Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DCSF Review - registration (Rec. 1)

Recommendation 1

This comes at the end of section 3, "Current Legislation and Regulation," 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."
  • That the DCSF establishes a compulsory national registration scheme, locally administered, for all children of statutory school age, who are, or become, electively home educated.
  • That sounds fine so far.
  • This scheme should be common to all local authorities.
  • That makes sense and would do away with the "it's ok in Anytown but constant authoritarian hassle in Otherplace" thing that happens now, if properly administered.
  • Registration should be renewed annually.
  • I have no idea why but presumably this would be automated somehow.
  • Those who are registering for the first time should be visited by the appropriate local authority officer within one month of registration.
  • To prove what? that the child is still alive? The reason for and format of this visit needs to be made explicit (must try to read main document again). I'm thinking of a family with young children who were repeatedly hassled in the fortnight after the mother died of cancer, here - it turned out to be a bureaucratic mistake and the authorities were very sorry, but it doesn't do much to give one faith in their ability to do these things sensitively and carefully.
  • Local authorities should ensure that all home educated children and young people already known to them are registered on the new scheme within one month of its inception and visited over the following twelve months, following the commencement of any new legislation.
  • Register within a month of its inception, and then visit within a month as per previous line or within twelve months, presumably because of staffing issues. I wonder how they'll decide whom to visit when?
  • Provision should be made to allow registration at a local school, children’s centre or other public building as determined by the local authority.
  • Allow? Or require? Will families be required to traipse along to some central building and queue up to register? It's later made clear that the information about registration should be available online as well as at specific venues but not whether registration itself can be done otherwise.
  • When parents are thinking of deregistering their child/children from school to home educate, schools should retain such pupils on roll for a period of 20 school days so that should there be a change in circumstances, the child could be readmitted to the school.
  • When parents, having considered the matter and decided to deregister their child/children from school, actually formally do so, the school should disregard this for twenty days, making the children legally truant and the parents criminals, in case the parents change their mind. I am not loving this idea.
  • This period would also allow for the resolution of such difficulties that may have prompted the decision to remove the child from school.
  • Then there needs to be another list - like "The Not on the roll, but on the Definitely Got A Place Until Such-A-Date List." I mean, the period of reflection is not a bad idea, but if the child is on the roll and is not at school and is not ill and has not been granted special leave of absence by the head teacher, the parents are criminals.
  • National guidance should be issued on the requirements of registration and be made available online and at appropriate public buildings. Such guidance must include a clear statement of the statutory basis of elective home education and the rights and responsibilities of parents.
  • This guidance (information) should be available online or by post, surely? I understand that this might mean a print-and-postage cost but parents could be required to pay it. I can phone up and ask for information about my child benefits to be posted to me for nothing, and that's often a fairly hefty booklet.
  • At the time of registration parents/carers/guardians must provide a clear statement of their educational approach, intent and desired/planned outcomes for the child over the following twelve months.
  • This is ridiculous. It's not possible for anyone practicing autonomous education, for a start, and it's also inappropriate for a huge number of traumatised, bullied children who are being taken out of school for their emotional and mental wellbeing as well as because of the educational deficiency of the school. Lots of families need six to twelve months to get over the laziness and coasting, self-doubt and refusal, or other manifestations of trauma which even bright children develop. They've ignored deschooling and de-institutionalising entirely, here.
  • Guidance should be issued to support parents in this task with an opportunity to meet local authority officers to discuss the planned approach to home education and develop the plan before it is finalised. The plan should be finalised within eight weeks of first registration.
  • Ridiculous. Meeting, fine - or phonecalls; it would be good to get something like "Hi, this is Alex from the LA again, just checking you and little Sam are still ok - have you thought of any questions or anything you need from us since we last spoke?". Plans and structures, no, wholly inappropriate to vast numbers of children and should not be a legal requirement, especially in the very early stages.
  • As well as written guidance, support should encompass advice from a range of advisers and organisations, including schools. Schools should regard this support as a part of their commitment to extended schooling.
  • It would be nice to be able to get advice and support from lots of people, yes.
  • Where a child is removed from a school roll to be home educated, the school must provide to the appropriate officer of the local authority a record of the child’s achievement to date and expected achievement, within 20 school days of the registration, together with any other school records.
  • Presumably copies of this will go to the parents, too. I don't see how it helps anyone, though, since people removing children from the school system aren't usually doing it because the school system has worked so well for them that they believe the basic assumptions behind it to be invaluable.
  • Local authorities must ensure that there are mechanisms/systems in place to record and review registrations annually.
  • That makes sense, if it's going to happen at all.

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