What’s been said?
Towards the end of June, the Centre for Personalised Education published on its website a fact sheet based on advice which it and Education Otherwise have received from a Queen’s Council. The QC has a background in education and public law as well as experience in equality and human rights legislation. These organisations consulted with the QC in response to the increased concern amongst parents after the DfE published its revised “Elective Home Education Departmental Guidance for Local Authorities” [EHEDGLA] in April this year.
The PDF fact sheet entitled Home Education Frequently Asked Questions (England and Wales) takes the form of a series of twenty-two questions and answers. These address a wide range of issues, from, “My child has never been to school, who do I notify that I want to home educate?” to the more worrying “My LA has served court enforcement proceedings on me, what can I do?” This thirteen page document is well worth reading, whether you are an experienced EHE parent or simply thinking about HE for your children.
It should be noted that whilst the fact sheet is based on the advice received from the QC, both the CPE and EO encourage parents to obtain their own legal advice, should any of the topics covered be live issues for them.
Why does it matter?
The EHEDGLA comes across as far more draconian than its predecessor, and this has been a cause for concern for many. The real benefit of this document is that it explains in simple terms what LAs are allowed to require from EHE parents and what they do not have the authority to demand, no matter what they say. It is a reminder that the law remains the same even though the guidance has changed.
The topics covered are comprehensive and include such things as a sample de-registration letter for parents to use as a basis for their own; advice on how to respond if you are sent a form by your LA; what to do if you are referred to Social Services because you HE; the implications of being served with a School Attendance Order; and the increasing need to make sure your data and your child’s data is properly protected.
What can I do?
Make sure you read this fact sheet and keep a copy for future reference – you never know when you or someone known to you may need to refer to it.
Secondly, tell other HE families about its existence and how they can access a copy. If you are involved in a local HE group, consider keeping a printed copy in your resources to show to families who are not aware of its existence.
Finally, don’t be distracted from your main educational responsibility to your children by the current debate – they are the reason you are doing all this. But remember that the battle to maintain your freedom to educate your own children as you see fit is far from over. So do keep yourself informed, and keep talking to your MP and local councillors.