Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DCSF Review - authorities' access to the home and child (Rec. 7 & 8)

Recommendation 7
This comes in section 5, "The Current and Future Role of Local Authorities and Children’s Trusts," after 5.4, and is mentioned in the Conclusion - "To that end, I urge the DCSF to respond to recommendations 1, 7, 23 and 24 as summarised in the next chapter, at the next available opportunity."
The DCSF should bring forward proposals to change the current regulatory and statutory basis to ensure that in monitoring the efficiency and suitability of elective home education:
  • That designated local authority officers should:
    – have the right of access to the home;
    – have the right to speak with each child alone if deemed appropriate or, if a child is particularly vulnerable or has particular communication needs, in the company of a trusted person who is not the home educator or the parent/carer.
  • On what planet will a child tell the truth to strangers introduced to them by their abusers, even if they're left alone with the strangers? Maybe if the child is suicidal. But often not even then. How will they get abused children to speak up under such circumstances? What will they do if they do? I'm reminded of my school medical in fifth class. Hah. Or the custody case. How can a child tell the truth when they know the adults are listening?

    And then, there are all the people who have happy, cheerful, viciously untidy homes, who may or may not have the confidence to have their children assessed for signs of abuse without stressing for days cleaning up and so on.
    In so doing, officers will be able to satisfy themselves that the child is safe and well.
    I hope to goodness vulnerable children are being dealt with by more specialist experts than any of this implies. And let's not go into the idea that "well" implies "safe" or vice versa.
  • That a requirement is placed upon local authorities to secure the monitoring of the effectiveness of elective home education as determined in Recommendation 1.
  • This seems sensible, again. If the whole thing happens, the LAs have to be required to do it, and to do it properly.
  • That parents be required to allow the child through exhibition or other means to demonstrate both attainment and progress in accord with the statement of intent lodged at the time of registration.
  • Setting aside what I think of the statement at the time of registration, I have no idea how anyone can set guidelines for this. My children may or may not choose, at any given time, to demonstrate kindness, emotional maturity, a thorough and inventive knowledge of the various forms of "sudden pinch with the fingernails," some or all of the alphabet, and a dislike of being tested.

    Or they might want to show off.

    Recommendation 8
    This comes in section 5, after 5.5, which says "Such new powers will still depend upon, and be more effective, where there are good relationships and mutual trust, respect and open communication between the home educating family and the local authority. The home may well become the place of education but it is first and foremost a home [...]"
    That reasonable warning of intended visit and invitation to exhibit should be given to home educators, parents and carers, not less than two weeks in advance. A written report of each visit must be filed within 21 days and copied to the home educating parent and child. A suitable process for factual correction and challenge to the content must be in place and made known to all parties.
    That part is sound. If they have to come to the educating home at all (and I don't see why they do, honestly) then it's in the child's best interests for no-one to be completely surprised by it.

    But I do not believe that this will protect children who are at risk. I don't see how. Abusers and abused children alike are very skilled, very early on, at hiding abuse. Annual visits from relative strangers won't help.

    1 comment:

    miket said...

    This is a good beginning. 3 million children are reported to child protection services each year in the U.S. After 13 years as a volunteer guardian ad-litem, I come to understand the impact not having public policy for abused and neglected children (America is the only industrialized nation without such a policy) is having on our community; schools, streets, and prisons. Read more;

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