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Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33955
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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My son (aged 14 now) lives with his father in S. Wales and

Customer Question

My son (aged 14 now) lives with his father in S. Wales and chose to be Home Educated 2 years ago, however I am concerned about not only his education but his general health and wellbeing as he hardly goes out, has no contact with his peers and rarely has lessons with tutors.
I was never consulted about this decision and was told to mind my own business when I expressed concerns previously.
He had a CAF team report when he was at school here in London.
I have tried contacting the LEA but the EHE team do not seem to have taken my concerns seriously. His father and I do not communicate well and has recently sent an email to the LEA (in response to mine) which covers up the problem. I need some help to put my side of the argument to make the LEA investigate further- he has never been seen by an EWO
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What contact do you have with your son - and have you expressed your concerns to Social Services?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My son comes to stay with me infrequently- whenever he wants he can.

Someone from my local Primary mental health care team tried to bring up my concerns with the EHE team in S Wales who contacted the local safeguarding team but they decided not to take it further. Hid Dad is somehwat in denial and seems to think things are fine.

There seem to be very few rules/laws about Home Education and his dad knows this. I am trying to put together an email in response to one his Dad sent the Local Authority which was in response to my previous one, which makes out that I am in the wrong. It's very long and hard to write...shall i send you a draft I've been working on?

Thanks for your help

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Relist: Other.
Clare is busy answering other people's questions. I'm just trying to find out where the law stands on Local Authorities responsiblities regarding the safeguarding of Home Educated children as I'm very concerned about my son.
Thanks
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
My apologies for the delay
I will happily look at the letter - but do need to know if you have also raised your concerns about his care with Social Services?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare

This is my answer sent earlier

Someone from my local Primary mental health care team tried to bring up my concerns with the EHE team in S Wales who contacted the local safeguarding team (I think that's the same as social services) but they decided not to take it further. Hid Dad is somehwat in denial and seems to think things are fine.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
I appreciate that - but have YOU personally raise your concerns with the local Children's Services and asked for a CAF report?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I've been rather put off trying this...partly because I can't remain anon and worried if my son knew I told Social Srvices he wouldn't speak to me again, partly because I've been told by someone who lives there and is a counsellor that they will not take any anon reports, and that unless my ex is for eg on benefits, or an alcoholoc etc they won't take my concerns seriously.

I am composing an essay to the council...woke up at 5am thinking that as his dad is in denial, and as it seems the council's hands may be tied due to the law re EHE pupils that i might have to try a different tack and focus on Ben's education. Shall I send you my draft?

Thanks

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
I do understand your worries - by all means send the draft
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare

Thanks for that.

It's a very rough draft with notes I found researching on it internet in an attempt to find out my own answers about the law re EHE (Elective Home Ed), safeguarding and LA responsibility...not looking good so far from my end.

Hence I woke up at 5am thinking I needed to try a totally different tactic and focus on "education" rather less than welfare and offer my suggestions.

I need to send this asap as the LA will have received my ex's response today which makes me look like my son is doing extremely well- basically a cover up job!

Ok first is my email to the council- but there's not enough room here to send more! How can I send it???

Dear Ms Woods and Ms Randall

Ben has now been out of the school system for 2 years and previously had a CAF team at school here in Richmond.

I’m concerned that he has slipped through the net, as even the EHE team have not met him, and only met with his father. If he were at school I feel he would have been monitored more carefully.

I’m not against EHE per se but in Ben’s case I do not feel it is appropriate due to his isolation and I was never consulted about this decision.

I would like to request that someone from Educational Welfare/Safeguarding looks into the situation as I feel that my concerns have not been addressed.

It has now been some time since I last heard from you. I have not received any responses to my emails below

I received a letter from Emma Sales (Richmond ) that you had been in contact with her but you had not told me directly what you had communicated with her.

I am now seriously concerned about Ben- apart from his isolation, and physical and general wellbeing, he is now 14 and I know that over the past year he has had less and less contact with tutors- in recently he had stopped the only one left- the English tutor, and no regular contact with anyone other than his Dad (I can forward previous emails which outline my concerns more fully and send more info)

Ben hardly leaves the house and he told me recently himself that he feels he has got himself “into a bit of a hole “ in that all he can do is play computer games and musical instruments.

As far as I know he’s done little, if any, written work over the past year.

I would be failing in my duty and my responsibility as a parent if I did not take this further.

https://www.gov.uk/parental-rights-responsibilities/what-is-parental-responsibility

Kind Regards

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
That is excellently well balanced letter setting out your concerns (you may wish to proof read if for minor typos) - you do not need to give them the link!
Unfortunately your options apart from this are limited as I also understand your point about your son and Social Services.
Having said that it is clear that the guidelines for home education are not being followed making your approach a wise one
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33955
Experience: I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
Clare and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes I need more help. Here is my response to his Dad's response to mine- unfortuantely your box isn't big enough!- How do I get more space?

I have emailed John many times stating my concerns for Ben were not just educational but he never respond to me about them eg Ben’s physical, mental, emotional, social wellbeing ,when he was going to take him to the GP, dentist etc I have reports from failed mediation attempts also stating all my concerns.

Here is one email I found

Tue 16/04/2013 18:49

You said you didn't know about Safeguarding- it's all in the document you sent me! If you read p2 of what you sent me you will see the green box and the Protocol about Section 7 of the Education Act- and "efficient full-time education" and "suitable" education under Section 437P4 3.1 talks about safeguarding...read on for more info 3.7 "Following any initial contact etc..report to be copied to the parents"- I am still Ben's parent See also 3.10 Concerns4.1 Assessing the efficiency- I would question whether some of these points have been fulfilled.4.5 Objectives? Dealing with Inadequate Provision4.9, 4.10.4.11Child Welfare6.1 and onwards

Here is an updated list of my concerns.

I have tried to ask more questions than state my assumptions.

1. I’m less worried about Ben's academic development. Although he clearly enjoys being with some of his tutors I feel he is so bright he’d catch up anyway with schoolwork. As I have said before (do u want me to resend that email?) I’m more concerned about his physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing and am concerned that the longer he stays out of the school system the harder it will be to get back in. This also has implications for later life- how will he ever fit in to a college/work environment if hasn’t had to do things like work with others, etc

2. Am still concerned about his diet and lack of consistent exercise, lack of daylight and routine etc. I know you are too- how can I help support you?

3. Can you both learn to respect my rights as a parent to have some input into Ben’s education, social, physical, mental and emotional wellbeing (as I said before)?

4 The amount of time Ben is left alone with the PC/TV etc |Do you monitor what he is viewing and playing?? If so, how? Re his headaches- he is sleeping with the ipad charging under his pillow- could that be part of the problem? Do you know what time he is going to sleep??

6 I think I said before too, that the common signs of depression are lack of sleep, headaches, stomach aches, feeling tired and irritable, not eating

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
I know that your son sees you when he wishes - how often is that?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hmm depends if he wants something! Hes' coming this weekend to go to the Guitar show with me. Irregular vivits


I'm just about to send the email- here it is- hope enough space !


Please tell me what you think asap. Thanks


 


Dear Mr Austin, Ms Randall and Ms Woods


I am going on what has been reported by John in his weekly emails (digests, which I really appreciate) and what Ben has told me himself. There is a need for someone independent to be investigating this as clearly John and I have very different views on what is best for Ben. Please see my responses to John’s comments below.


Apologies for the length of this email and I appreciate your taking the time to read it. I look forward to hearing further from you about your plans to look into these matters and involve me in any further proceedings.


Many thanks and


Kind Regards


Surya


FACTUAL ERRORS



  1. Surya was informed/consulted about my decision to home educate Ben as soon as I started to consider it. In fact Ben and I stayed the weekend with Surya in Twickenham two days after I first informed Surya.


I tried to talk to John about Home Ed and he said it was none of my business (although I still have parental responsibility and rights) In fact I remember him saying this in front of Ben that weekend, and he would not talk to me alone when I asked him to do so.


2 Ben has not stopped his English tutor, Philippa and is seeing her this term. He did not want lessons from her at the end of last term. How many times has he seen Philippa in the last year? How many hours were booked and then cancelled and how many have been booked for this term ?


3 Ben leaves the house, not as regularly as I would like, but on an average of once every two/three days during the holidays and almost every day in term time. Where does he go, how long for, and who does he meet? There is no evidence to show that he goes out almost every day in term-time. There was one period of just over a week in the holiday when he did not leave the house. There is plenty of evidence in John’s digests that show this has occurred more often in the past 2 years


4 Ben does more than “play computer games and musical instruments”, This is what Ben’s feelings are (he told me this in the car) and he needs to feel listened to.


WELFARE/SAFEGUARDING


Correct if I’m wrong, but I believe that ‘Safeguarding’ implies that someone is subject to serious neglect or abuse. Surya gives no evidence or indication of this so I suggest that this allegation is rejected.Education Welfare is a much broader term, but I do not know, from her email, what Surya wants done or why and therefore I do not how anyone in MCC can act/investigate. What does “looks into the situation” and “my concerns have not been addressed” specifically mean or refer to?


I’ve been wanting to do this for a very long time now, and held off as I’d hoped the EHE team might monitor Ben *more frequently (see below)


I have emailed John many times stating my concerns for Ben were not just educational but he never responded to me about them eg Ben’s physical, mental, emotional, social wellbeing,when he was going to take him to the G, dentist etc I have reports from failed mediation attempts also stating all my concerns.


Here is one email to John that I found from over a year ago:


Tue 16/04/2013 18:49 You said you didn't know about Safeguarding- it's all in the document you sent me! If you read p2 of what you sent me you will see the green box and the Protocol about Section 7 of the Education Act under Section 437P4 3.1 talks about safeguarding...read on for more info 3.7 "Following any initial contact etc..report to be copied to the parents"- I still have parental responsibility See also 3.10 Concerns4.1 Assessing the efficiency- I would question whether some of these points have been fulfilled.4.5 Objectives? Dealing with Inadequate Provision4.9, 4.10.4.11Child Welfare6.1 and onwards


Here is an updated list of my concerns.


1. I’m less worried about Ben's academic development. Although he clearly enjoys being with some of his tutors I feel he is so bright he’d catch up anyway with schoolwork. As I have said before (do u want me to resend that email?) I’m more concerned about his physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing and am concerned that the longer he stays out of the school system the harder it will be to get back in. This also has implications for later life- how will he ever fit in to a college/work environment if hasn’t had to do things like work with others, etc


2. Am still concerned about his diet and lack of consistent exercise, lack of daylight and routine etc. I know you are too- how can I help support you?


3. Can you both learn to respect my rights as a parent to have some input into Ben’s education, social, physical, mental and emotional wellbeing (as I said before)?


4 The amount of time Ben is left alone with the PC/TV etc |Do you monitor what he is viewing and playing?? If so, how? Re his headaches- he is sleeping with the ipad charging under his pillow- could that be part of the problem? Do you know what time he is going to sleep??


6 I think I said before too, that the common signs of depression are lack of sleep, headaches, stomach aches, feeling tired and irritable, not eating etc.


Given that this above is one of MANY emails I sent to John since July 2012, it is very sad that my concerns are still are the same now.


Re 4 How does John know what else he is doing on the computer/lack of parental controls and why is Ben being allowed to use a voice changer to make himself sound older when he talks to someone playing an 18 rated games?


Re 6 above, Ben told me some time ago that he had told John several times that he was depressed (he woke me in the middle of the night during one visit in a very bad state, crying and clearly very distressed, was fully clothed as he hadn’t gone to bed. I listened to him and mentioned I thought he might be depressed and suggested he might talk to someone. He didn’t want to at that time. I’ve since sent him details of a local confidential counselling service in Monmouthshire as well as Childline but I don’t think he or John have followed this up)


The only elements of Surya’s email that you are able to respond directly to are about Ben’s education.


No- see below- they have a duty of care to safeguard all children.


When we have discussions like this I am always amazed at the wide range of topics that are brought up etc


I’m not saying that Ben isn’t bright but I’m concerned about his future- eg that he will not have good enough social skills to be able to find himself a job and support himself now he‘s so isolated , eg the ability to negotiate, compromise, and do things that he doesn’t necessarily want to do- these are all part of general life skills.


I do not feel EHE means that the child is responsible for educating himself. I have seen no evidence that Ben has received efficient full-time education suitable — (1) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (2) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise." Section 7 of the Education Act (England and Wales) 1996


You should also know, unless you do anyway, that I send a weekly digest to Surya during term time so that she knows what Ben and I have been doing together. Ben does speak on the phone to Surya every one or two weeks, but Ben does not discuss much detail.No, I phone but Ben rarely speaks to me.


Some suggestions for Improving Ben’s Education


 


I know John is doing his best for Ben and has some good plans for him to do some GCSEs but I think Ben would benefit from additional help eg Flexi-schooling, attending college p/t/meeting other EHE pupils or even do some internet schooling which would give him the opportunity to:



  • be monitored by professionals

  • be involved in group work with other pupils, gaining life skills such as team work, negotiating and compromise, sharing knowledge and ideas, learning to respect others’ opinions etc.


Can John show how Ben would develop such skills if Ben is so isolated?



  • help to ease Ben into a better daily routine (as I know he gets up/goes to bed at different times) – also life skills, to learn how to be punctual, reliable, work to deadlines etc


Can John show how these skills can be learnt when Ben has so few lessons with other tutors?


Below is some info I found


I am concerned that Ben is missing education and wonder if he has been placed on the Lost Pupils Database. He has been out of the school system for far longer than the required 4 weeks


Overview


The LA accepts its responsibility to locate, assess, monitor and track Children Missing Education in order for them to reach their true potential and is committed to providing an education of the highest quality for all children and young people. The Elective Home Education Teacher will visit families on a termly basis.


*I think there have only been a few visits and Ben hasn’t engaged with anyone from MCC


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Children who go missing from education


9.78 If a child or young person is receiving an education, not only do they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, they are also in an environment, which enables local agencies to safeguard and promote their welfare. If a child goes missing from education they could be at risk of significant harm.


 


https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/288135/guidelines_for_las_on_elective_home_educationsecondrevisev2_0.pdf


Safeguarding 4.7 The welfare and protection of all children, both those who attend school and those who are educated at home, are of paramount concern and the responsibility of the whole community.


See Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006


 


 


 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare


I didn't receive any response to my long draft email below and I had to send it anyway.


Have you got any other info for me about my rights re his Dad's decision to Home Ed without my input and/or Monmouthshire's statutory duty to invetsigate>


Thanks

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
You should indeed have been consulted about the decision to Home Educate - but if you were not happy with the outcome of the discussions then your next step was and remains an application to the court for a Specific issue Order regarding how your son should be educated.
Although at 14 it is unusual for a court to go against the expressed wishes of the child your valid concerns about his education and socialisation could lead the court to make an order that does ensure some form of outside education
This would be amore effective option than relying on the EHE team
Clare

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