A package of measures to help make sure children receive the best possible education either at home or outside of school have been announced by School Systems Minister Lord Agnew today.
The announcement will support the families of the estimated 45,500 children that are educated at home, providing parents and local councils with strengthened guidance so both understand their rights and responsibilities.
A Call for Evidence has been launched to ask for the views of parents and local authorities on how to ensure children receive the expected standard of education at home, including:
- How local authorities can monitor the quality of home education to make sure children are taught the knowledge and skills they need;
- How effective registration schemes are for children who are educated at home; and
- How government can better support those families who choose to educate their children at home.
The Education Minister also announced £3 million to support the joint working of local authorities, the police, Ofsted, the government and other agencies in tackling the minority of out of school settings that seek to undermine British values or expose children to other harmful practices. This work will help to share best practice across the country.
Today’s announcement builds on the recently launched Integrated Communities Strategy, which had education at its core. It is part of the drive to ensure all children receive the best possible education, with 1.9 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010 thanks to the government’s reforms and the hard work of teachers.
Minister for School Systems Lord Agnew said:
Across the country there are thousands of dedicated parents who are doing an excellent job of educating their children at home, and many selfless volunteers working for clubs and organisations that help to enrich children’s education outside of school.
It is right that we should build on the high standards we’ve set in our schools so that every child receives a suitable and safe education – no matter where they are being taught – and that we can act quickly in the rare instances when this is not the case. This support for families and local communities will help ensure all children get the education they deserve.
The Call for Evidence will run for 12 weeks and will ask for views from families that choose to educate their children at home, local authorities and home education support groups. The issues raised include the registration of children who are home educated and the monitoring of home education provision by local authorities. It will build on the existing requirements for local authorities to identify children they believe are not receiving a suitable education and their powers, which can ultimately include serving a School Attendance Order.
The government is also consulting on revised guidance for parents and local authorities to support them in making sure home education provision is of the highest possible standard. This guidance will set out the processes by which local authorities should identify children who are being educated at home and how best to intervene if they are not receiving a suitable education. For parents, it will offer support and advice on whether or not home education is the right decision for them and their child, while also making clear the powers that local authorities have and the steps parents should take if concerns arise.
The Department for Education has also published its response to the consultation on regulation for out of school settings – environments that enrich children’s education. The department has carefully considered over 18,000 responses and has already taken action by establishing a £3 million targeted fund which will go to selected areas to support work between local authorities and relevant agencies. It will be used to show how existing legal powers can be most effective in addressing safeguarding and welfare concerns, alongside community engagement and outreach. This work will inform the need for any future regulation.
A consultation on a voluntary code of practice for out of school settings will be published later this year to set out what is expected of providers, and the Department will work with local authorities to provide guidance to parents on out of school settings.