What would happen if home educated children, including those with a SEND, were required to be monitored and assessed?

The Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield this week stated that she believes that ultimately there had to be a register of home educated children who would then be monitored, assessed and have their well being checked. I have to put my cards on the table here and say this statement sends a chill down my spine, not because I am hiding anything but because my highly anxious Autistic son would never cope with being peered at and judged by another professional after all he has suffered along the way.

However let’s move on from that thought for a while and look at how this would work practically in terms of children with SEND if her crusade was successful and you were the person having to implement it;

  • Firstly you would need to recruit and train specialist inspectors who understand home ed, they would have to be insured to enter peoples houses, for safety reasons they might need to go in two at a time. Sounds expensive but it’s not like the education system is stretched to breaking already or anything is it?
  • Next you would need to work out how to measure progress. Would home educated family’s be required to follow the national curriculum? If so I guess the education authority would want to be providing the learning materials to make sure it is consistent. Sounds expensive.
  • So now the newly appointed and trained inspector goes into the house, inspects the government provided material and deems it to be not up to scratch, what now? Presumably there would be some sort of action perhaps a stern telling off and advice to improve. So what if at the next inspection it still isn’t up to scratch? Perhaps a compliance order? Perhaps the parents feel they are complying? Oh then you would need the right to appeal to accommodate that and a team of lawyers. My, now that would be expensive.
  • Now this darn family can’t seem to get the hang of the work still now they are claiming it is because the child has special education needs. Ah well you will have to look at that. Hmm seems they could use some extra support so you’d have to create or update their EHCP. Very expensive providing a private specialist TA or tutor to work at their home so why not instead just send them back to school, I mean what were they thinking home Educating in the first place right?
  • Now maybe the family oppose this or there is no place because, oh, that’s right we closed down the specialist school and mainstream can’t meet their needs. So you would build more schools, sounds budget busting on top of all this monitoring.
  • Or you could just forget all that and force the family to work harder at bringing their child up to national standards at the government set pace, yes let’s do that, sounds much cheaper. What’s this though? They still haven’t managed it, so you will need to take them to court and fine them. Still nothing oh well you will just have to take away the child and put them in an ATU or residential placement or maybe imprison the parents and put the child in care. Hang on though does that cost the tax payer a huge amount of money and have really bad outcomes…….
  • Meanwhile all this money is coming out of the education budget and so even more unsupported children are leaving school to be educated at home. What a vicious circle.

Alternatively of course you could just say;

“Hey parents, why are your SEND children no longer in school? Is there anything we can do to improve things so you return or others don’t leave? What do you need? Oh and it has come to our attention that by home educating your child you have been saving us a great deal of money and school places so if you need a small budget for your SEND child’s educational support just let us know the rest we will spend on making the improvements you have brought to our attention.”

Then you could use all the money you saved by not monitoring home ed children to improve schools and if you were really concerned about home ed children’s health simply extend the health visitor service to include yearly health checks for all children up to 16. With schools improved and more support and specialist provision many home educators of SEND children would return their children to school, a lot are just waiting for a suitable place.

Now wouldn’t it look good for the children’s Commissioner and government if a record number of children were attending and thriving in school? And wouldn’t this be far more in the interests of all children under her stewardship?

Or…

The third option of course is just to leave everything as it is and cope with the embarrassment the growing number of families in home education is causing the government and local authorities by showing how underfunded and broken the education system is.

Oh and if you think monitoring is essential as you are still worried about the children apparently lost or invisible this might help;

Is that home educated child hidden missing or invisible? Flow chart Photo credit EHE Parent (click picture to EHE Parent Facebook Page)

So I guess my message to the children’s commissioner is that the choice of whether to hound or support home education families including those with SEND children is yours….

 

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8 thoughts on “What would happen if home educated children, including those with a SEND, were required to be monitored and assessed?

  1. Yes I worry that increased oversight will end up trying to replicate the current government school approach at home. Misses the point that why kids have been taken out of the school system in the first place…..

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    1. I think that is what the children’s commissioner is aiming for and not only does it miss the point but it would be hugely expensive. I don’t think it will happen because apart from anything lose it the government just can’t afford it but I worry they might just outlaw home ed instead which I want to keep pointing out is a viable education path way. In the film she kept pointing out that parents weren’t qualified teacher well neither are TAs and often SEND children are almost exclusively taught by TAs, I should know, I use to be one, dyslexia and all! Schools don’t automatically equal better education. Rant over sorry 😁

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      1. This is so true. When on the few times he gets one to one school help it is provided by staff with no training in autism or dyslexia. How can that be better than a parent providing the education.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. To be honest often TAs are often better than teachers, the ones I have meet often care deeply about their pupils and are good at thinking outside the box but you are right not enough training is offered in a lot of schools. I was just really pointing out that for many children school doesn’t automatically mean qualified teachers or qualifications. The specialist school my son was offered only entered a select amount of pupils into 2 GCSEs and that was out of house. He spent most of his final 2 teams at school being taught in a corridor for 1 to 2 hours before he was sent home for being anxious. How is any of that better or even acceptable?

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      3. Btw I keep meaning to ask if you have a twitter account or Facebook page as I sometimes share your blogs and it would be nice to be able to tag you?

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  2. The system we have here in Ireland works quite well. We have a register but it’s fairly easy and straightforward. We fill in a form and once the dept receive it they inform the school. But the kids stay on the roll book until we are formally put on the register. Assessment then takes place to see if we are recommended to be put on the register. This used to take a few weeks from filling the form to assessment but now takes over six months due to increased demand. The assessment itself doesn’t have to be in your house, though it usually is, and the kids are not talked to. They just go over the details of your plan. If they have doubts after that then you get a Comprehensive assessment where they actually do talk to your kids and look at evidence of what they’ve done. But it hardly ever gets to that stage. The assessment is usually fine and most assessors give the ok to homeschool. There are guidelines they need to stick to but no curriculum or anything needed. And they are becoming much more accepting of Unschooling. If they do turn down your bid to homeschool then you can appeal. Or simply fill the form out again and continue homeschooling till your next assessment. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to how often you can re-apply. They are supposed to re-assess every few years but rarely do. Just maybe re-assess older kids if they are visiting to assess for younger sibling.
    Seriously it’s pretty hassle free. And means they can tick their boxes to make sure all kids are getting an adequate education.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for that it is really interesting to hear how other countries approach home ed. The system is pretty simple here too, in reality most home educated are already known to the LAs (despite the hype) and families are visited or send in a report yearly. The sudden interest in home ed seems to come more from the governments embarrassment at the numbers of children, especially those with a SEND, leaving school based education.

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      1. Yeah, the numbers here have jumped hugely too. Children are being denied their human rights worldwide it seems.

        Liked by 1 person

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