Friday, July 03, 2009

Cumbria LAs Response to 60 Questionnaire

Independent Review of Home Education in England

Thank you for taking the time to complete this questionnaire about processes for supporting and monitoring home education. Completion of the questionnaire is entirely voluntary. Responses will be completely confidential and used only for the purposes of the independent review.

The Government is committed to ensuring that systems for keeping children safe are as robust as possible. As part of this continuing commitment, an independent review of home education will assess whether the right systems are in place for ensuring that home educated children have access to the five Every Child Matters outcomes. This includes whether Government should do more to support local authorities in discharging their duties in relation to home educated children. The full terms of reference for the review are available online at:

As organisations responsible for ensuring the safety, wellbeing and education of children and young people in your localities, we very much value your input into this review.

You may find it helpful to read through the questionnaire before attempting to complete it. Please note you cannot save the questionnaire and go back to it at a later date. Therefore, if you need to discuss responses with colleagues before submitting the form, please do so before attempting to complete the questionnaire. Please also note that we ask that the Director of Children's Services and Lead Member for Children and Young People 'sign off' the questionnaire before it is submitted and you will be asked to confirm whether that has happened at the end of this questionnaire.

Thank you for taking time to respond to these questions.

Privacy statement

About your local authority

Q1 Name of LA


Q2 Tel. No of main contact
01539 713475

Q3 E-mail of main contact

Q4 Would you be willing to take part in the next phase of the research in February/March (including in-depth interviews with key personnel in your organisation)?


Q5 Which team(s) have the main responsibility for supporting and monitoring home educated children within the local authority and other agencies?

The School Improvement Team has the main responsibility for supporting and monitoring home educated children. School Improvement is supported by Education Welfare for referrals and data systems.

Q6 List all teams / professionals involved in supporting home educating families
School Improvement Team – dedicated County Officer and consultants, Education Welfare – EWOs and Children Missing Education Officers, Education Psychologists, Special Educational Needs team, Connexions, Extended Services Co-ordinators are developing provision around sport/ leisure, Children’s Information Service and Children’s Centre provision is beginning to develop through County Officer involvement.

Q7 List all teams / professionals involved in monitoring home educating families.
School Improvement Team – Officer and three contracted consultants.
Education Welfare staff- Education Welfare Officers support and monitor when a referral is made due to inability to contact a family or when provision is inadequate.

Q8 Describe how you ensure collaboration and communication between these teams / individuals

School Improvement Team members meet on a termly basis to discuss good practice, team concerns and emerging areas of concern from home educators. Consultants also have phone and email contact as required on an individual basis with both the admin and Improvement Team Officer.

The pre-CAF and any required county referral forms are used for referrals to EWS and other Children’s Services, with follow up reports and responses collated through SIT admin.
All extended services and Connexions information sent out to parents is collated or liaised through SIT to ensure an overview of what provision is offered.

Data and Tracking

Q9 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of primary age (Registered with LA)

Q10 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of primary age (Non-registered with LA)

Q11 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of secondary age (Registered with LA)

Q12 How many children are currently home educated in your local authority of secondary age (Non-registered with LA)

Q13 Total (Registered with LA)

Q14 Total (Non-registered with LA)

Q15 Are these figures accurate or based on estimates?


Q16 If accurate, where do you get this data from?
LA data of registrations

Q17 If accurate, how do you know the data is accurate?
registered children only

Q18 If estimated, what data have you used to arrive at this figure? (List all sources)

Q19 How confident is the local authority in the accuracy of this data?
Very confident

Fairly confident

Don't know

Not very confident

Not at all confident

Q20 How often does the local authority get updated data? (List frequency for each source separately)
EMS - LA data updated each time a child registers for home education or returns to a school. Data gathered through:
Schools- through common transfer files and through direct contact each time a parent informs schools of wish to de-register.
School Health- Contacts individually as children are identified as home educators.
EWS notification as identified on case by case basis.
Parents inform LA they are home educating or call for advice prior to starting home educating- individual basis.

Q21 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is statemented for SEN? (please state whether accurate or estimate)
5.1% of the home educated population in Cumbria has a statement for SEN. Accurate from the LA database.

Q22 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is non-statemented for SEN (please state whether accurate or estimate)

94.9% of the home educated population in Cumbria is non-statemented for SEN. However, some of these pupils would be on the Code of Practice at action or action+ if they were on a school roll. Accurate from current LA data.

Q23 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller heritage (please state whether accurate or estimate)
2.58% of the home educated population is from the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller heritage according to election on LA registration forms. The actual percentage is probably higher due to non declaration of background. (estimate)

Q24 What proportion (as a percentage) of your home educated population is made up of other Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups
According to LA data 1.84% of the home educated are Black and Minority Ethnic groups.

Q25 Please list which BME groups.
Chinese , Other mixed background, Any other white background

Q26 Do you believe the local authority knows about all the home educated children in your area?
Yes, we are confident we know about all home educated children in the area

We think we know about the vast majority of home educated children in the area

We probably do not know about a fair number of home educated children in the area

We probably do not know about a significant proportion of home educated children in the area

Q27 Do you think that you will be better able to track children in your area in the near future? e.g. planned changes to your own systems, ContactPoint, other system improvements?


Q28 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given

ContactPoint will enable us to track the children we know about just as common transfer files have improved the flow of information from schools more quickly, enabling better tracking of children.

Whilst ContactPoint will enable the LA to look at individual children as questions arise from Children Missing Education (CME) or LA Officers I believe that ContactPoint does not allow general data reports to be generated, for example of every child without allocated education provision.
Supporting Home Educating Families

Q29 How does the local authority ensure families know about their rights and responsibilities in relation to home education? (List all approaches used)
EHE information booklet is sent to parents either hard copy or electronically.
Advice from Officer during initial enquiries before choosing to home educate. Consultant visits.
Education Otherwise (EO) leaflets/information in Children’s Services public buildings.
County Council website-home education section.

Q30 What support does your local authority provide to home educating families? (List all forms of support offered)

LA Officer, Consultants for advice and support- including individual cases regarding trying to find exam centres, funding, colleges etc. Transition support for children re-entering schools has previously been successful.

Referrals for special educational needs including Educational Psychologists and annual SEN statement reviews.

CRB checks for non-family members working with children.

Partnership meetings with support groups eg EO.

SEF Form for children asking their views including on local facilities and learning/aims outside curriculum to gather stakeholder views.

Extended Schools information e.g safer cycling courses, outdoor opportunities, leisure offers as school pupils are given during holidays.

Children Information Service newsletters- have contained home education features.
Liaison with Connexions and Children’s Centres .

Q31 How does the local authority let families know about the services provided to support them in home educating their children? (List all approaches used)

Letters/leaflets, EHE guidelines pack website
Consultant contact Information Service newsletters
Emails from extended services to support group co-ordinators, then disseminated by groups.

Assessment and Monitoring

Q32 Following the initial assessment visit, are further monitoring visits made to a home educated child?


Don't know

Q33 If yes, how often, on average, are these carried out?
More than twice a year

Twice a year

Once a year

Less than once a year

Q34 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given
If provision is of concern then visits are made more frequently to support families and ensure children’s progress. Whilst we try to work in partnership with parents and offer visits parents do not have to agree to a visit, preferring instead to communicate in writing.

Q35 On average, how often is the child seen when a visit is made?

Always, at each visit

Usually, but not always



Depends on the child / circumstances

Q36 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given
Sometimes visits may not be at the child’s home but at another venue such as the LA office. In these cases the child is often not present and their work and future plans are presented.

Q37 If the child is seen, where is s/he usually seen?
In the home

At the home, but do not go inside

Another venue

Depends on the child / circumstances

Q38 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given
Children are occasionally seen in a group situations in a venue rented for the purpose e.g. children working on Christian based curriculum who are educated together. Children and families have also met with consultants at other venues.

Q39 If you are not permitted access to a child, is any further action taken?


Don't know
Q40 If yes, what further steps are taken?
Reports on provision are carefully monitored and further information requested only if there are any concerns. If there are justified concerns and the parent does not supply extra information a referral is made to EWS.

Q41 How is the suitability of the education provided to the child assessed? (Please describe)
Suitability of the education is most effectively assessed on a visit where parents work in partnership with the LA consultants. The consultants have extensive experience from a wide range of educational backgrounds. We find children often very pleased to share their successes and aspirations. Children with special educational needs statements or additional identified needs are visited by our SEN consultant. A report confirming the verbal feedback given on the visit is written. Parents who choose to send reports/ pupil work etc receive a report from a consultant based on the information shared. Reports give a judgement on suitability of the provision including recommendations for improvement where necessary.

Q42 Is the local authority clear about what the definition of a 'suitable education' is?

Q43 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given
The Designated LA officer and consultants have had extensive meetings on defining suitable and have wide ranging experience on educational approaches. A suitable education is one which meets the needs of the individual and allows them to progress in line with their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have. A suitable education needs to be full time but does not need to follow any specific format. A wide variety of methodology may be employed to learn, all equally valid. Ultimately the education provided must enable a child to become part of the community in which they live but not preclude other life chances outside of that community.

Q44 Does the local authority have systems in place to track the educational progress of home educated children?


Don't know
Q45 Please use this space to add further detail to the answer you have just given
Annual reports are completed and validate the evidence from monitoring of the progress made by home educated children. These reports are more extensive where visits have been made. Where concerns are identified (raised by parents or consultants) agreed statements regarding developments are recorded. Recommendations are recorded by consultants and follow up visit timescales are arranged when provision is not enabling children to progress.

Q46 Of the home educated children in your area of whom you have knowledge, what proportion (as a percentage) in your estimation is receiving a suitable, full time (20hrs a week) education? (Please describe)
In our estimation 90% of pupils are receiving a suitable full time education. This estimation comes from our records which show 7.1% of provision has been to EWS for further investigation. 2.5% of provision is currently being monitored by consultants following recommendations being given and will receive a follow up visit. 0.5% have been requested to provide more information regarding their provision to enable the suitability to be assessed.

Q47 Does the local authority take any further steps if a home educated child's education was found to be unsuitable or not full time?


Don't know
Q48 Please use this space to add further detail to the answer you have just given
Families are given clear details as to why the provision is deemed unsuitable. Where a visit is made consultants will offer support to make education suitable and the family will be given time to make changes. Follow up visits are arranged. Contact details for support groups or other agencies are also given where appropriate. When concern about provision is raised based on written information received the family is made aware of the concerns in writing and asked to provide more details of their provision in order for further assessment to be made. In most cases changes in provision are made at this stage, sometimes with EWS support. If the LA is not satisfied that provision is suitable a referral is made to EWS who can then issue a school attendance order in accordance with legislation.

Q49 Does the local authority face any challenges in assessing whether home educated children receive a suitable education?


Don't know
Q50 If you answered yes to Q49, please describe the challenges and what you think could be done to overcome these
There are children who are being home educated and have never attended school who are not registered with the LA. We clearly cannot assess the suitability of their education if we do not know who they are. Registration with the LA would remedy this situation and enable LAs to offer services and support through partnership.
Some children have never been seen by the LA regarding home education as parents have not consented to a visit. Reports on suitability of provision are based on information presented by parents. Whilst we recognise that refusing a visit does not infer less suitable provision, discussion with parents at least once would enable LAs to support parents and build a relationship.

Q51 Thinking about your local area, in the last five years, how many cases have you come across that use the premise of home education as a 'cover' for child abuse, forced marriage or other aspects of child neglect?
None recorded.

Q52 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given. Please include the number of Serious Case Reviews you know about that have a home education element.
No serious case reviews.

Q53 Do you think the current system for safeguarding children who are educated at home is adequate?


Don't know
Q54 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given
Just because children are not seen does not mean that they are at risk of harm. Seeing children does not always eliminate harm as recent cases show. Most children are brought up and educated in loving homes and are well cared for. Children are seen by others within the home education community, within the community groups and by neighbours. A small number of children have not been seen by anyone outside their immediate family, so concerns would not be identified. This response was from cross service views as were many other responses.

Q55 Do you think that home educated children in your local authority are able to achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes? Please say why you think that for each of the five outcomes

Be Healthy- Home educated children are able achieve the be Healthy outcomes in terms of physical health as they are often members of active social groups, either in formal teaching sessions or with informal groups of other home educating families. Most children seen during visits are exhibit good emotional and mental health. Families who have had bullying issues report improved health in this area after home educating. We do not have evidence as to sexual health or drug education, although there are no reported difficulties in this area we are aware of.

Stay Safe- Children are able to meet these outcomes. There have been no reported incidents of home educated children suffering injury, bullying or discrimination. Children’s levels of crime and anti-social behaviour are different to children attending school.

Enjoy and achieve- children who have been seen during visits enjoy and achieve in their chosen aspects of education. Some have progressed to university, many to college and some directly to work. Home educated pupils in Cumbria do not generally become NEETs at 16 according to LA research.

Positive contribution and economic well being-As a result of following their interests and skills and being members of an active community many children are able to make a positive contribution. They also engage in further training and gain employment.

Q56 Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for supporting home educating families?



Don't know

Q57 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given
Home educating parents have two major problems in Cumbria at present. Firstly, the difficulty of finding an exam centre to take GCSEs. The county is working on that at present through the designated Officer. Secondly, funding becomes an issue around age 15 when children try to access college courses. Parents find it hard to understand that they are liable for fees when some school registered pupils are funded.

Q58 Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for monitoring home educating families and ensuring that home educated children are able to achieve the five outcomes?


Don't know

Q59 Please use this space to add detail to the answer you have just given
The ECM outcomes should be given clearer reference and examples in the government guidance on home education as many parents are unaware of the ECM outcomes. Parents could be asked to provide examples of how they are meeting the five outcomes as part of their reports on provision .If Every Child Matters, then home educated children matter too and should be given opportunities to meet the outcomes.


Q60 Has the Director of Children's Services and the Lead Member for Children and Young People seen and agreed with the answers you have given above?

Lead member

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