Wales Database Impact Children Already Known

The Welsh government is proposing that local authorities in Wales set up Children Missing Education databases. The new Regulations say that when certain conditions are met, a local authority must enter the child’s details onto the database. This consultation CLOSED on 25.4.24.

A child living in the area who is not registered at a school must be put onto the missing education database in all cases where “it appears to the local authority that the child is not, or may not be, receiving a suitable education”

The Welsh government has probably worded it in this way because it has in mind the situation of a previously unknown child who became known to the local authority through data disclosure from health professionals .

However, if this goes through it will have a significant impact on home educated children who are already known to the LA. This may or may not have been intended. In the consultation on the database which runs till April 25th, there is no consultation question about the specific issues raised on this page.

If It Appears

The phrase if it appears to a local authority that a child … is not receiving suitable education,” is derived from section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996 which states “If it appears to a local authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education. (2)That period shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.” [SOURCE]

This means that any time the LA serves a preliminary notice to satisfy, the child would go on to the Missing Education database. By the end of 15 days a parent might have satisfied the local authority but the child would already be on the database and would not be automatically taken off the database.

In fact the child would be on the database even earlier because the draft Regulations don’t just say if it appears that a child is not receiving suitable education, they say if it appears that a child MAY not be receiving suitable education ie if there is even the slightest doubt or question, while the matter is still at the informal enquiries stage.

The new CME database reverses the position in current government guidance on Children Missing Education which refers to “a database of children not currently in suitable education” after it has been “considered that home education provision was not suitable” ie after the LA has not been satisfied and has reached a definite negative decision. [Source = CME Guidance p 92]

Once On Database

The Regulations say that the CME database must include the information set out in the Schedule that is available to the local authority in relation to that child”

The information set out in the Schedule is: the name, address, postcode, telephone number and email address of all parents of the child; the name and address of the person providing all or part of the education; plus any additional learning needs that the child may have and any additional learning provision that is called for

A home educated child may be already known to the LA but at present there is no legal requirement for the LA to collect all the information listed above. However, once the child is on the database – from the informal enquiries stage onwards – the LA must take reasonable steps … to complete the record” (“The record” means “the CME record” as set out here

Coming Off Database

Once on the database the child then stays on the database until some point AFTER the local authority has approved the home education. Regulation 9 says “Where a local authority is satisfied that a child whose name is included in the CME database is receiving a suitable education, the local authority must remove that child’s CME record from the CME database as soon as is reasonably practicable.”

Database Consultation

The Welsh government is currently consulting on these database proposals. The deadline for feedback is April 25th 2024. All the links can be found here There is no consultation question about the specific issues raised on this page.

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