Wales 2017 Guidance Comparison 2015 Consultation Draft

January 10th 2017: new home education guidance for Wales has now been published.

THIS PAGE PROVIDES A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE 2015 DRAFT AND THE FINAL 2017 VERSION

Political Analysis, January 24th 2017


2017 Introduction

The vast majority of parents in Wales choose to have their children educated in school. However, some parents choose to educate their children at home. This is known as elective home education (EHE). Data collected by the Welsh Government indicates that the number of parents choosing to home-educate has increased in recent years. More information can be found in Pupils educated other than at school, 2015/16 (http://www.gov.wales/statistics-and- research/pupils-educated-other-than-school/?lang=en).

This guidance replaces chapter six of the guidance issued in 2006, National Assembly for Wales Circular No: 47/2006, Inclusion and pupil support. It is intended for LAs, but it may also be useful for home educators and groups supporting home education. It seeks to encourage a more consistent approach to working with and supporting home-educating families by drawing on examples of good practice and clarifying the law regarding EHE and LAs’ wider statutory responsibilities.

This guidance is not exhaustive and LAs’ judgements will need to take into account the circumstances of individual home-educating families.

2015 Introduction

The Welsh Government believes that all children and young people in Wales are able to realise their potential with the assistance and support of high quality schools and educational support services. The vast majority of families in Wales will choose to have their children educated through the mainstream system of education. However, there are a minority of parents that choose to home educate. This is known as Elective Home Education (EHE). Recent research conducted on behalf of the Welsh Government has indicated that the numbers of parents choosing to home educate has increased in recent years, a link to the data is below. However, as parents notify their local authority that they are home educating their children on a voluntary basis, not all electively home educated children will be captured within this data. Statistical release: Pupils educated other than at school, 2013/14 http://gov.wales/statistics-and-research/pupils-educated-other-than-school/?lang=en
This guidance builds upon and replaces the guidance issued in 2006 contained within the National Assembly for Wales Circular No: 47/2006, Inclusion and Pupil Support. It seeks to help build consensus and trust between local authorities and EHE families in Wales, and develop positive engagement and appropriate support. The guidance focuses on the educational experiences of children and young people, by collaborative working between local authorities and the EHE community.
This document is intended for local authorities, in particular in relation to those services that support EHE families or deal with issues relating to them. It will also be useful for home educators and groups supporting home education. It seeks to reinforce a child centred approach. It draws upon positive examples of practice from within Wales and seeks to encourage more consistent approaches to EHE across Wales.
Despite strong differences of opinion regarding the current legislative position that have emerged through recent consultation processes, EHE parents and local authorities have the best interests of the child in common. This document builds upon that common ground in encouraging partnership working to achieve that shared aim.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

Less about schools. Generally more concise. Omits part about strong differences of opinion which would fit a consultation document but don't belong in guidance. New reference to "LAs' wider statutory responsibilities."


2017 Reasons for elective home education (EHE)

The EHE community in Wales is a diverse population with families choosing to home-educate for a variety of reasons. These include:

  • ideological or philosophical
  • health (including emotional health and well-being)
  • cultural
  • religious
  • bullying
  • special educational provision
  • language choice
  • length of school journey
  • awaiting a place in school of their choice
  • flexibility and tailoring of approach.

Home education can provide a ‘freedom of learning’ which focuses on the subjects most engaging for the child. Parents may educate their children in a wide variety of ways and in a number of different environments. Many home-educating parents feel that they are able to meet their children’s individual needs and learning style more effectively than in a classroom.

2015 Elective home education in Wales

The home educating community in Wales is a diverse population which appears to be growing, although the rate to which this is happening is unclear. The picture differs across Wales with families choosing to home educate for a wide range of motivations and reasons, these include:

  • Ideological or philosophical reasons
  • Health (including emotional health and wellbeing)
  • Cultural reasons
  • Religious reasons
  • Bullying
  • Reasons associated with Additional Learning Needs (ALN)
  • Language choice
  • Lengthy school journey
  • Awaiting place in school of choice
For many home educators the principal advantages include flexibility, the ability to more effectively tailor approaches, more personal interaction, greater independence and freedom from bullying and peer pressure. Home education can provide a ‘freedom of curriculum’, with a focus on the subject areas that are most engaging for the child. In addition to projects of personal interest to the child within traditional subjects, the range of subjects studied can also be broader, for example, psychology, philosophy, engineering, environmental science, and programme coding being some that were mentioned by families.
Parents may educate their children in a wide variety of ways and in a number of different environments. Many parents are of the view that they are able to tailor their provision to meet the needs and learning styles of their children on an individual basis more effectively than can be done in a large class with a wide variety of needs.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

2017 is more succinct, updated reference to Additional Learning Needs in place of SEN, but basically saying the same as before.


2017 RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Parents rights and responsibilities

Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that: No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.

Parents’ rights and responsibilities
The right to home-educate is not a fundamental one. It is conditional on parents providing their child with an ‘efficient’ and ‘suitable’ education. Parents may educate their children at home providing they fulfil the requirements of section 7 of the Education Act 1996.

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable –

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(b) to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Parents may decide to home-educate their child from a very early age and so the child may not have been previously enrolled at school. They may also elect to home-educate at any other stage up to the end of compulsory school age.

Parents are not required to register or seek approval from the LA to home-educate their children. Parents who choose to home-educate their children must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility, including bearing the cost of any public examinations. However, LAs are encouraged to provide support where resources permit.

2015 The legal position

Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that: 'No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.'
Parents have a right to educate their children at home providing that they fulfil the requirements of Section 7 of the Education Act 1996. This places a duty on the parents of every child of compulsory school age to cause him or her to receive efficient full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs that they may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

This section has been renamed "Rights and Responsibilities". 2015 said parents had a right to home educate provided they fulfilled section 7, whereas 2017 makes essentially the same point but frames it negatively "The right to home-educate is not a fundamental one. It is conditional on parents providing their child with an ‘efficient’ and ‘suitable’ education" In anything from the Government about home education, "parents' rights" tend to be introduced largely so that they can be pitched against "children's rights". I think "parents' rights" is a misleading and unhelpful formulation in this context especially when it goes on to borrow notions of "conditional" versus "absolute" rights. The law in England and Wales doesn't talk about the right to home educate but rather about what parents must do for their children [cause them to receive education]. You might just as well say the right to send a child to school is conditional on the school being good at educating the child. It is however an improvement in the 2017 version that section 7 is quoted directly rather than just being paraphrased.


2017 REMOVING A CHILD FROM THE SCHOOL’S ADMISSION REGISTER

If a child is registered at a school their name cannot be removed from the school roll unless the school receives written notification that the child is to be home-educated [FOOTNOTE 2010 PUPIL REGISTRATION REGULATIONS]. Where the child is attending a special school under arrangements made by the LA, parents must obtain permission from the LA before the child’s name can be removed from the register.

On no account should parents be encouraged to remove their child from the school register to avoid exclusion or prosecution for failing to ensure that their child has attended school. LAs should routinely analyse the reasons why parents choose to home-educate. This will help to identify any patterns or themes regarding parents’ reasons for home-educating. In some cases LAs will be able to take action to address concerns.

In analysing the reasons, LAs might not only better understand home education, but be in a better position to develop and implement measures to encourage and support families to keep their children in school.

After the school receives written notification of a parent’s intention to home-educate their child(ren), the name of the child(ren) must be removed from the admissions register (Regulation 8(1)(d) Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010). The school (including those in the independent sector) must make a return (giving the child’s name and address) to the LA within the 10 school days following the date of removal (regulation 12(3)).

Where the LA has received notification of the school of a child’s withdrawal with the intention of being home-educated, the LA should write to the parents to acknowledge receipt of the notification. The LA should also consider whether there is evidence to indicate a cause for concern over the withdrawal. Where there are concerns such as those listed under the ‘Supporting the home-educating community’ section of this document (page 12), advice should be sought from the Education Welfare Service and relevant agencies and support or help made available to the family.

If a parent, having home-educated their child, wishes for their child to return to school, they should submit an application in writing to the LA or the school when it is the admission authority.

2015 Removing a pupil from the school admission register

There is no legal requirement for parents to inform local authorities of the fact that they intend to educate at home. This makes it particularly difficult for local authorities to keep track of certain groups of children, for example:

  • Those who have never attended a maintained school;
  • Those who have never attended a maintained school in that local authority’s area;
  • Those who have finished primary education in one school but have not started secondary education in another; and
  • Those where the school they have been attending has closed.

Parents whose children are registered pupils at a school should ensure that their names are removed from the school admissions register when they withdraw them from school to home educate to avoid being liable to prosecution for failing to ensure their child's regular attendance at the school where they are registered. However, where the child is attending a special school under arrangements made by the local authority, additional permission is required from the local authority before the child's name can be removed from the register.
After the school receives a letter from a child’s parent informing them that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school, the name of the child must be removed from the admissions register (regulation 8(1)(d) Education (Pupil Registration)( Wales) Regulations 2010). The school (including those in the independent sector) must make a return (giving the child’s name and address) to the local authority within the 10 school days following the date of removal (regulation 12(3)). Once a learner is removed from a school's register, a new application would need to be submitted for the child to be admitted to school at a later date, if the learner wished to return to school.
On no account should pressure be put on parents to remove pupils from the school register to avoid exclusion or prosecution. Where the local authority has received notification from the school of a child’s withdrawal with the intention of being home educated, the local authority should acknowledge the receipt of this notification from parents. The local authority should consider whether there is existing evidence to indicate a cause for concern over the withdrawal. Advice should be sought from education welfare services where there are concerns.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

The negative message about its being difficult to track children has been removed. The part about seeking advice from education welfare has been expanded to provide more detail: 2017 "Where there are concerns such as those listed under the ‘Supporting the home-educating community’ section of this document (page 12), advice should be sought from the Education Welfare Service and relevant agencies and support or help made available to the family" whereas 2015 did not explain what was expected from a referral to education welfare, opening the possibility of a family being discouraged or prevented from home educating. (Incidentally, I think the internal reference is a mistake and was actually intended to refer to the bullet point list of concerns in the LAs Safeguarding section, page 21 rather than page 12)

2017 explicitly says the LA should let parents know it has received notification from the school, whereas 2015 was more ambiguous, allowing for the possibility that the LA would just be letting the school know (with a further suggestion that the LA would be carrying out background checks)

2017 makes a stronger point about analysing the reasons given for home education as a way to uncover problems with schools: LAs should routinely analyse the reasons why parents choose to home-educate. This will help to identify any patterns or themes regarding parents’ reasons for home-educating. In some cases LAs will be able to take action to address concerns. In analysing the reasons, LAs might not only better understand home education, but be in a better position to develop and implement measures to encourage and support families to keep their children in school." The 2015 draft said "The relationship between the local authority and the parents of home educated children can have an important and positive impact on the child’s education. Local authorities should therefore develop an understanding of the reasons that a specific family has chosen to home educate." (Parents are of course not required to answer any questions about their reasons. Personally, I don't interpret the 2017 guidance as saying LAs should press families for reasons, and work to keep children in school if home education is undertaken for the "wrong" reason, but I would allow that this interpretation is possible. The previous Welsh Home Education Guidelines (2006) said " The reasons themselves should not have any bearing on the LEA’s treatment of families since the LEA’s prime interest lies in the parents’ educational provision for their children. When a parent offers an account of their dissatisfaction with the public system of education provision, the education authority may wish to use this information as part of its ongoing review of its provision.")

Finally, I can't immediately see that it makes any difference but 2015 talked about "existing evidence" whereas 2017 just refers to "evidence".


2017 LAS’ RESPONSIBILITIES

LAs are not responsible for the provision of EHE or under any statutory obligation to support it. However, under section 436A of the Education Act 1996, LAs do have a duty to make arrangements to identify children not receiving a suitable education. The duty applies in relation to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll and who are not receiving a suitable education otherwise than being in school (e.g. at home, privately or in alternative provision).

2017 SECTION 436A

(1) A local 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.
“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.

2017 SCHOOL ATTENDANCE ORDERS

A school attendance order (SAO) applies in cases when a parent of a child of compulsory school age fails to prove that the child is receiving suitable education and where the authority believes the child should attend school.

Section 437 of the Education Act 1996 – School attendance orders
(1) If it appears to a local authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise,
they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.
(2) That period shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.

(3) If—
(a) a parent on whom a notice has been served under subsection (1) fails to satisfy the local authority, within the period specified in the notice, that the child is receiving suitable education, and
(b) in the opinion of the authority it is expedient that the child should attend school, the authority shall serve on the parent an order (referred to in this Act as a “school attendance order”), in such form as may be prescribed, requiring him to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order.

(4) A school attendance order shall (subject to any amendment made by the local authority) continue in force for so long as the child is of compulsory school age, unless—
(a) it is revoked by the authority, or
(b) a direction is made in respect of it under section 443(2) or 447(5).

(5) Where a maintained school is named in a school attendance order, the local authority shall inform the governing body and the head teacher.

(6) Where a maintained school is named in a school attendance order, the governing body (and, in the case of a maintained school, the local authority) shall admit the child to the school.

(7) Subsection (6) does not affect any power to exclude from a school a pupil who is already a registered pupil there.

(8) In this Chapter—
“maintained school” means any community, foundation or voluntary school or any community or foundation special school not established in a hospital.

For more information on school attendance orders (SAOs) please consult the All Wales Attendance Framework (http://www.gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/pupilsupport/ framework/?lang=e).

2015

Under section 436A of the Education Act 1996, local authorities have a duty to make arrangements to identify children not receiving education and the suitability of that education:

(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.
"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."

2015 Making a School Attendance Order

Under section 437 of the Education Act 1996, where it appears to a local authority that a child of compulsory school age is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, the local authority may serve a notice on the parent requiring the parent to satisfy them (within a period of at least 15 days specified in the notice) that the child is receiving such education. The definition of suitable education is the same as that contained in section 436A of the Education Act 1996 as detailed above. If the parent fails to satisfy the local authority and the authority considers it expedient that the child should attend school, the local authority must serve a School Attendance Order (SAO) on the parent. This duty applies equally in relation to all children, regardless of whether or not they have previously attended a local authority school in the area. The SAO must be in a prescribed form and requires the parent to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order. Failure to comply with an SAO is an offence, unless the parent can demonstrate that the child is receiving suitable education otherwise than at school.
A parent's wish to educate a child at home should be respected and, where possible, effort should be made to resolve issues about provision by a process of ongoing dialogue before issuing a SAO. Local authorities should consider the need to issue an SAO on a case by case basis, and a decision will need to take into account the circumstances of individual cases.
For more information regarding School Attendance Orders please consult the All Wales Attendance Framework via the link below: http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/pupilsupport/framework/?lang=en

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

The 2017 version is better insofar as the law is quoted directly rather than being paraphrased or summarised. However, this from 2015 "A parent's wish to educate a child at home should be respected and, where possible, effort should be made to resolve issues about provision by a process of ongoing dialogue before issuing a SAO" has been removed, although effectively the concept has been re-introduced in the 2017 flowchart.

Unfortunately the Government has not corrected the reference to the All Wa.es Attendance Framework (2012) which incorrectly states that there is no defence against Failure to comply with a School Attendance Order, whereas in fact the defence is that the child is receiving suitable education otherwise than at school. (This was also pointed out in my 2015 consultation response)


2017 CHILDREN’S RIGHTS

The Welsh Government has adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as the basis for all its work for children and young people. The Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011 imposes a duty on the Welsh Ministers to have due regard to children’s rights, as set out in the UNCRC. The Children’s Rights Scheme 2014 sets out the arrangements for Welsh Ministers to comply with the duty to have due regard to children’s rights when exercising any functions.

The Welsh Government’s Programme for Children and Young People is based around the seven core aims for children and young people which summarise the UNCRC and form the basis for decisions on national priorities and objectives. They also form the basis for decisions on strategy and service provision locally.

Article 12 of the UNCRC provides a right for children to express their views and for due weight to be given to those views, in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. This does not, however, give children authority over parents. LAs, through their services supporting the participation of children and young people, should consider how the individual and collective voices of EHE children and young people can be heard and, if appropriate, taken into account.

Article 28 of the UNCRC states that all children have a right to an education and that primary education should be compulsory and free. Article 29 says that education should develop each child’s personality and talents to the full. However, one of the underlying principles of the UNCRC is the best interests of a child, and Article 3 of the UNCRC requires all adults to think about how their decisions will affect children and to do what is best for the child.

The Children’s Rights Wales website (http://www.childrensrights.wales) has been designed to help practitioners, policy makers and stakeholders develop their understanding of children’s rights and how to adopt a children’s rights perspective in their work.

2015 The Welsh Government and children's rights

The Welsh Government has adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as the basis for all its work for children and young people. The Welsh Government is committed to the centrality of the Convention and children's rights in all its work and the Programme for Government sets out a commitment to "continue to use the Seven Core Aims as the national framework for developing policy for children and young people." The Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011 imposes a duty on the Welsh Ministers to have regard to children's rights set out in the UNCRC.
The Children's Rights Scheme 2014 sets out the arrangements for Welsh Ministers to comply with the duty to have due regard to children's rights when exercising any functions.
The Let's Get It Right website (link below) has been designed to help practitioners, policy makers and all stakeholders develop their understanding of children's rights and how to adopt a children's rights perspective in their work: http://www.uncrcletsgetitright.co.uk
As with all existing services to children and young people, and in accordance with Article 12 of the UNCRC, the voice of the child should be incorporated into decision making and review processes relating to EHE. Article 12 provides that children have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them, and to have their opinions taken into account. This should include any process of mediation and conflict resolution, and also in relation to decisions taken about education. Local authorities, through their services that support the participation of children and young people, should also consider ways in which the individual and collective voices of EHE children and young people can be heard.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

I think this part of the 2017 version is an improvement from a very poor start in 2015. There was always going to be a "children's rights" section in any new guidance. 2017 has removed the meaningless waffle of "the voice of the child should be incorporated into decision making and review processes relating to EHE" and also adds that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child "does not, however, give children authority over parents." The process for seeking children’s views regarding their education ‘when adults are making decisions that affect them’ relates to the family court or to Looked After Children so it is good that this has been taken out. There is also less of a suggestion that the local authority ought somehow to obtain a child's view on his/her own home education in case it conflicts with that of the parent.


2017 HOME EDUCATION APPROACHES

Children who are home-educated are not required to follow any specified curriculum or meet criteria for the number of learning hours. The home education approach can be anywhere on a continuum from a formal, structured, schedule-based and mostly within the home environment, through to autonomous or child-led education or unschooling (see Figure 1). The approach used can be tailored to the child’s needs, interests and learning styles. Moreover, it can vary over time and subject. For example, a child might move from a more autonomous approach when younger to one that is more structured for GCSEs. Over the course of a year, home education may be more structured throughout the winter and more responsive to the weather or local opportunities during the summer. Some subjects like mathematics may be delivered with a structured approach, while others like history by autonomous project.

It is important where LA officers are able to offer advice on the education provided, they recognise the customs, practices and standards in school-based education are not necessarily relevant to home education. Any advice should therefore be based on the individual circumstances of each case.

Figure 1: Home education approaches

Structured
A fixed timetable or schedule with content sometimes following the national curriculum. Formal or focused learning makes up between three to five hours per day, with free play or child-initiated projects in the afternoon. Trips, groups, courses, activities and additional learning opportunities reinforce or embed the learning.

Autonomous or child-led learning The learning is prompted and engaged by the learner and facilitated by the parent. There are several methodological or ideological approaches such as:
unit or project driven
‘classical’ – three stages of preparing the learner to then teach themselves
‘Charlotte Mason’ – through engagement with well-written books.

Unschooling
The learner is encouraged to initiate own learning through exploration and engagement with activities of their own making or sourcing. Parents facilitate access to opportunity but try not to guide or lead.

2015 Home education approaches

Although there are certain approaches that may be highlighted by local authorities regarding the nature and extent of the home education, there is no requirement to follow any specified curriculum or to meet criteria around number of learning hours. The home education approach that a family might choose can be anywhere on a continuum from a formal, structured schedule based mostly within the home environment which has similarities to a school setting; through to autonomous or child-led education to radical un-schooling (see Figure 1). The approach devised can be tailored to the child’s needs, interests and learning styles. Moreover, it can vary over time and subject. For example, a child might move from a more autonomous approach when younger to one that is more structured for GCSEs.
Over the course of a year, home education may be more structured throughout the winter and more responsive to the weather or local opportunities during the summer. Some subjects such as maths may be delivered with a structured approach whilst others such as history by autonomous project.
The belief of some EHE families is that the flexibility and tailoring of approach is more meaningful to the child and therefore the learning is more embedded.

Figure 1:

Structured
A fixed timetable or schedule with content sometimes following the national curriculum. Formal or focussed learning makes up between 3-5 hours per day with free play or child initiated projects in the afternoon. Trips, groups, courses, activities and additional learning opportunities reinforce or embed the learning.

Autonomous or Child-led Learning
The learning is prompted and engaged by the learner and facilitated by the parent.

There are several methodological or ideological approaches here such as:
Unit or Project driven
‘Classical’ - 3 stages of preparing the learner to then teach themselves
‘Charlotte Mason’ – through engagement with well-written books.

Radical Un-schooling
The learner is encouraged to initiate own learning through exploration and engagement with activities of their own making or sourcing. Parents facilitate access to opportunity but try not to guide or lead.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

I understand that the Welsh Government thought this section would be appealing to home educating families. This has been added in 2017: "It is important where LA officers are able to offer advice on the education provided, they recognise the customs, practices and standards in school-based education are not necessarily relevant to home education. Any advice should therefore be based on the individual circumstances of each case."


2017 Figure 2: Steps a LA might take when a family has decided to home-educate

process flowchart

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

This flowchart did not appear in the 2015 draft. The left hand side of the flowchart sets out a process whereby if the family opts NOT to meet the LA, no further action should be taken unless there are specific concern about welfare or education. NB, the caption refers to steps a local authority MIGHT take, not that they SHOULD.

2017 POLICIES AND PROCEDURES EARLY INTERVENTION AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION

For some parents who choose to withdraw their child from school in order to home-educate, the decision often does not come out of the blue. In some cases there may be a history of disagreement between the family and the school or LA. Often the disagreement revolves around what is best for the child. Some instances may involve unresolved concerns about bullying, disagreements about the arrangements to meet a child’s needs, or even conflicts with a school staff member. In these instances parents should be encouraged to continue to engage with the school to discuss their concerns. However, all schools and LAs have complaints procedures which can be followed if parents’ concerns remain unresolved. In the interests of the child’s well-being, the resolution of such concerns should be the overriding aim. All LAs will have arrangements for local parent partnership services which can help prevent difficulties from escalating into disagreements and ensure that parents have access to information, advice and guidance so they can make appropriate and informed decisions.

The school and LA may want to consider initiating a process of mediation to resolve such conflicts (see Example 1). This may involve the use of specialist officers and specialist advocacy services. It is recommended that follow up meetings take place once a resolution has been reached to ensure continued agreement.

Where there have been disagreements, LAs should ensure that all aspects of potential education otherwise than at school are explored with the family. Schools and LAs should bear in mind that parents may opt for EHE when such conflicts cannot be resolved.

Example 1: Practical examples – early intervention and conflict resolution
Cardiff

The ‘Fair Access Panel’ is a multi-disciplinary panel, the role of which is to identify issues that might lead to EHE and working with families and schools to seek resolution. The panel is comprised of operational managers from the Education Welfare Service, Youth Service, education otherwise than at school (EOTAS), educational psychology, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and special educational needs (SEN) and headteachers on rotation are present. All professionals can refer a case to be heard by the panel as long as they can justify that a raft of measures has already been attempted to resolve the issue. The panel will develop a package of intervention and support to resolve issues in a range of areas, including SEN, attendance, health and well-being and behaviour.

Elective home education Ceredigion

The EHE adviser’s primary role is as an Education Welfare Officer. She is well placed to ensure that issues which might lead parents to choosing to home-educate are resolved with support and guidance. The LA allows access to the children and young people’s universal advocacy service in Ceredigion, which is provided by Tros Gynnal. This can mean that the child’s and the family’s voice are heard on issues that might lead to EHE. De-registration from school initiates a swift first contact to ensure that the choice to home-educate is a positive one and not a decision in response to an unresolved problem or unmet need.

2015 Local authority approach to EHE, 3.1 Early intervention and conflict resolution

For parents who choose to withdraw their child from school in order to home educate, the decision often does not come out of the blue. In some cases there may be a history of disagreement between the family and the school or local authority. Often the nature of the disagreement is with regards to what is best for the child concerned. Some instances may involve unresolved concerns about bullying, disagreements as to the arrangements to meet a child's needs, or even conflicts with a school staff member. In these instances it is advisable parents continue to engage with the child's school to discuss their concerns. However, all schools and local authorities have complaints procedures in place which can be followed if parents concerns are unable to be resolved.
The established process for parents to follow where they have concerns about the school is outlined in the Welsh Government circular 011/2012, Complaints Procedures for school governing bodies in Wales. Governing bodies of all maintained schools must have a complaints process which must be published and made available. Further details are available on the Welsh Government website at: http://www.gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/publications/circulars/schoolcomplaints
In the interests of the wellbeing of the child, the resolution of such concerns should be the overriding aim. All local authorities will have arrangements for local parent partnership services that can help prevent difficulties from developing into disagreements, and ensure parents have access to information, advice and guidance so they can make appropriate and informed decisions.
Where there have been such disagreements, local authorities should ensure that all aspects of potential Education Otherwise than at School (EOTAS) provision are explored with the pupil's family. This should help to minimise the removal of children from education as an action of last resort by the family.
Schools and local authorities should bear in mind that parents often opt for EHE as a last resort when such conflicts cannot be resolved.
The school and local authority may want to consider initiating a process of mediation in order to resolve such conflicts in the interest of the child's wellbeing and educational progress (refer to figure 2 for practical examples). This may involve the use of specialist officers where required, and specialist advocacy services. The aim should be to achieve a positive resolution in the best interests of the child. It is recommended that follow up meetings also take place once a resolution has been reached to ensure continued agreement.

Figure 2: Practice examples of early intervention and conflict resolution Cardiff 'Fair Access Panel': This is a multi-disciplinary panel with the agenda of identifying issues that might lead to EHE and working with families and schools to seek resolution. The panel comprises Operational Managers from Education Welfare, Youth Service, EOTAS; representatives from Educational Psychology, CAMHS and Special Educational Needs (SEN); and head-teachers on rotation are present. All professionals can refer a case to be heard by the panel as long as they can justify that a raft of measures have already been attempted to resolve the issue. The panel will develop a package of intervention and support to resolve issues in a range of areas; SEN, attendance, health and wellbeing and behaviour.

Ceredigion 'Spotting the signs': the EHE advisor's primary role is as an Education Welfare Officer. She is therefore well-placed to ensure issues that might lead to parents choosing the option of EHE are resolved with support and guidance. The local authority also allows access to the children and young people's universal advocacy service in Ceredigion which is provided by Tros Gynnal. This can mean that the child's and the family's voice are heard in issues that might lead to EHE. De-registration from school initiates a swift first contact to ensure that choice to home education is a positive one and not a decision in response to an unresolved issue or unmet need.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

Parents opting for home education as a last resort appears twice in this section of the 2015 draft but not at all in the final 2017 version. Otherwise the same points are made, albeit in a slightly different order. I remain as sceptical as ever that the complaints, meetings, mediation etc will achieve anything meaningful. 2017 says parents should be "encouraged" to continue to engage with the school, whereas 2015 said it was "advisable." The link to the Government circular on complaints (which said most who took part were not satisfied) has been removed


2017 FLEXI-SCHOOLING

Flexi-schooling or flexible school attendance is an arrangement between the parent and the school, where the child is registered at school in the normal way but attends the school on a part-time basis. The remainder of the time the child is home-educated.
Flexi-schooling is generally a short-term measure to address a particular issue or concern. Some advantages and disadvantages of flexi-schooling are referred to on home education websites (see ‘Useful websites and resources’, page 24).
The decision and provision of flexi-schooling is an arrangement between the parent and the school, more often than not with agreement from the LA. Although flexi-schooling is more prevalent in some LAs than others, it is the headteacher’s decision whether this arrangement is made.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

There was nothing about flexischooling in the 2015 draft. I assume that consultation respondents pointed this out. This section is notable for NOT taking a position on how the register should be marked, although the answer Code C has been given here


2017 TRUANCY SWEEPS

Those taking part in truancy sweeps, including police officers, should be aware that there may be valid reasons why school-age children may be out of school. In particular, they may encounter children who are home-educated and not required to be at school.
No further action should be taken where children indicate they are home-educated unless there is a reason to doubt that this is the case. Home-educating parents need to be made aware that professionals involved in truancy sweeps may need to verify any information given to them in these circumstances. To make sure this is a fast and efficient process, LAs are advised to maintain a list of all school-age children known to them who are home-educated. This list can then be checked by the LA staff as part of a truancy sweep. For further information on good practice in relation to truancy sweeps please refer to the All Wales Attendance Framework (http://www.gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/pupilsupport/ framework/?lang=en).

2015 Truancy sweeps

Those taking part in truancy sweeps, including police officers, should be aware that there may be valid reasons why school-age children may be out of school. In particular, they may encounter children who are educated at home and that these children are not required to be at school.
No further action should be taken where children indicate that they are home educated unless there is a reason to doubt that this is the case. Home educating parents need to be made aware that professionals involved in truancy sweeps may need to verify any information given to them in these circumstances. To make sure this is a fast and efficient process, it would be advisable that the local authority maintains a list of all school-age children known to them who are home educated. This list can then be checked by the local authority staff as part of a truancy sweep. For further information on good practice in relation to truancy sweeps please refer to the All Wales Attendance Framework which is available on the Learning Wales website.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

Not improved from 2015. Slight change of wording: 2015 "it would be advisable that the local authority maintains a list" vs 2017 " LAs are advised to maintain a list" Still hedging over whether child's word should be accepted (and still no mention of what action to take if parent is with child and says child is home educated, since seemingly only considering unaccompanied children during school hours)


2017 SUPPORTING THE HOME-EDUCATING COMMUNITY, SUPPORTING EHE FAMILIES

Many families who have chosen to home-educate say they have done so following a lot of agonising and weighing up of factors. For some the choice means making sacrifices. In many cases it will mean incurring additional financial costs, as families take on the responsibility for accessing resources and paying for examinations. In some cases it may mean living on one salary as one parent devotes their time to educating one or more children.

The relationship between the LA and home-educating parents can have an important and positive impact on the child’s education. It is important, therefore, that LAs adopt an understanding and supportive approach with home-educating families. It is through this type of approach and the building of trust that parents may be more willing to engage with the LA (see Example 2).

2017 MEETING EHE FAMILIES

It is recommended that an initial meeting takes place with EHE families to discuss their provision and any advice and ongoing support they may need. Contact with the family should normally be made in writing and should seek a meeting or request a written update. Meetings should take place at mutually agreed locations. Thereafter it is recommended that the LA seeks to make contact with home-educating families at least once a year. Where parents elect not to meet LA officers in their home, alternative arrangements should be sought.

These meetings are an opportunity to provide information and support to home-educating families, to listen and respond to any concerns they have. They also provide an opportunity to discuss the views of home-educated children and young people regarding the education they are receiving, their preferences, aspirations and ambitions. LA officers may wish to ask families to see specific examples of learning, e.g. pictures, paintings and models, diaries of educational activity, projects, assessments, samples of work, books or educational visits.

The LA should prepare a report after such contact, which should be copied to the family, stating whether the LA has any concerns about whether a suitable education is being provided. The report should detail any recommendations made by the LA and any actions to be taken by the LA on behalf of the parents.

Any telephone communication should be followed up with a written confirmation of what has been discussed and agreed.

LAs are required to make arrangements to identify children of compulsory school age who are not receiving a suitable education (see ‘LAs’ responsibilities’, page 5). By using these meetings to develop good relationships with EHE families and maintain a positive dialogue with parents, LA officials are in a better position to support families that might be struggling to provide a suitable education.

Elective home education Example 2: Practical example – engagement with EHE families
Anglesey

The LA holds bi-annual meetings for EHE families at a local venue. The events feature information sharing and training on topics such as internet safety by the police and GCSE qualifications by examination boards. The events provide an opportunity to access services such as Careers Wales and health.

2015 Engaging with home educators

Many families that have chosen to home educate report that they have done so following much agonising and the weighing up of many factors. For some families the choice to electively home educate means making sacrifices. This may include living on one salary as one parent devotes their time to educating one or more children. It will in many cases incur additional financial cost to families as they take on the responsibility for accessing resources and paying for examinations. When contacted by families, Local authorities should seek to provide parents with appropriate support and advice they need to improve their child’s educational outcomes.

The relationship between the local authority and the parents of home educated children can have an important and positive impact on the child’s education. Local authorities should therefore develop an understanding of the reasons that a specific family has chosen to home educate. Building constructive working relationships and seeking to understand the parents approach is key. It is important therefore that local authority staff responsible for supporting home education adopt an understanding and supportive approach focused on joint working to enhance the child’s education (see Figure 3 for practical examples of engagement with EHE families). Such approaches not only contribute to building and maintaining a strong working relationship for the child, but also may help rebuild trust in a system that some feel may have let them down. This may be important in the future if parents begin to consider returning their child to school.

Figure 3: Practice examples of engagement with EHE families Anglesey The local authority holds bi-annual meetings for EHE families at a local venue. These events feature information sharing and training on relevant topics such as internet safety by the police and GCSE qualifications by examination boards. The events provide an opportunity to access services such as Careers Wales and health.

Caerphilly Open/coffee mornings held at Ty Graddfa. This is a community space used for tuition and young mum’s provision. The coffee mornings operate as a drop-in centre, with advice, activities, arts and crafts, resources for GCSE courses, and an opportunity for EHE families to socialize. A special pre-Christmas event included a visit to the local zoo for the ‘children who wouldn’t get a school trip’. This facility is also a registered exam centre for EHE candidates. The local authority sends out a newsletter with EHE news, useful numbers, up- coming events – it is hoped this will develop into sharing good practice or ideas with contributions from EHE families and children.

It is important to establish a consistent approach towards home educators across Wales. Many home educators will have moved from one local authority to another. This may be partly based on lifestyle choice, but it may also be partly informed by approaches to home education in a certain local authority as compared to another.

2015 Reviewing provision

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.

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.

An approach which seeks to understand the provision that is being delivered to the child can form the basis of more relevant advice and support to families, and therefore assist in building good relationships. It is through this type of approach, and the building of trust that parents may be more willing to allow access to their provision and to share their philosophy and approach. Local authorities do not have the right to insist on observing education in the home, and where a parent elects not to allow access to their home, alternative arrangements should be made. The local authority should be discussing any concerns it has with the family about the education provision; with a view to helping them improve their provision in the best interest of the child.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

It is significant that 2017 says seek a meeting OR request a written update. (See also flowchart note) In addition, 2017 says the LA "may wish to ask families to see specific examples of learning" which is much less emphatic than 2015 with its emphasis on "evidence" and "considering evidence." The word "evidence" only appears once in the whole of the 2017 guidance, under "Removing a child from the school’s admission register" The 2015 focus on non-optional joint working to enhance the child’s education" [parents and the council] has been removed from the 2017 version.

The 2015 subheading "Reviewing provision has not been retained in the 2017 version, which ties in with the removal of "evidence." 2015 says "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". In contrast, 2017 is less prescriptive on this point and simply notes that meetings "provide an opportunity to discuss the views of home-educated children and young people". 2015 made reference to "observing education in the home" which is absent from the 2017 guidance. In general, 2015 made meetings sound non-optional, with the family home as the default location, with boxes to be ticked for talking to the child and assessing evidence of provision, whereas 2017 is about more about keeping in touch with families.


2017 PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

LAs should provide home-educating parents with a named contact whose role it is to provide advice and support to home-educating families. It is recommended that the officer has a professional background in education and is able to understand and support a range of educational philosophies. The officer should receive training on safeguarding which will enable them to fulfil their responsibilities effectively in respect of child protection. The role should include maintaining positive relationships with home-educating parents, raising awareness of home education within the LA and signposting parents to support networks and educational opportunities from which their children may benefit.

It may be helpful for the contact person to be referred to as an ‘adviser,’ ‘home-educating consultant’ or ‘home-educating coordinator’ rather than an ‘inspector’, ‘assessor’, ‘education social worker’ or ‘education welfare officer’. LAs should organise training on the law and home education methods for all of their officers who have contact with home-educating families.

It is recommended that LAs have a written policy on EHE which has been prepared in consultation with home-educating families. It might include details of advice and support networks, links to youth support services or out of school hours’ provision, as well as LA policies and procedures in relation to EHE. The policy should be accessible on the LAs website and made available to all families choosing to home-educate. When communicating with families, LAs should take account of any cultural or linguistic considerations.

2015 Practical considerations

Local authorities should provide parents who are home educating with a named contact whose role it is to provide advice and support to home educating families. It is recommended that this officer has a professional background in education and is able to understand and support a range of educational philosophies. The role of this officer should include maintaining positive relationships with home educating parents, raising awareness of home education within the local authority and signposting to existing networks of appropriate support and existing educational opportunities from which home educated children may benefit.
Local authorities may wish to consider working within their regional consortium to, for example, facilitate a regional coordinator for EHE or a single point of contact. This may act as a pragmatic means of securing more consistent, comprehensive advice and support at a time of considerable financial constraint. Working on a regional basis, consortia could formulate their own regional responses to EHE tailored to the communities within their area, working with partners on a regional level.
It may also be helpful in developing positive relationships for the contact person to be referred to as an ‘advisor,’ ‘home-educating consultant’ or ‘ home-educating coordinator’ rather than as an ‘inspector’, ‘assessor’ ‘education social worker’ or ‘education welfare officer’. Local authorities should organise training on the law and home education methods for all of their officers who have contact with home educating families.
It is recommended local authorities have a written policy statement on home educated children and their families which have been prepared in consultation with home educating families. This may include details of advice and support networks, links to youth support services or out of school hours provision, as well as detailing local authority policies and procedures in relation to EHE. This should be made available to all families that choose to home educate. When communicating with families local authorities should take account of any cultural and/or linguistic considerations.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

2017 is the same as 2015 EXCEPT for the deletion of the paragraph about working within the regional consortium as things have moved on since the guidance was first drafted.


2017 WORKING WITH HOME EDUCATION NETWORKS AND GROUPS

LAs should seek to develop positive working relationships with home-educating networks and groups in their area. There are already examples of supportive relationships in a number of LAs (see Example 3). This is particularly helpful to families who have recently made the decision to home-educate and need support. Such groups often cover a number of local authority areas. Some have achieved charitable status, while others are more informal networks. These groups can be an invaluable help to parents in advising, guiding and even inspiring them in their new undertaking. They can, above all, provide important learning experiences, courses, visits, etc., to enhance home education provision for the children and young people who participate. The groups can also provide children and young people with opportunities to develop friendships with other home-educated children and young people. Parents may have had little or no experience of home-educating. It may take time for them to establish the most suitable routine and to make the major adjustments necessary in delivering effective home education. If they are completely new to home-educating they may be unaware of any kind of support and advice available. They may also be unaware of local, national and international support networks for home education. Where LAs are aware of such groups or networks, they should pass on the contact details to families new to EHE or new to the area.

It is also recommended that LA officers, in the course of their engagement with these groups, raise awareness of training opportunities on safeguarding and child protection available to practitioners working with children and young people.

Example 3: Practical example – supporting home-educating groups
Bridgend
The service level agreement between the LA and the Bridgend Home Educators is unique in Wales. The LA provides a community hall for the group to use on one day per week. This is a versatile facility with a large space for play as well as smaller rooms for learning. They deliver mathematics, English and science at GCSE, environmental science, and a range of other subjects, including a GCSE in Astronomy. The group also delivers the Jon Muir Award – an environmental award which encourages people of all backgrounds to connect, enjoy and care for wild places through a structured yet adaptable programme. The LA provides the group with a grant of £5,000 per year which is used largely to pay for GSCE examinations. There are approximately 200 children and young people registered with the group. Some of these are known to the LA and others choose not to be. This choice is respected by the group and by the LA.

Two of the home educators have been trained as examination invigilators and have also received child protection training. The group has worked in partnership with the local youth service and has had Open College Network credits delivered and issue-based workshops. The group has also linked with Porthcawl YMCA for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. More recently the group has worked with the Allotment Association to regenerate a piece of land and develop an allotment. This work not only linked to the Environmental Science GCSE, but also enabled the children and young people to deliver a project which benefits the wider community.

Some of the group leaders of Bridgend Home Educators have delivered training on home education to groups of multi-agency professionals within LA. This was done free of charge.

2015 Working with EHE networks or groups

Local authorities should seek to develop positive working relationships with home educating networks in their area. There are already examples of supportive relationships in a number of local authorities (refer to Figure 4 for practical examples). This is particularly helpful to families that have recently made the decision to home educate and are in need of help and support. Such groups often cover a number of local authority areas. Some have achieved charitable status, others are more informal networks. These groups can be an invaluable help to parents in advising, guiding, and even inspiring them in their new undertaking. They can above all provide important learning experiences, courses, visits, etc. to enhance home education provision for the children and young people who participate. Groups can provide children and young people with opportunities to develop friendships with other home educated children and young people. Parents may have had little or no experience of home educating. It may take time for them to establish the most suitable routine, and to make the major adjustments that are often necessary in delivering effective home education. If they are completely new to home educating, they may be unaware of any kind of support and advice available to them. They may also be unaware of existing local, national and international support networks for home education. Where local authorities are aware of such groups or networks, they may wish to pass on contact details to families that are new to EHE or new to the area.

In addition, it is recommended that local authority officers, in the course of their engagement with these groups, raise awareness of opportunities to undertake training on safeguarding and child protection that are already available to a range of practitioners working with children and young people.

Figure 4: Practice example supporting EHE groups Bridgend The Service Level Agreement between the local authority and Bridgend Home Educators is currently unique in Wales. The local authority provides a community hall for the group to use on one day per week. This is a versatile facility with a large space for play as well as smaller rooms for focused learning. They deliver Maths, English and Science GCSE, Environmental Science, and a range of other subjects including a GCSE in Astronomy. The group also delivers the Jon Muir Award which is an environmental award that encourages people of all backgrounds to connect, enjoy and care for wild places through a structured yet adaptable programme. The local authority provides the group with a grant of £5,000 per year which is used largely to pay for GSCE examinations. Last year 46 GCSEs were taken through this group. There are approximately 200 children and young people registered with the group. Some of these are known to the local authority and others wish not to be. This wish is respected by the group and by the local authority. Two of the home educators have been trained as examination invigilators; they have also received child protection training. The group has worked in partnership with the local youth service and has had Open College Network credits delivered and issue based workshops. They have linked in with Porthcawl YMCA for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. Recently the group have worked in partnership with the allotment association to regenerate a piece of land and develop an allotment. This links in with the Environmental Science GCSE and would enable the children and young people to deliver a project which benefits the wider community. Some of the group leaders of Bridgend Home Educators have delivered awareness raising sessions to groups of multi-agency professionals within the local authority regarding home education. This was done free of charge.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

This is unchanged


2017 SUPPORTING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

Although LAs do not receive funding for a child who is home-educated and are not legally obliged to provide any financial support for that child, they should, where possible, promote access to learning opportunities open to all children and young people in their area.
It is important to keep in mind that the decision to home-educate rests with the parents. LAs and schools should respect parental choice and should not automatically exclude home-educated children and young people from the wide range of support services available, such as careers advice and youth support services. In many cases such provision is freely available and offers young people a range of informal and often accredited learning opportunities and access to support which can enhance their learning and well-being.
Some LAs provide links to youth support services, through information packs to home-educating parents. Others promote access to specialist educational support services, such as education psychology and school nurses. It is recommended that LA staff responsible for engaging with the EHE community have up-to-date knowledge of the breadth of such services in their area. This will enable them to advise families on provision which may enhance the educational experience of home-educated children. These should include local networks, e.g. youth forums and other sources of advice and support available for children and young people.
LAs are required to provide independent counselling services for all 11 to 18-year-olds in their area. Home-educated children have a right to access this service. The LA contact will be able to provide information to home educators interested in accessing the service.
All LAs in Wales have youth support services that offer learning opportunities to young people aged 11 to 25. This is as a result of a direction given by the Welsh Ministers to LAs in 2002 to ‘provide, secure the provision of or participate in the provision of youth support services’ 3 . Youth support services are defined as the services which, in the opinion of the Welsh Ministers, will encourage, enable or assist young persons (directly or indirectly) to:

  • participate effectively in education and training
  • take advantage of opportunities for employment
  • participate effectively and responsibly in the life of their communities (see Examples 4 and 5).

The Youth Engagement and Progression Framework provides examples of how to implement targeted approaches to the provision of youth support services. The framework plays an important part in implementing more effective and systematic approaches to identifying young people at risk of becoming NEET (not engaged in employment, education or training) who need support, and making sure they get the help they need to get them back on track. LAs are responsible for the framework’s implementation.

Example 4: Practical example – links with further education/under-16 education
Ceredigion
The LA facilitates links for EHE families with Coleg Ceredigion. Home-educated children can apply to take a range of courses in both GCSE and vocational subjects. The LA provides the EHE applicant with a letter confirming they are being home-educated. Popular courses include the pre-GCSE full-time course which offers subjects such as Creative Media and Performance, in addition to a core element (including ICT, literacy, numeracy and Welsh), the BTEC Introductory Diploma in Vocational Studies and GCSE evening classes.

Example 5: Practical example – promoting services available to home-educated learners
Carmarthenshire
With consent from the parents and child, a referral can be made by the EHE adviser to Iechyd Da if it is felt that the child might benefit from a short intervention programme to support low self-esteem, health problems, substance misuse or problems with bullying. The project is well respected and positively received. It is considered to be a lifeline for some children who have been deregistered from school, particularly because of bullying. LAs will need to consider carefully how they can help home-educated children and young people, and their families, to access universal services. This will be particularly important for families who withdraw from engaging with services, and from the safeguarding and protection provided by and through universal services. Where a family does not wish to engage with the LA, education officers should consider whether it is necessary to contact other services to enable information to be shared which might highlight any welfare concerns for either the child or family.
The Families First programme, for example, provides support for families with a range of needs. The programme encourages families to recognise what is working well so that they can grow and develop themselves. It also places an emphasis on helping families become more confident and resilient. A key element of the programme is the Team Around the Family (TAF) model, which provides bespoke, intensive support to families and brings organisations together to work with the whole family to stop problems from escalating. It is important that every child and their family have the opportunity to take up the offer of immunisation and screening services. This will offer families the opportunity to discuss expected developmental milestones and ongoing management of their child’s well-being with professionals.
Access to a number of these services, such as immunisation and screening, can be facilitated by schools. LAs will need to work in partnership with other agencies to support and enable home-educating families to access information and services appropriate to their needs.

2015 Supporting children and young people

There is no legal duty for local authorities to provide financial support to EHE families or networks. If a child is not registered with a school, then the local authority does not receive any funding for that child and is therefore not legally obliged to pass on any financial support to parents to assist with schooling provision for learners who are home educated
Where possible, local authorities should promote access to available learning opportunities that are open to all children and young people within their area. It is important to keep in mind that the decision to home educate rests with the parents. Local authorities and schools should respect parental choice. This choice should not automatically exclude children and young people from the wide range of support services such as careers advice and youth services that are available to them within each local authority area. In many cases such provision is open access and offers young people a wide range of informal and often accredited learning opportunities, and access to support. This can enhance their learning and wellbeing. Some local authorities already provide links to youth support services, for example, through information packs to parents of home educated children and young people. Others promote access to specialist educational support services such as education psychology, and school nurses. It is recommended that the officers with responsibility for engaging with and supporting the EHE community within each local authority have up to date knowledge of the breath of such services within their local authority. This will enable them to advise families of appropriate provision which may enhance the educational provision of children who are home educated. These should include local networks for children and young people’s participation e.g. youth forums, and sources of advice and support available for children and young people. Local authorities must secure reasonable provision for a service providing counselling in respect of health, emotional and social needs for certain categories of school pupils and other children. Depending on their circumstances, home educated children could have a right of access to this service. The local authority should provide information to home educators who are interested in accessing the service.
All local authorities in Wales have youth support services that offer informal and non-formal learning opportunities to young people aged 11 – 25. This is as a result of a direction given by the Welsh Ministers to local authorities in 2002 to "provide, secure the provision of or participate in the provision of youth support services". Youth support services are defined as the services which, in the opinion of the Welsh Ministers, will encourage, enable or assist young persons (directly or indirectly)

  • a) To participate effectively in education and training,
  • b) To take advantage of opportunities for employment, or
  • c) To participate effectively and responsibly in the life of their communities"
  • (see Figures 5&6 for practice examples).

The Youth engagement and progression framework –provides examples of how to implement targeted approaches to the provision of youth support services. The framework plays an important part in implementing more effective and systematic approaches to identifying young people at risk of becoming NEET (not engaged in employment, education or training) who need support, and making sure they get the help they need to get them back on track. Local authorities have the responsibility for the framework’s implementation. The framework introduced two new actions. The first is the offer of a lead worker within a relevant organisation who can provide continuity of support and contact for those young people most at risk of disengagement. The second is the development of a proactive Youth Guarantee, which is the offer, acceptance and commencement of a suitable place in education or training for a young person making the first time transition from compulsory education at age 16. Depending on their circumstances, home educated learners could benefit from this.

Figure 5: Practice example – links with Further Education / under 16 education Ceredigion The local authority facilitates links for EHE families with Coleg Ceredigion. Home educated children can apply to take a range of courses in both GCSE and vocational subjects. The local authority provides the EHE applicant with a letter of confirmation of being home educated. Popular courses are the Pre-GCSE full time course offering subjects such as Creative Media and Performance in addition to a core element (including ICT, Literacy, Numeracy and Welsh); the BTEC Introductory Diploma in Vocational Studies; and GCSE evening classes. All courses have continuity and progression to either GCSEs.

Figure 6: Practice Example - promoting services available to home educated learners Carmarthenshire With consent from the parents and child, a referral can be made by the EHE Advisor to Iechyd Da if it is felt that a young person might benefit from a short intervention programme to support low self-esteem, health issues, substance misuse or issues resulting from bullying. The project is well-respected and positively received. It is considered to be a life-line for some children who have been deregistered from school (particularly due to bullying).

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

The part about access to counselling is stronger in the 2017 version. 2017 has less detail about Youth Engagement. Otherwise this part remains the same.


2017 CHARACTERISTICS OF HOME EDUCATION PROVISION

In their consideration of parents’ provision, LAs may wish to take into account the characteristics listed below. By facilitating access to existing EHE networks and communities, LAs can assist families in developing the following approaches.

  • Consistent involvement of parents in the delivery of the provision within a mostly family-based setting.
  • Recognition of the child’s needs, aspirations and learning styles.
  • 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 craft materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and adults.
  • The involvement of Careers Wales at an appropriate stage.
  • The development of literacy and numeracy skills suitable to the child’s age, aptitude and ability, taking into account any special educational needs that they may have.

LAs should take into consideration that home-educated children may have more one-to-one contact time than in a school setting, that education may take place outside normal school hours and the type of educational activity can be varied and flexible. Home-educating parents are not required to:

  • teach the national curriculum
  • have a timetable
  • have premises equipped to a particular standard
  • mark work done by their child
  • set hours during which education will take place
  • have any specific qualifications
  • cover the same syllabus as any school
  • make detailed plans in advance
  • observe school hours, days or terms
  • give formal lessons
  • reproduce school type peer group socialisation
  • match school age specific standards.

However, LAs should offer advice and support on these matters to parents if requested.

There is no legal requirement for home-educated children to take a particular set of qualifications. The internal assessment component of many qualifications, such as GCSEs, for example, can make them difficult for external candidates to achieve. These are not, however, the only qualifications which external candidates can take, and LAs may usefully offer parents and their children information about alternative qualifications and the arrangements required for the children to take them. LAs should also inform parents and, where appropriate, their children of possible problems they might encounter if their qualifications are not sufficiently recognised by employers, or further or higher education establishments.
Where families do wish to take formal qualifications such as GCSEs, LAs should provide advice on qualification options and encourage the use of resources such as Learning Wales (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Learning Wales Learning Wales is a website, designed to meet the needs of educators and practitioners and improve standards in learning providers across Wales. http://www.gov.wales/learning With focus on improvement, each page has a range of tailored support and advice, centralising the information available and simplifying your search for the most recent information. The site is also complemented by Hwb, the all Wales learning platform, which hosts a national collection of digital resources, user-generated content and collaborative areas. http://www.hwb.wales.gov.uk

2015 Characteristics of provision

In their consideration of parents' provision, local authorities may wish to take into account the characteristics listed below. Through facilitating access to existing EHE networks and communities, local authorities can assist families in developing these approaches:

  • Consistent involvement of parents or carers in the delivery of the provision within a mostly family-based setting
  • Recognition of the child’s needs, aspirations, and learning styles
  • 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 adults.
  • The involvement of Careers Wales at an appropriate stage
  • The development of numeracy and literacy skills suitable to the child’s age, aptitude and ability and taking into account any special educational needs that they may have.

Local authorities should take into consideration that home educated children may have more one to one contact time than in a school setting, that education may take place outside ‘normal school hours’ and that the type of educational activity undertaken can be varied and flexible. Home educating parents are not required to:

  • Teach the National Curriculum
  • Have a timetable
  • Have premises equipped to a particular standard
  • Mark work done by their child
  • Set hours during which education will take place
  • Have any specific qualifications
  • Cover the same syllabus as any school
  • Make detailed plans in advance
  • Observe school hours, days or terms
  • Give formal lessons
  • Reproduce school type peer group socialisation
  • Match school age specific standards

However, local authorities should offer advice and appropriate support to parents on these matters if requested by parents.
There is no legal requirement for children to take a particular set of qualifications. The internal assessment component of many qualifications such as GCSEs, for example teacher assessments, can make them difficult for external candidates to achieve. These are not, however, the only qualifications which external candidates can take, and local authorities may usefully offer parents and their children information about alternative qualifications and the arrangements that they would need to make for the children to take them. Local authorities should also inform parents and, where appropriate, their children of possible problems that they might encounter if their qualifications are not sufficiently recognised by employers, or further or higher education establishments.
Where families do wish to take formal qualifications such as GCSE local authorities should facilitate advice on qualification options, and encourage the use of resources such as Learning Wales (Figure 8). It is recommended that local authority staff assist families in locating a suitable local setting in which EHE children and young people can sit examinations.

Figure 7: Learning Wales

Learning Wales is a web-based resource, designed to meet the needs of educators and practitioners and improve standards in learning providers across Wales: http://www.learning.wales.gov.uk
With a clear improvement focus, each page has a range of tailored support and advice, centralising the information available and simplifying your search for the most recent information.
The site is also complemented by the ‘Hwb’ learning platform, which hosts a national collection of digital resources, user-generated content and collaborative areas: http://hwb.wales.gov.uk The Hwb learning platform can be accessed via the front page of Learning Wales.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

Basically the same but this sentence from 2015 does NOT appear in the 2017 version "It is recommended that local authority staff assist families in locating a suitable local setting in which EHE children and young people can sit examinations." (In my view it wasn't particularly likely to happen either way, whatever the guidance said.)


2017 SHARING GOOD PRACTICE

As in other fields, LA officers responsible for EHE should be part of relevant networks. Networks can be an important means of support for LA officers. They can contribute to the development of consistent approaches regionally and nationally, and can enable the sharing of good practice.
There are existing examples of local and national networks that have developed recently. Some LA officers meet within their regional arrangements. Bridgend is an example of a network that is chaired by LA officers from Bridgend County Borough Council. The network is attended by a number of LA representatives as well as representatives from EHE groups.

2015 Sharing good practice

As in other fields, local authority officers with responsibility for EHE should be part of relevant networks. Networks can be an important means of support for local authority officers, they can contribute to the development of consistent approaches regionally and nationally, and they can enable the sharing of good practice.
There are existing examples of local and national networks that have developed recently. Some local authority officers meet within their regional arrangements. Bridgend is an example of a network that is chaired by local authority officers from Bridgend Local Authority. This network is attended by a number of local authority representatives and it also has representatives from some EHE groups.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

2017 is the same as 2015


2017 CHILDREN WITH STATEMENTS OF SEN

A LA may only stop maintaining a statement of SEN if it is no longer necessary for them to maintain it in respect of an EHE child. The determination of whether or not this is the case will depend on whether the parents are able to make suitable provision for the child’s special needs. That provision may be different from that outlined in the statement. Parents need only provide an efficient education suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude, and to any SEN the child may have, as set out in section 7 of the Education Act 1996.
If it is satisfied that the parents’ arrangements are suitable, the LA may be relieved of its duty to arrange the provision specified in the statement. If, however, the parents’ arrangements fall short of meeting the child’s needs, then the parents are not making suitable arrangements and the LA is not absolved of its responsibility to arrange the provision in the statement. In some cases a combination of provision by parents and the LA might best meet the needs of the child.
While the statement is maintained it must be reviewed annually, following the procedures set out in Chapter 9 of the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales (http://www.learning. wales.gov.uk/docs/learningwales/publications/131016-sen-code-of-practice-for-wales-en.pdf).
Parents of an EHE child who does not have a statement of SEN may ask the LA to conduct a statutory assessment of the child’s educational needs under section 328 or section 329 of the Education Act 1996. If in the light of any such assessment, and of any representations made by the parent, it is necessary for the LA to determine the special education provision called for by any learning difficulty the child has, the LA shall make and maintain a statement of SEN.
Section 324(4A) of the Education Act 1996 does not require the name of a school to be provided in Part 4 of the statement, if the child’s parent has made suitable arrangements for the specific educational provision specified in the statement. There should be a discussion between the LA and the parents and, rather than the name of the school, Part 4 of the statement should mention the type of school the LA considers 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 LA has agreed to make under section 319 of that Act to help parents provide suitable education for their child at home.

Additional learning needs legislation Subject to the National Assembly for Wales approving new legislation on additional learning needs (ALN), the Welsh Government intends to replace statements of SEN with individual development plans (IDPs). A code on ALN complementing the new legislation will be consulted on in due course. The guidance in this document will be updated in accordance with these changes and LAs will need to consider their implications for home-educated learners.

2015 Children with Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Parents may ask the local authority to conduct a statutory assessment of the child's educational needs under section 328 or 329 of the Education Act 1996. Where a child has a statement of special educational needs and is educated at home by the parents the statement does not automatically cease. While the statement is maintained it must be reviewed annually, following the procedures set out in Chapter 9 of the SEN Code of Practice for Wales. A link to the SEN Code of Practice for Wales is provided below. In many circumstances the child's special educational needs identified in the statement will have been related to the school setting and the child’s needs may be readily met at home by the parents without local authority supervision. It may be appropriate, once it is established that a child’s special needs are being met without any additional support from the local authority to give consideration to ceasing the statement. The local authority may cease to maintain a statement for a child only if they believe that it is no longer necessary to maintain it. For further information, please refer to the Special Educational Needs code of practice for Wales by following the link below: http://learning.wales.gov.uk/docs/learningwales/publications/131016-sen-code-of- practice-for-wales-en.pdf

For home educated children with statements of SEN, the parents must make suitable provision for the child’s special needs. This provision may be different from that outlined in the statement which would apply in a school setting. Parents need only provide an efficient education suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs the child may have, as set out in section 7 of the Education Act 1996.
Section 324(4A) of the Education Act 1996 does not require the name of a school to be provided in Part 4 of the statement if the child’s parent has made suitable arrangements for the specific educational provision specified in the statement to be made. There should be discussion between the local authority and the parents and, rather than the name of the school, Part 4 of the statement should mention the type of school the local authority 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 local authority have agreed to make under section 319 of that Act to help parents provide suitable education for their child at home.
If the parents' arrangements are suitable, the local authority is relieved of its duty to arrange the provision specified in the statement. If, however, the parents’ arrangements for the education of their child at home fall short of meeting the child’s needs, then the parents are not making suitable arrangements and the local authority is not absolved of its responsibility to arrange the provision in the statement. In some cases a combination of provision by parents and the local authority may best meet the child's needs.

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

The 2017 guidance marks an important change from the 2015 draft for children and young people with statements. 2015 dithered a bit but ultimately came down on the side of only ceasing the statement it was no longer necessary. By contrast, the final 2017 guidance goes for a DEFINITION of when a statement is necessary: "The determination of whether or not this is the case will depend on whether the parents are able to make suitable provision for the child’s special needs." Some home educating families may prefer the 2017 version, as it will mean less involvement (usually for no benefit whatsoever) with the LA, but in my view it risks short-changing children with recognised special educational needs/additional learning needs who would require special educational provision/additional learning provision in a school and who therefore are entitled to a statement. It is a surprising thing to find in a document which purports to be about Children's Rights, and may lead to more tribunals as parents appeal the statement being ceased solely on the grounds that there are no defects in the home education provision.

In other news, the 2017 version flags up the development of Additional Learning Needs replacing special educational needs, and Individual Development Plans replacing statements.


2017 SAFEGUARDING. LAS' SAFEGUARDING DUTIES

Whether in school or home-educated, the welfare and protection of all children and young people should be of the utmost concern to all involved. It is everyone’s responsibility. Improved outcomes for children and young people can only be delivered and sustained when key individuals and bodies work together to design and deliver more integrated services around the needs of children and young people. That needs to be led and managed at a local level and supported nationally.
All agencies working with children and young people and parents, must have the knowledge and skills to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. They must be able to recognise and report safeguarding concerns about a child with relevant agencies. They must also be able to work effectively with colleagues in their own organisation, other agencies and parents.
A parent’s decision to home-educate should not in itself be grounds for concern about the welfare of the child. However, there may be circumstances which, individually or combined, arouse professionals’ curiosity and cause them to investigate further. In such cases, education officers will need to consider whether to liaise with other relevant services and agencies. The circumstances in question might include:

  • where a child or family member has been identified as being in need
  • where a child or family member has been referred to social services or the police for child protection reasons, and the matter is being investigated
  • where a child or a sibling is on the child protection register
  • where a child or family member has been referred on care and protection grounds, and the referral is being considered
  • where a child is the subject of a supervision requirement
  • where a child is known to be a carer
  • where a child has not been seen for some time by any of the universal services
  • where a member of the public raises concern about a child’s welfare
  • where a family isolate themselves from routine services and healthcare.

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 came into force in Wales in April 2016 and provides a strengthened legal framework for safeguarding children and has introduced a ‘duty to report’ to the LA and defines a ‘child at risk’.
Staff across the LA, health and police must report concerns to the LA where they have reasonable cause to suspect a child to be at risk of or experiencing abuse, neglect or harm. Following such notification, and being satisfied that there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, LAs must exercise their existing duty to investigate under section 47 of the Children Act 1989. In certain circumstances a LA could consider applying for a child assessment order (CAO) under section 43(1)(a) of the Children Act 1989. LA practitioners should seek legal advice from their legal departments before making such an application.
Working in partnership with families is key and LAs must provide people with information and advice relating to care and support, and assistance in accessing care and support. It must promote early intervention and prevention to ensure that people of all ages can be better supported to achieve their personal outcomes, and explore options for meeting their care and support needs.
Information, advice and assistance (IAA) is a key provision of the Act which ensures people will have access to a system which will give them information on the types of care and support services available and how to access those services.
However there may be occasions when information received requires a LA to take emergency action. Part 5 of the Children Act 1989 sets out powers to protect children where there is reasonable cause to suspect a child may be experiencing or is at risk of abuse, neglect and harm.
Parents may choose to employ other people to provide some aspects of their child’s education, though they will still provide the majority of the education themselves and will continue to be responsible for the education provided by others. They will also be responsible for ensuring that those they engage with are suitable to have access to children. Guidance on key issues to consider in appointing individuals who work with children is set out in the Welsh Government guidance document Keeping learners safe (http://www.gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/150114-keeping-learners-safe.pdf).
The All Wales Child Protection Procedures highlight the required approach in working with families in instances where there may be child welfare concerns. They are an essential part of safeguarding children and promoting their welfare. They inform child protection practice in each of the local and regional safeguarding children boards across Wales. They are managed by the All Wales Child Protection Review Group which represents all of Wales’ safeguarding children boards and partner agencies (http://www.childreninwales.org.uk/our-work/safeguarding/ wales-child-protection-procedures-review-group).

2015 Child welfare

Although some local authority officers have voiced positive views regarding the relationship they have with the majority of EHE parents, concerns have been consistently raised regarding the ‘unreachable families.’ It is of great concern to many local authority officers with responsibility for overseeing EHE that there are some children and young people living within their local authority area that they are either unaware of, or have been unable to see. Families often move into an area and have not been to a local school, or refuse to engage with the local authority. Tracing children and ensuring that they are safe is a real challenge for local authorities. Children who are attending school will come into contact with a range of education and other professionals all of whom have safeguarding and child protection as a key responsibility. It is the lack of visibility of some EHE children that often concerns many local officers that support the EHE community.
Through positive engagement and support for EHE networks some local authorities have been able to work with the EHE community in addressing these concerns. In the Bridgend case study (see Figure 4) EHE parents have undertaken child protection training. One of the principal consequences of the positive relationship with the local authority has been constructive partnership working. More EHE families have therefore wanted to engage with a wide and innovative range of learning opportunities. The children and young people often turn up in large numbers, have positive learning experiences and are seen by a range of education professionals.
A parent's decision to home educate is not in itself grounds for concern about the welfare of the child. However, as with school educated children, safeguarding concerns may arise in relation to home educated children. The legal responsibilities placed on Safeguarding Children Boards established by the Local Authorities and their partner agencies –including local health boards, Chief Officers of police and the probation service - apply to all children in the local authority's area.
Although there is no legal requirement on parents to notify the local authority of their decision to home educate, there is a duty on local authorities to identify children within their area who are not registered with a school and who are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at school (refer to Section 2 for the legal position).
It may be the case that local authorities are unaware that children and young people are being electively home educated because, for example, the parents may have chosen not to inform the local authority or may have moved to the area without notifying any local authority services. For further information on local authority duties regarding children not in education please refer to the Welsh Government's Statutory guidance to help prevent children and young people from missing education . http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/publications/guidance/missingeducation/?l ang=en
Concerns may arise where a parent states their intention to home educate. Specific instances where advice from the local social services department would be appropriate on the suitability of home education include:

  • Where a child or family member has been identified as being in need;
  • Where a child or family member has been referred to social services or the police for child protection reasons, and the matter is being investigated;
  • Where a child or a sibling is on the child protection register;
  • Where a child or family member has been referred on care and protection
  • grounds, and the referral is being considered;
  • Where the child is the subject of a supervision requirement.

Parents may choose to employ other people to provide some aspects of their child’s education, though they will still provide the majority of the child’s education themselves and will continue to be responsible for the education provided by others.
They will also be responsible for ensuring that those they engage are suitable persons to have access to children. Guidance on key issues to consider in appointing individuals who work with children is set out in the Welsh Government guidance document no: 158/2015 'Keeping learners safe' http://gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/150114-keeping-learners-safe.pdf
This cannot be considered exhaustive guidance and it is for parents to satisfy themselves on issues of suitability. There may be occasions where parents who choose to educate their children at home organise group events with like-minded parents. It is important that they are aware of the mechanisms for drawing child or adult welfare concerns to the attention of statutory authorities.
The local authority officer with designated lead responsibility for discharging safeguarding duties in education should ensure when promoting their role that their details are not limited to schools within the maintained sector.
A number of local authorities have made informal enquiries within the EHE community with regard to families that are not formally known to the local authority. The basis of these enquiries was to establish whether or not there were any concerns regarding the welfare of the children. Although in these instances there were no concerns, effective channels of communication with influential members of the EHE community had ensured a constructive dialogue to ensure a collaborative approach to potential welfare concerns. This is an important benefit of positive working relationships.
The All Wales Child Protection Procedures highlight the required approach to working with families in instances of child welfare concern: http://www.awcpp.org.uk

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

2017 has a completely NEW emphasis on the Social Services and Wellbeing Act which came into force in April 2016, 18 months after the earlier guidance was drafted. 2017 says this Act "provides a strengthened legal framework for safeguarding children and has introduced a ‘duty to report’ to the LA and defines a ‘child at risk’". Measures contained in this Act have been given as one of the reasons why a tragic case such as Dylan Seabridge would be much less likely to happen now [Quote from Review: "Current guidance as a result of the newly implemented Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act [implemented 2016] addresses this and advocates for a much more integrated partnership approach." Link].

2017 uses the language of "safeguarding" whereas 2015 said "welfare." In 2015 there were negative messages about "unreachable families" "lack of visibility" and families who "refuse to engage" which are absent from the final 2017 guidance.

The bullet point list is the same for 2015 and 2017 BUT 2017 says consider whether to liaise while 2015 was more categorical, saying advice from social services on the suitability of home education would be appropriate, so the overall message is quite different. See also: "Where there are concerns such as those listed under the ‘Supporting the home-educating community’ section of this document, advice should be sought from the Education Welfare Service and relevant agencies and support or help made available to the family" which again has less of a suggestion than 2015 over social services possibly dictating who is "allowed" to home educate.


2017 SHARING INFORMATION

The protection of children from abuse or neglect, as well as the broader requirement for safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare, depends upon effective sharing of information, collaboration and understanding between agencies and professionals. It is vital therefore that LA services and their partners have effective information sharing processes in place.
Effective information sharing by professionals is central to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. This sharing of information makes an important contribution to the shift in addressing children’s needs at an early stage, rather than when serious problems have developed.
It should also include having in place agreed systems, standards and protocols for sharing information about a child and their family within an agency and between agencies. These protocols should be in accordance with any legal requirements and any guidance published by the Welsh Government.
For further information relating to information sharing between agencies in Wales, please refer to the Wales Accord on the Sharing of Personal Information (WASPI) (http://www.waspi.org).

2015 Information sharing

The protection of children from abuse or neglect, as well as the broader requirement for safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare, depends upon effective sharing of information, collaboration and understanding between agencies and professionals. It is vital that local authority services and their partners have effective information sharing processes in place.
Effective information sharing by professionals is central to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. This sharing of information makes an important contribution to the shift in addressing children's needs at an early stage rather than when serious problems have developed.
It should also include having in place agreed systems, standards and protocols for sharing information about a child and their family within an agency and between agencies. These protocols should be in accordance with any legal requirements and any guidance published by the Welsh Government.
For further information relating to information sharing between agencies in Wales please refer to the Wales Accord on Sharing of Personal Information (WASPI): http://www.waspi.org/

COMMENT COMPARISON 2017 WITH 2015

This is the same in both versions.


Edyourself blog posts on consultation


Link Reference

This article is http://edyourself.org/articles/welshconsultation2015.php. The following links to other websites are contained in the article, displayed as citations to aid you in printing the document.

  1. new home education guidance http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/pupilsupport/elective-home-education-guidance
    /?lang=en
  2. THE FINAL 2017 VERSION http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/pupilsupport/elective-home-education-guidance
    /?lang=en
  3. Political Analysis, January 24th 2017 http://edyourself.org/articles/eheguidance2017wales.php
  4. previous Welsh Home Education Guidelines http://edyourself.org/welsheheguidelines2006.pdf
  5. my 2015 consultation response http://edyourself.org/welshconsultguidanceresponse.doc
  6. http://www.childrensrights.wales http://www.childrensrights.wales
  7. http://www.uncrcletsgetitright.co.uk http://www.uncrcletsgetitright.co.uk
  8. here http://edyourself.org/articles/EnglandandWales.php#flexischoolingwales
  9. things have moved on http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/plans-cut-number-welsh-councils-11460583
  10. http://www.gov.wales/learning http://www.gov.wales/learning
  11. http://www.hwb.wales.gov.uk http://www.hwb.wales.gov.uk
  12. http://www.learning.wales.gov.uk http://www.learning.wales.gov.uk
  13. http://hwb.wales.gov.uk http://hwb.wales.gov.uk
  14. http://www.gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/150114-keeping-learners-safe.pdf http://www.gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/150114-keeping-learners-safe.pdf
  15. http://www.awcpp.org.uk http://www.awcpp.org.uk
  16. http://www.waspi.org http://www.waspi.org
  17. http://www.waspi.org/ http://www.waspi.org/