What is Elective Home Education?
Elective Home Education (EHE) is electing or choosing to educate your child at home rather than in a school. You do not need permission from the local authority to home educate (unless your child is registered at a special school). You do not have to follow a curriculum, although it may be a useful reference. What learning opportunities you provide and how your child learns are up to you, providing that the education you provide is ‘full-time’, ‘suitable’ and ‘efficient.’
EHE is different to home tuition which can be provided by the Local Authority when a child has a significant medical condition which is likely to last a number of weeks and the evidence provided has been approved via a moderation panel as having met criteria.
What is a ‘full-time’, ‘suitable’, and ‘efficient’ education?
Education is ‘efficient’ if it is achieving that which it sets out to achieve and it is ‘suitable’ if it prepares the child for life in a modern civilised society and enables the child to achieve their full potential. This means that education should aim at enabling the child, when grown up, to function as an independent citizen beyond the community in which they were brought up, if that is the choice made in later life by the child. Education must be suitable to the age, ability and aptitudes of the child, and any additional learning needs (or special educational needs) they may have.
For home educating families, there can be almost continuous one-to-one or small group contact and education may take place outside normal ‘school hours’. The question of whether education for a specific child is ‘full-time’ will depend on the circumstances of each case, but as parents and carers you should at least be able to quantify and demonstrate the amount of time for which your child is being educated. Education which is clearly not occupying a significant proportion of a child’s life will probably not meet the ‘full-time’ requirement.
Who do I need to inform?
It is essential that deciding to home educate is your choice. You should never be encouraged by the school to home educate because of your child’s poor behaviour, poor attainment or poor attendance. This is especially so if you are influenced to home educate to avoid permanent exclusion or prosecution due to non-school attendance. If pressure of this sort is put on you by any school to home educate you should inform the local authority.
Child has never been registered at a school
If your child has never been registered at a school and you decide to educate your child at home, you are not legally required to inform the local authority. However, we strongly recommend contacting the local authority to let us know you are educating your child at home so we can get in touch and offer you a range of support. Contact the EHE team for a Registration Form.
Child has been registered at a school
If you have decided to educate your child at home but they are currently registered at a school, you must let the Head-teacher know in writing and ask them to remove your child from the register. The school will then let us know and then remove your child from the register. If you change your mind at this point, you will need to re-apply for their place in the school, assuming places are still available.
If you genuinely believe that your child’s current school is not suitable, then you should also discuss with the local authority what alternatives might be available before taking any decision to home educate your child.
You can also contact the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ Investigation and Advice Service. This service is free and confidential, offers individual advice and investigates individual cases. It is there as a source of help and support if children and young people or those who care for them feel that a child has been treated unfairly.
What is my role as the parent*?
Your responsibility as a parent is to make sure that what is taught is helping your child to learn. The education you provide must be efficient and suitable. Under section 7 of the Education Act 1996 it is your duty as a parent to make sure your child receives efficient full-time education suitable for their age, ability and aptitude and for any additional educational needs they may have. This can be done at either school or otherwise. Education is considered efficient and suitable if it allows a child to achieve their potential and prepares them for adult life.
Your teaching should help your child:
- gain knowledge
- make progress
- increase understanding
- develop skills
- help them think and learn for themselves
The choice of education philosophy is for you to make and may change over time. It is your responsibility to provide examples that clearly demonstrate the suitability of your child’s education provision. In evidencing the suitability of educational provision, you may, for example, provide this information in the following ways:
- A report about your provision.
- Samples of your child’s work.
- Evidence in some other appropriate form.
- A third party endorsement of your provision.
More information is available in the Welsh Government publication, ‘Home education: handbook for home educators.’
What is the role of the Local Authority?
Under Section 436A of the Education Act 1996, local authorities have a duty to identify children not receiving a suitable education. In order to satisfy themselves of the suitability of education provided, it is reasonable for them to request information from you. Local authorities can make informal enquiries of parents and carers for details of the educational provision for their child once they’ve reached the age of five (statutory school age). While you are under no duty to comply with these enquiries, it would be sensible to do so. These enquiries usually take the form of a letter, a questionnaire or a visit from an Education Officer.
Statutory guidance has been developed to assist local authorities to carry out their duty to ensure children receive a suitable education. As well as providing clarification on the characteristics of a suitable education, the new statutory guidance reinforces the levers available to local authorities to use when they determine that a suitable education is not being provided. The statutory guidance also clarifies the support local authorities could make available to home educators in their area.
In the absence of any information about the education provided, the local authority will have to determine whether it appears that you are in breach of your responsibility to cause your child to receive a suitable, full-time and efficient education.
* The expression ‘parent’ in relation to a child or young person includes any person who is not a parent of the child but has parental responsibility for him or her, or who care of the child.
If you have any other questions or are considering Elective Home Education, please make contact with EHE@conwy.gov.uk.