The monitoring recommendation
64. In order to enable local authority officers to
assess the efficiency and suitability of elective home education,
the Badman Report recommends that "designated local authority
have the right of access to the home;
have the right to speak with each child alone
if deemed appropriate or, if a child is particularly vulnerable
or has particular communication needs, in the company of a trusted
person who is not the home educator or the parent/carer"
Notably, the Report continues: "In doing so,
officers will be able to satisfy themselves that the child is
safe and well". In this respect the Report attributes a safeguarding
function to its recommendation on monitoring.
65. The Children, Schools and Families Bill provides
that a local authority officer should see a child, the parent
and the place (or at least one of the places) where the education
is to be provided, and do so at least once in any registration
period. Where a local authority officer considered that someone
other than the parent was primarily responsible for the home education
provision then the officer would be under a duty to see that other
person as well, at least once in any registration period.
66. The Bill suggests
that a home educated child should be interviewed with the parent
present each year. It provides that unless the child or a parent
of the child objects the local authority officer may meet with
the child away from the child's parent. The Bill also provides
that, should a home educating family not comply with these provisions,
and the local authority could not otherwise ascertain the suitability
of the home education provision, the family's registration could
be revoked. 
67. The Bill provides that a local authority
must give at least two weeks' written notice of a proposed
meeting or of a visit to a place where education is provided for
Local authority duties in relation
68. 'Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children'
is defined as:
protecting children from maltreatment;
preventing impairment of children's health
or development; and
ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances
consistent with the provision of safe and effective care and undertaking
that role so as to enable those children to have optimum life
chances and to enter adulthood successfully.
In day-to-day use the term 'safeguarding' is often
used interchangeably with that of 'child protection'. Child protection
is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. It refers to
the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who
are suffering, or are at risk of suffering, significant harm.
69. In seeking to establish the existing responsibilities
of local authorities as regards the safeguarding of home educated
children, the statutes listed below are relevant.
- Section 17(1) of the Children Act 1989. This
places a general duty on local authorities to safeguard and promote
the welfare of children within their area who are in need.
- Section 47(1) of the Children Act 1989. This
requires, where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child
is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, the local
authority "to make such enquiries as they consider necessary
to enable them to decide whether they should take any action to
safeguard or promote the child's welfare".
- Section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002. This
places a general duty on local education authorities to make arrangements
for ensuring "that their functions are exercised with a view
to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children".
- Section 176(1) of the Education Act 2002. This
requires local authorities to have regard to Government guidance
about "consultation with pupils in connection with the taking
of decisions affecting them". Despite the reference to 'pupils',
local authority functions in this respect are defined in the Act
as including the provision of education otherwise than at school.
- The Children Act 2004, which requires local authorities
to support the reforms introduced by the Every Child Matters agenda.
Section 10 states:
(1) Each children's services authority in England
must make arrangements to promote co-operation between [the authority
and relevant parties].
(2) The arrangements are to be made with a view to
improving the well-being of children in the authority's area so
far as relating to
(a) physical and mental health and emotional well-being;
(b) protection from harm and neglect;
(c) education, training and recreation;
(d) the contribution made by them to society; and
(e) social and economic well-being.
Section 53(1), which amends the Children Act 1989,
requires local authorities, so far as is reasonably practicable
and consistent with the child's welfare, to ascertain the child's
wishes and feelings regarding the provision of services or action
to be taken, and give due consideration to those wishes and feelings.
70. From the evidence that we received for our inquiry
it was apparent that this framework of statutes, along with related
guidelines, had sowed confusion in the minds of those responsible
for implementing them. We would suggest that this is not surprising.
71. The Department's guidelines on home education
repeatedly emphasise that the legislation outlined above does
not extend local authorities' functions in relation to home education
provision. It remains the case that the only circumstances under
which a local authority could insist on seeing a child is where
there were clear grounds for concern regarding the child's welfare.
Otherwise, the only requirement on local authority officers is
that, should they have child protection concerns in the normal
course of their work, they inform social care services.
On this interpretation, local authorities are not required
to seek out those home educated children who are not known to
them or who they are no longer in contact with in order to attest
to the welfare of those children.
Indeed, the guidelines emphasise that, in responding to any enquiries
from a local authority relating to educational provision, a home
educating family may do so in a number of ways, not necessarily
including face-to-face meetings between a local authority officer
and the home educated child (e.g. they might instead send written
reports on the education being provided, or samples of the child's
work). Although case
law suggests that it "would be sensible to do so", home
educating families are not required to respond to such enquiries
in the first place.
72. There is, then, arguably a tension between current
legislation, particularly the Every Child Matters legislation,
and the emphasis of the guidelines on the limited applicability
of these statutes to home education. This in itself renders home
education something of an anomaly and may well account in large
part for the apparent confusion of local authority officers. Added
to this are the reforms under section 157 of the Education Act
2002 intended to increase the regulation of independent schools,
including specifically in relation to safeguarding, which similarly
leave out home education.
Note also part 4 of the Education and Skills Act 2008, which extends
section 157(1)(a)-(c) of the Education Act 2002 to part-time education
and a far wider range of non-school based educational institutions,
but does not enable regulation of home education.
73. The law relating to the duties and powers
of local authorities with regard to home educated children has
become very complex and difficult to interpret. This is reflected
in the Department's existing guidelines on home education. The
Department should take the opportunity provided by the Children,
Schools and Families Bill to provide a definitive, succinct statement
of the applicability of the Children Act 2004 and the Every Child
Matters outcomes to home educated children. The Department should
then provide guidelines that better enable local authorities to
translate the law into practice, especially in relation to the
safeguarding of home educated children as well as children with
no record of school attendance.
Views on the principle of access
to the family
74. All but one of the home educators who contacted
us flatly rejected the monitoring recommendation. In their view,
along with the recommendation for registration, it turns the premise
of 'innocent until proven guilty' on its head. The comment of
one group of parents was that:
There is an overall assumption in [the Badman
Report] that parents have to prove themselves to not be abusing
Within this context they regarded the monitoring
recommendation as a threat to civil liberties and highly intrusive
of family life. The following home educator wrote in strong terms:
Not even the police have right of entry to a
private home without first having reasonable grounds for suspicion
and a warrant to enter the home. I will fight tooth and nail to
protect my family's right to privacy and I will not be submitting
to such visits should this recommendation become law.
75. One home educator suggested that a revived health
visitor system would be a better means of addressing safeguarding
visitors are in a similar position to local authority home education
teams of not having right of entry to the home. As part of the
trusted NHS brand, though, they are normally welcomed by parents,
especially in pregnancy or in the early weeks following birth.
If health visitors are refused entry and believe there is a serious
risk to the child they refer the matter to social care services
and/or inform members of the primary health care team, who may
later come into contact with the child and family. If any family
refuses to access preventative services for their child this is
documented and reported to managers.
76. As others pointed out, while local authorities
do have powers to intervene where there are grounds for concern
about a child's welfare (Children Act 1989), this relies on the
local authority being aware of any such problems in the first
place. Evidence suggests that the school is an important site
in terms of identifying the abuse or neglect of a pupil,
a safety net that is not available to home educated children.
The NSPCC in particular raised concerns in this regard. It stated
if a child who is being abused is not afforded
opportunities outwith the house, then the slim chances of them
being identified become even smaller than they already are
concern is raised because the child or the environment in which
they are cared for is not seen".
77. One local authority officer with whom we met
explicitly stated that she did not believe it was her responsibility
to monitor home educating families in the sense of going out and
finding safeguarding problems. She also stated that, as a home
education advisor, she did not want to be held solely accountable
if a home educated child came to harm. Along with the social workers
who submitted evidence to our inquiry, some of them current or
former home educators, she did not see how annual visits alone
would improve on existing legislation from a safeguarding point
of view. On this
matter these social workers, as with other home educators, feared
that, in the hands of inadequately prepared staff, the monitoring
recommendation would result in an increase in false positive referrals
of home educating families to social care services. They noted
the consequent risk that attention and resources would be diverted
from children in higher risk groups.
78. Comments from other local authority officers
reflected their greater unease at the status quothey did
worry when a parent refused to meet with local authority staff
or when a family moved to avoid contact, and therefore did want
the right to meet with home educating families. The following
comments from two local authority officers reflected this concern:
I have a family where we haven't seen the children
for five years. We have no rights to see those children in the
current situation. Clearly, our concern that we haven't seen them
does not constitute a risk of significant harm and therefore we
can't raise a question with social care
That's not sufficient.
It is a limbo situation.
[this local authority was] able to provide
evidence [to the Badman review] that home education was being
used inappropriately by misguided or negligent parents, or parents
with mental health problems. Whilst these cases may not necessarily
meet the thresholds for social care to intervene, there is no
mechanism for engaging with these parents as they have withdrawn
their children precisely to avoid external agencies.
79. The officers taking this position did not necessarily
want a more overt safeguarding role for themselves. Their support
for the recommendation that home educating families be required
to meet with them related to their role in advising on educational
provision. Like the local authority officer noted above, they
still saw their safeguarding role as being one of, where necessary,
passing on relevant information to social care services.
The issue then is the level of the threshold for social care services
to intervene in a given caseor the efficiency with which
a local authority co-ordinates relevant support for a home educating
family as necessary, such as parenting advisors or youth workers.
80. We do not believe that annual home visits
by local authority officers to home educating families would represent
an improvement on existing safeguarding legislation. However,
the wider evidence that we received illustrated the potential
value of the requirement for annual meetings between home educating
families and local authority officers for the purpose of supporting
home education provision. We believe that local authorities need
a guaranteed means of engaging with these families.
81. Accordingly, we recommend that home educating
families be required to meet with their local authority officer
within three months of the child's home education commencing and
thereafter on an annual basis.
82. The Children, Schools and Families Bill does
not stipulate that meetings between home educating families and
local authority officers have to take place in the family home,
unless that is the only place that a child's education is provided.
We are not convinced that these meetings need take place in the
family home under any circumstances. We believe that two weeks
is sufficient notice of a meeting.
83. As is already the case with many voluntary
arrangements between home educating families and local authorities,
the primary purpose of these meetings should be to offer guidance
and support to and gather feedback from families, not inspection
or to impose school-based frameworks. Local authority officers
should focus on matters of educational provision, but be trained
to be able to identify signs of harm and know who to refer the
family to in such instances.
84. The Badman Report does acknowledge the need for
training in relation to safeguarding matters. Recommendation 9
of the Report states that all local authority officers and others
engaged in the monitoring and support of home education must be
suitably trained, and that this training must include awareness
of safeguarding issues. Recommendation 22 states that these officers
should be suitably qualified and experienced to refer children
to social care services where they believe it appropriate. The
Department has confirmed that funding will be available for the
training of local authority officersit estimates that £350,000
would be required in the first year and £280,000 required
on an ongoing basis for the entirety of officers' training pertaining
to the registration and monitoring proposals.
INTERVIEWS WITH THE CHILD
85. As outlined, the monitoring recommendation also
advocated giving local authority officers the power to interview
a child away from the child's parents. In his evidence to us,
Mr Badman maintained that this power need not be regarded as draconian:
of course, I understand the sensitivities
of interviewing the child and the child alone, but I hope that
is, in a sense, the last resortthat proper relationships
are established and that it would only be in extremis that a local
authority would want to use the powers. We have those powers,
but it does not mean that we need to exercise them.
I make the point in the Report
that, if you
educate at home, it is still first and foremost a home.
need to respect that, and they need to caveat their approach by
asking, "Have I assessed the risk appropriately? Do I need
to do this?"
This element of the monitoring recommendation was
nevertheless particularly disconcerting for some home educating
86. Home educators argued that the recommendation
does not respect the child's privacy and that interviews would
be stressful for many children, whether for reasons of shyness
or the child having been traumatised by his or her time at school.
One of the justifications that the Badman Report puts forward
for the recommendation is to give the child a voice.
Home educators noted that there is no discussion in the Report
as to whether the child could refuse to be interviewed.
On this the Children, Schools and Families Bill is somewhat disingenuousallowing
a parent or a child to refuse such an interview, but making refusal
a potential grounds for the local authority to revoke registration
to home educate should it not be able to ascertain the necessary
information by other means.
87. Other concerns related to the conditions under
which interviews with a child might be conducted. The following
comment by a home educator encompassed the points raised by a
number of others on this matter:
The judicial system acknowledges problems with
child testimony and strict protocols surround its elicitation
in legal cases.
The proposal offers the opportunity for
a local authority officer to abuse a child, to make false accusations
against the parent, and for the child or the parent to make false
accusations against the local authority officer. Interviews with
a child alone should take place only in cases where criminal activity
is suspected, should be videotaped, and ideally should be undertaken
in the presence of an independent expert who can ensure that the
child is not led, and that the interview process itself is not
unnecessarily damaging to the child.
88. Many of the local authority officers who we met
themselves had reservations about this aspect of the Badman Report.
While several of them could think of instances where a home educated
child had clearly not been able to speak freely in front of his
or her parents, they typically regarded seeing a child alone as
outside their remit and as a right best left with social care
services. One officer stated that if she were to speak with a
child away from the child's parents she would anyway want a social
89. We do not believe that local authority officers
responsible for liaising with home educating families should be
given the right to interview a child away from the child's parents.
That right should be reserved for colleagues who have primary
responsibility for child safeguarding, including social care services
and the police. A parent's or child's refusal for such an interview
to take place should not be included as grounds for revoking registration
to home educate. Any related concerns on the part of the home
education team should be passed to social care services.
Monitoring where the child has
special educational needs
90. Where the home educated child has special educational
needs (SEN), further issues are raised in relation to the monitoring
recommendation. The National Autistic Society notes that the population
of home educated children is likely to include a relatively high
proportion of children with autism. This, it suggests, is due
to the difficulties that many children with autism face at school,
whether with regard to a lack of understanding within schools
of the condition, difficulty accessing the necessary support,
the pressures of social interaction in a school setting, or bullying.
91. Carole Rutherford, co-founder of Autism in Mind,
a national campaign and support group for parents and carers living
with autism, elaborated on the added considerations for these
families in relation to home visits and interviews:
Children with autism find change very difficult
and often hold fixed and rigid views about people and the places
where they are used to coming into contact with that person. If
a child is used to seeing a professional/teacher therapist in
school then bringing that person into their home places that person
out of context in their minds, and they can find it very difficult
to interact with that person even though they are well used to
doing so in school.
92. On this point it should be noted that the Badman
Report also recommends that local authorities should where appropriate
commission the monitoring and support of home educating families
through the local Children's Trust, "thereby facilitating
the use of expertise from other agencies and organisations including
the voluntary sector" (recommendation 6). In response, the
Department has stated that statutory guidance would set out how
local authorities should go about commissioning, to ensure that
suitably qualified and experienced people took on that role.
93. It is not clear from the Badman Report, the
Department's registration and monitoring proposals or its full
response to the Badman Report that sufficient attention has been
paid to the conduct of monitoring where a home educated child
has special educational needs. The Department must set out how
its proposals around the training of local authority staff and
commissioning of expertise from other agencies would encompass
the particular concerns of these families.
94. Baroness Morgan has stated that the Department
does not expect the registration and monitoring recommendations
in the Badman Report "to place any significant additional
burdens on local authorities" since "most already monitor
It is the case that most authorities already operate a voluntary
system of registration and monitoring, which may or may not involve
home visits. However, the registration and monitoring proposals
might be expected to increase costs by revealing a larger population
of home educating families and requiring more intensive monitoring
than some local authorities currently conductas well as,
potentially, increasing the number of false positive referrals
to social care services and the number of pupils moving from home
education into school.
95. The Department has estimated that the costs of
registration and monitoring would be as follows:
| ||Estimated population of home educated children
|Total maximum costs in first year
|Total maximum ongoing costs||£10,268,474
DCSF, Impact Assessment, November 2009, pp 83-90.
The Impact Assessment notes that these costings contain
no allowance for in-year monitoring and that a spread of assumptions
in relation to this will need to be added. It also works on the
assumption that the number of home educated children "is
unlikely to exceed 40,000".
96. An analysis put forward elsewhere of the cost
implications of the recommendations in the Badman Report suggests
that they would require a minimum £60-150 million per annum
increase in state education spending. This figure is based on
the assumption that local authorities would be required to register
and monitor 50,000 home educated children, only around 20,000
of whom are already voluntarily registered with a local authority
and therefore likely subject to some monitoring, albeit potentially
'light touch' compared with that recommended in the Badman Report.
97. Many home educators maintained that the registration
and monitoring recommendations contained in the Badman Report
amounted to "a blanket screening programme for a normal risk
population" and therefore represented a waste of resources.
Several cited the situation in New Zealand, where the Education
Review Office recently announced the discontinuation of its regular
reviews (inspections) of home education provision on the grounds
that it was not cost effective.
The Office will now carry out reviews "only when requested
by the Secretary for Education, or in other particular circumstances".
98. Given the evidence that we have received and
the nature of the registration and monitoring proposals presented
in the Children, Schools and Families Bill, we do not believe
that the Department has put forward a realistic appraisal of the
likely costs of those proposals.
79 See also, DCSF consultation, Home Education-registration
and monitoring proposals, 11 June 2009. Back
Schedule 1, section 19E(3). Back
Schedule 1, section 19E(4). See also, DCSF, DCSF Response to
the Badman Review of Elective Home Education in England, October
Schedule 1, section 19E(5). Back
DCSF, Working Together to Safeguard Children: a guide to inter-agency
working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, 2006.
paragraphs 1.18-1.20. Back
DCSF, Elective Home Education: guidelines for local authorities,
2007, paragraph 4.7. Back
DCSF, Elective Home Education: guidelines for local authorities,
2007, paragraphs 2.12-2.16. Back
DCSF, Elective Home Education: guidelines for local authorities,
2007, paragraph 3.6. Back
Philips v Brown (unreported transcript 424/78 QB (DC)) 20 June
1980, cited in DCSF, Elective Home Education: guidelines for local
authorities, 2007, paragraphs 2.8, 3.4, 3.6. Back
An independent school is an establishment that provides education
either for five or more pupils of compulsory school age or for
one or more pupils if they have a statement of special educational
need or are in public care. Independent schools in England must
satisfy a range of standards, covering: the quality of education
provided; the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
of pupils; the welfare, health and safety of pupils; the suitability
of proprietors and staff; the premises and accommodation; and
the provision of information and the way in which complaints are
handled. These standards are examined before an application for
registration is approved and thereafter through inspection every
three years (or where the Department has concerns about a school
or where a material change is proposed by the school, such as
a change of address). Inspections are conducted by Ofsted or by
independent inspectorates whose work is monitored by Ofsted to
ensure quality and consistency (though Ofsted inspects the welfare
of boarders in all independent schools). Inspections are based
around the standards for registration and a school's 'School Information
and Evaluation Form', which should be keep up-to-date on an ongoing
basis. See, The Education (Independent School Standards) (England)
Regulations 2003; Ofsted, The framework for inspecting education
in independent schools, September 2009. Back
Monk, D, 'Regulating home education: negotiating standards, anomalies
and rights', Child and Family Law Quarterly, May 2009. Back
EHE 64, paragraph 5.3 (Isle of Wight Learning Zone). See also,
EHE 11, paragraph 6 (Mark Dennison); EHE 28, paragraph 3.2.1 (Sue
Gerrard); EHE 32, paragraph 2.4 (S J Sherwood); EHE 69, section
2 (Stephen Quinton) Back
EHE 25, paragraph 8 (Louise Walters). See also, Ev 49, paragraph
6.5 (Home Education Centre, Somerset); EHE 8 (Carol Mathews and
Nick Weir); EHE 9, paragraph 3 (Alexandra Barnes); EHE 26, paragraph
8 (Dirk and Angela Roth); EHE 28, paragraph 4.7 (Sue Gerrard);
EHE 79, paragraph 2.2a (David Watson); EHE 85, paragraph 3.9 (group
of home educating parents); EHE 86, paragraph 8 (Andrew Thorpe) Back
EHE 28, paragraph 5.1 (Sue Gerrard) Back
Information provided by the Department of Health. Back
EHE 178, paragraph 5.1 (Institute of Education, University of
Ev 89-90. See also, Ev 4, paragraph 28 (DCSF) Back
Annex 2; Ev 48, paragraph 6.3 (Home Education Centre, Somerset);
EHE 61 (Hilary Searing); EHE 92, paragraphs 3.4, 6.1 (Ms C Archer).
See also, EHE 20, paragraph 2.3.2 (Bristol Home Educators' Forum) Back
EHE 64, paragraph 4.9 (Isle of Wight Learning Zone); EHE 66,
paragraph 2.4 (Nicholas Hill); EHE 140, section 5 (Paul Shabajee
and Sarah Raynes) Back
Q 98 (Ellie Evans) Back
EHE 163, paragraph 3.5 (local authority officer); Annex 2 Back
Annex 2 Back
HC Deb, 3 November 2009, col 947W. See also, DCSF, DCSF Response
to the Badman Review of Elective Home Education in England, October
Q 33 Back
Ev 48, paragraph 6.1 (Home Education Centre, Somerset); EHE 60,
paragraph 2.3 (members of a Christian home educating group); EHE
176 (Millie Redshaw). See also, EHE 18, paragraph 7 (Louise Thorn);
EHE 48, paragraph 9 (Central London Home Educators); EHE 79, paragraph
2.2d (David Watson); EHE 116, paragraphs 7-8 (Miss Emma Whitford) Back
paragraph 3.3. Back
EHE 24, paragraph 6.5 (Marie Stafford). See also, EHE 33, paragraph
5.1 (Home Service) Back
Schedule 1, section 19F(e); Explanatory Notes to the Children,
Schools and Families Bill [Bill 8 (2009-10)-EN], paragraph 122. Back
EHE 28, paragraph 4.8 (Sue Gerrard) Back
Annex 2 Back
EHE 155, paragraphs 19-21 Back
Ev 60 (Carole Rutherford). See also, for example, EHE 141, paragraph
3.16 (Ann Newstead) Back
DCSF, DCSF Response to the Badman Review of Elective Home Education
in England, October 2009. Back
HC Deb, 29 June 2009, col 6W. Back
See, EHE 164, paragraphs 72-75 (Autonomous Education UK) Back
EHE 35 (Michael Crawshaw). See also, Ev 45, paragraph 4.6 (Home
Education Advisory Service) Back
EHE 36, paragraph 1.4 (Philip and Sarah McNeill); EHE 51, paragraph
3.2 (Gloucestershire Home Educators); EHE 102, paragraph 10 (Cumbrian
Home Educators); EHE 161 (Rainbow-Leaf Lovejoy) Back
EHE 48, paragraph 4 (Central London Home Educators); EHE 53,
paragraph 4 (Group of home educating families in Yorkshire); EHE
67, paragraph 4e (Greater Manchester Home Educating Network);
EHE 82 (Dr L Safran); EHE 100, paragraph 2.6 (HERA-Home Education
Research Association); EHE 105, paragraph 18 (S G Marshall and
L Daley); EHE 109, section 3 (Tom King); EHE 115 (ReactivEO) Back
New Zealand Education Review Office, www.ero.govt.nz/ero.
Note that these reviews were for the purpose of assessing educational
provision against that outlined in the parent's application to
home educate. Applications are made to the Ministry of Education
and must demonstrate that the child "will be taught as regularly
and as well as in a registered school". The decision was
in line with other measures by the Ministry to reduce expenditure-for
example, schools performing consistently well and that have demonstrated
competence in using self review to improve the teaching and learning
of pupils will be exempt from the current three-yearly inspections
and will instead be reviewed every four to five years. Back