- 2014 Consultation
- Groups and Meetings
HEdNI has submitted a response to the draft guidelines on SEN regulations. Our main concern is that children with a Statement should retain the advocacy and support of their parents, while gaining the support of the Education Authority, rather than losing any control to 'professionals' without expertise in that individual child's needs. To this end it is crucial that the expertise of the parent is given weight in Guidance and practice, and that the child's voice can therefore be heard.
We welcome the changes made to the guidance on Co-operating to Safeguard Young People, and the way in which our concerns have clearly been heard and addressed.
The new guidance can be found here: https://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/dhssps/co-o...
The section on home education now reads
"Elective Home Education is the term used when a parent chooses to provide education for their child at home instead of enrolling them in school as provided for under Article 45 of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986. There is currently no legal requirement for parents to notify the Education Authority (EA) of their intention to home educate. However, in accordance with the Registration and Attendance of Pupils Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1974, the EA must be notified by a school when a child of compulsory school age who has been enrolled in a school has been deregistered to be Electively Home Educated.
The EA is currently developing new procedures and arrangements to help parents who home educate and to encourage them to seek support. These procedures are being informed by a consultation exercise that took place during 2014. The procedures will be set within the existing legislative framework.
As with children enrolled as pupils in a school, if any safeguarding concerns become evident, they must be referred to the appropriate authorities. "
We believe that accurate and clear guidance within the law will help professionals in working with those young people who are in need of their assistance.
The Education Authority has published a summary of consultation responses, which can be found here: http://www.eani.org.uk/about-us/latest-news/elective-home-education-draft-policy-summary-of-consultation-f/
On first reading it seems like a thorough survey of responses, which seem to be overwhelmingly concerned about legal errors and the overall advisability of such a scheme - teachers, MLAs, churches, parents and organisations all concur... with the exception of a few who seem to have little or no interest in home education or knowledge of it. We have been advised by the EA that they do not intend to progress this draft and, though this has not yet been publically stated, it would certainly be difficult to move forward with a scheme after such condemnation.
We are concerned that the basic error of law is repeated as fact in the second paragraph of the introduction, and we have contacted the EA to register our objection to this. The page that links to the pdf states:
"On 28 April 2014, a draft Elective Home Education Policy was launched for consultation by the former Education and Library Boards, to enable those who have an interest in elective home education to register their views and opinions about its content.
A Summary of Consultation Report was completed and subsequently approved for publication by the Education Authority’s Children and Young People’s Services Committee in October 2015.
A Review Group is now being established by the Education Authority to take forward the development of a final draft Elective Home Education policy, which will involve consultation with a range of key stakeholders."
Four home educating parents from HEdNI gave an oral briefing to the Education Committee on the 11th of November. You can watch here: http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/assembly-business/committees/education/meetings/11-november-2015/ from around 30:15 minutes.
We are encouraged to hear that the Committee intend to seek answers from the Education Authority and also clarification from the DHSSPSNI regarding recent draft guidance.
You can watch the rather strange evidence presented to the Education Committee on the first of July here from around 2hrs28, as one Committee Member comments it is "bizarre".
Those who have never been registered, we cannot draft a policy in relation to them because currently the legislation that exists in Northern Ireland does not apply to that group.
So the only children and young people that are affected at this stage by the Draft Policy that has been presented are those children who were originally registered in school for whom their parents now have decided to home educate, so it is the deregister group for whom this policy applies.
The Draft Non-Statutory Guidance for Wales is currently under consultation, closing on July 3rd.
We encourage home educators in Northern Ireland to respond - we were touched by the support and attention the Northern Irish Consultation has recieved from around the UK and Ireland, and we are now in a position to offer support in our turn. What happens in one region will affect all others, so it is important to promote good practice within the law across the UK.
The file linked below is a final draft of HEdNI's response. We invite comment, input and proof-reading(!), minor changes will probably be made before submission.
"The Guidance is liable to create confusion and antagonise home educating families. It invites Local Authorities to make their own rules based on an unstated and unsupported assumption that home education is fundamentally a risk or problem. It confuses a situation which is very clearly outlined in legislation and guidance – the LA has no duty to monitor, their duty is reactive only and arises where an outside force triggers a concern. At that point they have sufficient power to act.
This document has been put out for consultation by the NEELB, but appears to be intended to cover the whole of Northern Ireland when the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) is finally launched.
The boards and the ESA are not capable of making law, so these policies cannot be legally binding. However a policy like this may make many home educator's lives difficult, and particularly vulnerable families who do not know their legal rights and duties.
A short read but amongst other things the document
- conflates welfare and education
- mandatory home visits
- requirement to register, in effect a licensing scheme
- appears to assume powers to dictate the content of the education provided