Local Authorities cannot and will not support home educators

I have met the manager of the department that ‘looks after’ home educated children locally and I can tell you now that they have no means of offering us any kind of assistance or support or funding or anything remotely like what Mr Stuart suggests in the press release in my previous post.

He may think that a better offer from the LAs would be a better way but at the cliff face there is no money and no will – on either side. They don’t have the money to pay for any more ‘visits’ and they can’t think of what else they could do for anyone other than nod their heads and write reports. Apparently they can’t be seen to be supporting any other organisations by giving contact info for exam help, music, dance or sports activities and classes, places of local interest like museums and galleries or contact information for the local HE community.

From our side, better support and advice on free stuff might have been good if they had started off that way decades ago but now, folks would be more inclined to see that kind of thing as blackmail.

In our discussions with this manager and her admin sidekick we realised that they are like marriage counsellors and high risk obstetricians who, based on their experience, could quite reasonably believe that marriage is a pointless thing and that all pregnancies are dangerous.

The LA is involved with the difficult end of home ed which most of us don’t recognise and that they call ‘people exploiting a loophole’. 6ft tall teenagers who won’t go to school and whose parents can’t make them; kids being advised to home educate instead of being excluded from school; kids advised to opt for home education in the year before they do their GCSEs so that they won’t mess up the league tables.

Schools are shunting people into home ed to get them off their books and parents are accepting that instead of holding the school to account for failing their child. The LA accept that these families are not only known to them but also to school services, Social Services and often the Police as well. In these kind of cases, the LA say, no education is happening at all. A child in one of these situations might be learning a lot about life and the natural consequences of crap decisions but the LA can’t see any maths/English/science so they are worried. They then extrapolate this feeling to cover the whole ‘unknown’ population of home educated children or those who they know about but don’t see (like mine).

From the LA perspective things were already difficult before Badman stuck his oar in and had them panic to make up numbers but things are even worse now because more and more of us normal folks are refusing contact which just makes the LAs ‘worry hairs’ stand up on their necks because they have all been taught that the only reason people don’t want to see you is if they are hiding something.

What this is really about is school failure, not home education failure but because schools aren’t dealing with it right, these children end up under the remit of the Social Inclusion unit who deal with us ‘normal’ home educators too.

I can’t see a good solution but I do think that someone like Graham Stuart repeating that that LAs already have powers to deal with issues if they have evidence of concern is helpful.

PS and ETA

In a bid to help them get to see that there are lots of us who are normal, I suggested (slightly tongue in cheek) that they come and see a group of Home Edders in our natural habitat (the great outdoors) once in a while. The knee jerk reaction was that they couldn’t afford to do that as there is no budget for such meetings. I put it to them that as I had not used up my allocation of two visits over two years, the money saved by not visiting me could be used to fund a meeting.

Blank stares. These people have no common sense. At all. DO NOT let them into your home.

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