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a page for Nottinghamshire information, news and comment.



related links:

Meeting the LA Education Department

Guidance on improving LEAs


LA Response to EHE Guidelines Consultation


Here is a transcript of the Nottinghamshire response to the government consultation on elective home education guidelines to local authorities. (The guidelines were published at the end of 2007.) Please interject where appropriate with your responses.


Nottinghamshire Local Authority

School Improvement Service EHE



The Eastbourne Centre



Station Road



Sutton in Ashfield






NG17 5FF
Local authority
This is a composite response on behalf of Nottinghamshire Local Authority. Representatives of the following services met to consider the consultation document; Elective Home Education, Education Welfare Service, Traveller Education Service, Special Educational Needs, Education Other Than At School (EOTAS) and the Education Psychology Service





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







Comments: As long as the guidelines are unambiguous and take into account all relevant legislation and previous guidance.







Lead officers of Nottinghamshire Local Authority believe that the draft guidance represents a missed opportunity to draw upon the Every Child Matters framework which sets out the criteria by which ALL children’s well being should be measured (whatever their background or their circumstances).There is no reference to this major piece of legislation which requires that children should be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and, in due course, experience economic well being. A suitable education has been redefined by the five outcomes enshrined within the Children Act 2004 yet this guidance makes no mention of it.





There is some ambiguity in para 1.2. The implication in this paragraph is that pupils who are home educated might attend an educational establishment on a part-time basis. Whilst we recognise that flexi-schooling is the most appropriate option for some children, we consider that the school that the child attends on  a part-time basis is usually best placed to monitor the overall provision for the individual.  A child who is home educated and receives education which is subject to the arrangements that the LA makes to fulfil its statutory duties should not be registered at all and should not appear on any school roll. When registered, the child attracts funding to the school. Arrangements for flexi-schooling are agreed locally and the school’s governing body should take responsibility for monitoring the overall provision for the individual who is on the roll of the school.





Para 1.3 The guidance does not adequately define the nature of the statutory nature of the duty of the Local Authority with sufficient precision.





Para 1.4 The reason why parents elect to home educate their child is in fact important. In Nottinghamshire, where the reason for electing home education is known, it is of concern to the Local Authority that 36% have been withdrawn from school due to bullying, attendance issues, conflict with school, or emotional problems. The Local Authority can offer assistance to children who fall into this category and be pro-active. In the school year 2006/07 20% of children withdrawn from school have returned because the decision to home educate was perhaps ill conceived at the outset. This demonstrates the way Local Authorities can establish effective partnerships with parents where the reasons for electing to home educate have been explored.





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



Not Sure





Para 2.1 Education is compulsory for statutory school age children – some definition required here. The new department for Children, Schools and Families will need to consider how this will be affected by plans to engage all young people in education or training up to the age of 18.



Para 2.3 This remains based on case law dated 1985. No attempt has been made by the DfES to refine the interpretation of “efficient” and “suitable” yet this is the very help Local Authorities need. 21st century Britain is now very different . As para 2.1 stands, Local Authorities would be obliged to support parents and children whose beliefs and values (within the community) are at odds with  “the way of life in the country as a whole”.  Some reference to citizenship in this paragraph would seem to be appropriate.


A suitable education should be one in which the 5 ECM outcomes are achieved.



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



Not Sure




Para 2.6 is unhelpful. Even children who are said to be “educated at home” can actually miss out on an education. Not all children respond to their parent’s wishes and some choose to abscond themselves. This can happen in cases where the reason for electing to home educate has been ill conceived at the outset. It is our experience that in many cases, where parents choose not to engage with the Local Authority, the child’s education can be severely disrupted.

In September 2007, a CME (Child Missing Education) officer will have been appointed to Nottinghamshire Local Authority’s Children and Young People’s Services to address these issues.



Para 2.7 - 2.10 Further clarity required. It is implicit within the law that the Local Authority has a responsibility to ensure that all children receive their entitlement to a suitable education and has (therefore) a monitoring role.


There is insufficient emphasis on safeguarding and no real commitment to addressing the dilemma faced by Local Authorities in balancing the rights of the parent with the needs of the child. Nottinghamshire Local Authority is committed to supporting all children in their endeavours to achieve the 5 ECM outcomes and would value clear guidance as to how this can be achieved within the context of Elective Home Education.


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


Not Sure 





Para 3.5 The guidance given here should be underpinned by the ECM agenda so that Local Authorities can take appropriate, direct action where there are concerns.



Para 3.4 The Local Authority endorses the view that it should not “assume that there is a problem which needs investigating”. Within an integrated children’s service, any problems that exist have usually been identified and shared in the interests of the child. It would be helpful if home education support groups would also advise parents that the involvement of the Local Authority as a partner in their child’s education is nothing to be feared. Nottinghamshire Local Authority is committed to meeting the needs of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children who make up 9% of our known home education families. The Traveller Education Service and Elective Home Education team work closely to engage effectively with families. A realistic approach needs to be taken with regards to the best form of engagement.



Para 3.6 There is a lack of clarity as to what constitutes a ‘reasonable concern’. It is only when the concern is investigated that a decision can be made as to whether it is well founded or not.



Para 3.7 In cases where a parent chooses “not to meet at all” with a representative of the Local Authority, their decision should be formally recorded. Under the draft guidance, the Local Authority remains vulnerable if the child later accuses the LA of negligence in failing to ensure their educational needs were effectively met. Although this has not yet happened there is an increasing culture of litigation in society as a whole and it is reasonable to assume that this could happen in the future.



There is a need for the child’s voice to be heard.


Para 3.8 - 3.10 De-registration is not helpful in terms of supporting young people whose needs may best be served within a school setting. Neither does it support the Local Authority in its endeavours to identify children missing education (CME legislation). Rather than remove the child’s name from the school roll immediately, a period of time determined by the DfES should be provided so that the Local Authority can be pro-active in its duty to ensure the child receives a suitable education. Whilst the child is on roll, there is funding attracted to him/her and support could be accessed that might otherwise be difficult to secure when the child is home educated.


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





The amount of time devoted to education by children in school is equivalent to school hours plus homework. In addition there are extra curricular activities provided by school and for some, a wealth of experiences offered by the family. Even in relation to school children, the term “full - time” is difficult to define. There is a need for a redefinition. Full time could be said to relate to the time needed to achieve specific learning goals



The Local Authority recognises that “educational activity can be varied and flexible” but questions whether it can be effective if not planned.  This begs the question as to how  home educators know if they have achieved something if they did not know what is was that they were hoping to achieve at the outset. Even where the preferred approach to learning is of an autonomous nature, the parent should be able to identify what it is they want their child to achieve. Whilst the guidance provides a list of what parents are not required to do, there is little emphasis placed on the need to accept full responsibility for their child’s progress. Parents should be advised to draw up a plan to demonstrate their desire to help their child learn. They should have a broad outline of what they hope their child will achieve and the ways in which this will be facilitated.



Para 3.13 The characteristics could have been more usefully based on the 5 ECM outcomes. They should also make explicit that the child is expected to make progress in his/her  learning and not merely “stimulated by their learning experiences”.



Para 3.15 – 3.19.There is insufficient emphasis on SEN within the guidance as a whole and this is disappointing. In Nottinghamshire, the incidence of children identified as being on the  autistic spectrum  or with  Asperger’s  syndrome who are home educated, is increasing. It is important that the Local Authority knows why this is the case to inform future policy and practice. Pupils with SEN represent a significant proportion of home educated pupils. It is disappointing that the consultation does not ask respondents to make comments about this area.


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


Not Sure



Para 4.1 & 4.2 The title should be Developing Partnerships as there are duties and responsibilities placed on all parties. Section 4 does not convey this message very clearly.

Nottinghamshire Local Authority supports the view that positive working practices should be established at the outset to support the needs of the child.



Para 4.3 – 4.4 There is an overall lack of clarity here. Much is couched in terms of “may wish” “may decide” and there is an emphasis on what the Local Authority should not do, rather that making it absolutely clear what should be done. The vagueness surrounding the time for “adjustment” is unhelpful and open to interpretation between Local Authorities leading to geographical inequalities.



Para 4.7 and 4.8 We agree that Local Authorities should not assume there is a problem just because access to the family is denied and consider that in addition, parents should not be suspicious of the Local Authority. The educational needs of the child should be paramount for all parties.



Para 4.9 It is difficult to see how Child Protection can work if the Local Authority has no contact with the child. The ECM agenda needs greater recognition.



Para 4.11 We agree that home educating parents should be involved in the Local Authority’s review of procedures. Nottinghamshire Local Authority is in the process of revising its guidelines to parents having drawn upon parental views at the outset. Relatively few known home education families in Nottinghamshire are members of home education organisations. Conversely, home education organisations have made it known to the Local Authority that several of their members remain unknown to the Local Authority and take steps to remain “undiscovered”. 


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


Not Sure


Comments: Reasons why parents elect to home educate are important because they often set the tone for the kind of partnership that is established with the Local Authority. Where young people have had unhappy or unsuccessful school experiences, parents often are happy to receive as much support they can have from the Local Authority to support their child through difficult times. Parents in this position should be encouraged to discuss their concerns with a named representative of the Local Authority prior to de-registration. It may be the case that other support agencies can intervene and offer resources that are  difficult to access once  the child is no longer on a school roll.



Para 5.2 We agree that  Local Authorities offer support of this nature to home education families where possible. Local Authorities should assist each other in sharing information and good practice.



Para 5.5 The Local Authority would like clarification  as to whether it is  required to pass details of individual children on to other partners such as for example the  Connexions service  or a school nurse. This would seem to be a positive action to support home educated children, but the position regarding this is unclear at present.



Para 5.6 As flexi-schooling   is an arrangement with the school; the school should accept full responsibility for the overall provision and establish a protocol with the parents.  As funding is attracted to the school when the child is on roll, flexi schooling should remain outside the remit or elective home education arrangements for Local Authorities. Children who participate in flexi-school arrangements do not need to be included on the Local Authority’s database systems as being electively home educated. The partnership arrangements are between school and parents and the term “the rest of the time the child is home-educated” is unhelpful. The Home-School contract should reflect the nature of the partnership. …”the rest of the time the child follows the programme of study off-site and usually at home” is a better reflection of what should be happening. Much greater clarity is needed with respect to flexi – schooling. This is a form pf provision in its own right and should not be subsumed within Elective Home Education guidelines.


There is no Appendix 2



The information in annex A is helpful overall. However  under the heading Self – Study, the guidance states “It may also be possible for a group of home educators to consider seeking approved status in their own right”. There is a lack of clarity as to what the legal position would then be. It would seem to be sensible that if child minders are subject to Ofsted inspection, similar arrangements should be in place for home educators setting up schooling / education programmes for groups of children.


7 b) Should any other contacts be included?


Not Sure





Annex B – Useful contacts



We consider that the  Local Authority contact should be  the first on the list  and  that  the positioning of the Education Otherwise Association Limited title should  become aligned to the left. Organisations should be listed alphabetically with ACE as the first “useful contact” No one organisation should be afforded priority and the DfES, like Local Authorities should be impartial. The guidance should make the point that it is not responsible for the content of the websites and does not necessarily endorse what is said on any of the websites listed.


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





The Local Authority is concerned that there is an insufficient focus on safeguarding and SEN both within the document and the questions to which respondents have been asked to address.



Greater clarity regarding the role of the Local Authority in relation to safeguarding and the effective implementation of the ECM agenda have not been sufficiently addressed within this guidance.



Concerns remain in relation to the de-registration of pupils. Nottinghamshire Local Authority has already demonstrated how it can be effective in supporting the needs of the unhappy school educated child whose parents/ carers opt for home education as a result of negativity about school education, due to the fact that 20% of the 107 children referred to the Elective Home Education service have returned to school following support from the Local Authority.. The child’s needs are often better served by  remaining on the roll of the school to enable the Local Authority to begin to engage with the family before final decisions are made.



The needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children are underestimated in this guidance, as are the complex needs of the most vulnerable children.



It would seem that wishes and demands of the home education organisations have had a disproportionate influence within this guidance,  particularly in relation to para 2.1 – 2.9 and 3.11 – 3.14.  Whilst we recognise the right of organisations to lobby parliament, consideration must be given to the fact that in some Local Authorities  the majority of parents who are known to be providing home education do not subscribe to such  organisations. Families who choose home education are very diverse, with a wide range of needs and values, and these are not always represented by established home education organisations.


The guidance is a welcome first step in supporting effective working practices within an integrated children’s service but the lack of clarity in the guidance outlined in this response means there is scope for further development. We would like to see the ECM agenda reflected in the guidance.



Overall the guidance is insufficient to address the dilemma faced by Nottinghamshire Local Authority in meeting its duty to ensure all children are in receipt of a suitable education. The lack of clarity will provide barriers to the continuation of our current good practice.











Notts County Council's EHE information document for parents (current as of Sept 2010.) This document outlines the local authority's own policies.




Regional Groups:


There are a number of groups in Notts and the surrounding area.


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/emhe/ - mailing list for support and news of groups etc.

















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