Information from South Tyneside Council on Elective Home Education

Elective Home Education for your Child / Children

Dear Parent /Carer,

If you are reading this, it is likely you are considering home-educating your child or are considering it as an option in the near future.  Electing to educate your child at home is a big decision and the reasons that parents elect to home educate are extremely varied.  Some parents make a philosophical, planned decision to home educate and research the area in depth, however, many parents turn to home education as a reaction to a school-based issue or dissatisfaction with a school environment. 

If there is a school-based issue, we strongly advise you not to withdraw your child from school until you have explored ALL the options to resolve the issue. The local authority is able to offer support in trying to resolve issues with school and can provide advice and guidance.  Please contact the Attendance and Monitoring Team on 4247400 if you feel we can help with this.

Elective Home Education Guidance for Parents / Carers can be found on the Department of Education website.

The decision to home educate and parental rights and responsibilities

Making the decision to educate your child at home can have far reaching implications for your wider family life.  Parents are encouraged to think through all the possible consequences of the decision and explore all options.  

If your child is on a school roll and is of compulsory school age, you will need to put your decision in writing to the Head of the school.  It is also helpful to tell the local authority so that we can provide you with information and advice, if you want or need it.  If your child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), they will be taken off roll at their mainstream school as soon as the school receive written notification that you intend to educate at home. However, if your child attends a special school the local authority must agree to them being removed from the special school roll in order to be electively educated at home.

As with non EHCP children, the LA must be satisfied that the education is suitable and if not can issue attendance order.

Once your child is off a school roll, you are responsible for ensuring they have an efficient full-time and suitable education.  An efficient education is one where the education you provide must be one that achieves what it sets out to achieve. Suitable education must equip a child for life within the community of which s/he is a member. It must also meet the child’s age, ability and aptitude and take account of any special educational needs they may have.   

There is no definition of fulltime education.  Children in school usually receive between 21 and 25 hours of teaching and learning each week for a minimum of 38 weeks of the year.  The local authority recognises that home education is delivered in different conditions and there is no direct comparison with school-based timetables or educational arrangements. Many parents find that having a timetable loosely based around the school year is helpful, particularly for children who are planning on sitting external examinations.    

It is up to parents to provide the education, but it does not have to be the same kind of lessons that a school would provide.  Parents may wish to consider other educational experiences such as educational visits, projects, research and activities with other children as well as and alongside more formal learning.

Important things to think about:

Local Authority Responsibilities

The Local Authority does have a statutory duty to know (as far as it can do so) which children in their area are not receiving a suitable education and to enquire about what education is being provided.  Depending upon the results of such an enquiry, the local authority can intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education for their child.

It is difficult for the local authority to know which children are not receiving a suitable education without asking parents to provide details about the education they are providing for their child. To make sure the local authority can carry out its statutory duties, parents will be asked to provide:

Examples of your child’s learning can include paintings, workbooks, models, diaries of educational activity, projects, formal assessments, educational visits, books and online resources.  Where it is not clear that parents are providing a suitable education, the local authority will work with parents to try and address the situation informally by making informal contact and enquiries.  The local authority understands that parents may not want them involved in the education of their child. However case law states that it would be sensible for parents to provide the information requested by the local authority otherwise the local authority may conclude that it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education for their child. At that point the local authority have a duty to intervene.

Where informal enquiries have not brought about a satisfactory resolution and it appears to the local authority that a child is not receiving a suitable education, the local authority will serve a notice on the parent requiring them to satisfy the local authority that suitable education is being provided.  If the parent fails to satisfy the local authority, it may serve the parent with a school attendance order naming a school where the parent must register their child. Non-compliance with a school attendance order is a criminal offence and may be dealt with via an application for an Education Supervision Order, prosecution or both.

Safeguarding

Local authority duties in relation to safeguarding are the same for all children, wherever and however they are educated.  If the local authority is not satisfied that a child is receiving adequate, safe, appropriate or suitable education at home and where this is likely to impair the child’s intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development, the local authority may intervene using its statutory safeguarding and child protection powers.

Information, advice and guidance

You can access help, advice and guidance about home education by contacting the local authority.                               

If a child has an Education Health and Care Plan, advice is available from SEND officers who will be available to discuss the special educational needs of your child, any provision required to meet those needs and a parent’s plans to home educate. Confidential and impartial advice is also available for parents/carers and young people with special educational needs from SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service). If your child is in their final years of compulsory school education when you elect to home educate, Connexions South Tyneside can provide advice information and guidance on transition to further education, employment and training, which will  assist you to map your home education proposal against your child’s future plans and aspirations. The officers also have excellent links with local colleges should parents be considering approaching a local 14-16 college about their offer to 14-16-year-old children who are electively home educated. The offer can vary from college to college.

Specialist officers from the Local Authority’s Ethnic Minority, Traveller and Refugee Achievement Service (EMTRAS) can offer information and guidance to families on a range of issues.

Summary of Considerations

In summary, therefore, as parents / carers you should consider

  • Why are you thinking of educating your child at home?
  • What does your child think about the idea?
  • Do you have the time, resources and ability to teach your child properly?
  • Is your home suitable for undertaking teaching and learning, in terms of noise, space and general environment?
  • What support do you as parents have from others?
  • What would happen if you were unable, perhaps through illness, to provide teaching for your child for a period?
  • Can you provide social experiences, access to cultural and aesthetic experiences and physical exercise, to help your child develop?
  • Do you envisage educating your child at home for the whole of their time of compulsory school age, or only temporarily?
  • What are your long-term intentions for the education of your child?

The Department for Education have created an EHE blog, which may be useful. 

There are also further resources available at: https://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/71497/Useful-websites           

Local Authority Contacts

Attendance and Monitoring Team Level 1 (Broughton Road),
Town Hall & Civic Offices,
Westoe Road,
South Shields,
NE33 2RL.   Tel: 0191 424 7400  
School Admissions Level 1 (Broughton Road),
Town Hall & Civic Offices,
Westoe Road,
South Shields,
NE33 2RL.   Tel: 0191 424 7767   Email: School.admissions@southtyneside.gov.uk  
SEND Services Level 1 (Broughton Road),
Town Hall & Civic Offices,
Westoe Road,
South Shields,
NE33 2RL.       Tel: 0191 424 7410   Email: sen@southtyneside.gov.uk  
SENDIASS Special Educational Needs and Disability, Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) Primrose Children’s Centre, Lambton Terrace , Jarrow, NE32 5QY.   Tel: 0191 424 6345       Email: www.southtynesidesendiass.co.uk
Early Help, Level 1 (Broughton Road),
Town Hall & Civic Offices,
Westoe Road,
South Shields,
NE33 2RL.   Tel: 0191 424 6210
Connexions South Tyneside, Level 1 (Broughton Road) Town Hall and Civic Offices, Westoe Road, South Shields NE33 5RL   Tel: 0191 427 6657   Email: connexions@southtyneside.gov.uk  
School Nursing Service       Tel: 0191 283 2965   Email: Stsft.stftschoolnurse@nhs.net    EMTRAS (Ethnic Minority, Traveller and Refuge Service)   Tel: 0191 426 8140   Email: EMTRAS@southtyneside.gov.uk  

The production of this guidance has been supported by South Tyneside Safeguarding Children and Adults Partnership