Monday, May 14, 2012

A Barrister's View on LAs and Home Education 2010

Ian Dowty's 2010 discussion of parity under the law when it comes to assessment of education which may be found here is as follows:  (NB: certain bits of legislation, eg: the Localism Act and relevant bits of Guidance eg: on Children Missing Education have since been updated)

Local Authorities and Home Education (some extracted notes)

By Ian Dowty

Home educators are free to choose the type of education they wish their children to receive.Rather than seeking to impose a prescriptive expectationof what an education should look like in the view of the LA, the first task of the LA should be to discover how a parent home educates and whatvalues, intention and philosophy they have. Prescribing what characterises an education indicates that an LA has prejudged the issue and is not open to considering other models of education.

In seeking to discover from a home educator what is their educational philosophy, the LA needs to bear in mind that some home educators find it difficult to set out that philosophy in theoretical terms. An inability to explain how a car engine works does not mean a person is not adept at making thecar move effectively. This is but one reason why those who seek to "assess" home education provision have been trained to have a good grasp of how it looks and can be delivered, trying to assess what a home educator finds difficult to express (but not to do) might well lead to the erroneous conclusion that a no suitable education was being received when in fact all was well.

Since the coming into force of the Human Rights Act 1998, an LA has to act compatibly with the European Convention on Human Rights (`ECHR ́).The DSCF ́s Elective Home Education Guidance for Local Authorities (`EHEGLA ́) sets out, at para 2.2, Article 2 of the First Protocol to the ECHR thus ;

"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."
If they so choose, home education, is directed by parents who are thus able to do so "in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions". It is my view that the European jurisprudence permits parents to educate their children in any way they choose provided that it is in accordance with a philosophy which is cogent and worthy of respect in a democratic society.English jurisprudence would perhaps repeat the phrase set out in a case which involved the teaching offered by a school, the Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School, namely, that such an education is a suitable education if it

"primarily equipped a child for life within the community rather than the way of life of the whole country [provided that] it did not foreclose on a child's options to adopt some other way of life later."

Thus the Divisional Court gave its approval to a religious-based teaching model which (as I understand it) was, and still is,conducted largely in a minority language.  A consideration of that school ́s 2007 Ofsted report is instructive. Ofsted ́s overall evaluation of the school is that (with my emphasis) :

"The overall quality of education provided by the school is inadequate because of the poor Chol curriculum. In Kodesh, the curriculum and quality of teaching are good, work is of a high standard and pupils make good progress. However, in Chol (secular studies) their progress is unsatisfactory because the curriculum is unstructured and the quality of teaching and assessment is inadequate. The provision for their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. Care and welfare are satisfactory; checks on the suitability of staff are not always completed in advance of their appointment.  Parents and pupils are overwhelmingly positive about the school. Pupils are well prepared for life in their community."

I know of no moves to close the school and suspect that no school attendance orders have been issued to parents who choose to educate their children at such a school.

It is incumbent upon an LA in considering home education not to seek a greater excellence of education provision than would be expected of a school.  If parents are (evidently) able to discharge their responsibility to educate their children by sending them to such a school, they should be able to do so by adopting the same or similar methods themselves.  At Summerhill School, lessons are provided but it is optional for pupils to attend at them. At Steiner schools children are not formally "taught" anything until the year their second teeth emerge, that is around the age of 7 (there is now a state funded Steiner school).  In many European countries a formal education does not start until that age in any event and they are adversely critical of the conventional British model.

No doubt some may disapprove of the model of education provided at such schools but that is a long way from saying that, in a democratic society, they should be closed or parents should be prevented from educating in accordance with their religious and philosophical convictions.  Home education provision is no different, if such schools are tolerated, so should home education even if LAs find it challenging.   Pragmatically, an LA enforcing education in the criminal courts might find the existence of schools such as these difficult hurdle over which to scramble.If the currentgovernment ́s plans produce a proliferation of small schools, an LA might find itself in even greater difficulty.

If those difficulties are to be experienced in the final advent of a prosecution, it is incumbent on an LA to acknowledge this from the outset and not to seek a particular model of education delivered at an unrealistic standard.  The law assists them in this task.Section 437 Education Act 1996 is framed in the negative. It does not at the outset require, or even allow, the LA to seek evidence upon which it has to be satisfied that an education complies with s7 of the 1996 Act. 

An LA should resist any attempt to define the nature of the education that the LA appears to be looking for and to prescribe how it will find it.  EHEGLA is quite clear in setting out its guidance on the law, at paragraph 3.13

"Parents are required to provide an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child. There is currently no legal definition of "full-time". Children normally attend school for between 22 and 25 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, but this measurement of "contact time" is not relevant to elective home education where there is often almost continuous one-to-one contact and education may take place outside normal"school hours". The type of educational activity can be varied and flexible.  Home educating parents are not required to:

* teach the National Curriculum
* provide a broad and balanced education
* have a timetable
* have premises equipped to any particular standard
*set hours during which education will take place
* have any specific qualifications
* make detailed plans in advance
* observe school hours, days or terms
* give formal lessons
* mark work done by their child
* formally assess progress or set development objectives
* reproduce school type peer group socialisation
* match school-based, age-specific standards.


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

Before I deal with the operation of s437, it might be helpful to place that section in the context of the LA duties as a whole.  However, what needs to be said, at the outset, is that the duty to ensure that a child of compulsory school age is educated is placed firmly on parents by s7 and on no other person or body including the LA. LAs would be unwise to seek to extend their powers and responsibilities into this area. If they were to take for themselves such a fundamental duty, they must appreciate that by their active, and unnecessary, assumption of this parental role, they would open themselves to the possibility of actions in negligence where otherwise none would exist.

Section 436A Education Act 1998 imposes a duty on the LA to

"make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but (a) are not registered pupils at a school, and (b) who are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at school".

"Suitable education" is defined in s436A(3) as

"an efficient full-time education suitable to age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs the child might have"(in other words in the same terms as s7 of the 1996 Act).

Section 436A(2) requires the LA to have regard to guidance given by the Secretary of State. The current guidance is the `Revised statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children ́ (the `CME guidance ́) issued in January 2009.  Paragraph 87 of this guidance makes it clear that when, in exercise of arrangements put in place to locate such children, it is found that a child is home educated, the LA should proceed as set out in paragraphs 2.7 to 2.11 and 3.4 to 3.6 of EHEGLA. Paragraph 92 of the CME guidance also reminds the LA that EHEGLA makes it clear that there are a number of equally valid educational models.

It is worth pointing out that both the CME guidance and EHEGLA were issued by the same government which was promoting the Every Child Matters agenda.

I would also emphasise that the CME guidance is statutory guidance, departure from which requires the LA to have clear reasons for doing so (para 7 CME guidance). The statutory guidance states that the procedures, set out in the paragraphs of EHEGLA which are cited, are to be followed.

Paragraph 87 of the CME guidance (with the emphasis given by the DCSF) provides the following guidance :

"Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 requires local authorities to make arrangements to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children who are not pupils at schools and who are not otherwise receiving suitable education. In order to comply with this duty local authorities need to make arrangements which will as far as possible enable them to determine whether any children who are not pupils at schools, such as those being educated at home, are receiving suitable education. In order to do thislocal authorities should make inquirieswith parents educating children at home about the educational provision being made for them.  The procedures to be followed with respect to such investigations are set out in the EHE Guidelines,2.7-2.11 and 3.4-3.6."

The paragraphs of EHEGLA mentioned as incorporated into the statutory guidance are as follows:

"2.7 Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis. However, under Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996, local authorities shall intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. This section states that:

"If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education."
Section 437(2) of the Act provides that the period shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.

2.8  Prior to serving a notice under section 437(1), local authorities are encouraged to address the situation informally.The most obvious course of action if the local authority has information that makes it appear that parents are not providing a suitable education, would be to ask parents for further information about the education they are providing. Such a request is not the same as a notice under section 437(1), and is not necessarily a precursor for formal procedures. Parents are under no duty to respond to such enquiries, but it would be sensible for them to do so.

2.9 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 after all reasonable steps have been taken to try to resolve the situation. At any stage following the issue of the Order, parents may present evidence to the local authority that they are now providing an appropriate education and apply to have the Order revoked. If the local authority refuses to revoke the Order, parents can choose to refer the matter to the Secretary of State. If the local authority prosecutes the parents for not complying with the Order, then it will be for a court to decide whether or not the education being provided is suitable and efficient. The court can revoke the Order if it is satisfied that the parent is fulfilling his or her duty. It can also revoke the Order where it imposes an education supervision order. Detailed information about school attendance orders is contained in Ensuring Regular School Attendance paragraphs 6 to 16.4.

2.11 Where the authority imposes a time limit,every effort should be made to make sure that both the parents and the named senior officer with responsibility for elective home education in the local authority are available throughout this period. In particular the Department recommends that the time limit does not expire during or near to school holidays when there may be no appropriate point of contact for parents within the local authority."
and

 "3.4 Local authorities should acknowledge that learning takes place in a wide variety of environments and not only in the home. However, if it appears that a suitable education is not being provided, the local authority should seek to gather any relevant information that will assist them in reaching a properly informed judgement. This should include seeking from the parents any further information that they wish to provide which explains how they are providing a suitable education. Parents should be given the opportunity to address any specific concerns that the authority has. The child should also be given the opportunity, but not required,to attend any meeting that may be arranged or invited to express his or her views in some other way. Parents are under no duty to respond to such requests for information or a meeting, but it would be sensible for them to do so.
3.5 If it appears to a local authority that a child is not receiving a suitable education it may wish to contact the parents to discuss their ongoing home education provision.Contact should normally be made in writing to the parents to request further information. A written report should be made after such contact and copied to the parents stating whether the authority has any concerns about the education provision and specifying what these are, to give the child ́s parents an opportunity to address them. Where concerns about the suitability of the education being provided for the child have been identified, more frequent contact may be required while those concerns are being addressed. Where concerns merit frequent contact, the authority should discuss them with the child ́s parents, with a view to helping them provide a suitable education that meets the best interests of the child.

3.6  Some parents may welcome the opportunity to discuss the provision that they are making for the child ́s education during a home visit but parents are not legally required to give the local authority access to their home. They may choose to meet a local authority representative at a mutually convenient and neutral location instead, with or without the child being present, or choose not to meet at all. Where a parent elects not to allow access to their home or their child, this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the education provision being made. Where local authorities are not able to visit homes, they should, in the vast majority of cases, be able to discuss and evaluate the parents ́educational provision by alternative means. If they choose not to meet,parents may be asked to provide evidence that they are providing a suitable education. If a local authority asks parents for information they are under no duty to comply although it would be sensible for them to do so.  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."

In paragraph 92 of the CME Guidance, EHEGLA is referred to again, thus:

"In order to discharge their duties in relation to children not receiving an education, local authorities should make inquiries with parents about whether their home educated children are receiving a suitable education.The Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities make clear that parents who home educate may take a number of equally valid approaches to educational provision for their children."

It is clear therefore that once a child has been identified who is home educated the CME Guidance requires that the LA proceed in the usual way using the procedures set out in the relevant sections which follow s437 Education Act 1996 and the guidance given in EHEGLA. 

Section 437 causes more difficulties than it needs to do. The approach of many LAs has the effect of confusing the duties and powers it gives them.

Section 437 provides (insofar as is relevant)

"(1) If it appears to a local 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.

(2) That period shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.

(3) If –
(a) a parent on whom a notice has been served under subsection (1) fails to satisfy the local 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."


Section 437(1) establishes that the LA must consider the adequacy of educational provision in two distinct stages, the first of which is a pre-condition for the second to come into operation.

Stage 1 - If it appears to an LEA that a child is not receiving suitable education, then, but only then,

Stage 2 -the LEA shall, by written notice, require a parent to satisfy them that the child is receiving such education.

Logically and legally the 2 stages must involve different considerations in view of the wording Parliament has chosen to use.In stage 1 the word"appears" is used and the "test" is phrased negatively. In stage 2 the LA makes a direct requirement that the home educator "satisfy" the LA that a suitable education is being received.

If Parliament had intended from the outset that the LA had the duty to seek, and a home educator had the obligation to provide, evidence capable of satisfying the LA, then there would have been no need for the 2 separate stages.If the LA were to be empowered to require evidence capable of satisfying it from the outset, the first stage would be redundant.If it is to be given any meaning, as it must, it must be a form of sifting test which only places on the LA the duty, and more importantly only empowers it, to take a general look at the provision being made to see whether further enquiry is necessary.  It cannot authorise a requirement, when the LA first considers the educational provision, that the home educator produce evidence capable of satisfying the LA.

In effect the section establishes that not all parents should be required to satisfy the LA of the educational provision made, only those in respect of whom the LA considers "it appears" that a child "is not receiving suitable education". This is why I say stage 1 is a "sifting process" and only those to whom the LA can say there is an appearance of no suitable education will have any obligation to produce evidence and to have to satisfy their LA.

An analogy might assist.  If you look at a clock and it tells you roughly what you expect to be the time, you accept it even though you cannot be sure it is showing the right time, it has an appearance of not being wrong.  If however, it shows a time that surprises you, then you would open  up the back and have a closer look at the workings as it has an appearance of not keeping time correctly.

Thus it is not the right approach in law for the LA from the outset to write to parents requiring them to produce evidence capable of satisfying the LA that a suitable education is present.Indeed prosecutions in my experience founder because of such misconceptions.

As I have said, in my view, the first task of the LA in "assessing" any home ed provision is to find out from the parent what is their philosophy of education, what are their educational precepts and so to discover what their model of education is like. Provided that this is worthy of respect, it is this model and not the model of education that is preferred by the LA or its individual representatives that must be used in any"assessment".  An LA which does not carry this out risks difficulties in any future prosecution.

The LA has ample powers in the existing legislation to deal with deficient home education but equally the LA is not able nor should it immediately deploy those powers and from the outset write to a home educator demanding evidence capable of satisfying them.   EHEGLA makes it quite clear that the drastic step of issuing a school attendance order is a last resort. 

Paragraph 3.13 of EHEGLA (see above) accurately sets out that home educators do not have to follow the NC, nor do they have to `teach ́`subjects ́.  Unless they chose to do so.Unless home education is provided in that way, it cannot be useful to seek to assess it by reference to`subjects ́.  Again the use of such a word without first checking to see the model adopted by individual home educators indicates the imposition of a broad sweep approach in accordance with the LA ́s model of education. By doing so, the LA risks alienating home educators who are apt to conclude that the LA does not really understand home education at all.They might reasonably conclude that if that is the case, they risk that lack of understanding being visited upon them, were they to announce their presence to the LA. 

No additional requirements can be placed upon parents who home educate a child with a statement than are set out in s7. The LA has no power to insist upon termly targets nor to insist upon parents discussing them with an Advisor.  There are no "special" provisions referable to parents of SEN children and again paragraph 3.13 EHEGLA, which applies equally to all home educators, spells out the law.It follows that it would be wrong to draw an adverse inference should a parent not be prepared to comply with the desire of the LA to involve them more than the parents would wish to be involved.Neither parents nor the child can be compelled to attend when statements are reviewed as is quite clearly reinforced in EHEGLA within para 3.20

"Where the statement is reviewed it should be made clear to parents that they are welcome to attend, but they are not obliged to do so."
In fact EHEGLA sets out quite concisely the position in para 3.19

"Parents need only provide an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have as defined in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996.  It is the authority ́s duty to arrange the provision specified in the statement, unless the child ́s parent has made suitable provision, for as long as a statement is maintained.In some cases a combination of provision by parents and LA may best meet the child ́s needs. Local authorities should consider, for example,providing access to additional resources or treatments where appropriate"

(that is, in accordance with s319 Education Act 1996).  Many LAs insist in their literature that "the LA must still maintain the statement". This may be the case but it is not invariably so.  Para 3.20 of EHEGLA states

"Even if the local authority is satisfied that parents are making suitable arrangements, it remains under a duty to maintain the statement and review it annually, following procedures set out in chapter 9 of the SEN Code of Practice. In some circumstances the child ́s special educational needs identified in the statement will have been related to the school setting and the child ́s needs may readily be met at home by the parents without LA supervision.  It may be appropriate, once it is established that a child ́s special needs are being met without any additional support from the LA, to consider ceasing to maintain the statement. This may be done at the annual review or at any other time."

Para 3.18 of EHEGLA has some important guidance on how the LA should approach the interpretation of the SEN Code of Practice within the context of home education

"Local authorities must have regard to the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. Although this document primarily covers special educational needs in the school and early years ́ settings, it does give information about SEN in relation to home education (paragraphs 8.91 -8.96 of the Code). The Code of Practice emphasises the importance of local authorities and other providers working in partnership with parents. The Code of Practice is statutory guidance and schools, local authorities and others to whom it applies must have regard to it. This means that, apart from the references to the law, these bodies do not have to follow the Code to the letter but they must be able to justify any departure from its guidance.  The foreword states that the Code is designed to help these bodies to"make effective decisions but it does not -and could not -tell them what to do in each individual case".

The guidance then given may be helpful but it should be made clear that it is only advice. The difficulty in putting it in guidance without making that clear is that those who "assess" home education provision may treat the advice as setting down requirements for which they are permitted to look when carrying out any "assessment" when that is not the case at all.  Once more,however, the advice given tends to prescribe a particular model and approach which cannot be insisted upon (para 3.13 EHEGLA). 

Where a statement is maintained it is directed at the LA and not at the parent, indeed any statement which purports to place obligations on parents which they are not prepared to undertake is void.  It is the LA and not the parent who has to make the arrangements set out in the statement. Thus the parent cannot be criticised for failing to make the precise provision set in the special education provision part of the statement provided that they are complying with s7.  As the statement is directed to the LA, there is no reason why it cannot provide access to any special educational provision set out in the statement to enable the home educator to comply with their s7 duty,indeed s324(5) Education Act 1996 states that they must do so.

Suitable Education

Although I have mentioned this above it seems essential that I do so again so that attention is drawn to it.It is always said that there is no definition of the term, but "suitable education" is and has always been defined for the purposes of s437, s443 and now s436A.  It is defined thus:

"In this Chapter, "suitable education", in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have."

This definition was originally to be found in 437(8) Education Act 1996 but was removed from there to s436A(3) when that section was inserted in to the 1996 Act by s4 Education and Inspections Act 2006.  It seems to me the best definition of the term.Although I have referred to the provisions of s436A, I will repeat them as they appear in the section itself :

 "Duty to make arrangements to identify children not receiving education

(1) A local education authority must make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but-

(a)are not registered pupils at a school, and
(b)are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.

(2) In exercising their functions under this section a local education authority must have regard to any guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State.(3) In this Chapter, "suitable education", in relation to a child,means efficient full-time education suitable to his age,ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have."The duty imposed by the statute is therefore to make arrangements to enable the LA to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area of compulsory school age but who are not registered pupils nor receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.  Once it is discovered that a child is being home educated the statutory guidance requires that the LA adopt the procedures set out inEHEGLA, as I have demonstrated above. 



Safeguarding
Many LAs seem to believe that they have an active duty to discover if they need to take action to "safeguard" children.The primary people responsible for keeping children safe are their parents and carers not the LA.Often s175 Education Act 2002 is cited as a justification for "safe and well checks", it states :

"(1)  A local authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that their education functions are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. 

[(2) and (3) are not relevant to an LA]

(4) An authority or body mentioned in any of subsections (1) to (3) shall, in considering what arrangements are required to be made by them under that subsection, have regard to any guidance given from time to time (in relation to England) by the Secretary of State or (in relation to Wales) by the National Assembly for Wales."

This is not a duty directly to safeguard. Nor does it add any new functions as EHEGLA points out (EHEGLA having been issued by the DCSF could be considered in England as guidance issued in the name of the Secretary of State).  Paragraph 2.12 of EHEGLA states :

"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."
EHEGLA paragraph 2.15 expands on the matter as follows,

"As outlined above, local authorities have general duties to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (section 175 Education Act 2002 in relation to their functions as a local authority and for other functions in sections 10 and 11 of the Children Act 2004). These powers allow local authorities to insist on seeing children in order to enquire about their welfare where there are grounds for concern (sections 17 and 47 of theChildren Act 1989). However, such powers do not bestow on local authorities the ability to see and question children subject to elective home education in order to establish whether they are receiving a suitable education."

The correctness of this paragraph in EHEGLA is questionable.  I have already dealt with the ambit of s175 Education Act 2002.  Section 11 Children Act 2004 in effect extends s175 to all other LA functions (but again adds no new ones) and s10 of the 2004 Act imposes a duty to promote co-operation with partners with a view to improving the well-being of children generally.

Paragraph 2.15 confirms the position that the LA has no power to insist on seeing and questioning a child to establish whether they are receiving a suitable education.  It also emphasises that any power to see or question children on "welfare" or "safeguarding" grounds only exists "where there are grounds for concern".   Home education itself cannot be a ground for concern.  Parents have a right to home educate under s7 Education Act 1996.

The phrase in paragraph 2.15 "cause for concern" is also an incorrect precis of the ground upon which the LA can insist on seeing a child. Such a ground is more strictly prescribed in the only legislation which so empowers an LA. That requires there to be reasonable cause for believing or suspecting that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. 

Despite the guidance given in paragraph 2.15 EHEGLA, there is no power to insist on seeing a child under s17 Children Act 1989 (provision of services for children in need, their families and others).

If an LA has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm it can commence an investigation under s47 Children Act 1989.   If in the course of this investigation, access to a child is required but refused, the LA can apply to a court for a child assessment order under s46 Children Act 1989 or for an emergency protection order under s44 of that Act. 

The court will grant the child assessment order it is satisfied that there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child is likely to suffer significant harm. It then becomes the duty of the person caring for the child to produce her as required by the LA.

The court will grant an emergency protection order if it is satisfied that there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is suffering or likely to suffer serious harm if not removed.

Additionally, a police constable who has reasonable cause to believe that a child would otherwise be liable to suffer significant harm may remove the child into police protection under s46 Children Act 1989. 

Monitoring

Paragraph 2.7 of EHEGLA is unequivocal in stating that

"Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis."

The paragraph then goes on to refer to the powers contained in s437 Education Act 1996.

A local authority which seeks information from parents already known to it and who have already supplied information about the education of their children must bear in mind all they know when considering educational provision.  An LA which has several years ́ information of parents who have been successfully home educating would find it difficult to conclude that there were any grounds upon which it might consider it appeared that no suitable education was being received.

© Ian Dowty 3 December 2010.  Local Authorities and Home Education (some extracted notes) by Ian Dowty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivs3.0 Unported Licence.

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