Friday, 16 March 2012

An Ed Phil for the LEA

I finally sat down a week or so ago to write the long put off document for the Local Education Authority. They first contacted us last September - two days after term began an Education Welfare Officer knocked on the door asking where Eve was, followed two weeks later by a different one asking about Faith. The first one was treated politely, the second one less so I'm afraid! After a few postal exchanges and some time-wasting on my part, it was agreed that I could submit an Educational Philosophy in lieu of a visit or other documentation. They had initially asked for written plans and timetables and evidence of the girl's work. They accepted an offer of Ed Phil after I politely but firmly pointed out the difference between what was written in law and what they were expecting. I had some very welcome help from more experienced Home Edders to write that letter (thank you!).

It left me with an Ed Phil to write and send in by the end of January. So then the procrastination began! It sat at the top of my to-do list for four months until I actually wrote it. Underneath the words Ed Phil grew a HUGE list of other to-do's. For some reason not doing the Ed Phil blocked all of the other items from getting done! Since I wrote the flippin' thing, my to-do list has miraculously emptied with little stress and very much productivity!

I have mixed feelings about submitting anything and I will try to explain my position in as clear a way as I can. Firstly I was annoyed at having been reported to the LEA after having been peacefully 'under the radar' for two years! Secondly let me say that I understand that the LEA have a job to do. But our taxes are paying them to bother me into spending hours writing a report for them - how does that work out?! I am saving the LEA thousands theoretically by not sending my children to school so they should be giving us a rebate shouldn't they?! Thirdly, I am not convinced that the 'officers' employed to 'monitor' us know as much as they could/should do about home education. 

I wonder if I would be less bothered about submitting information if we received an amount of money every year to be spent on books, resources, educational trips etc. There isn't any provision for that in the UK, but on the other hand if there were then it would open the door for the LEA to ask for more and more from us. In Law the LEA can't actually ask for any documentation but we were advised that it was sensible to maintain some contact or we could find ourselves in all sorts of hot water and spending a disproportionate amount of time and money defending ourselves!

I initially felt that the time I spent writing the report was wasted time but by the end I saw the benefit. This was because it helped me clarify the benefits to us of home educating and just how solid are reasons are. It also made an amazing list of activities and experiences when I jotted them all down and saw how many linked to each other to provide a wonderful, well-rounded education for the girls. I felt really proud of what we do and it cemented my convictions (which do waver from time to time as is only natural!).

All in all a worthwhile experience but I am in no hurry to do it again!

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