AEHEP meeting Stafford April 24th 2015

At the start of the meeting it was stated that the Chatham House Rule would apply. This is taken to mean that the people who attended the meeting cannot be identified unless they have stated themselves to be participants. In addition, views expressed cannot be attributed to an individual. A person attending the meeting can however report what he or she said.
Tricia expressed concern about secrecy and questioned how home educators could pass on their views/questions if they don’t know who is attending.

Update May 1st, read official meeting notes here

Shared with permission of Tricia Farey from HE-Special:

“Here is my take on Friday’s meeting.
Please note that the information below is based on my notes and recollection of the meeting. Every person there will have interpreted what was said in their own way and some may feel the record they took is more accurate.

The order does not reflect the order in which discussions took place. I was there because of SEN so, for those SEN families not interested in the full meeting, I have pulled those items together near the start.

Please feel free to cross post

Tricia

—————-

From the outset it was made clear no one there can represent home educators, they can only give their own views.

Format of meeting

At the start of the meeting it was stated that the Chatham House Rule would apply. This is taken to mean that the people who attended the meeting cannot be identified unless they have stated themselves to be participants. In addition, views expressed cannot be attributed to an individual. A person attending the meeting can however report what he or she said.
Tricia expressed concern about secrecy and questioned how home educators could pass on their views/questions if they don’t know who is attending. It was agreed that names would be published in the notes. A draft will be sent to participants for comments before final notes are agreed for wider distribution.
Should it be the same participants at future such meetings? There are benefits from continuity. Participants could disseminate information to the home education community and feed back to the Association.
Tricia said if the Association met different people it would allow for a wider range of views to be heard.

SEN

A recent case was discussed from media reports where a child with a statement of SEN had not had annual reviews. Tricia said this was quite common.
What would be the view if parents did not provide input to the annual statement review, what should the LA do?
Tricia said if your child gets no provision from the LA why bother writing reports and attending meetings? Gave example from own experience.
One LA provides support at home if it is not more expensive than other provision.
Every child in school costs at least £5K. Home educators save the state money. Does the LA have access to those funds if a child is not on roll? The High Needs Block can be used but is not ring fenced.
In some local authorities, SEN is not the remit of the home education department.
Tricia said SEN don’t understand EHE, EHE wash their hands because SEN, families left in no-man’s land.
Do the guidelines needed updating because of SEN?
Were changes to SEN good for families? High hopes initially but it is hard for parents to get all the evidence together.
Parents are able to request an assessment. Tricia said EHE officers should support the parents in putting their case together, all LA officers should understand that evidence won’t be based on professional reports or use same jargon in same way but one big difference in new regs is the importance of the parent and how LAs must listen to what they are saying and not brush them off as they have in the past.
Tricia said LAs have no legal grounds to refuse deregistration from special schools yet either they do this or they drag process out. Please can the association send a message to members to tackle this.

LAs good and bad practice

Home educating families are terrified of local authority officers because of the threat of a referral to social services.
More parents are turning to home education, most are genuine but others do either to avoid exclusions and or because of schools off-rolling.
Could reliable figures be collected for the number of children and young people being off-rolled? Off rolling is on the agenda for the next AEHEP meeting in June.
How many home educated children are unknown to the local authority?
Is it part of the LA’s job to check that parents actually want to home educate? In one LA the child’s name is taken off the school roll but the place is kept open for 20 days.
Offering home educators something they want is a way to maintain contact, such as paying for exams.
Practice differs in different areas as to what happens when a family ignores the initial approach from the LA; in some areas social workers and police will turn up on the doorstep. Bad news spreads fast and that there are Facebook groups with over 7,000 members.
Where there is trust and a positive relationship, home educators will flag up any safeguarding concerns to the LA. There is a conflation of education and safeguarding, also with Children Missing Education.
Lancashire and Hampshire are examples of good LAs. Tricia said that Hampshire cut back on visits for financial reasons and that if budgets were reinstated the two LAs may react differently, Lancashire has not had the same cuts.
When policies are improved following advice there is an initial dip in visits but then an increase.
Some LAs might need bringing into line but it is not the business of the Association to force anyone.
One local authority provides half day weekly phone-in surgery and workshops, uses money for support. It would be beneficial to share good practice.
When LAs work with local home educators, relationships improve, so a national body should encourage LAs to talk to local home educators. Some parents would be apprehensive in this situation because they would fear being judged.
Some LA officers are dismissive of home educators and do not use respectful language.
Some local authorities are sending in school nurses.
There are new requirements on public health.
A general discussion took place on data sharing.
There might be a situation where the family asks the home education service to step in and help with other services.
Tricia said that’s different to unwanted data sharing.
Parents are encouraged to talk to LAs and to send in educational philosophies.
Some cases concern family law, particularly issues with ex partners.
Work is done in translating complexities and helping people to deal with local authorities. Should people should always respond to letters from the LA? Tricia said it is best for advice to be given by locals with local knowledge.
A lot of LAs mention Phillips vs Brown but they don’t realise the context. It is necessary to read the full hearing.
Once a year LAs should write to families offering information and support and asking families to let them know if there’s a problem. This discharges the LA’s duty. Then if it appears education is not suitable, it becomes the LA’s reactive duty to do something.

Safeguarding and seeing the child

Are home educators more equally or less likely to abuse children? Hard copies of a report on this topic were circulated.
A teacher in school is more likely to be found guilty of abuse than a home educated child is to be abused.
Home educated children are twice as likely to be investigated by social services yet 3.5 to 7 times less likely to end up on a Child Protection Plan.
Are local authorities protecting themselves because of high profile cases where they are terrified it might happen again?
Guidelines are very clear, so all that is needed is to stick to them.
How is home education dealt with at child protection conferences?
Tricia said that Local Safeguarding Children Boards heavily influence what happens on the ground in LAs. EHE managers need to educate them, part of their role is to educate other services.

Training on home education and the law

Daniel Monk is an academic, not a ‘jobbing lawyer’ and his training material has multiple inaccuracies. Local authorities – particularly in the South East are getting Daniel Monk to provide training.
Training is available for local authorities on home education and the law.
Training has been delivered to wider services including directors of children’s services.
A training package has been offered to LAs free of charge which would normally cost a 4 figure sum and has been turned down because the LA will only use in-house training.
Research into the training of LA officers in home education reveals extensive safeguarding training but only a tiny minority had training in elective home education and the law.
Tricia said Lancashire are developing e-learning system to educate wider services, including health and police, about EHE that could be extended for other LAs to use which would ensure proper understanding.
Tricia said with e-learning all staff are trained, not impacted by changes to personnel as new officers do the training within weeks of taking up post.
Home educators would have to have input to training materials.
Tricia said local home educators would have input in Lancashire.

The Association

Revised draft terms of references for AEHEP are not to be shared more widely at this stage as they have not been seen by other members of the AEHEP committee.
Can anyone outside the local authorities (such as those attending the meeting) be associate members of the Association? To be taken back to the AEHEP committee for further discussion.
Could the Association develop into a professional association, for example as with paralegals, if they don’t comply with certain conditions, they get struck off?
Should the Association be able to apply sanctions?
Could the Association have an investigation panel for home educators to refer bad officers? The Association would not have the authority to do such a thing.
Will there be lobbying for compulsory registration?
AEHEP is about LAs working together to achieve consistency. They will listen to home educators but in the end they have to do it for themselves.
Tricia said that one of the members of the committee (not present) was from an LA which was previously an example of an egregiously bad LA, now superb, all about support and no intrusion, so the Association has the knowledge and skills within its own ranks.
The Association would not know where the problems were, and therefore it needs feedback from those at the meeting about what is happening on the ground.
How could home educators who were not known to their LAs put across their views?
Tricia said that in Lancashire those people can already have their say and attend meetings.
Tricia asked about who was on the committee. Names would not be released until after the next meeting in June.
Can the Association make a statement on behalf of AEHEP that it is not their intention to lobby for monitoring? Correspondence with Stephen Bishop led a lot of home educators to believe that the Association would lobby for monitoring.
Emails have been received about the association.
LA officers calling themselves professionals is an insult to true home education professionals
“If the AEHEP can work with you then we’ll all move forward, don’t expect the pace to be quick.”

Actions

Actions were agreed and will be published soon.

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13 thoughts on “AEHEP meeting Stafford April 24th 2015

  1. robpar

    Seems fair and reasonable – appreciate it is one persons view but you have to start somewhere the whole secret squirrel aspect is annoying

    Jaki Parsons

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  2. ann Czernik

    Remind me why we as a community are discussing child protection and the failings of LA to ascertain if children from special schools who are then removed are recieving an appropriate education. I have not read anything in these notes that refers to home education but a great deal on negative steretyping. And I for one am not ‘terrified’ of social care – and neither should anyone else be. What we should be doing is challenging the ultravires position that EHE is a safeguarding issue because it is’nt under the terms of the Children’s Act.

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  3. Pingback: what we now know about AEHEP | edyourself

  4. Phoenix

    “From the outset it was made clear no one there can represent home educators, they can only give their own views.” arguably contradicts “Participants could disseminate information to the home education community and feed back to the Association.”

    Away from the above, I still don’t get the objective(s) of the association? My EHE KG mentioned it a while back but I didn’t pay any attention… perhaps, I should re-initiate contact and flesh out the bones.

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    1. Fiona Nicholson Post author

      We won’t know the objectives till we see the constitution that is agreed. The home ed people have seen the draft before the committee votes on it in June. It might be interesting to follow it up with KG.

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  5. Jaki

    Secret squirrel – not knowing which LAs are attending.
    Not knowing which Home Educators are going and in what capacity.
    Why Tricia’s notes seems lot. more in depth than the official minute taker. Why can’t we know who took the minutes.

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  7. Pingback: EO REPORT ON AEHEP MEETING 24th April 2015 | edyourself

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