will be the sticking plaster to solve all the ills of the many ‘invisible’ children who are home educated. Firstly, registration will not be the silver bullet to stop these tragic cases occurring. The latest boy being offered up by the press was known about. Secondly, hundreds of children suffer abuse in schools and state establishments every year. In fact the government has just very handily lost numerous of statements by victims alleging abuse in paedophile rings.

“The Independent Inquiry Into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) apologized this week after vital testimony from victims of child sexual abuse was “instantly and permanently deleted” from their servers.”
The victims above seem purposely more invisible than my home educated children and many other home educated children. For the record this assumption of the invisibility of children who are educated otherwise than in school is a red-herring. Home educated children, visit relatives, doctors, dentists, museums, shops, they catch buses and trams and they have neighbours and friends. In fact home educated children are MORE likely to be reported because they are visible during school hours. Evidence gathered in 2009 showed home educated were more likely to be reported, but less likely for there to be any justification for the reports.

ALL of the tragic stories of children who have died at the hands of their parents or carers who have been used to justify the attacks on home educators have already been known about by local authorities and their agents. And I would go as far as to say that most were not electively home educated. What went wrong was that people working for agencies set up to protect children failed to implement existing laws efficiently. Registration will never eradicate human error. Registration will of course be the thin end of the wedge into intrusion into family life, reducing the possibility of a private family life. Following any registration, they will want monitoring, regulation and testing. Home education is not broken, there is nothing to fix. The government and their agents should be looking to fix their own failing institutions and to implement existing laws correctly and responsibly.


An eloquent self confessed 'rant' from Barry (not the same Barry who was on AQ the other day :)):

Long rant... Pissed off to be on the receiving end - again - of an orchestrated attack against home education and the people doing it, with calls again for registers and monitoring. Last time Balls and Labour, this time Morgan and the Tories, but the same hostile rhetoric, skewed and flawed arguments, and attempts to deflect accountability. All supported by a current media frenzy on radio and TV where people roll out their prejudices and ignore that they are asking the wrong question and giving the wrong answers. Home educated children are not, as is being said, invisible. If anything they are all the more visible when we are out and about in 'school hours' and their (and our) friends are curious about what we do. We see friends, neighbours, people in shops, people in museums or elsewhere, doctors, dentists so please don't accept this portrayal of invisibility. Home educated children can be happy and learning about the world in ways that may look like school, or may look very different. It looking different is not a problem as the context can allow for bespoke focus or approach, without the need to provide a demonstrably consistent service to parents of whole classes across years. That's not a value judgement, the two have different mechanics that allow for different things. Also please do not accept this conflation of welfare and education. There is a duty on parents - *all* parents - to provide a suitable education; if it appears a parent is not fulfilling this duty, there are processes to rectify this (attending school if they are registered at school, or dispelling the concerns if home educated). In situations of welfare concern social services have the same powers as they do for any other child - educational setting provides no barrier to such concerns being addressed. Sadly social services appear to have failed to properly use the powers available to them in cases at school or not at school. This does not mean they need more powers. Home educators' concerns are generally the same as anyone else's - to act appropriately and proportionately if a child is coming to harm; social services to use powers already available but with restraint, caution and accountability; and for the already stretched scarce resources to be used to help those in need rather than to create big new expensive haystacks. There's more than one way to meet our educational duty as parents, thank goodness, so I would ask for mutual tolerance rather than agreement, but would also ask that people do not take at face value what is being said. Thank you for reading - if you think no more of it you now know there is another side. If you are curious and have any questions, feel free to ask. If you are home educating and want to get involved please look at the AHED Facebook group and see if you agree with its aims and can help us.
:clap2: :clap2: :clap2:


Here we go round the Mulberry bush

Rambling Violets: Here we go round the Mulberry bush

Let’s start with the most recent and tragic case to have been in the news. Dylan Seabridge. According to most recent reports, welfare concerns had been report to Social services over a year before he died. However instead of invoking their powers under section 47, they sent his details to education officials who have no such powers as they deal with education of the child not their welfare and do not have the same training or safeguarding powers at social workers.

Apparently he was ‘invisible’ to the LA, my only question is how? If you take the fact the Pembrokeshire was repeatedly reported to be failing it’s safeguarding duties and given a final warning in 2012 out of the equation. Then regardless of any neglect, if social services had done their jobs properly and followed the correct procedure, his life could have been saved.

Instead of demonstrating he was in fact in ‘invisible’ to them, they have demonstrated how their complete lack of understanding of the law led to their own failures. Not only that, they have demonstrated WHY welfare and education should never be conflated.
In 2012 a report was published from the joint inquiry into children who go missing from care. In 2013 it was reported that 30,000 children go missing from social care each year. In 2014, the BBC reported that Jimmy Savile was given access to children’s Homes enabling his abuse of the children in their care. At the end of last year David Cameron (the man who left his child in the pub…) stated that social workers needed to be better parents to the children in the care of social services, and that charities (NSPCC?) should take them over if they fail in their duties. If they can’t protect the children they ARE responsible for, why would I want them anywhere near mine?


BBC Woman's Hour can't even get the terminology right

BBC Woman's Hour tomorrow has made a poor choice of guest to discuss safeguarding 'home schooled' children. I'll be firing off another complaint as the BBC has not only failed to get the terminology right after being told repeatedly to call home education by its proper name, but has so far also failed to balance its reporting by allowing discussion of the investigation into Pembrokeshire Council around the time of this child's death which found it to be unfit for purpose in terms of protecting children.

Rather than discuss a draft SCR report which has not been published and was leaked for presumably home-eduphobic purposes, why is the state funded broadcaster not raising the issues in a published report on a failing council which is in the public domain?

The BBC seems very reluctant to debate the real issues here. Wheeling out some minor academic, with whose research many of us refused to engage as she made such a poor impression, demonstrates just how lightweight Woman's Hour has become.
The BBC are probably in a quandry as to how to 'balance' a piece on home education.

On the one hand they cannot be seen a soft on 'safeguarding'.

On the other hand, because the latest registration initiative comes from the Tories, they will instinctively react against it.

Either way, if they single us out as a group requiring the Government's special attention they will attract our ire.

Will listen with interest!


Active member
There was some discussion in the National Assembly for Wales this week after Simon Thomas moved an urgent question for the Minister of Health, Mark Drakeford: 'Will the Minister make a statement on safeguarding children in Pembrokeshire following the Dylan Seabridge case?' (Note that children's services in Wales still comes under Health, not Education, as in England.)

Mark Drakeford reminded us that the new Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 strengthens the whole safeguarding regime in Wales (its introduction is planned for April this year). Part 7 of this Act - Safeguarding - para 130, gives a legal duty on relevant partner agencies to report children at risk to social services. He also seems confident that the Safeguarding Children Board will produce a report soon.

However, his answer did not clarify anything at all about safeguarding procedures for home educated children - so no progress on this. I'm pleased to see that the NSPCC has recognised the lack of clarity among professionals about 'the rights and responsibilities of those who choose not to send their child to school'. But there's still a long way to go before we get the necessary clarity on how children's services should 'safeguard' home educated children!


Woman's Hour morphs into Listen with Mother

Seriously lightweight programme...

We are now reassured that home ed (or rather 'home schooling' in BBC Newspeak) is fine for the nice middle casses, but not for mad bad and dangerous sorts - like Dylan's parents - who should all be closely montitored by "the authorities". As we know, the authorities treat people differently based on their perceived socio-economic status, and so, obviously does the BBC.

It was like being in a bad remake of Fawlty Towers. Don't mention the war, and especially not Section 47, just use a grave robbing lead-in to underline the point that some people are more equal than others when it comes to exercising parental rights and responsibilities, inlcuding the duty to provide education in the compulsory years.

On a positive note, at least Helen Lees managed to bore the interviewer into submission with some pointless statitics.


Forcing home-educated children into schools for child protection won’t work

Another comment piece in TES, in which the author frames home education as a parental right rather than a duty. Positive nonetheless, and at least he doesn't call it homeschooling

Forcing home-educated children into schools for child protection won’t work – and it’s not the job of teachers anyway

The fact is that acting as society’s watchdog is not the prime purpose of schools, and forcing children into school just so they can be kept an eye on is not a job for teachers: it’s the role of social services.

Critics suggest that home-educators fall into three camps: abusers hiding their children away; nutters embracing an alternative lifestyle; and (occasionally) the wealthy middle-classes who can afford for one of the parents not to work and do the education instead. All three, including the last, attract general disapprobation.

But there’s sloppy thinking in such stereotypes. Lazy media reports of child deaths (from abuse or neglect) too often suggest that the children’s injuries weren’t observed in school because they were home-educated.
The right to choose the mode of education of one’s child, as long as it is adequate and appropriate, is a democratic and human right. Some may feel registration and inspection would in no way compromise that right. In theory, that’s true, though I mistrust government’s propensity for heavy-handed application of both mechanisms.

Any measure that constrains the ability of home-educating families to take on that vital task freely, creatively and positively risks perpetrating a great wrong.

We don’t scapegoat schools for these tragedies. Don’t hound home-educators either.
Jenny Murray introduced the feature with the question:

" . . . and how should they be monitored by the authorities to make sure they are getting a good education and are healthy and safe?"

That is a political point of view and, as such, blatant bias and grounds for a complaint.

The BBC need to broadcast an apology for completely misuderstanding the law and for attempting to influence the debate.

Balanced broadcasting it was not.
My answer to the "What difference would it make if home educated children are on a register" is "none at all". To clarify this - how does a name on a piece of paper or in a computer database protect a child? Registration in itself is both harmless and pointless. Unless you plan to use the register to do something then there is no point to its existence.

So next time someone asks why it's a problem, take them through that reasoning process. It's not registration we should fear (it is trivial to implement), it's what is done with the information once gathered that should give cause for concern.