Will Parents Have To Prove Suitable Education?

Something important has disappeared from the paragraph in the proposed new home education guidance dealing with section 436A, children missing education.  Scroll down for a link to my Starting Page with all the consultation documents – this is still only a draft and you can give your views until January 2024.

Both the current guidance and the new draft guidance have a paragraph which begins “Identification of children who have never attended school and may be home educated forms a significant element of fulfilling an authority’s statutory duty under s.436A …” [4.2, 2019; 5.1, 2023 draft]

Proportionate Approach 2019

The current guidance sets out a proportionate approach as follows: “this should not be taken as implying that it is the responsibility of parents under s.436A to ‘prove’ that education at home is suitable. A proportionate approach needs to be taken.”

Proportionate Approach 2023

The part about parents not having to prove suitable education is missing from the new draft. Indeed, the new draft actually says “A parent being able to demonstrate what education is taking place is usually the easiest way to establish whether suitable education is being received. This could include engagement with the child or seeing
examples of work”
[6.2] There is also reference to potential problems if the local authority is “unable to assess the learning environment” [6.3]

Case Study 1 presents the new version of proportionate approach. In very special circumstances on this particular occasion the parent is excused from the annual monitoring visit and is allowed to submit a report instead.

Parents Having To Prove Suitable Education 2023

Case Study 2 sets out the new burden of proof and even uses the word “evidence”.

Relevant Consultation Questions

  • Q14 Does the guidance clearly set out the factors that should be considered when assessing whether education appears suitable?
  • Q15 Is it helpful to provide separate sections on (i) how local authorities decide whether a child appears to be receiving suitable education and (ii) what to do when it appears that suitable education is not being received?
  • Q16 Is the guidance clear on what is considered a proportionate level of engagement between local authorities and parents when establishing whether home education appears to be suitable as part of the informal process?
  • Q17 Do you have any comments regarding how suitable education is outlined in the guidance or further information that illustrates your answers above?
  • Q28 Have you found the inclusion of case studies in the EHE guidance for local authorities helpful?
  • Q29 Are there other issues you would like to see us address through case studies or further information that illustrates your answer above?

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