ESOs are rare. There were 33 Education Supervision Orders in 2021/22 across 10 local authorities. Statistics on the number of education supervision orders were first collected in 2016/17 when 90 were made, decreasing to 80 in 2017/18, 34 in 2018/19, and 17 in 2020/21. [GOV.UK LINK]
Section 36 of the Children Act 1989 empowers local authorities to apply to the magistrates court for an Education Supervision Order with respect to a child instead of or as well as prosecuting the parent for non-compliance with a School Attendance Order. Further detail can be found in Schedule 3 Part III Children Order 1989
Proceedings are governed by Chapter 2 Family Procedure Rules 2010. The parents’ duty is to comply with directions given by the supervisor, and persistent failure to comply with directions is an offence. An ESO normally lasts for a year, although they can be extended for up to 3 years. The parent may apply for the ESO to be “discharged” (ie ceased)
An ESO may be put in place where a registered pupil is failing to attending school regularly ie as an alternative to truancy proceedings. If a child or young person is made the subject of an ESO, it does not mean that parents cannot exercise their right to home educate, but the supervising officer will make the final decision. Should the parent deregister and take the child out of school against the direction of the supervisor, this would contravene the ESO. However, the supervisor has to discuss any directions with the family and take their wishes into account, so one way forward would be for parent and child to make a persuasive case for home education.
Where a child is not a registered pupil and the authority has evidence that there aren’t adequate arrangements for home education (ie where the grounds for issuing a School Attendance Order would be met), the authority may instead apply for an ESO as an alternative to SAO proceedings. This gives the authority far greater say in the child’s home education than would otherwise be the case.