Child protection experts recommend reviewing elective home education. It is a national issue concerning parents’ rights to remove their children from school and educate them at home.
The recommendation is coming after a serious case reviewed by Northamptonshire Children Safeguarding Partnership (NCSP). Several failures were made in this case which contributed to a boy enduring neglect and serious abuse for years:
- the boy was removed from school by his stepfather, though he didn’t have parental responsibility,
- his stepfather and mother’s cooperation with agencies was a 'façade',
- 'professional curiosity' among all agencies was missing,
- social workers should have put a child in need plan in place for the boy much earlier.
Fortunately, the boy survived. The school raised its concerns about possible abuse in time, though child protection procedures were not started immediately. Consequently, the boy was left to endure serious abuse for years.
Northamptonshire County Council’s children’s services was branded 'one of the worst performing, yet most expensive', and Ofsted rated children’s services in the county as 'inadequate' last year.
Director of children’s services Cathi Hadley apologises 'unreservedly' for the systemic failings. The following recommendations have been made to ensure and develop child protection procedures:
- become more thorough in dealing with families,
- better monitoring of children not attending GP appointments,
- improving decision making in the multiagency safeguarding hub.
The common agreement is to accelerate improvements in children’s services and limit the chances of continuing abuse and neglect of children.