SEN Home education training programme to start in March

Ed Balls will start his SEN Home Education training programme for local authority officers in March 2010 ahead of the CSF Bill being passed as law, according to a document published by the DCSF.

Notable statements in this document for home educating families of children with SEN are:

Section 3. Statutory guidance covering the way the annual review of SEN statements and the proposed annual assessment of home education can be combined will be issued for consultation subject to Royal Assent for the Children, Schools and Families Bill.

Section 4. Training events will be taking place around the country in March (a separate letter has been sent to local authorities about these events). Local authority SEN officers will be able to use this training when working with the parents.

Section 5. Ofsted of conducting a review of SEN which will be reporting in summer 2010. The Government has committed to considering whether in the light of that review changes to the SEN framework will lead to better outcomes for children with SEN, including home educated with SEN.

Section 6. The Badman review recommends that DCSF should review what constitutes "suitable" and "efficient" education and that any such review should take account of the five Every Child Matters outcomes. This review will be commissioned in the near future and will take into account the five Every Child Matters outcomes in its consideration of "suitable" education.

Section 12. If local authorities are denied access to the child and are unable to see the provision that is being made they cannot fulfil their duty of ensuring that the provision is suitable for the child and meets his or her SEN and should issue a school attendance order.

Section 13. Parents may well have withdrawn a child from the school named on the statement because of the poor experience of education the child has had at the school, that the child has been subjected to bullying or social exclusion, or because the parents feel the school cannot meet the child's needs. Parents' experience of the 'SEN system' may well have made them hostile to officials involved in that system. Meetings with parents and children, or subsequent annual reviews, at the family home or elsewhere which could potentially lead to the child being sent back to the school from which he or she has been withdrawn need to be handled with sensitivity. Local authority officers need to allay any antipathy the parents may have towards the authority. In some cases, officers should consider whether a trusted intermediary, such as a voluntary organisation or Parent Partnership Service officer, can help to restore a constructive relationship with parents.

It is difficult to say that Section 13 is anything but absolutely disgusting. It clearly demonstrates a blatant disregard by the DCSF to consider the well being of a child when deciding on the future of their education. No consideration is given to the emotional impact on the child or their family, or whether any physical or psychological harm will be caused, by forcing a child to attend school if it was a situation they found intolerable. This situation is not confined purely to children with SEN as it applies equally to healthy neurotypical children.

A question that has been raised is whether any obscure piece of previous legislation gives Ed Balls the powers to make regulations regarding SEN children before a bill has become law.

There has been talk about setting up a legal defence fund. Asperger Home Education thinks this could be a worthy move, particularly as many home educating parents of children with SEN believe that their children's self esteem and confidence is many times more important than the National Curriculum and GCSE exams.

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