5. Good practice for local authorities
5.1 Clear information
Local authorities should provide clear and accurate written information and website information on home education. Contact details for home education support organisations should also be provided (see end of this guidance). All written information should be made available to parents in community languages and alternative formats on request.
Local authorities should provide parents who are, or who are considering, home educating with a named contact within the authority who is familiar with home education policy and practice and has an understanding of a range of educational philosophies. The authority may wish to invite the parents to meet with a named officer to discuss their proposals or provision. Any such meeting should take place at a mutually acceptable location. The child should be given the opportunity to attend that meeting, or otherwise to express his or her views, but the child's attendance should not be seen as compulsory. Either during such a meeting, or otherwise, the parents and the authority should consider and agree what future contact there will be between them. In some cases, where parents have a clear idea of what home education entails and where there are no other concerns, such a meeting may not be necessary.
Local authorities should, as far as practicable, ensure that staff who may be the first point of contact for a potential home educating parent, e.g. answering telephone enquiries, understand the right of a parent to choose home education. Authorities generally should aim to ensure that parents are provided with accurate information from the outset.
5.2 Record keeping
Local authorities should keep a written record setting out any discussions, recommendations or agreements made with parents, and where relevant the reasons for them. Any written report should be copied to the parents, and where appropriate, the child. In exceptional cases, where there is a reasonable concern that a passage in any written record might cause serious harm to the physical or mental health or condition of any person concerned, consideration should be given to withholding that part of it. The authority will be aware of the need to comply with data protection and freedom of information principles.
5.3 Practical support and resources
Authorities are not legally obliged to provide any resources for home educated children. However, they may choose to do so, particularly where there are minimal resource implications.
Some of the ways in which authorities might choose to support home educating families include:
- Providing general advice.
- Allowing access to learning centre resources.
- Allowing access to school resources where feasible.
- Allowing access to examination centres where feasible.
- Facilitating access to any discounted rates for educational materials.
- Providing access to local authority owned community and sports facilities on the same basis as for school children.
- Informing home educating families of any projects or programmes which might reasonably be accessed by home educated children.
As a matter of good practice, authorities should regularly review all of their procedures and practices, including in relation to home education. This could focus on whether improvements could be made in the processing of requests to withdraw a child from school, and contact with home educating families, and generally to meet the needs of children and parents. Home education organisations and home educating parents should be involved in this process of review. Effective reviews, together with the sensitive handling of any complaints, will help to secure effective partnership.