Filed under dcsf review 2009
he knows that school does not keep children safe from abuse at home, but feels that it ought to because there are other people seeing the child, even though it has been repeatedly shown that it doesn't, but common sense says it must. SurelyI read that quite differently: we know that, unfortunately, spending 30 hours a week in school does not protect all children all the time. But that doesn't mean that it protects no children, none of the time. Do you know what the statistics are for how many children who go on the at-risk register or who are offered other kinds of support are first identified through their schools, including absence/truancy? Your argument would make sense if very few are actually identified that way, but the fact that some children are appallingly badly abused despite being at school doesn't demonstrate that school isn't performing that function for a majority. First, on the basis of local authority evidence and case studies presented, even acknowledging the variation between authorities, the number of children known to children’s social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population…So saying is not to suggest that there is a causal or determining relationship, but simply an indication of the need for appropriately trained and knowledgeable personnel."This makes perfect sense to me if you assume there a missing "home-educated" there, so it means "the number of [home-educated] children known to authorities is disproportionate &c"? But the bit about "causal or determining relationship" refers to the relationship between home educating and "potential additional risk". We have 10 children known to the LA, of whom 3 are HE, despite only 10% of the population in this area home-educating, but this should not be understood as evidence that HE children are more at risk. Thank you for writing this. I think I understand why home-educators feel indignant about the repeated association between child abuse and home-education, and I can certainly see how galling that must be. But I don't understand the attitude that because they know they're not abusing their children, and nor or any of the other home-educators they know, the idea that there should be a layer of checking to replace that which is lost because they aren't going to school. I don't think anyone thinks that school or any other form of checks provide 100% guarantee that nobody will get abused: it's all about having a series of systems in place, so that if one fails, hopefully another steps in. Unless you adhere to an absolute right of the privacy of the family over the rights of the child – as in the Irish constitution – I can't see why the idea that the safety-nets provided by school need to be replaced by something else in the case of home-education is controversial. For the same reason, I didn't think your comparison between social workers who see children more frequently than home education inspectors works: social workers are visiting homes which have already been identified as having problems; home education inspectors are expecting the vast majority of homes they visit to be perfectly lovely places, but looking out for the minority which aren't. I am baffled by people who think that shouldn't be done, and whilst I have some sympathy for people who find that intrusive, I can't see how else it could be done. What are the alternatives that home-educators themselves propose, to help children in that minority of homes where there is abuse, and children are being isolated from school, doctors, after-school activities and all the other places where that might be identified and help could be offered?
If the visits are going to protect children, annual visits are never going to be enough, because the family can, if they want to, present as absolutely normal for that period. I think it would be much more valuable to have a service such as lizw mentioned in my Dreamwidth journal (may find link later) which used to exist.However, since they are reducing the health visitor service for the under-fives (the group most often killed by their parents), I don't see them increasing it for the less at-risk age group.
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