14 October 2022
VCF – The Victoria Climbié Foundation UK shares a duty and responsibility under the Children Act 2004 to highlight safeguarding concerns for children.
Ahead of proposed legislation and regulatory framework for schools – with attendance and absences at the core of such measures – the policy narrative offers a general and assuring perception of practice, that “families are the experts in their own lives, and it is important we listen to them and understand their needs. To work with them to keep families together and support them to build on their own strengths and relationships to be the best they can be.”
Yet, the reality can be vastly different for some families and why they end up at our door. There are discrepancies and inequalities regarding the parliamentary Schools Bill which cannot be ignored.
We offer a first-person account to highlight how child safeguarding policies work in practice for the many Black and minority ethnic (BME) families subjected to unlawful or discriminatory treatment.
“As a black mother I have found that by home educating my child and deregistering from mainstream schooling, I was inundated on a monthly basis with phone calls and written correspondence from the local authority, of whom, I had notified well in advance with my decision to home educate however, the prying into my life and that of my child continued. No regard was given to my child and my own autistic identified needs.
Upon speaking to other BME home ed parents, it’s become apparent that all of us experienced a heightened presence from the local authorities by way of written correspondence or phone calls after we made it clear that main stream schooling was not suitable for our child or children, and that we were choosing the path of elective home education in order to further our child’s education in their best interests.
Upon speaking to non-BME mothers, specifically white mums, I was notified that none had actually received follow up calls and letters on a monthly basis, after declaring that they will home educate their child. In fact, I even received a message from a worker within the CAMHS service, which declared support for my seeking to discover why it is that BME parents are seemingly targeted more so than white parents when we choose to home educate our children.
On a social media forum of hundreds of home ed parents, many were reluctant to record their views in a public forum, despite many of these mothers who are BME directly telling me that they have experienced not just racial discriminatory behaviours towards them and their child during their main stream education journey, but that their children had all been subjected to the label of “disruptive, disobedient, and unable to reach their potential.
This lends many to question the role of mainstream educators if children who are identified very early within their development as either having special educational need or as needing support whilst at school are denied access to such support, and instead are labelled “disruptive”.
I end this written piece now, as my own child requires support for her home education, and it saddens and sickens me in equal measures, that mainstream schooling continues to hound and persecute families who are purely looking to provide their child with the best support possible.
Our aim is to support and educate our children to the best of our abilities. If that means education at home then so be it. Until our children are provided with equality and respect and with the support which they require, I cannot see how the Schools Bill will in any way, shape, or form, provide support to families already persecuted by local authorities purely because their children are BME”
At VCF, we are aware that the views of families from BME communities have not featured within the Schools Bill debate, and by facilitating this mother’s account, we continue to offer our support to children and families that may be impacted by proposed legislation, because we understand and share their concerns.
VCF is proactively supporting the No to Schools Bill campaign to ensure that the rights of BME children are upheld alongside the dominant community, in addition to our wider campaign for improvements in child protection policies and practices, and a return to the principles of Every Child Matters…
VCF – The Victoria Climbié Foundation UK campaigns for improvements in child protection policies and practices
VCF provides a legally-based advocacy service to children, young people and families in need of support and guidance.