Consultation News

Exam Access Improvements Announced

The EA has decided to open exam centres to EHE candidates. This is very welcome, we are seeking clarity on likely costs.

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The officer you should contact in relation to examinations, is Chris Kennedy and he can be contacted at the e-mail address below :

ckennedy450@belfasthospitalschool.belfast.ni.sch.uk

When you e-mail, please provide information as follows:

HEdNI Consultation Response

Response by Dr Harriet Pattison

The Guidance sets out a clear and legally accurate framework through which families can clarify expectations regarding interactions with EA officials.   

As a specialist researcher into literacy and home education, I continue to be concerned that the Guidelines place insufficient emphasis on the many ways in which learning at home may diverge from learning in school.  There is repeated emphasis given in the guidelines to the legal requirement that education be suitable to a child’s age, ability and aptitude.   Whilst this is the case, it should be highlighted that the transposition of age related bench marks from school to home education is wholly inappropriate and should not be used as either a guidance or expectation.  This may be particularly the case with regards to literacy, reading and writing where the normative framework  imposed by school has frequently been used to inadequately assess the efficacy of home education provision.  Recognition that pedagogic approaches may be different (ie from structured to autonomous) needs to be matched with recognition that learning trajectories may also be very different – for example reading and writing succeeding rather than preceding  other aspects of literacy.”

Consultation Brief

A short discussion of the key issues relating to the current consultation has been prepared, we hope it will be useful.

2019 Consultation

The EA has announced a consultation on Draft Guidance on Elective Home Education to run between 29th of May and the 21st of August.

HEdNI will be submitting a response that broadly supports the draft, a summary of the issues can be found here.

Having been involved in the Working Group which produced these Guidelines we feel that while they are not perfect they represent a significant improvement on the current situation. We encourage all home educating parents to join the HEdNI Facebook group and participate in discussions before drafting their own responses, there is no hurry.

All parents should respond to this consultation, doing so will not add you to a “register” or prompt the EA to contact you regarding your educational provision. All considered responses are valuable, they need not be long or detailed as long as they make the points that you feel are important.

It will be very important whatever your view on the Guidance, to submit a response which details what you like about the Guidance as well as what you do not.

History and comment

The 2019 Consultation will be on a Draft produced by a Working Group, which was set up after the contentious consultation of 2014.  While we are not delighted with every aspect of the new draft, we have come a long way since then and we hope and believe that a more constructive relationship has developed.

Consultation Announced

Some home educating parents have received letters today inviting them to respond to a new consultation by the EA. This consultation will be on the Guidance drafted by the Working Group over the last two years, which HEdNI has been attending.

HEdNI would encourage all NI home educating parents to join our Facebook group where there will be discussion of the important points. Every home educating parent should take their time with their response, there is no rush.

HEdNI has not yet had sight of the final draft but, unless there are significant changes, we believe that it would be good if this draft was passed. 

There are significant flaws but also very positive aspects to the document, we would encourage all home educating parents to submit a response which says what they *like* about the draft as well as what they do not.

Education Authority Publishes Summary of Consultation Responses

Education Authority Logo

The Education Authority has published a summary of consultation responses, which can be found here: http://www.eani.org.uk/about-us/latest-news/elective-home-education-draft-policy-summary-of-consultation-f/ 

On first reading it seems like a thorough survey of responses, which seem to be overwhelmingly concerned about legal errors and the overall advisability of such a scheme - teachers, MLAs, churches, parents and organisations all concur... with the exception of a few who seem to have little or no interest in home education or knowledge of it. We have been advised by the EA that they do not intend to progress this draft and, though this has not yet been publically stated, it would certainly be difficult to move forward with a scheme after such condemnation.

We are concerned that the basic error of law is repeated as fact in the second paragraph of the introduction, and we have contacted the EA to register our objection to this.  The page that links to the pdf states:

"On 28 April 2014, a draft Elective Home Education Policy was launched for consultation by the former Education and Library Boards, to enable those who have an interest in elective home education to register their views and opinions about its content.  

A Summary of Consultation Report was completed and subsequently approved for publication by the Education Authority’s Children and Young People’s Services Committee in October 2015. 

A Review Group is now being established by the Education Authority to take forward the development of a final draft Elective Home Education policy, which will involve consultation with a range of key stakeholders."

Briefing the Education Committee

HEdNI briefing the Education Committee

Four home educating parents from HEdNI gave an oral briefing to the Education Committee on the 11th of November.  You can watch here: http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/assembly-business/committees/education/meetings/11-november-2015/ from around 30:15 minutes.

We are encouraged to hear that the Committee intend to seek answers from the Education Authority and also clarification from the DHSSPSNI regarding recent draft guidance.

Evidence to the Education Committee from the Education Authority

Education Authority Brief Education Committee

You can watch the rather strange evidence presented to the Education Committee on the first of July here from around 2hrs28, as one Committee Member comments it is "bizarre".

"Clare Mangan:

Those who have never been registered, we cannot draft a policy in relation to them because currently the legislation that exists in Northern Ireland does not apply to that group.

So the only children and young people that are affected at this stage by the Draft Policy that has been presented are those children who were originally registered in school for whom their parents now have decided to home educate, so it is the deregister group for whom this policy applies.

Baffling Evidence to the Education Committee

Assembly

Today, in evidence to the Education Committee, the Education Authority representative stated several times that the Draft Policy ONLY applies to children previously registered with a school.

Further, that they have no power in law to take any action unless the child was previously registered with a school, or 'formally' registered as home educated.

This is a truly baffling assertion! 

The Authority is claiming that they have NO duty to children unless they have at some time been to school, but on the other hand they claim to have a right to oversee 'curriculum and welfare' on a regular basis of all ex-school children - duty far beyond that given to them by law.

On the one hand complete abrogation of responsibility, on the other excessive and ongoing intrusion. Neither with legal basis.

As a Committee Member said, the mistake would be to register! We would have thought the EA would wish to encourage families to engage, not attach penalties...

The full transcript should be out next week.

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