Shropshire Council is consulting on a new elective home education policy. I find the new draft confusing. This link explains how people can give feedback.
There are many positive aspects.
Page 4 says
The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents
This is correct.
Page 5 says
Parents are not required to register or seek approval from their local authority in order to educate their children at home with the following exceptions:
i. consent to de-register a pupil must be obtained if a child is placed at a special school under arrangements made by the local authority
ii. when a child is registered at a school as a result of a school attendance order (SAO), parents must ask the local authority to revoke the order.
This is correct.
Page 8 says
Previous irregular attendance at school is not of itself a sufficient cause for concern
This is a welcome positive point to make about irregular attendance.
Page 9 says:
“The local authority 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 the local authority to investigate actively whether parents are complying with their duties under Section 7.”
This is correct.
Page 11 says
“Parents’ wishes to educate their children at home should be respected and, wherever possible, efforts should be made to resolve issues about provision by a process of ongoing dialogue before Section 437(3) is invoked as a last resort. Only in cases, where the education is clearly not efficient and suited to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, or parents have failed to demonstrate that it is, should a SAO be served.”
This is to be commended.
Page 12 says
Section 175(1) does not extend local authorities’ functions. It does not, for example, give local authorities powers to enter the homes of, or otherwise see, children for the purposes of monitoring the provision of elective home education.
This is correct.
However, there is a belief running through the draft policy which asserts that the council has a duty to ensure that children in its area are receiving a suitable education.
There is no such duty or legal requirement placed on the council.
That is the biggest single problem I have with the draft policy. I have marked up a copy of the draft which can be read here. (See also pdf version here)
Here are my other comments
Section 9 has nothing to do with home education, it is about the council providing the type of education the parent asks for as long as it doesn’t cost too much. More here http://edyourself.org/articles/monk.php#parent
What does “effective” mean in 4.1? Usually this phrase appears without the word “effective”
4.6 It isn’t accurate to say that the s 175 duty is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, as evidenced by the quote from the Act which immediately follows
“A local authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that the functions conferred upon them in their capacity as a local authority are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children”.
4.7 “If the child has a poor attendance record, the school and local authority must seek to address the issues behind the absenteeism and use the other remedies available to them.” How will this work in practice? Will there eg be any further support for unmet SEN or to deal with bullying?
5.5 The 1995 Pupil Registration Regulations were superseded by the Education Pupil Registration Regulations 2006 (further amended in 2016). Since 2006 there has not been this 10 day delay. If this is what schools are being told it is wrong.
5.8 More details on the “supportive visit” would be helpful, in light of the erroneous belief that the council is required to ensure every child receives a suitable education
5.9 How is it envisaged that the views of the child would be obtained? And how could Education Access Services help in a crisis?
5.11 What does “discuss” mean here in the context of the preceding paragraph about the LA being required to ensure the quality of the child’s education?
5.12 Re participating in a meeting or submitting a written report, how does this fit with “the local authority 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 the local authority to investigate actively whether parents are complying with their duties under Section 7”?
5.13 Why are parents having to “convince” anyone?
5.14 This isn’t a checklist. It is based on 3.15 in the Government Home Education Guidelines but more has been added. This is what 3.15 says
“In their consideration of parents’ provision of education at home, local authorities may reasonably expect the provision to include the following characteristics:
consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers – it is expected that parents or significant carers would play a substantial role, although not necessarily constantly or actively involved in providing education
recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations
opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child – such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and crafts materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and other adults.”
Section 6 SEN
Some children might continue to have statements right up to April 2018 (current
deadline for transferring) In such cases the 2001 Code of Practice would apply.
6.4 Is the proposed interim annual review AFTER the child’s name has been deleted from the school roll?
6.5 Some parents may want the statement or Plan ceasing once they are home educating, but the law says a child has special educational needs if they have a “learning difficulty” which calls for “special educational provision” to be made for them. A “learning difficulty” is where a child has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of their age or has a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools. This refers to mainstream state-funded school, so the fact that a child might be able to manage in home education (or in a private school with very small classes) is irrelevant. http://ehe-sen.org.uk/#def
6.7 What does this mean in practice: The views of the designated medical officer for SEN should be sought by the local authority where a child with an EHCP is educated at home because of difficulties related to health needs or a disability
7.1 What does this mean in practice: these concerns should immediately be referred to the appropriate authorities using established protocols.