Agenda item

Elective Home Education Presentation

To receive a presentation regarding Elective Home Education.


This agenda item considered a presentation on Elective Home Education.


The Chair welcomed to the meeting, Pam Ward, Head of Service for Education, Sarah Whitby, Head of Access to Education and Rebecca Braithwaite, Officer for Home Education and Children Missing from Education. The Chair invited Sarah to introduce the report and give the presentation.


The presentation gave an overview of the following content:

·       The associated legislation and statutory guidelines for elective home education were as follows:

?   The Elective Home Education Departmental Guidance for Local Authorities produced in April 2019, this was non-statutory for local authorities.

?   The Education Act 1996, inserted by the Education and Inspections Act 2006.

?   The Human Rights Act 1998, Protocol 1, Article 2, concerning the right to education.

?   The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 28, concerning the right to education.

·       The Education Act 1996, inserted by the Education and Inspections Act 2006 stated at 436a ‘‘to make arrangements to enable them to establish the identities, so far as it is possible to do so, of children in their area who are not receiving a suitable education’’. And at 437, ‘‘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 to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.’’

·       An "efficient" and "suitable" education was not defined in the Education Act 1996. However, “efficient" had been broadly described in case law as an education that "achieves that which it sets out to achieve". A "suitable" education was described as one that "primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he/she 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 he/she wishes to do so".

·       The Elective Home Education Departmental Guidance for Local Authorities provided the following guidance:

?   That a named contact was provided to parents.

?   That the service should have ordinarily contacted home educated parents on at least an annual basis, so the authority could reasonably inform itself of the current suitability of the education provided.

?   That in all cases where it was not clear as to whether home education was suitable (including situations where there was no information available at all), the authority should initially attempt to resolve those doubts through informal contact and enquiries.

?   The guidance did not allow for officers to require entry to homes, right of access to children or place any obligation on parents to provide copies of work completed by children.

·       The core work completed by the Elective Home Education Team in Rotherham consisted of the following:

?   Providing advice and guidance around the implications and expectations of elective home education.

?   Signposting to other universal services where necessary.

?   Determining whether efficient and suitable education was being received by the child, on the basis of information presented by the parent, this included consideration of the educational provision being received, progress being made, the environment where this was being delivered and any known safeguarding concerns.

?   To support a return to school through school Admissions procedures or Fair Access Protocol where required. Initiate legal enforcement procedures followed where parents refused to accept a secured school place and home education was unsuitable.

?   Where there was a safeguarding concern, Social Care processes were followed.

·       There was a lot of good work being completed by the team and the following examples were provided:

?   Working with families who were considering elective home education, to ensure that any decisions madewere fully informed and that the next steps to remain in school were explored,where elective home education was not a preferred route.

?   Maintaining strong governance of elective home education in Rotherham through the Elective Home Education Multi-Agency Governance Group, including Social Care, Early Help, Health and Education.

?   Working on an individual and needs led basis with children and families through an enhanced offer where this was requested.

?   Ensuring strong and established relationships with school leaders, which enabled concerns about patterns of deregistration from schools to be explored and supported with the school.

?   Access for the elective home education community to educational events, such as the author events as part of Rotherham Loves Reading.

?   Promotion of NHS services through close collaboration to ensure that all parents and carers who home educated, had an awareness of health services and routine vaccinations available for their children.

?   Referral to year 11 support, to ensure that children who were electively home educated received advice and guidance aimed at increasing their chances of continuing in education, training and employment. In 2021-2022 only 3 year 11 leavers went on to not be in education, training or employment.

·       Future areas of focus for the team were as follows:

?   Further exploration of what suitable and efficient education would mean in Rotherham, through the Elective Home Education Governance Group.

?   Engagement with Rotherham Parent Carers Forum, to explore the reasons why parents of children with an education, health and care plan and special educational needs and disabilities, elected to home educate.

?   Further work by the team to capture the reasons that parents were electing to home educate in Rotherham.

?   Ongoing work with colleagues in Early Help, to progress through an enforcement process in a timely manner where required.

?   Further information sharing sessions and/or briefings with Social Care and Early Help colleagues, to ensure a shared understanding between all staff, of the implications of a parental decision to elect to home educate.


The Chair thanked the relevant officer for the presentation and invited questions, this led to the following points being raised during discussions:

·       The School’s Bill would have made provision for the development of a ‘children not in school register’ for all Local Authorities, this would have provided more powers to engage parents and escalate in situations where there was no parental engagement. It had been confirmed that this bill would not progress any further.

·       The service was focused on ensuring an understanding behind the parental reasons for deciding to elect to home educate. The number of parental reasons provided as ‘unknown’ were a concern of the service, this information was collected robustly during annual visits.

·       Where there were safeguarding concerns for a child who was electively home educated, there was a multi-agency approach to provide any required support. There was a wealth of joint work completed with health partners, Early Help, Social Care and voluntary sector organisations.

·       In some instances, parents were making decisions to elect to home educate, as they felt that their child was not equipped to deal with the rigour of the Key Stage Four curriculum, or the transition to secondary school.

·       There was a focus on electively home educated children that had special education needs and disabilities (SEND), to ensure that the decision to elect to home educate was not as a result of needs being unmet in school. The development of the Early Years Education Strategy would ensure that any SEND need would be identified at the earliest opportunity and that schools would provide a graduated response where required.

·       There was no financial support provided to parents who made the decision to elect to home educate. However, in situations where extra support was required, the team would refer the family to Early Help, with parental consent.

·       There was a robust policy and process in place in Rotherham, which was supported by national regulations that schools were required to adhere too. The school was required to notify the local authority at the earliest point possible, when they were made aware that the parents of child were intending to elect to home educate. Therefore, the team were being made aware of children leaving school and were recording the notification as required. This ensured that the appropriate level of follow up action was completed, in line with the agreed policy. In relation to children who had never attended school, the team worked closely with partners to ensure that they made the team aware of any home educated children, that the service may not already be aware of.

·       Current guidance did not provide any requirements for parents or carers who decided to elect to home educate, to hold specific qualifications or vocations.

·       There was no requirement on parents or carers who home educated, to provide a specific syllabus or entry to examinations. The team provided information to parents and carers who elected to home educate, on exam centres and how to register as an external candidate. The team also provided advice throughout the journey, of potential cost implications and logistical implications.

·       The government was reviewing the Elective Home Education Departmental Guidance for Local Authorities provided in 2019 and had made proposals for amendments to the guidance. The team could ensure that concerns raised regarding safeguarding implications were fed back into the consultation response. Within the current guidance there was the requirement that any education that was received by a child, could not conflict with British values.


Resolved: - That

1)    The Improving Lives Select Commission accept the presentation and note the progress made.

2)    A session is arranged to capture views on the consultation and for this to be reflected in the response.

3)    Concerns about safeguarding implications be fed back in the consultation response.

4)    Information be circulated on receipt if it's a material factor in elective home education.

5)    The Cabinet member raises with the commission if anything significant changes.

Supporting documents: