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48.19 Elective Home Education

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1. Introduction

The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. In England education is compulsory, but school is not. Parents have the right to educate their child at home. It is important to note that a child being home educated does not in itself constitute a safeguarding concern, however local authorities must make arrangements to find out so far as possible whether home educated children are receiving suitable full-time education.

Section 7 Education Act 1996 provides that:

“the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable –

  1. To his age, ability and aptitude, and
  2. To any special educational needs he may have

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”

Parents may choose to exercise this right from the beginning of compulsory school age. There is no requirement placed upon them to inform the local authority of their intention to do so, but they must ensure their children receive a suitable education for as long as they are being educated at home.

There is no legal definition for home educating parents regarding educating their children at home:  ‘There are no specific legal requirements as to the content of home education, provided the parents are meeting their duty in s.7 of the Education Act 1996. This means that education does not need to include any particular subjects, and does not need to have any reference to the National Curriculum; and there is no requirement to enter children for public examinations. There is no obligation to follow the ‘school day’ or have holidays which mirror those observed by schools.’   Local authorities do not have powers to enter the homes of, or otherwise see, children for the purposes of monitoring the provision of elective home education

However, under section 437(1) Education Act 1996, local authorities shall intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. This section states that:

“if it appears to a local authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving a 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.”

Prior to serving such a notice, local authorities are required to address the situation informally.

Local authorities also have a duty under section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This section states:

“A local education authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that the functions conferred upon them in their capacity as a local education authority are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.”

 If it is clear that in the opinion of the local authority a child is not receiving a suitable education then they may refer the matter to the relevant local child protection service since ‘a failure to provide suitable education is capable of satisfying the threshold requirement contained in s.31 of the Children Act 1989 that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.’

If a parent withdraws a child from school to elective home education then the school must notify the local authority. The school should provide this notification as soon as they become aware that the parent is considering this form of provision, but may only remove the child from roll upon written notification from the parent.

The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. In England education is compulsory, but school is not. Parents have the right to educate their child at home. It is important to note that a child being home educated does not in itself constitute a safeguarding concern, however local authorities must make arrangements to find out so far as possible whether home educated children are receiving suitable full-time education.

Section 7 Education Act 1996 provides that:

“the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable –

  1. To his age, ability and aptitude, and
  2. To any special educational needs he may have

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”

Parents may choose to exercise this right from the beginning of compulsory school age. There is no requirement placed upon them to inform the local authority of their intention to do so, but they must ensure their children receive a suitable education for as long as they are being educated at home.

There is no legal definition for home educating parents regarding educating their children at home:  ‘There are no specific legal requirements as to the content of home education, provided the parents are meeting their duty in s.7 of the Education Act 1996. This means that education does not need to include any particular subjects, and does not need to have any reference to the National Curriculum; and there is no requirement to enter children for public examinations. There is no obligation to follow the ‘school day’ or have holidays which mirror those observed by schools.’   Local authorities do not have powers to enter the homes of, or otherwise see, children for the purposes of monitoring the provision of elective home education

However, under section 437(1) Education Act 1996, local authorities shall intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. This section states that:

“if it appears to a local authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving a 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.”

Prior to serving such a notice, local authorities are required to address the situation informally.

Local authorities also have a duty under section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This section states:

“A local education authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that the functions conferred upon them in their capacity as a local education authority are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.”

If it is clear that in the opinion of the local authority a child is not receiving a suitable education then they may refer the matter to the relevant local child protection service since ‘a failure to provide suitable education is capable of satisfying the threshold requirement contained in s.31 of the Children Act 1989 that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.’

If a parent withdraws a child from school to elective home education then the school must notify the local authority. The school should provide this notification as soon as they become aware that the parent is considering this form of provision, but may only remove the child from roll upon written notification from the parent.


2. Flow Charts

The flow charts on the following three pages are intended to show in diagrammatic form the main steps which can be taken once it is apparent that there is a question as to whether a child is receiving suitable home education. Not all the steps shown will be applicable in all cases.

Should any practitioner working with a home educating family have concerns regarding the education provision for the individual child, then the matter should be reported to the relevant EHE department:

All matters concerning a child’s welfare should be reported in accordance with 3.2 Making a Referral | Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures Manual

 


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This page is correct as printed on Thursday 30th of June 2022 11:37:03 AM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.
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