Abuse by Educational Welfare Officers

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dragongiraffe | 15:42 Tue 16th Mar 2010 | Law
18 Answers
We have educated our daughter from home with the full support & knowledge of the LEA. In November 2009 we were visited at home by an Education Welfare Officer to investigate the "unauthorised absences from school" of our daughter. He was totally ignorant of her home education status.
We had elected to do so because of 5 years bullying our daughter endured at school - a time during which we tried to contact this same EWO without success.
On the night in question the EWO told our daughter, in our presence, "if you don't go back to school your parents will be prosecuted and could go to gaol". He also threatened her with being taken into care. As a result of his threats, she, offered to hang herself to "save Mum & Dad from gaol".
I complained to the EWO about his conduct. He fererred my letter to his Supervisor who responded to me supporting and backing his EWO's conduct & comments. At the same time the Supervisior denied us any fair hearing, contrary to Article 2; Human Rights Act 1998.
I then complained about the conduct of both officers to the Council's Head of Department. His response was exactly the same as the Supervisor's - total support for his officers whilst denying us any right enshrined in Article 2; Human Rights 1998.
Also, in hia failure to address the 5 years bullying our daughter suffered, the first EWO denied her access to the education system to which she is entitled (Protocol 1, Article 2; Human Rights Act 1998.
This is, at last, being investigated by Northumberland County County - but I have the impression that they feel it is just going to go away and they will walk away from their offences, principally, against a 12 year old girl who then threatens to kill herself as a result.
How can I begin to "turn up the heat", here?


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Question Author
Thank you 'Eddie51' I really appreciate you taking time to respond. Our MEP is already jumping all over it re: Human Rights Act. I'm gonna Google Camilla Cavendish as soon as I send this to you.
The most annoying part is the way that these people think we will go away and they can walk way. I intend to turn this into an itch they can't scratch for a long time - and I would love to put our daughter in a witness box as she wouldn't be phased at all. It's just important that we do things legally & in stages. Northumbria Police even told us the only reason this EWO hasn't been interviewed/even charged with a public order offence is he said what he said in our house & not on the doorstep (ie; the "public arena). Thanks again. Col.
I would suggest you also look at the UN Rights of the Child
Some of the articles will apply to your daughter and could help strengthen your case
Question Author
Hi Ojread2 & thanks. Our MEP is already under starter's orders & spitting feathers re: the way in which a mere local authority (her words!) feels it can treat the laws of the ECHR with such disdain!
It has already been established that, by failing to address a bullying situation which persisted for over 5 years, the first EWO contravened our daughters right to access the education system, enshrined in Protocol 1, Article 2; Human Rights Act 1998. Our MEP (not one to meet without your gun!) is already aware that this EWO alone has already acted contrary to UK & EC Law and the DCSF has been formally informed of "pending action". One thing this episode has re-emphasised the "small print" usually works to one's advantage!
forgive me.. this isn't my area of expertise!

to "home school" do you have to have permission from some authority? how long have you been doing it for, and can you prove that you've followed some official guidelines?
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hi Wizard, and thank you :o)

if you don't have to be in school, how can the EWO say there are unauthorised absences? they must at least have been informed of the home-schooling.

or is that the point? they knew, but now they're saying they didn't know?
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Education Otherwise is not up to much and should be avoided. Try seeking out info and support from an independent organisation or network instead. Google 'home education uk' or 'home education forums' and you'll find good alternatives which won't charge you money for freely available information.
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Question Author
Hi Sara/Wizard/Eddie. Be assured all is above board & legal in our situation. Have backing of LEA EOTAS Team, Director of Education & Schools Policy Director (who I went to Uni with) & meet regularly over this. Daughter is "home ed" til she starts High School (Sept.) Then in January she takes up 1 yr study bursary she's been awarded in Germany. We have done nothing wrong - the LEA, 'though, realise they have broken law on a number of fronts. The EWO was totally ignorant of facts - I asked him why he felt a child should go to school to be educated. His response was "It's the law". We all know it's not the law. Local MP/MEP/DCSF/etc. are now all over the LEA. If anyone needs absolute clarification of requirements re: home ed. - just ask!
Question Author
Hi Sara & Wizard - The EWO is obliged to act on any information brought to him/her by the student's school. But if the Head gets it wrong ....!
My work role is HMG Finance Investigation which brings me into LEA's, + any other publicly funded body. I've heard horrendous tales, since I bit back on this matter of an EWO who's as thick as pig sh#t - and of Heads abusing their position here to seek revenge on parents against whom they hold a grudge.
Question Author
Hi No Surrender. Hope your'e well. Oddly enough the best, most effective source of info. re: home ed. is the DCSF site. Even speaking to a Policy Adviser is a pleasant & informative experience - As soon as I qualifications may be legal(fraud investigation & prosecution) but I didn't know much about ed. legislation they couldn't do enough for me.
They immediately asked for e-mails/scans of all correspondence - and the Ministerial Team began knocking on County Hall's door!
Maybe me knowing David Bell, when he was Newcastle's Director of Ed & I was a School Governor - before he became Permanent Secretary @ DCSF had something to do with it!
Hello, looks like you have the problem well in hand, however, are you or would you like to be in contact with other local home educators?
I posted the link to this site to a local group and several people offered to write letters to Northumberland, it is Northumberland isn't it?
The EO site has local contact details, if there is no one for Northumberland at the minute then any of the other local contacts will help. I think you would find plenty of support locally.
Also, if you would like to let other home educators know about the authorities awful behaviour you could share your story here:

For national/international home ed lists try here:

You may well have chosen to not join local stuff so just ignore if thats the case :o)

Local group I posted on about your question here:
If you want the experts try here:
I'm Rachael and we're a Gateshead HomeEd family. What a shame you've had such a horrid time with your EWO. I have to say my officer is wonderful an so very helpful. I hope this other EWO gets put in his place!!

Anyway, There are lots of HomeEd groups and activities across Newcastle/Gateshead/Durham area if you're wanting to get involved.

My daughter is off to high school in September too but we're making the most of this time together :-)

My daughter was abused at school by a member of staff at her secondary school. The abuse consisted of this particular member of staff marking my daughter absent from school when she actually in the school. Not to go into too much detail the abuse only stopped when she took an overdose and I deregistered her from the school. The E.W.O. department not only didn't help but aided the school in the abuse.
I contacted M.P's, police, social services, connexions, L.E.A., showed them evidence of the abuse and no-one wanted to know. Begged them to investigate the allegations, it was only when I went to the L.G.O. that it turned out that the allegation did not fit the criteria of an investigation.
I hope that you do get your issue sorted out with the said E.W.O. but please be warned to an E.W.O. your Childs welfare does not concern them its only statistics that matter. Oh yeah and a nice big fat salary.

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Abuse by Educational Welfare Officers

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