DECEMBER 2022: THE SCHOOLS BILL HAS BEEN DROPPED. THERE IS CURRENTLY NO MECHANISM IN LAW TO INTRODUCE ANY OF THE PROPOSALS OUTLINED BELOW. READ MORE HERE
On Wednesday June 22nd the House of Lords reached the fifth day of Committee for the Schools Bill. Peers debated sanctions and enforcement procedures related to the new Children Not in School Register, including new fast-track school attendance orders, plus the new duty of support which is not yet funded. This post looks at some of the criticism and queries raised and the answers given by government. Baroness Barran is the government minister responsible for the Bill in the Lords.
Lord Lucas: right of appeal against local authority decision. Some LAs are very good eg Gloucestershire and Coventry. When relationships are good, home educators will pass problems on because there is trust. In other areas it can be totally oppositional and relationships break down. Bill should incentivise local authorities to act well. Bill allows LAs to ask whatever they want and if the parent doesn’t provide it they get dumped into school attendance order proceedings.
Baroness Brinton: The register should not be published. The current fines system should be retained. There should be mental health and SEN assessments if professionals recommend them.
Baroness Garden: Taking exams is difficult and expensive for home educators. There should be independent assessor for school attendance orders who is not part of the local authority.
Lord Knight: Perhaps a role for ombudsman or the Office of Schools Adjudicator regarding independent appeals. Agrees with support for exams, although asks where the money would come from. Concern about level of penalties with school attendance orders.
Lord Wei: His sons are home educated. Home education art exhibition in Parliament shortly. “Registration is a hammer to crack a nut, the nut being bad actors “[ie parents whose children are at risk from not being in registered schools?] “this has been designed to fix an IT problem … a registration programme is to be brought in when we could have fixed it with good IT and good use of the powers that already exist to safeguard children who are suspected of being abused or neglected” Mentions offrolling and illegal schools. “some in the home education community are incredibly well resourced. They will take the Government to court, put injunctions on this legislation and do everything to block it”. Need for ombudsman regarding appeal.
Lord Soley: This legislation is supportive, not punitive. “The rights of the parents to appeal to an independent person or organisation is, to my mind, incredibly important.” Some home educated children are vulnerable – how to protect them? Why would parents not want a person in authority to see their child, what’s the problem? Rights of the child versus rights of parent.
Lord Shipley: school attendance order should only be served if in best interests of child. Lord Bellingham: school attendance orders put too much power in hands of officials
Lord Shipley: Quoting Lord Lucas “it will be tremendously easy to be a bad authority“. Need protection against local authority poor quality decisions.
Lord Blackwell: Has to be some form of independent appeal against local authority decisions.
Baroness Whitaker: Level of fines should not be increased.
Lord Wei: Pursue those families who are using home education as a cover for abuse, as well as helping those who are struggling. “However, I am not sure that it is the right approach to ask about everyone in the country who is doing home education — whether good or bad — just because they might be doing something wrong”
Baroness Fox: “in a free society, do we not assume that the vast majority of parents are not a threat to their children … The emphasis has been on the rights of children, as though their rights are in contradistinction to those of their parents. It is as though parents are going round snatching all the rights of children and we should let the state and the local authority be the arbiters of protecting children.”
Lord Addington: There should be support with exams including where the child has special needs but no EHCP.
Lord Young: “nothing wrong with local authorities having a list and being able to assure themselves that it is taking place in an appropriate manner. It should not be seen as punitive”
Lord Grocott: “This is not the first group of amendments where I have sensed there is serious need for proper discussion between Committee and Report“ [ie delay Report stage which would normally be due a couple of weeks after Committee]
Lord Storey: “This is an opportunity to reset the dial in terms of home education, to do the things that protect the vulnerable and protect the child, but to ensure that local authorities work with home educators.” Also home educators save the government money so why not provide funding for exams.
Lord Wei: home educating parents know their child and can do what works best
Lord Davies: “the rights of the child not to be abused and to get a decent education are important”
Baroness Fox: ” worried about education being dragged into what is effectively social services“
Baroness Wilcox: “We have not mentioned Covid during this debate, which caused a huge increase in home schooling. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services estimated that the number of children being home educated at some point during 2020-21 was 115,542. That is a 34% increase on the 2019-20 total. It further remarked that in many cases, home schooling “does not seem the most appropriate route for the children concerned.”
Baroness Barran: Spoke recently to home educators from Gloucestershire and to the local authority, example of a strong and positive working relationship. “The issues of appeal are extremely important. I will summarise the current routes for your Lordships, but also make some commitments to the Committee about how we can make sure that the concerns that have been aired this afternoon, and by home educators I have spoken to, can be addressed.” “The law already enables a parent to apply to the Secretary of State to intervene and make a determination if a local authority has refused a parent’s request to revoke a school attendance order.” “it is really important that we have a system that feels fair to parents and which builds trust and confidence. Therefore, we propose to create, in close collaboration with local authorities and home-educating parents, new statutory guidance for local authorities which will cover all the powers and duties of local authorities regarding the register and support. This will include advice on how to promote positive engagement with the home education community.” “We will also continue to consider what more we can do to support parents and strengthen independent oversight.” “The preliminary notice stage already provides parents with the opportunity to evidence that their child is in receipt of a suitable education.” “There will not be a legal requirement for local authorities to provide specific funding to home-educated pupils for examination fees as part of the support duty, but it would be one way they could choose to discharge the duty.“
Lord Addington: What about support for special needs?
Baroness Barran: Signposts to flowchart at back of policy notes. [NB I can’t see which flowchart relates to support for SEND in this context although there is a flowchart for the school attendance order process on pages 15-16 of the Policy Briefing on the CNIS Register https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1077818/Children_not_in_School_-_Schools_Bill_Factsheet.pdf linked from this page https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/schools-bill-policy-statements] ” I repeat that it is not possible for fines or penalty notices to be given to parents for failing to provide information for the registers and the Bill does not provide for that, but if parents fail to demonstrate that their child is receiving a suitable education, it is right that the local authority begin the process of issuing a school attendance order. If the parent is unable to evidence that the education they are providing is suitable, the process will lead to an order being issued. If the parent then breaches the order, they may be fined by the magistrates’ court.” ” My department’s guidance for local authorities highlights that the authority should initially attempt to resolve doubts through informal inquiries.” “Local authorities should have the in-house expertise to make these decisions, but if they do not, they can and should consult a suitably qualified external expert. We will make this clear in our guidance.” [NB My question is who decides if they have sufficient in-house expertise? Do they decide it for themselves because if so what would be the incentive for deciding that money needs to be spent on someone who might come up with something you didn’t like or couldn’t control?] “if local authorities were to refuse to revoke a school attendance order on an unreasonable basis, that refusal would in itself be unlawful.” Says “check that we have that very reasonable point covered” “if a parent was found guilty of breaching a school attendance order and continued to breach it … [in cases ] where that home education may have changed [for the better one assumes? My point being that the parent would surely have the opportunity to present this evidence but would have to go to court again if the LA just assumed once defective always defective?] “A breach of a school attendance order is currently punishable by a fine of up to £1,000, compared to a maximum fine of £2,500, or up to three months’ imprisonment, for the offence of knowingly failing to cause a child to attend the school at which they are registered. This means that there is currently an incentive for some parents to remove their child from school under the guise of home education rather than incur the greater penalty associated with non-attendance. By aligning the penalties, we can increase the deterrent and help ensure that as many children as possible are in receipt of a suitable education.” [NB My comment: this is a different justification from previously and seems to be implying that it has arisen from the belief that parents deregister to avoid truancy fines]
[Re] “the change in custodial sentence. Wider criminal justice legislation, which has not yet come into force, will raise sentences in magistrates’ courts from three months to 51 weeks. New Section 436Q is simply in line with that wider change, and until it comes into force, the maximum sentence under new Section 436Q will remain at three months, as set out in subsection (9)“
[NB not that parents will get 51 week sentences but that it will be theoretically possible for magistrates to impose a sentence of that length for any offence.] “we will consider what options there are to make sure that there is a system that feels fair to parents and in which parents have trust and confidence“
Lord Lucas: This all puts a lot of weight on the forthcoming guidance…it would be useful to see a draft at some point.
Baroness Barran: Guidance will be developed “in co-operation with home-educating parents and local authorities.” [NB presumably this means a public consultation although some people may have given their views before the draft is agreed for consultation]
Lord Lucas: “Where there is a supportive system, money is much better directed. Money goes to supporting the education of children, rather than being used to try to control their parents, and there is a much better flow of information about what is happening.” Time limits for school attendance orders should not be shortened, if anything they should be lengthened. “If we have a system that trips parents easily into school attendance orders, then we need to allow parents time to react first.” Does the government intend for a tutor being used a couple of days a week to come within scope of the providers who have to be notified to the local authority by the parent and subsequently respond to questions from the LA? Why not just have a system of registering tutors instead? The Impact Assessment accompanying the Bill does not show any money for support, suggesting that registration will come in before support. This should not happen.
Baroness Brinton: There should be funding for support. Parents should have more time to register. Children should get the same special needs support once they are out of school. Children with challenging behaviour should get support.
Bishop of Blackburn: Agrees with extending time limit for registration and for providing information.
Baroness Garden: Also supports extending the time limit for registration, and someone ” who has made strenuous efforts to provide information should not be penalised if the information is deemed inadequate.”
Lord Addington: There must be support for children with special needs who are out of school but don’t have an EHCP.
Lord Storey: What about home educating parents teaching other people’s children? Do they need a DBS check? Deplores the poor quality of unregistered alternative provision for excluded children, including those with special educational needs.
Baroness Chapman: Need to be careful about information sharing in cases eg of domestic abuse. ” about the support provided by local authorities to children with special needs or disabilities, we are very interested in supporting this. We take the points raised on time limits and school days and would be sympathetic to any reasonable amendments along these lines at Report.“
Baroness Barran: “We are aware that there are a number of reasons why parents may choose elective home education. Sometimes this may not be their choice, for example due to off-rolling, which is why we believe it would be valuable to require the recording of reasons for home education, so we can identify some of the wider system issues” ” information held in registers will of course be protected under UK GDPR, like any other data” Proposed time limit of 15 days for registration etc is sufficient. If all the time limits were extended this would be far too long for a child to be without suitable education. The only people who will potentially get fined for not supplying information are providers, not parents. ” Parents who fail in their duty to provide information, or who provide false information, for the register would not be subject to any financial penalty. Rather, as I mentioned earlier, the local authority will be required then to initiate the process of finding out whether a child is receiving suitable education. That is obviously the central point of their inquiry. If they find that a child is not receiving this, then it could lead to a school attendance order. And if that attendance order is not complied with, it could eventually result in a fine being imposed, but only if the parent convinces neither the local authority nor the magistrates’ court that their child is being suitably educated.” When the support duty is introduced, it “could include special educational needs support.” “We will take sufficient time prior to the registration system coming into force to ensure the registers work for everyone and that local authorities are clear on their support duty.” [NB has not actually said will wait until guidance on and funding for support before commencing registration] “A threshold set out in regulations will ensure that the duty to provide information targets only those providers that are used for a substantial proportion of a child’s education … There is also a power in new Section 436E(6) to make regulations creating specific exemptions to the requirement for providers to provide information, which could be used to exclude certain settings from scope. We will continue to engage with stakeholders on this.” “We are still in the process of determining what the minimum expectation on local authorities should be in terms of their new support duty. To ensure that it is as effective as possible, it is right that we undertake the necessary consideration and assessment of need, including how this can be achieved and the costs involved. We will engage closely with stakeholders on this prior to the statutory guidance being issued and we have also committed to undertake a new burdens assessment to identify the level of funding that may be required to support local authorities so that they can discharge their duty effectively and well.“
Baroness Wilcox: Why only 15 days for all the registration requirements?
Baroness Barran: “Our approach to this has been to look at the total length of the process and consider the balance.”
Baroness Kennedy of Cradley: “Part 3 has drawn significant criticism from home educators and I want to put their significant anxieties and concerns about the introduction of the children not in school register to the Committee … many reasons why school is not a suitable environment for some children … I have first-hand experience of how a five year-old boy has thrived from being home educated … My second example illustrates how a child’s specific health needs often mean home education is the only choice … What assurances can the Minister give both these families, and the many others that have contacted us, that the register will not be used by local authorities to force children back into school? … We already hear reports from home educators of overreach by schools and local authorities, threatening fines and prosecutions, and making parents feel like they are troublesome or elitist and making the wrong choice for their children…New Section 436C(2) states that the register may contain “any other information the local authority consider appropriate” … needing reassurance “that the information requested by local authorities will not grow and be extended in different ways by different local authorities, creating a postcode lottery of registration information“ Section 436D creates a duty on parents to provide information requested by the local authority, but there must be exemptions for victims of domestic violence. “Section 436E … could allow for financial penalties to be levied against child tutors, childminders or home education groups where parents share care of their children.” It will be up to local authorities to decide what type of support. “I thank all the organisations and home-educating parents who have contacted me; there have been many, including Education Otherwise, Square Peg and the elective home education art project, to name a few.“
Baroness Brinton: Agrees about protecting personal data for victims of domestic abuse. “It is completely wrong to proceed with this part of the Bill while there are so many unsolved problems: those of principle, language and attitude. Frankly, this means that there must be a delay to starting Report while the Government think again—at least until the autumn.”
Lord Storey: “I guess that all noble Lords here have been bombarded with emails from home educators, and we must be careful that we do not believe everything that they tell us. As the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, was talking, I received an email giving a completely different view about how some home educators are suing one other over what they said; some are being told to be quiet.” “If we ramp up the fear that they will be threatened, they will feel threatened.”
Baroness Chapman: “We support the principle of a register. However, there have been some helpful suggestions for improvement—particularly on new Sections 436C and 436D(2), inserted by Clause 48—and the Minister has committed to go away and consider those further.” ” We do not think that the Government will have time to reconsider some of the issues that have been raised. It would seem appropriate, given everything that has been said, for us at least to wait for the regulatory review to be completed before we take this Bill to Report.“
Baroness Penn standing in for Baroness Barran government spokesperson: “the introduction of registers is not, in any way, intended to undermine or interfere with the parents’ right to educate their child how they choose. This clause includes no measures on monitoring or assessing the education that parents may be providing. Local authorities’ existing powers are already sufficient in this regard, and we have already provided guidance to support local authorities to determine whether education is suitable.” “this Bill is about establishing registers so that we know who and where home-educated children are; it is not about forcing them back to school. A school attendance order can be issued only if the local authority is not satisfied that the education provided for the child is suitable … In addition, the current law, supported by guidance, already requires local authorities to take all relevant factors into account when taking a view on whether it is expedient for a child to attend school, including any medical grounds.” “I turn now to the noble Baroness’s question about parents needing local authorities’ consent to home educate. I can reassure the noble Baroness that condition C in new Section 436B simply does not do that; it establishes that a home-educated child is eligible to be included on the local authority’s register. That is a statement of fact; there is nothing about consent involved in new Section 436B.” “we must recognise that there are growing numbers of children not in school, particularly after the pandemic, and there are concerns that some of these children will not be receiving suitable education—and, in some cases, not at all. We need to be able to assure ourselves that they are receiving a suitable education, and that is what these provisions are all about.“ “While parents of eligible children will be required to provide information to local authorities for inclusion on their registers, local authorities will be able to require only that information which is prescribed in legislation. Any additional information prescribed will be intended to support the promotion of the education, welfare or safety of children.” Data sharing “here will be protections in place: the clause allows local authorities to share information only with certain prescribed persons, to be set out in regulations, when they consider it appropriate for the purposes of ensuring the safety, welfare or education of a child“
Baroness Chapman: “There is quite deep concern about this issue [I assume data sharing], and I wonder whether the regulations could be made available to us before Report.”
Baroness Penn standing in for Baroness Barran government spokesperson: “I can absolutely take that point away and see whether it is possible. If that is not the mechanism by which we can provide further detail and assurance, I will look at what else we can do to explore, and reassure on, that issue further.” “It is essential, however, for local authorities to be able to share information, if needed, to support multi-agency safeguarding and education efforts, with the appropriate safeguards in place.“
Lord Lucas: “in new Section 436C(1)(c), “such details of the means by which the child is being educated as may be prescribed” is a completely open phrase. This is an area which is used by some local authorities to pressure parents. They pursue parents for timetables, the details of subjects of studied and other things which do not necessarily form part of home education. Home education is not subject bound. Schools have to do it that way; if the Times has its way, schools may not have to do it that way, but they do so at the moment. Home education may follow timetables, or it may be something much looser. The age at which a child begins to read can be quite late in home education, or it can be very early. These things vary enormously from the practice which is necessary in school. That new Section 436C(1)(c) is in this Bill, and opens and then flows through to the school attendance order provisions, is a source of considerable worry, and I think reasonably so.“
Baroness Garden: Reiterates earlier support for increasing the time limit by which parents have to respond. “I hope the Minister will appreciate how strongly home educators feel that this Bill is giving undue powers to authorities…“
Baroness Brinton: Some parents have children out of school because their child is not safe in school, whether that is for medical, psychological or other reasons.
Baroness Whitaker: proposes that “on acquittal for breaching a school attendance order, that particular school attendance order dies” [NB at present it might or might not be revoked, revocation is separate, the law says “may” not “must” https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/56/section/443 “(2) If, in proceedings for an offence under this section, the parent is acquitted, the court may direct that the school attendance order shall cease to be in force.” See also my web page on SAOs https://edyourself.org/articles/sao.php ]
Baroness Wilcox: “make school attendance order conditions easier for parents by, for example, increasing the information handover period, compelling consideration of the child’s relevant medical conditions—looking at the child holistically … attendance fines and fixed penalty notices are vastly skewed towards women” [NB I think this is about the latter clauses of Part 3, not the CNIS register]
Baroness Barran: “We have worked closely with a group of local authorities in developing the timeframes set out in the Bill. As we discussed in previous groups on school attendance order timeframes, we want to ensure that the school attendance order process is as efficient as possible, so that any child not receiving a suitable education is placed in adequate provision swiftly and can benefit from the full-time education to which they are entitled.” [NB I imagine someone has already FOI-ed for names of LAs and encountered section 35 formulation or development of public policy exemption https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/36/section/35 ]
“Amendment 143D, tabled by my noble friend Lord Lucas, would bypass the existing procedures under the Children and Families Act 2014 and associated secondary legislation for amending an education, health and care plan. Clause 49, as drafted, does not prevent a parent seeking to have the name of a school changed or removed from their child’s education, health and care plan, in line with the existing process and timescales set out in the Act. Following that process, a parent may apply for the school attendance order to be revoked as normal.” [My comment: effectively the Minister is saying that regardless of whether or not parents registered the child as a result of the school attendance order, there is a procedure for reviewing and amending EHCPs which can include changing the placement details set out in Section I, for instance by deleting the name of a school and just leaving the type of school, or deleting the name AND type of school and leaving Section I blank as per recent case law which I won at the Upper Tribunal https://edyourself.wordpress.com/2021/10/01/upper-tribunal-case-leaving-section-i-blank/ Of course, in the first instance the decision whether to amend the Plan rests with the local authority and if there is a disagreement, parents are obliged to make an appeal to Tribunal. The combined process of review, amendment and tribunal can take at least a year and is set to take even longer with proposals currently included in consultation and in the SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper, so “existing processes and timescales” is a moot point. However, it is the case that at the end of this the tribunal may direct the name of the school to be deleted and at this point the parent could apply to the local authority to have the order revoked in the same way as parents of children who don’t have an EHCP, although as long as the school attendance order is in force and there is no school named there are powers in what would be the new section 436P for the authority to ask the Secretary of State to name a school which seems to me to start the process all over again but perhaps I am missing something, except given the government’s catastrophising about cumulative timescales as justification for fast track school attendance orders, surely this cuts both ways ie you can be tipped in into it very quickly but then take several years to climb out?]
“When a child leaves the local authority area, including, as in the example given in Amendment 140A, to move to Wales, we expect both local authorities to work together to co-ordinate and facilitate the movement of children and parents subject to school attendance orders. We expect local authorities to facilitate this swiftly and efficiently, given the importance of ensuring that all children have access to suitable full-time education, in line with their common-law obligation to act within a reasonable timeframe. We will set out further details on this issue in future guidance.“
“Clause 50 as drafted already allows the court to use its discretion to rule that a school attendance order ceases to be in force in the event of an acquittal for breaching the order. This discretion is valuable, as there may be circumstances where there are clear reasons for the order to remain in force. If the court finds that a parent has had their child registered at the school named in the order, they would find the parent not guilty of the offence, but there may be individual factors making it important for the child to continue attending that school and, therefore, for the order to remain in force; for example, if there had been a previous pattern of school attendance orders being required in respect of that child.” [NB I don’t understand this bit. If the parent HAD registered the child at school to start with then there could not be a prosecution for breaching the order by failing to register? Likewise if the parent registered the child at school during the course of a prosecution, the grounds for prosecution would fall away. The actual defence against the offence of breaching a school attendance order is demonstrating that the child is receiving suitable education otherwise hence these are the grounds on which a parent would be acquitted. It looks to me as though the Minister is saying that the parent could be acquitted on some technicality unrelated to whether home education is currently suitable, and where historic concern about suitable home education would then prevail and justify the order being kept in place?]
“Ofsted already covers both elective home education and children missing education as part of its children’s social care remit; local authorities are held to account in relation to those functions.” [NB I keep a record of Ofsted inspections of children’s services; my focus is on LAs which have been found inadequate but I do monitor all inspection reports https://edyourself.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/intervention-level-in-authorities-rated-inadequate-by-ofsted/.] “local authorities are already required by law to take account of relevant factors when making decisions, including on preliminary notices. They should have the necessary in-house expertise to make these decisions … If local authorities do not have the expertise, they are able to consult an external expert. Parents are able to ask local authorities to take account of expert advice when making decisions, and the local authority must consider this external evidence and any other relevant considerations in line with public law.“
Baroness Jones: “Can the Minister please take this opportunity to make a clear statement to home-schooling families about what the legislation means for them, what safeguards will be in place to protect their way of life and what work the Government will do to ensure that positive support, rather than coercion, is provided by local authorities?“
Baroness Brinton: “On Clause 49 on school attendance orders, many Peers have already raised a surfeit of problems during the debate. Unlike the current system on the government website that I described, there is no sense of a ladder of penalties, of support between each stage before progressing on, or how local authorities will work as constructively as they can with parents and pupils before the process for school attendance orders kicks in. I know that the Minister said before the break that the guidance will talk about support. The problem is that, if that guidance is not in the Bill or referred to in the Bill, it might easily be missed and ignored.” “I am hearing from the Minister’s response that the drafters decided that, because magistrates will have the opportunity to sentence a convicted criminal to up to 51 weeks, that should be in the Bill.” Lord Storey: “I make the point quite strongly that a large number of home educators are getting on with home educating” [ie not alarmed by the Bill?] “If we want school attendance to thrive in our society, we should not be suggesting that parents be fined, taken to court or … criminalised. Should we have a serious discussion about doing away with all those sanctions?“
Baroness Chapman: “I do not think I have ever seen an offence drafted quite like this, especially given the journey that people would go on to be subject to these orders. I absolutely accept that, for a situation to get this point, the circumstances would be extremely unusual. If you need to send a parent to prison for a year for failing to get their child to school, there is a lot more going on. There will probably have been multiple interventions from social services and elsewhere before we ever got to that point. Whether the child would still be in the care of a parent who needed to go to prison for failing to get them to school is an interesting question. It is usual, I should think, with an offence such as this, for a Minister to explain why a penalty of a year will have any more of a deterrent effect then a penalty of six months, eight months or three months. I know they would be available to a magistrate, but it is unusual to see it done in this way. I do not know whether that is because it is a Bill of the Department for Education, rather than the MoJ, which is perhaps more used to dealing with such clauses. It would be helpful if the Minister said a bit more about this. I am content that these clauses should stand part of the Bill, but I am sensitive to the concerns of home educators, particularly those who are doing a good job. We do not want them to feel undermined or threatened in any way by this. We can stand here and say “Well, they shouldn’t; there’s no need for them to”, but the fact is that that is how they already feel, so we have a job of work to do to meet them where they are on this. At this point, it would be helpful if the Minister said what she can on that, but we do not want the clauses removed from the Bill.“
Baroness Barran: “The overarching purpose [of these measures] is that we should feel confident that every child in this country is getting a suitable education, that we should offer support to those home-educating parents who feel they need it, and that we should address the very small number of children who are not in school or being suitably educated at home, and who are exposed to a range of risks which we have discussed tonight.“
“I feel it is our responsibility to try to address those anxieties and put ourselves in the shoes of parents who are worried about the proposals. It is material, in our commitment to develop guidance for local authorities, that we will do that in partnership with local authorities and home-educating parents, so both voices are there.”
“I am afraid that I will have to write to the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Chapman, regarding their questions. My understanding is that we are bringing the offence in this Bill in line with other similar offences, but both noble Baronesses have asked extremely good and detailed questions and I will respond to them in writing.”
“Clause 49 amends the school attendance order process in England to make an order a more effective measure for parents who are not providing their child with a suitable education, or who fail to demonstrate that they are doing so to local authorities. If a local authority knows that a suitable education is not being provided, or cannot deduce whether it is, it is important that this be acted on quickly to make sure that children get a suitable education as quickly as possible. For this reason, additional timeframes have been introduced and in some existing cases, as the Committee has debated tonight, shortened. We are trying to bring more consistency by aligning the process for and effect of orders for academy schools more closely with that for maintained schools.”
“Clause 50 similarly seeks to increase the efficiency of the process where a parent fails to comply with a school attendance order in England, and to support the child’s right to education and minimise the amount of time that a child misses education. Today, if a child is registered at a school but their parent keeps them at home without a valid reason, the parent commits an offence and can potentially receive a heavier penalty than if they simply withdraw the child from school completely without providing any education at all and ignore a school attendance order. Equalising the maximum penalties for those two situations removes this perverse incentive to take children out of school without providing suitable home education.” [NB this is a different – and less spurious, whether you agree with it or not – justification from previously where it was erroneously stated that a parent subject to a school attendance order could register a child for a single day and then withdraw them, somehow making the SAO disappear]
MY WEBSITE LINK https://edyourself.org/articles/registration.php
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