Table of Contents
Hesfes 2015 Notes from Talks
Talks by me, Fiona Nicholson unless otherwise stated.
Sunday: Political Developments
What's new in England and Wales? New Guidance for Wales; AEHEP national body for LAs; Ofsted new guidance for inspectors on home education; Benefit changes UK including Universal Credit (rollout details and eligibility criteria).
Questions from the floor were mainly about 16+ Child Benefit and Tax Credits. The Raised Participation Age (England) is different from the end of compulsory schooling and you will still need to notify HMRC before the end of the academic year.
Geoff Coleman, home educating parent, Carers Trust, presented an overview of the new Care Act, notably changes in how people will arrange and pay for care in future (See 'sandwich carers' caring for children with disabilities and elderly parents), also Carers' Trust blog NB, various provisions of the Care Act 2014 have now been put back Link 1 Link 2
Monday: Ian Dowty, Legal Talk
Ian Dowty is a criminal barrister and former home educating parent. For the first hour Ian answered questions, then went through slides in the afternoon session. Criminal law relates to sections 437 - 443 of the Education Act 1996 and deal with investigation and enforcement. Ultimately a parent can be prosecuted for failing to comply with a School Attendance Order. Criminal law is a different branch of law from family law (a disagreement between parents which goes to the family court).
Elective home education comes under section 7 of the Education Act 1996 and is different from EOTAS or Education Otherwise Than At School arranged by the local authority. Any assessment of the parent's provision must be informed by the parent's own philosophy of education. Ian felt that cuts to legal aid would have an increasingly harmful effect.
When asked about the biggest likely threat to home education freedoms - excluding the new Guidance for Wales - Ian pointed to recent Government statements about radicalisation/potential terrorist activity and monitoring the whereabouts of children taken out of school. Link 1 + Link 2 + Link 3 (Ofsted recommendation monitor children taken out of schools)
See also notes on Ian's 2014 Hesfes talk for more detail about the slides. There was a discussion of what constitutes 'case law' for home education, whether the home education guidelines were statutory, and the relevance of Phillips vs Brown (Donaldson) (My views are set out here here and here)
Tuesday: Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison: Learning to Read
Alan and Harriet are based at the Institute of Education. Harriet is also a home educating parent. Different approaches to learning especially learning to read. For more information, see Harriet's PhD on what happens if children are not taught to read. Extract: "I took two Open University courses on child development and learning. Little that I studied resonated with my experiences at home. By now our other daughter was reading too. But our son wasn’t. He continued not to read in any recognisable way until he was nine, but he had a definite relationship with literacy; he could use it in specific ways and situations although I didn’t believe that he could ‘read’. Nothing was revealing itself to me; instead the questions only seemed to multiply and deepen. By the time I had spent the best part of a decade as a participant observer in children’s autonomous paths to literacy I did not feel that the mystery could be resolved by observation. My instinct, and the instinct that fired this research, was to go and talk to others who had also watched children learn to read by themselves..."
You can pre-order Alan and Harriet's new book from the Educational Heretics Press now run by Mike Fortune Wood here Click here for Alan and Harriet's previous book on How Children Learn at Home. (Alan also mentioned the 150th anniversary of Welsh people in Patagonia.)
Wednesday: Home Educating 3 or More Children
With Jill Ingle and Angela Horn. Home educating 3 or more children, how does it work in practice and how different is it from home educating a singleton? This workshop provided a chance for the audience to ask questions, discuss concerns and share stories. Topics included evolving ideas about childhood and early learning, doing the laundry on a large scale, choosing the right car, how the housework gets done, encouraging children to be independent and travel independently, the importance of children having their own space (not necessarily their own room) and parents acknowledging there will have to be compromises.
The afternoon talk was by home educating parent Jessie Currie from 'Playing Out' campaign to enable children to play outside safely in towns and cities. Useful links for people wanting to close their street to traffic temporarily. Guardian article about Playing Out http://playingout.net/useful-stuff/
Thursday: Exams and Qualifications
With Angela Horn, Jill Ingle and Lizzie from Wales. How do home educators take exams, including arranging exams as private candidate, GCSE 14-16 college courses, doing A Levels at home. (See also Hesfes 2014 14-19 talk notes)
Introduction to taking exams as a private candidate, with lots of useful links. IGCSEs rather than GCSEs because of controlled assessment. How to get started: choosing the right exam for private candidates, how many hours work a day, buying the textbook. Start by looking at the Exams Wiki for Home Educators and join the home educators' online peer support group
The talk covered a variety of alternative qualifications and courses in addition to IGCSEs. http://he-exams.wikia.com/wiki/Alternative_Qualifications Access to Music; Crest Awards (Science); More on Crest Awards; John Muir Awards (Environment, conservation); Smallpeice Trust (Engineering, short residential courses); Smallpeice Trust information for parents; University of Kent Space School (Astronomy, short residential course); University of Leicester Space School; Headstart residentials on university campus for Project and Systems Engineering; ASDAN awards (personal skills, work-related learning, foundation learning and volunteering); Arts Awards "You can do an Arts Award in any area of the arts from fashion to poetry, rapping to dancing, sculpture to film. You can be the creator or performer of your own work, or develop your skills in essential roles like marketing or stage management..."; Setting up Arts Award Centre
We also discussed youth voluntering: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Volunteers (Wales and Northern Ireland; https://vinspired.com/ (England); Duke of Edinburgh Awards (home educators can set up their own D of E group, click here for details); and work for under-16s including work permits, age restrictions on hours and type of work.
Friday: Special Educational Needs
With Lizzie from Wales. Special Educational Needs in England and Wales. My SEN website (England only) is here.
In England statements are being replaced by Education Health Care Plans although the two systems will run alongside each other until 2018 More Special Needs Jungle EHCP Getting Started (requesting assessment etc) and EHCP Top Tips. When applying for an EHCP from scratch, be aware of the 'graduated approach' in the new SEND Code of Practice. Ipsea was mentioned as helpful (website, helpline, factsheets).
In Wales, the Government has announced new changes to the system for Additional Learning Needs More.
Local authorities ONLY have to provide what is in the statement if the child is 'educated otherwise than at school' arranged by the local authority, NOT for elective home education. (Where a child is refusing to go to school, a home tutor will only be available if the child is still on roll or if the parent has applied for a place but the council concedes there is nowhere suitable, NOT if the parent deregisters. This is usually seen by the LA as a short term solution.) More More (See what LAs said here) Some families where children have disabilities manage to get support through children's social care (not necessary to have an EHCP) Read more from Contact-a-Family Personal Budgets and Direct Payments are theoretically possible for education (via the statement or EHCP More) or for social care. The National Autistic Society has an overview of Community Care provision here Disability Living Allowance can be claimed for care and mobility needs (not just where a child is physically unable to walk, but also where a much greater level of supervision is required. More Cerebra has a very useful guide to completing the DLA form where a child has a neurological condition.
A statement or EHCP can be useful insurance, acting as a passport to various benefits and support including special arrangements in exams and help in college/6th form (examples were provided of the support package available at college with a statement/EHCP) NB Changes to the benefit system will affect families with disabled children More. Information about deregistration from school where a child has a statement of SEN: England. Wales. The Annual Review should NOT be an inspection of provision More
Geoff Coleman gave a second briefing on the Care Act, see Sunday's notes for more details.