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Monday, March 23, 2015



Monday, January 06, 2014

Spicy Chick Peas

1 small onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
400g canned chick peas
Handful of fresh coriander

Soften the onion in olive aoil. Add tomato puree, cumin powder and chilli and cook together for a few seconds.   Add the chick peas and alittle more olive oil if necessary.  Cook over a medium high heat until the chick peas take on some colour. Scatter with fresh coriander. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HE meetings in Glos, Monmouth, Newport, Hereford and Worcester: 2011


Aside from the national Home Education Support groups such as Education Otherwise and Home Education UK, the easiest way to keep up to date with local Home Ed meetings is to join the local Home Education e-mail lists.  There are also Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and a South Wales Home Education Facebook HE Groups.  These are closed groups, but can be joined easily if you know someone, or if you write an explanatory note to the administrators.

The relevant email lists for your area are listed below.  Please note that most of these lists are not open to all, and the moderator of the list may ask you to provide information on the reasons you wish to join. If you are either already home educating or thinking of doing so, you can join the list by sending an email to the following addresses:


HE Local Internet links

(for Herefordshire area).

(for Gloucestershire)

(N. Cotswolds)

(For Worcester, Evesham, Blackwell, Malvern)

(For Wales)

There is also a yahoo list for the Forest of Dean, but the moderator is very keen to know people personally before they are subscribed.  Mail cdsnhf@gmail.com if you are interested.

It does make life much easier if you are able to access the information this way, as meetings do have a habit of changing dates/times and even venue.

There is also a website for HEors in Gloucestershire, Wales , Cardiff and West Glamorgan


Local Exam Centres:

Llangattock School, Llangattock-Vibon-Avel, Monmouth, NP25 5NG

Recently registered as an exam centre specifically for home educators and geared up to do both IGCSEs and GCSEs, including controlled assessments. They will be looking at doing other kinds of qualifications soon too.  More information here.


Home Education Meetings in Glos, Worcs, Hereford and S. Wales. 

Below is a list of meetings around the area. Do contact me if you want any further info on any of them.   Listed Monday - Friday.



Forest Kids Home Education Group.  New Road, Parkend, GL15 4JA.

The 1st and 3rd Monday of every month this term. 10am till 1pm, £4 per family. 

You can park opposite the steam train station, in front of the large shed/garage. Then walk round the back of the shed and through the gate to find us.

Come and join us and chill out under the trees, enjoy the campfire, and watch the kids explore and play in the woodland. We will be organising some optional activities most weeks, so far families have offered to run basket making workshops, a friction fire lighting session, Pizza/bread making in the dutch oven over the fire and natural clay sculptures. More ideas welcome!


Malvern Library, Graham Road,  Malvern WR14 2HU  
Home Ed Meet / ICT Session.

10.00 - 11.30 am, Monday mornings, twice a month.  Monthly dates are posted on the yahoo groups.

It's a relaxed and unstructured session or can be more structured to suit. Jenette is a local volunteer who guides the ICT with the children as and when they want her input. 

There's a teenage computer section adjacent to the children's section in the library, both are to the right as you enter the building. All ages welcome from about 3 yrs to teenage. Good idea to bring along earphones/headphones if you have any as we have a couple of spare pairs but not always enough for everyone!

Free 2 hours parking on Graham Road (unrestricted if you go further along a bit) or use the Waitrose car park opposite.


Dean Field Studies Centre, Parkend, Forest of Dean, Glos

10.00 - 13.00 hours. Forest Tots have set up a second group aimed at home educators.  Meeting every two weeks in the woodland of the Dean Field Studies Centre .  The group is entirely outdoors and take it in turns to share skills and activities.

The woods are tucked away behind the large Forestry Commission shed, opposite the train station in Parkend.  Please bring a snack or picnic.  Tea/coffee and juice is provided.  Sessions cost £5 per family.  Please RSVP through yahoo list/facebook group as numbers are limited to under 50 people.


Activity Room 3, Perdiswell Young People's Leisure Centre, Perdiswell Park, Droitwich Road, Worcester, WR3 7SN 

Every first Monday,  from 10.00 am - 12.30 pm.  Usually a themed activity.  Join Worcester list to confirm times, dates and themes.  Cost £2.50 for a family with one child aged 3+, 50p for each additional sibling to a maximum of £3.50.  Basic refreshments available...tea, coffee, herbal tea, squash. Skate park available...bring scooters, skates, bikes, skateboards.



HE Sports Group, Upton-upon-Seven.

YMCA Hill Community Centre, Upton-upon-Seven, Worcestershire.  WR8 OEN.
12.00-14.00.  Please see Gloucestershire Yahoo list to confirm.


Home Educators' Circus Skills Class. Cinderford Art Space, 3 Woodside Street, Cinderford, Glos, GL14 2NL.

(Meeting now held on an intermittent basis, so please join lists to keep a look out for time and dates.  You could contact ART SPACE for details of this and other classes, eg: Circus Skills, Art, Animation, Trapeze, Photography). 

Check local lists for dates. For all ages and abilities, and to include grown-ups too! All kinds of circus skills: trapeze, acrobalance, juggling, diabolo, skipping, hat-tricks and great fun games and fitness. You may well surprise yourselves! Cost £2.00 per person, £5.00 per family. Chance of doing the Arts Awards for children over age of 11. Class costs paid for with Arts Award.
Map: http://tinyurl.com/yl3a94c


TyDu Community Hall, Welfare Grounds, Tregwilym Road, Rogerstone, Newport, NP10 9EQ

Every Tuesday from 1-4pm.
We will have the use of a good sized hall and kitchen, that is in the middle of green playing fields with a play park. (Bikes are only allowed on paths, never on the grass.) The hall is served by the No. 151 bus that leaves Newport approx every 10mins. Location here.

Leave the M4 at junction 28 and follow signs to Risca. At the next roundabout take the 3rd exit (A467 to Risca) leave the dual carriageway at the first junction and take the 2nd exit at the roundabout onto Tregwilym Road. Follow the road for approx 0.5 mile and turn left after the row of brightly coloured terraced houses on the left. (The turning is into a road the drops down directly in front of a house).


Hebron Evangelical Church Hall, Dowlais Top, Methyr Tydfil.

Fortnightly on Tuesdays from 12pm - 3pm. A fairly stuctured group with different activities.
(Dowlais Top traceable via Googlemaps).


Methodist Church All, Bromyard Rd, St John's, Worcester, WR2 5DL .

Third Tuesday of every month, from 10.00am - 12.00noon.
Music, arts and crafts, team games - any ideas welcome.
Check Worcester list for details.



Bingham Hall, King's Street, Cirencester, Glos, GL7 1JT. Teen Meeting.

Monthly meeting on the 4th Wednesday of every month, 2.00-6.00pm. It is a place teens can ‘hang out’ and ‘do their own thing’. Activities are organised around the group as and when they want them. New people always welcome. Please note parents have to be responsible for their own teens. Charge - £3.00 per family.

See Glos list for more details.


Hereford HE Maths Class, Kindle Centre,  15.00 - 16.00 Asda, Belmont Road, Hereford, Herefordshire, HR2 7JE.  

Helena Stephens is running 'Back to Basics'  multisensory maths classes at the Kindle Centre in Hereford every Wednesday from 3-4pm at the cost of £5 per session.  

Helena assures there will be ample opportunity for all to work at a level and pace they are comfortable with.   The classes are on a drop-in basis, and can be paid for weekly.  

If you are interested, please contact HELENA STEPHENS on 01586-620071 during the day, or email helenastephens@hotmail.co.uk.


Scout Hut, Murray Hall, Tuffley Lane, Gloucester. (near Epney Road). 

From 13.30  hours. Arts, crafts, various activities, outside games. Check Glos HE list for details. For location.


Hampton Bishop, Herefordshire

"We meet near Hereford and welcome families from Herefordshire and the adjoining areas. We have an information pack which we forward to interested families and our email address for enquiries is herefordhe@gmail.com

"The children who come to the group range from 4 to 15 years. The venue is excellent with lots of room and facilites for the children to play in and in a lovely safe setting with easy car parking and easy access. The hall that we use is purpose built and modern and has a fantastic outdoor area with swings, climbing frame, football posts etc. Inside the facilites are great too. The group meets regularly, currently every other week but as numbers grow hopefully weekly. We usually meet for about 4.5 hours and have lunch together. We are aiming to have regular activities but our main aim is time for the children to socialise and have fun in a safe environment. "


Cam Meeting, near Dursley, Glos

Every month on the first Wednesday, 13.00 - 16.00 hrs. For more info contact Paula and Simon: 01453 519287



Kentchurch Forest School, Kentchurch Court Estate, nr Ewyas Harold,  Herefordshire HR2 0BZ 

Time: 11.00 - 14.45. Ian Johnstone runs Kentchurch Forest School at Charlotte's Wood, on the Kentchurch Estate nr Ewyas Harold in Herefordshire, for anyone who might be interested.

The Forest School is suitable for children aged 6 to 14 and cost £15 per child, or £20 for two siblings. The concessionary rate for those on benefits is £10. Parents need not accompany their children, but can do so if they wish.

Ian has a mini-bus and will pick up from Hereford Railway station. The mini-bus will leave at 11am, arriving at Kentchurch Forest School at 11.30am. The session is 3 hours long, so children need to bring a packed lunch. Ian will drop off at Hereford Station, arriving there at about 3pm.

If you want to book a place for your child/ren on either or both days. please contact Ian at kentchurch.f.s@btinternet.com or ring him on 01981-241 558. He will be happy to give you any more info.


Caerphilly Meeting, Penyrheol Community CentreHeol-Aneurin, Penyrheol, Caerphilly, Mid Glamorgan CF83 2PG

Approx fortnightly on a Thursday, from 12.00 - 15.00 hrs. For various activities.  For details, see SWHEN list or visit:



Usk Village Hall,   Maryport Street South, Usk, NP5 1

From 12.00 - 15.00. Once a month on a Friday, though possibly soon changing to fortnightly due to good attendance..Arts, crafts, toys, table tennis tables, climbing ropes and walls, outside park equipment and various activities.  Please check EHEW, Herefordshire, FODHED or Glos lists to confirm dates and times as these are subject to change.


Worcester Active Fun Fridays 

Church of St. George Church Hall, St. George's Square, Worcester WR1 1 HX
12:30-3:30....1st and 3rd Friday of each month. Cost is £4 per family of up to 2 children plus extra 50p per extra child to a max of £5.  Hot drinks and cake afterwards.  Check list to Worcester and Hereford lists to confirm dates.


Hereford Leisure Pool. St. Martin's Av, Hereford HR2 7RQ

From 16.00.  Fun swim for home educators with waves and slides.  All welcome. Please confirm that others are going via the Hereford Yahoo list.


Moreton Library, Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Glos.

Monthly get-together, from 2.30 - 4.30pm. Venue - upstairs room of Moreton-in-Marsh Library. Tea, coffee and biscuits provided. Please bring games, puzzles, activities for everyone to share. The room hire cost of £7 is shared out between the families attending, so usually £1 - £2 per family.  Please confirm that meeting is still happening via the Glos Yahoo list.


Ice skating, Planet Ice, Empire Way, Cardiff Bay, CF11 OSP.

Ad hoc, usually on a Friday 1.00-3.45 at Planet Ice. Meet in foyer at 12.45 to pay. (£4.50 pp. Spectators and under 5's free)


Ad hoc meetings: check Glos/Worc/South Glos/SWales lists!


Friday, February 04, 2011

Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Cornwall


Facebook Dorset

HE Social Group, Yeovil - For resource exchange & idea swap. Childrens activities are available, but the emphasis is on parent contact and exchange of ideas, while the children have free interaction with others. Wednesdays 12-1.30pm at St James' Church room, Yeovil. Click link to email or phone 01935 424686

West Dorset Home Ed Group - Group meeting regularly in the Bridport area for fun, play, crafts, outings and moral support. Contact: Mary-Clare Buckle to be added to the mailing list: 01305 871561 or Shelagh Day for information about meetings:01367 710244 or 01297 445599 or email by clicking the link (please put 'home ed' in the subject heading)

Yeovil  Friday
Local Groups 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Summary of legal situation

Basically there is no legislation that places any duty upon them to enquire about welfare where there is no reason to believe a child is in danger of significant harm.

Neither is there any duty for parents to allow them entry.

The legislation that does exist is section 47 of the 1989 Children act, and section 11 of (I think) the same act, which allows them to intervene and gain access to a child where there are grounds. However, this applies to the SS not EHE bods.

The only other bit is section 175 of the 2002 education act, which places a duty upon them to promote the welfare of children in the course of their other duties, this in fact creates no new powers but simply emphasises their pre existing duty to be mindful of the welfare of any child they encounter, it does not allow them to enter a home or demand access to a child.

This in fact is what b/ham have just acknowledged in their new policy.

Any attempt to force entry for no reason is contrary to article 8 of the ECHR - both for the parent and child.

Also any attempt by the EHE team to investigate a welfare concern could invalidate a subsequent court case as they are not trained in handling such investigations, this should be done by trained child protection offices, either police or SS

Neither do they have the power or duty to enquire to see if the child is happy being home educated. I can't point you at any legislation as there is nothing written about this, they are simply making it up.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Truancy Sweeps

I don't think that the position on a truancy sweep is as clear as you put it. It is not a speculative “stop and search” exercise, it is a targeted sweep authorised under s16 Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and aimed first at detaining or returning to school children who should be there and detaining children who have been excluded during the first 5 days of their exclusion.

The sweep has to be authorised by the LA and a police superintendent (or higher rank) and is carried out within an area limited both geographically and in time. A police officer (which is in this case specifically extended to include a police community support officer) is authorised to “remove” any child the officer “has reasonable cause to believe” is of compulsory school age and absent from school without authority, or (in England but not in Wales) who is excluded from school and who the officer believes “has no reasonable justification for being in the public place”. They can be removed to a place designated by the LA (which Guidance says should not be a police station) or returned to their school, (unless it is the one from which they are excluded).

You can find the guidance at

Importantly, s16(4) provides that “A child's or young person's absence from a school shall be taken to be without lawful authority unless the child or young person is prevented from attending by sickness or other unavoidable cause or the absence falls within subsection (3) (leave or day set apart for religious observance) of section 444 of the Education Act 1996.”

This section has the effect of placing some burden on the child (or her parents) to explain the apparent absence failing which she is deemed to be absent without lawful authority and liable to “removal”. Thus a police officer approaching what the officer reasonably believes to be a school age child in public in school hours (as part of a truancy sweep) has, on the face of it, reasonable grounds to suspect that the child is awol and can be removed, unless there is something that unseats that view. This might be something obvious such as a broken leg or something that the child or parent says. Effectively this puts the child and parent on the backfoot and the officer in a stronger position than might be on a stop and search.

The nub of what we are considering is what powers police officers have if they are told “We are home educating.” and nothing more. Whilst that might work for Alec Guinness, it might not be guaranteed to work in this universe.

The current (non-statutory) guidance on s16 sweeps confirms that HE children are not the target of the sweeps but goes on to say “It is not always necessary to confirm a child’s status as home educated but there will be occasions when officers will need to do so.” and “Local authorities have a duty to identify children missing from education and to safeguard all children in their area. If those carrying out the sweep are satisfied that a child is being educated otherwise than at school and have no other concerns, there is no need for further discussions.”

If the officer forms the view that the parent is lying, or even that s/he wishes to make further enquiries to confirm the position, additional questions are bound to follow. Who can know what the officer and accompanying EWOs have discussed during the pre-sweep briefing and who can know what instructions have been handed down by the EWOs managerial team. I would be concerned that they might have specifically been made aware of the duty to locate children missing education in s436A Ed Act 1996 which requires LAs to make arrangements to establish the identities of children not registered at a school and not receiving a suitable education. “Making arrangements” could easily be ascertaining the names and addresses of all children who said they were home educated.

That of course does not mean that the children or a parent with them has to say who they are or where they live. However, not doing so may result in her being “removed” and the parent being arrested. Equally it may not, but it seems to me that what happens depends on matters that fall outside the law. A straightline approach to the law is likely to result in removal/arrest, but that depends on the individual police officer, the circumstances and the behaviour/demeanour of the child and parent. Before I approach that variable, let me explain why I think it could result at worst in removal/arrest.

In view of the terms of s16(4) unless the officer is satisfied that a child is not registered at school (or, in England, excluded), removal is likely to result. Arrest will take a bit longer to explain.

Without question, if the police have no reasonable grounds to suspect you of committing or having committed an offence, you do not have to answer any question they put to you. However the position is different if they form the view that they do have reasonable grounds for an arrest. A child cannot be arrested in a sweep as they commit no offence, hence the power to remove.

The question then is, does the presence in public of an adult with an apparently school-aged child in term time, who will not supply a name and address so that a check can be carried out as to whether they are committing an offence, give rise to the reasonable suspicion that an offence is being committed sufficient to permit the police officer to arrest the parent? I don’t see why not.

Failing to ensure the regular attendance of a registered pupil (aged 5 to 16) is an offence contrary to s444 Ed Act 1996, and regular attendance means every day, all day. So, a child out on the street when it might be supposed that 99% (or whatever) should be in school, might well give a police officer reasonable grounds to think that the child's parents are committing an offence. The officer would not need more than that to investigate if anoffence was actually being committed (as it looks like it might be). If s/he reaches the conclusion no offence is being committed, no action can be taken and s/he cannot ask for name and address. If s/he is uncertain, s/he may want that information to make further enquiries. If s/he believes that an
offence is being committed, s/he will need that information to take matters further. It seems to me that in the last 2 cases, an arrest could follow a refusal to give name and address.

An offence contrary to s444 used to be described as a non-arrestable offence, however, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) has (with some argument which I will mention below) always allowed a police officer to arrest someone the officer believed was committing such an offence if the officer did not have their true name and address at which they might receive a summons. This power was formerly found in section 25 PACE.

I say formerly because in 2006, the last government, under the guise of having decided that police officers could not remember the lists of arrestable and non-arrestable offences, widened powers of arrest to allow them to arrest anyone they reasonable suspected of committing ANY offence. To effect this change, PACE was amended by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA). So if you look at a version of PACE to see what the law is you have to make sure that it is the amended one. The govt site which is supposed to update statutes so you can see what is in force, and what is not, is regrettably not always up to date but it seems to have this amendment. You can see it at the newly name-changed _www.legislation.gov.uk_(http://www.legislation.gov.uk) . You'll know if it is the amended PACE as there is now no s25.

The SOCPA amended s24 contains the current police power of arrest. It enables police officers to arrest anyone who is committing an offence, or whom the officer reasonably believes is committing an offence IF, for one or more of a list of reasons set out in s24(5), it is necessary to do so. So the poor forgetful police officer still has to learn a list. The list of reasons includes the following (I have missed out ones that would not apply to HE'rs)

(a) to enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in the case where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person's name, or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name);
(b) “correspondingly” as regards the person's address;

which replicate the old powers under the unamended s25, - but, of course, the opportunity to add new powers could not be resisted, and the list goes on

(d) to protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question;
(e) to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question;
(f) to prevent any prosecution for the offence from being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question.

I have included (d) as people need to be aware of it so they can be ready to rubbish it.

However, it seems to me that (e) and (f) can be grounds of arrest even if the officer knows the name and address of the parent. (f) can be defeated if the officer does not have reasonable grounds for doubting name and address but (e) might still be employed if the police officer thought that it would enable checks to be carried out with the local authority, for example, to see if the child was known to their home LA or on the CME database now that there is the s436A duty.

Thus IMO the power exists for the police to arrest, if the individual officer decides to use it. S/he will be concerned to do so correctly and so that it avoids any legal action for wrongful arrest and, again, IMO, s/he will probably be unlikely to want to arrest someone for this (unless given a positive reason to do so, such as a parent being less than tactful).

This is where I said that there was some argument to be had by which to baffle and bemuse. There is the argument that, perhaps contrary to what I have set out above, whether just seeing a person with a child during school hours means that it is reasonable to believe the child should be in school. There are numerous reasons why the child should not, even if they were to be a pupil. Whilst I suspect that a court would support an arrest where all the officer knew was the unsupported assertion that the child was home educated that does not mean that it is not a good argument to put to the officer.

It seems to me that, in order to be able to arrest, In essence the officer has to have reasonable grounds to believe that

1 the child is of compulsory school age
2 she is a registered pupil at a school somewhere, be it state run or public
3 she has no legitimate reason for not being in school, and
4 the person with her is a parent (the Ed Act definition is much wider than biological parents and includes people who "have care" of the child, whatever that might mean)
5 that therefore the parent is committing an offence, or, reasonably might be and an arrest is necessary to confirm the position.

So the discussion to hold would be along the lines of "we home educate, I am not committing an offence, you have no reason to doubt what I say and therefore cannot have reasonable grounds to believe that I am." You could add, "I do not have to prove that I home educate as the burden of proof that I am committing an offence is on you and you really need to be so sure you are right as otherwise it would be wrongful arrest". You can see that this needs increasing levels of braveness. If you were really brave you could say that the officer has no grounds for detaining you to ask questions and you are taking your child and going. This might mean they decide that
it's not worth a fight but equally it might mean that it precipitates one.

Usually asking LEA staff if they are saying that you are lying works as they start to backtrack, people seem reluctant to say yes to your face and if they say no, you can then argue that that's the end of any conversation. It might work with the police.

There is a technical argument which might bamboozle the police enough for them not to be sure enough to do anything and that is that the police cannot prosecute for the s444 offence. Only the LA can do so and it is likely that the EWO with the police will not have the authorisation from the LA to commence any prosecution. If the police can't prosecute then how can they arrest? - IMHO, they can but they might not be confident to work that out with sufficient firmness (curiously the police can still issue a fixed penalty notice for s444 offences even though they cannot prosecute - this could be another reason they would be justified in asking your name and address).

A PCSO cannot arrest but has powers to detain for/until a proper police officer arrives. If that happened, the police officer would still want to go through everything again before s/he decided to arrest, so you would have a second bite.

EWOs cannot arrest, they have no specific power to do so, and they cannot rely on a "citizen's arrest" as this is only lawful if the offence is an indictable one, s444 is not indictable.

So, it’s up to you how far you go, but you need to know exactly what the officer can do in order to know how far you want to push it and when the cards are getting stacked against you. The limiting factor, I guess, is the effect any argument is having on your children.

Monday, September 27, 2010