The 2015 guidance sets the expectation that face to face meetings for the purpose of considering evidence will be the new norm.
The Welsh Government is currently asking for views on new draft elective home education guidance.
The consultation runs until July 3rd 2015.
The new guidance is intended to replace the 2006 Guidelines.
4. Reviewing provision, draft guidance 2015
“As has been highlighted in Chapter 2, local authorities have a legal duty to establish the identities of children who are not registered at school and not receiving a suitable education. Home educating parents should therefore be encouraged to take up the offer of advice and support from the local authority. It is recommended that an initial meeting take place with families to discuss their provision and any advice and support needs they may have. Meetings should take place at mutually acceptable locations.
“Draft guidance 2015 Thereafter, it is recommended that the local authority should seek to make contact with home educating families on at least an annual basis. These meetings should be seen as an opportunity to provide information and support to home educating families, to listen and respond to any concerns that they may have, as well as considering evidence that a suitable education is being delivered. Evidence may be in the form of specific examples of learning e.g. pictures/ paintings/ models, diaries of educational activity, projects, assessments, samples of work, books, educational visits etc. Contact should normally be made in writing and should seek a meeting or request an updated report. The local authority should prepare a report after such contact and be copied to the family stating whether the local authority has any concerns about the education provision. The report should detail any recommendations made by the local authority, and any actions to be taken by the local authority on behalf of the parents. Any telephone communication should be followed up with a written confirmation of what has been discussed and agreed. The views of home educated children and young people regarding the education they are receiving, their preferences, aspirations and ambitions should be discussed in these meetings.”
The 2015 guidance also directs that the authority should ‘check evidence like study diaries or samples of work’ and talk directly to children about their home education.
“2015 guidance children’s version ” Local authorities should have a first meeting with families to discuss what they’re planning and the support they think they need; meet once a year to share information, listen to concerns and check evidence like study diaries or samples of work; listen to the views of children and young people about their education”
The 2006 Guidelines talk about ‘initial contact’ and making contact on an annual basis. ‘Contact’ is interpreted as being about much more than face to face meetings; the 2006 Guidelines say that the authority ‘may invite the parents to meet’ and refers to ‘a meeting or otherwise’ and ‘initial meetings or other forms of discussion’ adding ‘if meeting in person is not possible LEAs should endeavour to provide the same information through the post.’
Crucially, the 2006 Guidelines state that there is no requirement for the authority actively to investigate parents’ provision or undertake regular monitoring.
“2006 Guidelines 2.7 Otherwise, the LEA should assume that efficient educational provision is taking place, which is suitable for the child, unless there is evidence to the contrary. There is no express requirement in the 1996 Act for LEAs to investigate actively whether parents are complying with their duties under Section 7.”
“2006 Guidelines 3.8 There is no legal framework for the LEA to regularly monitor provision of home education, however such an arrangement is likely to help the LEA to fulfil their duties and can help provide new information and support to parents. The frequency with which an authority will contact parents to discuss their ongoing home education provision will vary depending on the individual circumstances of each family.”
“2006 Guidelines 3.12 The authority does not however have the right to insist on seeing education in the home and some parents may not feel comfortable in allowing an education officer access to their child or family home. Trusting relationships may need time to develop before a parent is happy to invite an authority officer to visit. However, where a parent elects not to allow access to their home or their child, this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the education provision. [my emphasis]
“2006 Guidelines 3.13 Where LEAs are not able to visit homes they should, in the vast majority of cases, be able to discuss and evaluate the parents’ educational provision by alternative means. Parents might prefer, for example, to write a report, provide samples of work, have their educational provision endorsed by a third party, meet at another venue such as a library or café or provide evidence in some other appropriate form.”
Welsh Government consultation web page (includes draft guidance, response form, children’s version now in pdf AND plain text, children’s rights impact assessment, and equality impact assessment)
Draft guidance set out as web page
Children’s version set out as web page