Home education guidance

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Closes 31 Aug 2022

Questions

1. The purpose of this guidance is to set out the relevant law, to provide advice on the roles and responsibilities for local authorities and families in relation to home education; and to encourage the development of trust, mutual respect and positive relationships.

Is this purspose sufficiently clear in the introduction? 

Please refer to the consultation document. An overview of Section 1: Introduction is provided below.

More information

The introduction sets out 

  • The right of every child to an education 
  • The choice to provide home education is a legitimate choice, alongside the option of sending a child to school
  • Legislation relevant to home education is signposted in Section 2 of the guidance
  • Areas outside the scope of the guidance
  • Information on roles and responsibililies
  • The revised version of the guidance will replace guidance from 2007
  • The guidance aims to reflect the changes to education policy and legislation since 2007.
2. The law does not foresee flexi-schooling, or make provision for it. Flexi-schooling is not the same as home education. Is this made sufficiently clear in paragraph 1.4?

Please see the text of pragraph 1.4 below

More information

1.4      This guidance applies to home education provided by parents where the child does not attend school. It does not apply to education being provided outwith school by local authorities. This guidance does not apply to “flexi-schooling”, where a child attends school for some of the time, for example, on certain days or for certain subjects, and is educated elsewhere the remainder of the time. Flexi-schooling does not have any basis in Scottish education law but is an arrangement entered into between a local authority and a parent. This guidance is also not intended to extend to where a child is on a school roll and attending for part of the year, but travels outwith the local authority at other times using means other than home education to maintain continuity in learning while travelling. Gypsy/Traveller families are one group who may fall within this category, and may benefit from further resources and information that is available from the Scottish Traveller Education Programme (STEP). Only where children do not attend any school, and where the education is provided predominantly by the parents, should the arrangement be considered to be home education.

Relevant law

Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000

14.  Guidance to education authorities as to home education

The Scottish Ministers may issue guidance as to the circumstances in which parents may choose to educate their children at home; and education authorities shall have regard to any such guidance.

 

European Convention on Human Rights - Article 2 of Protocol 1

No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.

 

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Article 2

Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Article 3

In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Article 12

Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Article 23

Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Article 28

Parties recognise the right of the child to education.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Article 29

Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

(a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

(c) The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;

(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;

(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.

 

Children (Scotland) Act 1995, Section 6 (1)

(1) A person shall, in reaching any major decision which involves—

(a) his fulfilling a parental responsibility or the responsibility mentioned in section 5(1) of this Act; or

(b) his exercising a parental right or giving consent by virtue of that section,

have regard so far as practicable to the views (if he wishes to express them) of the child concerned, taking account of the child’s age and maturity, and to those of any other person who has parental responsibilities or parental rights in relation to the child (and wishes to express those views); and without prejudice to the generality of this subsection a child twelve years of age or more shall be presumed to be of sufficient age and maturity to form a view.

 

Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000, Sections 1 and 2

Provision of school education: right of child and duty of education authority

1 Right of child to school education

It shall be the right of every child of school age to be provided with school education by, or by virtue of arrangements made, or entered into, by, an education authority.

2 Duty of education authority in providing school education

(1)Where school education is provided to a child or young person by, or by virtue of arrangements made, or entered into, by, an education authority it shall be the duty of the authority to secure that the education is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential.

(2)In carrying out their duty under this section, an education authority shall have due regard, so far as is reasonably practicable, to the views (if there is a wish to express them) of the child or young person in decisions that significantly affect that child or young person, taking account of the child or young person’s age and maturity.

2. (1) Where school education is provided to a child or young person by, or by virtue of arrangements made, or entered into, by, an education authority it shall be the duty of the authority to secure that the education is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential.

2. (2) In carrying out their duty under this section, an education authority shall have due regard, so far as is reasonably practicable, to the views (if there is a wish to express them) of the child or young person in decisions that significantly affect that child or young person, taking account of the child or young person's age and maturity.

 

Education (Scotland) Act 1980

28       Pupils to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents

(1) In the exercise and performance of their powers and duties under this Act, the Secretary of State and education authorities shall have regard to the general principle that, so far as is compatible with the provision of suitable instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure, pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents.

30       Duty of parents to provide education for their children

(1) It shall be the duty of the parent of every child of school age to provide efficient education for him suitable to his age, ability and aptitude either by causing him to attend a public school regularly or by other means.

(2) Section 1 of the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000 (right of child to be provided with school education by, or by virtue of arrangements made by, an education authority) is without prejudice to the choice afforded a parent by subsection (1) above.

Please provide any comments on flexi-schooling that you may have.

3. How can local authorities hear the individual and collective voices of home educated learners?


Please give examples of good practice.

4. Please share examples of collaboration and involvement in the delivery of support and guidance for home educating families.
5. Do you have any comments on paragraphs 3.1 – 3.11?

Please refer to the consulation document. An overview of paragraphs 3.1 - 3.11 is provided below.

More information

Parents choose to home educate their children for many different reasons. Any reason given should have no bearing on whether or not consent is given.

Discussions between parents and the authority should be encouraged, to try to ensure that all options for the provision of education and any additional support, or strategies which may be of benefit to the child or young person, have been considered by their parents and the authority.

Home education should not be used as an alternative to the local authority providing a child or young person with the support they need to stay in school.  

It should be noted that while consent is needed for withdrawal from school, consent is not needed to home educate in itself

Consent is not needed in the following situations:

  • The child has never attended a public school.
  • The child has never attended a public school in that authority's area.
  • The child is being withdrawn from an independent school.
  • The child has finished primary education in one school but has not started secondary education in another.
  • The school the child has been attending has closed.
  • The child is not yet of school age.

Procedures for considering a family’s request to withdraw a child from school should be fair, clear, transparent, consistent and should be carried out without undue or unnecessary delay.

Local authorities should remember that home education is a legitimate choice, and that consent to withdraw a child from school should not be unreasonably withheld.

Local authorities should seek the views of the child in question as part of their consideration of the request.

6. Is it helpful for a local authority to provide a structure for parents to use to provide information on their education plans. For instance, broad questions or a template to support parents to think through their planned provision?

Please give details, and any examples of good practice.

7. Does 6 weeks provide sufficient time for a local authority to issue a decision regarding consent to withdraw a child from school?

Please give further details. 

8. Do you consider in-person contact between the local authority and home educating family to be important?


Please give examples of the types of contact that have worked well and in the best interests of the child.

9. How can local authorities best keep general data on the numbers of home educated children and young people within their area?
10. What is your opinion of a national approach to information management, for example, a national register?

More information

The subject of a national register of home educated children and young people is one that has been discussed by a previous Scottish Parliament Education Committee (Petition to Parliament PE01730) and an England-wide register forms part of the recommendations of the Westminster Select Committee on Education report, Strengthening Home Education, published July 2021.  

There may be advantages and disadvantages to a national register. A register  may be seen to be advantageous as a means to better understand the number, demographics and spread of home educated children and young people in Scotland, and to better reflect their needs in wider policy making.  However it may be seen as disadvantageous to require local authorities and home educating parents to maintain an accurate register of children and young people. 
 

11. What factors can facilitate home educated learners to access qualifications? What barriers or solutions may there be to accessing qualifications?

Please give details of factors that can facilitate access to qualifications.

Please give details of barriers or solutions to accessing qualifications.