Yes, YES, Yes, You Can…
Home Educate Your Autistic Child!
In fact for some, like PanKwake with Pathological Demand Avoidance, it is the only way to educate while maintaining her emotional well-being, your sanity, and a semblance of family life.
So as summer comes to an end and many families with autistic children face the DREAD of another school year, I want to offer an alternative. A very viable and perhaps the best one.
These are just a small fraction of my adventures in RadiCool Unschooling with PanKwake over the past five years.
For the next week…perhaps more…I will explore this subject exclusively on this blog.
Let’s begin with the FACTS…the actual LAW and official guidelines from England & Wales…
Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that:
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—
(1) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(2) to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
Furthermore, the Guidelines for both England and Wales state:
3.13 Parents are required to provide an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child. There is currently no legal definition of “full-time”. Children normally attend school for between 22 and 25 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, but this measurement of “contact time” is not relevant to elective home education where there is often almost continuous one-to-one contact and education may take place outside normal “school hours”. The type of educational activity can be varied and flexible. Home educating parents are not required to:
- teach the National Curriculum
- provide a broad and balanced education
- have a timetable
- have premises equipped to any particular standard
- set hours during which education will take place
- have any specific qualifications
- make detailed plans in advance
- observe school hours, days or terms
- give formal lessons
- mark work done by their child
- formally assess progress or set development objectives
- match school-based, age-specific standards.
In fact, the new Welsh guidelines go so far as to recognize Unschooling as an approach.
What is expected of parents…
- Consistent involvement of parents in the delivery of the provision within a mostly
- Recognition of the child’s needs, aspirations and learning styles.
- Opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences.
- Access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child, such aspaper and pens, books and libraries, arts and craft materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and adults.
- The involvement of Careers Wales at an appropriate stage. (Wales only)
- The development of literacy and numeracy skills suitable to the child’s age, aptitude and ability, taking into account any special educational needs that they may have.
All the rest that people may tell you is…
- Peer pressure…
- Not within the law!
It is important going in that you know your rights! And what the law says. Because unfortunately, that same education system that might have failed your special needs child at school often does not know its limits when it comes to home education law either.
You do NOT have to:
- Let anyone from the council into your home
- Allow them access to your child
- Show them any work
- Provide them written reports
- Give them an ‘Educational Philosophy’.
Having said that though…you do need to realize how far to push it. Ultimately the Local Authority CAN issue a School Attendance Order (SAO) – forcing you to court and placing your child back in school.
Even the courts in case law (Phillips v Brown, Divisional Court [20 June 1980, unreported] Judicial review by Lord Justice Donaldson, established that an
LEA may make informal enquiries of parents.
Of course such a request is not the same as a notice under s 37 (1) of the
Education Act 1944 (now s 437 (1) of the 1996 Education Act) and the parents will
be under no duty to comply. However it would be sensible for them to do so.
If parents give no information or adopt the course ………. of merely stating
that they are discharging their duty without giving any details of how they are
doing so, the LEA will have to consider and decide whether it appears to it
that the parents are in breach of s 36.
I.E. Sometimes it is wisest to know how much and when to give them just enough to leave you alone.
And the wider Home Ed community is full of people, who can help you with that.
Fiona Nicholson at EdYourself is one of the best and much of what is written here was researched through her website. It is worth a look…always.
This is also another reason to become active in your local home ed group. They often know first hand the attitudes and people at the local authority. And if troubles do arise they are your best source of support. Banding together works – be the problems small or large.
But the bottom line is…
You are more than within your legal rights to home educate your autistic child…
At least in England and Wales.
In the US, you can learn your right at HSLDA (this is NOT an endorsement of the organization but their site is good for this purpose). They also provide basic information on home educating around the world through their International division.
In this week long series on Radicool Unschooling Your Neurodivergent Child, tomorrow we will look at the most important question of all…
SHOULD You Home Educate Your Autistic Child?