Local Authorities

The information below is taken from my 2016 SEN survey

The majority of home educated children with special needs didn't have a statement. Where children did have a statement, a quarter of respondents said it wasn't straightforward to deregister, even from mainstream.

Some parents had a very easy time taking their child out and suspected this was because the authorities just wanted the child off the books and out of the way ("I think they were hoping we would just leave"   "LA seemed relieved to not have to deal with me anymore"   "they never bothered asking what I was doing"   "nobody was interested").

Parents who had not yet taken their child out were not optimistic, saying they were "expecting either being ignored or being policed by the people who've already failed my child" or expecting nothing but grief. Looking back, one parent commented "lots of online scare stories from home ed forums about local authorities made me anxious but not borne out by experience."

Parents felt it helped considerably to know the law, and it was also a bonus if they didn't have to rush and could make thorough preparations ("I was in the fortunate position of being able to plan because though special School provision was hopeless it wasn't dangerous"   "LA had been ignoring us but absenteeism data gets attention"   "I made sure I knew all the information and laws surrounding my decision before I decided to home educate"   "our LA is a bit rubbish and so completely overwhelmed by the EHCP transfers so never really got round to investigating what we were doing".

Parents sometimes find that SEN departments don't really understand home education, and families are either policed or ignored or sometimes both.

Contact with the SEN department can be stressful. In some cases parents are looking for support, especially where they feel they have been pushed into home educating ("I want them to help but they say they can't"  "seems we don't exist anymore"   "the moment we removed our child from mainstream school they pulled the plug on all provision"   "we're arguing that this is not elective. We don't believe we had a choice in our decision"  "can't get any practical information or help from my councils SEN department"   "short staffed with no real follow up"  "asked for an Ed Psych assessment and got a long letter telling us why we should avoid going down that route"  "felt very lonely and all alone.") One parent said "we are trying to transfer to EHCP and get a new school place and they are working totally against us"

Some parents resent the intrusion ("given we received nothing I felt cheated that we had to report what we were doing to an inspector"  "I'd rather they stayed away and left me to it") or have negotiated their own compromise ("I just send in an annual report")

In some cases trust has broken down ("they will never write down anything that can be argued, preferring to phone.") However, another parent commented that making an effort to build positive relationships really does help"

The majority of home educated children with special needs in my survey didn't have a statement. Therefore any contact would be with the home education department rather than the SEN department. Opinions were very mixed. Comments included: "because was not costing the LA a penny they left us alone"   "I'm not going to inform the LEA in the hope that it takes a while to filter through from the school - I don't need more hassle"   "they email once a year to ask for a report"   "I keep getting told I chose it"   "I don't know which department it is, I send in a yearly report"   "we have as little contact as possible"   "we have had her name passed to social work by the council because they were worried about her health because she wasn't in school"   "he [home education advisor] has visited us once"  "the LA kept blaming me for poor parenting"

Local Authority Quotes

The quotes here are taken from policy documents and Freedom of Information responses regarding special needs statements and elective home education obtained in early 2013 by contacting all local authorities in England. For background information and source material click here http://edyourself.org/articles/2013foissenandlocationehe.php

Some local authorities behave in a punitive way towards home educating families where the child has special needs, as the quotes below illustrate. By way of contrast, for an example of positive practice please see Lancashire's EHE SEN policy here

Common misconceptions: parents are deemed to have opted out; LA believes it has a monitoring role; parents have to convince LA that they are able to home educate; parents need permission; LA insists on trial period before allowing child to be home educated.


In some cases all access to services and support ceases once a child is not on a school roll. Services which are denied include CAMHS, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy. Some local authorities also wrongly assume a monitoring or inspection role towards home educated children with a statement of SEN. This is not justified by law.

The Government Guidelines for Home Education apply equally to children with statements and EHCPs. Goverment Guidelines specifically say that parents are not required to teach the National Curriculum; not required to provide a broad and balanced education; not required to have a timetable; not required to have premises equipped to any particular standard; not required to set hours during which education will take place; not required to make detailed plans in advance; not required to observe school hours, days or terms; not required to give formal lessons; not required to mark work done by their child; not required formally to assess progress or set development objectives; not required to reproduce school type peer group socialisation; and not required to match school-based, age-specific standards.

Link Reference

This article is http://ehe-sen.org.uk/senquotes.php. The following links to other websites are contained in the article, displayed as citations to aid you in printing the document.

  1. my 2016 SEN survey http://edyourself.org/articles/SENsurvey.php
  2. deregister, even from mainstream http://edyourself.org/articles/deregistration.php
  3. http://edyourself.org/articles/2013foissenandlocationehe.php http://ehe-sen.org.uk/senquotes.pdf
  4. here http://new.lancashire.gov.uk/children-education-families/educating-your-child-at-home/special-educat
  5. Goverment Guidelines http://edyourself.org/articles/guidelines.php