Accentuating the positives

Forum co-ordinator Alison Preuss recently delivered an information session on home education (via Teams) to members of ASLO (Additional Support for Learning Officers), many of whom have home education as part of their remit. This had been arranged by Ian Leishman from South Ayrshire Council as a direct result of the work done by Mairead Murray from Home Education Scotland on seeking improvements in relationships between LAs and home educators.

Unfortunately, Mairead was unable to co-present on the day, and Alison had to be rescued from technology hell by Dundee officer Janette Kerr, who was a lifesaver (the words ‘I am not a cat’ sprang to mind!) Some of the ensuing questions related to issues covered in our ‘Home Truths’ report, which suggests we need to do more to ensure it is distributed to key LA personnel for ease of reference.

One of the officers asked if we could share examples/stories of positive relationships with home educators so that they could identify what good practice looks like. Although we have also covered this in ‘Home Truths’ and our ‘Taking LAs to Task’ report that focused on data protection, it is always useful to gather up-to-date, anonymised anecdotes that illustrate the approaches that work well. We do tend to focus on the negatives, so let’s accentuate some positives!

To this end, we asked members to summarise and share some of their good experiences of engagement with their LAs, which we will relay to ASLO and have meanwhile reproduced below. If anyone wants to contribute their own positive story, please send us a succinct summary for inclusion.

Dumfries & Galloway

Positive story here, well mostly, still working on it but at least they are listening. I took part in home ed consultation and further engagement, resulting in a good local draft policy. Still a work in progress and will hopefully hear back by the start of the summer holidays. From this engagement, my sons and I were invited by our LA to assist with creating and producing a Home Education resource webpage, which we add to annually. It was good progress in helping to mend overall relationship with the LA.

Edinburgh

The info on website was up to date – one phone call to the home education contact resulted in an email with a simple form attached. The form was very well designed, in my opinion, as it covered all points of legislation and guidelines that the parent/carer would need to understand and then ‘speak to’ in terms of pedagogy, provision and plans. I was given option of no meeting or meeting with HE contact, chose to meet as this suited my needs. Given choice of meeting at LA offices, my home or neutral public place, chose the latter. Seamless and very reassuring, annual contact made via email. Having since been diagnosed with severe combined type ADHD, the one thing I feel is vital for authorities or any related people from ed/support groups/depts to put in place for HE parents/carers is choices of how communication takes place. During mental health awareness week, I feel this is a good time for folk to really speak up. Meetings with LA are not necessary, of course, and seen in a negative light by many in the HE community and I fully respect all the reasons why – but advocating for choices ensures that those of us who are not neurotypical are given a fighting chance of getting over that first hurdle.

Fife

Mine was quick, sent in my home ed info and, although the person was on holiday, once they were back I had a call within a few days to say they could be taken off the school register. They let me pick a suitable date to give my son time to say bye to classmates and teacher and it couldn’t have been easier.

We submitted letter and provision via email and had an acknowledgment with a copy of Government guidance. Two weeks later we had a letter both via email and post with consent to withdraw.  No difficulties or resistance. Update is requested every two years which is great compared to annual like others.

My experience was positive. No problems and well within the timescale.

Mine was straightforward and quick with no obstacles put in our way.

Highland

I had no issues in getting consent but I have strong feelings that they were actually quite happy about my decision as we were no longer their problem. Continual battles with ASN. Yes, I had no issues in getting consent but I was that parent that fought for my son’s every need and wasn’t getting anywhere. Home education was naturally the right thing for us.

Delighted to get consent but so frustrated at the same time. The choice was really to continue giving my all and battling on or to start channelling my energy in a more positive way and home education was that choice. Not a decision I came to lightly but the constant issues within education, especially for children with autism are relentless.

Moray

Moray have always been good to us. We withdrew over three years ago so I can’t remember if the info etc was easily available on the council website then and I know I had a lot of support/information etc from the Scottish Home Ed group but I do remember it was on time and pretty painless. We do get a ‘well done’ reply from either Lynne Riddoch or Mhairi Brodie when we submit our annual provision.

The first few years we didn’t hear anything after submitting. It just went off and I assumed it was ok. Last year Mhairi was the contact for the provision, and she sent back a really lovely and supportive email after she’d received it. Then this year Lynne was back and she also sent back a personal reply. It was nice as it’s always a bit nerve wracking submitting to the council.

We asked for consent to withdraw at the end of last year. No issues at all and found them to be really supportive with the withdrawal process and also with suggestions for resources available. They also said that if we ever had any queries or questions then not to hesitate to get in touch.

Had very smooth experience so far. I can’t believe some of the horrific stories I hear from LAs so feeling very lucky to live here. 

North Ayrshire

I withdrew my ASN child last year. Sent North Ayrshire Education department an email on the Wednesday. Received a communication on the Thursday asking to provide a little more information how I was going to educate him. He was granted consent to leave on the Friday. One of the best decisions I have ever made.

Renfrewshire

I had a good experience with Renfrewshire Council. Supportive and I only sent over the provision and a note to withdraw. I have seen on here other LAs asking for forms to be filled etc. Nothing like that.

I spoke with the Home Ed co-ordinator on the phone as she wanted to offer her support for the year and she was very helpful. Everything was completed quickly.

 

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