New Home Education Guidance Wales May 2023

In May 2023 the Welsh Government issued new guidance on elective home education for local authorities which can be found via this page. My page on home education in Wales is here.

Background

The Welsh Government initially consulted on new guidance in 2019 which it also said would be backed by a new law requiring local authorities to maintain databases of all children in the area. In January 2020 a consultation opened on the database. In July 2020 the Welsh Government confirmed that guidance changes and database plans were dropped due to covid work pressures (see Senedd Business 7.7.20).

Revised guidance re-appeared in May 2023 but the Written Statement accompanying the guidance said that the database was still a work in progress. The Handbook for Parents was published in June 2023. Read my page on the Handbook here. In early 2024, proposals were published for a Children Missing Education Database in Wales. Read more here https://edyourself.org/wales-cme-database-consultation/

Key Points 2023 Guidance

“Assessing the suitability of education should not be about measuring the child’s attainment or testing the child. The customs and practices of school-based approaches may not be relevant for some home educating families, and home education provision can be unconventional.” [paragraph 4.11 page 18]

Local authorities should be mindful that home educators are not required to:

  • teach the Basic curriculum for Wales/Curriculum for Wales
  • 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
  • have formal lessons
  • reproduce school type peer group socialisation
  • match school age specific standards.” [paragraph 4.13 pages 18-19]

4.9 It is to be expected that, in some circumstances, there will be less or no formal planning of learning, in contrast to structured planning in schools. Learning activities will be very different to those in schools. Written work may not feature in the learning as much as it does in school as one to one learning may reduce the need to use written work as a tool for measuring understanding. However, the value of writing skills should not be overlooked.”

Suggested characteristics of a suitable and efficient education
4.15 A suitable education would include provision in numeracy, literacy and language skills, suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any SEN/ALN the child may have. Suitable education is not simply a matter of academic learning but should also involve socialisation
.”

4.17 Numeracy skills should correspond with the child’s general ability (including any SEN/ALN they have) and reflect the stage of development the child is at.”

Special Educational Needs/Additional Learning Needs

4.31 Children with SEN/ALN, have significantly greater difficulty learning than the majority of others of the same age, and may face barriers to learning. They may, therefore, take longer to process information and develop new skills, and may find it difficult to interact with other people.”

Meetings and Seeing the Child

4.21 In order for a local authority to satisfy itself of the suitability of education provided by the parents, the local authority should see and communicate with the child.”

4.26 Such a meeting does not have to take place in the home, it can take place in a mutually agreed location.

4.22 There may be occasions where it is not in the best interest of the child for the local authority to meet with them, or in some circumstances, the local authority can conclude without seeing and communicating with the child that they are receiving a suitable education.”

NB THE PARENTS HANDBOOK EXPANDS ON SEEING THE CHILD. “The individual circumstances of each child and their family should inform decisions about when to see a child … Parents and Gillick competent children are not, however, obliged to meet with the local authority and are free to decline a meeting if they so wish.” Read my page on the Handbook here.

4.28 As part of these meetings, the local authority should ask to see examples of learning, to determine the suitability of the education provided.

4.34 The frequency of meetings with home educating families should be proportionate and based on the individual circumstances of each child. A meeting should take place at least once a year to ensure the suitability of education is maintained and that the child is considered to be making suitable progress.”

4.39 The local authority should prepare a report no later than 10 days after meeting with the family. The report should outline if the provision is suitable or unsuitable, and the reasons behind the assessment of that provision.” “For more complicated circumstances, the local authority may need more time, for example, to ensure the involvement of other professionals such as educational psychologists/speech and language therapists.”

Local Authority Support

6.2 Local authorities are expected to assist home educating parents, recognising that home educating parents can adopt a rich and diverse range of approaches to home education and use a variety of philosophies and methods. Local authorities should, where possible, promote access to learning opportunities available to all children in their area.”

6.16 Local authorities should, where possible, direct home educating families to schools and centres that will let external students sit exams. Home education officers are encouraged to work with identified examination centres providers in their local authority to accommodate home educated children where possible.”

THIS PAGE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MY BLOG IN MAY 2023. IN OCTOBER 2023 THE GUIDANCE WAS SLIGHTLY AMENDED, READ THE OCTOBER GUIDANCE AS A PDF https://www.gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2023-10/elective-home-education-guidance-oct-2023.pdf

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