wish list from home educators in Wales

The new draft home education Guidance for Wales says that someone from the council will meet families every year to decide whether there is sufficient evidence of suitable education. This is presented as an improvement on the current position.

The consultation closes on July 3rd. My response is here

Earlier in the year home educators were asked for their thoughts, and the Welsh Government has recently published what parents said. (Unfortunately, the link doesn’t work at the moment)

LA need to understand that home education is not a child protection issue
LA should ensure that parents are informed that home education is a legal option
LA should acknowledge that home education is a viable alternative not necessarily a last resort
Finish what you start, the LA officer here has worked with parents to devise a good policy but it has never appeared on the website
Some council websites don’t have anything about home education or else it is very hard to find
A specific person in a role for long term, to develop a relationship and understanding
Access to educational resources and school facilities
Leave families alone unless they ask for help
Advice on how to take exams if you are out of school
Exam fees should be paid
Help with access to exam centre, including a list of local exam centres taking private candidates
Offer weekly classes (optional) eg science in a laboratory or a foreign language
Employ someone with a positive attitude to home education
‘Fire the current lot and start again’
Provide ideas of things to do rather than trying to check up on people
Stop telling parents that the law has changed
Don’t treat request for support as cause for concern, it shouldn’t be seen as a symptom of not being able to cope
The council should make sure schools are aware of the law on home education
LAs should be aware of the breadth and depth of home educators peer support networks
Provide list of tutors on request
Would be helpful if the person dealing with home education wasn’t also responsible for chasing up truants
Don’t assume it’s OK to talk to children on their own
Home Educators Activity Day eg in local library or sports centre
Someone families could approach rather than always coming from the LA asking for something
Home education could help support family in dealings with SEN service
SEN support should be available when child is not on school roll
Stop referring families to social services for refusing a visit
Don’t send scary letters
Inform headteachers of responsibility to remove child from school roll where applicable
Funding for home education groups
Paperwork shouldn’t be misleading or imply home education has to be like school
Access to specialist services
Provide information to all, not just to favoured families who agree to monitoring visits
Current Welsh Guidelines are good but LAs cherry pick the bits they want
Don’t tell families that the only way to get SEN support is through a school
Be understanding of late developers and delayed academic start in eg Montessori and Steiner
Understand that home education doesn’t require a timetable
Access to council buildings for home education groups
Art and craft materials, sports facilities, the county music service
Stop trying to find something wrong, should only be acting if it comes to their
notice that there might be a problem
Don’t treat home educating families as though they have something to hide just
because they don’t want to have monitoring visits
Trust parents more
Understand that some children are terrified of the LA visitor ‘as the big nasty person who is going to send them back to school’
Annual monitoring visit is stressful for many families
Separate role of inspector and advisor as families will be reluctant to voice concerns in case it counts against them
Stop sending forms asking about school subjects, term times, teaching qualifications and curriculum
Not getting a letter from the truancy unit requesting an annual report
LA should provide drop in where home educators can get information and advice
Wider children’s workforce should be made more aware of legalities of home education, same with health professionals
LA should tell parents that home education is a legal option
LAs shouldn’t make up their own version of the law
Information about local home education groups
Information on alternative pathways to employment and further education
Information about what LA would regard as cause for concern
Tips on how to approach particular subjects such as maths
Understand alternative approaches to home education
Accept that support should be optional and that monitoring is not supportive
Access to after school clubs
Understand how traumatic school has been for some children
Advisors should be aware that there might be much less written work in home education
Advisors shouldn’t have pre-conceived ideas
Stop doorstepping families
Have a more respectful attitude

This is what parents said they got at the moment from their LA in terms of support: 

brief telephone chat and leaflet
one-off visit
lovely lady visits once a year
once a year visit to ensure the children are in a safe and happy learning environment, but no practical resources
home education is praised on annual monitoring visit, this keeps grandparents happy
general information
advice from educational psychologist
signposted to local support
list of educational websites
access to schools library on request
explanation of other council services
educational resources recommendations
discounted software
termly visits
booklet telling us about school-type education

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