Home education guidance: consultation analysis

Summary and analysis of the responses received to the home education guidance consultation.

3. Analysis of consultation responses

3.1 Consultation analysis approach

A mixed method approach was adopted to analyse the responses to this consultation.

3.1.1 Discussion on approach for quantitative data.

The consultation included quantitative questions where the respondents were asked to select their answer from a multiple-choice framework, such as "Yes", "No" or "Don't know". The numbers of responses in each category were counted and are presented in section 3.2. Where respondents did not provide an answer for a question, a "no answer" category is also analysed.

3.1.2 Discussion and approach for qualitative data.

The responses to qualitative questions were analysed as follows. Responses were initially reviewed to identify themes that presented across the body of responses. Responses were categorised for each question into groups according to the main theme that presented in each response. It is important to note that it was not unusual for responses to contain more than one theme, but that the most prominent theme was selected for the consideration of each question. To ensure consistency across the body of responses, the themes identified were recorded in a coding framework. This document was updated as the analysis progressed. The coding framework recorded themes that arose from the body of responses, and these were further reviewed to identify key themes which encompassed groups of themes. Where a theme is referenced as a key theme, it was identified as a theme raised by over 25 responses to the consultation.

Themes were recorded as sub-themes of the key theme. An example of a key theme identified is that of 'contact with home educators'. Within this key theme, two example sub-themes are 'clarity for appropriate information gathering' and 'equality of treatment for home educators'.

3.1.3 Limitations of the analysis.

It is also important to note the limitations of this approach and the assumptions present throughout the analytical process. The voice of the respondent, the analyst and the reader interpreting the coding framework are all present. The coding framework was developed based on themes emerging from the responses, and not according to pre-set categories identified by the analyst. The analysis of the responses is limited by the context of the questions and the draft guidance. Care should be taken when using a coding framework that attributes numerical values to qualitative data.[4] The framework used allows prominent themes to emerge, however these are not quantifiable in the same way as data gathered from quantitative questions. As a result, the themes are not presented in a way which attributes a number of responses to them. It is accepted that this will not provide detail on the volume of responses within each key theme. Instead key themes are explored to reflect where a range of comments touch on the same issues. Further, the analysis is based on interpretation of a limited number of responses from a relatively small group of respondents and care should be taken in interpretation of these themes at a population level.

Further discussion of the key themes is found at section 4.

3.2 Consultation responses

In total 98 respondents provided responses for the consultation, 85 through the Citizen Space portal and 13 by email.

Category of respondent Number Percentage
Individual respondent 53 54.08%
Local authority 20 20.41%
Education Stakeholder 16 16.33%
Third sector 4 4.08%
Other professional stakeholder 5 5.10%

3.2.1 Quantitative analysis

This section provides quantitative analysis of the questions which required a "tick box" only response.

Figure 1.1 Question 1 Is the purpose of the guidance clear in the introduction?
showing responses to Question 1: Yes 62, No 23, Don’t Know 3 and Not Answered 10
Figure 1.2 Responses to Question 1 by respondent type
displaying the responses to Q1 by respondent type: individuals and organisations
Figure 2.1 Question 2 Is it clear that flexi-schooling is different to home education?
displaying the responses to Question 2: Yes 65; No 13; Don’t Know 4 and Not Answered 16
Figure 2.2 Responses to Question 2 by respondent type
displaying responses to Q2 by respondent type: individuals and organisations
Figure 3.1 Question 6 Is it helpful for a local authority to provide a structure for parents to use to provide information on their education plans?
displaying the responses to Question 6: Yes 50, No 32, Don’t Know 9 and Not Answered 7
Figure 3.2 Responses to Question 6 by respondent type
displaying responses to Q6 by respondent type: individuals and organisations
Figure 4.1 Question 7 Does 6 weeks provide sufficient time for a local authority to issue a decision regarding consent to withdraw a child from school?
displaying responses to Question 7: Yes 51, No 10, Don’t Know 16 and Not Answered 21
Figure 4.2 Responses to Question 7 by respondent type
displaying responses to Q7 by respondent type: individuals and organisations
Figure 5.1 Question 8 Do you consider in-person contact to be important?
displaying responses to Question 8: Yes 29, No 40, Don’t Know 10 and Not Answered 19
Figure 5.2 Responses to Question 8 by respondent type
displaying responses to Q8 by respondent type

3.3 Key findings

A total of 98 respondents submitted answers and comments for the 11 questions asked as part of the consultation. Responses varied greatly in length and in completeness. Some responses from organisations focussed on the areas of the consultation most relevant to their organisation's interests and submitted no answers to some of the questions. Where responses provided more over-arching comments that did not make specific reference to one question, these comments were included in the analysis of the most relevant questions.

  • Question 1 asked if the purpose of the guidance was made sufficiently clear in the introduction. 70% of respondents (62 responses) believed the purpose of the guidance to be clear.

As set out in 2.1, the draft guidance aims to encourage the development of positive relationships based on mutual trust that function in the best interests of the child or young person, between parents and local authorities in their roles in relation to home education.

The draft guidance recommended that a local authority make contact with a family known to be home educating in their area at least once a year, and that it was "desirable that this contact be in person where possible" (Home education, 4.3)[5]

  • Question 8 asked if the respondent considered in-person contact to be important. 37% of respondents (29 responses) believed that it was.

Several respondents commented that alternatives to in-person contact, such as video or telephone calls, provided useful means of communication that were more flexible than in-person meetings, and allowed home educating children and young people to be more comfortable in their own space.

  • Question 6 asked if it was helpful for a local authority to offer a template or structure for education plans for parents, 55% of respondents (50 responses) believed that it was.

A small majority of respondents thought it was helpful for a local authority to provide a structure for parents to use to provide their education plans as part of the request to withdraw from a school roll. Responses showed that a range of practice exists here, some local authorities offer a structure or template and others do not.

Several respondents commented that any structure offered would need to be optional - "I think this needs to be totally optional as if you make it too structured or too prescribed then it is at the danger of being just school at home" (Individual)

  • Question 7 asked if six weeks was sufficient time for a local authority to respond to a request to withdraw, 66% of respondents (51 responses) considered that it was sufficient.

Several respondents suggested that where there are no complications, a decision on a request to withdraw should be issued within a couple of days. Some respondents commented that the period of waiting for a decision can cause additional distress to children and young people who may already be experiencing distress or anxiety. It was noted that further clarity would be useful on when a decision-making period starts – whether that is when a request to withdraw is submitted, or when a local authority considers that it has sufficient information to process the request. Further clarity was also requested around attendance at school during the decision-making period.


Email: homeeducation@gov.scot

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