Safeguarding in New Guidance 2

The new draft home education guidance implies that local authorities might start assessing literacy and numeracy levels for home educated children to check they are receiving “sufficient secular education”. (Secular means non-religious) The page title refers to safeguarding because the consultation on new draft home education guidance asked about safeguarding in out-of-school settings and suspected illegal schools.

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

Out of School Settings

“Out of school settings” normally refers to part-time provision. If the setting is part-time it does not have to register as a school because it is viewed as supplementary to the child’s main education and the requirement for registering as a school is that the education provided is full-time.

However, even if a setting is full-time it will not have to register as a school if the curriculum is too narrow for a school, which occurs most commonly if the setting only delivers religious instruction. The government has attempted unsuccessfully to bring these full-time settings within scope of regulation and inspection as independent schools, but these settings remain legally unregistered.

Suspected Illegal Schools

Illegal schools are institutions which should register themselves as independent schools but where the proprietors choose not to register. These schools are operating outside the law but the difficulty arises in obtaining proof that the education is full-time because the number of hours attended is the determining factor. Several establishments prosecuted as illegal schools have called themselves “tuition centres” or “learning centres” thereby seeking to imply that the provision is only part-time rather than full-time.