South West Wales

Home school worry after Dylan Seabridge's scurvy death

Scurvy reconstruction

Calls have been made for a mandatory home education register after an eight-year-old boy who had no contact with the authorities died from scurvy.

An inquest heard Dylan Seabridge, who died in Pembrokeshire in 2011, was "invisible" to the authorities because he was home schooled.

Wales' Children's Commissioner said parents should sign a register declaring they are home educating.

The Welsh government said it would publish guidance on the matter soon.

A leaked draft serious case review into Dylan's death, written in 2013, concluded the laws on home education in Wales needed to be strengthened as a matter of urgency.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to pursue its case of neglect against Dylan's parents Glynn and Julie Seabridge

Children's Commissioner Sally Holland said it was every parent's right to home educate their child if they wished, but she was concerned some children were "falling under the radar".

She said a mandatory home education register and regular meetings with an education specialist would allow parents the freedom to choose the education they wanted, while also letting local authorities provide support when needed.

"I don't think home education itself is a child protection worry but we do need to as a society keep our eye on all the children in our community," she added.

'Help not hindrance'

Child protection charity NSPCC Cymru has long-supported the idea of a register.

"Every family has a right to choose how to educate a child and home learning alone is not a risk factor for abuse or neglect, but it is important to ensure that they do not fall off the local services radar," a spokesman said.

"We know that the overwhelming majority of parents want a safe learning environment for their children. A register would help to ensure this is the case for every single home educated child."

Bev Carr, a home educator in Brecon, Powys, said the only involvement the authorities played in her son's education was "a token letter" each year.

She said she had no objection to a register if it was funded properly and proved to be "more of a help then a hindrance".

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales programme, Ms Carr said health authorities should be as much of a part of the process as education services and called for funding for healthy living such as encouraging home schooled children to use sports facilities.

"If a child is born in the western world in our modern society, they shouldn't be invisible," she added.

What is scurvy?

  • Scurvy is now a rare condition caused by having too little vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in your diet.
  • Without the vitamin, the body cannot make collagen - which is essential for your skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage.
  • Symptoms include feeling tired all the time, lack of appetite, joint pain, shortness of breath and easily bruised skin.
  • It affects people who do not have a healthy diet including those on fad diets, the homeless, the elderly and those with eating disorders.
  • Fruits including oranges, lemons and strawberries are good sources of vitamins C along with broccoli, cabbage and asparagus.

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