Education: Home Schooling

House of Lords written question – answered on 9th November 2009.

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Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government why Ofsted has decided to investigate a sample of 15 local authorities about their provision for home educators; which 15 local authorities it will investigate; and how they were chosen.

To ask Her Majesty's Government what questions have been posed to home-educating parents in local authorities currently having their provision for home educators investigated by Ofsted; how those parents were chosen; what steps were taken to ensure the anonymity of their responses; and which home education organisations have been asked to provide evidence to the investigators.

Photo of Baroness Morgan of Drefelin Baroness Morgan of Drefelin Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Children, Young People and Families)

These are matters for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the noble Lord and copies of her replies have been placed in the Libraries.

Letter from Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, to Lord Lucas, dated 5 November 2009.

Your recent Parliamentary Question has been passed to me, as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, for a response. (HL5984)

As part of Ofsted's annual programme of survey inspections, agreed in 2008, we are undertaking a survey of education otherwise than at school. This survey will cover elective education at home, as well as those children that go missing from school. It will provide independent inspection evidence about the quality of provision and outcomes for this group of children and young people.

We have identified a representative sample of 15 local authorities, based on the estimated size of the population of children educated otherwise than at school, and the location and type of the local authority, for example whether it is inner city, rural, urban, coastal or in a conurbation. Ofsted publishes the names of providers and areas visited for survey work in the final report rather than in advance of our visits, enabling us to carry out short notice visits that give us a better picture of practice on the ground. It would, therefore, be inappropriate to provide the individual local authority names at this stage.

A copy of this reply has been sent to Vernon Coaker MP, Minister of State for Schools and Learners and will be placed in the Library of both Houses.

Letter from Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, to Lord Lucas, dated 5 November 2009.

Your recent Parliamentary Question has been passed to me, as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, for a response. (HL 6031)

The activity to which you refer is part of an Ofsted survey of education otherwise than at school. This survey is part of Ofsted's annual programme of survey inspections, agreed in 2008.

All home educating parents in the 15 local authorities are being offered the chance to meet inspectors and to complete a voluntary, anonymous questionnaire. The information that parents give to inspectors will contribute to the evidence base for the survey, and will help to reflect the views of parents and the young people being educated at home. The questions will be about the parents' reasons for deciding to educate at home, the numbers and ages of the children involved, what has assisted parents as home educators and what the barriers have been.

Responses in meetings and to any questionnaires will be anonymous, and will be treated with the same high degree of confidentiality as all our inspection evidence. Local authority officers will not be present at the meetings and will not see the anonymous responses to the questionnaires, which are being returned directly to Ofsted. The local authorities will not have access to the evidence or findings other than what is included in the main report.

Ofsted is in contact with the Education Otherwise Government Policy Group, Education Otherwise, the Home Education Advisory Service, and local home education support groups in local authority areas.

A copy of this reply has been sent to Vernon Coaker MP, Minister of State for Schools and Learners, and will be placed in the Library of both Houses.

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