Wales – new EHE guidance was released on the 12/5/23 This page was created on the 20/5/23
Please note the following is Educational Freedom’s take on things, opinions will differ amongst the Home Ed community and we are more than happy to hear your thoughts if you have a differing opinion to us.
If this is all too much to read we have other pages that offer a brief outline of how we suggest people respond and template letters.
Despite the typo of ‘draft’ on the newly released EHE guidance for Wales, a typo that does not fill us with much confidence, the new guidance is live. And let’s be honest it’s pretty bad and a major shift from the previous government guidance.
We are aware of various attempts to have the guidance revoked/change and fully support those efforts. We believe that parts of the new guidance go against the right to a private family life, parts seem illegal, and many parts are contradictory. Our suggestions on how to respond to and liaise with your LA may change as our understanding of the guidance improves, only time will tell as to how the LAs are going to respond. So please do keep an eye on the site for updates.
Let’s jump straight into it. At first glance it looks like Home Edders will have to meet the LA, let them talk to the child and must show ‘work’, however, we believe there are options if you word things carefully. We have template letters and a suggestions list for those not wanting to read this whole document, but if you can, we suggest you do.
We won’t cover every section, as some are generic and not of major importance.
1.4 The general principles of the UNCRC guide how the rights of the child are promoted and protected through this guidance. These principles are:
• non-discrimination (Article 2)
• best interests of the child (Article 3) • right to life, survival and development (Article 6) and
• respect for the views of children (Article 12).
That is an important section, the LA must follow this, and we strongly urge families to call out any LA that doesn’t.
1.5 …is the expectation that local authorities can assess the suitability of the education parents provide. In order for a local authority to carry out that function, it is not unreasonable for local authorities to ask parents about their approach and the education being delivered. When arriving at a decision about the suitability of the education provided, local authorities should base this on the parents’ approach and the education being delivered, and not on the requirements of the basic curriculum for Wales/the Curriculum for Wales
This guidance now encourages the LA to assess, to ask about your approach (sometimes called your philosophy and your style) and to make a decision using this information. Therefore providing a written explanation of your philosophy and style is going to go a long way to protect you. This section also protects you from an LA trying to force curriculum based learning.
Later on you are going to read how the LA may expect to hear a valid reason from you for why you Home Educate. We will discuss it further down, however, a fairly safe reason to use is quoted in s1.10 ‘flexibility and tailoring of approach.‘
Some useful quotes to use should you run into an LA that tries to force a style or method:
1.11 Home education will reflect a diversity of approaches and allows for an individualised approach for children tailored to the specific needs and interest of each child. One method is not necessarily more valid than another and there is no one size fits all approach. Many home educating parents feel that they are able to meet their children’s individual needs and learning style more effectively than in a classroom. Home education can be a continuous learning experience wherever the child is.
1.12 Children who are home educated are not required to follow the Basic curriculum for Wales/Curriculum for Wales or any other specified curriculum or meet criteria for the number of learning hours. The home education approach can be anywhere on a continuum from a formal, structured, schedule-based and mostly within the home environment, through to autonomous or child-led education. Moreover, it can vary over time and subject. For example, a child might move from a more autonomous approach when younger to one that is more structured for GCSEs (if the child chooses to sit them). Over the course of a year, home education may be more structured throughout the winter and more responsive to the weather or local opportunities during the summer. Some subjects like mathematics may be delivered with a structured approach, while others like history by an autonomous project.
This section will be really useful for those of you who change style as you settle in, or as your child’s needs change. This section will support you and hopefully avoid LAs deeming the education as unsuitable if you are doing things differently to last year.
Another helpful section:
1.13 Where local authority officers are asked to offer advice on the education provided, it is important they recognise that the customs, practices and standards in school based education are not necessarily relevant to home education. Any advice should be based on the individual circumstances of each child.
If the LA make suggestions that are not suitable, you do not have to follow their suggestion, and this can not be held against you if you can explain why it wasn’t suitable. Respond thanking them for their input and that whilst not suitable at the moment you will keep the info on file for possible future use.
Section 2 is the usual legal quotes of ensuring the education is suitable to age, ability and aptitude. That the parents’ wishes are important but not the sole factor. That you can choose Home Ed at any age.
2.6 While parents must cause their children to receive a full-time education, they do not need to follow school hours or term times as contact time is almost continuous and opportunities for learning can arise at any time.
The section continues to say you don’t need specific qualifications, can enrol in groups, use a tutor or educate the child yourself.
2.8 and 2.9 require establishments that provide education to more than 5 children, or just one with an EHCP to register as a school, so please be cautious of whether groups that provide the majority of the education are legit. This does not apply to large families, it is only relevant if the educator is not the parent. It is allegedly the government’s way of clamping down on illegal schools.
2.11 If a child is registered at a special school under arrangements made by a local authority and parents wish to home educate, they should write to the school stating that they wish to educate their child otherwise than at school. The school will inform the local authority of the parents’ wishes but will not remove the child’s name from the register until agreement is received from the local authority. Regulation 8(2) of The Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010 states: ‘The name of a child who has under arrangements made by the local authority become a registered pupil at a special school must not be removed from the admission register of that school without the consent of that authority, or if that authority refuse to give consent, without a direction of the Welsh Ministers.’
We suggest putting in your deregistration request in writing, with an explanation of why you want to Home Educate and how you will meet their needs.
2.13 Where it is brought to its attention or otherwise appears to a local authority that a home educated child (other than a looked after child) for whom it is responsible, may have ALN, the local authority must decide whether or not the child has ALN and, if it decides that the child has ALN, prepare and maintain an IDP and secure the additional learning provision (ALP) described in that plan (section 18.21 of the Additional Learning Needs Code (ALN Code)9 ).
Alternative Learning Needs (ALN) will be replacing SEN, This section worries us, we would strongly urge parents make a request to know what relevant training and experience the person deciding if the child has alternative learning needs has, are they really suitable to be making this decision? We would advise trying to have these conversations in writing if you can. Lodge an immediate complaint if you do not agree with the findings.
There is the potential of a benefit to Home Educators too, as it creates a responsibility for the LA to help provide specific access to third-party provision and training to parents where wanted/needed – this could amount to part of a personal budget with a less time-consuming process.
It's really worrying that parents may be told their child has to go to school as part of the provision but the best way to avoid this would be to ensure parents know exactly what’s on offer in their area so they can explain that another provision would be best suited rather than a school if that’s the case.
2.14 A local authority preparing or reviewing an IDP for a home educated child, should work with the child and child’s parent to identify the appropriate ALP and then secure it. This involves identifying the type of ALP called for by the child’s needs and whether the parent will be able to deliver it (either directly or by arranging for someone else to deliver it). Subsequently, if the parent is to deliver it as part of the child’s home education, in order to secure the ALP set out in the IDP, the local authority will need to satisfy itself that it is being delivered. Where parents are not able to provide all of the ALP called for by the child’s needs, the local authority will need to consider how the ALP can be secured. There may be various ways of doing this. For example, in some instances, it could be through extra provision arranged by the local authority to supplement the education being provided by the parent at home, or it could be the provision of training to help the parent deliver the required ALP at home. In other cases, the local authority may need to exercise its education functions to secure education for the child at a particular school section 18.23 of the Additional Learning Needs Code (ALN Code)).
This puts responsibility on the LA and the parent to ensure special needs are met, and should, if implemented properly, mean the child has access to anything it needs to be educated appropriately to their needs.
The current SEN legislation is moving to the ALN system and will mean:
‘Section 13 of the Act places a duty (subject to certain exceptions) on a local authority, where it is brought to its attention or otherwise appears to it that a child for whom it is responsible has ALN, to decide whether the child has ALN. The duty is not specific to particular groups of children and would include those who are home educated. Under section 14 of the Act, if a local authority decides the child has ALN, an IDP must be prepared and maintained for the child. Section 14 of the Act also sets out that where a local authority maintains an IDP for a child or a young person, the local authority must secure the additional learning provision (ALP) described in the plan. This does not mean the local authority has to directly provide the ALP. Where, for example, the IDP sets out the ALP as being one-to-one support, this could be provided by a parent home educating the child. Where a child requires specialist provision, the local authority would need to decide whether it would be reasonable for the support to be provided in the child’s home or whether, for example, the provision needs to be made in a school or a specialist educational setting. The local authority is responsible for ensuring the ALP is being delivered. This would be assessed as part of the IDP review undertaken by the local authority, which must be conducted annually or more frequently if appropriate. It will be vital for home education officers and the local authority additional learning needs coordinators (ALNCOs) to develop close working relationships in order to ensure home educated children with ALN receive the support they need.
We think EHE and ALNCO will team up and possibly request annual joint meetings. We urge you to think about whether this is appropriate to your child’s needs and to explain to both parties why it is more suitable to meet separately if necessary. Do this in writing so you are able to adequately explain. If the LA request meetings more than annually our recommendation would be to ask them to explain why this is appropriate, you would then respond explaining why they are wrong.
2.17 through 2.20 talks about the rights of the child and the importance of their voice. We will discuss this further later on, however, we think you should note there are many ways your child’s voice can be heard and you do not have to do it in the way the LA demands of you if it is not in your child’s best interests. At this point it is important to note that the guidance is contradictory, it states your child’s voice should be heard with regards to meetings if they are Gillick Competent, but then says nothing of the sort when it comes to the LA talking to the child about if they want to be Home Educated. We think it is really important that you make it very clear to the LA whether your child is capable of understanding such questions, for example if you decide to meet the LA you should, in writing before the meeting say ‘due to child x’s age/SEN etc I do not believe it to be appropriate to ask more than about specific learning activities that we agree on before meeting.’; .
2.21 through 2.22 basically states the LA has the responsibility to do everything they can to identify children not receiving a suitable education.
Though the legal precedent states LAs can make informal enquiries, this new guidance expects LAs to ask for visits, to talk to the child, and see learning examples, therefore going way beyond the realms of informal enquiries.
For the first time guidance hints that there is some accountability for LAs who behave badly.
2.24 Estyn’s local government education services inspection framework16 states that inspectors may evaluate the local authority’s oversight of children educated at home by their parents, including children and young people with statutory plans for their education. Inspectors may consider whether the local authority provides useful guidance and signposts to support for parents educating their children at home.
This would be useful if your LA acts badly and does not adhere to the guidance. If groups of families came together to make a complaint to Estyn we think it would hold more weight than individual complaints. Though never let that put you off. https://www.estyn.gov.wales/about-us#Contactus
2.25 also suggests LAs should have one named person that will deal with policy and procedure, local groups could look to work with this person to improve LA behaviour if necessary.
Whilst on the surface this next section seems promising, but we fear it will be misused.
2.26 In addition, it is expected that home education officers work closely with other departments in the local authority, such as the education welfare service (EWS), additional learning needs (ALN) and EOTAS teams, to identify and support home educated children. The home education officer should work with relevant local authority officers to prevent de-registration where it is not a fully informed, voluntary choice. This will include acting as an intermediary between the school and the learners’ family to help resolve any differences impacting the learner’s education. Where a child has been de-registered, the local authority should meet with the family as soon as possible to determine the reasons for home education. Where appropriate, the local authority should assist the family in re-application for school places or EOTAS provision.
This is where our old advice now changes, we strongly urge you to include a reason for deregistration in your deregistration letter. Keep it simple, such as you prefer the flexibility Home Education allows. Of course, if you don’t want to actually Home Educate then this section gives you the power to force the LA to support you in finding suitable provision.
We advise caution in saying anything negative about school in the deregistration reason, this could be used against you, keep it positive. Flexibility, opportunity to learn beyond the school curriculum, chance to provide specialist resources or opportunities for SEN (only mention SEN if they’re already known about), etc.
This section does not allow the school to delay deregistration, and in response to the LA asking to meet you could say ‘Due to work, parenting and Home Education commitments we do not have the time right now to meet you. But we would like to clarfiy that our reason for choosing to Home Educate is XXX (POSTIVE REASON ONLY) and that we are fully conversant with the 2023 EHE guidance and out legal duty set out in the Education Act to ensure our child receives a suitable education to age, ability, aptitude and SEN/ALN. We appreciate the offer of a meeting, and will be in touch should we need your services, we are in touch with national organisations, local groups and Home Educating families.’ We think that many LAs will not have the time or staffing to push visits on those who don’t want or need them, for those where the LA pushes please read the rest of this page and our suggestions at the end.
Schools can not force you to deregister.
2.33 Where they can identify early signs of intention to de-register, local authorities should contact parents to discuss their reasons. It is important to ensure that parents make a fully informed, voluntary decision to home educate, and that the views of children are respected so they can participate in this decision making.
If school gets wind that you’re thinking of Home Educating, expect the LA to get in touch and to do their best to put you off. We advise not informing anyone of your decision until the end of the last day you want your child to attend school (or the start of the first day they won’t attend.)
2.34 shows a massive lack of knowledge of Home Ed, a child who has lost interest in learning, when allowed to deschool, allowed the opportunity to follow their interests etc. will engage again. Our advice as mentioned earlier, is to keep your reason a positive one. And as always, never mention the word deschooling to the LA as they really don’t understand it. It is important to realise here that disengagement from school is not disengagement from education.
2.34 It is important that the parental decision to home educate is a positive choice and not considered as an option when children have disengaged from education prior to becoming home educated as there will be difficulties trying to engage with children who have already disengaged from education. The expectation in these instances would be that local authorities put in place support for these children, including EOTAS where appropriate.
The next section talks about the SAO and Education supervision orders, which we will cover in the rest of our website in more detail.
2.38 mentions briefly safeguarding concerns. We will discuss these in more detail later.
3.2…. Local authorities should be proactive in looking for ways to identify children not known to them, doing all that is reasonable and appropriate.
In other words, if you are currently unknown, expect the LA to try to find you.
3.5 Information sharing is vital to ensure that all children of compulsory school age are identified. Therefore, local authorities should seek to develop information sharing protocols (ISPs) which clarify the circumstances under which information can and should be shared between agencies that support children. However, the absence of specific information sharing agreements or consent does not mean that information cannot be shared between agencies where a child’s well-being is at risk. It is still appropriate to share personal information without breaching the DPA 2018 provided that it is necessary to do so to carry out statutory functions.
This basically means the LA will share your info whether you want them to or not and they will use safeguarding as a reason.
3.7 goes on to say LAs across England and Wales should data share and will pick up on those who move home.
3.9 It is essential that local authorities continuously work with partner agencies and have arrangements in place to identify children not known to the local authority. Children may be known to other agencies, and not be known to the local authority in which they reside.
This means GPs, school nurse, community hubs etc may and probably will share your info.
We really don’t like that section and are concerned it can not be legal.
3.10 A form is generated by the police following any incident where a child or young person comes to their attention and where there is reason to believe that they are at risk. Most of these are where the police have been called to a domestic incident and children or young people are implicated either as members of a household, as witnesses, or as persons involved in the incident. Where no school is identified on the form, social services should ensure that this matter is referred on to the EWS to be cross referenced against local authority records to determine if the child is on roll at school, or receiving education otherwise than at school, or registered as home educated. If none of the above can be determined, then the local authority will need to undertake further investigation to determine whether the child is missing education.
We take it to mean you are going to be quizzed possibly by someone who has no understanding of Home Education. We strongly urge you to be calm, factual and helpful, remind whoever is quizzing you that Home Education is a legal option and there is currently no legal duty on the parent to inform anyone that they Home Educate (prior to being asked how the child is educated) and that now they are aware of you they EHE team may contact you.
3.11…Professionals taking part in truancy sweeps may encounter children who are home educated and therefore not in school. No further action should be taken where children indicate they are home educated unless there is a reason to doubt this is the case. If professionals come across a home educated child, they will need to notify the relevant local authority. Home educating parents need to be made aware that professionals involved in truancy sweeps may need to verify any information given to them in these circumstances.
3.12 Truancy sweeps may identify children who are not on a school roll and who may be from families who are reluctant or refuse to engage with statutory services. Truancy sweeps, when arranged appropriately, can therefore be a useful way of making contact with this group.
We do not think this is even legal. Nowhere in law are you required to give a stranger your personal information, especially an LA officer. Be polite but walk away if questioned, even if you are known. We do not feel that it is appropriate to be forced to hand over your info in public. If a police officer stops you you only have to give your details if you are suspected of a crime. Encourage your children to be firm and say they have permission from the parent to be there and that they are not obliged to give their information unless suspected of a crime.
3.13 Local authorities should be cross referencing school admissions data with the live birth register to identify reception aged children not registered at a school.
Staying unknown to the LA is going to be difficult now, the LA will now contact all families who have not applied for a reception class place in school. You will need to state that you are Home Educating upon them making this enquiry.
The following section now means that when you move house it may be advisable to inform the old and the new LA. As you will be classed as CME if they can not confirm suitable Home Education, which could in turn result in the police or SS being called. Or even an Education Supervision Order being served. At this point we are a little lost for words at how appalling this guidance it, sorry for the doom and gloom, we do have lots of tips on how to protect yourself further in this document. But we can see staying off radar is now going to be very difficult and carry a greater risk.
3.14 The purpose of the section 436A duty is to make sure that children missing from education are identified quickly and that effective monitoring systems are put in place to ensure that the child gains access to the most appropriate provision as quickly as possible.
3.15 These enquiries may not always lead to establishing the location of the child but will provide a steer on what action should be taken, for example, to contact the police, children’s social care and, in cases where there may be concerns for the safety of a child who has travelled abroad, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
3.16 – 3.19 discusses the process schools must follow when a child leaves their school, they must input the new school, or other destination, therefore if you move area and do not inform the school of your whereabouts and that you will be Home Educating, you will be considered lost and a search will be undertaken.
4.1 The approach home educating parents take to ensure their child is receiving a suitable education is likely to be dictated by their own philosophy or views, and in many cases, the absence of formal assessment may be a feature of the education provision. Progress, over the long term, may take a variety of forms.
This is a really important detail that LAs must respect.
4.2 -4.3 The parent must ensure the education is suitable and
‘‘equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member….as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so.’
‘- To prepare the children for life in a modern civilised society; and – To enable them to achieve their full potential. ‘in our judgement ‘education’ demands at least an element of supervision; merely to allow a child to follow its own devices in the hope that it will acquire knowledge by imitation, experiment or experience in its own way and in its own good time is neither systematic nor instructive … such a course would not be education but, at best, child-minding. We should not, in the ordinary case, regard a system of education as suitable for any child capable of learning such skills, if it failed to instil in the child the ability to read, write or cope with arithmetical problems, leaving it to time, chance, and the inclination of the child to determine whether – if ever – the child eventually achieved even elementary proficiency in those skills’.’
This means that whilst child led learning is an accepted form of learning, the parent must have oversight and understanding of what the child is learning. The parent must provide what the child needs to be able to learn to read for example a child can not learn to read with no written material in the home. We suggest caution on how you explain the provision, ensuring you describe how you have oversight even when the child is child led. This DOES NOT mean child led learning is going to be stopped. Even radical unschoolers keep an oversight of the child and have an element of supervision.
4.5 An efficient education is one that achieves what it sets out to achieve. It is important that this concept is not confused with suitability. A wholly unsuitable education can be delivered efficiently but would still be unsuitable.
This is pretty self explanatory but will require the parent to be able to explain why the education is suitable as well as efficient
4.6 explains education must take up a substantial proportion of the child’s time, it does not have to meet school type hours.
4.7 Your approach and style must meet the child’s needs. E.g. you shouldn’t force a fully timetabled education if your child learns better with flexibility. And you shouldn’t allow your child to lead the way all the time if they require parental guidance.
We like this section:
4.8 Learning can take place in a range of locations, including the home. It can also be supplemented through other experiences such as visits to places of interest and facilities such as libraries, museums and galleries. A feature of home education is the ability to be flexible and adapt to events and circumstances on a daily basis.
It is a reminder to LAs that Home Education is much more than at home
We like this one too it reminds the LA that not all Home Educators make formal plans, that learning is much more than written work, but does remind the LA and parent that there should be an element of writing.
4.9 It is to be expected that, in some circumstances, there will be less or no formal planning of learning, in contrast to structured planning in schools. Learning activities will be very different to those in schools. Written work may not feature in the learning as much as it does in school as one to one learning may reduce the need to use written work as a tool for measuring understanding. However, the value of writing skills should not be overlooked.
In response to
4.10 Whilst it would be unrealistic to make a judgement about the suitability of home education provision within a few days of commencement, families should be aiming to offer satisfactory home education from the outset and to have made preparations with that aim in view.
we remind you that a suitable education means suitable to your child, if they have had a horrific time in school then it would not be suitable to create school at home, suitable would be taking time to see how your child likes to learn etc. Be careful how you word things and keep ‘suitable to your child’ as the forefront for what you say.
Lots to unpick in this next section, so we will do it in parts…
4.11 Assessing the suitability of education should not be about measuring the child’s attainment or testing the child…
Guidance is now allowing the LA to assess but is clear that this does not mean testing the child. We take that to mean not being allowed to ask your child to read to them, or quiz them on something they’ve learned.
…The customs and practices of school-based approaches may not be relevant for some home educating families, and home education provision can be unconventional.
The LA can not expect school type learning.
…Local authorities need to be assured the parental provision of education will cause the child to receive a ‘suitable’ education…
Suitable to your child!
…The evidence provided by parents should demonstrate that the education actually being provided is suitable and not simply a statement of intent.
In other words it’s no good saying you will do something, you should focus on what you are doing and have done.
4.12 Until the local authority is assured the home educated child is receiving a suitable education then the child is potentially within scope of the section 436A duty and Welsh Government statutory guidance on children missing education will apply.
So, until the LA are satisfied that the Home Ed is suitable, they can serve an SAO;
4.13 Local authorities should be mindful that home educators are not required to:
• teach the Basic curriculum for Wales/Curriculum for Wales
• have a timetable
• have premises equipped to a particular standard
• mark work done by their child
• set hours during which education will take place
• have any specific qualifications
• cover the same syllabus as any school
• make detailed plans in advance
• observe school hours, days or terms
• have formal lessons
• reproduce school type peer group socialisation
• match school age specific standards.
We love nearly everything about this section as it gives a clear message to the EHE person that you do not have to do school at home and they can not force you to. There are some EHE bods who will struggle to get their heads around this but there you go. However, using the legal rules of interpretation (language) the inclusion of the words ‘detailed plans in advance’ may be interpreted to mean that some plans can be expected but they don’t have to be detailed. This would make sense given that the legislation expects parent to be active not passive in their kids education and even vague plans would show that they know how they will aim to facilitate learning in the future whilst also being flexible enough to allow for changes in structure, interests etc. In other words saying ‘we plan on continuing as we are’ is a plan. Or ‘X is looking into 14-16 college’ or ‘We are hoping to learn about the Romans in the next few weeks’, they’re not committing you to anything too much that can then be used against you, but do give the LA an indication that you are thinking of the future.
This next one is horrid:
4.14 However, if the home education provided does consist of aspects of the Basic curriculum for Wales/Curriculum for Wales or independent school standards, this could indicate that the education is suitable.
It is basically saying if you have an element of formal learning you’re going to get an easier ride than an informal style family. It also doesn’t take into consideration that the curriculum could be wholly unsuitable to some children. Yup, we don’t like this section at all, it is contradictory to other sections that talk about not needing to follow the curriculum.
4.15 A suitable education would include provision in numeracy, literacy and language skills, suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any SEN/ALN the child may have. Suitable education is not simply a matter of academic learning but should also involve socialisation. These are essential in preparing the child to participate and function in society.
4.16 Literacy and language skills should correspond with the child’s general ability (including any SEN/ALN they have) and enable the child to:
• Acquire listening and speaking skills
• Acquire reading skills which include vocabulary and comprehension
• Acquire writing skills which include grammar, punctuation and spelling.
4.17 Numeracy skills should correspond with the child’s general ability (including any SEN/ALN they have) and reflect the stage of development the child is at.
This is pretty straightforward, though important to remember literacy and numeracy can be learned through life skills, games etc and you should be able to explain this to the EHE person. REMEMBER that socialising is different for everyone, and not always suitable to be in large groups.
4.18 In their consideration of parents’ provision of home education, local authorities should reasonably expect it to include the following features:
• consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers
This doesn’t mean the parent needs to teach the child, it could be that the parent is aware the child has been learning about Rome and asks the child to tell them all about it.
• respond to the needs and the best interest of the child, taking into account areas of learning that interest the child, and should enhance the child’s potential
Parents must be flexible to do what is right for the child as the child’s needs change.
• ensure the child has opportunities to engage in a reasonably broad range of learning experiences
we take this to mean that sitting at the computer for all of their learning time would be unsuitable if the child isn’t given the opportunity to read a book, play with friends, bake etc. Therefore it will be important for you to describe the different experiences your child has.
• provide opportunities to develop personal and social skills to help prepare them for later life and become engaged citizens
not all children need to be surrounded by 30 kids the same age, so this could mean time with a neighbour, being encouraged to ask the shop assistant for something etc. Depending on the child’s SEN it could mean supporting your child to enter a room with other people. There is no prescribed, or correct way for social skills to develop. It is down to what is right for your child.
• ensure the child has opportunities to develop basic skills (taking into consideration any SEN/ALN they have)
we think this means things like personal hygiene, life skills like cooking, shopping, dealing with money, mental health care etc.
• presence of a philosophy or ethos with parents showing commitment, enthusiasm, and recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations
this is something we mentioned before, we think providing your philosophy in writing will really be beneficial
• opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
if the child is bored they won’t learn (though being bored is a good starting point to the child finding things to do independently). Learning should be interesting to the child, what one child enjoys may not be the same for their sibling or friend etc.
• involvement in a broad spectrum of learning opportunities and activities appropriate to the child’s stage of development
this reiterates doing what is suitable to the child, forcing them to a group when it isn’t right for them should be respected.
• access to appropriate resources and materials
maybe provide a written list of resources so there is no doubt as to what is used.
• the opportunity to develop digital literacy
if you do not own a computer then maybe try to ensure the child has supervised access at a library.
• the opportunity for an appropriate level of physical activity and play
appropriate is the key word
• the opportunity to interact with other children and adults.
‘Opportunity’ this doesn’t mean they have to if they can’t/don’t want to.
And now for the bit we hate, the worst part of the new guidance Assessing suitability of education
4.19 It is important that local authorities understand parental motivations and how their circumstances and experiences have influenced their decision to home educate. Home educating parents will have different reasons for not sending their children to school. These reasons can change over time, and in some cases, these reasons will be complex and may have had a profound impact on the family.
Keep it simple, don’t rant about school and it’s failings, keep it positive. Simply put don’t give the LA a reason to believe you don’t want to Home Educate
4.20 Therefore, when making enquiries about provision of education local authorities should be sensitive to the family circumstances, seek to understand why the family chose to home educate and look at provision on a case-by-case basis. Home education is unique for each child and parents are able to offer their child an individually tailored experience, suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any SEN/ALN the child may have.
This would be a helpful section to quote should the LA push for a meeting, you could state ‘as we chose to Home educate
4.21 In order for a local authority to satisfy itself of the suitability of education provided by the parents, the local authority should see and communicate with the child. In the absence of seeing and communicating with the child, it will be questionable whether the local authority can reasonably assess suitability of education and to know if evidence of the suitability of the education provided by the parent relates to that child. For example, whether the evidence provided can reasonably be said to have been produced by that child or be about that child. Seeing and communicating with the child will provide an opportunity for the local authority to better understand how the child learns and what areas of learning they are interested in. Parents and Gillick competent children are not, however, obliged to meet with the local authority and are free to decline a meeting if they so wish.
INFO TO BE ADDED AS A SEPARATE PAGE LINKED FROM GILLICK Gillick Competence essentially means that a child has the understanding of something to consent or not. It is generally concerned with consenting to medical procedures but also applies to other elements. It is a very strange inclusion and open to interpretation as they is no specific defined test or set of questions to ascertain whether a child is gilick competent – This may also be affected by any bias towards young people with additional needs where the LA/ individual do not think those with certain conditions can be gillick fully aware of the consequences of decisions or retain all the information needed to explain their decision. The same bias may be applied to parents with additional needs or mental health conditions and in itself seems discriminatory in nature. – this explanation is from:
It is important to make people aware of the criteria as the view of the child is now to be taken into account (mentioned earlier in the document).
Gillick Competency Assessment
It is important to recognise when a child/young
person is able to make a valid choice and give
consent on his/her own behalf and is therefore
competent to make a personal decision.
For a child/young person under the age of 16 to be
competent, s/he should have:
• The ability to understand that there is a choice
and that choices have consequences
• The ability to weigh the information and arrive at
• To communicate that decision
• A willingness to make a choice (including the
choice that someone else should make the
• An understanding of the nature and purpose of
the proposed intervention
• An understanding of the proposed intervention’s
risks and side effects
• An understanding of the alternatives to the
proposed intervention and the risks attached to
• Freedom from undue pressure
• The ability to retain the information
Whilst it says you or your child can choose not to meet the LA it goes on to say that not doing so can be a reason to believe the education isn’t suitable. This is going to need time to see how the LAs respond and behave.
For now, we are going to advise that you give a reason for deregistering, a reason that is positive, that you provide a philosophy and details of your style and why it is suitable for your child, and then a report about the provision, in it you can give lots of examples of what the child is learning and how they progressed. You can then, in a covering letter explain that you are really busy Home Educating and working and do not wish to accept their offer of a meeting. That the child would prefer not to meet a total stranger but has instead written a bit for them. We suggest using the criteria from the Gillick info to explain why you and your child are competent to make this decision. This could be a letter, a drawing, something typed, it can be written by the parent on behalf of the child if they are unable to write yet (with an explanation of why the parent wrote it out).
And then, if the LA claim it is not sufficient and they push/threaten, you could agree to meet, but offer to do it by video call. Where they can speak to your child briefly.
If really pushed and you agree to meet them we suggest doing so outside of the home, maybe the library, and take someone with you, let them say hi to your child (leave other children that are not being enquired about at home/elsewhere) then let the child go with your friend leaving you to talk to the EHE person. Take your written report and list of resources used with you and some photos, samples etc to back up your report. REMEMBER TO RECORD THE MEETING AND LET THE EHE PERSON KNOW YOU ARE RECORDING IT. You will be in your own home, or preferably a public space and therefore they can not stop you recording the meeting, however, we would suggest informing them before hand that you are recording the meeting.
4.22 There may be occasions where it is not in the best interest of the child for the local authority to meet with them, or in some circumstances, the local authority can conclude without seeing and communicating with the child that they are receiving a suitable education. Where such a conclusion is reached an appropriate date for the decision to be reviewed should be set, taking into account the individual circumstances of the child.
There are lots of Home Educated children who would suffer greatly from being spoken to by a stranger, or the wrong impression would be made by a quiet child in the company of strangers, or a child who stims loudly when stressed etc, we believe these are valid reasons for them not to meet your child. Make sure you are very clear in your letter (never phone call) why it is not in your child’s best interests, and offer in lieu of a meeting to provide a resource and provision report.
4.23 All children have a right to participate in decision making that affects their lives and their views should be given due weight in accordance with their capacity as per Article 12 of the UNCRC. This will help the local authority to meaningfully take into account the views of the child when making a judgement as to the suitability of education.
Your child’s views are important, and can be given in many ways, it does not have to be a meeting, it also isn’t always appropriate for your child to be put on the spot and questioned. Most kids will say ‘not much’ when asked what they did in school that day, Home Ed kids are not immune to this attitude, so put thought into how you give your child a voice. In your written communication it would be wise to express how competent your child is, and that they do not wish to meet the EHE, in fact, they could explain they are Home Educated to avoid an outsider judging them, that they are fully aware of the duty of the LA but feel as this is their education and that their parent is legally responsible for the suitability of the provision that it is wholly inappropriate to meet a stranger.
4.24 If information and views provided by the child cast doubt on whether the education provided is suitable, then that opinion might be part of the information leading to a conclusion by the authority that the education is not suitable. If it is clear that a child does not wish to be educated at home although the education provision is satisfactory, the local authority should discuss the reasons for this with the parents and encourage them to consider whether home education is in the best interests of the child when clearly it is not what the child wants. The local authority should attempt to help the family reach a common view on what is best, for example, by sign posting to or offering family mediation services.
Home Educating a child who doesn’t want to be Home Ed is difficult, in some circumstances it is necessary though, if you are in this situation we strongly urge you to have, in writing, a very detailed explanation, therefore leaving no room for the EHE person to have issue. We would never advocate forcing a child to be Home Ed that wants to go to school where they are safe to do so.
4.25 Seeing the child to discuss their education provision and access to resources accords with a number of articles in the UNCRC such as a child’s right to an education and to fulfil their potential, including their rights to express their views and to receive appropriate information in order to make informed choices, to support and provision, to play and leisure activities and to be kept safe.
‘Seeing’ this could be in photos, a video, video call etc, it doesn’t mean a meeting. As our above comments, if your child is capable of telling the EHE they don’t want to meet them then let them do so in writing.
4.26 Such a meeting does not have to take place in the home, it can take place in a mutually agreed location. These meetings are an opportunity for local authorities to discuss the education provided and any support the family may need. They will also provide an opportunity for the local authority to develop a positive relationship with families and provide an opportunity for home educated children to share their views on the education they are receiving.
It would be lovely if the relationships were positive, but all too often we see overzealous LAs with some that outright lie. But on a positive note if you do meet them it DOES NOT have to be at home, we think a library is a good place. Their office is not such a good idea, best to keep it somewhere you know and a place that is neutral. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you picked somewhere as far away from the council offices as possible. REMEMBER NEVER OFFER TO MEET SOMEWHERE WHERE OTHER HOME EDUCATORS MIGHT BE.
4.27 The meeting should not be the only method for satisfying the local authority of the suitability of education. A local authority could – if it thought appropriate to do so – send a pre-meeting questionnaire before meeting home educating families for parents and, where appropriate, for children to fill out together. This will form part of a more holistic approach to assessing the suitability of education. The local authority can use the response to the questionnaire to inform their discussion with home educating parents and children.
Remember, it doesn’t matter what the LA try to claim you have to provide, if it isn’t suitable to Home Ed then don’t fill it in. Many LAs already send out questionnaires and they’re awful, they ask for timetables, and lesson plans etc, which this guidance has already stated are not requirements. We advise caution filling in forms, take control of the situation and only give the info that is relevant. Maybe even offer your own report in lieu of the questionnaire stating it is more inline with your educational approach.
We think it would be a really good idea to ask the LA to provide a written list of the questions they are going to ask at a meeting, ask them to provide them in writing 10 days before the meeting is to take place. Again, take control of the situation, leaving the LA have little room to overstep.
Stating that a meeting should not be the only method is concerning, but also helpful, it means the LA are going to want more than just the meeting, they may claim you must provide boxes of learning samples, their forms etc, but we think you can turn this around and state that the guidance does not dictate what other method is to be accepted and providing a provision and resource report should be considered suitable.
4.28 As part of these meetings, the local authority should ask to see examples of learning, to determine the suitability of the education provided. A variety of work both complete and incomplete to varying standards can be sought and discussed with the parents and child to learn about the child’s experience of learning. This all reflects learning and progress made by the child.
This says examples, but then goes on to say work, we think they mean samples at this point. We don’t quite know what incomplete work adds to a meeting, and the word ‘work’ is worrying. Home Education happens in far more ways than formal ‘work’. We think if you are going to a meeting and taking evidence of the child’s learning, then creating a scrap book/folder (online or on paper) may help here, rather than having to keep everything your child has done, then stressing for hours over what you should take, just keep a couple of bits each month, things that show progress. This could be a photo of a recipe they used one month, and then their handwritten version where they doubled it the next month (shows literacy and numeracy), you could take a photo of a website ‘congratulations you achieved 80% on the area and perimeter section’. Showing progress is the vital element here.
We think taking a written provision and resource report written by you will ensure that the EHE doesn’t miss any information that can later be used against you. As it will be impossible to discuss everything in what we imagine will be an hours meeting. IE the EHE can’t write in their report that there was no evidence of numeracy learning, written because they forgot to ask, your come back would be that the info is in the report you gave them and they could have asked.
4.29 It would be difficult to determine the sufficiency of suitability of education from one or two examples of work. Local authorities will need to bear in mind that parents will have detailed knowledge of how their child is progressing, and their views and opinion on the progress of their child should be sought and given sufficient weight when assessing the suitability of education. The views of the child about their education should also be sought and given appropriate weight in local authorities’ considerations.
See our above comments about samples and examples of learning. Some actual samples, but a written report with plenty of examples should ensure there is no ambiguity over suitability. We are concerned here as to what they will ask of the child, it is worrying that they could demand the child reads to them from a book you claim they have read etc, so to avoid this, making video recordings of your child reading etc may avoid your child clamming up or saying they can’t do it.
4.30 Local authorities may want to discuss with parents:
• the main areas of learning for which the parents are making provision
• what principle or philosophy underpins the learning
• what thought has been given to the learning needs of the child, and how these needs will be met over time and
• the approach adopted, such as autonomous learning or structured or semistructured.
You can preemptively deal with this by having this info in writing.
4.31 Children with SEN/ALN, have significantly greater difficulty learning than the majority of others of the same age, and may face barriers to learning. They may, therefore, take longer to process information and develop new skills, and may find it difficult to interact with other people. The type and level of SEN/ALN can vary significantly. For example, some children may have specific learning difficulties, which affect only one or two areas of their learning such as reading, writing or understanding what is said to them. Others, however, may have profound and multiple learning difficulties which affect their level of personal independence. For these learners progress is likely to be made in very small steps and in very subtle ways.
This is great, it ensures the LA does not expect the same type and level of learning that happens in school. But it is up to you to ensure you explain (again we think in writing is best) how the SEN are met and how it affects learning.
4.32 Learners may require additional forms of support in progressing their education or in communicating their views, for example, referral or signposting to other services. Local authorities are expected to actively consider this in advance when planning to meet with a family to discuss a child’s education. This will enable any necessary adjustments and support to be made to allow the child to participate in the discussions about their education. For more information or advice, refer to the SEN Code33 and the ALN Code34 .
If you are using SEN as a reason not to meet, make sure you cover all bases so the LA can not find an alternative. Take control, you offer an alternative such as you meeting online and showing a video of the child learning.
What is a reasonable request for evidence of a suitable education? 4.33 Legal precedent has established that local authorities can make informal enquiries of parents for details of the educational provision for their child. Case law has stated that: “ It is not in the interests of parents or of the local authority (discharging its public interest duty) to construe the legislation in such a way that the local authority becomes satisfied of relevant matters only after a [notice to satisfy under section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996] (NTS) has been served…..it is plain that a parent who receives an informal inquiry at this stage needs to respond to it in a meaningful way, if he or she is to avoid the necessity of responding to an NTS” Goodred v Portsmouth City Council 16 November 2021  EWHC 3057 (Admin)
In other words never ignore LA correspondence, and do not push them to serve a notice to satisfy or SAO by refusing to provide info.
4.34 The frequency of meetings with home educating families should be proportionate and based on the individual circumstances of each child. A meeting should take place at least once a year to ensure the suitability of education is maintained and that the child is considered to be making suitable progress.
Previously Home Educators were able to argue that more than annual communication was akin to monitoring, we think there is still an argument to be made should the LA demand a meeting more than annually especially if there were no previous concerns raised.
4.35 If the local authority has concerns about the suitability of education, it will need to consider whether to see the family on a more frequent basis to assure itself that the child is receiving a suitable education. The local authority may need to liaise with other relevant partners of the local authority dependent upon the circumstances of the child when deciding on the frequency of meetings with the family.
4.36 Some parents may need some additional help or support to provide a suitable education. The local authority is expected to make all reasonable efforts to provide help and/or support to the family. This may include providing parents with information about preventative services and where appropriate gaining parental consent for a referral to those preventative services available locally. This is an offer of support, and the parents are under no obligation to accept it.
Remember you do not have to take up any ‘support’ the EHE person suggests and this should not be used against you if it is not a suitable suggestion.
4.37 The local authority should be reasonable and accommodating when arranging these meetings. However, if the local authority is not assured that: (a) there are genuine reasons for refusing a meeting; or (b) if a family has repeatedly cancelled or not shown up for a meeting; or (c) a family has refused without giving a good reason to allow their child to take part in meetings, then it will need to consider whether it can conclude a child is receiving a suitable education (see section 4.21).
Make sure you give a very valid reason to choose not to meet. And make it clear what your preferred method of contact is, we suggest email. If the LA claim they send requests to meet and you didn’t receive them, make sure you make it clear those requests were not received.
4.39 The local authority should prepare a report no later than 10 days after meeting with the family. The report should outline if the provision is suitable or unsuitable, and the reasons behind the assessment of that provision. The local authority may find it helpful to consider the following when determining if the child is receiving a suitable education:
• aspects of the provision that are successful
• aspects of the provision that are or may be less successful
• the extent to which the provision is meeting the needs of the child
• the views of the child (where provided) on their education
• the extent to which the provision is likely to fulfil the requirement of a ‘suitable’ education
• is it possible to make a determination whether the provision being provided may be a ‘suitable’ education
• whether there is sufficient evidence to support your views.
Hold the LA to the 10 days, remind them in writing that they have a statutory duty to provide the report, they will hate being held accountable, and we think most LAs do not have the staff to stick to this.
4.40 Other features the report could include:
• any follow up actions for the local authority and or parent
• if the need for additional help and or support has been identified and what the local authority will do to help facilitate that and timescales for meeting additional help and or support
• indication as to when the next meeting should take place
• any concerns or issues raised by the family Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996 provides that local authorities must act if it appears that a child is not receiving a suitable education. For more complicated circumstances, the local authority may need more time, for example, to ensure the involvement of other professionals such as educational psychologists/speech and language therapists.
• any requests for help or information made by the family
• if a referral is needed to other agencies or support services
• opportunities for additional support.
4.41 Parents should be given an opportunity to discuss the report with the local authority and to have any factual inaccuracies corrected quickly.
Do this in writing, go through their report correcting every single mistake, and we mean every mistake, back it up with evidence and remind them you recorded the meeting.
If the LA has concerns they should make enquiries, serve a Notice to Satisfy and ultimately an SAO.
5.3 The most obvious course of action is for local authorities to meet with the parents and home educated child regarding the education they are providing for their child. In the absence of information that suggests that the child is being suitably educated and that the parents’ refusal to answer is for some unrelated reason, the only conclusion that the local authority can reasonably come to is that the home education does not appear to be suitable.
This does not state that you must meet, you could offer an alternative method of providing the info.
The following are valid arguments against being served an SAO, for example if you are working with the LA to improve things.
5.9 There would have to be exceptional circumstances for local authorities to justify not making an SAO, for example:
• if the child is within a few weeks of ceasing to be of compulsory school age
• if the child has physical, medical or educational needs leading to extreme vulnerability in a school setting, the local authority should consider alternatives such as tuition provided by the authority itself
• the parent is actively working with the authority to improve the home education and seems likely to achieve suitability within a very short time.
5.12 allows you the opportunity to present evidence of the suitability of the education allowing the LA to revoke the SAO if they are satisfied. But The local authority should refer to paragraphs 4.21 – 4.30 (Assessing suitability of education) of this Guidance in considering the evidence. In other words they may not accept written info as fact.
We find this section fascinating and aren’t quite sure what to make of it to be honest.
5.17 It is important to note that the offence of not complying with a specific SAO is only committed once. Therefore, if parents are not compliant with the order after conviction, the process of serving a notice must be undertaken again. This means that a parent willing and able to be fined repeatedly can continue the unsatisfactory provision of home education provision indefinitely. The implication of this is that the local authority will need to consider using powers other than education law. See section 5.18 onwards on ESOs and section 7 on safeguarding.
5.19 A local authority must under section 447 of the Education Act 1996 consider applying for an ESO before a decision to prosecute parents for poor attendance or failure to comply with an SAO is made. A local authority can apply for an ESO instead of or as well as prosecuting the parents. If a local authority chooses not to apply for an ESO, it should record/provide evidence of its consideration and the reasons it was not considered appropriate.
5.20 An ESO makes the local authority responsible for advising, assisting and befriending and giving ‘directions’ to the supervised child and his/her parents in such a way as to ensure the child is properly educated.
The ESO sections concern us, and therefore we advise always responding to the LA, provide adequate information about the provision, stand your ground, but do not lose your rights.
The guidance continues to talk about the ESO process but we will write a section about that at a later date.
Sorry we had to laugh, with so few LAs around the UK acting within the law we know support is the last thing the majority of LAs offer.
6.1 Parents who choose to home-educate their children must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility, including bearing the cost of any public examinations. However local authorities are encouraged to provide support where resources permit.
6.2 Local authorities are expected to assist home educating parents, recognising that home educating parents can adopt a rich and diverse range of approaches to home education and use a variety of philosophies and methods. Local authorities should, where possible, promote access to learning opportunities available to all children in their area.
6.3 Welsh Government has worked with local authorities to agree a wider package of support, which will afford consistency of offer from local authorities to EHE families and their children.
One way of overwhelming an underfunded and over worked EHE department is to keep asking questions, ask for resources, ask for information, they’ll soon realise they can’t cope and may back off a little from those who are providing a suitable education.
6.4 Local authorities should provide clear and accurate written information on their home education policies on their website on a page specifically for home education, including contact details for home education support organisations where available.
6.5 Local authorities should provide parents who are, or who are considering, home educating with a named contact within the authority, familiar with home education policy and practice and having an understanding of a range of educational philosophies and a link to/copy of Welsh Government’s Handbook for Home Educators.
6.6 Local authorities should, as far as practicable, ensure that staff who may be the first point of contact for a potential home educating parent, for example, answering telephone enquiries, understand the right of a parent to choose home education.
If your LA doesn’t do these then hold them accountable, remind them of their statutory duty.
We know most LAs will not provide any form of support or resources, but you could quote the guidance at them and request any of the following, we really hope the list of exam centres comes to fruition as it will make it easier for Home Educators.
6.7 Some of the ways in which local authorities might choose to support home educating families include:
• Developing a webpage on the local authority website specifically aimed at home education
• Providing general advice
• Facilitating access to any discounted rates for educational materials
• Informing home educating families of any projects or programmes which might reasonably be accessed by home educated children
• Providing access to local authority owned community and sports facilities on the same basis as for school children
• Holding information and engagement events in collaboration with other services and organisations such as Careers Wales, Youth Services etc.
• Agreeing to implement the wider package of support offer which is outlined below: –
• opportunity to sit examinations in an identified examination centre
• access to local authority counselling services
• access to Careers Wales services • ALN advice in line with ALNET 2021
• Access to CADW
• Access to the local authority offer of support for home educated children developed using any funding allocated by Welsh Government in relation to Elective Home Education.
• Facilitating access to Hwb where possible.
The Youth services section doesn’t really have any impact on you, unless you want to access their services.
In brief this section talks about the EHE person having information about exam centres. Home Educators should have access to WJEC exams (though we believe these often contain elements not available to Home Ed, we are going to look into this further).
Is still down to the discretion of the headteacher, though a change to the way school performance is measured, the register code will no longer impact the school performance rating, this is good news.
7.1 – 7.12 in simple terms the LA can use safeguarding to interfere. That a lack of information can lead to a SS investigation s47.
And suggests one person alone can not determine if a child is safe if concerns are known, and encourages multiagency approaches.
Home education 7.13 There is no evidence to suggest that home educated children are at greater risk of neglect or abuse than children who are educated at school. Home education is a positive experience for many children. However, schools and education settings play an important role in safeguarding children. They are places where children can be routinely seen and heard. It is important, therefore, that all children enjoy the right to be safe, regardless of how and where they receive their education.
In your communication with the LA we suggest making mention of other adults who see your child regularly, just in passing mention they often sit in the garden with a neighbour, or chat to the librarian, or get into discussions with the museum staff, or your parents visit weekly, home ed meet ups etc.
7.14 A parent’s decision to home educate is not in itself a ground for concern about the safety and well-being of the child. However, as with any child regardless of where they are educated, there may be circumstances which, individually or combined, give practitioners cause to seek further information about a child.
This could be a concern raised by school or a GP etc, make sure you provide ample explanation of how you ensure your child is safe.
7.15 Local authorities should approach all cases where the suitability of home education is in doubt using their powers in the Education Act 1996 (please refer to section 5), but they should also be prepared, if a lack of suitable education appears likely to impair a child’s development, to fully exercise their safeguarding powers and duties to protect the child’s well-being, which includes their suitable education.
7.16 In exercising safeguarding powers, a local authority would normally begin an investigation under section 47 of the Children Act 1989, on the basis that a lack of information about a child’s educational provision is capable of satisfying the ‘reasonable cause to suspect’ significant harm test under that provision. Reasonable cause can include the lack of any substantive information about a child’s education, so if the ‘if it appears’ test in s.437 (1) is satisfied, then there will usually be reasonable cause in terms of s.47. These enquiries can include taking steps to gain access to the child. The outcome of enquiries following a section 47 investigation will therefore enable a local authority to decide whether action should be taken to protect the child’s welfare.
7.17 If following the section 47 investigation a local authority concludes that the significant harm threshold is met, but parents fail to remedy the concerns identified, it may be necessary to apply for a care order. A failure to provide education is capable of satisfying the threshold criteria of ‘significant harm’ under section 31 of the Children Act 1989.
7.18 ‘Harm’ can include the impairment of health or development, and development means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development, so the provision of unsuitable education clearly can amount to this. The causing of significant harm need not be intentional or deliberate, but case law indicates that it must be ‘considerable, noteworthy or important’. This is a key point for local authorities in considering whether the use of safeguarding powers is appropriate in a case relating to a child who is not receiving a suitable education. However, local authority staff should be clear that when the use of safeguarding powers is justified, they should be used.
In short, an unsuitable education decision is likely to involve Social Services. To avoid this we suggest keeping communication with the LA in writing where possible, record meetings, and respond immediately to anything in the EHE report that is wrong. And of course reaching out to us at this stage before things become more complicated.
They’re going to do it whether you want them to or not.
Whilst not an automatic concern, they will use this to have a reason that there are concerns. So dropping off radar is probably no longer a good idea.
Provide your reason for Home Ed in writing at the point of deregistration, keep it positive. Repeat your reason in your response to LA communication asking about the provision.
Include your philosophy and style in writing in response to a request of a meeting/information and…
When the LA ask for info/meeting, ask what qualifications and training the EHE person has that makes them suitable to meet with you to discuss the Home Education, ask for evidence of their DBS check. ie if your child is dyslexic and the EHE has no suitable training then we consider this a valid reason not to meet. Use the terms inclusivity and bias as reasons you don’t think meeting the EHE is suitable.
Write a report about the provision, including lots of examples, get your child to write their thoughts on home ed and somethings they’ve enjoyed learning. Send these in and state they’re as an alternative to a meeting. Take it with you if you do meet. That way the EHE can’t claim they didn’t know about something.
If the LA send a questionnaire, make sure it is suitable to home ed and doesn’t ask irrelevant questions. Choose what you do and don’t fill in and don’t give information you feel is irrelevant.
If the LA say they will not accept just a report, offer to provide further info rather than have a meeting, some LAs may accept this. If they want to meet your child then offer a video call.
If you are going to meet them do it away from your home.
Ask for the questions they will ask ahead of time.
Ask who will be attending.
Take someone with you so your child isn’t in the meeting the whole time.
Inform the LA beforehand that you will be recording the meeting then openly record the meeting.
Take plenty of examples of learning, these can be a list of activities your child has done, info about how your child has progressed, if pushed you could provide photos, examples of completed learning, explanations of what the child has done etc. make sure these adequately show progress in literacy and numeracy.
Chase up the EHE report if you don’t have it within 19 days and push hard for errors in the EHE report to be corrected.
We think there are many valid reasons not to meet with the LA, we shall write more on this at a later date. But we think explaining that your child is competent and able to decide not to meet, that between work and home educating commitments you do not have the time, that you’re more than happy to provide them written info about the provision etc could be adequate reasons.
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: