Below are the minutes of Home Education Scotland's Annual General Meeting for this year, which was held online via Zoom on December 11, 2023, at 9.30am. Present: Lucy Dolan, trustee; Jenny Hall; Mark Nixon, convenor; Charlotte Smith, trustee; Emma Stephens, trustee. 1. Welcome and apologies Mark Nixon, convenor, welcomed those in attendance. No apologies were forthcoming. 2. Convenor’s report 2022 [note. Due to ill-health, the 2022 AGM did not take place. This has been communicated to OSCR, and our records are in the process of being updated accordingly. The 2022 report, written for that AGM, is given here.] This, our second full year in operation, has been a challenging one, although we have been able to maintain much of our core work. Just prior to the 2021 AGM, we lost…
We held our annual (late-)summer picnic on Wednesday, September 29, at the South Inch, Perth, and even managed to arrange some sunshine during an otherwise very wet and autumnal week. It was wonderful to meet many families, both familiar and new, some travelling from quite a distance to join the celebrations. Our young people enjoyed an afternoon of play park activity, climbing trees, making movies, playing games, forming new friendships and testing the local ice cream. We distributed Home Truths booklets (read here) to members of local home ed groups to raise awareness of our equal lawful choice of education. We would like thank everyone who came along, and we hope you had a fantastic time.
Our response to the UK Government's Education Committee inquiry into home education in England has now been published. We submitted evidence in November 2000 to support home educating families in England (education is devolved to the home nations in the UK). The committee had invited submissions addressing eight areas, including: The duties of local authorities with regard to home education including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education.Whether a statutory register of home educated children is required.The benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face. Following a delayed reply, we have been advised that the committee has accepted our submission, which can be read here.
Home educators have been invited to take part in the 2021 My Place Photography Competition delivered by the Scottish Civic Trust, which this year has the theme 'Climate Change'. The competition is a Scotland-wide built environment contest for young people aged 4-18, and it aims to inspire them to explore their local buildings by taking photographs. All entries will be included in a public exhibition and the winners featured in a promotional leaflet. Entries should be made through the My Place website by a home educating parent or carer on behalf of their child/children by registering here. Once membership is approved, photos can be uploaded to the website. The deadline for entries is August 29. Entrants can find further information and photographic tips on the My Place competition guidance page.
The Scottish Government has replied to our query about what home educators are permitted to do in the current phase of the Covid restrictions. A spokesperson said the government appreciates "that with the wider reopening of schools this week, there is demand for specific guidance for home educators at as early a stage as possible." She added: "The Scottish Government continue to ask home educating groups to follow the Coronavirus organised activities guidance. This means "effective from 12 March, all children and young people aged up to 18 can participate in organised activities outdoors provided the group does not exceed 15 people, including up to 2 adult facilitators. This therefore enables groups of mixed ages to meet. "Limited travel between local authority areas is also permitted for the specific purpose…
There has been no response so far from the cabinet secretary for education and skills, John Swinney MSP, to the joint letter we sent along with Home Education Forum Scotland in October urging him to ensure any new SQA exams and grading arrangements would take into account the needs of home educated candidates. You can read a full update about this on the HEFS website -- here.
A winter support fund for families and children was announced by the Scottish Government on November 30. This included £16m to give low income parents and carers of an estimated 156,000 children (in receipt of free school meals) a one-off £100 payment by Christmas. After making inquiries, home education families in the low income group found they were ineligible to receive this payment. This is despite senior stage home educated children (16-19, in full-time education) in that group being entitled to Educational Maintenance Allowance from local authorities. HES members asked their LAs and MSPs why they were not being included in the payment and they received inconsistent and unsatisfactory replies. The view of HES is that this payment should be given to the families of HE children who meet the…
Some of Scotland's local authorities are not following the Scottish Government legal guidance when they process requests from parents to withdraw their children from state school rolls in order to home educate, it has been revealed. The findings came after research was carried out by Scottish Home Education Forum (SHEF) within the home ed community, and these were published in an article in Times Education Supplement Scotland today. You can read the full article here.
Home educators are often overlooked when it comes to inclusion in local authority projects, and Dumfries and Galloway were no different - until HES challenged this. Poverty can hit at any time, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the issue, with many families juggling ever-tightening budgets. Dumfries and Galloway are running a Warm Winter Clothing scheme which was aimed initially at school children but has now been opened up to home educated children. Poverty doesn’t just affect school children after all. If your home educated child is in need of warm clothes this winter and lives in Dumfries and Galloway, you can use the link below to place a request. https://supportdg.dumgal.gov.uk/article/21523/Warm-Winter-Clothes-and-Free-School-Uniform-Project
Guising and parties with friends may be cancelled this year, but Scotland's home educated children have been busy as usual, having fun making lanterns and decorating their houses. Stay safe and have fun today!