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Bracknell Forest



A page for information, news and comment in Bracknell Forest


table of contents:


related links:


Meeting the LA Education Department

Guidance on improving LEAs


EHE Consultation

Bracknell Forest LA

Seymour House

38 Braodway



RG12 1AU


1 Do you agree that it is helpful for the DfES to issue guidelines to local authorities?






Question 1: Yes it is helpful and necessary to have guidance, although parents who are resistant to local authority involvement may rightly point out that it is simply guidance and has no legal force.  In our view guidance on its own is not sufficient and consideration should be given to strengthening the legislative framework.



2 Do you agree that the description of the law (paragraphs 2.1-2.3) relating to elective home education is accurate and clear?








Question 2 on Para 2.1 – 2.3: The section on the law is basically clear. However, the introduction refers to parental responsibility for ensuring their children receive a suitable education. This should read suitable full-time education. More generally, the guidance uses variously suitable and efficient interchangeably. There is a difficulty that Section 7 of the Act uses the phrase “efficient, full time education”, whereas Section 437 of the Act uses the phrase “suitable education”


3 Do you agree that the description of local authorities’ responsibilities (paragraphs 2.5-2.11) is accurate and helpful?







Question 3 on Para 2.5 – 2.11: Para 2.7 – the words in bold (“if they have good reason”) do not appear in the legislation and should not be highlighted in a way that implies that this is the prime test for local authority action or intervention.


4 Do you agree that the section on contact with the local authority (paragraphs 3.4-3.7) is accurate and helpful?







Question 4 on Para 3.4 – 3.7: Para 3.4 is unclear – is it saying that the circumstances within some communities might or might not require particular approaches? The Victoria Climbie case showed that over-sensitivity to the cultural approaches within different communities can in fact lead to harm to the child.


5 Do you agree that the section on providing a full-time education (paragraphs 3.11-3.14) – and in particular, the characteristics of provision (paragraph 3.13) – is accurate and helpful?







Question 5 on Para 3.11 – 3.14: Para 3.11 fails to give the full requirement on a parent as set out in Section 7 of the Act “… efficient, full-time education, suitable to (a) his age, ability and aptitude and (b) to any special educational needs he may have”.



Para 3.14 sets out that where suitable characteristics appear to be lacking, local authorities may choose to further investigate whether or not an efficient and suitable education is in fact being provided. The overall tone of the guidance seems to give insufficient emphasis to the need to investigate where it appears proper arrangements are not being made. Para 2.7 rightly sets out the provisions of Section 437 (1) of the Act, but this aspect is given insufficient coverage in the main body of the guidance. Too much emphasis is given to the rights of the parent and insufficient emphasis to the rights of the child to receive education, and for the local authority to act, at least in part, as guardian of that right. It would be interesting to see how the Courts would consider a claim in future years by a child in their adult years that a local authority had not done enough to ensure that the parent provided suitable, efficient education.


6 Do you agree that the section on developing relationships (section 4) is useful?








Question 6: Section 4 is generally appropriate.


7 a) Are the suggested resources in section 5 and appendix 2 useful?





Question 7: Para 5.11 might give the impression that local authorities should adopt a “softly, softly” approach to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families, or even a “hands off” approach. The Climbie case highlighted the dangers of a false sensitivity to perceived cultural considerations, (in her case in relation to punishments within a family) with disastrous consequences for the child. The local authority cannot reduce its duty of care to any section of the community.


7 b) Should any other contacts be included?


Not Sure

8 Please use this space for any other comments you wish to make about the guidelines






No consultation question has been asked about Para 3.15 to para 3.19. These generally give an appropriately robust statement of the role of the local authority in overseeing and securing proper education for a child, albeit in the special circumstances of a statement of special educational needs being in force.  Monitoring would be extremely difficult in circumstances where a parent does not comply with the LA.

























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