On 11th October 2017 the DESC launched a consulatation regarding changed to the Education Act.
A copy of the full consultation can be found here. There was one question that relates to home education which presented a somewhat misleading intpretation of the law:
It is a duty of parents of children of compulsory school age to ensure that they receive a suitable education.
A suitable education is defined in the current Act as ‘efficient full time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude taking into account any special educational needs.’
This parental duty applies whether the education is provided in schools or at home. The Department has a duty to enforce this requirement so that a suitable education is given.
At present the Department has no way of ensuring that parents who choose to home educate meet the suitable education provision in Section 24 of the Education Act 2001.
Home education is not, in itself, a risk factor for abuse or neglect. However, there is potential that these children can become ‘invisible’ and in these cases there is a safeguarding risk of isolation from professionals. The aim is to establish an appropriate scope of duties for the Department to ensure that children do not go unseen.
The Department is seeking to add another subsection to the existing clause 24 to allow the Department to introduce regulations which may require parents to provide evidence to the Department of the Education of the educational provision their children are receiving.
The consultation closed on 22nd November, and we are awaiting the Government response.