Memorandum submitted by Autism In Mind
1. Autism In Mind (AIM) has several concerns;
That the elective home education review
was conducted by people who had no knowledge, or experience of,
Special Educational Needs (SEN) and/or disabilities.
No concrete recommendations specifically
wrapped around SEN/Disability
Any changes, reasonable adjustments and
support that are required by home educated children with SEN/Disability
are being left to Ofsted.
Only two areas of the recommendations
are being acted upon: Registration and Monitoring.
The Government proposes immediate implementation
of "Registration and monitoring" but have not expressed
the desire to act immediately upon the recommendations relating
Some effective examples of good practice
currently being used in various Local Authorities and informative
literature were left out or not looked at.
Information about the law and legislative
framework were inadequate, both from within the UK and European
Law. Examples given were used in inaccurate ways which could change
the way in which they were meant in the original drafting of those
laws and statements.
Evidence given by AIM was inaccurately
No impact assessment was undertaken with
regard to the lack of training and absence of support for children
with SEN and disabilities.
ECM outcomes, intended to assess local
authority provision, are to be applied to individual children.
That Graham Badman wrote to Local Authorities
on 17 September 2009 in an attempt to strengthen his
statistical evidence regarding a disproportionate amount of home
educated children being known to social care and a small but significant
proportion of home educated children are receiving no, or an inadequate,
education in advance of the Select Committee hearing.
Local Authorities got more time to submit
their opinions and submissions and a separate and longer questionnaire,
home educators did not get this for the review remit.
Autism In Mind (AIM) recommends that the current
consultation on registration and monitoring is halted and a new
thorough review carried out by a panel with relevant expertise.
AIM would welcome the opportunity to give oral evidence to the
2. Autism In Mind (AIM) is a national campaign
and support group for parents and carers living with autism, run
solely by volunteers. AIM campaigns for greater awareness and
better resources and provision for children and adults with an
autistic spectrum condition. Carole Rutherford, co-founder of
AIM, is currently a member of the Autism and Education Trust and
is also a member of the External Reference Group working with
the Department of Health on writing the National Autism Strategy
for Adults. AIM has also recently produced several reports for
the current Brian Lamb Inquiry on the lack of confidence in SEN
systems. AIM supports parents who have children who are being
educated in school and at home and has written papers about the
rise in home education and autistic spectrum disorders which have
been circulated to the APPG for Autism as well as the National
Autistic Society. This is also something that was discussed in
2003 with Lord Filkin. AIM continues to flag up the rising
numbers of autistic children being educated at home and the reasons
why parents are removing these children from schools and monitors
the home education arena, alerting interested parties to reviews
and consultations, and giving advice on them.
3. AIM is concerned that Graham Badman did
not include on his Expert Reference Group, anyone with a depth
of knowledge, understanding and experience of SEN, Autism, or
any other disability. There was also no-one with sufficient knowledge
of the law surrounding the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice
or other educational law, making it impossible for the panel to
understand the complexities of educating a child with SEN or a
disability at home. The lack of understanding is reflected in
some of the recommendations, and their possible impact on families'
home educating children with SEN.
3.1 Carole Rutherford stressed to Graham Badman
during the short telephone meeting, that there must be someone
on the panel who had experience in these areas.
3.2 Beth Reid, Policy Manager for the National
Autistic Society (who was also present during part of the telephone
meeting mentioned in 3.1) later suggested Brian Lamb might have
the relevant experience.
3.3 Graham Badman then invited Beth Reid onto
his Expert Reference Group. The Expert Reference Group still had
no members with experience in SEN law, home education law, and
other disabilities and special educational needs such as Downs
Syndrome, Visual Impairment and dyslexia.
4. One of the terms of reference was "Whether
local authorities are providing the right type, level and balance
of support to home educating families to ensure that parents are
undertaking their duties to provide a suitable full time education
to their children". However, the consultation that has resulted
from the review is only concerned with registration and monitoring
and does not address the balance of power between the LA and the
family, nor how an LA can best support a family home educating
a child with sen/disability.
4.1 There is no compulsion within the recommendations
for the LAs to provide any support even though support was wanted
by the majority of home educators who completed AiM's questionnaire.
5. The terms of reference also state: "Whether
any changes to the current regime for monitoring the standard
of home education are needed to support the work of parents, local
authorities and other partners in ensuring all children achieve
the Every Child Matters outcomes." There is confusion about
using the ECM outcomes for individual home educated children.
The ECM outcomes framework is used to measure LAs and whether
they are providing the right services to enable children being
educated in their schools to achieve the five aims of ECM. This
cannot be used to measure individual children and, therefore,
is of limited, if any, use when dealing with home educated children
in this way.
6. Under Review Methodology it states that
the review will: Map existing practice and consider the effectiveness
of different practice "including identifying best practice
in England and elsewhere in monitoring home education from an
Every Child Matters perspective". AIM feels that although
views on effective best practice were sought, the report was biased
in its choice of evidence and was also too quick to dismiss evidence.
Evidence from other countries was not examined systematically
7. The Scope included: "The review
will gather views and evidence through a literature review, a
review of the law and guidance and a series of interviews with
key stakeholders representing the range of interests". The
literature review was incomplete and some very good books that
could have been very informative were not included. in particular
Home Educating our Autistic Spectrum Disorder Children, Paths
are Made by Walking, by Dowty and Cowlishaw.
7.1 The review on law was weak. The report seeks
a balance between the rights of a parent and the rights of the
child. In fact English law does not give parents a right to home
educate, but a duty which is defined by the child's educational
needs. If local authorities feel that a child might not be receiving
a suitable education, existing law gives them powers to make further
enquiries and to act if the parent appears to be failing in their
8. Carole Rutherford, on behalf of AIM,
was interviewed as a stakeholder by Graham Badman. Beth Reid (National
Autistic Society) also took part in approximately half of the
telephone meeting. However, when the notes were presented to Carole
Rutherford by Elizabeth Green there was no mention of Beth Reid
being involved in the telephone meeting at all. The notes were
not only inaccurate pertaining to certain issues they actually
stated the opposite of what was said.
9. Carole Rutherford found that some items
in the notes were actually not discussed during the telephone
meeting at all, but in a later telephone conversation with Elizabeth
Green. In particular, a reference to children with a diagnosis
of Autism possibly having a key worker (as outlined in the Autism
Exemplar which forms part of the National Service Framework for
children), involved with any monitoring of the education and safeguarding
of the children. It appears that the notes from the initial meeting
were prepared some time after that meeting and, therefore, may
have been based on faulty memory. Ms Green did agree to alter
9.1 It was also stated in the notes that AIM
believed that the Tasmanian model of home education could work
in the UK. Carole Rutherford had actually stated that she did
not see how the Tasmanian Model could work in the UK, completely
the opposite viewpoint.
9.2 Based on the above points, AIM is concerned
that Graham Badman's recommendations might have been influenced
by inaccurate and incomplete notes, as well as a lack of understanding
of SEN and disability issues. The notes were issued to AIM after
the review recommendations were made public and the current consultation
10. There has been no Impact Assessment
for this review or the resultant consultation. There will be significant
costs for the implementation of the recommendations, in particular
the training that the LA officers will need to undertake in order
to understand the vastly differing forms of education that can
take place with regards to children who are disabled or have SEN.
11. The vast majority of recommendations
have not been consulted on.
12. The recommendations which refer to SEN
are confusing, open to misinterpretation and in some cases irrelevant.
Statements are only legally binding within a school, and only
pertain to a classroom situation. School Action Plus is initiated
from within a school when that school requires additional support
for a child with SEN. School Action Plus enables a school to access
external support services that will see a child in school and
where appropriate and practicable can advise teachers on IEP's,
targets and accompanying strategies and provide more specialist
assessments that can inform planning and the measurement of a
pupil's progress. School Action Plus is not applicable to the
home educated child, and shows lack of understanding of the Law
13. The resulting Elective Home Education
Consultation fails to mention children being home educated with
SEN/Disability and any reasonable adjustments they will require
in connection with monitoring.
14. Parents are already informing AIM that
some Local Authorities are already introducing new policies wrapped
around the Graham Badman Review Recommendations but using their
own interpretations of them.
15. In conclusion AIM feels that the Elective
Home education Review was not conducted with the level of expertise,
reference to specialist literature and knowledge of SEN law that
was required to fully understand SEN and disabilities. AIM is
concerned that the consultation resulting from the Badman Review
does not include any reference at all to children who are being
home educated with a SEN/Disability, and how reasonable adjustments
would have to be made for these children regarding monitoring
and safeguarding. Ofsted play no part at all in the home education
of a child but are being given a pivotal role to play in the future
for these children. The Consultation has only paid regard to two
parts of the review recommendations: Registration and Monitoring.
Lastly AIM's evidence was inaccurately recorded.
16. AIM recommends that the Select Committee
brings a halt to the consultation and further changes to the law,
until a thorough review in a reasonable time scale (we suggest
a year) is carried out by a panel with relevant expertise. This
review should include, but not be limited to, a review of the
conflicting laws surrounding home education and children missing
from education, SEN and Disabilities, an impact assessment, and
a thorough review of all literature.