Home Educating does not mean you are excluded from all the services a schooled child can access. In this article we shall discuss all things Home Education, special needs, disability and the EHCP.
Having an EHCP does not change the deregistration process, there are no extra meetings needed, you do not have to wait for an EHCP review, or be given permission to deregister from a mainstream school. Follow the deregistration process as detailed here for the correct area of the UK and type of school. And of course contact us if you are having any issues.
The school nurse team are responsible for Home Educated children as well as schooled, they usually support Home Educators with things like referrals for CAMHS, autism and ADHD assessments etc. Your GP may refuse to do a referral claiming your child needs to be in school, they say this because they don’t know you are eligible to the school nursing team too. Just give the team a ring (the GP receptionist or a Google search should have the number) and explain that you Home Educate and would like to discuss a referral.
There will be some areas of the country where GPs have not handed over all of these duties to the school nurse team yet, so a GP may refer you. Wouldn’t it be nice if every area followed the same process?
If your Home Educated child is referred for an assessment you may find the team say no because the child is not in school, do not panic, this again is from ignorance, if you reply stating that they have a duty to all children regardless of educational setting, that you are able to provide extra information from another adult (Home Ed group, a neighbour, a relative, scout leader, swim instructor etc) or suggest that they use the assessment’s allotted hours to have the SALT (or similar worker) to come out and observe the child at home, at group etc they should be able to do the assessment with this extra information. They need information beyond the parent, with it they can not refuse.
If your child has an EHCP when you deregister from school the LA will want to carry out a review, this is to ensure you are able to meet the child’s needs and to figure out if the LA has any duty remaining. The LA have a duty to provide for SEN where school (or now in your case, the parent) can not. For Home Educators this can mean services such as SALT, specialist equipment, access to specialist groups etc. The review should be done without school involvement as they are no longer involved with your child. The review can be done in person, over the phone, or our preferred method by email. The LA should be clear about the process and provide you with all of the information you need, speak up if they are failing to provide everything. Remember, you are the parent and educator, you are in charge here, you tell them what your child’s needs are, and you must ensure the EHCP reflects those needs (we will discuss EHCP specifics later on).
The LA are obliged to carry out annual reviews as normal (see further down).
If you Home Educate and want to apply for an EHCP the LA website should contain details on how you put in a parental request for assessment. They have a duty to every child and can not say no because you Home Educate. They may not have done one for a Home Ed kid before so you may need to talk them through it. You may need to reassure the EHCP team that they do have the duty to assess, if they still refuse, then appeal.
If the first stage needs assessment is turned down. Was it turned down lawfully?
The legal test can be found at section 36 ( Children and Families Act 2014 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/6/section/36
You will see the word must – so the LA does not have discretion if the legal test is met.
The test has two limbs:
First limb – child has or may have SEN (Special Educational Needs)
Second limb – it may be necessary for SEP (Special Educational Provision) in accordance with EHC plan.
If the refusal is for any other reason than these limbs not being met then if you do want an EHCP for your child then challenge the LA decision, and use your appeal rights.
Regardless of setting, school, alternative provision (AP), EOTAS or EHE with or without a personal budget (PB) the EHC plan must be reviewed on an annual basis.
The AR is a process (not just a meeting as some individuals mistakenly believe).
The regulations talk about an AR “meeting” a parent must be invited to the meeting and must have over 2 weeks notice. A parent does not have to attend a meeting but the parents views must be taken into account as part of AR.
As part of AR process at least 2 weeks before a meeting date is scheduled all professional reports and information that may be relied upon or used within AR process MUST be circulated.
There should be no surprises at conclusion of AR.
If a meeting is not something you want to attend as by virtue of being EHE the meeting may literally be the parent and SEN caseworker you can communicate any amendments you would like to be made and any views on the professional reports back and forth by email without an actual “meeting” and this also ensures a clear paper trail. If you choose to meet or keep communication via email remember that you do not have to consent to the EHE person being present, be sure to ask the SEN caseworker who else is going to be at the meeting, or who else is copied into the communications. If they say the EHE team, we advise you refuse to allow them to be part of this process as it muddies the waters, it allows EHE to confuse their duty and could cause issues with EHE reviews.
If you are EHE, have no PB and your child is not at a planned transition point within the next 12 months, and their special Educational Needs (SEN) remain the same as identified in current EHCP you can simply confirm all SEN identified in section B continues to accurately reflect current SEN and you will be continuing to meet their SEN as part of their continuing elective home education.
If you did not previously have a PB but now feel a PB may be appropriate (for specialist provision to support EHE) then requesting a PB during AR means the LA must consider the request.
If there are changes that need to be made to EHC plan then these should be communicated to the SEN caseworker, this can be again back and forth via email. Changes may be because they have seen new professionals in the last 12 months or because by virtue of being able to control certain aspects of the environment some needs are no longer present or maybe they have now had sufficient input from particular therapies to address this need or had the freedom to scaffold and master some skills.
Within 4 weeks of AR the LA must communicate in writing either that the EHC plan continues as is, or that it is being amended, or that it is being ceased. If you are not happy with the AR outcome you can (within 2 months of this decision) appeal to SEND tribunal.
It’s important to realise that the EHCP does not have a layout option for Home Educators, so do not panic that it may be worded in a school type way, do not worry that a school is named. We shall talk you through what each section is and how it is relevant.
The description IPSEA uses:
Under Regulation 12 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 (the “SEN Regs”), an EHC plan must have the following sections:
SEN Reg 12(3), and paragraph 9.63 of the SEN and Disability Code of Practice (the “Code”), state that where the child or young person is in or beyond Year 9, the EHC plan must also include the provision required by the child or young person to assist in preparation for adulthood and independent living, for example, support for finding employment, housing or for participation in society.
The following sections are most relevant to Home Educators, though all sections are important:
Section A is for the parent and child’s views, this allows professionals to understand the child/young person better.
Section B is special educational needs, this is the important section and does need to be updated and reviewed annually. As an EHE parent you must be meeting the needs detailed in this section. For example child X could have sensory challenges around loud noises. Child B could struggle to engage with certain tones of voice. This is where you will need to ensure the EHCP accurately describes the child’s needs. These could change as the child ages, hence needing annual reviews, as parent and educator you need to ensure this section is accurate.
Section F is special educational provision, under s42 the LA have an absolute duty to ensure this provision happens except where under s42(5) the parent/s discharge them of this duty by making their own alternative arrangements (such as electively home educating). Where there is EHE with personal budget or EHE with SEN commissioned services the LA and parent have agreed the parent is making own arrangements except for the specific provision in section F that LA and parent have mutually agreed the LA will continue to provide either through a personal budget or through direct commissions.
Section I contains 2 parts, the first being the educational setting part, this will be the LA offer of a type of school. If you are EHE then this section will state mainstream or special school, this does not mean your child has to go to school. The second part being the name of a school, if you are EHE then this section will be left blank. If you have an EOTAS agreement then both sections will be left blank.
Section J will detail any personal budget that has been agreed.
Just to reiterate, EHE is not going to be listed in the EHCP.
Why is terminology so important? It can be the difference between a useful EHCP and one that is not what you thought it was going to be, for example if you want EOTAS but the EHC caseworker keeps using EHE instead, you will find the EHCP has no EOTAS provision. If you talk about Home Schooling the professionals involved will assume you are being provided the education by the LA.
EHE is Elective Home Education, you, the parent are responsible for the educational provision and the costs. You are choosing not to use school.
EOTAS means education other than as school, this is not the same as Home Education. The child is may not be registered at a school, often because there is no appropriate school place. Or the child may have dual status, registered at school for some things but the rest of the education provided in other ways, this could mean online classes, access to group sessions, specialist support etc.
Home Schooling would mean your child stays registered at school but is unable to attend, often because they are physically or mentally too ill to attend. The Local Authority (usually supported by the school) has a legal duty to provide the education. Whether via a tutor in the home or online classes etc.
Flexischooling is an agreement with school where the child attends school for some of the week and the rest of their education is provided by you, this can be via forest school, learning at home etc.
The EHE team (or whatever title they use) have a duty to identify children not in receipt of education, they do this by making informal enquiries. We strongly urge you to give our website a really good read as there are many relevant sections linked to this. Such as Where to start, Dealing with the LA (England and Wales), Dealing with the LA (Scotland). the legalities.
It is important to address SEND in the report if the needs affect the provision. For example if your child can not write then you would need to explain their need, how it affects them and what you do to support that need. You do not need to have a formal diagnosis for a need to exist or be included in the report. If you have an EHCP you can use the needs listed in it to help describe how the Home Education is suitable to their needs.
SEND does not affect your right to Home Educate and your child’s needs can not be used against you choosing to Home Educate as long as you are meeting their needs.
There is a government consultation about proposed new EHE (England) guidance. We will be producing a guide ASAP to help you respond, so no need to rush in.
For now, have a read, BUT DO NOT PANIC ABOUT THE PROPOSED CHANGES: