Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bedfordshire's Response


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. You may find it helpful to read through the questionnaire before attempting to complete it. 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 on-line at www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/ete/homeeducation

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.

Please note, the Director of Children's Services and Lead Member for Children and Young People are asked to sign off the response to this questionnaire before submitting it.

Please return your completed questionnaire by Friday 6 February to [email address]

Or by post to:

Elizabeth Green

Home Education Review


Level 2

Sanctuary Buildings

Great Smith Street

London SW1P 3BT

Thank you for taking time to respond to these questions.

Section One - About your local authority

Name of LA

Bedfordshire County Council

Tel. No of main contact

01462 712336

E-mail of main contact

[email address]

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

Yes / No

1. Who is involved in supporting and monitoring home educated children within the local authority and other agencies?

Team with main responsibility - Assessment and Monitoring Team - one officer

List all teams / professionals involved



Home Education Officer

Education Welfare

Education Psychology

Traveller Education


Home Education Officer

Social Care

Youth Offending

Schools Innovation Scheme

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

Local protocol in place

Section Two - Data and Tracking

2. How many children are currently home educated in your local authority?


Registered with LA

Non-registered children

Primary age



Secondary age






3. Are these figures accurate or based on estimates?


Where do you get this data from?


How do you know the data are accurate?

Contact with families / school data. Schools and Education Welfare Service contact me when they become aware of possible EHE applications.


What data have you used to arrive at this figure? (List all sources)


4. How confident are you in the accuracy of this data?

Very confident Fairly confident Don't know

Not very confident Not at all confident

5. How often does the local authority get updated data?

List frequency for each source separately

Home Education Officer - daily

Schools database - termly

Traveller Education - annually

6. Thinking about your home educated population, what proportions have the following characteristics? Please say whether these figures are based on estimates or accurate data.



Delete as appropriate

Statement for SEN


Estimate / accurate

Non-statemented SEN


Estimate / accurate

Gypsy, Roma, Traveller heritage


Estimate / accurate

Other BME Group (please state below)


Estimate / accurate

  • African

Estimate / accurate

  • Asian

Estimate / accurate

Estimate / accurate

7. 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

8. 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?


Why do you think that?

A revised protocol will shortly be in place with schools and social care services to ensure faster sharing of information


Why do you think that?

Don't know

Section Three - Supporting Home Educating Families

9. How does the local authority ensure families know about their rights and responsibilities in relation to home education?

List all approaches used


Documentation / Leaflets

Home Education Officer


10. What support does your local authority provide to home educating families?

List all forms of support offered

Home Education Officer advises on resources, teaching, planning, links/contacts to other support, opportunities for open sessions, display of children's work, free books scheme, references for college, innovation scheme at 2 local schools.

11. How does the local authority let families know about the services provided to support them in home educating their children?

List all approaches used

via Home Education Officer / letter / phone / face to face / school meetings

Documentation / Leaflets


Open Sessions

Section Four - Assessment and Monitoring

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

Yes No Don't know

12a. If yes, how often, on average, are these carried out?

More than twice a year How often?

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Twice a year Once a year

Less than once a year

Additional comments

1) Initial advice and support on capacity for provision after a school meeting where the child is at school

2) Monitoring visit to review suitability

3) Annual visit to be updated and discuss forward plans

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

Always, at each visit Usually, but not always

Sometimes Never

Depends on the child / circumstances Please describe

Parents may elect not to meet and Children may also elect not to be seen. The law does not currently allow the EHE officer to insist on a face to face meeting nor to visit the home or review the learning facilities

14. If the child is seen, where is s/he usually seen?

In the home At the home, but do not go inside

Another venue Please specifiy

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Depends on the child / circumstances Please describe

Child usually discusses work

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

Yes No Don't know

15a. If yes, what further steps are taken?

Please describe

- Further requests for information to ensure a clear link between written report and child e.g. photographs of the child at work, with other adults

- Offer to meet with supporting adults of the parents' choice

16. How is the `suitability' of the education provided to the child assessed?

Please describe

Initial assessment attempts to describe the child's ability, aptitude and interests from school and parents where possible, any special needs or Gypsy, Roma Traveller needs addressed: collaboration with other relevant professionals such as Connexions.

17. Is the local authority clear about what the definition of a `suitable education' is?


Why is that?

The requirements on parents in terms of content and quality of schooling are much too weakly defined. As long as a parent can articulate their thinking about why they have chosen their approach- even if that does not include basic skills- the council has problems in defining it as unsuitable. A much tighter national definition of suitable is needed couched in terms of minimum expectations of skills, knowledge and experiences.


Why is that?

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

Yes No Don't know

If yes, please describe the system

Documentation and processes in place via home education officer

Contacts made with family to discus aims/goals and progress made as well as any other means e.g. daily diary; child's work

19. Of the home educated children in your area of whom you have knowledge, what proportion in your estimation are receiving a suitable, full time (20hrs a week) education?

Please describe

90% under current guidance since distinction between family life and child's education is not always clear: lack of clarity and showing how the child is challenged on learning restricts the meaning of suitable

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

Yes No Don't know

20a. If yes, what steps are then taken?

Please describe

- Parents offered advice to improve within an agreed time

- Other support options offered if not already taken up

- Advice from other professionals such as SEN officers

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

Yes No Don't know

If yes, please describe challenges and what you think could be done to overcome these

The Council has no absolute right to insist on meeting the child, on assessing their needs nor on measuring their progress independently of the parents - the regulations and guidance give the child no protection from parental decisions about their learning. There are no national standards for expected learning outcomes for home educated children which creates problems in assessing the proposed learning programmes. Parents are able to deregister from school before the Council has assessed suitability - no deregistration should be allowed until a full assessment, including an assessment of all possible risks to the child's welfare has been carried out.

22. 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?

Please specify number At least 2

Additional comments

Please include the number of Serious Case Reviews you know about that have a home education element

Involvement of the child in criminal activity

Parental Neglect

1 Serious Case Review

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

Yes Why do you think that?

No Why do you think that?

No child with a child protection plan where the harm is directly attributable to the parents or the person who is intended to educate them should be permitted to be educated at home. Children in home education need to be talked to separately from their parents and all social care referrals in relation to children being taught at home must be given priority.

Don't know

22. Do you think that home educated children in your local authority are able to achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes?

Yes Please say why for each of the five outcomes.

Be healthy

Stay safe

Enjoy and achieve

Make a positive contribution

Achieve economic well-being

No Please say why for each of the five outcomes.

In the absence of independent measurement or assessment it is not possible to say how many children educated at home have access to or achieve the 5 outcomes. The most recent positive national survey covered only 12 families. We have serious concerns about achievement levels, safeguarding and curriculum breadth and depth.

23. Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for supporting home educated families?

Yes What should they be?

Training for those considering home education would be useful on things like defining learning outcomes and reasonable expectations of children.

Home educated children need better access to IAG through Connexions service

No Why do you think that?

Don't know

24. 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?

Yes What should they be?

The learning outcomes expected of home educated children need tighter statutory definition.

Separate review meetings with children are essential

No de registration should be allowed before the assessment of suitability has been completed

No child subject to a CP plan where the care is directly attributable to the parent or the person intending to educate the child ought to be educated at home.

No Why do you think that?

Don't know

Thank you for taking time to respond to these questions.

Please return your completed questionnaire, by Friday 6 February to [email address] or by post to the address on page one. If you are returning the questionnaire electronically, please add the name of the DCS and Lead Member in the signature box.


I agree that the information supplied in this questionnaire is a true reflection of practice in this local authority.

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Signed Date

Director of Children's Services

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Signed Date

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