SEND Children in Home Education – The Elephant in The Room

Much has been in the news and discussions on TV and Radio, as well as within government, about the swelling numbers of home educated children and whether more legislation is needed to keep track of their education. Seemly officials are scratching their heads about why more parents are making this choice. References to SEND children being excluded from schools and being forced into Home Ed but seemly no one, other than parents themselves, is flagging up the fact that SEND children are being signed off as sick due to school anxiety or forced out of school as a result of deteriorating mental health or because their SEND is either not recognised or met and they are failing to thrive.

In many cases Local authorities are then refusing to accept that these children now have no option but to ‘electively’ home education and will refuse to recommend it as the needed provision effectively absolving themselves of any financial responsibility for these children. I feel, cynically perhaps, that this must be a big help to them in the current funding crisis. This is not even including the children who’s needs have not been recognised and parents have been fighting for so long to get them diagnosed or supported that they may also be forced into HE.

For my part every time I get a letter regarding my son’s ‘elective home education’ or it is brought up by professionals it makes my blood boil and I know many other parents feel the same. Let’s make no bones about it many of us (and I hear new stories every day) were forced into it even if in some cases professionals insist school is best for our child, we still had no choice as our children were failed for so long they are not able to go to school without self harming or anxiety or depression or suicide attempts or any combination of these. In many cases our children simply gave up on life and shut down completely losing all trust in the world around that failed them, as parents that leaves us feeling failures too, but in truth we have been let down and pushed out by the system with no regard for our children’s futures or their or our mental health.

To give you some idea of what I am talking about I will give you a quick run down of how we came to home ed. I have written about it in more detail in some of my other blogs if you would like to read more, such as;

Breaking up with school – The Darkest Days

The failures were;

  • Refusal to test for dyslexia until 7 despite me flagging it up at 4 by which time he was 4 years behind and his self esteem had suffered.

  • Refusal to accept the possibility of autism despite family history of it and signs such as lining up cars since nursery.

  • Once diagnosed with dyslexia at 7 the school deemed it unnecessary to implement the full recommendations on the report.

  • The 5 years wait for diagnoses after I had my son referred through the GP at 5 and he school not being onboard with this process and blocking it at every turn.

  • Refusal for TA support despite my sons self injurious behaviour to avoid school even though he was saying he wanted to attend but needed support. He eventually got his TA 3 years and three schools later and still could not cope.

  • The school refusing to apply for an EHCP despite my son not coping in mainstream with a full time TA.

  • When my sons violent school refusals became too much for me after 5 years of managing it and flagging it up I was threaten with prison and foster care despite my son now having an autism diagnoses.

  • I was forced to agree to an interventions service that i knew was unsuitable for my son due to said threats which irrevocably damaged my sons relationship with education and left him in a catatonic state and unable to leave his room.

  • I applied for an EHCP myself but it was turned down and took a further 8 months to be agreed and issued but which time I had had to take my son off role to avoid prosecution.

So you can see how for us it really wasn’t a choice nor was it for the hundreds of other parents I have come into contact with through online groups and my blogging activities. I would like to evidence this with some figures or reports on the subject but as far as i am aware there are none, only those excluded from school are recorded.

On my sons EHCP it states specialist provision, something he is a. Unable to attend and b.would not offer him a n education appropriate for his high IQ and massive potential. By home educating him I am saving the LA in access of £30000 yet I am not entitled to a few pounds a week for extra activities to compliment and improve his education.

Meanwhile government wants to monitor home educated families and test children, can you imagine how my son would react to these people coming into his house to test him after all that had happened?

No, families like mine do not need testing, we have already proved we will put out child’s need first by dropping all other commitments to teach our children. What we need is for people to be aware of these issues, for officials to listen to us, for funding in education to be increased, for education to become truly flexible and inclusive so that the choice for children like mine is not taken away.

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