Parents Guidance Inconsistencies

Since 2019 there have been two sets of home education guidance, one for local authorities and the other aimed at parents. Prior to this there was just one set of Guidelines. The government is proposing to make changes to both sets of guidance. The government presumably sees some value in having two sets of guidance. It must ensure consistent messaging across both versions especially as some parents may not be aware of the existence of a parallel document if they are just signposted to “the guidance”.

The new guidance is not ready to be used. It is still at the draft stage. The consultation closed 18.1.24. The current guidance for parents and the guidance for LAs remains in force until such time as a final new version is published. The current guidance can be found here

There are inconsistencies between the draft parent guidance and the draft LA guidance about immediate suitability vs a period of adjustment with parents allowed time to develop their provision.

There are inconsistencies between the draft parent guidance and the draft LA guidance over: i/ whether parents can expect the LA to set out in writing the reasons why home education does not appear to be suitable at the point of serving the preliminary notice (sometimes called “notice to satisfy”) and ii/ how much time parents have to respond to the formal notice.

A School Attendance Order, which will require a parent to register a child at school, may only be served if it is expedient for the named child actually to attend school. The law recognises that school cannot be the solution in all circumstances because in reality school may not be appropriate or even realistically possible for the child in question. The draft parent guidance does not align with the draft LA guidance on this point.

Neither draft LA nor draft parent guidance cites the LA’s section 19 duties in the context of s 437(3). Section 19 of the Education Act 1996 says “Each local authority in England shall 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.”

The draft parent guidance has information about EHCP annual reviews which muddles two processes correctly identified as separate in the draft LA guidance. The draft parent guidance is therefore wrong in law. The EHCP review is about considering progress towards Outcomes in Section E not about monitoring home education. (NB Interim targets are not outcomes, read more on the link below)

Current Guidance