Local authorities in the SW
A bit of general background info...
The Department for Education (DfE) recommends that all local authorities (LA) follow the new, April 2019 DfE Elective Home Education Departmental guidance for local authorities. As a fairly new publication, how LAs will interpret them is yet to be seen. In the past what LAs understand their duties to be has varied considerably around the country.
LAs usually place elective home education (EHE) in Children's Services, often within departments who are also responsible for other sections of the community such as truancy, excluded children, children missing education (CME), educational welfare, vulnerable children, Gypsy and Traveller groups etc. Each of these groups of people have different needs and require different kinds of support and understanding.
There is very little money given to LAs to support EHE. Unfortunately, this often results in a lack of adequate training of advisors/inspectors responsible for EHE and within the wider children and familiy services that families may wish to access. Most of the personnel working in the various LA departments that EHE families have to deal with, have professional and personal backgrounds in the state education system. With only this one narrative of what education looks like in mind, and given how broad and diverse the EHE community is, this can often lead to a lack of understanding by LA staff in the value of 'unfamiliar' education provisions.
There are open minded, supportive EHE advisors in the southwest, but unfortunately there is still not enough consistency within the departments as a whole and therefore families can have quite different experiences with their LA.
Will the LA monitor what we are doing?
If your child has never been to school, you do not need to inform the LA that you are home educating; parents are responsible for their child’s education. If you de-register your child from school to home educate, the school is required to inform the LA and the LA will almost certainly want to make initial enquiries about your educational provision. They may send you a form and/or request a home visit; you are not obliged to use either of these methods to inform them of your provision unless you wish to do so. However, it is prudent to engage with them in some way, but you may choose instead to send them an educational report or request a meeting in a neutral location, such as a library or cafe, with or without your child present. The LA have no statutory duty to approve or to monitor parents' home education provision and can only act if it appears that a child is not receiving an education.
Warning of misleading information within LA guides, advice and literature.
Even within supportive LAs, there can be misleading, inaccurate and sometimes even legally incorrect information presented to home educators as facts and required procedures.
On this page I have listed the links to the various LA EHE websites, services and information pages, but do bear in mind that just because it is an 'official' document or guide, it does not necessarily mean it is entirely accurate or correct.
Common misleading or inaccurate information given to parents include:
- Accepting home visits - you are not required to accept a home visit and can make other arrangements with regards communicating your home education provision to your LA
- You need to provide a 'Broad and balanced education' for your child - this is not a legal requirement. There is no requirement to follow the national curriculum, any other set curriculum or cover any specific subjects.
- You need to have educational plans or timetables for your learning - this is not required. You may have thought about your preferred style of learning, which may include 'unschooling' or 'learning by discovery', which cannot be planned ahead and indeed may change as your child's learning develops. If this is you, then maybe instead think about what resources you may be offering to you child.
- You need to match school-based, age-specific standards or set development goals - there are no legal standards within education that your child needs to achieve, at any particular age and no requirement to take SATs or formal exams if you do not wish to.
- You need to mark work your child produces and formally assess progress - this is not a requirement.
- You need to reproduce school type peer socialisation - this is not required. You are more likely to be able to offer your child a richer, more diverse social landscape within your community as you home educate; not being limited by school age group segregation.
- You need to be knowledgable to support your child's learning, especially as they get older - thankfully we live in the 21st Century where knowledge and information is easy (and often free) to access. As a home educator it is more valuable to be able to dedicate time and energy to enjoying learning and communicating with your children, finding information and learning how to learn together. The home ed community is great at helping with learning ideas and resources.
"There is no specific legal requirements as to the content of home education provided the parents are meeting their duty in s.7 of the Education Act 1996" [Section 2.4 DfE Elective Home Education Departmental guidance for local authorities]
In practice this means home education does not need to follow the national curriculum or any particular subjects, public examinations are not compulsory, the time that home education takes place does not need to mirror school days or terms, learning can be structured or completely autonomous or self-directed.
The DfE also published guidance for parents: Elective home education Departmental guidance for parents April 2019
County Websites & Services
Home education webpage; providing information on LA processes, contact details and some info on local colleges & exam boards:
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) webpage; info and contact details:
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:
The EHE service sits under Devon County Council (DCC) Children’s Services, Education and Learning. However, Babcock LDP is commissioned on behalf of DCC to provide the Elective Home Education Service:
Devon Information, Advice & Support for SEND:If for any reason you want to know what personal information Devon County hold about you or your family, you will need to make a request under the Data Protection Act 1998, see:
Dorset information and contact details:Dorset's Local Offer for children and young people from 0 to 25 years with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND):Bournemouth SEND offer: http://facts.bournemouth.gov.uk/Local_Offer_Live/SynergyEnglishHome.aspxIf for any reason you want to know what personal information Dorset County hold about you or your family, you will need to make a request under the Data Protection Act 1998, see:
Council website: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/schools-learning-home-schoolingWiltshire local offer for SEND: https://www.wiltshirelocaloffer.org.uk/If for any reason you want to know what personal information Wiltshire County hold about you or your family, you will need to make a request under the Data Protection Act 1998, see:
Council website: https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/education-and-learning/schools-and-colleges/education-welfare/elective-home-education/Cornwall SEND local offer: https://www.supportincornwall.org.uk/kb5/cornwall/directory/localoffer.page?newlocalofferchannel=0If for any reason you want to know what personal information Wiltshire County hold about you or your family, you will need to make a request under the Data Protection Act 1998, see: