Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities
Ministerial Foreword 2
Reasons for elective home education 3
The law relating to elective home education 4
Parental rights and responsibilities 4
Local authorities’ responsibilities 5
Clear policies and procedures 8
Contact with parents and children 8
Withdrawal from school to elective home educate 9
Providing a full-time education 10
Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) 11
Developing relationships 13
Acknowledging diversity 13
Providing information for parents 13
Reviewing policies and procedures 15
Support and resources 16
The National Curriculum 16
Connexions Service 17
Local authorities’ role in supporting work experience 17
Education maintenance allowance 18
Truancy sweeps 18
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children 18
Gifted and talented children 18
Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities
Education is a fundamental right for every child and we recognise that parents have the right to choose to educate their child at home rather than at school. These guidelines have been prepared to help local authorities manage their relationships with home educating parents.
Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children receive a suitable education. Where parents have chosen to home educate, we want the home educated child to have a positive experience. We believe this is best achieved where parents and local authorities recognise each others rights and responsibilities, and work together. These guidelines aim to clarify the balance between the right of the parent to educate their child at home and the responsibilities of the local
Jim Knight Andrew Adonis
Minister of State for Schools and Learners Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools
1.1 Elective home education is the term used by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to describe parents’ decisions to provide education for their children at home instead of sending them to school. This is different to home tuition provided by a local authority or education provided by a local authority other than at a school. These guidelines are intended for use in relation to elective home education only. Throughout these guidelines, ‘parents’ should be taken to include all those with parental responsibility, including guardians and carers.
1.2 Children whose parents elect to educate them at home are not registered at mainstream schools, special schools, independent schools, academies, Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), colleges, children’s homes with education facilities or education facilities provided by independent fostering agencies. Some parents may choose to engage private tutors or other adults to assist them in providing a suitable education, but there is no requirement for them to do so. Learning may take place in a variety of locations, not just in the family home.
1.3 The purpose of these guidelines is to support local authorities in carrying out their statutory responsibilities and to encourage good practice by clearly setting out the legislative position, and the roles and responsibilities of local authorities and parents in relation to children who are educated at home.
Reasons for elective home education
1.4 Parents may choose home education for a variety of reasons. The local authority’s primary interest should lie in the suitability of parents’ education provision and not their reason for doing so. The following reasons for home educating are common, but by no means exhaustive:
�� distance or access to a local school
�� religious or cultural beliefs
�� philosophical or ideological views
�� dissatisfaction with the system
�� as a short term intervention for a particular reason
�� a child’s unwillingness or inability to go to school
�� special educational needs
�� parents’ desire for a closer relationship with their children.
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 school 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.”
Parents have a right to educate their children at home. 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.”
2.3 The responsibility for a child’s education rests with his or her parents. An “efficient” and “suitable” education is not defined in the Education Act 1996 but “efficient” has been broadly described in case law1 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”.
Parental rights and responsibilities
2.4 Parents may decide to exercise their right to home educate their child from a very early age and so the child may not have been previously enrolled at school. They may also elect to home educate at any other stage up to the end of compulsory school age. Parents are not required to register or seek approval from the local authority to educate their children at home. Parents who choose to educate their children at home must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility, including bearing the cost of any public examinations. However, local authorities are encouraged to provide support where resources permit – see section 5.
(1) Mr Justice Woolf in the case of R v Secretary of State for Education and Science, ex parte Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School Trust (12 April 1985)
Parents must also ensure that their children receive suitable full-time education for as long as they are being educated at home.
Local authorities’ responsibilities
2.5 The DCSF recommends that each local authority provides written information about
elective home education that is clear, accurate and sets out the legal position, roles and responsibilities of both the local authority and parents. This information should be made available on local authority websites and in local community languages and alternative formats on request. Local authorities should recognise that there are many approaches to educational provision, not just a “school at home” model. What is suitable for one child may not be for another, but all children should be involved in a learning process.
2.6 Local authorities have a statutory duty under section 436A of the Education Act 1996, inserted by the Education and Inspections Act 2006, to make arrangements to enable them to establish the identities, so far as it is possible to do so, of children in their area who are not receiving a suitable education. The duty applies in relation to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, and who are not receiving a suitable education otherwise than being at school (for example, at home, privately, or in alternative provision).
The guidance issued makes it clear that the duty does not apply to children who are being educated at home. (2)
2.7 Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis. However, under Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996, local authorities shall intervene 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.
2.8 Prior to serving a notice under section 437(1), local authorities are encouraged to address the situation informally. The most obvious course of action if the local authority has information that makes it appear that parents are not providing a suitable education, would be to ask parents for further information about the education they are providing. Such a request is not the same as a notice under section 437(1), and is not necessarily a precursor for formal procedures. Parents are under no duty to respond to such enquiries, but it would be sensible for them to do so.
2 Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities in England to Identify Children not Receiving Education available at http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/ete/childrenmissingeducation/.
3 Phillips v Brown (1980)
2.9 Section 437(3) 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.”
2.10 A school attendance order should be served after all reasonable steps have been taken to try to resolve the situation. At any stage following the issue of the Order, parents may present evidence to the local authority that they are now providing an appropriate education and apply to have the Order revoked. If the local authority refuses to revoke the Order, parents can choose to refer the matter to the Secretary of State. If the local authority prosecutes the parents for not complying with the Order, then it will be for a court to decide whether or not the education being provided is suitable and efficient. The court can revoke the Order if it is satisfied that the parent is fulfilling his or her duty. It can also revoke the Order where it imposes an education supervision order. Detailed information about school attendance orders is contained in Ensuring Regular School Attendance paragraphs 6 to 16.4
2.11 Where the authority imposes a time limit, every effort should be made to make sure that both the parents and the named senior officer with responsibility for elective home education in the local authority are available throughout this period. In particular the Department recommends that the time limit does not expire during or near to school holidays when there may be no appropriate point of contact for parents within the local authority.
2.12 Local authorities 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.”
Section 175(1) does not extend local authorities’ functions. It does not, for example, give local authorities powers to enter the homes of, or otherwise see, children for the purposes of monitoring the provision of elective home education.
4 Available at www.dcsf.gov.uk/schoolattendance/prosecutions/index.cfm From January 2008 the guidance will be entitled Ensuring Children’s Right to Education; Guidance on the Legal Measures available to Secure Regular School Attendance. A notice given under s.437(1) must be a period of not less than 15 days. An Order continues in force as long as the child is of compulsory school age unless amended by the LA or revoked (s.437(4)).
2.13 The Children Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”) provides the legislative framework for developing children’s services as detailed in Every Child Matters: Change for Children. The background and aims of Every Child Matters can be found on its dedicated website6. Section 10 of the 2004 Act sets out a statutory framework for cooperation arrangements to be made by local authorities with a view to improving the well-being of children in their area.
2.14 Section 11 of the 2004 Act sets out the arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. However, this section does not place any additional duties or responsibilities on local authorities over and above section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002. Statutory Guidance on Making Arrangements to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children under section 11 of the Children Act 2004 has been updated and published in April 20077.
2.15 As outlined above, local authorities have general duties to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (section 175 Education Act 2002 in relation to their functions as a local authority and for other functions in sections 10 and 11 of the Children Act 2004). These powers allow local authorities to insist on seeing children in order to enquire about their welfare where there are grounds for concern (sections 17 and 47 of the Children Act 1989). However, such powers do not bestow on local authorities the ability to see and question children subject to elective home education in order to establish whether they are receiving a suitable education.
2.16 Section 53 of the 2004 Act sets out the duty on local authorities to, where reasonably practicable, take into account the child’s wishes and feelings with regard to the provision of services. Section 53 does not extend local authorities’ functions. It does not, for example, place an obligation on local authorities to ascertain the child’s wishes about elective home education as it is not a service provided by the local authority.
2.17 Section 12 of the 2004 Act and the regulations, made under this section (which came into force on 1 August 2007), provide the legal framework for the operation and maintenance of ContactPoint, due for deployment, initially to the “Early Adopter” local authorities in the North-West of England in September/October 2008, and to all other local authorities and national partners between January and May 2009. ContactPoint will contain only basic demographic and contact information, including the place where the child is educated, on all children in England, which will enable local authorities to identify and contact one another easily and quickly, so they can, where appropriate, provide a coordinated response to a child’s needs. Further information about ContactPoint is available on the Every Child Matters website8.
6 Available at www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/
8 Available at www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/contactpoint
Clear policies and procedures
3.1 The DCSF recommends that each local authority should have a written policy statement on elective home education, and be willing and able to provide guidance for parents who request it. Local authorities should also provide clear details of their complaints procedure and deal with any complaints in a sensitive and timely manner. The DCSF also recommends that local authorities should regularly review their elective home education policies so that they reflect current law and are compatible with these guidelines. It is recommended that local authorities seek input from home educating families and home education organisations in developing their elective home education policies. Home education organisations’ contact details may be found through an internet search Paragraphs 4.10 to 4.11 cover reviews of policies and procedures.
3.2 All parties involved in elective home education should be aware of their roles, rights and responsibilities. Local authorities’ policies should be clear, transparent and easily accessible. Any procedures for dealing with home educating parents and children should be fair, clear, consistent, non-intrusive and timely, in order to provide a good foundation for the development of trusting relationships.
3.3 The DCSF recommends that each local authority should have a named senior officer with responsibility for elective home education policy and procedures. This officer should be familiar with home education law, policies and practices. Local authorities should organise training on the law and home education methods for all their officers who have contact with home educating families.
Contact with parents and children
3.4 Local authorities should acknowledge that learning takes place in a wide variety of environments and not only in the home. However, if it appears that a suitable education is not being provided, the local authority 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 further information that they wish to provide which explains how they are providing a suitable education. 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 invited to express his or her views in some other way. Parents are under no duty to respond to such requests for information or a meeting, but it would be sensible for them to do so (9).
3.5 If it appears to a local authority that a child is not receiving a suitable education it may wish to contact the parents to discuss their ongoing home education provision. Contact should normally be made in writing to the parents to request further information. A written report should be made after such contact and copied to the parents stating whether the authority has any concerns about the education provision and specifying what these are, to give the (9) Phillips v Brown (1980) child’s parents an opportunity to address them. Where concerns about the suitability of the education being provided for the child have been identified, more frequent contact may be required while those concerns are being addressed. Where concerns merit frequent contact, the authority should discuss them with the child’s parents, with a view to helping them provide a suitable education that meets the best interests of the child.
3.6 Some parents may welcome the opportunity to discuss the provision that they are making for the child’s education during a home visit but parents are not legally required to give the local authority access to their home. They may choose to meet a local authority representative at a mutually convenient and neutral location instead, with or without the child being present, or choose not to meet at all. Where a parent elects not to allow access to their home or their child, this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the education provision being made. Where local authorities are not able to visit homes, they should, in the vast majority of cases, be able to discuss and evaluate the parents’ educational provision by alternative means. If they choose not to meet, parents may be asked to provide evidence that they are providing a suitable education. If a local authority asks parents for information they are under no duty to comply although it would be sensible for them to do so. (10) Parents might prefer, for example, to write a report, provide samples of work, have their educational provision endorsed by a third party (such as an independent home tutor) or provide evidence in some other appropriate form.
Withdrawal from school to elective home educate
3.7 First contact between local authorities and home educators often occurs when parents decide to home educate and approach the school (at which the child is regis tered) and/or the authority to seek guidance about withdrawing their child from school. It is important that this initial contact is constructive and positive, and local authorities should provide written information (see paragraph 2.5) and direct parents to a range of useful contacts such as those described in paragraph 5.1.
3.8 The school must (11)delete the child’s name from their admissions register upon receipt of written notification from the parents that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school. However, schools should not wait for parents to give written notification that they are withdrawing their child from school before advising their local authority. Schools must (12) make a return (giving the child’s name, address and the ground upon which their name is to be deleted from the register) to the local authority as soon as the ground for deletion is met, and no later than deleting the pupil’s name from the register. They should also copy parents into the notice to the local authority. Further information is available in Keeping Pupil Registers, (13) the Department’s guidance on applying the regulations.
3.9 If a child is registered at a school as a result of a school attendance order the parents must (14) get the order revoked by the local authority on the ground that arrangements have been made for the child to receive suitable education otherwise than at school, before the child can be deleted from the school’s register and educated at home.
10 Phillips v Brown (1980)
11 Regulation 8(1)(a) of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006
12 Regulation 12(3) of the Education (Pupil Registration) England) Regulations 2006
14 Regulation 8(1)(a) of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 and section 442 of the Education Act
3.10 Local authorities may encourage parents to inform them directly of the withdrawal of a child from school, but have no legal right to insist that parents do so. The only exception to this is where the child is attending a special school under arrangements made by the local authority, in which case additional permission is required from the authority before the child’s name can be removed from the register (15).
3.11 Local authorities should bear in mind that, in the early stages, parents’ plans may not be detailed and they may not yet be in a position to demonstrate all the characteristics of an “efficient and suitable” educational provision. In such cases, a reasonable timescale should be agreed for the parents to develop their provision.
3.12 Schools must not seek to persuade parents to educate their children at home as a way of avoiding an exclusion or because the child has a poor attendance record. In the case of exclusion, they must follow the statutory guidance. If the pupil has a poor attendance record, the school and local authority must address the issues behind the absenteeism and use the other remedies available to them.
Providing a full-time education
3.13 Parents are required to provide an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child. There is currently no legal definition of “full-time”. Children normally attend school for between 22 and 25 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, but this measurement of “contact time” is not relevant to elective home education where there is often almost continuous one-to-one contact and education may take place outside normal “school hours”. The type of educational activity can be varied and flexible. Home educating parents are not required to:
�� teach the National Curriculum
�� provide a broad and balanced education
�� have a timetable
�� have premises equipped to any particular standard
�� set hours during which education will take place
�� have any specific qualifications
�� make detailed plans in advance
�� observe school hours, days or terms
�� give formal lessons
�� mark work done by their child
�� formally assess progress or set development objectives
�� reproduce school type peer group socialisation
�� match school-based, age-specific standards.
However, local authorities should offer advice and support to parents on these matters if requested.
15 Regulation 8(2) of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006
3.14 It is important to recognise that there are many, equally valid, approaches to educational provision. Local authorities should, therefore, consider a wide range of information from home educating parents, in a range of formats. The information may be in the form of specific examples of learning e.g. pictures/paintings/models, diaries of educational activity,projects, assessments, samples of work, books, educational visits etc.
3.15 In their consideration of parents’ provision of education at home, local authorities may reasonably expect the provision to include the following characteristics:
�� 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
�recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations
��opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
��access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child – such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and crafts materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and other adults.
3.16 If a local authority considers that a suitable education is not being provided, then a full written report of 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 a suitable education is being provided, and the parents, having been given a reasonable opportunity to address the identified concerns and report back to the authority have not done so, the authority should consider sending a formal notice to the parents under section 437 (see paragraph 2.7) before moving on, if needed, to the issuing of a school attendance order (section 437(1)). See paragraphs 2.9 –2.11.
Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)
3.17 Parents’ right to educate their child at home applies equally where a child has SEN. This right is irrespective of whether the child has a statement of special educational needs or not. Where a child has a statement of SEN and is home educated, it remains the local authority’s duty to ensure that the child’s needs are met.
3.18 Local authorities must have regard to the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (16). Although this document primarily covers special educational needs in the school and early years’ settings, it does give information about SEN in relation to home education (paragraphs 8.91 – 8.96 of the Code). The Code of Practice emphasises the importance of local authorities and other providers working in partnership with parents. The Code of Practice is statutory guidance and schools, local authorities and others to whom it applies must have regard to it. This means that, apart from the references to the law, these bodies do not have to follow the Code to the letter but they must be able to justify any departure from its guidance. The foreword states that the Code is designed to help these bodies to “make effective decisions but it does not – and could not – tell them what to do in each individual case”.
(16) SEN Code of Practice is available at: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/docbank/index.cfm?id=3724
3.19 If the parents’ attempt to educate the child at home results in provision that falls short of meeting the child’s needs, then the parents are not making “suitable arrangements”, and the authority could not conclude that they were absolved of their responsibility to arrange the provision in the statement. Parents need only provide an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have as defined in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996. It is the authority’s duty to arrange the provision specified in the statement, unless the child’s parent has made suitable provision, for as long as a statement is maintained. In some cases a combination of provision by parents and LA may best meet the child’s needs. Local authorities should consider, for example, providing access to additional resources or treatments where appropriate. (17)
3.20 Even if the local authority is satisfied that parents are making suitable arrangements, 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. In some circumstances the child’s special educational needs identified in the statement will have been related to the school setting and the child’s needs may readily be met at home by the parents without LA supervision. It may be appropriate, once it is established that a child’s special needs are being met without any additional support from the LA, to consider ceasing to maintain the statement. This may be done at the annual review or at any other time. Where the statement is reviewed it should be made clear to parents that they are welcome to attend, but they are not obliged to do so.
3.21 Where the authority 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. There should be discussion between the authority and the parents and rather than the name of the school, part 4 of the statement should mention the type of school the LA considers appropriate and that “parents have made their own arrangements under section 7 of the Education Act 1996”.
3.22 The statement should also specify any provision that the local authority has agreed to make under section 319 of the Education Act 1996 to help parents to provide suitable education for their child at home. If the child who is to be withdrawn from the school is a pupil at a special school, the school must inform the local authority before the child’s name can be deleted from the school roll and the authority will need to consider whether the elective home education is suitable before amending part 4 of the child’s statement.
3.23 A parent who is educating their child at home may ask the local authority to carry out a statutory assessment or reassessment of their child’s special educational needs and the local authority must consider the request within the same statutory timescales and in the same way as for all other requests. Local authorities should provide information to home educators detailing the process of assessment and both local authorities’ and home educators’ responsibilities with regard to provision should the child be given a statement.
The views of the designated medical officer for SEN should be sought by the local authority where a child with a statement is educated at home because of difficulties related to health needs or a disability.
(17) Section 319 of the Education Act 1996
4.1 As noted in the Introduction to these guidelines, the central aim of this document is to assist local authorities in carrying out their statutory responsibilities with respect to elective home educated children. The DCSF hopes that this will enable local authorities to build effective relationships with home educators that function to safeguard the educational interests of children and young people: relationships that are rooted in mutual understanding, trust and respect. The guidelines outline a number of recommendations that are geared towards the promotion of such relationships.
4.2 Whilst there is no legal obligation on local authorities or home educators to develop such relationships, doing so will often provide parents with access to any support that is available and allow authorities to better understand parents’ educational provision and preferences. A positive relationship will also provide a sound basis if the authority is required to investigate assertions from any source that an efficient and suitable education is not being provided.
4.3 Parents’ education 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, local authorities should not specify a curriculum or approach which parents must follow.
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 and that families may change their approach over time. Parentsare not required to have any qualifications or training to provide their children with a suitable education. It should be noted that parents of all educational, social, racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds successfully educate children outside the school setting and these factors should not in themselves raise a concern about the suitability of the education being
Providing information for parents
4.5 The provision of clear information has an important role to play in the promotion of positive relationships. Local authorities should provide written information and website links for prospective and existing electively 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. Home education organisations’ contact details may be found through an internet search. All written information should be made available to parents in local community languages and alternative formats on request. From April 2008 local authorities will have a legal duty (18) to broaden the information they make available to parents to support their children.
4.6 As noted in paragraph 3.3 we recommend that local authorities should, if the parents wish, provide them with a named contact within the authority who is familiar with elective home education policy and practice and has an understanding of a range of educational philosophies. If the authority invites parents to meet the named contact (see paragraph 3.6), any such meeting should take place at a mutually acceptable location and the child concerned should also be given the opportunity, but not be required, to attend that meeting, or otherwise to express his or her views. Either during such a meeting, or otherwise, the parents and the authority should consider and agree what future contact there will be between them, recognising that in many instances such contact might be beneficial but is not legally required.
4.7 The welfare and protection of all children, both those who attend school and those who are educated at home, are of paramount concern and the responsibility of the whole community. Working Together to Safeguard Children 200619 states that all agencies and individuals should aim proactively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. 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.(20)
4.8 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 to have access to children. Parents will therefore wish to satisfy themselves by taking up appropriate references and local authorities should encourage them to do this. A small number of local authorities choose to assist home-educating parents in this task by undertaking Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks free of charge on independent home tutors and the DCSF endorses this helpful practice. Tutors employed by a local authority or an agency may also undertake work for home educating parents, in which case CRB checks ought to have been made already.
4.9 Paragraph 2.12 to 2.15 details local authorities’ duties to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
(18) Section 12 of the Childcare Act 2006 19 Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2006 is available at: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/resources-andpractice/
(20) Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006
Reviewing policies and procedures
4.10 Local authorities should review all of their procedures and practices in relation to elective 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 involved in this process of review. Effective reviews, together with the sensitive handling of any complaints, will help to secure effective partnership.
4.11 Local authorities should bear in mind that Ofsted report on the way local authorities cater for elective home educating families within their areas. Local authorities should keep home educators and home education support organisations informed of the policies and procedures of Ofsted reviews and any input they will have.
Support and resources
5.1 When parents choose to electively home educate their children they assume financial responsibility for their children’s education.
5.2 Local authorities do not receive funding to support home educating families, and the level and type of support will therefore vary between one local authority and another. However, we recommend that all local authorities should adopt a consistent, reasonable and flexible approach in this respect, particularly where there are minimal resource implications. As a minimum, local authorities should provide written information (which is also available through the internet) on elective home education that is clear and accurate and which sets out the legal position (see paragraphs 4.5 – 4.6). Some local authorities may be able to offer additional support to home educating parents, but this will vary depending on their resources. Examples of additional support include:
�� provision of a reading or lending library with resources for use with the home educated children
�� 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
�� providing assistance with identifying exam centres willing to accept external candidates.
The National Curriculum
5.3 Although home educated children are not required to follow the National Curriculum 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 08700 606015.
5.4 In addition, the DCSF’s website at www.dcsf.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.tso.co.uk/ or by telephoning 0845 602
5.5 The Connexions Service is an England only service. Its purpose is to provide support to all 13 to 19 year olds and to young people who have not yet reached 25 years if they have a learning difficulty, in order to encourage, enable or assist their effective participation in education or training. The Connexions Service also assists young people to obtain suitable employment and related training and education. Its services and responsibilities cover children and young people who are being educated at home. From April 2008 each local authority will be funded and have responsibility for the provision of Connexions services in its area. The local Connexions Service is responsible for maintaining an overview of the learning and work status of all young people that are covered by its remit and seeks to ensure that none fall between the responsibilities and remit of different agencies and thus become marginalized or lost to the system. Sections 117, 119 and 120 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 make provision about the supply of information to Connexions providers, subject to normal data protection principles.
5.6 “Flexi-schooling” or “flexible school attendance” is an arrangement between the parent and the school where the child is registered at school and attends the school only part time; the rest of the time the child is home educated (on authorised absence from school). This can be a long-term arrangement or a short-term measure for a particular reason. “Flexi-schooling” is a legal option provided that the head teacher at the school concerned agrees to the arrangement. The child will be required to follow the National Curriculum whilst at school but not whilst he or she is being educated at home. Local authorities should make sure that head teachers are made familiar with flexi-schooling and how it may work in practice.
Further information is available in the DCSF’s guidance Keeping Pupil Registers. (21)
Local authorities’ 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 respect. Where the employment is in accordance with arrangements made by a local authority or a governing body, with a view to providing pupils with work experience as part of their education in their last two years of compulsory schooling, these restrictions will generally not apply. (22)
5.8 Children educated at home have no entitlement to participate in work experience under arrangements made by a local authority but we encourage local authorities to assist the parents of home educated children who wish 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, the health and safety, child protection and insurance provision made on behalf of school children, often by intermediary bodies, which are necessary to safeguard the child.
(22) see section 560 of the Education Act 1996, as amended by section 112 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998
Education Maintenance Allowance
5.9 Education Maintenance Allowance is an income tested weekly allowance available to
learners over the age of 16 as an incentive to stay on in education at school or college after GCSEs. It is not available to learners whose parents elect to home educate them after the age of 16.
5.10 When planning and running truancy sweeps, LAs should refer to the DCSF’s School
Attendance and Exclusions Sweeps Effective Practice (23). This includes a section on children who are educated outside the school system. Those taking part in the sweeps, including police officers, police community support officers, local authority staff and anyone else taking part in the sweep should be fully familiar with this guidance, act in accordance with it and be aware that there is a range of valid reasons why compulsory school-age children may be out of school.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children
5.11 Local authorities should have an understanding of and be sensitive to, the distinct ethos and needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. It is important that these families who are electively home educating are treated in the same way as any other families. Home education should not necessarily be regarded as less appropriate than in other communities. When a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller family with children of school age move into an area, they are strongly encouraged to contact the local Traveller Education Support Service for advice and help to access local educational settings. Most LAs provide such a service. Further guidance can be obtained from the DCSF’s Guide to Good Practice on the education of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children – Aiming High: Raising the Achievement of Gypsy Traveller Pupils which can be obtained from DCSF Publications (reference DfES/0443/2003). Another (external) source of information is www.gypsy-traveller.org/education/.
Gifted and talented children
5.12 Although the Department does not have hard data, anecdotal evidence suggests that many home educated children would be identified as gifted and talented were they to attend a school. Some home educated children are likely to be exceptionally able; others will have additional educational needs.
5.13 Local authority support for home educated children should take into account whether they might be gifted and talented. Through the lead officers for gifted and talented education, these children may be able to access local and regional learning opportunities alongside pupils from local schools. Authorities are encouraged to draw parents’ attention to Young Gifted and Talented (YG&T), the Learner Academy for gifted and talented children and young people aged 4-19. YG&T is available to home-educated learners as well as to those in schools. They can access free and priced opportunities advertised in its Learner Catalogue, use its discussion forums and benefit from other resources and support as they become available. Electively home educated children and their parents can register with YG&T at www.dcsf.gov.uk/ygt.
(23) Available at www.dcsf.gov.uk/schoolattendance/truancysweeps
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