Written evidence submitted by Salford Local Authority


Salford Local Authority has seen an increasing number of parents electing to home educate their children over the past few years, this has been especially the case this year due to COVID 19 concerns.  The local authority wishes to submit this response so that the education committee is fully aware of the challenges faced in order to comply with the statutory duties relating to children of compulsory school age, who are not receiving education at school.  In addition the local authority would like the committee to recognise its views on the statutory register of home-educated children and the current regulatory framework.

The duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education;

Salford are aware that local authorities have a statutory duty under s.436a of the Education Act 1996 to establish, as far as we are able to do so, the identities of children in our area who are not receiving a suitable education and to enquire what education is being provided for all children of compulsory school age, taking action where it is required. We are also aware that we have the same safeguarding responsibilities for children educated at home as for other children. However, there is no legal duty on parents to inform the local authority that a child is being home educated and, consequently, we may be unaware of children who have never been to school or who are new to the area. Moreover, the fact that “parents are under no obligation to accept support or advice from a local authority, and refusal to do so is not in itself evidence that the education provided is unsuitable,” (DfE, April 2019, Elective home education Departmental guidance for local authorities, p.16) makes the aforementioned duty challenging.

We have established procedures for the monitoring of home education, working with families in a supportive – rather than punitive - capacity when the provision is deemed unsuitable. Reasonable timescales are agreed with parents for them to develop their provision in such circumstances and, should this not occur, we have robust protocols which we follow to ensure that children return to school. This has led to greater collaboration between EHE and Children Missing Education, including initiating School Attendance Order proceedings and challenging inappropriate home education, as well as liaising with social care and health when there is a safeguarding concern.

With regards to safeguarding, we are aware that sections 10 and 11 of the Children Act 2004 give local authorities general duties for promoting the well-being and welfare of children in our areas, including children educated at home, as well as those attending school. We are also aware that, “A failure to provide suitable education is capable of satisfying the threshold requirement contained in s.31 of the Children Act 1989 that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.” (DfE, April 2019, Elective home education Departmental guidance for local authorities, p.23) Therefore, we are ready to use our safeguarding powers appropriately, when warranted, if a child’s home education is deemed inappropriate, and follow Salford City Council’s social care escalation procedures accordingly.

We have a written policy statement on elective home education which is clear, transparent and consistent with the current legal framework; work collaboratively with education welfare, children missing education, health, social care and school admissions; we seek to offer guidance to all known home-educating families in our area (providing advice on good practice for parents who request it), and make clear in all documentation that we see our role in relation to home education as part of our wider responsibilities, including safeguarding, for all children living in our area.


Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;

A mandatory register for all home educated children would ensure that every child is accounted for and that they are receipt of a suitable education. It would ensure that the LA is aware of every statutory school-aged child in Salford, allowing us to both promote the welfare of them, as well as fulfilling our statutory duty under s.436A of the Education Act 1996, regarding the identification of children in our area who are not receiving a suitable education. Without a legal register we could not be confidently satisfied that all children within the LA are in receipt of a suitable education and are subsequently safeguarded. The LA would welcome legislation to support the requirement to maintain a statutory register although this would incur additional resources. In addition Salford LA believes that annual returns of collated data from the register should be reported to the DfE for statistical purposes to ensure that the Government has a clear knowledge of the EHE landscape and therefore set legislation to support LAs to fulfil their statutory duties and to consider providing appropriate resources.


The benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face;

Many children benefit from a more holistic, flexible curriculum that is delivered on a one-to-one basis and which can support an individual child’s strengths and interests. Children can learn at their own pace, rather than having to stick to the pace of the lesson, and specific learning styles/additional needs can be catered for. Owing to the flexibility, learning can take place in a wide variety of arenas, rather than just in the classroom, and children can physically experience the things they are learning about. Moreover, there may be a reduced risk of peer pressure and bullying, as well as the potential anxieties that come with the pressure of sitting several of exams within a short period of time, owing to the fact the GCSEs can be spread out over several exam series/academic years if desired. Home educated children can also socialise with a wider variety of young people of different ages, cultures and communities, as well as a range of appropriate adults.

However, through data analysis, we have found that home educated children leave their schooling life with less formal qualifications, lower grades and with a higher chance of becoming NEET than schooled children. Owing to parents taking full responsibility for their child’s education, many don’t have the financial means to pay for a tutor or to fund their child’s GCSEs. Moreover, they may not have the expertise of a qualified teacher and, as children progress through the curriculum and subjects become more challenging, many parents find the ability to adequately teach their child moving beyond their reach.

Time is a large factor, as parents must effectively plan, prepare and mark their child’s work, as well as provide well-rounded socialisation opportunities, and many aren’t able to keep up with the demands. Therefore, children are less likely to receive the social stimulation they need to build resilience, interact with peers / appropriate adults effectively and become independent young people. There is a risk of isolation and alienation, which may in turn cause anxieties and stop young people from building positive relationships and thus being able to live a full, well-rounded life post 16.


The quality and accessibility of support (including financial support) available for home educators and their children, including those with special educational needs, disabilities, mental health issues, or caring responsibilities, and those making the transition to further and higher education;

Salford local authority ensure we keep a careful balance when offering advice and support, taking into consideration the views of the parent/child and ensuring that they are fully aware that - even though there is that offer of support and guidance from the LA - the responsibility and duty to ensure a suitable education is provided, still remains with the parents.

However, there is currently a new course being run by a local FE college, whereby maths and English GCSE and/or functional skills is offered via weekly lessons, as well as funded formal examination entries, along with pastoral support. The programme is only being offered to a very small cohort (8-10) of home educated Salford residents, who have been referred to the college by the LA's EHE Coordinator. The college also support with next steps and will hopefully allow a greater percentage of the Salford’s EHE cohort to transition to college, lowering the NEET figures. Moreover, the remainder of the EHE cohort have access to a named Connexions worker who offers guidance and support with post 16 plans.


Home educated students who have an EHCP have an allocated EHE SEN caseworker, who holds annual reviews and ensures that the child’s additional needs are being met, alongside their educational ones. However, students who were given SEN support when at school, but without ECHP, receive no support from the LA’s SEN team. There is, of course, still access to the school health, community pediatricians and CAMHS, who may refer children to educational psychologists, but it is far more difficult to access than for school children. Following on from this, should a need be identified, then it is far more difficult to assess in the home setting than in the school setting, and thus a lack of evidentiary support may delay any potential diagnoses. Home educated children do have added barriers in accessing the support offered to schooled children, but the support is still available to them, nonetheless.



Whether the current regulatory framework is sufficient to ensure that the wellbeing and academic achievement of home educated children is safeguarded, including where they may attend unregistered schools, have been formally excluded from school, or have been subject to ‘off-rolling’;

Salford LA do not feel that the current framework is sufficient to ensure that the wellbeing and academic achievement of home educated children is safeguarded owing to the aforementioned fact that there is no legal duty on parents to inform the local authority that a child is being home educated. Moreover, the fact that the DfE Guidance states that, “parents are under no obligation to accept support or advice from a local authority, and refusal to do so is not in itself evidence that the education provided is unsuitable,” and that, “Informal enquiries can include a request to see the child, either in the home or in another location. But the parent is under no legal obligation to agree to this simply in order to satisfy the local authority as to the suitability of home education,” limits the power that we have to see the child and give our support, if parents do not wish to engage with us. Salford go above and beyond the current framework to ensure the wellbeing and academic safety of our EHE cohort (including liaising with health, social care and requesting police welfare checks), but if a local authority were to stick to the regulatory framework, then they may not be able to conclude the same. Local authorities need greater powers with regards to home educated children to ensure their physical, social, emotional, mental health/wellbeing and academic needs are safeguarded and being met.

Should we become aware that any of our home educated students attend unregistered schools, we would fulfil our responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children and young people and follow DfE guidance, notifying the DfE and/or Ofsted of such institutions promptly.

All permanently excluded students are allocated full time education provision at one of Salford’s pupil referral units.  However, a small number of parents choose to home educate rather than accept the allocated place for their child.  These students are added to the EHE register and follow the same rigorous process to ensure that they are receiving adequate education provision and are safeguarded.

The LA has a robust process for monitoring the potential ‘off-rolling’ of childrenA monthly report identifies all pupils that have been removed from a school roll and their destination.  Where EHE is the notified as the destination this information is sent to the EHE co-ordinator to ensure that the child is known to them.  In addition, the EHE co-ordinator will discuss the reason for electing to home educate with the parent.  Should there be any indication that the school has coerced the parent into making this decision then the school would be challenged by the LA and, if appropriate, would be directed to put the child back on roll.   Salford LA have worked closely with schools who are fully aware of the process and follow the LA guidance e.g. in providing information to parents so that they fully understand the expectations should they choose to EHE.

The LA would welcome the introduction of a 14 day ‘cooling off period’ prior to the child being removed from a school roll in the statutory framework.  This would enable schools and the LA to facilitate a full discussion with the parent to ensure that they have all the necessary information to make an informed decision.

The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education;

The effective monitoring of EHE is covered in ILACS and this is sufficient.


What improvements have been made to support home educators since the 2010-15 Education Committee published their report on ‘Support for Home Education’ in 2012; and

Since the 2012 report, the DfE has undertaken a review of their guidance relating to home education and in April 2019 published their new guidance. In terms of format, there are now two documents - one for local authorities and one for parents/carers of home educated children. The new guidance provides a far more comprehensive and up to date coverage of the case law and relevant statutory framework, but it is important to emphasise that the new guidance does not change the law and there still remains much ambiguity in relation to the wording of education being ‘suitable’ and ‘efficient’.

As mentioned above, Salford have strong multiagency links and offer support/guidance to all home educating families. The EHE Coordinator holds QTS, so has a good knowledge of education and can advise families accordingly. Students are allocated a Connexions officer who can support with post 16 plans (college visits, applications, etc); we signpost to the closest and most comprehensive exam centres where students can sit their GCSEs, offering advice around exam boards and specifications, as well as offering access to the school health teams, who offer immunisations, height/weight checks, and general health advice. There is also the aforementioned college programme, which is fully funded and offers 14-16 year olds the opportunity to sit their maths and English GCSEs, as well as support with college transition post 16.

Following the DfE’s lead, Salford also have two guidance documents – our LA EHE guidance, as well as separate guidance for parents/carers. This provides a wealth of information and signposting for home educators, including resources/websites, extracurricular/socialisation ideas and activities, GCSE information, post 16 support, health advice, and much more. This is continually updated and amended as the EHE landscape modifies over time.

The North West LAs hold termly regional meetings, where we discuss current trends/challenges, offer best practice and share thoughts. Moreover, in Salford, we are in contact with the local home education community and we run termly EHE Community Hubs, where home educating families can meet people from a wide variety of agencies (SEN team, school health, youth service, etc) to ask questions and get to know new people. They can also speak to the EHE Coordinator in a neutral venue, to ask for guidance, as well as swap resources with each other and share best practice.


The impact COVID-19 has had on home educated children, and what additional measures might need to be taken in order to mitigate any negative impacts.’

The last twelve months have brought about significant challenges and events that no one could foresee owing to Covid-19. Since March 2020, we have experienced partial school closures, a nationwide lockdown, localised Government restrictions and now a second lockdown, leading to an increase in anxieties and mental health challenges for children/young people and adults alike. Consequently, since the reopening of schools in September 2020, a rapid surge in parents opting to home educate has occurred, and, as there is clearly no ‘quick fix’ for the current situation we all find ourselves in, we have had to adjust our practices accordingly, supporting families’ anxieties whilst also ensuring that children’s needs continue to be met.

From 1st September 2020 up to 1st October 2020, 93 new referrals for home education have been received (an increase of 174% year on year), which is unprecedented, and accounts for 35% of the total number of young people currently being home educated in Salford. Of these new EHE requests, 66% of them were owing to Covid-related anxieties, demonstrating the impact that the pandemic and students’ bubbles being sent home from school are having on the local community. As of 1st October 2020, the total current cohort stands at 268 students, an increase of 39% since 1st October 2019, again predominantly owing to Covid.

The pandemic has brought about increased anxieties and an instinct to protect families, forcing us to review and alter the way we work. This has led to widening our reach to include Education Welfare Officers and School Attendance Officers, all working collaboratively and proactively to engage children back into education, whilst assuring families that children are being safeguarded via robust risk assessments when returning to school.

Our Educational Welfare team have been working with families who are worried about sending their children back to school / opting to home educate owing to Covid fears, so as to offer support, and to ensure that they are fully aware of their responsibilities and the LA’s expectations should they wish to EHE permanently. In conjunction with the Educational Psychology team, an Emotionally Based School Avoidance model has been developed, allowing us to work with any families who are experiencing anxieties due to the current pandemic and giving us tools/resources to support families’ concerns and hopefully engage young people back into education.

It’s also been of the utmost importance that parents are fully au fait with what ELECTIVE home education is, as opposed to what occurred during the partial school closures. We have had to ensure that families are aware that there is no support from schools, either academically or pastorally, and that they are taking on the duty of care to ensure their child’s educational, social, emotional and mental health needs are all being met when they opt to home educate. Moreover, we have been offering virtual meetings, as opposed to physical home visits, to ensure that we are still fulfilling our statutory requirements yet are also adhering to the Government guidelines surrounding Covid.


November 2020