To: Director of Children’s Services
Lead Member for Children and Young People
January 19, 2009
Independent Review of Home Education
Today, Baroness Morgan, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Children, Young People and Families announced an independent review of home education in England. I am delighted that she has asked me to lead this review.
I know you and your staff are committed to ensuring that all children are able to achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes. However, we know that some colleagues feel that they are not able to ensure that all home educated children are able to do so. The Secretary of State has asked me to investigate if and how far children who are educated at home are able to achieve the five outcomes; assess the effectiveness of current arrangements for ensuring their safety, welfare and education; highlight good practice; and, if necessary, make recommendations for improvements. The review’s terms of reference are attached to this letter.
Over the next three months I will gather views and evidence primarily through interviews with key stakeholders such as local authority staff, home educating parents and home educated children and their representative groups, and other relevant organisations. There will also be a public call for evidence. I will also examine research evidence and review the law and guidance.
I very much need your assistance to ensure we know the full spectrum of practice across the country. With that in mind, I would ask that you complete a questionnaire about your arrangements for supporting and monitoring home educating families. The questionnaire can be found at: http://www.myopinion.org.uk/dcsf/homeeducation/index.cfm. We ask that you respond by Friday 6th February. Completion of the questionnaire is entirely voluntary and responses will be confidential. The questionnaire also asks whether you would be willing to participate in more in-depth work. I intend to look at a small number of local authorities in more detail, investigating key aspects of their practice and interviewing members of staff. Again, participation is entirely voluntary and, should you be selected, completely confidential. Interviews will take place in February and March. I shall report to the Secretary of State in May 2009 when I will publish my full report.
I very much appreciate your taking the time to support this important review and I look forward to hearing from you in February. Should you wish to discuss this work with me further, please contact Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chair, Independent Review of Home Education
Review of Elective Home Education
Terms of Reference
Background and Rationale
The Department is committed to ensuring that systems for keeping children safe, and ensuring that they receive a suitable education, are as robust as possible. An independent review of home education is part of this continuing commitment.
Parents have a well established right to educate their children at home and Government respects that right. There are no plans to change that position.
However, where local authorities have concerns about the safety and welfare, or education, of a home educated child, effective systems must be in place to deal with those concerns. The review will assess the effectiveness of current arrangements and will, if necessary, make recommendations for improvements.
Terms of reference
The review of home education will investigate:
• The barriers to local authorities and other public agencies in carrying out their responsibilities for safeguarding home educated children and advise on improvements to ensure that the five Every Child Matters outcomes are being met for home educated children;
• The extent to which claims of home education could be used as a ‘cover’ for child abuse such as neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude and advise on measures to prevent this;
• Whether local authorities are providing the right type, level and balance of support to home educating families to ensure they are undertaking their duties to provide a suitable full time education to their children;
• Whether any changes to the current regime for monitoring the standard of home education are needed to support the work of parents, local authorities and other partners in ensuring all children achieve the Every Child Matters outcomes.
The review will be conducted over 4 months, starting in January 2009 and concluding in April 2009 with a published report in May 2009. Ministers will then consider whether any further work is required on any aspect of home education, on the basis of the findings contained in the review report.
The Review will focus on practice in England but may consider relevant material from the devolved administrations within the UK and elsewhere.
The review will be led by Graham Badman, former Managing Director, Children, Families and Education in Kent. It will:
• Map existing practice and consider the effectiveness of different practice – including identifying best practice - in England and elsewhere in monitoring home education from an Every Child Matters perspective;
• Identify what evidence there is that claims of home education are, or could be, used as a ‘cover’ for child abuse under current monitoring practice;
• Consider evidence of the effectiveness of current monitoring practice contained in Serious Case Reviews, Joint Area Reviews and other relevant inspections and reviews;
• Seek evidence on how the systems operate in practice from key stakeholders including home education groups, home educating families, local authorities and children’s charities;
• Identify areas for improvement and make recommendations for any changes to strengthen current arrangements.
The review will gather views and evidence through a literature review, a review of the law and guidance and a series of interviews with key stakeholders representing the range of interests. It will consider how effectively arrangements are currently operating, focusing on the operation of systems and procedures and not on individual cases. The review team will contact key stakeholders and invite submissions. Other stakeholders who wish to contribute can do so by going to www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/ete/homeeducation.
The review will also consider the views of stakeholders gathered as part of the recent public consultation on the statutory guidance on children not receiving a suitable education.