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How to respond to an LA demanding samples of the child’s work.

Samples versus examples

Please read the whole page, though template replies are further down the page.

When an LA asks for examples of the child’s ‘work’ what they often mean is samples. This could be a request for photos of ‘work’ your child has completed, screenshots of websites, or some go so far as to ask for videos of the child ‘working’ or log in details for learning websites.
We use the term ‘work’ because the vast majority of LAs still expect some sort of formal learning, this is why we are strong advocates of providing information on your own terms, ie using our guide and writing a report. A report gives you the chance to describe your style and approach plus all of the learning and progress made.

An example would be ‘Jonny has been using real life skills to learn area and perimeter by calculating how much turf is needed for the garden, and how much lace is needed to edge the tablecloth.’
A sample would be a photo of Jonny doing it.

Or, example ‘Sam has been working through quadratic equations in the CGP GCSE workbook and Oak Academy lessons.’
A sample would be photos of their completed work.

What can the LA ask for?

The LA, according to the government EHE guidance, are allowed to ask for information in any way they see fit, however, families are not obliged to respond in the way the LA requests you do. But you should always respond (we recommend with a report). No response can and will be used to assume the education is not suitable.

Why should we say no to providing samples?

There are lots of issues surrounding providing samples, it is an invasion of your child’s privacy, sharing their personal work with a complete stranger can actually be really upsetting.

Sharing a couple of photos does not provide a holistic image of what your home ed is like, or everything it involves, this then puts you at risk of the LA asking for more, or claiming the education is not suitable (as there’s little to no explanation of why that ‘work’ is suitable to that child).

Providing samples is allowing the LA to accuse you of lying in your report, it is allowing them to overstep their duty. And it causes a precedent for other families ‘but Donna provided dozens of photos, therefore we think you are lying to us.’ What you do has an impact on the whole community!

How to respond to sample requests.

Please read the other info on this page before choosing how to reply.

Stage 1 – the LA has asked for info/visit plus samples.

If your LA has written to you asking for a visit, and no mention of a report, we suggest writing to them saying no thanks. They are most likely to then ask for a report, however some don’t, so don’t offer unless they ask. Don’t mention samples at this stage even if they have.

If the LA have asked for a visit or report, plus samples, we suggest responding just with a report, and making no mention of samples.

Stage 2 – report sent, samples still being requested.

If you have sent a report and the LA respond thanking you but asking for samples we suggest saying
‘Thank you for confirming receipt of our provision and resource report, as you have not raised any specific concerns we assume you agree that the child is not missing education and the home education is suitable. My child does not consent to sharing samples of their learning with a complete stranger, we expect you to respect their decision.’

Stage 3 – The LA reply still demanding samples.

At this stage we strongly advise you to reach out to us. Either via our Facebook group, or our contact form.

If you wish to respond without our personalised support, here are some useful snippets to include:

I will not be providing samples of their work. It is their intellectual property and they have not
given me permission to share it with you (a stranger). (UNCRC Article 12 – respect for the views of the child).

The EHE Departmental Guidance for LAs does not state that you must see samples of my child’s work. In fact, the word “sample” is not mentioned at all in the 45 page document. It does state, however, in section 6.12 “an authority should not dismiss information provided by parents simply because it is not in a particular form preferred by the authority”.
6.12 “…information provided by parents should demonstrate that the education actually being provided is suitable and address issues such as progression expected and (unless the home education has only just started) achieved.”

5.4 “Some local authorities will ask to see the child at home or in another location, as well as seeing examples of work done. As parents, you are under no legal obligation from education
law to agree to such a meeting (but see section below on safeguarding) or to produce specific evidence but you should consider carefully the reasons for not doing so, what is in the best interests of your child, and what is the most sensible approach.”
It is in the best interests of our child to respect their wishes not to share their work with a stranger. The provision and resource report we provided adequately explains and evidenced how the children are educated suitably and how progress is ascertained. Providing a report is the most suitable form of communication for our family and we expect you to respect that decision.

As emphasised by section 2.11 of the EHE Departmental Guidance for Parents, there is no legal requirements for me to give formal work, to date that work nor to mark that work. I do not need to formally assess progress nor set development objectives. Therefore it is not appropriate to request samples. Learning takes place in far more ways than book work, providing a limited amount of written work to you does not provide a holistic view of the provision and therefore not suitable. Our report does provide a holistic view.

It is unfortunate that you appear to have disregarded the EHE guidance for Local Authorities that states:
5.2 “It is important that the authority’s arrangements are proportionate and do not seek to exert more oversight than is actually needed where parents are successfully taking on this task.”
It is quite clear from your ultra vires requests that you are not taking a proportionate approach.

5.3 “Establishing a positive relationship between the local authority and the home-educating parent – where that is possible – will allow authorities to better understand parents’ educational provision and preferences and offer them appropriate support.”
Accusing me of lying, which your demand for supporting samples is akin to, is definitely not creating a positive relationship. Which, in turn, means families will not reach out for support. We are lucky to have ample support with family, local and national home educators and groups.

5.4 “ …where there were no previous concerns about the education provided and no reason to think that has changed because the parents are continuing to do a good job, such contact would often be very brief.”
I do not consider your attempts to monitor and persistent requests for further information to be brief contact.

Please can you detail exactly what it is about my child’s education that you are concerned about, so I can give more information and provide further examples. Otherwise, I look forward to hearing from you again in a year’s time, when I will provide my annual updated provision and resource report.

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