Welsh Plans On Hold"The consultation exercise closed on the 23 November, over 550 responses have been received. I have asked my officials to undertake a thorough analysis of the consultation responses as I want to ensure all views to the proposals are fully considered. Due to the large volume and detail of the responses this is going to take time and is not something I want rushed. In order to facilitate this process I believe it would be beneficial to delay taking forward the legislative proposals in the current Education (Wales) Bill."
Read the Minister's statement here http://edyourself.org/leightonandrewsstatementdec21.pdf
Consultation on Registering and Monitoring Home Education Wales
Explanation of this web page
In September 2012 the Welsh Assembly Government announced proposals for substantial changes to local authority procedures for dealing with home educated children. Some of the proposed changes would require the Welsh Assembly to bring in new laws, whilst other changes could be introduced using existing powers in law, without the need to go through the full legislative process.
Click here http://edyourself.org/summarywaleschange.pdf for 1 page pdf bullet points summarising proposed changes to the law in Wales.
A public consultation seeking views on the Welsh Government's proposals will run till November 23rd 2012 and the Government has also commissioned 3 consultation events Below I have set out the Welsh Assembly Consultation Document as a web page.
Click here to read my draft consultation response http://edyourself.org/articles/walesdraftconsultationresponse.php http://edyourself.org/articles/webversiondraftconsultationwales.php
Summary of my viewsI disagree with the suggestion that parents should have to apply to the local council for permission to home educate their children. The Government proposals are a disproportionate intrusion into family life. Existing powers regarding education, welfare and safeguarding/child protection are sufficient, but the Welsh Government may wish to address the disparity in local authority procedures - as revealed by my Freedom of Information request, October 2012 The Welsh Government could usefully signpost to models of good practice.
Welsh Consultation Document pdf as Web Page September 2012
Every child has a fundamental right to an education and it is the duty of the parent of a compulsory school age child to ensure that suitable education is being provided. Much of a child's early development takes place entirely in the home environment. As children grow and develop most parents choose to send their children to school; however some elect to continue their child’s educational development within the home. The proposals in this consultation document are not designed to prevent children from being home educated. These proposals are aimed at ensuring that those children who are home educated receive a suitable education.
I believe the legislation surrounding elective home education has shortcomings because there is currently no legal requirement on the parent to tell a local authority (LA) that their child is receiving education at home. In the absence of this requirement, it is very difficult for LAs to carry out their duties to ensure that children are receiving a suitable education.
The proposals set out in this consultation document seek to introduce a structured approach as to how LAs and home educating parents engage with each other so as to ensure children educated at home receive a suitable education.
I propose putting in place a statutory duty on parents to register with the local LA that their child is receiving home education. This registration requirement will enable the identity of the home educated child to be established and allow engagement between the LA and the home educating family to ensure that the home education provided is suitable.
I believe that key to the success of these proposals will be to use existing powers to develop statutory guidance which sets out best practice for LAs when working with home educating families and encourages LAs and home educating parents to work together in the best educational interests of the learner. I recognise that more clarity is needed as to what a 'suitable education' might look like in the context of the variety of educational approaches used in home education. This will be covered in statutory guidance and will be consulted on separately.
The overall impact of these proposals will be to create a framework for engagement that helps build a new relationship between LAs and home educators, one where they can work collaboratively to provide the best possible support and education for learners.
I invite and welcome your views on the proposals put forward in this consultation. Your contribution will ensure that we get the right framework in place for Wales.Leighton Andrews
Minister for Education and Skills
1 Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 places a duty on the parent to ensure that their child receives a full-time, efficient education suitable to the child's age, aptitude, ability and any special educational needs (SEN) they may have. They can fulfil this duty by sending their child to school on a regular basis or otherwise (e.g. by educating them at home). For the purpose of this consultation document the term ‘parent’ includes any person with parental or caring responsibility.
2 Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 places a duty on LAs which consists of two parts. The first part requires a LA to identify (so far as it is possible to do so) all learners of compulsory school age in their area who are not on a school roll. The second part requires a LA to establish if such learners are receiving a suitable education. In the remainder of this document we describe this duty as 'the section 436A duty'.
3 The Welsh Government underpinned the section 436A duty with statutory guidance for LAs to help prevent children and young people from missing education. The guidance issued in 2010 provides advice, makes recommendations as to how to meet and embed standards, and reflects practices that have already been demonstrated as being effective.
4 The term 'children missing education' covers a wide spectrum of learners and in some instances will include a child who is being home educated but who is receiving little or no education. Under the current system when a concern over the suitability of home education provision is raised, LAs can find it difficult to gather the evidence needed to verify the accuracy of the concern. This means they could be failing in their duty to ensure all the children in their area are receiving a suitable education. As a result of this, the Welsh Government proposes the introduction of a registration system for home educated children. The duty to register will be placed on the parent(s) of the child.
5 This consultation therefore focuses on statutory proposals to ensure that children who are home educated receive a suitable education
The issues: Establishing who is being educated at home
6 Parents elect to educate their children at home for a diverse range of reasons. For some families the choice will be a natural one, often linked to their philosophies, beliefs or lifestyle. For other families home education is seen as a last resort triggered by a lack of a place at a preferred school, bullying, behavioural problems, school phobia or SEN.
7 When a parent elects to home educate they are not currently required to register this fact with their LA unless the child is registered at a special school. As a result it is difficult to estimate the exact number of home educated children and young people in Wales. The 2011/12 statistical release of Pupils Educated Other than at School 5 reported 986 compulsory school age children as being electively home educated. However, the nature of the provision is such that it is difficult to provide accurate figures.
8 LAs can use existing powers under the Children Act 2004 to support collaborative working and information sharing as a means of identifying children in their area who should be receiving a suitable education. The Welsh Government also issued statutory guidance in 2010 which sets out best practice to help identify and prevent children going missing from education.
9 Despite this, LAs are finding it difficult to identify and track, in a timely and efficient way, all the children in their area who are being home educated. The main reason is that there is currently no legal requirement on parents to let the LA know that they are home educating. As a consequence, LAs are finding it difficult to fulfil their section 436A duty.
10 Although all LAs currently operate an informal register of home educated children, its content is limited. Currently, if a home educating parent decides not to engage with their LA and does not inform them of their decision to home educate it can make it difficult for a LA to keep track. This is particularly the case when the decision to home educate is taken before the child reaches compulsory school age, during transition between primary and secondary school, or when a home educating family moves to a new LA.
11 In order for LAs to fulfil their section 436A duty, the Welsh Government believes that LAs need to know in a timely way which children in their area are being home educated. The Government believes that putting a duty on parents of home educated children to register with the LA will assist the LAs. A locally managed, formal register of home educated children will enable each LA to make more accurate assessments of the number of home educated children in their area.
Ensuring a suitable education is being provided
12 Home educated children are not required to follow a particular curriculum and this means a very wide range of teaching methods and styles are deployed, from autonomous child led learning models to more formally taught curriculum-based approaches.
13 Identifying instances where a child is not receiving a suitable education can be extremely complex as by necessity the education system operates under a very broad definition of the term 'suitability'. Case law has broadly described suitable education as one that 'primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child's options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so'.
14 Establishing the suitability of education in the context of home education can prove challenging as there is currently little guidance or training available to assist LAs in understanding the essential differences, variation and diversity in home education practice, as compared to schools.
15 In order to address this issue we intend to introduce new statutory guidance. The content of the guidance will be consulted on separately and the objective is that such guidance together with the proposal set out in this consultation will better enable LAs to discharge their section 436A duty.
16 It is anticipated that the following issues will be consulted upon in the separate consultation on suitability of education.
- Is the education suited to age, ability, aptitude, personality and interests of the learner?
- Does the education provide a balanced range of learning experiences, so that no one aspect of learning is emphasised to the exclusion of others?
- Does the education develop the personal, social and emotional skills of the learner and prepare them for the responsibilities of adulthood?
- Does the education ensure the development of basic skills including language, literacy and numeracy?
17 In addition to statutory guidance a key priority will be to develop training materials for use by LAs and those working with home educators to support a balanced, fair and consistent approach to the assessment of the suitability of home education provision. The training will seek to ensure that those undertaking it gain a full understanding that home education can be significantly different from school-based education and depending on the circumstances, it may be equally effective if not more effective in meeting the learning needs of the child.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
18 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an international agreement that protects the rights of children under the age of 18. By virtue of the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011, the Welsh Ministers are required to have due regard to the UNCRC when bringing forward new policy proposals and legislation.
19 In considering these proposals we have had due regard to the UNCRC. For example, the right of the child to education. There is also a requirement to give children a voice in decision-making processes affecting them. The Welsh Government will take into account the views and ideas expressed by children when making decisions that have a direct impact upon their lives. As such, an easy- read version of this document has been produced.
20 These proposals are split into two parts. The first part (Stage 1) sets out the initial registration process and what is required. The second part (Stage 2) sets out the detail and requirements for annual monitoring.
Stage 1 Registration of home educated children
21 We propose to introduce a compulsory registration scheme for electively home educated children. The scheme would relate to compulsory school age children who are or who become home educated because their parents have elected to fulfil their duty under section 7 of the Education Act 1996 by home educating. Any parent wishing to home educate more than one of their children would be required to register each child. The registration requirement would last the duration of the period the child is home educated. If the child returns to mainstream education at any point and the parent subsequently elects to home educate then they would be required to re-register the child.
22 The purpose of the register would be to ensure that all children of compulsory school age who are being home educated are known to the LA in which the child lives. This in turn will allow the LA to fulfil its statutory duty to ensure that a suitable education is being provided to the child. If the child is not on the home education register and is not being educated under provisions made by the LA then they must attend a school. In such instances a School Attendance Order could be issued under section 437 of the Education Act 1996.
23 LAs would be required to manage the registration process and to maintain the register. It is proposed that the information required to be on the register would be set out in regulations and would likely consist of similar information to that of a school’s register such as the child’s name, date of birth, address and contact details of the person with parental responsibility. Information on the main location where the education is provided as well as the type of educating being provided would also be a required part of the register’s core details.
24 Home educators are not required to follow a particular curriculum, or adopt school-based approaches, nor will their children be required to take any national exams or assessments. This proposal does not change that position. However, a parent is required by law to ensure that their child receives a full-time efficient education suitable to the child's age, aptitude, ability and any SEN they may have. The information gathered as part of the registration process will allow LAs to assess that legal requirement is fulfilled.
25 The information on the register would be held for the purpose of enabling the LA to engage with the family in order to ensure the child is receiving a suitable education. A parent who elects to home educate would have a duty to notify the LA of any changes to their core registration details.
26 The LA would only be able to refuse a new application or revoke an existing registration in a very limited set of circumstances:
- if the parent fails to satisfy the LA that they are fulfilling their duty under section 7 of the Education Act 1996
- if the LA becomes aware of new or existing welfare or safeguarding issues that affect the suitability and effectiveness of the education provided
- if the parent fails to cooperate with monitoring and/or reasonable requests to monitor.
27 An application to register would trigger a requirement on both the parent and the LA to meet with each other, and with the child and home educator if different to the parent. The meeting should take place at the main location where the education is being provided within six weeks of receipt of the application. The main purpose of the meeting would be to assure the LA that a suitable learning environment and education is being or will be provided. We would expect the following areas to be discussed at this initial meeting:
- the education being provided (or proposed to be provided)
- the child's education experience to date (period of time home-educated, in school, etc.)
- any special talent/abilities that the child has
- any relevant formal assessments that have been carried out
- any additional learning needs the child has
- the parent's view of the progress that the child has made since being home educated
- the child's view of their educational experience to date (subject to age, ability and maturity).
28 We understand that assessing the suitability of home education for children with additional learning needs can be complex. In order to ensure the process is fair and balanced we propose that, where a home educated child has additional needs, the LA establishes the suitability of education provision in conjunction with a qualified and appropriate expert in that field of need. This will help establish what can be realistically expected of the child and whether the education provision is suitable. This proposal will be developed in conjunction with the ongoing consultation on proposals for the reform of the legislative framework for SEN.
29 Following the initial meeting the LA must write to the parent within six weeks advising one of three outcomes:
- registration accepted
- registration pending – additional information is required as insufficient evidence was available to determine whether a suitable education is being provided. This may require a more comprehensive assessment to be made
- registration refused.
30 The letter will need to clearly set out the reason for the decision.
31 Where a parent disagrees with the LA's decision to refuse registration we propose that they have a right to appeal the decision.
Stage 2 Annual monitoring arrangements
32 Once the registration process is complete we propose that monitoring meetings should take place annually between the LA and the parent, home educator (where this is not the parent) and the child. A timescale for how often this meeting takes place in the main location of education provision will need to be set. If the location has changed since registration or the previous monitoring meeting then the meeting will need to take place in the new location. In the vast majority of cases it is likely that the main place of education is mutually agreed as the location for the annual monitoring visits. The consultation provides the opportunity to indicate the minimum timescale during which the annual monitoring meetings must take place at the main location of education.
We would expect the following areas to be discussed at this monitoring meeting:
- the provision made for the development of intellectual skills, social, emotional and physical development of the child
- the methodologies and materials used and time spent on education
- the progress achieved by the child as described by the parent/educator
- the progress achieved as demonstrated in work
- the child’s view of their education and achievements (subject to age, ability and maturity)
- any additional support, advice or guidance the LA may be able to provide.
33 Within six weeks following the meeting the LA must write to the parent to advise one of three outcomes:
- they are content that suitable education is being provided
- additional information or monitoring will be required before a decision can be made
- registration has been revoked for reasons set out in paragraph 26.
34 As with the initial registration process the letter will need to clearly set out the reasons for the decision and where a parent disagrees with the decision to revoke registration we propose that they have a right to appeal the decision.
THE CONSULTATION QUESTIONS
QUESTION 1 – DO YOU AGREE THAT A REGISTER SHOULD BE KEPT AND THAT IT SHOULD BE A REQUIREMENT TO REGISTER IF A PARENT ELECTS TO HOME EDUCATE?
QUESTION 2 – DO YOU AGREE THAT IF A PARENT FAILS TO REGISTER OR PROVIDES INADEQUATE OR FALSE INFORMATION THEN THE CHILD BEING HOME EDUCATED SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO ATTEND SCHOOL?
QUESTION 3 – DO YOU AGREE THAT HOME EDUCATING PARENTS SHOULD ENGAGE WITH THEIR LOCAL AUTHORITY TO ENABLE THEM TO ASSES THE SUITABILITY OF THEIR HOME EDUCATION PROVISION?
QUESTION 4- DO YOU AGREE THAT THE INITIAL MEETING BETWEEN THE LOCAL AUTHORITY AND HOME EDUCATING PARENT SHOULD TAKE PLACE IN THE MAIN LOCATION WHERE THE EDUCATION IS BEING PROVIDED?
QUESTION 5 – HOW OFTEN SHOULD THE ANNUAL MONITORING MEETINGS WITH BOTH THE HOME EDUCATOR AND THE HOME EDUCATED CHILD TAKE PLACE AT THE MAIN LOCATION OF EDUCATION?
QUESTION 6 – DO YOU AGREE THAT REGISTRATION SHOULD BE DENIED OR REVOKED IN THE LIMITED SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES SET OUT IN THE CONSULTATION DOCUMENT?
QUESTION 7 – DO YOU AGREE THE AMOUNT OF TIME TAKEN BETWEEN RECEIPT OF APPLICATION TO REGISTER AND NOTIFICATION OF REGISTRATION OUTCOME SHOULD BE NO MORE THAN 12 WEEKS?
CONSULTATION DOCUMENT ENDS
Linkshttp://edyourself.org/walesbriefingpaper.pdf Briefing Paper, Welsh Government Proposals for Home Education, 6 page pdf to print/download. This can be sent to your Assembly Member as a web link and as an email attachment. You could also copy and paste from the web page into the body of your email.
Talking To Assembly Members in Wales http://edyourself.org/articles/EnglandandWales.php
Notes from Wrexham Workshop Friday September 14th
Workshops To Discuss WAG Proposals, Cardiff Monday October 8th/Llandudno Tuesday October 16th
This is only one of a number of pages about Welsh home education on this website. You can find more about Wales by looking at the site map or by typing "Wales" into the box on the bar at the top of the page where it says "Search this site" and then clicking on "find". http://edyourself.org/search/?q=wales
Welsh Government Facilitated Workshop Dates, 18-30 October 2012http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/allsectorpolicies/ourevents/homeeducationevent/?lang=en
3 facilitated workshops have been commissioned by the Welsh Government to gather opinions from children and young people on the proposals to change the home education law. The events are open to adults, not just to parents accompanying home educated children, and 5 out of 35 people attending the first event in Powys were professionals from education/health. The workshop facilitators are independent of the Government, but a Welsh Assembly representative will be present to gather feedback at each event.
- Thursday 18 October Powys
- Friday 26 October Cardiff
- Tuesday 30 October Conwy
NB At the Powys event, the Plain English version of the consultation response form was used, but feedback suggests that some of the Plain English questions are misleading. Click here to download a 3 page document giving both the Plain English and Standard Version questions and here to see the two sets of questions as a web page.
Summary Current Home Education Law in Wales
Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 (England and Wales) states that 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.
"Children Missing Education" in both England and Wales comes under section 436A of the Education Act England and Wales 1996 which states:
(1)A local education authority must make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but—
(a)are not registered pupils at a school, and
(b)are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.
(2)In exercising their functions under this section a local education authority must have regard to any guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State.
(3)In this Chapter, "suitable education", in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have."
All Wales Attendance Framework, Children Missing Education Guidance, Pupil Registration Regulations, Home Education Guidelines
The All Wales Attendance Framework 2011 reiterated the position set out in Children Missing Education Guidance for Wales, noting that "[the children missing education] duty does not apply to children who are being educated at home. Parents have a duty to ensure that their children receive a suitable full-time education either by regular school attendance at school or otherwise (under section 7 of the Education Act 1996) or they may choose, as is their right, to provide this by educating their child at home."
Under the Pupil Registration Regulations (Wales) 2010, the school has 10 days to notify the authority once the child's name has been removed from the school roll after the parents have notified the school in writing that the child is to be educated at home.
In 2006 the Welsh Assembly Government published Elective Home Education Guidelines (14 pages) as part of a much larger document covering Inclusion and Pupil Support http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/pupilsupport/inclusionpupilsupportguidance/section6/?lang=en For a summary of the main points in the Welsh Home Education Guidelines click here http://edyourself.org/articles/EnglandandWales.php#summaryguidelines
What Estyn Looks For When Inspecting Local Authorities re Elective Home EducationThe 2010 guidance issued by the Welsh inspectorate, Estyn says that "They should evaluate how effective the authority’s procedures are to monitor the quality of education of children and young people educated outside school, including children educated at home by their parents. This could include an evaluation of whether the authority provides helpful guidance for parents educating their children at home when requested to do so." (page 30)
Introduction to Welsh Consultation
The following text is taken from the Welsh Assembly Government Consultation Document which can be read here http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dcells/consultation/120902registeringmonitoringen.pdf via the Home Education Consultation page The consultation closes on November 23rd 2012.
Much of the consultation document hinges on what the Welsh Assembly Government calls 'the section 436A duty'. Scroll down or click here to read my notes on section 436A.
FOI sent to all local authorities in Wales, September 29th 2012
The Welsh Assembly Government operated a different timetable for introducing the children missing education legislation in Wales which was enacted in England in February 2007 but did not become part of the law in Wales until September 2009. Statutory guidance on Children Missing Education was not published until April 2010.
The following is taken from CME Guidance 2010 (Wales)
Children Missing Education Statutory Guidance Wales 2010
1.16 Children Missing Education Guidance "is
intended to promote equality of access to education, and reduce the
risk of children and young people going missing from the education
system, by identifying and supporting vulnerable groups of children
and young people and ensuring effective interventions at an early
stage. Identifying them is only part of the task; securing placement
in appropriate provision is an equally important element.
1.18 The purpose of the duty is to make sure that children and young people missing from education are identified quickly and that effective monitoring systems are put in place to ensure that the child or young person is found and action is taken to provide them with 'suitable education', which may also involve support arrangements.
1.19 'Suitable education', is defined as meaning efficient full- time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs they may have.
1.20 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 at school (for example, at home, privately, or in alternative provision) and who have been out of any educational provision for a substantial period of time, usually agreed as four weeks or more.
1.21 The duty does not apply in relation to children and young people who are registered at a school who are not attending regularly. In such cases a child or young person should be subject to intervention through existing attendance strategies and education welfare procedures and is outside the remit of this guidance...
1.22 The duty does not apply to children and young people whose parents have chosen to electively home educate them. Parents have a duty to ensure that their children receive an efficient full-time education suitable to their child either by regular attendance at school or otherwise (under section 7 of the Education Act 1996) and they may choose to arrange this education themselves outside the state or independent school system. Additional information on elective home education can be found in the Welsh Assembly Government's guidance document Inclusion and Pupil Support (circular 47/2006)
1.23 There have been a number of high profile cases in recent times involving the tragic death of children and young people who were supposed to be attending school, but instead disappeared from the system...
1.25 ...If a child or young person goes missing from education they could be at risk of significant harm. Research has shown that those children and young people who are not receiving an education are more likely to engage in criminal and anti-social behaviour, be at risk of harm from sexual exploitation and victimisation, abuse drugs and alcohol and be illegally employed. They are also more likely to fail to make a positive transition at 16 and be at greater risk of being NEET.
1.27 There is a wide variety of reasons why children and young people fail to engage in or go missing from education; each presenting various degrees of risk; which could include those, who:...
simply move and their families do not tell either the new or old authorities; move into a local authority area and do not register with a local school...are unable to attend their preferred school as no places are available and do not take up the offer of an alternative place; never enter the education system because they fail to start appropriate provision at the start of compulsory school age (there is no requirement for parents to inform local authorities of the fact that they intend to educate at home if the child has never attended school); are withdrawn by their parents who elect to educate at home and both parents and the school fail to notify the local authority; cease to attend school due to disputes, parental dissatisfaction, unofficial exclusion or removal from the school roll; fail to complete a transition between providers, for example, from primary to secondary school or from a school to alternative provision; who enter the country and do not register with a school; move into or out of the Looked After Children system or the secure estate without prior notice or planning; are excluded from or withdrawn from independent schools; or do not wish to be found; families may change their names and move quickly from place to place within the UK.
2.4 In some instances the whereabouts of children and young people will be known to the authority but they are not yet in provision, this group includes, for example, those: for whom a school place has been offered and refused and an appeals process is taking place; who have been permanently excluded and are awaiting placement; who are newly arrived in the county or country; are seeking school places and they are known to admissions; or where the local authority has significant grounds for believing that satisfactory home education is not being provided by parents.
2.20 There is a range of proactive approaches that local authorities and their partner agencies can take to reduce the risk of children and young people not receiving a suitable education. Existing good practice falls broadly into the following categories where the local authority introduces measures to: provide named points of contact to receive notification of children and young people from other agencies; identify vulnerable groups and individuals who are recognised as being at greater risk; ensuring that they receive appropriate support and tailored provision; reduce the likelihood that children and young people fall out of the education system through transition tracking and audits of the rolls and registers of schools; ensure full usage of and training related to s2s [school to school] and the lost pupil database; follow-up cases where children and young people are known not to be receiving a suitable education at home and use existing section 437 powers of the Education Act 1996 to issue a school attendance order if needed; ensure ongoing monitoring and tracking of vulnerable groups including those who have been excluded from school; Looked After Children and those registered as receiving education otherwise than at school; identify and locate children and young people who are not receiving a suitable education, via truancy sweeps; follow-up admission applications that do not result in a school place and unsuccessful admission appeals; and re-engage children and young people with appropriate educational provision, for example via multi-agency panels to broker admissions.
Identifying and Supporting Children and Young People at Risk of Going Missing from Education3.1 Learners are less likely to go missing from education if vulnerable groups and individuals who are recognised as being at greater risk are identified early, appropriate support given and their progress monitored.
3.3 Children and young people within the youth justice system and those at risk of becoming involved in crime/ Asylum seeking or refugee families/ Children and young people who are at risk of forced marriage/ Children and young people who are taken on extended holidays or heritage visits by their family/ Children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation; including those who have been trafficked to or within the UK/ Children of Migrant Workers/ Children and young people with a Gypsy, Traveller or Roma background and children from transient families/ Children and young people from homeless families living in temporary accommodation, houses of multiple occupancy or bed and breakfast/ Children and young people from families fleeing domestic violence and those living in women's refuges/ Children and young people with long-term medical or emotional problems/ Looked After Children and unaccompanied asylum seekers/ Children and young people who are privately fostered/ Young parents and pregnant young women/ Children and Young People who have been excluded/ Children and young people previously educated within the Independent sector who are excluded or withdrawn/ Young Carers/ Children who are on the child protection register/ Children and young people who may be victims of crime - unexplained absence/ Young Runaways.
Additional measures to identify and locate missing children and young people7.4 Children or young people may not be on a school roll because a parent has not accepted a school place at a time of normal transition or failed to follow up an application after moving into the LA. They may have been unable to secure a place in their preferred school and fail to take up another offer or they simply may fail to attend having previously accepted a school place.
7.15 There are particular challenges in areas where children and young people leave the maintained sector for the independent sector in high numbers, in areas where children commonly cross boundaries to attend schools in other authorities and in areas of high transience, particularly if children or young people leave schools at other than normal ages of transfer.
7.19 Guidance on Truancy Sweeps is contained in the Welsh Assembly Government's Inclusion and Pupil Support guidance (Circular No 47/2006). http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/policy_strategy_and_planning/schools/339214/wag/inclusionpupilsupportguidance/?lang=en
7.20 Many LAs work in partnership with the police to run truancy sweeps which can be highly effective in locating children and young people outside the education system. Sweeps often find small but significant numbers of children and young people who are not on a school roll and may be from families who are reluctant or refuse to engage with the statutory services. Truancy sweeps, when arranged appropriately can therefore be a useful way of making contact with this hard to reach group.
7.21 Those taking part in the sweeps should be aware that there are a range of valid reasons why school-age children and young people may be out of school. In particular, they may encounter children and young people who are educated at home by parents and are therefore not required to be at school.
7.22 No further action should be taken where children or young people indicate that they are home educated unless there is a reason to doubt that this is the case.
7.23 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 LA maintains a list of all school-age children known to them who are home-educated. This list can then be checked by LA staff as part of a Truancy Sweep.
7.24 From January 2010 as part of its work in 'plugging the data gaps' the Welsh Assembly Government commenced the requirement for local authorities to provide information on the aggregate number of electively home educated children and young people residing in their areas as part of the statutory EOTAS (educated otherwise than at school) data collection arrangements. The main focus of the data collection is to gather information on individual children of compulsory school age who are funded by the local authority and receive education otherwise than in a maintained school as defined in Section 19(1) of the Education Act 1996 i.e. those children of compulsory school age who, by reason of illness, exclusion or otherwise may not for any period receive suitable education.
Elective Home Education7.25 Parents have a duty to ensure that their children receive a suitable full time education either by regular attendance at school or otherwise (under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996). Some parents decide, as they are entitled, to provide suitable education by educating their children at home. A significant number of parents choose to exercise their right to educate their children at home for a variety of reasons which could include philosophical, ideological or religious views, while for others it is to meet the specific needs of a child or young person or dissatisfaction with the system.
7.26 Schools should not encourage parents/carers to educate at home as a way of avoiding a poor attendance record or a permanent exclusion. Educating a child at home is a major undertaking and a full-time responsibility.
7.27 Parents do not need to seek permission from the LEA to begin home education, but must notify the governing body of the school; usually through the head teacher to ensure that their child’s name is removed from the school admissions register. However, if a child has never attended school, no permission or notification is required.
7.28 Parents seeking to home educate children or young people registered at a special school, however, must obtain the consent of the LEA to withdraw their child from the school (Education (Pupil Registration) Regulation 9(2), 1995).
Responsibilities of the School in relation to Elective Home Education7.29 The Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995, Regulation 9, sets out the conditions under which a pupil's name can be removed from the admission register of a school if "he has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school".
7.30 Under Regulation 13 (3), the proprietor of the school must report the deletion of the pupil's name from the admission register to the Pupil Services Section of the LEA within ten school days who should then notify the appropriate officer.
7.31 A CTF [Common Transfer File] should be created by the school with MMMMMMM as the destination and uploaded onto the s2s [School to School] website. This enables the CTF to be stored securely and to be available if the child or young person returns to a maintained school.
7.32 On no account should pressure be put on parents to remove their child from the school register to avoid exclusion or prosecution.
Responsibilities of the LA in relation to Elective Home Education7.33 Sections 437 to 443 of the Education Act 1996 place a duty upon local authorities to intervene where it appears a suitable education is not being received. Case law has established that a local authority may make informal enquiries of parents who are educating their children at home to establish that a suitable education is being provided.
7.34 Education authorities should seek to build effective relationships and regular contact with home educators that function to safeguard the educational interests and welfare of children and young people. Doing so will provide parents with access to any support that is available and allow authorities to understand the parents' educational provision. A positive relationship will also provide a sound basis if the child or young person, at some point in the future, returns to mainstream education or if the authority is required to investigate assertions from any source that an efficient education is not being provided. Such an arrangement is likely to help the LEA to fulfil their duties and can help provide new information and support to parents. The frequency with which an authority will contact parents to discuss their ongoing home education provision will vary depending on the individual circumstances of each family.
7.35 There is no legal framework for the LEA to regularly monitor provision of home education nor an automatic right of entry to the parental home to check the standard of education the child or young person is receiving. However, if they have good reason to believe that parents are not providing a suitable education, local authorities are able to serve a School Attendance Order on the parents. This will allow a period of at least 15 days for the parent to provide the authority with whatever information they require to satisfy themselves about the suitability of the education.
Appendix 1 Legislation
Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
Section 19 (1) of the Education Act 1996 requires every local education authority to make arrangements for the provision of suitable education at school or otherwise than at school for those children of compulsory school age who by reason of illness, exclusion from school or otherwise, may not for any period receive suitable education unless such arrangements are made for them. For these purposes, “suitable” education is defined as “efficient education suitable to the age, ability, aptitude and to any special educational needs the child (or young person) may have.” (s.19 (6)).
Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 requires local authorities to make arrangements to establish the identities of children in their area who are not receiving suitable education.
Section 437 (1) of the Education Act 1996 provides that if it appears to a local education 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 must serve a notice in writing on the parent (a school attendance order) requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such.
Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995 [now superseded by Pupil Registration Regulations, Wales 2010] under regulation 9(1) (c): The name of the child can only be deleted from the admissions register of the school under certain conditions, which are detailed in section 6.
Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 (which came into force on June 1 2004) imposes a duty upon LEAs and governing bodies to exercise their functions with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. For these purposes, "functions" includes the powers and duties of LEAs and governing bodies.
The Children Act 2004 includes various provisions relating to safeguarding and promotion of welfare of children in Wales (section 25-29) including:
- (a) a duty upon each Children’s Services authority to promote co-operation between it and various other bodies to improve the well-being of children so far as relating to (amongst other things) education and training;
- (b) a duty upon various bodies including Children’s Services authorities to make arrangements for ensuring that their functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of Children;
- (c) provision for the Secretary of State to put into place information databases for the purposes of arrangements under section 175 of the Education Act 2002 or (a) and (b) above, and a framework for the sharing of information contained in such data bases for such purposes.
The Children Act 1989 includes the following provisions:
- Section 17, defines a child ‘in need if s/he is unlikely to achieve or maintain (or have the opportunity to) a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him/her of services; or his/her health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him/her of such services; or s/he is disabled.
- Section 47, Children Act 1989 places a duty on local authorities to make enquiries into the circumstances of children considered to be at risk of ‘significant harm’ and, where these enquiries indicate the need, to undertake a full investigation into the child’s circumstances. Section 47(1) provides ‘where as a result of any such enquiries, it appears that there are matters connected with the child’s education which should be investigated, they shall consult the relevant local education authority’.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the ChildLegislation and practice in child protection are underpinned by principles derived from Articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the UK Government in 1991. These principles are:-
- each child has a right to be treated as an individual;
- each child who can form a view on matters affecting him or her has the right to express those views if he or she so wishes;
- parents should normally be responsible for the upbringing of their children and should share that responsibility;
- each child has the right to protection from all forms of abuse,neglect or exploitation;
- so far as is consistent with safeguarding and promoting the child's welfare, public authorities should promote the upbringing of children by their families;
- and any intervention by a public authority in the life of a child must be properly justified and should be supported by services from all relevant agencies working in collaboration.
The general right to education comprises four separate rights:
- (i) a right of access to such educational establishments as exist;
- (ii) a right to an effective (but not the most effective possible) education;
- (iii) a right to official recognition of academic qualifications.
- (iv) as regards the right to an effective education, for the right to education to be meaningful the quality of the education must reach a minimum standard.
When investigating the circumstances of any disappearance or appointing an Investigating Officer/Family Liaison Officer, cognisance must be taken of the intrusion involved into the private life of that individual or family. Of particular note are those situations where an individual disappears deliberately; the right to do so should be respected but it must be balanced with the rights of the child, young person, family and the wider community.
In general terms these rights should only be interfered with where the action is prescribed by law and it is necessary in a democratic society for reasons of:-
- Public safety;
- Preventing disorder and crime;
- Protecting health and morals;
The Data Protection Act 1998All those involved with children are likely to hold personal information about them, including sensitive personal information. The Act covers how personal information about living, identifiable people is to be protected. All organisations that hold or process personal data must comply. The Act requires that data is gathered and processed fairly, is held securely and is used solely for the purpose for which it was collated.
Section 164 of the Education & Inspections Act 2006 amends the Education Act 1996 (provision of information about individual pupil), by inserting a new section after 537A. This new section 537B relates to the provision of information about children receiving funded education outside of school and in January 2010 will introduce an individual level data collection on children educated otherwise than at school (EOTAS). The collection will focus on children educated otherwise than at school as defined in Section 19(1) of the Education Act 1996 i.e. those children of compulsory school age who, by reason of illness, exclusion or otherwise may not for any period receive suitable education.