Written evidence submitted by Warwickshire County Council (WCC)

Warwickshire County Council (WCC)

Response to enquiry – Home Education

November 5th, 2020



Warwickshire County Council undertakes it duties for safeguarding all children as a priority, ensuring that every child can access their educational entitlement in line with national guidance. Over the last 5 years we have seen a steady rise in home educated children and young people. The impact of COVID 19 has resulted in a steep rise in removals from roll, particularly since September 20. My role at the LA is to have oversight of the LA’s statutory duties for Children missing education and elective home education. The reason for writing this submission is to give ministers a snapshot of our practice in Warwickshire, to highlight the challenges around our statutory duties within the limitations of the current framework and to seek answers to our questions.

A statutory register

Warwickshire County Council has had a voluntary registration scheme in place for several years and in the main this has worked well. This is in part due to clear expectations on our schools to confirm to the LA when a child is coming off a school roll for the purpose of EHE. However, the LA cannot be sure it knows about ALL children who are home educated, specifically those that have never attended school.

Many of our home educators have supported the voluntary registration scheme and in doing so helps the LA to meet its statutory duties which is to maintain oversight of all Warwickshire children and their education. However, for parents who want to disengage with mainstream school and other services, this voluntary scheme allows them to ‘fly under the radar’.

Warwickshire County Council would advocate for a statutory register for home education; a robust scheme which has clear expectations on ALL key partners including ALL schools and settings - maintained, academies, Independent schools and Early Years settings.

The registration scheme and current scheme (and the wider work around children missing education) would be strengthened significantly if Education Services within LA’s were able to have direct access to the NHS spine. This would enable designated Education LA Officers to trace children much more easily and confirm with parents what arrangements are in place for education.

WCC work in collaboration with our NHS colleagues, attempts to engage with our home educating community around immunisation programmes have proved challenging. Is there a clear national picture of the success of the immunisation programme for home educated children?

A registration scheme needs to be supported by a statutory requirement by parents to share information about their arrangements on a regular basis. Samples of a child’s work, progression and achievements should also be statutory.

Statutory funding for this area of work should be provided for LA’s to be able to carry out their statutory duties for EHE. The rise in numbers over the last 5 years and since COVID 19 is presenting the LA with challenges around resourcing this area of work.


Benefits of home education and potential disadvantages

Warwickshire County Council work hard to balance the rights of parents who elect to home educate alongside our statutory duties. Home education is a positive option for children and young people when implemented by families who have the capacity and commitment to deliver appropriate education. As a result, In Warwickshire, we generally have good relationships with those parents who engage with the LA. However, in some instances there are parents who prefer not to have contact with the LA. If the LA chooses to pursue such parents, it can be time consuming and not cost effective given the current numbers on the register. Therefore, there should be a mandatory requirement for parents to fully engage with the LA whilst their child is home educated.

Currently resources are always directed at the most vulnerable children and families and some instances we must resort to the legal route via a School Attendance Order. This approach is not something we enter lightly as an LA and creates further pressures on already limited resources. WCC have implemented a two-week cooling off period to try and ensure parent is making an informed decision. We accept this is not a legal requirement, but we consider it to be good practice. Therefore, we would recommend a transitional period whereby the LA had the power to refuse the removal from roll. During this transitional period, the LA could authorise a flexi learning package with the current school, whilst the parent trialled out their ability to deliver a full EHE package within agreed timelines and criteria.

Parental reasons for off rolling a child for EHE vary but parents do cite bullying or SEN needs not being met: a number of Warwickshire parents have indicated that their children have benefited enormously from home education particularly if the parent’s perception was that their child was not thriving in school.

Clearly there are huge risks for vulnerable children including those that live in challenging home environments where there has been historic or ongoing mental health or other welfare concerns. Parents with children subject to EH, CIN or CP or any Childrens Services involvement should not be eligible to home educate without authorisation from LA professionals. In Warwickshire, where there are clear vulnerabilities with a child, schools do contact the LA for discussion to get support to dissuade parents to reverse their decision. If Childrens Services are not already involved with the family a referral will be made to the Multi -Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) for a possible S7 enquiry. Parents are made aware of this.

The current DfE guidance does not enable the school or the LA to insist the child remains on roll. In the case of child with an EHCP on the roll of a maintained or special school, WCC will not allow the removal until the family have been assessed and the EHCP rewritten to reflect the new arrangements. This should be articulated clearly within any revised DfE guidance in the same way as it was during COVID.

Quality and accessibility of support for home educators

Current guidance makes it clear that parents become responsible for and bear all the costs of their child’s education.

Warwickshire County Council offer advice guidance and support to potential or established home educators via telephone, email and our web pages. We also established a home educators forum prior to COVID19/lockdown. This was well attended and attracted a range of both new and established home educators who valued the opportunity to network and to establish wider friendship groups for their children. As part of this forum guest speakers delivered a range of topics including post 16 opportunities, teaching and learning ideas and other free activities delivered by staff within the museums where the forums had taken place. These forums are free of charge to parents. We are in the process of temperature testing home educators around holding virtual forums whilst the pandemic continues.

Support is in place to help parents return their child to school where requested or where it is deemed appropriate i.e. home education is not evident.  We are monitoring the numbers of children returning to school through our Fair Access gateway panels. Where children have come out for short periods and where is it possible, the school are asked to take the child back on roll. We also monitor which schools the children come out of and where appropriate escalate to appropriate forum for discussion and possible action.

Following lockdown and particularly since September 2020, Warwickshire has seen a 110% rise in the numbers of children coming off roll for the purpose of home education. This has galvanised the requirement for there to be statutory funding for this area of work.

WCC has attempted to ascertain post 16 destinations of Yr. 11 children by contacting parents directly, the return rate is poor. Nationally there is no systematised/published data on home educated children’s post 16 destinations, this should be rectified so there is an accurate picture of achievement for this cohort of children. It is not clear how many home educated children become NEET.

The regulatory framework

The current framework needs to be revised to ensure we protect the most vulnerable children and that they are not off rolled for the purpose of home education. There should be clear accountability measures around any form of off rolling in schools.

We would not advocate imposing any curriculum model on parents, however, it would be helpful if the DfE developed a framework or benchmarked expected standards as currently there is no definition of what is an efficient, full time and suitable education is but LA’s must be satisfied that is what a parent is providing. This should be done in collaboration with the home educating community.

WCC request information from parents about education arrangements being provided. This can be challenging for the LA with the current framework as parents are not legally expected to provide LA’s with any detailed information about what education they are providing. It should be a legal requirement for parents to provide information to the LA for us to be able to make an informed judgement about the arrangements in place.

Elective home education and children missing education is a standing item for discussion/sharing data across WCC’s Ethical Inclusion Partnership meetings. These are well established LA led multi-agency meetings with a key aim to drive early intervention and to place vulnerable children back on a school roll via the FAP process.

The role of inspection

Ofsted does not have a role in the oversight of home education provided by parents which is in line with current legislation. If there is an appetite to regulate home education, then Ofsted need to find the evidence and rationale for such an approach and the legislation will need changing.

Is national data on home educated children collated, analysed and shared?

What detail is known about the achievements and outcomes for post 16 children educated at home? What detail is known about home educated children going into FE/Apprenticeships and HE?

How does it compare to school educated children and young people?



What additional measures need to be taken?

We predict many parents will seek to return their children to school once the pandemic is over. This will present the LA with many challenges particularly if parents want to return their child to their previous school and there are no places available. We have a shortage of school places in specific areas of Warwickshire. It will put an additional pressure on Admissions/the FAP gateway and schools.

The DfE should provide some clear guidance how LA’s and schools will work together to respond to the additional pressures of COVID EHE children returning to schools.



Is there a clear national picture of the success of the immunisation programme for home educated children? Is national data on home educated children collated, analysed and shared?

What detail is known about the achievements and outcomes for post 16 children educated at home?

What detail is known about home educated children going into FE/Apprenticeships and HE?

How does the data compare to school educated children and young people?


Annette Firman

Lead Professional for Vulnerable Groups

November 2020