Every child has a fundamental right to an education and it is the duty of the parent of a compulsory school age child to ensure that suitable education is being provided.
Much of a child's early development takes place entirely in the home environment. As children grow and develop most parents choose to send their children to school; however some elect to continue their child's educational development within the home. The proposals in this consultation document are not designed to prevent children from being home educated. These proposals are aimed at ensuring that those children who are home educated receive a suitable education.
I believe the legislation surrounding elective home education has shortcomings because there is currently no legal requirement on the parent to tell a local authority (LA) that their child is receiving education at home. In the absence of this requirement, it is very difficult for LAs to carry out their duties to ensure that children are receiving a suitable education.
The proposals set out in this consultation document seek to introduce a structured approach as to how LAs and home educating parents engage with each other so as to ensure children educated at home receive a suitable education. I propose putting in place a statutory duty on parents to register with the local LA that their child is receiving home education. This registration requirement will enable the identity of the home educated child to be established and allow engagement between the LA and the home educating family to ensure that the home education provided is suitable.
I believe that key to the success of these proposals will be to use existing powers to develop statutory guidance which sets out best practice for LAs when working with home educating families and encourages LAs and home educating parents to work together in the best educational interests of the learner. I recognise that more clarity is needed as to what a `suitable education' might look like in the context of the variety of educational approaches used in home education. This will be covered in statutory guidance and will be consulted on separately.
The overall impact of these proposals will be to create a framework for engagement that helps build a new relationship between LAs and home educators, one where they can work collaboratively to provide the best possible support and education for learners.
I invite and welcome your views on the proposals put forward in this consultation. Your contribution will ensure that we get the right framework in place for Wales."
Education Minister Leighton Andrews foreword to consultation.