Welsh home education guidance and special educational needs

How exactly will the Welsh home education guidance be good for children with special needs?

Below are extracts from the Equality Impact Assessment published by the Welsh Government alongside its new draft guidance for home education.

The consultation closes on July 3rd 2015.

As explained here “An equality impact assessment (EIA) is a tool that helps public authorities make sure their policies, and the ways they carry out their functions, do what they are intended to do and for everybody. Carrying out an EIA involves systematically assessing the likely (or actual) effects of policies on people in respect of disability, gender, including gender identity, and racial equality and, where you choose, wider equality areas. This includes looking for opportunities to promote equality that may have previously been missed or could be better used, as well as negative or adverse impacts that can be removed or mitigated, where possible. If any negative or adverse impacts amount to unlawful discrimination, they must be removed.”

I have blogged here and here about the new draft guidance, and have set out the draft guidance here and here.

The Welsh Government says in the Equality Impact Assessment that the new guidance will be of particular benefit to the relatively high number of home educated children with special needs, on the circular grounds that the guidance is generally good for ALL home educated children.

The new policy says that all home educated children should be visited at home every year and asked questions about their home education. [Link]

Equalities Impact Assessment Extracts

“The Minister for Education and Skills announced in a written statement in Spring 2014 that more up to date information was required regarding the elective home education (EHE) community in Wales, and that the existing guidance on EHE needed to be updated and refreshed. The non statutory guidance will be consulted on for eight weeks and it is anticipated that the final guidance will be published in September 2015.

Intended beneficiaries include:
• Home educated children and their families (including Gypsy and Traveller Families, ethnic minorities and children with special educational needs);
• LAs; and
• Organisations with a responsibility for children.

The EHE community is considered extremely diverse group of families and for that reason we sought to make the engagement process as inclusive as possible. A web-link and survey was created and circulated for all local authorities (LAs) to make available to the EHE community within each LA area. The link was also circulated to LA Traveller Education Services and onward to Gypsy & Traveller communities across Wales as well as surveys being sent to local Gypsy & Traveller projects to be shared with known Gypsy & Traveller local families.

In addition to the web-link and survey responses, face to face and telephone interviews were conducted across ten local authority areas. Many of the interviews were arranged in conjunction with local authority EHE coordinators.

Interviews were also undertaken with a small number of key stakeholder organisations. These included the office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, the Association of Directors of Education in Wales (ADEW), Save the Children and SNAP Cymru.

By canvassing the opinions of a large number of EHE parents and children, and those responsible for supporting them, we hoped to gain a better insight into the main issues relating to EHE in order to help inform the development of the new guidance.

The new guidance will be publicly consulted on in May 2015 and an easy-read, youth-friendly version of the consultation document will be published at the same time.

The web-link survey was well received; 354 adults completed the parents’ survey and 97 children and young people. To ensure a rigorous in depth understanding of the experience of EHE with regard to the guidance, 72 face to face interviews were carried out and a further 13 respondents were interviewed over the telephone.

We also conducted a survey of local authorities EHE coordinators. Some co-ordinators preferred to conduct the survey via a telephone interview. This allowed for a more detailed discussion relating to the issues for local authorities in relation to EHE.

In addition, throughout this period of engagement, we met with a number of local authority EHE co-ordinators both individually and as part of larger meetings and forums in order to listen to and understand their views in relation to EHE.

A summary of the engagement process and its findings will be published with the final guidance in September 2015.

This proposed document has been specifically targeted at LAs with a view to providing advice and guidance on improving their ongoing support for children and young people receiving elective home education

Although the EHE community is diverse 31% of parents responding during the engagement process identified a school’s inability to provide for their child’s Special Educational Need as being a factor in their decision to provide to provide EHE.
Hearing impairment

The EHE community is diverse in Wales, and a proportion of EHE come from ethnic minority communities who have chosen to opt out of mainstream schooling for possibly cultural, religious or ideological or philosophical reasons. This non-statutory guidance will assist LAs to better support those families who choose to home educate.

The EHE community is diverse in Wales, and a proportion of EHE come from the Gypsy and Traveller community who have chosen to opt out of mainstream schooling for possibly cultural, religious or ideological and or philosophical reasons. This non-statutory guidance will assist LAs to better support those families who choose to home educate.

The non-statutory guidance will help LAs to provide effective support to children and young people, and their families, who are pursuing elective home education and thereby help to promote and encourage the educational attainment of these learners.

Protected groups or communities that are expected to benefit from this guidance include Gypsy and Traveller Families, ethnic minorities and children with special educational needs.
Potential positive impacts for children and young people and their families include:
• Better clarity on the legislation regarding home education;
• Better clarity on the rights, roles and responsibilities of LAs in relation to home education;
• A more consistent approach across Wales to how LAs liaise with home educating families avoiding a “postcode lottery” – the guidance will aim to highlight good practice by LAs;
• Clarity on what support is available to them from LAs.

This guidance is designed to assist local authorities to provide effective support. This is a non-statutory document and is unlikely to have any impact on potential unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

This guidance builds upon and replaces the guidance relating to elective home education issued in 2006 contained within the Welsh Government’s Inclusion and Pupil Support guidance. It seeks to help build consensus and trust between local authorities and EHE families in Wales, and develop positive engagement and appropriate support.

The draft guidance will be issued for public consultation in May 2015. The responses to the consultation will be considered before the final guidance is published in September 2015.
We will monitor and measure the effectiveness of the non-statutory guidance through ensuring ongoing dialogue and engagement with LAs and EHE stakeholders across Wales.”

Useful Links

    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
    What difference will the guidance make?
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9 thoughts on “Welsh home education guidance and special educational needs

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