Table of Contents
Home Education and Annual Review Statement or EHCP
Meeting is Optional
While the statement or Education Health Care Plan remains in force the council has a duty to review it at least once a year. For home educating families the review should not be an "inspection" of provision. The local authority will contact the parents to invite them to the Review and to give them the opportunity to contribute their views. Parents do not have to attend the review meeting. The Government is on record as saying "there is a range of ways in which an authority can make an assessment of suitability which do not involve being able to see the child or having access to the home."
Progress and Targets
The Government Home Education Guidelines state that home educating parents are not required to formally assess progress or set development objectives. It is up to the parents how much of a contribution they wish to make to the review. The concept of "targets" in EHCPs does not apply to home education, but only to institutions (See SENCoP 2015 9.6) Moreover, case law demonstrates that parents cannot be obliged to carry out programmes at home.
The new SEND Code of Practice says: "Local authorities do not have the right of entry to the family home to check that the provision being made by the parents is appropriate and may only enter the home at the invitation of the parents. Parents should be encouraged to see this process as part of the authority’s overall approach to home education of pupils with SEN, including the provision of appropriate support, rather than an attempt to undermine the parents' right to home educate. Local authorities should not assume that because the provision being made by parents is different from that which was being made or would have been made in school that the provision is necessarily unsuitable. Local authorities should also consider using their power to help parents make suitable provision."
Unfortunately, the paperwork sent out by the vast majority of local authorities has not been adapted for home education at all, and parents may be asked detailed questions about progress and curriculum levels which are simply not applicable to home education. One parent said "they are far more zealous about checking our provision than they were about checking what the school was doing". In other cases, families are ignored, with another parent saying she had to "had to ask for annual review and push for it to be done"
Contrary to what may be stated elsewhere, parents aren't legally required to keep a record of the work they are doing or a file of evidence for the local authority to look at. Nor are parents obliged to produce samples of work. Government Home Education Guidelines state that home educating parents are not required to: teach the National Curriculum; provide a broad and balanced education; have a timetable; have premises equipped to any particular standard; make detailed plans in advance; observe school hours, days or terms; give formal lessons; mark work done by their child; formally assess progress or set development objectives; reproduce school type peer group socialisation; or match school-based age-specific standards.
Failing Home Education
If it appears that a child is not on a school roll and is not being educated elsewhere the local authority has a duty to take steps to satisfy itself that the child is in fact receiving education. Government Guidelines recommend that the situation is first addressed informally which would involve asking parents for more information about the arrangements they are making for their children's education. Ultimately if the authority considers it expedient that the child attends school, it has the power to issue a School Attendance Order. The new SEND Code of Practice says "there is no provision in law for a ‘trial period’ of home education."
The statement will not necessarily be changed to an Education Health and Care Plan at the next review. Although the new SEN Code came into force in September 2014, it will not apply to existing statements. Statements will continue to be reviewed just as they have been in the past, until the statement becomes due for a re-assessment under the new rules. More about the transfer process here
For information about the review of a statement, look at Part 9 of the 2001 SEN Code of Practice but bear in mind that the home educated child is not legally required to make "progress towards meeting objectives specified in the statement", nor does the concept of "targets" apply to home education. Therefore the primary function may simply be "to consider whether to cease to maintain the statement or whether to make any amendments."