And so the saga continues with Lincolnshire County Council and their inability to understand home education law.
I had a response from Debbie Barnes yesterday, in which she insists that their practices are not ultra vires and quotes from case law concerning – wait for it – local authority-provided home tuition to back up her stance. Ms Barnes and her legal department are quite clearly incapable of realising that, in law, elective home education is a completely separate thing to local authorities having to provide home tuition for kids whose parents want them to be in school but where the local authority have shown their outstanding competence in failing to find a school place for that child. With EHE, the legal responsibility is entirely the parents’. With the LA-provided home tuition, the legal responsibility for the child’s education has been delegated, by the parents, to the LA, so of course in *that* case they have a duty to blah blah blah.
I find it very difficult to believe that Lincs County Council’s legal department don’t understand this quite clear difference, even if Mrs Barnes does not. I don’t know what on earth they’re playing at by trying to use apples to defend breaking the law with oranges, but it’s trying my patience. You can see their full response here. Letter to Ms Harper re Elective Home Education Policy 8 May 12
Meanwhile, I also had a reply to the FOI request I made asking for all documentation relating to the decision to change this policy. Their reply was sent as short written answers to each question, minus any documentation whatsoever. Even the attachment they mention as having included was not included. I’ve written back to them re-stating the request and pointing out that this should include all minutes, agendas, hand-written notes, telephone logs, emails etc on this matter. You can see what they *did* send here FOI EHE Policy – and note how the decision to re-evaluate their already ultra vires home ed policy was prompted by, guess what? A serious case review in a different LA. So, a social services issue then. A safeguarding issue. Again, absolutely, categorically, NOTHING to do with home education, as has been proven time and time again and as government guidance points out.
As far as county councillors go: I’m disgusted to have received not even the courtesy of an acknowledgment from Chris Underwood Frost. How utterly rude. So – since he has clearly decided to ignore a resident’s concerns, I wrote to the Councillor Williams, chairman of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee which rubber stamped this ridiculous policy in the first place. And – surprise – I have not had an acknowledgment from him either, much less a reply. I’d never realised before how shockingly arrogant and discourteous county councillors can be. I’m assuming the prejudice against home educators runs far and wide in this county. Unfortunately, I gather I have no sanctions against county councillors for choosing to ignore my concerns without even bothering to send a patronising/useless/go away type reply – apparently, they’re free to take the money (ooops, sorry – very generous “allowance”) and do what they like with their time. Indeed. Nice work if you can get it.
Over the next few days, I will write to the Chief Executive and take this complaint to the next level. Perhaps they’ll run out of irrelevant cases to quote soon.