Thursday, 25 February 2010

Ali's Complaint to the BBC

thanks to Ali for letting me blog this.

Here is a link to Birmingham City Council's response to an FOI request asking if Khyra Ishaq was officially de-registered from school to be home educated:

If you read the comments, you will see that according to court records, the de-registration letter was sent in March 2008. However, the letter was not produced as evidence and there is no proof that it was ever sent or received.
Either way, the fact remains that from 19th December 2007 until early March 2008 Khyra Ishaq was not home educated; she was, officially, truanting, and the local authority had all the powers they needed to take action. There was sufficient legislation. Even if she had been home educated there was.
Teachers at her school and at her foster brother's school had concerns about their welfare while they were still attending, but did nothing. The deputy head of her school expressed her concerns to social services four times on the first day that she failed to attend, but SS did not take them seriously.
Clearly social services were at fault, not the law. And there is nothing in the proposed legislation that would change that.

The Badman Review clearly states that there is no evidence that home education is being used as a cover for abuse; in the handful of cases Badman refers to the families were already known to social services, and in some cases on the at risk register. His claim that electively HE children are twice as likely to be subject to a child protection plan is just plain wrong. The very dubious statistics on which the report was based suggest that HE children may be twice as likely to be known to SS, which is a very different thing; a high proportion of HE children have SENs (and are HE because school has failed to meet their needs) and are known for that reason. Many others are known because of malicious or misguided referrals by people who don't understand or don't approve of home education. Some local authorities automatically refer all families who exercise their legal right to decline home visits and choose instead to submit evidence of their educational provision in other ways.

You quote Mick Brookes:
"We still have very overstretched social services who have a threshold of engagement. It is sometimes too hard for early intervention to take place when schools have identified there are difficulties."
So even children who are seen at school every day are not protected because ss are overstretched. How will stretching them still further by obliging them to invade the homes of thousands of home educators on spurious welfare grounds improve the situation? It will cost many millions of pounds to set up and maintain the infrastructure for this, and for what? There is absolutely no evidence that it is necessary, and it is blatant discrimination against home educators, who would be the only minority group in the country to be subjected to this intrusive surveillance. Many more pre-school children, 120 times more babies, are abused at home than any other age group; there is plenty of evidence that this happens. If the government is so concerned that children should be safeguarded, why not these children?

Your final quote from Mr Badman beggars belief:
"What we cannot do is ascribe rights to parents that deny the rights to the child," he said.
Children have a right to education. Parents have a duty to make sure that they get it. Not the government. Most parents choose to delegate their responsibility to schools, which are, quite rightly, monitored and regulated, because they are working for us. Some parents choose to carry out their duty by taking responsibility for their children's education themselves. In every other case (food, shelter, safety) there is a presumption that parents are acting responsibly and giving their children what they are entitled to, unless there is reason to believe otherwise. Why should home educators be any different?



Mieke said...

But in the end, whether she was or wasn't properly de-regged is totally irrelevant. She was known by many, many officials, from long before she died so tragically.
Nothing in the Badman Recommendations of CSF Bill would have saved her.
Children like Khyra and Victoria and the Spry children do not need more rules and regulations. They need more humanity, more sense of community, and they need officials who do not use the law to cover their backsides, but to actually help and support vulnerable children.

Maire said...

I agree Mieke.

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