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a page for information, news and comment in Leeds




related links:

Meeting the LA Education Department

Guidance on improving LEAs



EHE Consultation


In response to a request for information about the LA response to the consultation on EHE guidelines we recieved this:



Education Leeds

Blenheim Centre,

Crowther Place,




Local authority



Please Specify: Education Leeds – Local Authority Officer with responsibility for liaising with parents/carers who are considering or who indicate that they are educating their children at home by choice.


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




Comments: Such a document is to be welcomed as a means of further encouraging all LAs to have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in this area.


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




Comments: An Annex with examples of case law outcomes would be a helpful addition to the guidelines.


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


Not Sure


Comments: Accurate – yes. Generally helpful? Helpful in clarifying and confirming the legal position but it needs to be appreciated that if LAs were not proactive in seeking to engage with parents of children being educated at home there may be a significant number of children for whom no “efficient”, “suitable” and “full time” education would be provided. This is certainly the case in Leeds. Whilst this draft guidance document is for LAs, knowing that it will be seen by a broader audience might mean that it would be helpful if further wording was added in this section to encourage parents/carers to engage with LA Officers.


Para 2.5 states that “.. all children should make reasonable progress”. Agreed. But who is to be the judge of this? Is it to be the parents/carers only? If so then there is no role for the LA unless a “risk assessment” indicates the need to contact the parents/carers. If the LA is to make a judgement then it will require an evidence base arrived at from either a meeting with the parent/carers and child or some written evidence of work completed by the child. If parents do not accept a home visit from an LA officer then is the guidance suggesting that LAs can insist on receiving written information from the parents/carers? If so, the wording in the guidance needs to be stronger. The word “progress” is distinct from the word “attainment”. “Progress” involves as assessment of attainment between at least two points in time and therefore would require the LA to either meet “regularly” with the parents/carers or request written evidence from them on a “regular” basis.


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


Not Sure


Comments: The section is generally helpful although there are issues regarding the reference, in Para 3.4, to a “risk based approach” and to “taking into consideration the individual and community’s circumstances”. How should a LA calculate risk? What criteria should be used? How can risk be calculated if there is no means of identifying it other than by information the LA receives from other services and agencies and the general public? Is there an implication by referring to a “community’s circumstances” that some communities are “at risk” or more likely to be “at risk”? If so, what types of risk are being considered? What criteria should be utilised? Is it being implied that LAs have greater “authority” to seek contact with parents/carers who live in areas with certain socio-economic characteristics? Dangerous?


Para 3.7states that “If they (parents/carers) choose not to meet, they will need to provide evidence that they are providing an efficient and suitable education”. They will need to? Will be required to? How does the LA insist on receiving this if it is not forthcoming when parents/carers are under no legal obligation to provide it? Does the degree of insistence rest on a risk assessment undertaken by the LA? Again how do we know what the “risk” is if we cannot engage with reluctant parents/carers? Does it come back again to the LA receiving “adverse” information from other services and agencies and the general public?


Quite apart from the educational provision, is the safeguarding responsibility. If Every Child Matters (and they do) how can an LA know if an EHE child is safe, healthy etc unless we actually see the child? Parents do not have to engage with us and even if they do there is no obligation for them to let us see the child unless we have cause for concern (qv. Victoria Klimbie case).


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?


Not Sure


Comments: Helpful in part. In Para 3.13 further bullet points might be added such as:


• Parents can describe a coherent educational philosophy which illustrates serious intent to educate the child sufficient to convince a reasonable person that the child is receiving efficient, suitable full time education according to his/her age, ability, aptitude and nay special educational needs.

• Parents/carers keep written records of educational provision being made for the child

• Parents evaluate the progress the child is making, monitor gaps in children’s learning and address these

• Children have access to community facilities (including sport and other recreational facilities) that support their physical, social and emotional development


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




Comments: Generally yes. Once again the issue is raised for LAs of “You don’t know what you don’t know”.How do LAs safeguard children’s learning at home if parents/carers are under no obligation to engage with the LA?


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




Comments: You mean Annex B? Yes.


7 b) Should any other contacts be included?




Comments: Should the DfES consider maintaining a detailed list of contacts/education resource providers that support EHE on its and other appropriately linked websites?


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


Comments: Of course the key issues for LAs are:

• The lack of specific legal definitions of suitable, efficient and full time

• Parents being able to choose not to engage with LA officers regarding their enquiries re home education provision • Safeguarding of children. LAs have no right to see the child.


Is the “bottom line” that LAs should be taking no active interest in children being educated at home unless they have reliable evidence (good reason to believe) that parents are not providing a “suitable” education? If so, DfES guidance to LAs could potentially be quite brief!





























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