FOR ENGLAND ONLY (updated June 2022)
We hope this print out for professionals is received in the manner it was written, to be informative and ensure families receive appropriate information and support.
There is no obligation upon a Home Educating parent to inform the Local Authority of their decision to Home Educate or register with them. Nor is there any legal duty to fill in the EHE (Elective Home Education) forms. Unfortunately the forms are very often designed with a school type education in mind. Home Educators are not required to create school at home, some choose to, but the majority choose a more child led approach.
The parent’s only duty is to write to the school to deregister. If the child has never been registered at a school there is no duty to inform the LA (4.1 below).
Local Authorities have a duty to establish the identities of children not receiving an education (see 4.2 below). If a child that has never been to school (under the radar) comes to the attention of the LA it is good practice for an EWO or CME officer to write to the family rather than doorstep them (which can be intimidating). Informing the officer that they are Home Educating should be adequate information and the families details should be passed onto the EHE team. Home Education is not the remit of EWO/CME and therefore no further discussion is needed. If your role includes EHE it is important to make this clear to the family in writing, so there is no confusion, job titles are often misleading. The family are not obliged to meet the EWO/CME/EHE nor let them into their home or meet the child. It would be beneficial if you ensured your staff are all trained in the legalities of Home Education. Unfortunately many still believe Home Education to be illegal, or that school at home must be created. This is not a good first impression of the Local Authority.
Home Education should not be used as a reason to contact Children’s Services (social services) nor should opting not to meet the LA or allowing access to the home or child. (section 73 below, and section 6.6, below)
Home Educated children missing out on the social aspect of childhood is a myth. Most Home Educated children are in touch with other local children and attend regular activities. Home Educated children’s socialisation is more natural and similar to the way adults socialise than schooled children. It is also important to realise not every child needs to or wants to be around lots of other children, Home Education must be suitable to the individual child.
Home Educated children are not to be monitored, evaluated or assessed by the LA (2.4, and 5.1. in the guidance for parents, below), they are the parent’s responsibility (3.3 below). Unless the LA has a reason to believe an education isn’t being provided, then they may only make informal enquiries. The family are never obliged to allow access to the home or to meet the child (5.11 of the guidance for parents below), opting to not allow these ultra vires requests is not to be used as a cause for concern.
Home Educators are not expected to recreate school at home. (9.4, and 9.8, below)
The Education Act 1996 states that education is compulsory (not school) for any child aged 5 to 16 years:
Section 7 of the Education Act: it is the parents responsibility to provide an education which is suitable to her age, ability and aptitude as well as being full time.
The Elective Home Education Guidelines (2019) for Local Authorities state:
2.4 …Approaches such as autonomous and self-directed learning, undertaken with a very flexible stance as to when education is taking place, should be judged by outcomes, not on the basis that a different way of educating children must be wrong.
3.3 This means that the responsibility for children’s education rests with their parents. In England, education is compulsory, but – despite the phrase “child of compulsory school age” quoted above – going to school is not.
4.1 One of the most significant issues for local authorities in maintaining adequate oversight is the initial identification of children who are being educated at home. There is no legal duty on parents to inform the local authority that a child is being home educated. If a child never attends school, an authority may be unaware that he or she is being home educated.
4.2 Identification of children who have never attended school and may be home educated forms a significant element of fulfilling an authority’s statutory duty under s.436A of the Education Act 1996 – to make arrangements to enable the authority to establish, so far as it is possible to do so, the identities of children in its area who are not receiving a suitable education. The duty applies in relation to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, and who are not receiving a suitable education otherwise than at school (for example, at home, or in alternative provision). Until a local authority is satisfied that a home-educated child is receiving a suitable full-time education, then a child being educated at home is potentially in scope of this duty. The department’s “children missing education statutory guidance for local authorities” applies. However, this should not be taken as implying that it is the responsibility of parents under s.436A to “prove” that education at home is suitable. A proportionate approach needs to be taken.
6.6 Informal enquiries can include a request to see the child, either in the home or in another location. But the parent is under no legal obligation to agree to this simply in order to satisfy the local authority as to the suitability of home education, although a refusal to allow a visit can in some circumstances justify service of a notice under s.437(1).
9.4 b) …the home education provision does not need to follow specific examples such as the National Curriculum, or the requirement in academy funding agreements for a “broad and balanced” curriculum, nor the independent school standards prescribed by the Secretary of State.
9.4 h) local authorities should not set rigid criteria for suitability which have the effect of forcing parents to undertake education in particular ways, for example in terms of the pattern of a typical day, subjects to be followed, and so on.
9.8 …there is no need for home education to replicate school timetables…
The Elective Home Education Guidelines (2019) for parents state:
5.1 Your local authority has no formal powers or duty to monitor the provision of education at home…
5.11 Local authorities have a general duty to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (section 175 of the Education Act 2002) in relation to their education functions as a local authority. This applies equally to children who are being educated at home, as it does to children attending school. This duty does not entitle a local authority to insist on visiting a child’s home, or seeing the child, simply for the purposes of monitoring the provision of home education.
Revised statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving a suitable education, 2009.
Section 73. When raising awareness with partner agencies it is useful to remind them that parents may lawfully educate their children at home…. Education of children at home by their parents is not in itself a cause for concern about the child’s welfare.
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: