"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
-Charlotte Mason

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Diana Johnson announces a new support package for home educating families

Schools Minister Diana Johnson has today announced better access to qualifications and more support for home educated children with special educational needs (SEN), signalling the start of a new relationship between local authorities and families who choose to educate at home. The commitment comes as Children's Secretary Ed Balls today sent the Government’s full response to Graham Badman’s Review of Elective Home Education to the Chair of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee. The response sets out a new support package for home educated children, which includes better access to GCSEs, vocational qualifications and further education. The proposed changes to monitoring arrangements will also make sure that the right checks and balances are in place so all children receive a suitable education, in a safe environment.Key features of the new support package include:

more flexible access to public examinations and exam centres for home educated children, so their parents no longer have to rely on ad hoc arrangements with schools or colleges that can be a long way from home

more tailored support for home educated children with special educational needs

better support for home educated young people who want to go to college
improved access to music lessons, school libraries, work experience, sports and other specialist facilities in schools and colleges

a commitment from the Government to look at arrangements for flexi-schooling, so that home educated children can have the option to attend school on a part-time basis.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools Diana Johnson said:

"The vast majority of home educating parents offer their children a good education, and the support we have outlined today will help them and their children. It is right that home educated children should have access to things like school libraries, sports facilities and music lessons and also have more tailored support for special educational needs.

"We’ve always been clear that parents have the right to educate their children at home. There are no plans to change this, and we understand parents choose to home educate for a number of different reasons.

"But we know there are a small number of cases where local authorities have concerns for the safety of home educated children. The Government has a responsibility to make sure that the safety - and rights - of vulnerable children are protected, which is why we are looking at how we can put in place better checks and balances, so we can be confident every child is safe and learning."

Chief Executive of National Children's Bureau Sir Paul Ennals said:
“Home educated children with special educational needs have long needed better support. I warmly welcome the measures announced today to improve the support available to these children".

Today’s response reiterates the Government’s support for statutory arrangements for the registration and monitoring of home education, so that all children are kept safe and receive a good education. The proposals are currently the subject of a public consultation, which closes on 19 October.

Graham Badman has today also written to the Select Committee setting out the results from a snapshot survey of local authorities, which received 74 responses.

Graham Badman said:

“I am pleased that the Secretary of State has accepted my review in full and will provide the resources needed to support home educators to do their job in the best possible way.

“The package as a whole will give home educated children far greater access to FE colleges, exam centres, school facilities and wider educational opportunities, while ensuring that they are prepared for life in the wider community as adults. Local authorities say that most home education is good, but they need stronger powers to deal with cases where it is poor and to step in if they have concerns for a child’s safety. I am glad that the Government is consulting on arrangements to make sure that all home educated children have access to a good and safe education.”

The response also outlines that more work will be done to clarify what is ‘suitable and effective’ home education to support new guidance to local authorities on supporting and monitoring home educators. This will emphasise how local authorities can work with home educating parents to make sure that the needs of all children, including those with special educational needs, can be met in the home environment where appropriate.

The guidance will take account of findings from the Lamb Inquiry, to be published later this year.

For more information and to access the documents, go to the Independent review of elective home education page and read the full DCSF press notice.

No comments: