To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to ensure elective home education is limited to where it is in the child’s best interests.
Parents are not obliged to register if they are home educating their children and, as a result, there is not a robust basis on which the Department can reliably collect statistics on home education.
Local authorities are responsible for taking action when it appears that the Elective Home Education (EHE) provision made by parents is unsuitable. If the local authority is not satisfied that the provision is suitable, then it can serve a school attendance order to parents. In April 2019, the Department issued new and strengthened guidance to local authorities on how they can exercise these powers.
In relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department is working closely with local authorities to encourage a return to full attendance in school and is monitoring the situation. Initial conversations with local authorities indicate that the majority have noticed an increase in enquiries from parents about home education. Where parents are anxious about the safety of their children returning to school, local authorities and school leaders are reinforcing that it is in the best interests of pupils to return to school.
On 20 October 2020, the Department published advice for parents considering EHE. This is designed to be shared with parents, schools, social workers and local authorities, where the option of EHE is raised. The document is intended to make clear implications of withdrawing their child from school and the challenge involved in providing EHE.
At the same time, the Department also produced information for local authorities and those who work with children, setting out how we expect them to ensure children receive a suitable education, and to use their powers to engage with parents considering EHE where appropriate.