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Agenda item

Elective Home Education

Report of the Executive Director, People Services

Minutes:

9.1

The Committee received a report of the Executive Director, People Services on the work undertaken by the Elective Home Education Service.  A report on the Service had been submitted to the Committee’s meeting held on 13th November, 2017, at which concerns had been raised regarding specific areas of the Service, and the report now submitted set out additional information which aimed to address such concerns.

 

 

9.2

Venetta Buchanan (Advisor Teacher for Elective Home Education) introduced the report, and also in attendance for this item were Alena Prentice (Assistant Director, Inclusion and Learning Service) and John Bigley (Manager – Admissions, Inclusion and Learning Service).

 

 

9.3

Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-

 

 

 

·                 It was believed that there were cases of parents home educating their children as they had not been able to secure a school place of their choice.  There was a requirement on the parents taking this action to formally notify the Local Authority, and they would be advised on the various options available to them.

 

 

 

·                 If a child is taken out of school to be educated at home during a school year, the funding for that child would be retained by the school.  The school would only continue to receive funding in respect of the child if they were on roll at the October census in the following school year. 

 

 

 

·                 If a child was deregistered from school to be home educated  for whatever reason, a local agreement between all secondary school headteachers would allow them to return to school within 12 weeks of having left, if they wished to return.

 

 

 

·                 In those cases of children having Special Educational Needs (SEN), the Elective Home Education Service would require more information from the SEN Service with regard to the precise level of the child’s needs.  The Government was shortly to provide guidance for local authorities on this issue.

 

 

 

·                 Only a very small number of the 513 children currently registered as receiving home education were doing so as a result of having been permanently excluded from school.  The figures were not available at the meeting, but could be provided to Members.

 

 

 

·                 There was no national benchmarking with regard to reporting the number of children in receipt of elective home education and therefore, meaningful comparison was difficult. The number of such children in Sheffield was, however, comparable with Leeds, which has a slightly higher school population. The number of children being home educated was rising both locally and nationally and, as yet, there had been no specific reasons identified as to why this was the case.

 

 

 

·                 There were no statistics in terms of the religion and ethnicity of the 513 pupils receiving home education, and parents were not required to provide the Authority with this information.

 

 

 

·                 It was difficult to determine an average time period from when a child was first assessed in terms of not having a suitable education to having a School Attendance Order issued, as the position was not always clear cut, and required monitoring over a long period of time.  It could be that whilst the education was suitable at one stage, due to a change of circumstances, it could then be deemed as not suitable.

 

 

 

·                 Parents were required to provide written information with regard to the education they were providing and, if it was not deemed suitable, meetings would be held with the family to discuss this. If, through continued monitoring, it was found that the education was still not suitable, and when all efforts had been exhausted, families were referred to the Multi-Agency Support Team for a School Attendance Order.  If it was found that the problems continued, they could be taken to Court for a breach of the Order.

 

 

 

·                 There was no requirement on children being educated at home to take exams, although some children opted to do so.  The Local Authority did not have any access to their examination results.

 

 

9.4

RESOLVED: That the Committee:-

 

 

 

(a)      notes the contents of the report now submitted, together with the information now reported and the responses to the questions raised;

 

 

 

(b)      thanks Alena Prentice, Venetta Buchanan and John Bigley for attending the meeting and responding to the questions raised;

 

 

 

(c)      expresses its support for the Local Authority’s approach to elective home education; and

 

 

 

(d)      requests that it be involved in any consultation on the planned Government Review of the Elected Home Education Service.

 

Supporting documents: