HESW Local Authorities
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Local Authorities in the SW

Although all local authorities (LA) are supposed to follow the DCSF Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities, unfortunately how they interpret them and what they understand their duties to be varies considerably around the country.

Local authorities tend to place EHE in departments also responsible for other sections of the community such as truancy, excluded children and  “children missing education”, educational welfare, Gypsy and Traveller  groups and the like.  Obviously each of these groups of people have  different needs and require different kinds of support and understanding.

Devon
Dorset
Somerset

For an example of how problems arise; if as is generally the case, EHE is placed in a  department that is also responsible for excluded children and children  missing education through truancy, then the approach and “support” they  apply to home educators tends to come from a very school orientated  point of view, which is often inappropriate for EHE.

There is  very little money given to local authorities to support EHE.   Unfortunately, this often results in a lack of adequate training of  advisors/inspectors responsible for EHE.  Most of the personnel working  in the various LA departments that EHE families have to deal with, have  professional backgrounds in the state education system.  Given how  narrow the state educational system is and how broad and diverse the EHE community is, this also often causes a lack of understanding by local  authorities.

There  are some open minded, supportive EHE advisors in the southwest, but  unfortunately there is not enough consistency within the departments as a whole and therefore families can have quite different experiences with  their LA.

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  • Somerset

    Update September 2014 - Somerset LA have dramatically reduced their service and are no longer providing any kind of  support for home educating families outside of their basic statutory duty to:
    “ - Safeguard and promote the welfare of all children - including children who are home educated.
      - Ensure parents are providing suitable education for their child of statutory school age, and consider the use of school attendance orders when necessary“  For more details, see copy of notification letter here

    Historical information about Somerset LA (for interest only):
    Until 2009  Elective Home Education (EHE) was placed with the Equalities and  Diversity Team, who were part of the Children and Young People's  Directorate in Somerset.
    For a link to their old website click here

    The County website has now been updated and the departments have undergone several  reshuffles.  However, home educators still deal with the same staff and  advisors.

    The  fact that the LA department dealing with EHE had its beginnings in  Equalities and Diversity and was used to thinking about home educators  as a cultural minority group, has meant that they are open to the idea  that families may have alternative lifestyles and in turn educational  philosophies different to mainstream views.

    If you  decide to register with the LA and further decide to accept a home  visit, the advisors tend to be open minded and understand the breadth of diversity that exists in home education.
    If you register your child  with Somerset LA at the start of their GCSE course (usually 2yrs before  examination), then the LA will pay the examination fees.

    Generally from the experiences of EHE families in Somerset and the work that the Home Education Centre in Chard have been doing with Somerset LA, it is fair to say that on  the whole Somerset LA have a positive attitude towards EHE and have in  fact been identified as one of the very small number of LAs that is  demonstrating good practice.  Generally Somerset LA listen well to  families, offer support with resources and are working in conjunction  with the Home Education Centre and local colleges to help with exam  access for EHE students.  The LA have made funding available for  resources for local groups and have provided activities and workshops  for registered families to attend.

    If for any reason you want to know what personal information Somerset  County hold about you or your family, you will need to make a request  under the Data Protection Act 1998; see County website

  • Devon
  • Dorset
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