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Education at home policy

Education and Children’s Services – learning and inclusion elective home education policy 2020.

All parents are strongly encouraged to read Elective Home Education Departmental Guidance for Parents April 2019 before they withdraw their child or children from school. 

The Education Act 1996 states that: The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him (her) to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his (her) age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he (she) may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

This places the responsibility for a child’s education firmly with the parents. The interpretation of efficient and suitable are derived by Case Law and set out in Government Guidance (Department for Children, Schools and Families, now Department for Education, Elective Home Education – Guidelines for Local Authorities, 2007. Available at: Elective Home Education Guidelines)

  • Efficient education: Education that achieves what it sets out to achieve; and
  • Suitable education: Education that primarily equips a child for life within the community of which the child 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 years to adopt some other form of life if the child wishes to do so.

Case law (Harrison and Harrison v Stevenson (1982) QB (DC) 729/81.) also states that a suitable education – for a child capable of learning such skills – should instil in them the ability to read, write and cope with arithmetical problems. From this, we understand that an education that does not include English and Maths cannot be considered suitable.

There are no legal requirements imposed on parents to ensure that their child takes formal examinations or to follow the National Curriculum. There are no set hours, days or weeks when education has to take place and no requirement for formal lessons. Parents are not required to follow a school model of education, follow school hours or complete work in books.

Financial responsibility for children educated at home rests with the parents. This includes all books, paper resources and the payment of examination fees for a child who is to be entered for accredited examinations (like GCSEs). There is no entitlement to free school meals.

Information regarding local centres which allow students to take examinations as a private candidate is available on the Council’s website.

When considering the suitability of a child’s home education, the LA operates in accordance with the Departmental Guidance. Parents who choose to educate their children at home are strongly advised to acquaint themselves with the law and guidance related to Elective Home Education; parents’ rights and responsibilities are  set out in Department for Education: Elective home education Departmental guidance for parents - April 2019.

Leicester City Council (LCC) complies with Department for Education Guidance; Elective home education departmental guidance for local authorities April 2019

The Education Act 1996 (as amended) imposes a duty on LCC to promote high standards in Primary and Secondary education for persons of compulsory school age (whether at school or otherwise).

Local authorities have a general duty to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (section 175 of the Education Act 2002) in relation to their education functions as a local authority.  This Policy forms part of the LA’s remit under this section.

In addition, LAs have a statutory duty under the Act (as amended), to make arrangements to establish the identities, so far as it is possible to do so, of children in the authority who are not receiving a suitable education.

Once a child reaches compulsory school age, and in the event that they come to the attention of LCC, the LA must satisfy itself that the child is receiving full time education suitable to their age, aptitude and any special educational needs the child may have.

To fulfil these statutory duties LCC follows a process, described below in section 3 to confirm the suitability of Elective Home Education; many parents find this process helpful and supportive of their education provision.

Parents have a range of reasons for choosing to educate their child at home and a home educated child may never have attended a school, or, they may have attended and then been withdrawn by the parent for the reason of home education.

Children who have never attended school

If a child has never attended school, there is no legal requirement on parents to register their child’s home education status with LCC.  However, LCC strongly urges parents to make contact to confirm that home education is taking place. This is because each LA has a legal duty to ensure that every child living in their area is in receipt of a suitable education. 

Withdrawing a child from a maintained mainstream school

When a child has been on roll at a school, and the parent/carer decides to educate their child at home, they must write to the Head teacher of their school, informing them of their intention to home educate. The Head teacher will delete the child’s name from the register and they will notify the LA.

Children attending Special Schools (including independent special schools)

If the child who is to be withdrawn is a pupil at a special school, the school must inform the local authority before the child’s name can be withdrawn from the school roll and the authority will need to consider whether the elective home education is suitable before amending part 4 of the child’s EHCP. 

Independent schools

Parents who withdraw their children for home education from independent schools are encouraged to get in touch with LCC’s Education Welfare Service at the earliest opportunity.  Contact: 0116 454 5510 / education.welfare@leicester.gov.uk .

All registered schools (irrespective of the type of school) must notify the LA when a child is removed from roll.

Contact from the Local Authority

The Education Welfare Service seeks to undertake a discussion with the parents usually within 4 school weeks of the home education starting to provide general information, support and advice about the child’s home education and about the LA’s process, also to gather some initial information about the education being provided. This initial stage of the process is undertaken by an Education Welfare Officer (EWO).

Following this (irrespective of whether or not the parent has engaged with the EWO), details of the child are passed to the Home Education Adviser (HEA) along with any supporting information obtained.

The standard pattern of involvement of the HEA is as follows:

  • Initial contact with parent following receipt of referral from EWO
  • Six months later – six month review (usually undertaken only for newly home educated children)
  • Annual review – approximately a year later

Initial contact

The HEA will send parents a welcome letter which includes a link to a template for an education plan. Parents are requested to complete the plan with as much detail as possible setting out how they intend to educate their child.  Parents may opt to use their own format rather than the plan although the information provided will ideally need to cover the same areas.

Whichever format is used, helpful details include how a parent intends to ensure the development of English and Maths, for example examples of books or websites a parent and child intend to use.  If a parent doesn’t use such resources, they are asked to show how they will develop the child’s English and Maths. The information should also include details of any provision external to the home, and up to date contact details for the family.

The parent is asked to return the education plan (or information in a format of their choosing) by a specified date (which is usually 3 weeks from the date of contact).

At this point, assuming there are no concerns about suitability of the education, the HEA sends a letter to the parent to acknowledge receipt and to explain that the next contact will be six months hence.

Six month review

Where sufficient information is shared with the HEA, a follow up request for information  is made six months after the family has started to home educate; ideally, parents are asked to complete an education report template although again, they may prefer to share the information requested in a format of their choosing. Again, the update should include details of any provision external to the home, and up to date contact details for the family.

The parent will be asked to set out in detail the education they are providing for each of their children to show that the education satisfies the Education Act, meaning that the child/ren is/are receiving a full-time education suitable to age ability and aptitude and any special educational needs. It is helpful if the report is accompanied by photos of each child’s work. 

Assuming there are no concerns about the suitability of education, the HEA sends a report detailing the suitability of education over the previous six months.

Annual review of home education

The same process will occur at the time of the child’s annual review. As a result of an annual review (where the child is receiving a suitable education), the LA issues a report indicating that the parents, in the previous period (usually twelve months), have provided a suitable education.

Home Visits

In the case of newly home educated children, the HEA will usually seek to undertake a home visit where there are concerns about the suitability of the education. In addition, where a parent requests a home visit, the HEA will aim to accommodate this request. Home visits may also be arranged by the HEA (or an EWO) where concerns have been shared with the EWS about a child’s education. (See section 8.)  Parents are under no obligation to agree to a home visit in relation to home education.

Outcomes will be either that:

  • The education is considered to have been full time and suitable to the age, aptitude and any special educational needs the child may have
  • The education is not yet considered to be full time and suitable to the age, aptitude and any special educational needs the child may have but has the potential to become so. In this case, the HEA will make suggestions and recommendations to help the family establish their education provision and agree a date at the time with parents within six weeks to review the progress they have made.
  • The education, even after suggestions have been made, is not considered to be full time or is not suitable to the age, aptitude and any special educational needs the child may have. The case will be closed to Home Education and referred to an EWO for investigation as a possible case of a child missing from education.
  • Parent has declined to share any information – see section 8

If a member of the public or another agency or department contact the EWS to indicate concern about the education that is being provided, depending on the details of the information shared, the HEA will usually seek a meeting with the home educating family to explain the contact that has been received and to discuss the matter. The identity of the person raising the issue will not necessarily be shared if consent has not been given. The education provided will be discussed and support offered if necessary.

If a meeting is requested by the HEA, if parents prefer not to meet, they will be invited to send in the report they would have sent at the time of the Annual Review (or in another format of their choosing) ideally including photographs of the work that has been completed.

Young people in Years 12 and 13 may be home educated instead of participating in more formal education provision.  Parents may be asked by DWP or the Benefits Agency for details of the education they are providing and may be expected to have exams arranged for their child via validated centres.  There is no formal communication between the LA and families of home educated young people in this age group other than to confirm their status.

Parents’ right to educate their child at home applies equally where a child has SEN. This right is irrespective of whether or not the child has an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP).  The EHCP remains in force and will be annually reviewed.

If the parents' attempt to educate the child at home results in provision that falls short of meeting the child's needs, then the parents are not making "suitable arrangements", and the authority could not conclude that they were absolved of their responsibility to arrange the provision in the statement. Parents need only provide an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have as defined in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996. It is the authority's duty to arrange the provision specified in the EHCP, unless the child's parent has made suitable provision, for as long as a statement is maintained. In some cases a combination of provision by parents and LA may best meet the child's needs. Local authorities should consider, for example, providing access to additional resources or treatments where appropriate.

Where parents prefer (and if sufficient information is available), the annual review of the EHCP can be used to establish the suitability of education.  However, many parents find that a visit from the HEA offers positive support and reassurance and this option remains available to families.

A child who has an EHCP remains the responsibility of the Authority in terms of meeting their special educational needs, and this will be part of the discussion between the HEA and parents.

If parents refuse to provide information about the education a child is receiving, or, if the view is that a child is missing from education because the information provided does not indicate that a child is receiving a suitable education at home, the child’s case will be referred to an EWO for investigation.

The parent will be required to find a way of satisfying the Education Act by ensuring suitable education provision. The Education Act 1996 (as amended) states that: If it appears to a local education 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 (her) to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.

Parents can contact the EWS at any time to request a review to confirm that the education is now full time and suitable to the age, aptitude and any special educational needs the child may have.  In this case, the child’s case will always be reviewed by the HEA and EWS action will cease if suitable education is confirmed.

If no information is provided, or, if the information provided by the parent does not satisfy the LA that the child is receiving a suitable education, the EWS will follow the School Attendance Order procedure.  Failure to comply with an Order is an offence and proceedings will usually be initiated.  Information will be laid with the Magistrates’ Court.

In accordance with Government Guidance, a named Senior Officer in Leicester City Council has responsibility for Elective Home Education policy and practice:

Name: Sue Welford
Role: Principal Education Officer
Postal Address: City Hall, Leicester City Council, 115 Charles Street, Leicester, LE1 1FZ
Telephone: 0116 454 1009

This Senior Officer is familiar with Elective Home Education law, policies and practices and is responsible for ensuring that HEAs are trained and qualified in the law and home education methods and competent to confirm the suitability and appropriateness of Elective Home Education provision.

In addition, HEA and consultants employed by LCC will have Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS – formerly the CRB check) and be trained in safeguarding to Level 3 of the Leicester City Children’s Safeguarding Board or equivalent (see LSCB website for more information on this training level).

The HEAs employed by LCC will carry an Identification badge at all times and it is prudent for parents to check for this identification before admitting anyone to their home.

All EHE Reports, related correspondence and preliminary information will be kept by the Education Welfare Service. Strict control over access to these records will be maintained in accordance with LCC’s policies and procedures for data protection and safeguarding which in turn comply with relevant legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018.  The Council’s Privacy Notice is available on the LA’s website.

Home Education Records will be maintained for 10 years after the child is no longer of compulsory school age (or longer as required by Government).  They will be destroyed at the beginning of the academic year following this retention period. Records for children with special educational needs may be retained for up to 35 years in accordance with legal requirements.

LCC is required to collect and record data on children’s ethnic backgrounds even when they are educated at home. (Ethnic monitoring – General Article, Department for Education (online) – last updated 28 April 2011; last accessed 05 September 2011 at Ethnic Monitoring)

The data enables the careers and experiences of children from different backgrounds to be monitored, and helps us to:

  • identify barriers to achievement;
  • establish strategies to raise standards;
  • comply with equal opportunities legislation and the Race Relations Amendment Act;
  • ensure effective allocation and targeting of funding.

Providing this information is voluntary but parents are encouraged to do so. A child’s ethnicity is personal to that individual and the individual's decision will not be questioned. If a parent or child has actively refused to provide this information they will be recorded as “refused” in LCC systems rather than recording an ethnic background for that child.

Parents and children have the right to see their personal files, including the ethnic background data held by the LCC and to have this ethnicity data amended or deleted. We monitor ethnicity based on the codes provided by the Department for Education, listed below:

Leicester City Council Code Dept for Education Code Description
AAF AAFR AAFR - African Asian
ABA ABAN ABAN – Bangladeshi
AIN AIND AIND – Indian
AOT AOTA AOTA - Other Asian
APK APKN APKN – Pakistani
BAO BAOF BAOF - Other Black African
BLB BCRB BCRB - Black Caribbean
BLG BOTH BOTH - Any other Black backgroun
BSO BSOM BSOM – Somali
CHE CHNE CHNE – Chinese
MOT MOTH MOTH - Any other Mixed background
MWA MWAS MWAS - White/Asian
MBA MWBA MWBA - White/Black African
MWB MWBC MWBC - White/Black Caribbean
NOT NOBT NOBT - Info not obtained
OEO OOTH OOTH - Any other Ethnic Group
REF REFU REFU – Refused
WHB WBRI WBRI – British
WEU WEUR WEUR - White European
WHR WIRI WIRI – Irish
WHT WIRT WIRT - Traveller - Irish Heritage
WOW WOTW WOTW - Other White
WRO WROM WROM - Roma/Roma Gypsy

Complaints regarding the Elective Home Education Service are dealt with through LCC’s Complaints procedure.

Stage 1 – Making a complaint

Once a complaint has been made, an acknowledgement will then be sent to you within 24 hours telling you the name and telephone number of the person to be contacted in the event of any further queries on your complaint.

If we can, we will resolve your complaint straightaway but sometimes we may need a little longer to investigate and respond.  We will however, send a reply in writing to you within 10 working days or let you know when you can expect to hear from us.

Stage 2 – Not satisfied with our response?

If when we respond you are not happy with the way we have dealt with your complaint, you may ask for it to be reviewed by a Senior Manager, from a different Section to the one you're complaining about. You should expect a response within 20 working days.

It is hoped that Leicester City's Complaints Procedure will quickly resolve any problems you may have. However, should this not be the case then you can refer your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Information on "How to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman" can be found at LGO website or by picking up a copy of the leaflet from any of the LA's main access points.

This information is available in local community languages and alternative formats upon request. Please contact:  Education Welfare Service, LCC Education Welfare - Care of LCC Central Post Room - LE1 6RN.  Tel: 0116 454 1925. 

Email: home-education@leicester.gov.uk

Advice and support concerning Elective Home Education is also available: Education at home.

For further advice on Special Education Needs:

or email: educ-special-education-service@leicester.gov.uk