Revised guidance on children missing education
This will ensure that everything possible is being done to guarantee all children their right to a balanced education in a safe, healthy environment.
The guidance makes clear that local authorities have a duty to make arrangements to enable them to establish that every school-age child is receiving a suitable education, and clarifies the roles and responsibilities of parents and local authorities to provide a suitable education for children.
A public consultation gathered a wide range of views – including many on home education. Some local authorities and children’s organisations expressed concerns about the current system’s ability to adequately support and monitor the education, safety and wellbeing of home educated children.
The review of home education will investigate the current system for supporting and monitoring home education. It will look at safeguarding and how any concerns about the safety, welfare or education of children are dealt with. There are no plans to change parents’ well established rights to educate their children at home.
It will assess the effectiveness of current arrangements for parents who home educate and of local authority systems for supporting children and families. It will also make recommendations for improvements, where necessary.
A central part of the Government’s commitment for all children is that, no matter what their background or circumstances, they have the right to achieve the five ‘Every Child Matters outcomes’: Be healthy; Stay safe; Enjoy and achieve; Make a positive contribution; Achieve economic wellbeing.
The Elective Home Education Review will investigate:
- Whether local authorities and other public agencies are able to effectively discharge their duties and responsibilities for safeguarding and ensuring a suitable education for all children.
- Whether home educating parents are receiving the support and advice they want to ensure they provide a good, balanced education for their children.
- Consider what evidence there is to support claims that home education could be used as a ‘cover’ for child abuse such as neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude
The guidance on children missing education is the first step in clarifying expectations in respect of the current system for supporting and monitoring home education. It also makes clear that parents’ right to home educate is not being altered and that suitable home education can take many forms.
Home education is just one area highlighted in the guidance, as it describes many circumstances which can lead to children missing education. The guidance describes how important it is for local authorities to tackle all problems around children missing education, in order to meet the vision set out in the Children’s Plan, particularly keeping all children safe from harm.
Graham Badman, former Director of Children’s Services at Kent County Council will lead the review, which is expected to conclude in May 2009. Graham Badman said: "Legislation affords every parent the right to choose to educate their child at home but with those rights go responsibilities, not least being to secure a suitable education. By the same token, local authorities are charged with ensuring that all children are safe, well and receiving an education that is both enjoyable and allows for the expression of all aptitudes and abilities. By discussing all the issues with home educating families, local authorities and other key stakeholders I will investigate whether the current system adequately supports these rights and responsibilities and if not, I will make recommendations for improvements."
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