At the end of March 2015 I received a message from Matthew Brazier (Ofsted’s social care policy team) saying that Ofsted has provided inspectors with new advice and guidance about elective home education, covering the following points:
- · Home-educated children are not, by definition, all in need of protection and help.
- · Ofsted does not have a mandate to inspect the quality of home education.
- · The statutory duty on local authorities (LAs) to identify as far as possible those children not receiving a suitable education does not extend to home-educated children.
- · The details, and limits, of the guidance in relation to home education
The message goes on to say
“We have reminded inspectors that local authorities do not have a duty to evaluate the quality of the education provided for home educated children – for example, through routine visits – although they may intervene if it appears that the education is unsuitable. We have pointed out, however, that the guidance does encourage local authorities, as a matter of good practice, to build positive relationships with home educators; this, of course, is likely to increase access to educational support for children and parents when they need it and provide a sound basis for responding to any concerns that may arise.
We have stressed that reports must, as far as possible, avoid any ambiguity which may lead to a misunderstanding of either the extent of local authority duties or Ofsted’s expectations in relation to home educated children.
This issue will be addressed again during training for inspectors this month (and in other meetings). We expect to see an increased, and consistent, clarity in the references to home education in the inspection reports.”
At the time of writing, home education has been mentioned in 68% of inspection reports since November 2013, and in 13 out of the 15 most recent reports.
Edited to add:
“At the launch of AEHEP on February 26th I asked “what is the influence of Ofsted on policy and practice? 2/3 Ofsted reports since start of 2014 mention home education in a safeguarding context. Stephen Bishop [DfE] As it happens the Department has discussed very recently with Ofsted about how home education is viewed as safeguarding issue in reports. DfE has had representations from various quarters. Ofsted is now reviewing how it presents this issue to inspectors. Lord Lucas: put memo into Ofsted recently to say don’t conflate EHE and safeguarding.” Link
UPDATE APRIL 11TH 2015: I wrote here about the legal status of the guidelines. The fact that Ofsted has just told inspectors to be mindful of the guidelines is added confirmation that the guidelines are still in force.