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Oldham LA Elective Home Education Policy

Introduction

This policy document applies to those children whose parents and carers (with parental responsibility)* have chosen to educate their children at home.

Elective Home Education (EHE) is the term used by the Department for Education (DfE) to describe parents’ decisions to provide education for their children, who are of compulsory school age, at home instead of sending them to school. This is different to home tuition and education other than at school (EOTAS) provided by the local authority (LA). Children educated at home are not registered at mainstream, special or independent schools, academies, free schools, Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), colleges or children’s homes with education facilities.

This document sets out:-

  • Parents’ rights and responsibilities if they choose to educate their children at home
  • The statutory duties on the LA and Schools in relation to children who are educated at home.

The LA recognises that there are many approaches to educational provision and that what may be suitable for one child will not be for another, but all children should be involved in a learning process.

The Government recognises that “educating children at home works well when it is a positive, informed and dedicated choice. However, the past few years have seen a very significant increase in the number of children being educated at home, and there is considerable evidence that many of these children are not receiving a suitable education.

There is a less well evidenced but increasing concern that some children educated at home may not be in safe environments1” and a local authority has a moral and social obligation to ensure that a child is safe and being suitably educated.

The Law

3.1 The legal responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. In England, education is compulsory, but school is not. The law is set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and the Education Act 1996.

3.2 Article 2 of the Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights states that: “no person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”

3.3 Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that: “ the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full time education suitable to;

a) their age, ability and aptitude

b) any special educational needs he may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise”

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/791527/Elective_home_education_guidance_for_LAv2.0.pdf

3.4 An “efficient” and “suitable” education is not defined in the Education Act 1996 but has been described in case law (in the case of R v Secretary of State for Education and Science, ex parte Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School Trust 1986) as an education that ‘achieves that which it sets out to achieve’ and ‘primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later life to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so.’

* The term ‘parent’ is used in this document to apply to both parents and to carers.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities

4.1 Parents may decide to exercise their right to home educate their child from a very early age and not enrol the child at a school. They may also elect to home educate at any stage up to the end of compulsory school age and may continue post 16 in order for their child to participate in education and training until the age of 18.

4.2 If the child is on a school roll, then parents must notify the school in writing if they are taking them out of school. They do not have to give a reason. However, as stated in the DfE Guidance, it would be sensible to do so, both in order to avoid any future misunderstanding about how they plan to fulfil their parental responsibilities and also to facilitate access to advice and support. If the child attends a special school, then parents must notify the local authority in writing.

4.3 The DfE strongly recommends that parents think carefully about EHE before they withdraw their child from a school. We expect that all schools in Oldham will invite parents in for a meeting if they are aware of parent’s intentions. Parents may also contact the EHE Team direct if they would like further information or advice.

4.4 If the child attends a special school which is named in their Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), parents must seek approval from the local authority in writing. See Section 10 for further information regarding children with Special Educational Needs (SEND).

4.5 Parents do not need to be qualified teachers to home educate and there is no requirement to teach the National Curriculum, match age-specific standards or observe schools’ hours, days or terms. They must however ensure that their child receives suitable full-time education, although they do not need to have a fixed timetable or have formal lessons.

4.6 There are no funds available from Central Government or from the LA for parents who elect to home educate.

4.6 Parents can choose to engage private tutors or other adults to assist them in providing a suitable education, although there is no requirement to do so, and learning may take place in a variety of settings, not just the family home.

Notification by Head teachers of a Parent’s decision to Home Educate

It was formerly the case that schools were obliged by the 2006 Pupil Registration Regulations to notify the local authority that a child had been withdrawn for home education only when the school had been notified of this in writing by the parents.

From September 2016 the regulations were amended so that the local authority must now be informed of all deletions from the admission register when this takes place at a nonstandard transition time.

5.1.1 We request that the head teacher inform the LA prior to removing the child from the school’s register so that the LA is able to obtain any further information in regards to why the child is now to be electively home educated.

5.1.2 If the child is registered at a school as a result of a school attendance order, the parent must obtain the permission of the LA on the grounds that arrangements have been made for the child to receive suitable education otherwise than at school, before the child can be removed from the school’s register and educated at home.

5.2 Schools must not seek to persuade parents to educate their children at home as a way of avoiding an exclusion or because the child has a poor attendance record. Ofsted is likely to ask LA’s about withdrawal rates at schools and whether action has been taken to identify patterns and a suitable strategic response.

5.2.1 If EHE is found to have been advised by the school/academy or considered unsuitable, the expectation is that the child will return to their former school, either through the In Year Fair Access Protocol (IYFAP) or through the statutory Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) arrangements.

The Local Authority (LA)’s Duties

6.1 The LA has a duty to maintain a register of all children known to be home educated.

6.2 Under s.436A the LA must make arrangements to find out so far as possible whether home educated children are receiving suitable full-time education.

6.3 Under Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996 the LA has a statutory duty to intervene if it appears that a parent is not providing a suitable education to the age, ability, aptitude and special educational needs of the child.

This section states that:

‘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.”

6.4 LA’s have to decide how this oversight of appropriate examples of work are managed. It is at the LA’s discretion to determine what it sees as necessary and proportionate to assure itself that every child is receiving a suitable education, or action is being taken to secure that outcome.

6.5 The LA, in partnership with other agencies, including Social Care and Health, has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children resident in the town, under Section 175 (1) of the Education Act 2002 and under the statutory guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’, March 2015.

6.6 The LA actively promotes children’s’ rights to be heard, as stated in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), especially articles 2,3,6,& 12 and in the statutory guidance ‘Listening to & involving children & young people’, Jan 2014.

The Local Authority’s Arrangements – Initial Contact

On receipt of a notification of EHE of a child:-

7.1 The child’s name will be placed on the EHE register.

7.2 The LA will make enquiries, including from Social Care, the Health authorities and any previous school/Early Years provision, to ensure that there are no safeguarding concerns.

7.3 The LA will gather any relevant information to assist in reaching a properly informed view that the education is suitable.

This includes seeking from parents any information that explains how they are providing a suitable education. This could include a written report, telephone conversations, the child’s views, samples of the child’s work, a home visit or a meeting outside of the home.

7.4 LA officers do not have an automatic right to access the home.

However, under the safeguarding duties held by the LA and our commitment to the UNCRC, an LA officer will expect to see the child and ideally the home, as this is usually the main venue where education is taking place. Elective home education may not be considered suitable if this is refused and if there is any reasonable cause for concern.

7.5 The LA officer will attempt to contact with parents to arrange a visit by telephone and/or by sending up to 3 emails/letters within 20 working days of the initial notification that the child is going to be EHE.

7.6 If no response is received and, if there is any reasonable cause for concern (see Appendix), a referral will be made to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

A multi-agency enquiry may then be considered to establish if the child is at risk of suffering significant harm or is assessed to be ‘in need’ of support services (s17 Children Act, 1989). This may lead to a welfare check and an unannounced visit to the home arranged by a Social Worker or a Police Officer.

7.7 If concerns are substantiated, the child’s name will be removed from the EHE list and they will be referred to the Children Missing Education (CME) Team. The CME process will then be followed, and the child will be offered a school place.

7.8 Parents will receive a report summarising the outcomes of the assessment.

7.9 For the majority of Oldham families who home educate, EHE is suitable, and they continue to home educate for as long as they feel it meets the needs of their child. The child’s name remains on the EHE list, and an LA officer is allocated as the main contact for the family.

The Local Authority’s Arrangements – EHE Suitable

8.1 The LA has made arrangements to ensure it carries out its statutory duties in relation to children educated at home and to safeguard and to promote the welfare of children. These arrangements include:

8.2 A named Senior Officer with responsibility for elective home education policy and procedures.

8.3 Availability of information to parents who are considering home educating their children and to parents who already do this through the Oldham Council Website, a parent’s booklet and through named officers, whose role is to offer advice and support and build positive relationships with the families and communities who home educate.

8.4 Organisation of events to ensure parents and communities who home educate have the opportunity to meet with officers of the LA to discuss policy and procedures such as drop-in sessions at the Gallery Oldham and communities within the borough.

8.5 Responsibility of all agencies and LA teams to report to the named Senior Officer if they have any concerns about the safety and welfare of a child who is being home educated by the website or the MASH team.

8.6 All LA officers who have contact with families who home educate to be familiar with home education law, policies and practices.

8.7 A designated school health advisor will provide information and support to parents who home educate.

8.8 In line with the legislation around Raising the Participation Age (RPA) information will be provided for parents and children of Year 11 age advising them of their options and responsibilities for post 16 education provision.

8.9 Following agreement that EHE is suitable, an LA officer will maintain contact with the family and be available for support and guidance. This will usually be annually but could vary by agreement.

8.10 Routine checks are regularly carried out with Social Care and the Health authorities and during the initial process, the LA officer will expect to see the child and the place where they are being educated. If this is refused, and the LA has reasonable cause for concern about the child’s welfare, a referral may be made to the MASH.

There may be changes of circumstances for the family and the named LA officer is available if parents have any questions or wish to discuss any educational matters.

The Local Authority’s Arrangements – EHE Unsuitable

“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.

‘Harm’ can include the impairment of health or development, which means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development, so the provision of unsuitable education clearly can amount to this. The causing of significant harm need not be intentional or deliberate, but case law11 indicates that it must be ‘considerable, noteworthy or important”2

9.1 Parents will receive written notification if the LA considers that suitable education is not being provided, specifying the grounds for concern and any reasons for concluding that provision is unsuitable.

9.2 Parents will have the opportunity to address the identified concerns and report back to the LA within 20 working days, or another agreed timeframe, of the LA’s letter.

9.3 If, after this the education is still not considered suitable, the LA will identify suitable provision for the child through their CME procedures.

The expectation is that they will return to their former school, either through the In Year Access Protocol (IYFAP) or through the statutory Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP) arrangements.

9.4 Following the Attendance Regulations, if the parent fails to register the child at the school which has been offered, they may receive formal notice that a school attendance order will be served.

This step will only be taken if all reasonable steps have been taken to resolve the situation.

10 Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) without an Education, Health & Care (EHC) Plan

10.1 Under Sections 7 and 19 of the Education Act 1996, parents have the right to educate their children, including children with SEN, at home. Home education must be suitable for the child’s age, ability, aptitude and SEND.

10.2 Parents have the right to request an EHC assessment and the right to appeal is available to all parents, including those who feel that the SEN support being provided by the school is insufficient to meet the child’s needs. There is more information on the Oldham Local Offer Website.

10.3 LAs do have a duty under Section 22 of the Children and Families Act 2014 to try to identify all children in their areas who have SEND. This includes children who are home educated.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/791527/Elective_home_education_gudiance_for_LAv2.0.pdf

Review Arrangement for Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) with an Education, Health & Care (EHC) Plan

11.1 If the child is on the roll of a special school the child’s name may not be removed from the school register without the LA’s consent.

11.2 It remains the duty of the LA to ensure the child’s special educational needs are met. Under SEND arrangements, and in line with DfE guidance, the LA will carry statutory annual reviews for any child or young person who currently has an EHCP, who is home educated.

11.3 In cases where the LA and parents agree that home education is suitable for a child with an EHC Plan, the LA will review the plan and consider whether it is appropriate to maintain, amend or cease the plan. The child and parents will be involved in this process.

11.4 In cases where the EHC Plan is maintained, the LA will review it annually to assure itself that the outcomes and provision set out in it continues to be appropriate and the child’s SEND continue to be met.

The LA may name the type of school that would be suitable for the child, but state that the parents have made their own arrangements under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996.

11.5 Parents will be invited to the annual review by the LA SEND officer, together with representatives from any other agencies (e.g. Health, Social Care) that the LA deems appropriate and the LA SEND representative. Parents will be notified in writing of any decisions within 20 working days of the meeting.

11.6 The LA will not assume that because the provision being made by parents is different from that which was being made or would have been made in school, that the provision is necessarily unsuitable.

However, in some cases, the LA may conclude that elective home education does not meet the child’s SEND.

11.7 As with other children educated at home, the LA does not have a right of entry to the family home to check that the provision being made by the parents for a child with special educational needs is appropriate and may only enter the home at the invitation of the parents. However, we as an LA encourage a positive working relationship with our EHE families.

11.8 If the parent is making suitable home schooling arrangements the LA still has the obligation to conduct an annual review of the EHC Plan, and that should provide an opportunity for parents to seek additional support or discuss alternatives to home education.

Looked After Children, Children on Child Protection (CP) Plans and Child in Need (CiN) Plans

12.1 In most cases, if a child is looked after, the LA would not expect the child to continue to be home educated. Advice will be sought from Social Care and from the Virtual Head for Looked After Children.

12.2 In most cases if a child is on either a CP or CiN Plan, the LA would not expect home education to be suitable. However, both the child’s and the parent’s views will be considered and advice sought from Social Care before any decision is made.

ANNEXES

Annex A – Notification of parental preference to Home Educate – Document used by Schools to notify LA

Name of child  
Age  
Date of birth  
Year group  
Address  
Current school on roll  
Name of person at school who has been notified of preference  
Has a meeting taken place to discuss request?
Please date and attach minutes
 
Name of parent/carer making request  
Address (if different from above)  
Phone number / email address  

Please tick all that apply:

Child has Special Educational Needs (SEN support)  
Child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan  
Child has Looked After status  
Child is on Child Protection Plan or Child in Need status  

Please state reasons why home education is being requested?

Unsuitable curriculum  
Not school of choice  
Advised by school / other  
Waiting for place at another school  
Bullying  
School not meeting SEN needs  
Avoidance to prosecution  
Avoidance to exclusion  
Medical reasons  
Other  
Details:  

The LA is required by law to intervene if it appears that a parent is not providing a suitable education to the age, ability, aptitude and special educational needs of the child. What suitable education will be put in place for this child?

Flowchart showing process for preference to home educate

 

*Unless there are explicit reasons why this is not appropriate

Flowchart showing written notification

 

Dear Parent / Carer

Re: Notification of Preference to Electively Home Educate
We have received notification of your intention to educate your child XX, XXX, at home.

The law requires that a parent/guardian has a duty to see that a child receives efficient full-time education, suitable to their age, ability and aptitude, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise (Education Act 1997, s7).

The Council’s legal duty is to seek assurance that the provision which is being made is suitable for the child so in order to do this, we will need to gather further information from you to make an informed decision; we will also need to visit you at home to discuss the plans you are making.

In addition to our legal duty around ensuring suitable education, we also have a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children resident in Oldham (Education Act, 2002, s175 (1)); to fulfil this duty we will work with children’s social care to establish if there are likely to be any vulnerabilities for your child in such an arrangement. Please be aware that this is standard practice and is not a referral to services.

We will also inform the School Health Team of the changes to your childs education. We would also like to inform our local careers service, Positive Steps, of this change so that at Year 11, your child will be able to access some careers advice; if you do not wish us to do this, then please let us know.

So that we can be assured as quickly as possible on the suitability of education being offered, please complete the attached document (Annex A) and return this to the central EHE team (email ehe@oldham.gov.uk) within 5 working days. On receipt of this, an officer will be in touch to discuss this notification and next steps