Memorandum submitted by Louise Thorn (CS 27)

 

As a home educating parent I currently have a mutually respectful relationship with our LA EHE visitor. We became 'known' to the LA when we deregistered our eldest daughter after a disappointing reception year in our local school and for the past two years we have accepted home visits from the LA on a voluntary basis. I fear that if

Clause 26 (together with Schedule 1)

of the current Children, Schools & Families (CSF) Bill is enacted our currently positive relationship with the LA will suffer considerable damage, and that this will be to the detriment of my children and our wider family life.

I understand that the subject of Serious Case Reviews pertaining to Electively Home Educated children has been raised in the Public Bill Committee Hearing. As I have done a small amount of research on this subject I would like to take this opportunity to put my findings before the Public Bill Committee.

 

1. The Badman Review of Elective Home Education in England mentioned a review of Serious Case Reviews[1] which were supposed to highlight a need for greater powers for LA to monitor home educators. Of the four cases CITED IN the working paper from the DCSF (on which the Badman Review Recommendations, and hence the CSF Clause 26 proposals, are based) I have been able to obtain details for three. The three are a case occurring on the Isle of Wight (where older siblings, and not the deceased child who was only 3 months old were EHE[2]), in case in Enfield (sudden death of a teenager from natural causes, failure to notify death) and the case in Gloucestershire (Eunice Spry). In each of these three cases it is explicitly stated in SCR documentations that parents complied with local HE monitoring arrangements and no concerns had been noted.[3]

 

2. In two cases (Isle of Wight and Gloucestershire) there had been extensive family contact with various Social Services departments either immediately prior to the event leading up to the SCR (Isle of Wight) or prior to fostering and adoption arrangements being made (Gloucestershire). No detail that have been made available to the public about these four cases suggests that any of the tragic events would have been prevented by the registration & monitoring regulations contained in Clause 26 of the CSF Bill. It seems counterintuitive that Social Services departments that have been found to be failing to use their existing powers to safeguard vulnerable children would cite these very cases as providing the 'proof' that they should be given stronger powers in the case of Home Educating Families only.

 

3. Furthermore, Data obtained by submitting a FOI enquiry to DCSF Child Protection Unit indicated that of 121 SCR held by the department for the period 1st April 2007 - 9th August 2009,

 

88 SCR were opened for cases involving children aged 0-4;

16 SCR for children aged 5-10,

6 SCR for individuals aged 11-16; and

11 SCR for individuals aged 17-18.

 

Of those of compulsory school age (total 22 individuals), 20 were registered at state schools, of the two remaining individuals one was 'unknown to any educational establishment nor registered with LA as EHE' and one's location of educational provision was recorded as 'unknown' as it was not specifically recorded in the SCR.[4] Given the scrutiny that must attend any SCR undertaking, it would indeed be strange if, a child having been found to have been neglected and/or abused whilst being home educated, this fact would NOT have been recorded very prominently in the SCR document. This cursory review of SCR documents held by the DCSF for the period 01/04/07-09/08/09 indicates that there are no current SCR held by the department involving EHE children.[5]

 

4. OFSTED has also made some analysis of SCR publicly available on its website. In December 2008, OFSTED published a report entitled "Learning Lessons, Taking Action - Ofsted's evaluations of serious case

5. reviews 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008

6. "[6]. Although only 35 of the children were known to 'Social Services' all 50 children to whom the SCR refered were known to 'Universal Services' (usually education or health services). None of the SCR examined by OFSTED involved 'hidden' children, or identified that the children involved were Electively Home Educated.

 

7. The report found that 20 out of the 50 SCR were 'inadequate' with OFSTED calling into question the "... independence and ability [of SCR board members] to adequately

8. challenge the quality of individual management reviews

". The concerns raised about the independence of the SCR board members[7] would tend to support my contention that any EHE component in SCRs included in this survey would have been made very prominent by the authors of the Reviews in question. A situation in which EHE had been used to hide an abused, neglected or otherwise suffering child from the authorities could have been used to explain why problems within a family situation had not been identified in a timely fashion or had not been dealt with more adequately, thereby exonerating, if only partially, the various LA departments involved.

 

 

 

January 2010

 



[1]Recommendation 21, 8.2 'Review of Elective Home Education in England' Graham Badman 11/06/09

[2] SCR may be accessed on Isle of Wight council website last accessed for this document 09/09/09 https://www.iwight.com/.../lscbcasereview/Executivesummary-approvedforpublication.pdf

[3] Working paper dated 20/08/09 released to Shena Deuchars via the What Do They Know FOI website here http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/badman_review_of_home_education#incoming-41308

[4]Data taken from a response to a FOI request sent to the Child Protection Department DCSF held on the website 'What Do They Know' at   http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/serious_case_review_reports_sent#incoming-43044 accessed 08/09/09

[5]Ibid.

[6]Key Findings, pg 6 gLearning Lessons, Taking Action - Ofsted's Evaluations of Serious Case Reviews 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008h http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/content/download/8661/94526/file/learninglessons_scr.pdf

[7]"Most serious case review panels consisted solely or mainly of representatives from agencies that were also responsible for preparing individual management

reviews." ibid