Table of Contents
- Summary Home Education Law in Wales
- New EHE Guidance 2015
- How Many Children Are Home Educated in Wales
- SEN Numbers and SAOs
- Summary Welsh Guidelines
- Home Education Guidelines Differ in England and Wales
- Children Missing Education Wales
- Going to college in England
- Revised Guidance Safeguarding Children Education
- Deregistering a Child from School in Wales
- Current Regulations for SEN
- Changes Proposed for SEN in Wales
- Flexischooling in Wales
- What Estyn Looks For When Inspecting Local Authorities
- EOTAS Standards in Wales
- Related Pages
Home Education in Wales
Summary Home Education Law in Wales
The principle primary legislation which applies to elective home education is the Education Act 1996 and the Education and Inspection Act 2006. Section 7 of the Education Act (England and Wales) 1996 states that "the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable — (1) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (2) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise."
Section 4 of the Education and Inspection Act 2006 deals with Children Missing Education and introduces Section 436A into the 1996 Education Act. Scroll down or click here to read more about Children Missing Education law and guidance for Wales. The procedure to be followed when a parent takes a child out of school for home education (known as deregistration) is covered by Pupil Registration Regulations. Scroll down or click here to read more about deregistration.
Wales has had the power to make its own education legislation - separate from England - since 2011. More. The current (May 2015) Home Education Guidelines for Wales are here but these are in the process of being revised.
New EHE Guidance 2015
Background: In 2012 the Welsh Government consulted on Registering and monitoring home-based education Plans were subsequently dropped, and in May 2014 the Minister Huw Lewis said instead there would be new EHE Guidance by May 2015 (subsequently amended to SEPTEMBER 2015 see page 21) The Government consultation page has a summary of 2012 consultation responses
The Minister made reference to "good practice and good engagement by some LAs with the home-educating community" which is also examined in this report by Sue Mitchell for the Welsh Government. My 2012 consultation response highlighted the variations in policy and practice amongst different LAs in Wales with regard to elective home education and also said that the Welsh Government would do better to tackle the issue of off-rolling or unlawful/illegal exclusions.
How Many Children Are Home Educated in Wales?
A headcount of children in Wales known to be home educated is carried out each January by local authorities and published by the Welsh Government in July/August. This link showed that 1225 children were home educated in Wales in January 2014. The breakdown is as follows:
Anglesey 23, Gwynnedd 69, Conwy 40, Denbighshire 58, Flintshire 39, Wrexham 20, Powys 120, Ceredigion 112, Pembrokeshire 92, Carmarthenshire 122, Swansea 81, Neath Port Talbot 34, Bridgend 43, The Vale of Glamorgan 30, Rhondda Cynon Taff 55, Merthyr Tydfil 13, Caerphilly 31, Blaenau Gwent 19, Torfaen 32, Monmouthshire 24, Newport 26, Cardiff 142.
Expressed as a percentage of school-age children, Ceredigion had by far the highest rate at 14.7 per thousand children, while Wrexham had the lowest rate at 1.3 home educated per thousand children.
2014 Guidance on Completing the EOTAS Return confirms that the EOTAS data collection focuses on children receiving education funded by the local authority otherwise than at school. However, LAs are also asked for a headcount of home educated children. The note adds that "although there is no legal basis upon which authorities can collect personal data about pupils educated at home by parents i.e. not paid for by the authority, LAs are expected to be aware of such pupils, especially where a parent has given notice to a school that a parent is withdrawing the pupil from school to educate the pupil at home."
SEN Numbers and SAOs
At the end of 2012 I sent FOIs to all the local authorities in Wales, which revealed that - among other things - a total of 4 School Attendance Orders were issued in 2011-12; around 5% of home educated children in Wales have a statement of SEN; and that a third of Welsh councils have fewer than 25 home educated children on their books, with only 1 LA having more than a 100.
Summary Current Welsh Home Education Guidelines
In 2006 the Welsh Assembly Government published Elective Home Education Guidelines (14 pages) as part of a much larger document covering Inclusion and Pupil Support.
Key points from the Welsh Home Education Guidelines are: assume efficient and suitable unless evidence to contrary; duty to serve School Attendance Order; seek to build effective relationships; named contact familiar with home education; LAs to post information to parents where not meeting in person; no legal framework for regular monitoring; make contact on annual basis; seek agreement to see provision first hand without undue pressure; no right to insist on access to the home; reports, samples of work, alternative venue; expected characteristics of provision; respecting parent's philosophy.
As noted elsewhere on this page, at the time of writing in May 2015 these guidelines are in the process of being revised.
Home Education Guidelines Differ in England and Wales
There are a number of significant differences between the Government Guidelines for England and for Wales.
- Welsh Guidelines specifically state that the authority should assume efficient educational provision is taking place, which is suitable for the child, unless there is evidence to the contrary.
- Welsh Guidelines say the law doesn't specifically require the authority to investigate home education.
- Welsh Guidelines say the authority should make annual contact with the home educating family.
Wales: Children Missing Education
"Children Missing Education" in both England and Wales comes under section 436a of the Education Act England and Wales 1996 which states:
(1)A local education authority must make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but—
(a)are not registered pupils at a school, and
(b)are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.
(2)In exercising their functions under this section a local education authority must have regard to any guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State.
(3)In this Chapter, "suitable education", in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have."
CME Guidance in Wales (April 2010) differs from the CME Guidance in England (January 2015). The Welsh CME Guidance section on elective home education is largely taken from the 2006 Home Education Guidelines for Wales.
Young people in Wales going to college in England
I received the following answer from DfE in August 2014: "A student who is currently living in Wales can receive public funding at a college in England, in some circumstances but education providers must comply with the EFA's rules on claiming public funding for Welsh students set out in the Funding regulations' guidance
"Some English colleges and education providers are located close to the borders with Wales and Scotland, and may have recruitment areas that normally include areas outside England. Alternatively, the typical 'travel to learn' pattern for students may include an education provider over the border. In these circumstances, there is no issue with providers claiming funding for students (Funding regulations' guidance paragraph 53). English education providers can only claim funding for Welsh home educated students when they are either within the normal recruitment area, or when the travel to learn patterns for the area include the English provider. The EFA would not expect to see large numbers of Welsh students being funded in English providers."
Revised Guidance Safeguarding Children Education 2015
The Welsh Government consulted on safeguarding in education in 2013
In January 2015 a new guidance document was published which said the following about home education:
"Operational responsibilities 2.19
At this level the local authority should seek to build effective relationships with home educators that function to safeguard the educational interests and welfare of children and young people. Doing so will provide parents with access to any support that is available and allow authorities to understand the parents’ educational provision. For further information refer to chapter 6 of Welsh Government Circular 47/2006: Inclusion and Pupil Support. New guidance for local authorities on home education will be developed for public consultation by May 2015. It is anticipated that this guidance will be finalised by September 2015." [page 21]
This is a considerable improvement on the proposals contained in the original consultation although the definition of "significant harm" in the Glossary is still incorrect and misleading (see my consultation response for further details)
Deregistration: How Soon Should School Notify Local Authority? Government Guidance 2010
The Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010 say the child's name should be deleted from the roll BEFORE informing the authority.
(3) When the name of a pupil has been deleted from the admission register in accordance with regulation 8(1)(c), (d), (g), (i) or (m), the proprietor must make a return to the local authority giving the full name and address of that pupil within the ten school days immediately following the date on which the pupil’s name was so deleted.Pupil Registration Regulations Wales 2010
Current Regulations for SEN
The Welsh Special Educational Needs Code of Practice has exactly the same paragraphs dealing with education otherwise than at school in cases where the child has a statement of SEN as the 2001 SEN Code for England. (The system in England was changed for new cases from September 2014) The Welsh and English Home Education Guidelines currently contain exactly the same information about home educating children with a statement of SEN.
Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (Wales) 2004
8:95 Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 recognises parents’ right to choose to educate their child at home. Such arrangements are described as ‘education otherwise than at school’. In such cases, if the child has a statement of special educational needs, it remains the LEA’s duty to ensure that the child’s needs are met. The statement must remain in force and the LEA must ensure that parents can make suitable, provision, including provision for the child’s special educational needs. If the parent’s arrangements are suitable the LEA are relieved of their duty to arrange the provision specified in the statement. If, however, the parents’ attempt to educate the child at home results in provision which falls short of meeting the child’s needs, then the parents are not making ‘suitable arrangements’ and the LEA could not conclude that they were absolved of their responsibility to arrange the provision in the statement. Even if the LEA is satisfied, the LEA remains under a duty to maintain the child’s statement and to review it annually, following the procedures set out in Chapter Nine. 8:96 In such situations section 324 (4A) of the Education Act 1996 does not require the name of a school to be specified in Part 4 of the statement. Part 4 should state the type of school the LEA consider appropriate but go on to say that: "parents have made their own arrangements under section 7 of the Education Act 1996." The statement can also specify any provision that the LEA have agreed to make under section 319 to help parents provide suitable education for their child at home." p.111
Changes Proposed for SEN in Wales
In June 2014 the Welsh Government published a White Paper which proposed to change the law covering special educational needs in Wales. The changes would apply to young people up to the age of 25. My Thoughts
Flexischooling in Wales
Code B is to be used where a pupil is Educated off-site (not dual registration) and is engaged in approved educational activity. In Wales this could cover the situation where a headteacher has agreed a flexischooling arrangement with the parent of a home-educated child. This is different from England.
What Estyn Looks For When Inspecting Local Authorities re Elective Home Education
Guidance issued by the Welsh inspectorate, Estyn (2010, updated 2012 and 2013) says that councils "should evaluate how effective the authority’s procedures are to monitor the quality of education of children and young people educated outside school, including children educated at home by their parents. This could include an evaluation of whether the authority provides helpful guidance for parents educating their children at home when requested to do so." (page 29) Estyn Annual Report 2012-13 has no mention of home education.
EOTAS Standards in Wales
Estyn reports continue to echo the concerns raised by the National Behaviour and Attendance Review (NBAR) about Education Otherwise Than At School arranged for excluded pupils by schools and local authorities, as reported in Research carried out for the Welsh Government, where it is noted that there are disproportionately high levels of exclusion among certain groups of pupils; variation in rates of exclusion both across local authorities and between different schools; unlawful school exclusion; issues about appeal processes; difficulties with access to advocacy and support; concerns about the quantity and quality of education offered to excluded pupils; low levels of reintegration from exclusion and from EOTAS; lack of monitoring of quality and outcomes in EOTAS; confusion about funding mechanisms for placement in EOTAS; criticism of curricula in EOTAS; use of restraint and restrictive physical intervention in EOTAS; and leadership and governance of PRUs. In Wales, the statistics indicate disproportionate exclusion of boys, pupils with additional learning needs, and in some aspects, pupils from ethnic minorities. With respect to fixed term exclusions on the grounds of ‘defiance of rules’, some schools interpreted this to include issues about school uniform or attendance, and although schools are obliged to provide work for pupils who have been excluded for a fixed term up to 16 days, most local authority staff and key stakeholders were in agreement that this duty rarely received high priority and the resulting work supplied was often minimal. 1 in 5 had no provision arranged at all and 1 authority only provided 2 hours a day. Multiple fixed term exclusions were used by schools to build a case for permanent exclusion, and sometimes schools extended fixed term exclusions once a child was out of school. The cost of a PRU place is approximately £14,000 a year.