Portsmouth home educators threaten legal action against council

HOME educators in Portsmouth are threatening to take legal action against a council, claiming it has been 'attacking' their community.

By Fiona Callingham
Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 1:29 pm
The Portsmouth Home Education Group is threatening legal action against Portsmouth City Council

The Portsmouth Home Education Group is preparing a judicial review on Portsmouth City Council's policies, believing it to be wrongly forcing some children back into school despite home schooling parents meeting the legal requirements.

According to home education charity Education Otherwise, the authority served school attendance orders for nine per cent of home educated children from September. Just one other local authority in the country served orders to more than one per cent, and most served none at all.

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In addition, the council served legal notices leading up to school attendance orders to 83 per cent of home educated children during 2020.

This does not refer to parents who are home educating children because of the pandemic, but to those who permanently do not send their children to school.

Portsmouth home educator Christina Goodred said: 'We have had threats of legal action in an attempt to force us into sending our children into school - simply for trying to provide them with the best opportunities. What Portsmouth City Council refuses to acknowledge is that the school environment isn't suitable for every child.’

And group admin Vicky Campbell added: 'We cannot understand why - at this time of national crisis - Portsmouth City Council is choosing to use their limited resources to attack our community, rather than offer support to our children.'

The Portsmouth Home Education Group is threatening legal action against Portsmouth City Council. Group admin Gemma Henson.

If the council does not to commit to changing its policies the group has a barrister ready to press ahead with the review, having raised almost £5,000 through crowdfunding,

Gemma Henson, one of the group's admins, said: 'The best outcome would be for the council to make sure their policies are lawful and their officers are knowledgeable and supportive about home education.'

But Alison Jeffery, director of education at the council, said: 'The council has a statutory duty to ensure that children across the city are receiving a suitable education whether on a school register or being educated at home.

'We work closely with families who are home educating and the majority of parents demonstrate that they are providing that education.

'This is about families who choose to permanently home educate as opposed to those who are supporting their children with their school's remote learning during the pandemic.'

The council is expected to respond to the group by February 1.

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