Wednesday, January 27, 2010

NAS position on home education clause

Proposals in the Children, Schools and Families Bill implement the recommendations of the Badman Review to register and monitor home educators:

Research suggests that children who are home educated are nearly twice as likely to have statements of SEN, and children with autism are heavily represented within this group. A lack of understanding of autism means the school experiences of children with the condition are frequently marred by misunderstandings, inadequate support and often bullying. Some parents are, consequently, left with little alternative other than to home school in the best interests of their child's education and mental and physical well-being. In some of the worst cases we also hear that parents are placed under pressure by schools to remove their children under threat of permanent exclusion or prosecution.

Far too many parents of children with autism who home educate are simply left alone 'to get on with it' without any support at all or say their local authority has been unhelpful and even hostile to their attempts to provide an appropriate education. This is particularly where the relationship between the parents and the local authority has broken down, during parents fight to get the right support for their child.

It is vital that the proposals in the Bill take into account the needs of this group of children. We want to see local authorities who have the training and resources in autism to be able to work in partnership with parents and give them the support they need to home educate their children. It is absolutely essential that this is a two-way relationship with an emphasis on support and not monitoring alone.

Mark Lever, chief executive of The National Autistic Society, here.

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