It strikes me as very odd that Lincs County Council suddenly decided to change their (already ultra vires) biennial evidence requests to a yearly evidence policy. Under administrative law, policy must arise from statute. This clearly does not. I have a hunch that finding out why the policy was changed might be interesting. Something is not adding up right here, particularly when you consider the incestuous/unaccountable relationship between Lincs County Council Children’s Services and CfBT/Lincs School Improvement Services, whose contract has been extended to 2017. I have searched via Lincs CC online committee meeting records, and there is – believe it or not – only one mention of home education in the minutes of any of their dozens and dozens of committees in over five years – and that was in December last year, and was just an approval of this new policy.
So, I’ve asked. On the basis that if you don’t ask, you don’t get told. Freedom of information and all that. This is what I sent David Coates today:
Connected with but separate to the complaint I have in progress with Lincs CC regarding ultra vires home educating monitoring policy, I would like to know when and why the decision was taken to revise the previous policy – as in, what prompted the policy review in the first place, given that the previous policy of contact every 2 years was already ultra vires. I’m assuming that such information is or can be made available to the general public?
I would be grateful if you could send me documentation/information relating to the following (or point me in the right direction of where to ask, and exactly what documents I should ask for).
1) Why and when it was decided to review the previous policy.
2) What other options, if any, were considered, and why they were rejected.
3) To what extent legal advice was taken by Lincs CC on this matter.
4) When and how families were consulted, and how the families spoken with were chosen from among all of Lincolnshire’s home educating families.
5) What other publicly available (or able to be made public) information is available regarding the drawing up, revision of and consultation on this new yearly evidence policy.
I would be grateful if you would also advise how I can ensure that I am among the parents consulted at any future time.
Oh, and I had a reply from Debbie Barnes’ office saying that she is looking into the point I raised in my reply to her (about their legal department’s blatantly confrontational stance). I bet she is.
Meanwhile, I have also lodged FOI requests for Emily’s education file, and for any information held about me or about Emily by social services – and there had damn well better be none of the latter. I would have asked for Jon’s too, but I think that would have to be done in his name. Then there’s also a FOI request about how many school attendance orders they’ve issued in the last year to home ed families, how many of those led to a prosecution, and how many of those were to families who had previously “satisfied” the LA of their educational provision. As we all know, they’re not using the extensive powers they already do have in law, so goodness knows why they’re so intent on misrepresenting themselves as having extra powers. Then there’s also research going on into Andy Breckon’s blatant conflict of interests between his role in CfBT and his role as Assistant Director of Children’s Services.
Oh, what a tangled web the authorities can weave. Good job Emily’s interested in law.
Update: after advice received, I sent a follow up email to David Coates making it clear and explicit that I was seeking this information under the Freedom of Information act. I also made a separate FOI request for Andy Breckon’s employment contract with Lincs CC (not sure I’ll get that – isn’t that personal?), his job description as Assistant Director of Children’s Services, details of his full duties in that regard and details of any arrangements made to guard against conflict of interest between his role at Lincs CC and his role with CfBT. Onwards and upwards.