Elective Home Education Guidance for Local Authorities (England)
Ombudsman July 2019
"Councils must be clear with parents of home-schooled children whether home visits are routine or triggered by specific concerns, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has said. This comes following an investigation into a complaint about Leicester City Council, after attendance officers visited a family based on unsubstantiated claims a boy’s education was unsuitable. The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council had no justification to visit the mother and son on the referral they received, and it should have checked the facts before visiting. The council also did not tell the mother the full grounds on which officers were making the visit or allow her the chance to dispute the incorrect information. After the information was found to be wrong, attendance officers maintained their approach of demanding the mother enrol her son at a local school or face legal proceedings. The investigation also found the council incorrectly sought to justify its actions based on an anticipated change in government guidance. And in any case the new guidance, which was issued nine months after the events, does not authorise any approach to parents based on incorrect information."
New Home Education Guidance
On April 2nd 2019 the Department for Education published new non-statutory guidance for local authorities which can be read here This replaced the 2007/2013 Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities.
NB, close study reveals that the final guidance differs in many significant respects from the draft put out to consultation in 2018. Please ensure that you are referring to/being quoted from the final 2019 version and not the 2018 consultation draft.
Government Response to Call for Evidence April 2019
The new guidance was published at the same time as the Government's response to the 2018 call for evidence, including "next steps". On the same day the Government also launched a consultation on registration proposals which is dealt with below.
"The government intends to move towards a position whereby local authorities will be in a better position to take effective action to ensure that a child is receiving suitable education - when such action is necessary. The first step in this is to help ensure that local authorities are aware of the existence of children who are not in mainstream schooling.
4.7 To this end, it intends to consult on possible legislation based on the following:
a. the introduction of a duty on local authorities to maintain a register of children of compulsory school age who do not attend schools of a specified type
b. the introduction of a duty on parents to inform their local authority when their child is not attending a mainstream school;
c. the introduction of a duty on settings attended by the children on the register to respond to enquiries from local authorities as to whether a specific child attends that setting;
d. the introduction of a duty on local authorities to provide support to home educating families - if it is requested by such families."
Consultation Registration Proposals 2019
The consultation on registration proposals opened the same day in April 2019 as new guidance was published and closed in June 24th 2019. It asked for comments about proposals to establish a local authority registration system for children who do not attend state-funded or registered independent schools. This would require a change to the law within the next few years.
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