The safeguarding powers and duties of local authorities apply to all children resident in their area, whether educated at home or at school. Consequently, there are no provisions on safeguarding, either generally or concerning specific issues such as abuse, extremism and radicalisation that only relate to children educated at home.
If there is a genuine safeguarding concern about a child educated at home, the local authority may use its powers under the Children Act 1989 to investigate. In other cases, local authorities are encouraged to use alternative sources of information about children who may be educated at home – for example, referrals from the health services – in order to address the fact that the child is not being seen regularly by school staff.
Data on numbers and ages of home-educated children, their examination pass rates and their special educational needs, are not collected. Consequently, no assessment has been made by the department of whether there is an attainment gap between home-educated children and those attending school.
There are no requirements for the parents of children educated at home to have particular qualifications. In any assessment made of the suitability of home education, the local authority concerned looks at the education received and the progress made by the child, not the qualifications of those delivering it, whether they be parents or others engaged for the purpose.
The department will shortly be holding a consultation exercise on revised guidance for local authorities on the most effective use of their powers in relation to home education.