Thursday, August 30, 2007

HE in the Guardian

which features the Shepherd family once again, is sadly not as insightful as Dave Hill's article in April's Guardian, the best bits of this one seemingly being either being lifted from his piece or taken from Ann Newstead, but hey ho... it isn't too bad.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Best News

...after 26 hours in labour, a beautiful girl, 8lbs 2 oz for DD and MD.

Almost unbelievable. I keep pinching myself. Many, many congratulations from us all.

Petition Opposing ContactPoint

Will be signing up to this one, naturally enough. See Wobbly Moo's post if you need to be reminded of the reasons why we should.

Home Education in the Papers

From the Telegraph, a piece from Cassandra Jardine on the pain of going to school, which is accompanied by a photo of a miserable child, subheaded "School daze: upset children will settle". Into what? seems to be a legitimate question. Longterm depression is a perfectly reasonable answer for some.

She explains why she is pleased she didn't HE.

"Her dramas took me straight back to the days when some of my children were so wretched in those first weeks that I seriously contemplated home education. I'm glad now that I didn't - not just for my own sake, but for theirs. Aside from the nightmare of being my own children's head teacher, they would have missed out on all the friendships that occupy 98 per cent of their time."

Derisive snorting isn't elegant, I suppose, but it is the only sane response.

(Just in case she is still wondering: HE children have infinitely more opportunity to indulge their friendships than any school kid. Mid-week sleep-over midnight feasts aren't a problem for HEks, for example.)

If you need cheering up, go to the Daily Mail for an HE piece with prevailingly positive comments.

Monday, August 27, 2007

HEing with AS

Tibetan Star has a video on HEing with Aspergers.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The State Has Crossed That Line

...and taken over responsibility for provision of education, if this article from the Republic of Ireland is to be believed.

Whoa, this way too scary and way too close to dare they do this! It looks as if they simply haven't seriously considered the impact upon themselves and upon relevant bits of legislation, for not only will the Irish equivalent of Section 7 have to go, but several sections of the ECHR will also have to be over-ridden. What's more, all those children who are failed by the education system that is forcefully imposed upon them, well they are in the money, I'd say. Get suing asap, before this dreadful precedent spreads.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Real Choice?

I hadn't heard of Choice Advisors till Fiona N alerted us to this particular gem.

"Local authorities across England are set to share in over £9 million funding for the creation of a network of Choice Advisers who will support parents in choosing the right school for their child."

What on earth will the Choice Advisor in our area be doing, I wonder? There is a choice of precisely one secondary school around here. This institution is riddled with drugs, deliquent behaviour, violence, knives, poor expectations and results, and yet comes well within the top 500 state schools in the Times. I think I can cope with the choice this presents, thank you very much.

Am clinging to the hope that there are HEors out there willing to educate their Choice Advisor re the real option of Home Education.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Be Well.

Dear Friends,

Be well...Go carefully. We are thinking of you, DD, JFT and DB and send you all our love.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

International Freedom in Education Day

...planned for Saturday Sept 15th.

From the website

"The aim is to promote the idea of the importance of free choice in education, and to spread information about the alternative ways of learning that are available, or are being fought for in various countries.

The focus will be on Home Education, but we also welcome alternative and free schools to take part in this global event. "

An HE fair is planned for London, Wesbourne Grove Church, Westbourne Grove, to include talks by academics. Contact for details.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The "Dependency Paradox"

Well most HEors would probably have told you the following anyhow, but it is nice to have it corroborated in the July edition of "The Psychologist" magazine, particularly when my assertions on these very points were met with such a doleful, doubtful stare from a psychologist I bumped into at work the other day.

Psychologist Brooke Feeney's

"experiments demonstrated that ample, unconditional support by one person towards their partner, leads that partner towards greater independence not increasing neediness - an effect Feeney dubs the "dependence paradox".

Feeney told us: "In many Western curltures, dependence on others is often viewed as a sign of weakness and as something that should be discouraged. But this research provides support for an alternative view of dependence on others, which is that true independence and self-sufficiency emerges becuse of an individual's ability to depend on close relationship partners in times of need. People are able to engage in more activities, accopmlish more goals, use their minds better, and fucntion more autonomously when their dependency needs are supported. "

Now just apply that to HE parents supporting their children, and you should have a pretty strong argument in favour of HE.

(HT: SF)

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Statism

Amid news of consultation responses that read as if parents could not possibly be rightfully held responsible for ensuring that a child receives a suitable education, we hear via Fraser Nelson at the Spectator that School's Minister Lord Adonis, who had at least some moments of enlightenment when it comes to respecting parental and child choice in education, is losing his grip as Brown quietly undoes any public service reforms that Blair had managed to wriggle past his party.

"In education, a twin-track strategy is at work. Publicly, Mr Brown has praised City Academies, the quasi-independent schools which Mr Blair hoped to see spring up. Lord Adonis, joint architect and implementer of the scheme, remains in place as schools minister. Mr Brown's ministers have openly pledged to expand the scheme. But the new restrictions are strangling the reform into non-existence. The Academies are to lose their independent sponsor, adopt the national curriculum and - crucially - be subject to greater control by town halls.

The whole point of Mr Blair's Academy programme was that the schools were independent, sometimes explicitly branded like the Harris Academies in south London, always empowered to develop their own ethos away from the dead hand of council officials. Local authorities disliked the idea so much that they would drag Lord Adonis to the High Court attempting to blackball these rival schools. It is not hard to work out how they will use their new powers. The name "City Academy" may continue, but they will be indistinguishable from other schools. Lord Adonis is now running a ghost programme. It is over."

To which HEors can only reply "HELP".

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Freedom of Information Update

Well, this is no surprise:

From the DfCSF:

"Thank you for your request for information which the Department received on 4 July 2007. In that request, you asked for copies of all correspondence sent from the Department and all internal correspondence related to elective home education between 1 January 2007 and 28 February 2007.

I can confirm that we hold information falling within the description specified in your request. However, we estimate that the cost of complying with your request would exceed the appropriate limit which has been specified in regulations and for central Government is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 3.5 working days in determining whether we hold the information, and locating, retrieving and extracting the information. Under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act the Department is not obliged to comply with your request and we will not be processing your request further.

If you were to make a new request for a narrower category of information or limit the scope of your enquiry, it may be that we could comply with that request within the appropriate limit, although I cannot guarantee that this will be the case. Possible ways of narrowing your request might include limiting it to: correspondence which the Department has sent related to elective home education; internal correspondence related to elective home education; a shorter time period. "

Yep, it was unlikely that the DfCSF would cough up in the current circumstances, but it is a tad cynical to make us wait until three working days after they should have responded to the request for information to tell me that they would not be responding.

It seems wise (for various reasons) to resist the temptation to apply the Heimlich manoeuvre at this point, and will therefore only be sending in a more limited request - for only internal correspondence for the first two months of 2007.

Given that previous requests for information on EHE which have received a positive response from the DfES have been larger in scope and longer in time scale, it would seem perfectly reasonable to conclude that this request could be met.

Below, a copy of the further FOI request that has just been sent:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your e-mail response to my request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, (reference number 2007/0044465).

I wish to pursue the matter further and will therefore do as you suggest and limit the scope of the enquiry, to ask for information only on all internal correspondence within the DfES on the subject of Elective Home Education from January 1st 2007 to February 28th 2007 inclusive and
for this information to be sent via e-mail to the above address.

I understand, through information received in the home education community, that you did respond to a request to cover both internal correspondence and correspondence that was sent out by the DfES on EHE for the end of 2006. Indeed this request not only asked for more information than my current request, but also covered a longer period of three months. It would therefore seem reasonable to conclude that it should be possible to respond to my much more limited enquiry.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Yours faithfully,


Just in case it passed you by, this needs signing...

"We, the undersigned, petition the Prime Minister to ensure that all parents are informed of their legal right to Home educate their Children.

At the moment it is a closely guarded secret that all parents have the right to home educate their children. We would like to see the government informing all parents of that right. We would also like to see the government ensuring that the LEA inspectors of Home Educators are pro home education and have a knowledge of the different ways in which Home education can be delivered by parents. We also want it recognised that children vary in their abilities and that there is no way to gauge when a child will be proficient in any one area of learning."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Various Outcomes

Anon usefully put the following case in comments to a previous post:

"Whatever the result of this (the consultation process), it will produce a set of guidelines, not new law. You are free to ignore these guidelines if you feel that they should not apply to you, and you can challenge any Local Authority trying to implement these new guidelines as if they are a set of new laws.

"If the guidelines are what everyone wants (how likely is that in this control freak infested government) then fine, 'democracy at work' and all of that. Everyone should be braced however for a set of guidelines that are bad news. "

It is my understanding however, that the guidelines cannot exceed the law. My contention is that if the guidelines give explicit instruction to local authorities to intrude, monitor and prescribe, then they will have gone beyond the law, and we should be asking for the law to be re-written in order to reflect the effective change within it. (Not that we want this, but then, neither do they.)

I believe that the greater worry is that the guidelines will be written so as to be so ambiguous that LAs will be able to abuse the law, but then that differs little from the situation we have currently, save for the fact that we will all be known to the authorities and the guidance on the Children Missing from Education which stipulates that HEKs are not the target of the initiative is unlikely to be respected.

However, far better this, than a mass of state intrusion and prescription as was proposed when the matter of guidelines was first raised. Then we really would have been stuffed good and proper.

Sainsbury and Waitrose Deal for HEK

Story here.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Draft Guidelines



A fundamental principle of the English education system is that parents are responsible for ensuring their children receive a suitable education. Most parents choose to fulfil this obligation by educating their children at school, but some prefer home education. It is the legal right of parents to educate their children at home if they so wish and the Department for Education and Skills supports the right of parents to make this choice for their children.

This is the first time that the Department has formally consulted on issuing guidelines on home education. In our informal discussions with local authorities and groups representing home educators, the principle of guidelines has been broadly welcomed. These guidelines represent our initial view on the best approach to balancing the rights of parents and the obligations of local authorities, and we want to take account of your views in developing the guidance. We are committed to listening to home educators, local authorities and others and adapting the draft to take account of their responses.

These guidelines offer advice to parents, and advice to support local authorities in carrying out their statutory responsibilities. We hope they will be welcomed by both.





Part 1 1.1 Introduction
1.4 Reasons for Elective Home Education

Part 2 2.1 The law relating to Elective Home Education
2.4 Parental rights and responsibilities
2.5 Local authorities’ responsibilities

Part 3 3.1 Clear policies and procedures
3.4 Contact with the local authority
3.8 De-registration from school

3.11 Providing a full-time education

3.15 Children with special educational needs

Part 4 4.1 Developing relationships
4.3 Acknowledging diversity
4.5 Providing information for parents
4.7 Contact with parents and children
4.9 Child protection
4.11 Reviewing policies and procedures

Part 5 5.1 Support and resources
5.3 The National Curriculum
5.5 Connexions Service
5.6 Flexi-schooling
5.7 Local authorities’ role in supporting work experience
5.9 Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
5.10 Truancy Sweeps
5.11 Traveller Children

Annex A Qualifications options

Annex B Useful contacts


Part 1


1.1 Elective home education is the term used by DfES 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 full-time at mainstream schools, special schools, independent schools, Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), colleges, children’s homes with education facilities or education facilities provided by independent fostering agencies. Parents may choose to engage private tutors or other adults to assist them in providing a broad education and 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 based education for various reasons. The 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

Part 2

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.

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.”

2.3 The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. 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”1.

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 assume full financial responsibility, including bearing the cost of any public examinations. They 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 Local authorities should provide written information about home education that is clear, accurate and sets out the legal position, roles and responsibilities. This information should be made available on local authority websites and in local community languages 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 make reasonable progress.

2.6 Local authorities have a new duty under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 to identify, as far as is possible, children who are missing, or in danger of missing, 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 can intervene if they have good reason to believe 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 The most obvious course of action if such a concern were raised would be to ask parents for information about the education they are providing. Such a request is not the same as a notice under s 437(1). Parents are under no duty to comply, but it would be sensible for them to do so.3

2.9 Section 437(3) refers to the serving of School Attendance Orders:

“If –

(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 as a last resort, 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, or the court, that they are now providing an appropriate education and apply to have the Order revoked. It will be for a court to decide whether or not the education being provided is suitable and efficient. Detailed information about School Attendance Orders is contained in Ensuring Regular School Attendance paragraphs 6 to 16,.4

2.11 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.

Part 3

Clear policies and procedures

3.1 The Department recommends that each local authority 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. Local authorities should regularly review their home education policies and organise training on the law and home education methods for all their officers who have contact with home educating families.

3.2 All parties involved in home education should be aware of their roles, rights and responsibilities. LA 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 Department recommends that each local authority should have a named senior officer with responsibility for elective home education policy and procedures.

Contact with the local authority

3.4 Many home educating parents welcome regular contact with the local authority as an opportunity to reaffirm their provision. However, where parents do not want any involvement with the local authority, the LA should not automatically assume that there is a problem which needs investigating. Instead, the LA should take a risk-based approach, taking into consideration the individual and community’s circumstances. As one example, recent research shows that “few Gypsy/Roma and Traveller parents have the knowledge, skills and resources to provide or deliver a full-time education that is efficient and suitable”.5 We do know that there will be Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children who do receive a good education at home. Those monitoring elective home education should seek advice from Traveller Education Support Services before engaging with parents from these communities

3.5 If information exists which may cast doubt on whether an “efficient and suitable education” can be 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 explaining 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 express his or her views in some other way.

3.6 If there are any reasonable concerns, a local authority may wish to contact parents to discuss their ongoing home education provision. Contact should normally be made by writing to the parents to request an updated report or seek a meeting. 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. Where there are concerns about the efficiency or suitability of the education being provided for the child, more frequent contact may be required. Where concerns merit frequent 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.

3.7 Many parents 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 or choose not to meet at all. If they choose not to meet, they will need to provide evidence that they are providing an efficient and suitable education. Parents might, for example:

write a report;
provide samples of work;
invite a local authority advisor/consultant to their home, with or without the child being present; or
meet a local authority advisor/consultant elsewhere, with or without the child.

De-registration from school

3.8 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 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.

3.9 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 a child who is registered at a maintained school or an independent school must inform the school formally, in writing, of their intention to de-register. The school must delete the child's name from their register upon receipt of written notification from the parents and make a return (giving the child's name and address) to the local authority within 10 school days of removal. Local authorities may encourage parents to inform them direct, but have no legal right to insist that they do so.

3.10 Local authorities should bear in mind that, in the early stages, parents’ proposals 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 submit their proposals.

Providing a full-time education

3.11 Parents are required to provide an efficient 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 39 weeks of the year, but this measurement of ‘contact time’ is not relevant to 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
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
reproduce school type peer group socialisation
match school, age-specific standards.

However, local authorities should offer advice and support to parents on these matters if requested.

3.12 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 work, projects, assessments, samples of work, books, educational visits etc.

3.13 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.

3.14 If, on considering the educational provision, one or more of the above characteristics appear to be lacking, local authorities may choose to further investigate whether or not an efficient and suitable education is, in fact, being provided. 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 efficient education is being provided, and the parents, having been given a reasonable opportunity to improve their provision and report back to the authority, have not done so, the authority should consider serving a School Attendance Order (see section 2.7).

Children with Special Educational Needs

3.15 Parents' right to educate their child at home applies equally where a child has special educational needs. Some children with special educational needs are statemented but others are not. Where a child has a statement of special educational needs and is home-educated, it remains the local authority’s duty to ensure that the child's needs are met. The statement must remain in force and the authority must ensure that parents can make suitable provision, including provision for the child's SEN.

3.16 If the parents’ arrangements are suitable, the authority is relieved of its duty to arrange the provision specified in the statement6. However, 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.

3.17 Even if the local authority 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 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, though it should state the type of school it considers appropriate and that "parents have made their own arrangements under section 7 of the Education Act 1996".

3.18 The statement can also specify any provision that the local authority 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 local authority before the child's name can be deleted from the school roll and the authority will need to consider whether the home education is suitable before amending part 4 of the child's statement.

3.19 A parent who is educating their child at home may ask the local authority to carry out a statutory assessment 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. 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.

Part 4

Developing relationships

4.1 As noted in the Introduction to these guidelines, the central aim of this document is to assist local authorities and home educators to build effective relationships 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 current legal obligation on education 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. This will be true whether or not parents are required to demonstrate that suitable home-education provision is being made available.

Acknowledging diversity

4.3 Parents’ educational provision will reflect a diversity of approaches and interests. Some parents, especially those who have other children attending school, 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, LAs should not specify a curriculum 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. 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 (see paragraphs 3.12 to 3.15).

Providing information for parents

4.5 The provision of clear information has an important role to play in the promotion of positive relationships. LAs should provide written information and website links for home-educating parents that is clear and accurate and which sets 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.

4.6 As noted as paragraph 3.3 we recommend that LAs should, 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. If the authority has cause to invite the parents to meet with a named education authority, any such meeting should take place at a mutually acceptable location and the child concerned should also be given the opportunity 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.

Contact with parents and children

4.7 Local authorities should acknowledge that learning takes place in a wide variety of environments and not only in the home. Some parents are happy for the local authority to have the opportunity to see the child in their learning environment, to enable them to see the provision at first hand. Seeing the child responding to the educational provision of the parents may provide a strong indication that an efficient and suitable education is indeed being provided. The authority does not, however, have a legal right of access to the home and the matter should not be forced.

4.8 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. Although it is recognised that the learning environment can have a bearing on the effectiveness of learning, LAs should, in the vast majority of cases, be able to discuss and evaluate the parents’ educational provision by alternative means. 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.

Child protection

4.9 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.7

4.10 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 will therefore wish to satisfy themselves by taking up appropriate references. A small number of LAs 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 LA may also undertake work for home-educating parents, in which case, CRB checks ought to have been made already.

Reviewing policies and procedures

4.11 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 involved in this process of review. Effective reviews, together with the sensitive handling of any complaints, will help to secure effective partnership.

4.12 Local authorities will also wish to bear in mind that Ofsted will report on the way local authorities cater for home-educating families within their areas.

Part 5

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:

5.2 Local authorities do not receive funding to support home educated families, and the level of support will therefore vary between one LA and another. However, we recommend that all LAs should adopt a reasonable and flexible approach in this respect, particularly where there are minimal resource implications. As a minimum, LAs 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). Some LAs may also 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 children, on home schooling 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

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 or by telephoning their publications office on 01787 884 444.

5.4 In addition, the DfES's website at 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 or by telephoning Prolog on 0845 602 2260.

Connexions Service

5.5 The Connexions Service is for children and young people aged 13-19 years living in England (see Its services and responsibilities cover children and young people who are being educated at home. The LA 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. The Connexions Service needs to maintain an overview of the learning and work status of all young people of a relevant age and ensure that individuals do not fall between the responsibilities and remit of different agencies and thus become marginalized or lost to the system. LAs 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.


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). This is sometimes done as 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.

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 regard. But where the employment is in accordance with arrangements made by an LA or a governing body these restrictions will generally not apply8 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 LA but we wish to encourage LAs 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.

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

5.9 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 after the age of sixteen.

Truancy Sweeps

5.10 When planning and running truancy sweeps, LAs should refer to the DfES "Truancy sweeps: Effective practice and advice" which is available at This includes a section on children who are educated outside the school system. Those taking part in the sweeps, including police officers, should be fully familiar with this guidance and be aware that there is a range of valid reasons why school-age children may be out of school.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children

5.11 LAs should be sensitive to the distinct ethos and needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities. When a GRT 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 LAs provide such a support service. Further guidance can be obtained from the DfES Guide to Good Practice on the education of GRT 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

Annex A

Qualifications options

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

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



Alternative qualifications

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.

International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE)

The International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) provides a graduated series of certificates, ranging from the equivalent of lower tier GCSE examinations (grades D-G) to A2 examinations. Examinations are conducted at home under the supervision of parents, but the Board has strict moderation procedures to ensure the validity of results.

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: or

Examining boards

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



Annex B

Useful contacts

Education Otherwise Association Limited

Nationwide charity for home education information and support. Subscription of £20 also entitles members to receive a handbook, UK and overseas contact list and bi-monthly newsletter, access to further resources, special interest and local groups and national gatherings

Address: PO Box 7420


N9 9SG



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 £13.50) 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


Advisory Centre for Education


DfES related links:

Education of Sick Children

Ethnic Minority Achievement Project

Exclusions and Alternative Provision

Looked After Children

Questions for Consultation

1. Do you agree that it is helpful for the DfES to issue guidelines to local authorities?

2. Do you agree that the description of the law (paragraphs 2.1-2.3) relating to elective home education is accurate and clear?

3. Do you agree that the description of local authorities’ responsibilities (paragraphs 2.5-2.11) is accurate and helpful?

4. Do you agree that the section on contact with the local authority (paragraphs 3.4-3.7) is accurate and helpful?

5. Do you agree that the section on providing a full-time education (paragraphs 3.11-3.14) – and in particular, the characteristics of provision (paragraph 3.13) – is accurate and helpful?

6. Do you agree that the section on developing relationships (section 4) is useful?

7a. Are the suggested resources in section 5 and appendix 2 useful?

7b. Should any other contacts be included?

Please use this space for any other comments you wish to make about the guidance

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What Can We Expect?

The Consultation on Elective Home Education Guidelines closed pretty promptly last night - at 23.55 hours according to at least three exasperated responders who just missed the deadline.

So what can we expect from all this?

Well, there were 858 responses or thereabouts. Given the complexity of responding and the commitment required by individuals to do it, the DfCSF would be right to conclude that home educators are serious about protecting home education and their families and that they are widely networked and well-informed. Don't mess lightly or otherwise with us!

This should mean that the DfCSF will produce guidelines along the lines of the current draft. Better still and with a greater degree of legal accuracy, they would do well to adopt the version produced by Education Otherwise with what appears to be Ian Dowty's help. If that link doesn't work, try here (EO's entire response to the consultation) and scroll down to the section on EO guidelines. This does some great work eg:

It debunks the "broad and balanced" myth explaining that this is only relevant in the maintained sector. Home education has to be suitable TO THE CHILD, not necessarily broad and balanced, (whatever that means exactly).

It addresses the issue of the Children Missing from Education Legislation and guidance, and at least partially explains how this would work when coupled with ContactPoint. There seems to be a key bit of this missing - there is a reference to flowcharts, but no page as far as I can see - (will ask Fiona N for this) but whatever these propose, and I suspect it will be a formalisation of the principle of minimal and proportionate intervention, I suspect that the reality of it is that all of us will be checked out for our provision, as a result of the convergence of CME legislation and Donaldson, but at least, with our responses, we will have limited the intrusiveness and prescriptiveness of these interventions.

Here's hoping, anyhow.