Northamptonshire County Council (Northants LA) is generally respectful of home educators in the county, in their dealings. Home-educators will probably come into contact with an Education Liaison Officer from the “Education Entitlement Service” or “Education Entitlement Team” if they have any contact at all with the LA.
Be aware that “elective home education” is only a small part of the EES/EET’s remit.
If you deregister from a school, the EES/EET may contact you (but you are under no obligation to contact them). On the other hand, they may not. There appears to be no pattern at all. In other cases, the team write to families for years and then suddenly stop without explanation.
ALWAYS reply to letters from the LA promptly and within their timescales.
If you are new to home-education, it is reasonable to write briefly to state that you are still settling in and that you will reply more fully at a later date (give a timescale – anything up to about 6 months is commonplace).
NEVER ignore or fail to reply to letters from the LA, as this will result in their becoming concerned and may result in an unexpected visit (commonly known as “doorstopping”) from an education welfare officer or similar.
Unfortunately, Northamptonshire LA’s website, letters, written guidance and information pack do contain some inaccuracies (despite linking to their the DCSF guidance on their website).
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO COMPLETE THE FORM NOR DO YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT A VISIT FROM THE LOCAL AUTHORITY.
Inaccuracies with the initial letter from Northamptonshire Local Authority
“…as part of our monitoring…” Per the government guidelines, para 2.7, local authorities have NO statutory duty in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis. Local authorities are encouraged to address the situation informally – as per the established case law. (They can however, under Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996, local authorities intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education.)
Home visits: In recent times, the Northants’ Education Entitlement Team has begun automatically scheduling home-visits with new home-educating families. You are under NO obligation to accept a home-visit or meeting of any kind with the LA. You can decline this meeting in your reply their letter. The LA has no legal right to enter your home or insist on a meeting with either you or your child/ren. (Home education is NOT a safeguarding or child protection issue).
It is entirely the decision of the home-educating parent whether to meet with the LA. Such a meeting is almost entirely for the LA’s benefit, however some families do enjoy their visits and sometimes it helps if parents are divorced or if there is some other reason why “official” and/or face-to-face meetings would be beneficial. Otherwise, the practical benefit to a home-educating family is minimal, other than (hopefully) a pat on the back, since the LA are unable to help with funding or financial support, exam arrangements or give any other practical assistance.
Northants LA EHE Guidance Notes for Parents and Carers
Para 2.3 “It is up to the parent to show the Local Authority that a Planned Programme of education…” this is inaccurate. The onus is on the LA to disprove that an education is taking place, as opposed to the parent having to prove it.
Paragraphs 3 is not technically inaccurate, just somewhat irrelevant and slightly misleading – possibly due to it being written from a school perspective. It might be that the author has no practical experience of actually home-educating a child.
Paragraph 4.21 is partly inaccurate. Whilst you must deregister a child from their school (if they are registered at one), you are under no obligation to inform the Education Entitlement Service. Your child’s details will probably be passed to on to that team in any case, without your involvement, but you have no duty to undertake their communication for them.
Para 4.22 is completely inaccurate. You are under no obligation to inform the Education Entitlement Service or to be “registered electively home educated”
Para 5.2 is inaccurate. There is NO obligation to submit the Planned Programme of Education.
Para 6 is inaccurate in that it’s not the LA’s duty to monitor or judge your submission in the ways they have listed.
Planned Programme of Education
This is entirely unnecessary both legally and practically. A brief synopsis of what your approach will be is all that is required. To their credit, Northants LA don’t mind if you don’t fill this form in and write your own summary. (Although they would save a lot of paper if they dispensed with it altogether). You also do NOT have to provide samples of the child/ren’s work.
You might, instead, mention any/all of the following:
– your education philosophy (if you have one),
– some of the things you have been doing,
– some of the subjects you have covered,
– some of the books and resources you are using,
– some of the places you have been.
Beware of providing too much of a detailed forward plan because apart from it not being a legal requirement, in all likelihood, your plans will change, then you will have to explain why you didn’t do what you said you would.