...can be found here.
Part 2 - Amended Draft
GUIDELINES FOR LOCAL EDUCATION AUTHORITIES ON ELECTIVE HOME EDUCATION
1.1 Elective home education is where parents or guardians decide to provide home-based education for their children instead of sending them to school. It is not home tuition provided by a local education authority or where a local education authority provides education otherwise than at a school.
1.2 Electively home-educated children are those who, for a range of reasons, are being educated at home and in the community by parents, guardians, carers or tutors, and are not registered full time at mainstream schools, special schools, Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), colleges, children’s homes with education facilities or education facilities provided by independent fostering agencies.
amended 1.3 The DfES recognises that elective home education is a key aspect of parental choice and is equal in statute to education provided in school. These guidelines aim to encourage good practice by LEAs in relation to home educators by clearly setting out the legislative position, and by providing advice on the roles and responsibilities of LEAs and parents in relation to children who are educated at home.
Reasons for Elective Home Education
amended 1.4 Parents may opt for home education for various reasons. The reasons should not, in themselves, have a bearing on the LEA’s treatment of home-educating families since the LEA’s sole interest lies in the parents’ educational provision for their children.
1.5 When a parent offers an account of their dissatisfaction with the public system of education provision, the education authority may wish to use this information as part of its ongoing supervision of its own provision.
The law relating to Elective Home Education
2.1 The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. In England, education is compulsory , but schooling is not.
2.2 Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that:
No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.
This right is enshrined in English law. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that:
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable-
(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(b) to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
Parental rights and responsibilities
amended 2.4 Parents may decide to exercise their right to home-educate their child at any stage and there is no obligation on parents to register their child at a school, or to inform the LEA that they are educating their child at home. However, as noted above, in exercising this right parents have a duty to provide an efficient education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child. Education provided in this way satisfies s 7 of the 1996 Education Act and is equal in law to provision by education at school. Some guidance on what might be considered efficient education is set out in Section 3.15 below
amended 2.5 As part of their duty to provide complete and accurate information to the public about educational options LEAs should provide information about home education to all parents when they are choosing schools for their children. They should also specifically provide information for the parents or guardians who have chosen to home-educate (see paragraphs 4.5-4.6).
Information about the right of parents to educate their children at home should also be provided to parents when LEAs contact a family because a child is unwilling to attend school for reasons which cause the child distress and might cause them harm, such as:
- school phobia,
- inadequate provision for special needs
Information should also be provided to parents who are issued an SAO because they have not registered a child at school, but who are unaware of home education.
LEAs should make it clear to parents that if they choose to home-educate, they assume financial responsibility for their child’s education, including the cost of public examinations, and that the child must continue to receive suitable education until the end of ‘compulsory education’ (ie the last Friday in June in the academic year in which they reach age 16).
Although LEAs are not responsible for the cost of public examinations taken by home educated children, the Department would encourage LEAs to assist, both financially and practically where possible, especially in relation to access to examinations.
amended 2.6 Under Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996, LEAs can intervene only if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. This section states that:
If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.
Section 437(2) of the Act provides that the period shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.
Case law has established that LEAs should not serve a notice under
s 437(1) without first asking parents informally for information regarding their children’s education in order to assess whether it appears to the LEA that no suitable education is being provided. (Phillips v Brown, Divisional Court [20 June 1980, unreported])
2.7 Section 437(3) of the 1996 Act refers to the serving of School Attendance Orders:
(a) a parent on whom a notice has been served under subsection (1) fails to satisfy the local education authority, within the period specified in the notice, that the child is receiving suitable education, and
(b) in the opinion of the authority it is expedient that the child should attend school,
the authority shall serve on the parent an order (referred to in this Act as a "school attendance order"), in such form as may be prescribed, requiring him to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order.
2.8 The Department sees taking action under s 437 as a last resort after all reasonable avenues have been explored to bring about a resolution of the situation. At any stage following the issue of the Order, parents may present evidence to the LEA (or the court) that they are now providing an appropriate education and apply to have the Order revoked.
amended 2.9 LEAs also have a duty under Section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This section states:
A local education authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that the functions conferred upon them in their capacity as a local education authority are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.
However, Section 175(1) does not extend LEAs’ functions themselves, only states that in the course of the functions conferred upon them consideration should be given to safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare. Home education itself is not a cause for concern and section 175(1) does not, for example, give LEAs powers to enter the homes of, or otherwise see, children undertaking elective home education. Unless the LEA is aware of specific concerns, they are not required to adopt ‘welfare’ checks solely on the basis that a family is home educating and doing so is in breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
Clear policies and procedures
3.1 All LEA officers involved with home education should be aware of their roles, rights and responsibilities and be clear about the standards expected of them. Policies should be clear, transparent and easily accessible.
Amended 3.2 The Department recommends that each LEA should have a named senior officer responsible for the authority’s policies relating to elective home education. original 4.6 The LEA should also, if the parents wish, provide parents who are, or who are considering, home-educating with a named contact within the authority who is familiar with home education policy and practice and has an understanding of a range of educational philosophies.
Amended original 4.9 It may also be helpful in developing positive relationships for the ‘contact person’ within, or employed by, the LEA to be referred to as a ‘contact’ or ‘EHE contact’ rather than as an ‘adviser’, ‘inspector’, ‘examiner’ or ‘assessor’ even where the usual term may be ‘educational welfare officer’
LEAs should avoid referring to any department by the term “Education Otherwise” as this is the registered trademark of the home education charity Education Otherwise Association Ltd.
Amended 3.3 We also recommend that each LEA should have a written policy statement on home-educated children and their families, and be willing and able to provide guidance for parents and carers who request it. This policy should be compliant with statute and should not seek to impose non-statutory obligations on home educators. In addition, LEAs should organise training on the law and home education methods for all their Education Officers who have contact with home-educating families in their area.
original 4.5 The provision of clear information has an important role to play in the promotion of positive relationships. LEAs should provide written information and website links for home-educating parents that are clear and accurate and which set out the legal position, and roles and responsibilities, in an unambiguous way. We also recommend that contact details for home education support organisations should be provided. A selection of these is included in Part 5. All written information should be made available to parents in community languages and alternative formats on request.
De-registration from School
3.4 First contact between LEAs and home educators often occurs when parents decide to home educate and approach the school (at which the child is registered) and/or the authority to seek guidance about withdrawing their child from school. It is important that this initial contact is constructive and positive. However, while parents must inform the school in writing of their decision, they are not legally required to inform the LEA about their intention to home educate unless they wish to remove a child from a special school (see section 3.22 onwards).
Amended 3.5 De-registration of a child from a school is covered by section 9(1)(c) of the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995. Parents who wish to home-educate their child who is registered at a maintained school or an independent school must inform the school in writing that the child is receiving education otherwise than at school. The school shall delete the child's name from their register upon receipt of written notification from the parents, guardians or legal carer, and make a return (giving the child's name and address) to the LEA within 10 school days of removal.
Schools are required by statute to remove the child’s name from the register and do not need to seek permission from the LEA to do so. Parents are not obliged to notify the LEA, or to complete forms provided by the school or LEA.
While they must confirm parents' right to home educate when asked about it, and inform them of this right where a child is having difficulties attending school, EWOs and teachers must not pressure parents into signing a letter authorising deregistration of their children as a way of avoiding exclusion or prosecution. Similarly, this must not be done by LEAs as a way of avoiding expense for children with special needs.
Amended: Contact with Home Educating Families
3.8 Any procedures for dealing with home-educating parents and children should be compliant with statute, fair, clear, consistent and timely, in order to provide a good foundation for the development of trusting relationships. The LEA will wish to follow its own policies and procedures in this regard but the following suggestions may be helpful. LEAs should make initial contact in writing and respect parents’ preferences as to whether further contacts are by phone or by letter.
Amended 3.9 When an LEA becomes aware that a child is not registered at a school, they may choose to make informal enquiries of the parents as to what provision is being made for the child's education to determine but they are under no obligation to do so.
Amended 3.10 Where parents have notified the LEA or the LEA is otherwise made aware of a child’s being educated at home, the LEA should acknowledge the receipt of this notification and consider quickly whether there is any existing evidence, either in an authority’s own records or from other services or agencies, indicating whether there may be cause for concern. Previous irregular attendance at school is not of itself a sufficient cause for concern. In many cases, parents and their children have reached a crisis point, for example with bullying, and children who are taken out of school in distress should be given time to recover and should not be subject to an investigation under the Common Assessment Framework.
Specific instances where there may be concerns include:
where a child has been referred to social services or the police for child protection reasons, and the matter is being investigated
where a child is on the child protection register
where the child is the subject of a supervision order
In these cases the LEA should immediately refer these concerns to the appropriate authorities using established protocols.
Otherwise, the LEA should assume that efficient educational provision is taking place, which is suitable for the child, unless there is evidence to the contrary. There is no express requirement in the 1996 Act, or any other legislation, for LEAs to investigate actively whether parents are complying with their duties under Section 7.
Providing an “efficient and suitable” full-time education
3.12 Parents are required to provide an efficient education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child. An “efficient” and “suitable” education is not defined in the Education Act 1996 but “efficient” has been broadly described as an education that “achieves that which it sets out to achieve”, and a “suitable” education is one that “primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so”.
Amended 3.13 There is no legal definition of “full-time”. The measurement of ‘contact time’ is not relevant to home education where there is far more one-to-one contact, where education takes place outside ‘normal school hours’, and where the type of educational activity can be varied and flexible. It should be borne in mind that home-educating parents are not required to:
teach the National Curriculum
have a timetable
have premises equipped to any particular standard
mark work done by their child
set hours during which education will take place
have any qualifications
cover the same syllabus as any school
make detailed plans in advance
observe school hours, days or terms
give formal lessons
reproduce school type peer group socialisation
match school, age-specific standards.
However, LEAs should offer advice and support to parents on these matters if requested.
3.14 An important point to note is that there are many, equally valid, approaches to educational provision. LEAs should therefore consider a wide range of information from home educating parents. The way in which parents provide information is entirely up to them.
original 4.3 Parents’ educational provision will reflect a diversity of approaches and interests. Some parents, , may wish to provide education in a formal and structured manner, following a traditional curriculum and using a fixed timetable that keeps to school hours and terms. Other parents may decide to make more informal provision that is responsive to the developing interests of their child. One approach is not necessarily any more efficient or effective than another. Although some parents may welcome general advice and suggestions about resources, methods and materials, LEAs should not specify a curriculum which parents must follow.
original 4.4 Children learn in different ways and at different times and speeds. It should be appreciated that parents and their children might require a period of adjustment before finding their preferred mode of learning. Parents are not required to have any qualifications or training to provide their children with an appropriate education. Their commitment to providing an efficient education that is suitable for their child may be demonstrated by them providing some indication of their objectives and resources.
Enquiries About Suitable Provision
original 3.11 , If information exists which may cast doubt on whether an “efficient and suitable education” is being provided, the LEA should seek to gather any relevant information that will assist them in reaching a properly informed judgement. This should include seeking from the parents any information that they wish to provide explaining how they are providing a suitable education for their child(ren) and the parents should be given the opportunity to address any specific concerns that the authority has. The child should also be given the opportunity, but not required, to attend any meeting that may be arranged or express his or her views in some other way. The sections below apply to these situations.
Amended 3.15 In any consideration of parents’ provision of education at home, LEAs may reasonably expect the provision to include the following characteristics, while understanding that not all may be obvious at any one time:
consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers – it is expected that parents or significant carers would play a substantial role, although not necessarily constantly or actively involved in providing education
an indication that the parents have thought through their reasons for home educating and what they hope to achieve
signs of commitment, and recognition of the child’s needs, aptitudes and aspirations
opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
involvement in activities – providing opportunity for involvement in relevant activities access to appropriate resources/materials to help meet the objectives of the parents and child and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and other adults
Amended 3.16 If, on considering information supplied by the parent, the LEA still has grounds for believing that that an efficient and suitable education is not being provided, the LEA may choose to ask for further information. A full written report on the findings should be made and copied to the parents promptly, specifying the grounds for concern and any reasons for concluding that provision is unsuitable. If the authority is not satisfied that it appears that an efficient education is being provided, and the parents, having been given a reasonable opportunity to show that the LEA is mistaken or to improve their provision and report back to the education authority, have not done so, the authority should consider instituting formal attendance procedures in accordance with the provisions of Section 437 of the Education Act 1996. However, before starting such proceedings it is good practice to offer parents a second opinion on their educational provision. Where LEAs have a 'second opinion policy,' the necessity for SAOs, with the consequent expense and distress, may be reduced. Parents' requests for a second opinion should be met.
Although there is no statutory right to appeal against an authority’s decisions relating to home education, all decisions should be reviewed internally on request. Education authorities should provide parents with details about their complaints procedure and how to apply for a review of a decision about their home education provision. Certain aspects of decisions made by authorities are also subject to external review by the local ombudsman and by the Courts through the judicial review process. Some local authorities have mediation services and the existence of these should be made known to home educating families.
Good Practice for Enquiries
Amended 3.17 Parents are not legally required to give the LEA access to their home or their child. Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires respect for the privacy of home and family life, and it should be remembered that where parents choose not to allow access this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the education being provided. Parents may, for example, choose to meet a LEA representative at a mutually convenient and neutral location, or may choose not to meet at all. If the LEA chooses to approach a family and ask for information, parents can provide information that a child is receiving an efficient and suitable education in a number of ways. It should be in any form sufficient enough to convince a reasonable person on a balance of probabilities only of its appropriateness for the child’s age, aptitude and ability. Parents might, for example:
write a report
provide samples of work
invite a LEA advisor/consultant to their home, with or without the child being present
meet a LEA advisor/consultant elsewhere, with or without the child
have the educational provision endorsed by a recognized third party
provide information in any other appropriate form.
Amended 3.18 A written report should be made after any contact with a family and copied to the family stating whether the education authority has any concerns about the education provision. Where there are concerns about the efficiency or suitability of the education being provided for the child, further contact may be required. Where concerns merit further contact, the authority should discuss these concerns with the child’s parents, with a view to helping them improve their provision in the best interests of the child.
School Attendance Orders
Amended 3.19 In exceptional circumstances, where an LEA finds that there is specific and demonstrable cause to consider that educational provision is not suitable, where no further progress can be made through dialogue, and where a second opinion confirms the initial concern, the LEA will need to take a view. If it appears to the LEA, on the balance of probabilities, that a suitable education is not being provided, then it should serve a notice on the parent under Section 437(1) of the 1996 Education Act requiring the parent to satisfy it that the provision is suitable within 15 days. This is a final chance for the parents to answer the specific concerns of the authority. Failure to do so would mean that the LEA would have to consider if it was in the best interest of the child to issue a School Attendance Order as described in sections 437-441 of the 1996 Education Act.
Amended 3.20 An SAO continues to be in force for as long as the child is of compulsory school age unless it is revoked. Parents may apply for it to be revoked at any time because arrangements have been made for the child to receive education otherwise than at school, and the LEA must comply with this request unless these arrangements are not suitable. If there is a continued failure to register the child at the named school, a prosecution can be brought for failure to comply with the SAO. The parent's only defence is to prove to the court that they are now providing a suitable education through their 'otherwise' provision. If successful, the court can direct that the SAO be revoked. If the parents fail to convince the court, they should then send their child to the school named in the order. Continued failure to comply would then be a matter for the court.
Additional options at this stage could include an application in the Family Proceedings Court for an Education Supervision Order (ESO - under Section36(5)a of the Children Act 1989). Parents have an opportunity at such hearings to show that they are now providing a suitable education, and such evidence would require the revocation of the SAO as well as the failure of the ESO. Where an ESO is in force with respect to a child, the duties of the child’s parents under section 7 and 444 of the Education Act 1996 (duties to secure education of children and to secure regular attendance of registered pupils) are superseded by their duty to comply with any directions in force under the ESO. However, an ESO does not preclude home education; a child for whom an ESO is in force for truanting, for instance, may start home educating while under the care of an EWO.
3.21 Parents' wishes to educate their children at home should be respected and, wherever possible, efforts should be made to resolve issues about provision by a process of ongoing dialogue before Section 437(3) is invoked as a last resort. In all efforts to improve the educational provision offered to a child, the Human Rights Act principle of proportionality should be observed. Only in extreme cases, where the education is clearly not efficient and suited to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, should a SAO be served (see paragraph 2.6 to 2.8 above). More information about School Attendance Orders is contained in Ensuring Regular School Attendance paragraphs 6 to 16 -
(available at www.dfes.gov.uk/schoolattendance/prosecutions/index.cfm ).
Children with Special Educational Needs
Amended 3.22 Parents' right to educate their child(ren) at home applies equally where a child has special educational needs (SEN). There is no discrimination against these children under s7 of the Education Act 1996 which states that the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable) to his age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. Some children with special educational needs have statements but others do not.
Amended 3.23 Where a child has a statement of special educational needs and is educated at home by the parents, the statement will remain in force and be reviewed annually. The parents must make suitable provision for the child’s special needs, although due to the change in the child’s educational setting, this provision may differ from that outlined in the statement
In some circumstances the child's special needs may be related to the educational setting and in these cases the child's needs may be met at home by the parents without the need for continuing LEA oversight. In this situation it may be more appropriate to cease to maintain the statement and this should be considered at annual review.
Amended 3.24 If the parents’ arrangements are suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude, and any special educational needs the child may have, then the LEA is relieved of its duty to arrange the provision specified in the statement. If, however, the parents’ attempts. to educate the child at home result in provision that falls short of meeting the child's needs, then the parents are not making 'suitable arrangements' and the LEA could not conclude that they were absolved of their responsibility to arrange the provision in the statement. In some cases a combination of provision by parents and LEA may best meet the child’s needs.
Parents do not need to make the provision specified in the statement, but need only provide an efficient education suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs the child may have, as defined in s. 7 of the education act 1996.
3.25 Even if the LEA is satisfied, it remains under a duty to maintain the statement and review it annually, following procedures set out in Chapter 9 of the SEN Code of Practice. Where the LEA is satisfied that the child's parents have made suitable arrangements it does not have to name a school in part 4 of the child's statement though it should state the type of school it considers appropriate and go on to state that "parents have made their own arrangements under section 7 of the Education Act 1996".
It may be appropriate, once it is established that the child’s special needs are being met without any additional support from the LEA, to give consideration to ceasing to maintain the statement, if the parents agree.
Amended 3.26 Good practice suggests that the statement should also specify any provision that the LEA has agreed to make under section 319 to help parents to provide suitable education for their child at home. If the child to be de-registered is a pupil at a special school, the school must inform the LEA before the child's name can be deleted from the school roll so that the LEA can ensure extra support and a smooth transition in accessing services. There should, however, be no delay in removing the child’s name from the register. It may then be appropriate to amend part 4 of the statement at the next review.
3.27 A parent who is educating their child at home may ask the LEA to carry out a statutory assessment of their child's special educational needs and the LEA must consider the request within the same statutory timescales and in the same way as for all other requests. The views of the designated medical officer for SEN should be sought by the LEA where a child with a statement is educated at home because of difficulties related to health needs or a disability.
Relevant references in the 1996 Education Act:
Section 324 (4) of the Education Act 1996
"the statement [of special educational needs] shall specify any provision for the child for which they make arrangements under section 319 and which they consider should be specified in the statement.”
Section 324(4A) of the Education Act 1996
"does not require the name of a school or institution to be specified [in a child's statement] if the child's parent has made suitable arrangements"
Section 324(5)(a) of the Education Act 1996
"Where a local education authority maintain a statement then, unless the child's parent has made suitable arrangements, the authority (i) shall arrange that the special educational provision specified in the statement is made for the child, and (ii) may arrange that any non-educational provision specified in the statement is made for him in such a manner as they consider appropriate."
4.10 The welfare and protection of all children, both those who attend school and those who are educated by other means, are of paramount concern and the responsibility of the whole community. As with school-educated children, child protection issues may arise in relation to home-educated children. If any child protection concerns come to light in the course of engagement with children and families, or otherwise, these concerns should immediately be referred to the appropriate authorities using established protocols. Unless the LEA is aware of specific concerns, they must not adopt ‘welfare’ checks solely on the basis that a family is home educating.
Amended 4.11 In terms of safeguarding the welfare of children who are educated at home by parents, all agencies should work together in accordance with the principles in 'Working Together to Safeguard Children' (Home Office/Department of Health/DfES/Welsh Office, 1999) and any concerns should be referred to the appropriate agencies.
4.12 Concerns may arise where a child has been referred to social services or the police for child protection reasons and the matter is under investigation, or where a child is on the child protection register, or where the child is the subject of a supervision order. LEAs may also apply to the Court for a child assessment under the Children Act 1989, if they have reasonable cause to do so for child protection reasons.
4.13 Parents may choose to employ other people to educate their child, though they themselves will continue to be responsible for the education provided. They will also be responsible for ensuring that those whom they engage are suitable persons to have access to children. Parents may therefore wish to satisfy themselves by taking up appropriate references. A small number of LEAs choose to assist home-educating parents in this task by undertaking Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks free of charge, for example, on independent home tutors. Tutors employed by an LEA may also undertake work for home-educating parents, in which case, CRB checks ought to have been made already.
Reviewing policies and procedures
4.15 Authorities will wish to review all of their procedures and practices in relation to home education on a regular basis to see if improvements can be made to further develop relationships and meet the needs of children and parents. Home education organisations and home-educating parents should be given the opportunity to be involved in this process of review. Effective reviews, together with the sensitive handling of any complaints, will help to secure effective partnership in formulating policy.
4.16 LEAs will also wish to bear in mind that Ofsted will report on the way local authorities cater for home-educating families within their areas.
Support and resources
5.1 When parents elect to home-educate their children they assume financial responsibility for their children’s education. There are a number of sources of advice and practical assistance available to such parents. The Department for Education and Skills provides an information sheet for parents on elective home education, available from the Department's website at: www.parentcentre.gov.uk.
5.2 LEAs do not receive funding to support home educated families, and the level of support will therefore vary between one LEA and another. However, we recommend that all LEAs should adopt a reasonable and flexible approach in this respect, particularly where there are minimal resource implications. As a minimum, LEAs should provide written information (which is also available through the internet) on home education that is clear and accurate and which sets out the legal position (see previous paragraphs 4.5-4.6). LEAs may also be able to offer additional support to home educating parents such as the following:
Provision of a reading or lending library with resources for use with the children, on home education and related topics
Free, or discounted, admission into community programmes (including local authority owned community and sports facilities)
Access to resource centres (including local school resources where feasible)
National Curriculum materials and curricula offered by other educational institutions
Information about educational visits and work experience
Access to qualifications by providing exam centres and provision of fees for exams
The National Curriculum
5.3 Although home-educated children are not legally required to follow the National Curriculum it is thought that a number do, . National Curriculum tests and assessment arrangements are developed and administered by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) on behalf of the Secretary of State. Information to support these arrangements is provided both electronically and in hard copy through the QCA's website at www.qca.org.uk or by telephoning their publications office on 01787 884 444.
5.4 In addition, the DfES's website at www.dfes.gov.uk will allow access to the National Curriculum and associated schemes of work, aimed at setting
standards across all schools. Some documents are also distributed via Departmental publications which can be accessed through links on The Stationery Office site at www.the-stationery-office.co.uk or by telephoning Prolog on 0845 602 2260.
Amended 5.5 The Connexions Service is available for all children and young people aged 13-19 years living in England (see www.connexions.gov.uk). Its services and responsibilities cover children and young people who are being educated at home. The LEA is a key partner in a local Connexions Partnership and each must review how it will bring coherence to the different services and agencies within the area. LEAs may be asked (as partners of Connexions) to provide details of children and young people being home educated; the Learning and Skills Act 2000 gives powers for various partners to share information with Connexions, subject to normal data protection principles. It is important that any contact with home educators is invitational only and that it is made explicit that it is entirely up to the parents and the child whether they become involved with the Connexions Service.
5.6 “Flexi-schooling” or “flexible school attendance” is an arrangement between the parent and the school where the child is registered at school in the normal way but where the child attends the school only part time; the rest of the time the child is home-educated (effectively on authorised absence from school). . "Flexi-schooling" is a legal option provided that the head teacher at the school concerned agrees to the arrangement. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of "flexi-schooling" are referred to on the Home Education UK's website at www.home-education.org.uk/articles-flexi-school.htm
LEAs’ role in supporting work experience
5.7 Work experience is not a statutory requirement. However, the Government’s objective is for all Key Stage 4 pupils to undertake work experience in the last two years of compulsory schooling. Over 95% of Key Stage 4 pupils go on placements each year. The law relating to the employment of children generally places statutory restrictions and prohibitions on employers in this regard. But where the employment is in accordance with arrangements made by an LEA or a governing body these restrictions will generally not apply where the work experience is arranged only with a view to providing pupils with work experience as part of their education in their last two years of compulsory schooling.
5.8 Children educated at home have no entitlement to participate in work experience under arrangements made by an LEA but we wish to encourage LEAs to assist the parents of such children who wish to do so to pursue work experience through such arrangements. Where home-educated children do participate in such schemes, consideration should be given to the extent to which such children are covered by, for example, insurance provision.
5.9 Schools and LEAs have a prime responsibility for ensuring pupils are placed in a safe environment for their work experience. Employers are responsible for carrying out risk assessments in respect of young people on work experience placements as if they were members of their staff.
Education Maintenance Allowance
5.10 Education Maintenance Allowance is a means-tested grant available to learners over the age of 16, if they stay on in education at school or college after GCSEs. It is not available to learners whose parents elect to educate them at home.
5.11 When planning and running truancy sweeps, LEAs should refer to the the Home Office guidance "Police Power to Remove Truants" which is available at www.dfes.gov.uk/schoolattendance/truancysweeps.
Amended 5.12 Those taking part in the sweeps, including police officers, should be fully familiar with the Home Office guidance. They should be aware that there is a range of valid reasons why school-age children may be out of school. In particular, they should be aware that home-educated children are not the target group for these sweeps and must be allowed to go on their way without being asked for their details, in accordance with the guidance. No action should be taken where children indicate that they are home educated unless the constable has reason to doubt that this is the case. A refusal to provide name and address should not be considered to be reasonable cause to believe that a child is absent from school without authority if the child or their parent indicates that the child is home educated.
5.13 LEAs should be sensitive to the distinct ethos and needs of traveller communities. The duty of LEAs to act if it appears that a suitable education is not being provided. applies equally to Traveller children residing with their families on temporary or unauthorised sites. Although Travelling children of school age have the same legal right to education as anyone else, it is obviously practically difficult to claim or seek these rights without a permanent or legal place to stop. Therefore, when a Traveller family with children of school age move into an area they are strongly encouraged to contact the local Traveller Education Support Service for assistance. Most LEAs provide such a support service.
5.14 Traveller children can be educated at home in the same way as other home-educated children. However, particular care may be required in the handling of Traveller children in view of their communities’ culture and lifestyle. So, for example, before deciding to prosecute the parents for failing to provide a “suitable and efficient” education for their children, the LEA should consider whether it would be appropriate to take the alternative route of making an application in the family proceedings court for an education supervision order (ESO) which would last one year and would enable a supervisor or education social worker to advise, assist and befriend both the child and the parents. Where an ESO is in force with respect to a child, the duties of the child’s parents under section 7 and 444 of the Education Act 1996 (duties to secure education of children and to secure regular attendance of registered pupils) are superseded by their duty to comply with any directions in force under the ESO.
5.15 Further guidance can be obtained from the DfES Guide to Good Practice on the education of Traveller children – “Aiming High: Raising the Achievement of Gypsy Traveller Pupils” which can be obtained from DfES Publications (reference DfES/0443/2003). Another (external) source of information is www.gypsy-traveller.org/education/.
Examples of good practice
The following information sets out some of the options available to home-educating families who wish to provide opportunities for their children to study for recognised qualifications. This is not an exhaustive list, but sets out the main options available and provides contact details for relevant organisations. Please note that the following information is also liable to change from time to time.
Enrolment at a Further Education College
Some colleges may, at the discretion of the Principal, be willing to accept children of school age for full and part-time courses. This approach has the advantage that all the work and entry for qualifications is organised by the college, but it does require at least some attendance at classes which will not appeal to all home-educating families. If a student enrols at a FE college, their parents will normally be liable to pay all of the course fees themselves unless the education authority or the Learning and Skills Council are willing to provide funding. Colleges also have the discretion to waive fees, which they may do for low income families.
Many home educating families prefer not to enrol for attendance at a further education college but choose instead to work independently towards recognised qualifications. Because of compulsory internal assessment components, there are many subjects and qualifications which are not available to external candidates unless an appropriate arrangement can be made with an approved centre which meets with the examining board’s requirements. Some centres and examining boards may be willing to accept coursework which has been marked and authenticated by a private tutor. Thus, families who study for qualifications from home will need to:
contact the relevant examination board to find out about their requirements;
register with an approved centre for their child to be presented for the qualification; and
pay a registration fee for each subject their child will take.
It may also be possible for a group of home educators to consider seeking approved status in their own right.
Correspondence courses can be an option for students who prefer to work independently, though they will be required in most cases to follow a structured curriculum and programme of work. Correspondence courses offer a wide range of qualifications at different levels and the organisations offering these courses will advise about arrangements which need to be made for registering with an examination centre and for marking and authenticating coursework. The cost of this option varies depending on the organisation and the qualification chosen, but can prove expensive.
There are an increasing number of organisations offering open and distance learning courses. The following contacts provide a useful start in finding a suitable course and organisation:
The Open and Distance Learning Quality Council (ODLQC) is an independent body which accredits open and distance learning courses. The ODLQC produces a free information leaflet which lists all approved organisations and their courses. Contact:
16 Park Crescent, London, W1B 1AH
Tel: 020 7612 7090 Fax: 020 7612 7092.
The Association of British Correspondence Colleges (ABCC) is a voluntary association of colleges which comply with a code of ethics. Contact:
PO Box 17926, London SW19 3WB
Tel: 020 8544 9559 Fax: 020 8540 7657.
The British Association for Open Learning (BAOL) promotes quality and best practice in open, flexible and distance forms of learning. BAOL members work to a code of practice for open learning and are listed on the BAOL website. Contact:
Suite 12, Pixmore House, Pixmore Avenue, Letchworth, Hertfordshire, SG6 1JG
Tel: 01462 485 588 Fax: 01462 485 633
The internal assessment component of many UK qualification courses such as Standard Grades, National Qualifications and GCSEs can restrict the choice available to home educated students. The following qualifications have, however, been identified as particularly suited to home study students as they are not dependent on internal assessment and moderation.
National Christian Schools Certificate (NCSC)
The National Christian Schools' Certificate (NCSC) provides a graduated series of
certificates, ranging from Level 1, which is equivalent to 5 GCSEs (grades A*-C), through Level 2, which equivalent to 2 AS/A2 passes, and culminating with Level 3, which is equivalent to 3 AS/A2 passes (grades A-C). There is also an Honours Certificate, which is awarded to pupils who show exceptional performance.
Examinations are conducted at home under the supervision of parents, but the NCSC Board has strict moderation procedures to ensure the validity of results. The course is highly structured and requires a minimum pass mark of 80 per cent for each module test. During the course of 2004, the NCSC is to be superseded by the International Certificate of Christian Education, which will have very similar content and standards to the NCSC Certificate programme.
Contact: The European Academy for Christian Homeschooling (TEACH)
Marantha House, Unit 5, Northford Close, Shrivenham, Swindon,
Wiltshire, SN6 8HL
Tel: 01793 783783 Fax: 01793 783775
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA)
The AQA is one of three unitary examining bodies in England incorporating the now merged Associated Examining Board and the Northern Examinations and Assessment Board. The AQA also has responsibility for the City and Guilds' GNVQ qualification.
Contact: AQA, Devas Street, Manchester, M15 6EX
Tel: 0161 953 1180 Fax: 0161 273 7572
Oxford Cambridge & RSA (OCR)
OCR is one of three unitary examining bodies in England incorporating the RSA (Royal Society of Arts), UCLES (University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate), and MEG (Midland Examining Group).
Contact: OCR Information Bureau, General Qualifications:
1 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB1 2EU
Tel: 01223 553998 Fax: 01223 552627
OCR Information Bureau, Vocational Qualifications:
Progress House, Westwood Way, Coventry, CV4 8JQ
Tel: 024 7647 0033
Fax: 024 7646 8080
Edexcel was formed in 1996 by the merger of BTEC and the University of London
Examinations and Assessment Council (ULEAC). Edexcel is one of the main examination boards for England and Wales.
Contact: Edexcel, Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5DN
Tel: 0870 240 9800 Fax: 020 7758 6920
Education Otherwise Association Limited
Nationwide charity for home education information and support. Provides an advice line for parents and LEAs, a network of local and specialist contacts to support families, and produces a range of books and information leaflets. Subscription of £20 also entitles members to receive a handbook, UK and overseas contact list, bi-monthly newsletter, a membership card giving access to educational discounts, access to further resources, special interest and local groups and national gatherings
Address: PO Box 7420
Helpline: 0870 7300 074
Home Education Advisory Service
HEAS produces a range of publications and leaflets on different aspects of home education. Annual subscription [currently £12] gives access to the Advice-line, quarterly magazine, card for educational discounts, resources for loan and a regional list of other subscribers.
Address: P.O. Box 98
Welwyn Garden City
Helpline: 01707 371854
Home Education UK
Home Education Resources
The Home Service – a national Christian home education group
Christian Home School
Muddle Puddle – an independent site focusing on learning for 0-8 year olds
DfES related links:
Education of Sick Children
Ethnic Minority Achievement Project
Vulnerable Children Grant
Exclusions and Alternative Provision
Looked after children