Education: Home Schooling

House of Lords written question – answered at on 29 June 2009.

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Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, as required by the Code of Practice on Consultation, they have published an impact assessment to accompany the "Registration and Monitoring Proposals" consultation following Mr Badman's report on Elective Home Education; and, if so, whether they will place a copy in the Library of the House.

Photo of Baroness Morgan of Drefelin Baroness Morgan of Drefelin Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Children, Young People and Families)

An impact assessment is not required for the consultation at this stage as the proposals are still at an early stage of development. We do not expect them to place any significant additional burdens on local authorities as most already monitor home education, and our proposals will provide additional powers that will assist local authorities in dealing more efficiently with the small number of cases where home education does not come up to scratch. If we decide to proceed with legislation we will publish an impact assessment and will place a copy in the Library of the House.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes3 people think so

No102 people think not

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Jax Blunt
Posted on 30 Jun 2009 11:31 am (Report this annotation)

Given that the Draft Legislation programme published yesterday, includes Improving schools and safeguarding children Bill which has an entry improving monitoring arrangements for children educated at home; I assume that the Baroness has now decided to proceed with legislation, despite the fact that the public consultation has barely begun, and we will be seeing the impact assessment forthwith.

It appears to me that this answer is somewhat disingenuous and it's time some more pertinent questions were asked on our behalf of this department.

Jonathan Sambrook
Posted on 30 Jun 2009 1:06 pm (Report this annotation)

"Does this answer the above question?"

It answers the question as stated, but doesn't touch the substantive underlying issue which is the urgent need for an iterative process to deal with the unexamined bias inherent in the consultation document before proceeding any further.

Ruth O'Hare
Posted on 30 Jun 2009 3:44 pm (Report this annotation)

"We do not expect them to place any significant additional burdens on local authorities as most already monitor home education"

What utter bunk and she knows it! These proposals will cost a fortune as an impact assessment would show, which is why she's going to put it off for as long as possible.

I know for a fact that my local authority EHE team costs in the region of £200,000 per year and that's with them not knowing about a large percentage of the families home educating in the county and a good number of the ones they do know about declining home visits. Ball park figure I'd say these recommendations will cost half a million pound per year in our county alone.

tania berlow
Posted on 30 Jun 2009 4:46 pm (Report this annotation)

our Local authority has 164 EHE children and a budget of £18,000 to pay 2 liason visitors and all the administrative work such as paperwork and website.
If a guesstimate of 75% of EHE families are unknown then this budget would have to increase to almost £60,000 and that is for the bare minimum- no training included in this- and training of the EHE liason visitors is crucial as there is not uniform practice throughout the country.

Another thing to consider is that now these liason visitors will be faced with unhappy EHE families who have every right to disagree with this infriegement of civil liberties being forced upon them. Anyone ask them if they want to be in this position and how this may affect tier job satisfaction.And what about their role change into front line safeguarding experts? Ours until recently at least did not even have current CRB checks. What a joke NO impact assessment? another joke?

Sarah Willans
Posted on 30 Jun 2009 6:31 pm (Report this annotation)

'We do not expect them to place any significant additional burdens on local authorities as most already monitor home education, and our proposals will provide additional powers that will assist local authorities in dealing more efficiently with the small number of cases where home education does not come up to scratch.'

This is patently ridiculous. I have had one meeting with an LA official since I withdrew my son from school two years ago, and if these proposals had been in force I would have had a visit when he left school, more visits to 'help' me draw up a curriculum and set targets, at least one visit per year to test his progress against those targets, and as many more visits as the LA felt like paying me. I would not have been permitted to decline any of them. Clearly that's more visits than under the present arrangements, and would be for the vast majority of other home educating families.

Perhaps what the response is really saying is that 'dealing more efficiently where home education doesn't come up to scratch' means using these new and unchallengable powers to force as many home educated children as possible into school. In that case, of course, the additional burden of monitoring imposed by the proposals would be offset. So this reply is either scandalously ill-informed or points to a cynically manipulative hidden agenda. Which is it, I wonder?

Clare Murton
Posted on 30 Jun 2009 9:06 pm (Report this annotation)

Responding to Sarah W

Forcing home educated children into school would cost the government 100's of millions of pounds.

They know of 20,000 home ed children - at about £5000 per pupil per year that is 100 million pounds per year. Factor the likelihood that there are *at least* twice as many home ed children and you double that as a minimum.

I am pretty sure govt would much rather keep home ed parents forking out the cash to educate their own children, whilst forcing them to educate them in a manner that suits govt agendas. And don't put it past them to introduce a charge for compulsory home visits - they have done it with ID cards! (and don't imagine for a second that I have just fed them a great idea - Badman and Balls know all about money making in education!)

Bruce Stafford
Posted on 30 Jun 2009 9:09 pm (Report this annotation)

Jax's point is key - Baroness Drefelin's response is more than disingenuous, it's the Parliamentary equivalent of being 'economical with the truth'.

Moreover, the number of cases to be dealt with by LAs is irrelevant to assessing the magnitude of the impact - you can have a large number of cases but a small impact or a small number of cases but a large impact. The whole point of having the impact assessment is to assess its magnitude; it's poor policy making practice to make an assumption about how small or big it will be, the Govt won't know that until it's done. In addition, Drefelin can’t claim the numbers will be small because as the review points out the number of children being home educated is unknown.

The presumption that each case will impose a small burden on LAs also seems naive - possibly indicating a lack of understanding of what might be involved if the proposals are ever to be implemented. For example, the review, itself, calls for trained staff to be involved - this will have a cost and may involve training provision to be commissioned. In addition, I for one will not allow only one LA official to see my daughter on her own - if you can't trust parents then why should I trust the LA staff. A minimum of two staff will be needed (both females so same sex as my daughter), plus I want the interview to be videoed. This will have implications for staffing numbers and other resources.

I had hoped that senior policy makers in DCFS would have realised by now that they had been badly served by a poor quality review. However, it apears that the same lack of thought and understanding underpinning the actual review is being carried forward.

Clare Murton
Posted on 30 Jun 2009 9:33 pm (Report this annotation)

In response to Morgan

Badman wrote in his report:
"Our own data concurred with the DfES (2007) report, that there
are around 20,000 children and young people currently registered with local authorities. We
know that to be an underestimate and agree it is likely to be double that figure, if not more,
possibly up to 80,000 children."

So he envisages a likely fourfold increase in the number of known home educators. Add to that the number of those currently known who decline or are not offered home visits. Did Morgan not attend Maths classes? Even leaving aside new training required and all of the extra support Badman recommends (OH yes - Govt have left aside the support aspects of the report) - and you have a rather large dent in the govt purse - hello Darling! - not you Delyth - Alistair.

Better Regulation Executive inform that
"Central Government policy on this is that any proposal that imposes or reduces costs on businesses or the third sector requires an Impact Assessment. Any proposal similarly affecting costs in the public sector also requires an Impact Assessment, unless the costs fall beneath a pre-agreed threshold (generally £5m). This means an Impact Assessment needs to be completed for all forms of intervention (including
primary or secondary legislation as well as codes of practice or guidance) where the Department or regulator considers that the effect will be to increase or decrease costs. This includes proposals which encourage self-regulation or opt-in regulation."

I wonder if Delyth Morgan would do the honourable thing and actually respond to these points? Or are we to be afforded the usual disrespect of completely ignoring rational argument in favour of policy?

Raquel Toney
Posted on 30 Jun 2009 10:21 pm (Report this annotation)

Present law does not give LA's a *duty to monitor*. So you are not *improving* monitoring, you are *introducing* it. Introducing new policy surely needs an impact assessment as the policy has never been in place.

David Hough
Posted on 30 Jun 2009 10:22 pm (Report this annotation)

Delyth Morgan's response is somewhat surprising. How can she know that there is no impact if there's been no assessment? Even a back-of-the-envelope calculation would show that with less than half of home educated children known to the authorities you'll double the workload if the rest suddenly have to register.

Add in the fact that most of those known don't get inspected every year, double again, factor in an increase in the duration of each inspection visit to cope with the Badman recommendations on welfare and education and you can probably double it again.

So either they'll need at least eight times the existing resources, or the country is currently wasting money on under-employed local authority inspectors who do hardly any work. Given the resources available to local authorities, I doubt if their existing inspectors are under-worked, so the government is woefully underestimating if they believe there will be no impact.

martin Haywood-Samuel
Posted on 1 Jul 2009 10:54 am (Report this annotation)

I quote - "An impact assessment is not required for the consultation at this stage as the proposals are still at an early stage of development"

According to the code of practice (page 4 - 'The Seven Consultation Criteria'), - criteria 3 - Clarity of scope and IMPACT - "These criteria should be reproduced in consultation documents."

My understanding of the above is that the impact assessment should be carried out BEFORE the consultation begins so that the impact assessment, along with other criteria, can be included in the consultation document. How can the consultation be carried out if the document is not complete according to the code of practice?

louisa bird
Posted on 1 Jul 2009 11:01 am (Report this annotation)

It doesn't answer the question because the answer makes the assumption that the government already know what the impact will be, yet they cannot possibly know this without doing an assessment to find out something the answer claims is not required. As for it being early in the consultation stage, the earlier such an assessment is made in a consultation process the better as the information it provides will impact greatly on the direction and outcome of the consultation.
The statement of there being little impact from the proposed changes, this part of the answer shows a shameful lack of understanding of both the current and the proposed systems. The registration of home educating families alone will require many extra manhours for the LA as they would be required to introduce new paperwork (the register itself, letters to known home educators, other methods of getting the message out on when where and how to register to families whose addresses are not on the LA books already etc) someone to man it (which will be a year-round thing as families can move in and out of home ed at any point in the year) people to chase up, remind, etc.
And since the discription of this 'register' is less one of simple record keeping but actually set out as a yearly application for renewal of 'permission to home educate' it will not simply be a case of parents turning up and declaring that the HE (as in a register of birth, for instance) but will entail forms for families to fill out giving details of their style of HE, expected progress of the child etc. etc.that will need to be scrutinised before the parents will be allowed to be added to the register meaning more work that will undoubtedly mean LA's requiring extra staff to complete.
And this is the least labour-intensive part of what is proposed. The extra man-hours, paperwork, training, travelling, complaints and legal work that the suggested monitoring will bring down on the heads of the LA will be immense - extra powers bring with them more responsibility, more work and more chance of error all of which will cost the LA in money, time and personel.

kelly ireland
Posted on 1 Jul 2009 8:34 pm (Report this annotation)

"We do not expect them to place any significant additional burdens on local authorities as most already monitor home education"

Oh really? I deregistered my children last year, informed the local authorities and haven't heard from them apart from a letter in the first couple of months of deregistering them.

When I telephoned to find out whether I was going get any further "support" I was told that they were too busy sorting out "the abismal state of some local schools."

Almost 12 months have gone by and I have heard nothing. How can you say that there will be no additional burdens, when the local authorities cannot cope as it is?