Memorandum submitted by Mary Mullett, Adviser, Elective Home Education, Milton Keynes Council

 

Summary

 

This submission addresses the issues of

A Registration

Should be simple and standard nationally

LA guidance should be should be an agreed contribution offered during the initial visit having understood the family's approach.

B Safeguarding

Seeing the child alone should be in exceptional circumstances, not the norm

CAF framework generally not necessary

Non-communicating families need to be followed up promptly with increased co-operation between local Authorities.

C Education, Monitoring and Evaluation

Initial contact with the child can establish a benchmark for future reference. The benchmark will be unique to the child and progress would be established against that unique profile.

This process should be transparent with the family.

D Support

Communications with the Home Educating families need to be based on mutual trust and respect.

Many activities can grow to support the home educating community, based on their input and appropriate to the role of the LA.

 

Submission

 

A Registration (ref recommendation 1)

A1 Retaining pupils' names on school roll for 20 days may be attractive to LAs but it fundamentally changes the right of the parent to make decisions about their child's education and implement them. If the parents are only electing for EHE because of unresolved issues like bullying then it is open to the LA to keep the school place open if they hope still to resolve the situation and readmit the child from EHE.

 

A2 Given an initial home visit becomes mandatory, registration needs to be simple and the same process nationally. A letter from the parents/carer to the LA, giving name of the child, the date of birth, Address, phone numbers and an email address should suffice.

Alternatively a nationally available pro forma could be made available. The form could include a tear-off slip with contact details for the LA EHE Adviser.

 

A3 A more achievable interval for LAs to make contact and visit a first time registering family, would be within 6 weeks of notification.

 

A4 The EHE Adviser can use their professional judgement and experience of many EHE Families to note an appropriate way forward for the child, in consultation with the family. The background framework can be ECM. There also needs to be national guidance on the quality of education which will be acceptable.

See below (Education, Planning and reporting)

 

 

B Safeguarding

 

B1 Only in exceptional circumstances should the child be seen "alone", unless the child requests this. In those exceptional circumstances a trusted adult acceptable to home/child and the LA should also be present in the background as an observer only.

 

B2 The use of the CAF framework would not normally be necessary unless requested by the family (perhaps where there are SEN issues) or if deemed appropriate by the LA after meeting the family for the first time. It should then be used sensitively and with informed consent of the family.

 

B3 Where there are genuine concerns that a child is not being educated full-time, appropriately or effectively Local Authority departments both internal and across border need to prioritise co-operation and act very quickly.

 

B4 The Council tax office can help to confirm a family is still at a given address and say if the family is registered still within the LA. Movement away is the main reason for non-response to letters etc.

 

C Education - Monitoring and evalution

 

C1 The requirement to produce an annual plan betrays a basic misunderstanding of how many families work with their children.

 

 

C2 It would be more practical and helpful to understand the child's current range of activities, interests and achievements and make some agreed notes with the family.

 

C3 If "one year on "was agreed the time of next visit those notes could be used as a basis for understanding the progress made. Some families may request more frequent support temporarily and sometimes the LA will want to offer it.

 

C4 Within a trusting and mutually respectful relationship with the LA (See "Support" below ) most families are happy to reflect and think through ideas for the coming months.

 

C5 These notes can be agreed at the meeting, written on carbonised paper. The family then has the top copy and the process is transparent.

 

 

 

D Support

 

Building a professional relationship.

D1 A positive relationship between the EHE Adviser (s) and the EHE families is at the heart of genuine support for the EHE children.

 

This support can be offered in a variety of ways; we already do the following in Milton Keynes:

D1 We offer advice prior to de-registration if required.

 

D2 We offer to put families in touch with the local Home Educators' network. (MKHen)

 

D3 We hold twice termly meetings with MKHen support group to exchange news, ideas, discuss issues and plan events.

 

D4 We submitted a joint response from the LA and MKHen to the consultation on changes to the guidelines two years ago.

 

D5 We always offer a variety of venues to meet and methods of communication .

 

D6 We have two types of regular "drop-in " sessions. Once a month in the central children's library; weekly in term -time in a more private setting.

D7 We have prompt sheets to support families to reflect on their provision when requesting information under current legal requirements.

 

D8 We hold a "Home Education Ideas Fayre" annually where all the families are invited to come and share ideas, celebrate progress and success and be aware of broader support available from the LA. Representative from Health awareness groups, IT Advisers, LA SEN professionals etc. attend.

 

D9 We endeavour to provide exam centres for sitting GCSEs.

 

D10 We fund the CRB checks for tutors the EHE families are sometimes employing.

 

D11 The EHE Adviser endeavours to keep in touch with and be aware of good practice in other LAs to benefit Home Ed families in MK.

 

September 2009