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What to do when the LA demand samples of work. (ENGLAND ONLY)

It is a sad situation when the LA demand samples of the child’s ‘work’, they are accusing so many families of lying about the home education provision they are providing for their children. We spend ages writing a report, using the Educational Freedom guide, carefully ensuring we give adequate information that shows the home educational provision is suitable to the child’s age, ability, aptitude and SEN. To then be told the LA want samples of the child’s work, photos, videos or even log in info is a massive accusation of lying. And it makes us angry. We have spoken to EHE staff lately who claim that they can’t trust that the report is true, our question back is how can you trust that the photo is really of the what the child has done rather than a random photo on the website. Our argument is a report takes far longer to write than a few photos, someone who is lying is not going to go to that much effort. One LA told us that some people weren’t providing good reports, so we suggested they be honest with those families and explain the information they are missing. Rather than demanding samples.

There is a difference between samples and examples, so be careful to figure out exactly what the LA mean.

We will be honest that it infuriates us when so many LAs use school type terminology, such as work and timetables. It confuses home educators as they know they’re not legal requirements, better terminology would be ‘learning examples’ and ‘demonstration of how the education is full time’.

We are strong advocates of providing information on your own terms, ie using our guide and writing a report. A report gives you the chance to describe your style and approach plus all of the learning and progress made. Especially if you don’t do much formal work.

Our report guide helps you explain and give examples of what the child has been learning.

Why does the LA ask for more than they’re entitled to?

The LA, according to the government EHE guidance, are allowed to ask for information in any way they see fit, however, families are not obliged to respond in the way the LA requests you do. But you should always respond (we recommend with a report). No response can and will be used to assume the education is not suitable. Every time something like the schools bill is discussed, or changes to the EHE guidance are happening, we find that many LAs jump the gun and introduce new policies that are not backed up in law or guidance. We and other organisations work hard to ensure LAs behave and don’t act ultra vires, but with high turnover of staff within EHE it is a constant battle. LA’s have an inflated sense of importance, thinking their duty goes into the realm of monitoring and assessing home educators. They often tell us of families who were failing to suitably educate, yet they knew these families, they knew there were issues, these families were not providing adequate reports, yet the LA did not act swiftly, they do not signpost these families to organisations who can support them, the LA have no duty to support so they just ignore them until the situation is dire, they focus too much on families who clearly do have support.

Why it’s dangerous to provide samples.

This section will be a little less formal than our normal content and a little sweary. And that is because our team work bloody hard to support you, we work tirelessly helping families get out of problems with the LA. Problems that could have been avoided if they had read all of our website.

To start with it is an invasion of your child’s privacy, sharing their personal work with a complete stranger can actually be really upsetting for the child, imagine they are really proud of something, and you share it with the LA, they say it’s not good enough! A photo without context is really dangerous, too many judgements can be made.

When you share a photo of a workbook page, there is no information about how long it took to do, how much support was needed, when it was done, or what was moved on to afterwards, it is NOT evidence of a full education.

Sharing photos puts you at risk of the LA asking for more because ‘what did they do after that?’ or ‘what about other topics within maths?’ you are left needing to send hundreds of photos that could have been avoided by writing a suitable report and saying no to samples.

Providing samples is allowing the LA to accuse you of lying in your report, it is allowing them to overstep their duty. And it causes a precedent for other families ‘but Donna provided dozens of photos, therefore we think you are lying to us.’

There are so many families out there who do not follow a style of home education that includes formal learning, they learn by doing, through conversation, through observation etc, you can not evidence that in photos. And it is disrespectful of LAs to demand samples when they know full well that many families wouldn’t be able to provide them with anything more than a photo of mum and child having a discussion. Where do the demands end? The LA force you to send a video of a conversation? We know what we’d say in response to that!

What you do has an impact on the whole community! Please think outside of your own situation.


So what should you say when the LA requests samples?

We have a dedicated page for this HERE. We suggest giving it a read as we talk you through different options for different stages.

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