Welsh home education consultation (2012)

Admin

Administrator
CON ends 23/11/12, but they are obviously already planning to go ahead with their misguided 'proposals' with no evidence that a problem exists.

Registering and monitoring home-based education

The proposals in this consultation seek to introduce a compulsory registration and monitoring scheme for children who are home educated.
I'll sticky this thread, but anything sensitive can be added to this thread in the private forums for sharing with the dedicated Rhuad y Ddraig group.

Usual bollocks from the BBC here. Pass the :puke: bag.

I have the feeling the Welsh Ass Govt is going to regret this.
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
At the annual monitoring meeting they would want to see progress achieved as demonstrated by work...
.
To say they make much of being uncrc compliant they seem to have overlooked the fact that the child owns their work and to force them to furnish it for a stranger to pass judgement on not only fails the uncrc test it can also be extremely damaging for the child.
 

Admin

Administrator
Surely if Ass members are prepared to blatantly breach the ECHR by assuming responsibility for the education of all children in Wales, then home educators will be justified in refusing to comply with their unlawful demands. Or else just sue the Ass off them?
 
Many children have recently failed to gain the expected marks in their GCSE's owing to the grading being changed half-way through the year. At the moment there is no comeback against the government or the local Eduction Authority as they are not responsible for children's education.

This will not be the case if the WAG decide to take responsibility for all children's education. I predict groups of parents fighting 'class actions' against their local authorities when their children fail to get the required results to enter university :tea:

Add to that they will not get teachers to work for schools if there is a possibility of them being sued for children's exam failures.
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
So true Polly and they seem to be saying the la's will have free reign to decide whether an education is suitable thus overriding parents and children completely !! It really is going to result in many happy lawyers :)
 

Admin

Administrator
Thanks for the link to your excellent article, Hilary.

Let's hope common sense prevails, but I think we all know the form by now - fake CONsultation, followed by implementation regardless of objections and human rights compliance. :frusty:

They may live to regret poking home educators with a big stick, exposing their ignorance, arrogance and scandalous profligate spending on useless prejudice-fuelled initiatives, all the while cutting services to the most vulnerable.
 

Diane

HEdups
P.S. Since the authorities have no idea what a 'suitable' education is (witness the children failed by school 'education') they haven't a leg to stand on when they call a home educator's educational provision 'inadequate'.

Diane
 

Firehorse

Well-known member
My name is Hilary and I'm a retired social worker living in Carmarthenshire, West Wales. I've witten an article in support of your campaign against compulsory registration, 'Registration of Home Educators: Unnecessary and Ineffective', which you can read at:

http://radical.org.uk/barefoot/regwales.htm
Hilary thank you for this. I am also in Carmarthenshire and preparing to fight these proposals. Maybe coffee at some point? :)
PM me!
 
My name is Hilary and I'm a retired social worker living in Carmarthenshire, West Wales. I've witten an article in support of your campaign against compulsory registration, 'Registration of Home Educators: Unnecessary and Ineffective', which you can read at:

http://radical.org.uk/barefoot/regwales.htm
Really refreshing to read such common sense, Hilary, thank you for posting the link up. I look forward to having a good read through the rest of your blog over the next few evenings.
 
Just read that report. Being purely objective it's a not a bad analysis of all the political tensions surrounding the issues. What struck me is that the Welsh authorities have a much better grasp of how a community operates than elsewhere in Britain. In my part of the country the community grapevine is very active. If you scratch your nose then, a couple of days later, someone in the local town will ask you how your nose is getting on!

The result is that the local authority appears more sensible about Home Ed children because of the local 'everybody knows everybody' culture.

The key tension the report identifies on the local authority side is that the civil servant charged with administering de registration suffers some anxiety because they are vested with 'authority without responsibility.'. That's an unresolved conflict at the best of times. Since, when a child is de registered, responsibility for a child's education fully transfers to the parents there is no point in giving a civil servant any responsibility towards HE children.

As regards the child protection issue (I'm not using the deliberately woolly term safeguarding . . . ) that really does need to be disentangled from from HE. The report quite rightly identifies that increased regulation of HE would drive the people they are theoretically interested in farther from their gaze. Far better to develop trusting relationships with those members of the HE community who are politically inclined.

Just my first thoughts . . . Perhaps someone in England could forward this report on to the Westminster Education Committee.
 

hilarysearing

Active member
The key tension the report identifies on the local authority side is that the civil servant charged with administering de registration suffers some anxiety because they are vested with 'authority without responsibility.'. That's an unresolved conflict at the best of times. Since, when a child is de registered, responsibility for a child's education fully transfers to the parents there is no point in giving a civil servant any responsibility towards HE children.
Thanks for highlighting this problem - that local government officers responsible for assessing the situation following de-registration have been given an impossible job. Their problem is actually 'educational responsibility without authority' (not the other way round!). The task of determining what is a 'suitable' education may be challenging enough but what they are really worried about is being required to assess the child's 'Wellbeing'.

It's worth noting that the 'Pupil Wellbeing Branch' of the DoE is where the idea of increased regulation has come from. This whole area is complicated by the law being so poorly written (I am referring to the Children Act 2004) and education officers being given responsibility for 'Wellbeing' when everyone knows this includes safeguarding and child protection, which provokes enormous anxiety and confusion. The law is more about aspiration than duties and the officer's authority comes essentially from their professional role. In other words, it is only fair that home educators should question their claim to professional expertise - because the whole area of 'wellbeing' is one where personal feelings can interfere with rational thought.

Incidentally, the reference to the UNCRC is alarming. Does this mean they think they can by-pass parents by elevating children's rights? It strikes me as a rather cunning way of trying to give the officer more authority and undermining the authority of parents.
 

Admin

Administrator
Badman alert

Posting this link here to keep the Welsh Ass con stuff together. Look who has crawled out from under his stone.

Open the door to list of home educators, says expert

Badman's only 'expertise' is in alienating an entire minority community. He can't even count. Nor should he be chucking stones around glass houses. Then there was that daughter of his who was cast as agent provocateur to infiltrate the HE community. There was also the family educational consultancy Nektus (which seemed to be set up in anticipation of compulsory registration for HE) whose communications with the then govt were apparently too sensitive to be revealed following a legitimate FOI request.

Why exactly can't any of these 'experts' understand the law and why it is as it is? Providing education is a parental duty and is the default model. School is an easy option for parents who choose to delegate their children's care. The law also provides for the state to intervene in the event that parents fail to fulfil their responsibilities. Not that they do a terribly good job either.

What next? Permission to copulate, go vegetarian, convert to Christianity, travel outside your local area? :scared:

Papiere, bitte! (Welsh translation?)

P.S. There should be another article in TES Scotland today, hooked on to the Welsh situation and no doubt giving the usual suspects a platform to vent their bigotry.
 
Just quickly. From what I've read the scoping report was not intended for it's current use. There's an analysis of how it's been reinterpreted and added to from when it was first published.

I'll get back here later when I've had some sleep.

Jane
xxxx
 
Ok, there is permission to share publically.

The Basis for the Welsh Assembly Government Proposals
Bridgend Research


Summary:

• WAG has published this report with several alterations to the original as published by the researcher, several of which are specifically geared to give wholly wrong impressions of the views of EHE families. Most notably the claim that:

There is a general understanding both among Home Educators and LA officers that the accepted role for the LA is monitoring HE families to ensure the ‘suitability’ of the education the children receive. (WAG)

Which is described by contributors to the face to face interviews thus:

‘This is an entirely false statement and I would happily say, on oath, that this was NOT the understanding of home educators taking part in the research.’

‘That I cannot see how any home edder would have said it in that context.’

‘At no time did any home educated family known to me who was involved in this research make that statement to my knowledge,

• WAG is in breach of contract in using the research to further their interests as interviewees agreed to the interviews for the purposes

(to evaluate the present EHE experience from family’s point of view, so the LEA can better partner, co-operate and resource further wherever desired or possible)

• Recommendations at no time support the introduction of compulsory monitoring and registration the subject of informal registration having been researched not compulsory.

• Registration and monitoring is not the way forward, as the WAG version of the report adds to the original:

Developing an agreed and clarified best practice therefore is a matter of urgency. The clear evidence so far of this early exercise is that mutually supportive and respectful partnership with appropriate representatives of the HE community at a local level is effective, both so the distinctive skills and expertise within the community can contribute to the social, emotional and educational needs of all the children in the area and that otherwise, the threat and suspicion between the LA and HE will continue to contribute to a vicious cycle of increasing regulation and corresponding invisibility.


The Report

Background

On 27th September 2012 WAG published a version of research undertaken amongst home educators in Bridgend (Mitchell, S). Prior to that date WAG had repeatedly advised the Bridgend group that the original research could not be circulated by them, however I have a copy of that original research which differs markedly from the WAG version in some significant matters.

The original research was formed around questionnaires which carry the following riders and statements of consent, on the front of the child and adult versions respectively:

Before starting interview:
Interviewer to introduce self and outline
the nature (verbal, self-reporting, qualitative)
and purpose of the interview
(to evaluate the present EHE experience from family’s point of view, so the LEA can help in any way possible)

My answers will be only used to help me and other pupils get the best additional learning support possible.

And

Before starting interview:
Interviewer to introduce self and outline
the nature (verbal, self-reporting, qualitative)
and purpose of the interview
(to evaluate the present EHE experience from family’s point of view, so the LEA can better partner, co-operate and resource further wherever desired or possible)

I understand that my responses will only be used to help me and other EHE families get the best support possible.

This makes absolutely clear that those being interviewed for this research did so on the understanding that the use would be limited to the obtaining of support from their LA, at no time was it indicated that they would be used to form a proposal to introduce monitoring and registration of EHE. By signing the consent form with the researcher who was ‘Acting For and on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government’ (Mitchell, S front cover) to that affect, a contract was entered into which, by publication in an altered form to support the WAG proposals for EHE, WAG has breached the terms of.

In addition in a private e-mail exchange prior to the research being agreed by EHE families the following question was asked which again reassures those taking part that the research was not to be used for the purpose of instructing monitoring proposals:

6. What powers/duties does the department believe LAs have to monitor EHE families (since we suspect that monitoring is at the heart of this)?

Monitoring is not the motivation for this research, but an interest to hear from the home educating community in order to establish a more collaborative approach to working together.

Yours sincerely
CHRIS BURDETT
Head of Support for Learners Division

Report:

The WAG published version of the report is identical to the original version in the description of the actual research itself in paragraph 34, 35 and from paragraph 39 through to 73 other than three minor changes in paragraph 57 and 69 the word supportive is used in place of the original ‘benevolent’. In paragraph 68 the words ‘particularly vulnerable’ are used in place of ‘inviting’. However, the tone of meaning has been altered in paragraph. 36 by the removal of the term: ‘a desire to address issues of definition’ and replacement with ‘the urgent need to address issues of definition’. Paragraph 37 has a sentence added and there appears to be a typographical error in paragraph. 38 where ‘5 further’ has been changed to ‘7 further’.

WAG’s published version of the research carries an introduction in paragraphs 1-6 inclusive. In paragraph 4:
​..as well as any potential conflict between the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the parental right to home educate their child. (WAG)

Yet, the original report makes no comment whatsoever with regard to any such conflict; neither does the questionnaire mention this (Appendix 1). To suggest such conflict is to judge parents and children to be in an adversarial role rather than a role of mutual love and affection.

It is however, in the sections entitled ‘Findings’ and ‘conclusions; where most disparity occurs. In paragraph 7 the published WAG states (bold as published):

The extreme stance expressed by some authorities that the majority of HE parents choose HE to avoid prosecution when they and/or their children simply disengage with education is not endorsed by this initial scoping, but it is the primary experience of the EWS in relation to HE and, as such, is perceived to be a much more significant motivation than it is in actuality (WAG)

This stresses that for EWS (Education welfare services) the avoidance of prosecution is their primary experience of EHE, however in the original research it states:

….but as one of the main experiences of the EWS in relation to HE (original)

This is clearly suggesting that EWS officers experience ‘avoidance of prosecution’ in their view as one main aspect, not as the primary aspect of EHE; the exaggeration of the finding tending to indicate a desire to discredit EHE to the reader.

Paragraph 8 carries a comment that is not included in the original report but that is clearly put to allow the reader to accept WAG's view that families disappear into EHE:

The specifically pro-family position of the committed and effective home educator believes her/himself misjudged by the authority figure simply dismayed at the vulnerability of challenging children and dysfunctional families threatening to disappear from help or support into ‘HE’. The two rarely, if ever, meet and the stereotypical understanding is never challenged. (WAG)

The most startling addition in the WAG published version comes in paragraph 11 where it is stated:

There is a general understanding both among Home Educators and LA officers that the accepted role for the LA is monitoring HE families to ensure the ‘suitability’ of the education the children receive. (WAG)

I have contacted several of the original contributors who took part in this research and I am unable to find a contributor from an EHE family who recognises that view as one they expressed or would express. When asked to comment on the statement examples of what they said:

‘This is an entirely false statement and I would happily say, on oath, that this was NOT the understanding of home educators taking part in the research.’

‘That I cannot see how any home edder would have said it in that context.’

At no time did any home educated family known to me who was involved in this research make that statement to my knowledge,

The comment attributed to EHE families is manifestly fabricated and not one that they have made. It is my understanding that the researcher found only one EHE contributor who was in favour of monitoring. This could readily be viewed as a cynical and dishonest attempt by WAG to misrepresent the findings in a way that supports their proposals. Further a large section of the original report was omitted at this point which suggest that where monitoring and support are needed the relationship with the LA has broken down in any event but that involvement with local EHE families may ‘allay fears and suspicion felt by LAs:

The spectrum model of where families enter into the HE experience might be used towards different levels of LA involvement. For the extreme cases where families opt out to avoid prosecution, there are great challenges ahead educationally and perhaps from a welfare perspective. This would seem to indicate the need of a greater degree of oversight or support than that required by some of the committed, clearly trustworthy parents making quite remarkable sacrifices to invest in learning with their children in a lifestyle choice at the other end of the spectrum. However, the former are the families where involvement has likely already broken down entirely, so appropriate involvement is outweighed by its impracticality.

The evidence of fruitful collaboration in some areas between the LA and HE is that some of the strengths and experience of the HE community can help to meet some of the needs and difficulties of children and families considering deregistering. At the same time, greater collaboration which respects this potential contribution will allow for greater visibility and openness within HE, in turn allaying some of the fears and suspicions felt by LAs about the HE families. (original)

Paragraph 16 is an addition which is extrapolated from a comment in the original report about the lack of vocational provision in some LAs being perceived by those LAs as behind some deregistrations:

Because of curricula difficulties. As with other EOTAS children, there is a curriculum issue at KS3 which causes some children immense difficulties and the lack of alternative, usually vocational provision in some LAs is perceived to be behind many of the de-registrations of older children. (original)

Is changed in the WAG published version to:
​​
It is equally evident from many comments received that were there a greater provision of more alternative curricular courses available, some HE students, along with others presently struggling with curricular difficulties would definitely opt back into such vocational or flexible educational provision.(WAG)

Not only does this portray the return to mainstream provision as desirable and thus EHE by implication less desirable but it was not stated in the research.

The subject of ‘safeguarding’ is frequently used by LAs disingenuously to justify monitoring of EHE families. The research refers to this and specifically the need to clarify why LAs and governments quote safeguarding as a particular issue for EHE children. Reference is made in this regard to a web site comment that ‘warning signs of neglect in children’ include ‘frequently late or missing from school’. However, these children are Not EHE children but children registered at a school and not attending. In the bastardised version published by WAG a comment is added that changes the impact of the paragraph:

However, even while it may be true that abusive families pragmatically do tend to avoid school attendance, it is certainly not true that all those who do not attend school are in abusive situations.

This states as fact matters that are not investigated or included in the report and implies a connection between EHE children and children who are abused and ‘not attending school’ for that reason. EHE children do not attend school but they are not ‘non-attenders’ rather they are educated at home. This is a very different issue. Further, research clearly indicates that EHE children are at considerably less risk of abuse than are other children (Daley, L.)(Charles-Warner, W) making this connection an unwarranted one between abuse and EHE that the original researcher does not make. Paragraph 18 adds to this subtle implantation of the acceptance of EHE as a vehicle for ‘hiding abuse’:

the early indications from this scoping exercise are that the most challenging families, about whom there may be shared concerns, who are officially ‘home educating’ as an avoidance tactic, will be even more difficult to access or even find. (WAG)

Further subtle changes that imply negative connections with EHE appear in paragraph 19 where the words ‘(now also HE) families’ are replaced by ‘disaffected, newly de-registered families’ a very different issue. One might question why the WAG published version would wish to portray newly deregistered EHE families in that way.

The conclusion in the WAG published version continues the addition of material not in the original research in several parts, many innocuous but others implying a need to consider safeguarding issues where such issues have been demonstrated to not be connected to EHE. Paragraph 28 adds this which does not appear in the original report:

Information might not always be shared (the boundaries would be co-operatively defined) but the sense that someone is at least involved in the situation would give added confidence, and the difficult issues of safeguarding become a shared, transparent responsibility rather than a conflictual barrier (WAG)

There is no difficulty in the ‘issue of safeguarding’ as has been frequently found by research and indeed by the House of Commons all party select committee on education (Stuart, G):

“I hope that the Welsh government think again. Registration and enforcement will be costly and alienate families. The money would be better spent elsewhere. I've never seen any evidence that home education is a risk factor for child welfare nor, where children are harmed, any evidence that home education meant that abuse was hidden from the authorities. Home educated children aren't hidden - they are peculiarly visible. A registration scheme will contribute neither to an improved education for children nor to an improvement in their welfare. We looked hard at the issue in England and rejected registration. I'd be interested to see any evidence from Wales that suggests that they would be right to come to a different conclusion.”

It is noteworthy that WAG have published this research to support their efforts to introduce a compulsory registration and monitoring scheme for EHE families in Wales as at no time does the report support that introduction. The alterations in the WAG published version to paragraph 20 are particularly noteworthy in this regard:

It is not surprising that registration per se is not an issue for those interviewed (70% of those who are already known to the authorities have no problem with registration) while 100% of the survey responses (from those who have opted for an anonymous involvement in this exercise) have a distinct reluctance about the possibility. (WAG)

Registration and funding
70% of those interviewed (who are already known to the authorities) while 100% of the survey responses (anonymous) have a distinct reluctance. (Original page 6)

And later: 100% are very suspicious about a hidden agenda in registration: ’very wary; suspicious; doesn’t sound like the way forward’

It is not surprising (70% have no problem) that registration per se is not an issue for those interviewed (who are already known to the authorities)…… The discussion about informal registration (Original p18)

Thus, WAG has published this report with a statement that 70% of those EHE families known to their LA are not opposed to registration whereas the original report states that 70% have a distinct reluctance in the early part then that there is no issue per se, but this was stated with regard to ‘informal registration’ not a compulsory scheme as WAG proposes. The 70% of those that were interviewed face to face (10 adults and 13 children) were those already known to their LA and on their database. Their LA is the only one in Wales where financial support is given to EHE families and on a voluntary basis. The report then reiterates that 100% of those surveyed were against registration. This misrepresentation is clear cut and deceitful.

The original recommendations at no time give any indication of a desire or need for registration or monitoring and indeed the report specifically describes it:

they comment on the adverse effects of talk of more regulation, ‘monitoring and policing’ as “I’ve never seen anything like this before… At present there is a draconian attitude to HE.” They refer to it building “a militant extremism against registration” among some Home Educators and feeding “conspiracy” theories.

This again recognises therefore the conflictual nature of LA engagement with Home education.

the suspicion evoked by suggesting any such data gathering (involving registration and record keeping) would be entirely counter-productive.

The discussion about informal registration cannot be separated from the cultural gulf that the above comments about safeguarding, the experience of suspicion and misunderstanding evidence. As highlighted earlier, some HE facilitators agree that there is need for longer term success stories to undergird HE as a valid alternative educational model and more data both of the qualifications achieved and the subsequent training and employment opportunities followed by HE students over the long term would provide that. But without a primary strategy to negotiate the culture change, the suggestion of such data collection or record keeping would surely evoke a less than positive response.
 
*continued

Recommendations in the original and WAG published versions of the report are almost identical apart from the WAG published version having an additional comment inserted. The report recommends only further investigation of the issues of recognising EHE as a valid alternative to school and of finding ways to facilitate a ‘cultural change in attitudes concerning (HE) and the relationship between the HE community and local authorities’. As that cultural attitude is grounded in suspicion, lack of adherence to current legislation by many LAs, untruthful conflation of safeguarding with EHE, adversarial attitudes with LAs failing to respect EHE families choices, the proposed introduction of compulsory monitoring and registration, would simply feed the adversarial situation.

References:

Charles-Warner, W. Safeguarding, analysis of CPR registrations published as part of response to WAG proposals. October 2012.

Daley, L. Abuse in Elective Home Education. 11th June 2009. Accessed 14th August 2012.

Mitchell, S. A report and Recommendations from Initial Scoping Research of Elective Home Education In the Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan and Neath Port Talbot Areas. Direct from researcher 2011.

Mitchell, S. A report and Recommendations from Initial Scoping Research of Elective Home Education In the Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan and Neath Port Talbot Areas. WAG. 27th December 2012.

Stuart, G. Chair, House of Commons all party select committee on education. Posted on Facebook page and accessed 17th September 2012.
 
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