Monday, 20 September 2010

Flying under the radar

I am an 'unknown'. This means that I am not known to my Local Education Authority. When people ask me if I am inspected as a home educator and I say no, there is often a look or a comment of surprise. I am concerned that one day one of my children will get picked up by a truancy patrol and will have to give their name and address to the police officer. I have challenged our local community police on this and have been told that they have to take the details so that the Local Education Authority can check that the child is on their home ed list and is not truanting from school. There is no list, this check is impossible to make. My children have never been to school and have never been registered. I could inform my LEA of my existence but I choose not to. They have nothing to offer me but interference.
The argument that LEAs need to know about my children is that they need to make sure that they are being educated. After all, what about all those irresponsible parents who keep their children from school but do nothing with them? The Badman report did nothing to convince me that such parents exist and did much to convince me that those in authority are not necessarily informed about the difference in philosophy that, for many of us, is home ed. I am not a radical unschooler, I do not subscribe to autonomous learning and much of what I do looks a little bit like school. To be honest, I would probably satisfy any inspector. Maybe. But I don't have evidence of what Key Stage my children are working at, one of my children certainly has a 'below average' reading age and we don't cover all the 'subjects' on the national curriculum. But I am sure that my children will arrive at adult-hood literate, numerate, excelling in their passions and confident both as people and learners. People who know me and my children tell me that they are bright, interesting and sociable. If I need to prove myself to the LEA I would think it enough to provide some references: maybe from the local librarian who sees my children regularly and often helps them as they order books they have decided they would like to read; or my maths teacher friend who just assessed my son and found that he would be comfortable in a top set; or my son's Latin teacher; the neighbour who teaches chess to my daughter; her Brownies leader; their film club leader or the Church children's worker. All of these people would vouch that my children are educated and thriving. I do not need to jump through hoops, subject them to unneccessary testing or satisfy anyone else's paradigm of what education should look like. So I would rather not be subjected to an inspection, no matter how friendly. If the LEA want to help me they can save money on home visits and provide some funding for public examinations so that I can demonstrate that my way of doing things has worked just as well as theirs.


Firebird said...

Your local community police person is I'm afraid LYING. The police have no right or duty to demand anybody's name and address. The power they use to get a person to 'account' for being in a given place (e.g. why aren't you/isn't your child in school?) comes from the Police And Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and categorically does NOT allow them to demand name and address and does not allow them to detain you if you refuse to give those details. EWOs in a Truancy Patrol have NO powers at all, which is why they have to bring a police officer along.

SCC and Surrey Police HAD been made aware that their joint protocol is totally out of order, and it was a Surrey Police inspector who confirmed that the above interpretation of the law is correct. The EWO in charge of Truancy patrols was MEANT, in fact ordered by her manager, to produce a legally correct policy but nothing ever happened. I don't think she LIKE the law as it stands to chooses to ignore it and act as if it says what she wants it to.

Jane D. said...

That is appalling that you can be given such wrong advice from someone who should really know!

Gaynor said...

It does concern me, as I know that they are wrong but don't fancy my child having to fight his corner if he is stopped while out. I have told him to ask them to phone me so that I could come and deal with it. My main worry is that it would intimidate and frighten him, and then that they would get my address and so start the whole inspection malarkey. Not the end of the world, but I'd rather do without!