PRESS RELEASE Tuesday January 12th
Department for Children, Schools and Families Fail to make reasonable adjustments for children with disabilities.
Autism-in-Mind (AIM) is dismayed that the Department for Children Schools and
Families have failed to make reasonable adjustments for children with disabilities in
their response to the public ‘Elective Home Education Consultation’ and are continuing to insist
that all home educated children must be visited in their homes by their Local Authorities.
AIM wrote to Ed Balls on January 4th regarding the issue of proposed home visits. We
can find no evidence that an Equalities Impact Assessment was carried out to see if home visits
could potentially impact negatively on autistic children or children with a disability or special
educational needs. Nor does it appear that advisory groups or parents of children being home
educated were consulted in relation to the Impact Assessments. We are still awaiting a
response to our letter.
Yesterday’s response to the Elective Home Education Consultation confirms that the most
controversial areas regarding home education in the Bill were the proposals to see children in
the home or other location where education is carried out however the DCSF have decided
‘local authorities should visit the place where education is taking place, which will usually be the family home, as part of their monitoring work.’
This effectively means that the DCSF will not be making reasonable adjustments for children
who have an autistic spectrum condition or disability who can find it very distressing to have
people who they do not know coming into their homes.
The majority of home educated autistic children have been removed from the state system of
education because it was failing to meet their complex needs. Some of these children were self-
harming and even suicidal as a result of the state system. The prospect of having to have those
who failed their children now coming into their homes to ensure that the educational and
welfare needs of their children are being met, is for many parents totally unacceptable.
The report goes on to state that home visits;
‘would allow local authorities to ensure that the home is in a suitable condition and is free from any factors that might interfere with the provision of education, such as a lack of power and/or heating, or severe overcrowding, for example.’
AIM finds this very worrying as families living with autism rarely conform to what society would
see as the norm and this includes the way in which they live at home. AIM has already raised
concerns that LA officials often have no autism or SEN specific training and therefore have no
idea what living with autism can be like.
It is all too easy for someone without the necessary and specific training to take in a scene
which can be perfectly normal for a family living with autism and deem it to be unacceptable.
How can we be sure that this is not going to happen when an LA official has to decide if the
home of an autistic child is in a suitable condition for that child to be educated?
We find it ironic that further on in the report that the DCSF states;
‘It is unsatisfactory that there is no shared, up to date, concept of what constitutes a “suitable” education.’
yet believes that it is satisfactory for LA officials to decide if the home is a suitable place for a
child to be receiving an education.
Can we be sure that there is going to be a concept of what constitutes a suitable home and that
people who have a good understanding of autism and how it can present differently in every
child are going to be consulted and listened to before that concept is shared with LAs?
Children can not shelve their disabilities just to enable to DCSF to make sure that safe and well
and suitable education checks are carried out in their home. As it stands it is difficult not to
believe that home educated children with disabilities are being discriminated against.
Had this Government made sure that families living with autism were all given the opportunity
of a key worker whom they were in regular contact with then families who are home educating
their autistic children would have no cause for concern right now. As it is, the only families who
AIM knows who have key workers are those who have reached crisis point and have had to
fight for a key worker to help them during their time of crisis.
National Services Framework - Standard 8 key worker for children and young people with complex needs to provide single point of contact and help obtain services required.
AIM was founded in 2000 and is the only voluntary group who are specifically supporting home
educators who are educating their autistic children at home.