So, today, we begin our week long series on #homeed law in the UK.
I think this is especially timely for those families that may have discovered their #ActuallyAutistic or #neurodivergent young person has done well during these lockdowns. But many may be frightened of the prospect of home educating their young person, and especially what their rights and responsibilities are under the law.
But rather than re-write the whole thing, let me refer you to a post I wrote some time ago:
The important thing to remember is that while the guidance documents for both parents and local authorities in England and Wales have been updated since I wrote that blog, the laws have not.
You still do NOT have to let the local authority into your home.
I highly recommend that you do not. Especially if your child or young person is #neurodivergent and may be upset by it. Or if you are. Trust me, the last thing I want to bring into my home is a potentially hostile or at least skeptical person. For an #ActuallyAutistic person having a safe environment is essential.
You do NOT have to provide ‘evidence’ of education, especially your child’s private work.
In fact, that is private work product. Your child’s right to privacy is also protected by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
Article 16 (right to privacy)UN-CRC
Every child has the right to privacy. The law should protect the child’s private, family and home life, including protecting children from unlawful attacks that harm their reputation.
As a signatory to that document, the UK is bound by it. (Something I would like to see tested in the courts.)
Do NOT ignore any correspondence for the local authority.
Always respond in writing. That was my mistake in the beginning. I had no written evidence of that home education officer’s lies or deception. So, whether it is snail mail or email, get the information in writing. Give your responses in writing. Or let them know that you will be recording what is being said (video is best for ‘door stepping’). And if they are not happy for that, bring witnesses. When you raise that degree of fuss, they tend to back off. (Just like most bullies.)
While you do NOT have to do home visits, meetings, or provide samples of work, it might be advisable to provide written reports. Annual should be more than sufficient.
What you put in those reports depends on where you live (check out Educational Freedom’s Print Out/Sample Letters for ideas). It is to some degree a personal choice, too. I loved to bury them in 50+ pages of fully-footnoted and referenced treatise on education, the law, and @PanKwake’s needs with few details and loads of photographs. I felt just like this…
I took great pride in showing how much more I knew about the specifics of @PanKwake’s special educational needs than their ‘experts.’ But a word of warning…
Anything that you say can and will be used against in a court of law.
Or at least it could be. So, sometimes less is more. Just remember not to give them enough rope to hang you with.
And I highly recommend talking with other home educators in your area as well as groups such as Educational Freedom. While they may understand the big picture, your local community may have specifics about the person you are dealing with.
After the disaster that happened with our one and only home visit, I learned that gentleman was prejudiced against single-parents and people of color. No matter what I said, how many resources I showed him, or what I did, he was pre-disposed not to ‘approve’ my provision because I was a single mother of a mixed-race child. I was told that if her father had attended that meeting, I had worn a dress, and we had served him homemade cookies/biscuits with tea, we would have almost certainly been approved.
It is not fair or just, but that same prejudice is why our file has been lost since we moved to Wales. We live in a ‘nice’ house, in one of the wealthiest areas. A few months after we moved, I received a phone call from my old LA in England. They were demanded their annual report. I told them we no longer in their jurisdiction. They wanted our address, which I was under no obligation to give.
A couple of weeks later an EWO (Educational Welfare Officer) from this area, door stopped us. Door stepping is showing up unannounced. In this case, without any previous contact whatsoever. How they got our address was pretty much illegal, but it goes to show that this ‘register’ is unnecessary. Through council tax records and GP surgeries, they know where you are.
The man took one look at our house and butter could not have melted in his mouth any faster. I refused him entry, stating my rights under the law. I denied him access to @PanKwake citing her medical condition and aversion to strangers. In the end, he handed me a business card with his details and wrote the name and email address of his supervisor on it. He just about begged me to send her an email, confirming that we were indeed home educating.
I wrote one along the lines of that Welsh sample on Educational Freedom. That was over four years ago. We have not heard from anyone since. Despite our active participation in local home groups and working with all of our local councillors. Everyone knows we home educate. Our friends, neighbors, heck, even police who we have called for other reasons. Shoot, you know. That means the whole world wide web knows. And nothing more. I like it this way.
I am lucky though. And that does anger me. Especially as I know that this exact same EWO did harass other home educators. Again those single parents who did not live in a house like our @HomeCrazzyHome.
As Plato wrote in The Republic…
Justice is nothing more than the advantage of the stronger.Thrasymachus
I.e. richer and whiter. It is wise to remember that when dealing with any government.
And another reason why the law does not need to be changed. No registers, mandatory reporting or home visits. But that’s for tomorrow…