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Children who have been the Subject of Safeguarding Concerns in School and who are then Removed from School for Elective Home Education (EHE)

Children who have been the Subject of Safeguarding Concerns in School and who are then Removed from School for Elective Home Education (EHE)

In Hertfordshire, at any one time, there are between 1500 and 2000 children and young people who are educated by their parents, rather than at school. Instead of registering and sending their child to school, parent(s) can choose to educate their child at home. This is known as Elective Home Education (EHE). The vast majority of these children and young people are well cared for and cause no concern with respect to safeguarding. However, in a small minority of cases, children and young people may be removed from school in order to avoid professional scrutiny.

The reasons parents choose to educate their child themselves vary. In this situation a child’s education becomes the responsibility of the parents but does not need to take place in school (see GOV.UK, Elective home education (DfE)).

Some of the reasons parents choose to undertake Elective Home Education are because:

  • Ideological or philosophical views which favour home education, or wishing to provide education which has a different basis to that normally found in schools;
  • Religious or cultural beliefs, and a wish to ensure that the child’s education is aligned with these;
  • Dissatisfaction with the school system, or the school(s) at which a place is available;
  • Bullying of the child at school;
  • Health reasons, particularly mental health of the child;
  • As a short term intervention for a particular reason;
  • A child’s unwillingness or inability to go to school, including school phobia;
  • Special educational needs, or a perceived lack of suitable provision in the school system for those needs;
  • Disputes with a school over the education, special needs or behaviour of the child, in some cases resulting in ‘off-rolling’ or exclusion;
  • Familial reasons which have nothing to do with schools or education (e.g. using older children educated at home as carers.

The role of EHE is to build effective relationships with parent/carers known to the service and to make informal enquiries regarding their child’s education provision. Contact may be in the form of letter, meeting or telephone conversation with the parent/carer and child, although information can be given to the LA by the parent in any format that they so choose.

EHE consider information they receive and form a professional opinion as to whether or not the provision is suitable. This opinion helps the LA to fulfil its duty to identify children within the county who are not receiving a suitable education. EHE will then take all reasonable steps to try to help parents/carers. However, if the situation is not resolved, formal enquiries will be made under Section 437 the Education Act 1996. Parent/carers will then be required to provide information which shows that their child is receiving a suitable education or to enrol their child at a school.

There are limitations within EHE:

  • EHE have no rights of access to the home without express consent from parent/carer;
  • EHE have no rights of access to the child without express consent from parent/carer;
  • EHE do not have the right to assess the child’s ability or aptitude without express consent from parent/carer;
  • EHE do not have the right to monitor the quality of the education provision on a routine basis without express consent from parent/carer;
  • Parent/carers are under no duty to meet with a member of the EHE Team;
  • Parent/carers are under no duty to give information about the education they are providing unless required to do so under a Notice issued under Section 437 the Education Act 1996.

Following the death of Khyra Ishaq in Birmingham, the government commissioned the Graham Badman report into EHE, however, the recommendations of this report have not been implemented. Currently there is no compulsory register of EHE children although Hertfordshire County Council maintains a register of the children they are aware of. There are some children who have never been in school of whom there is no record. It was a finding of the Khyra Ishaq Serious Case Review (SCR) that social care staff were under the wrong impression that the child was receiving a much higher level of monitoring by the Education Welfare Team (the Hertfordshire County Council equivalent is the Statutory Attendance and Participation Team which includes EHE) than was actually the case.

A child or young person can become known to EHE through parental contact if they have never been registered on a school roll or if a child is removed from school for EHE, the school completes a removal from roll form and notifies the Statutory Attendance and Participation Team (to remove a child from a school roll for EHE the parent must has placed in writing by letter or email their intention to home educate their child, without this information the child must remain on roll and non-attendance addressed even if education is being provided and suitable).

Where possible it is important to encourage parent(s) before they make the decision to electively home educate their child to contact EHE to discuss in the first instance.

It is important to highlight that:

  • Parent/carers should never be encouraged to home educate in order to avoid an exclusion. Parents should be informed that if their child is excluded and remains in the school system, the LA will work with parents to find alternative provision;
  • A school cannot request or advise a parent/carer to de-register their child from the school/academy to home educate. Any decision to home educate must be made by a parent/carer. The responsibility to provide a suitable education to their child will be effective from the date their child is removed from the school roll;
  • EHE must not be suggested as a solution to attendance issues or any other difficulty that a child or young person may be experiencing.

The EHE record is started, and parent(s) receive a letter, information for parents and resource list as well an enquiry form seeking information around the education being provided.

Children in school may already be causing concern with respect to safeguarding. A child may have been the subject of an Early Help Assessment or this may have been offered to the family and refused. If school or any professional has any safeguarding concerns for a child being removed from school for EHE, the school should follow their safeguarding procedure, contact MASH to discuss or make a protected referral identifying their concerns.

Some of the issues that might give rise to safeguarding concerns, especially when more than one issue has been identified and when they include parenting capacity, are:

  • Social isolation;
  • CSE/Gangs and exploitation;
  • Poor presentation i.e. dirty and tired;
  • Poor behaviour and social skills;
  • Unmet health needs;
  • Parental alcoholism / mental illness / substance abuse etc;
  • Frequent changes of school;
  • Children with special educational needs;
  • Lateness and poor attendance.

Safeguarding concerns may have been present prior to the child’s removal from school for EHE or they may come to light afterwards. Also, existing concerns may escalate due to the intensity of the child / parent relationship. If Elective Home Education has concerns following any contact with parent(s) or the child/young person they would raise these with MASH or Social Care.

On receipt of a referral meeting the threshold for social care intervention where the child or young people is recorded as home educated, a Social Worker will be allocated to complete an Assessment. It is essential that the Social Worker speaks to:

  • All members of the household;
  • The child’s father/mother if he/she is absent from the household but still in contact with the child;
  • All professionals involved with the family, including EHE;
  • The child, who should be seen alone, away from the family home.

The Social Worker needs to be mindful that:

  • Once removed from school, the child is not being seen on a daily basis and no longer has access to a range of trusted adults with whom to share concerns about their welfare;
  • Elective Home Education who has no statutory right of access;
  • That they seek advice and guidance from EHE as to what education within the framework should or could look like to ensure that judgements are appropriate;
  • That a joint home visit between social worker and EHE could be considered to assess educational offer, support any plan and ensure suitable.

If the education provided by the parents is deemed to be unsuitable then EHE will take appropriate action to address which may include a referral to the Children Missing Education Officer.

Adult Care Services, Health Care Workers, the Police, Voluntary Sector workers and members of the public who know families whose children are receiving EHE should inform EHE of any concerns they have about a parent’s ability to provide suitable education on grounds such as:

  • Alcohol or substance abuse;
  • Mental illness;
  • Incidents of domestic abuse;
  • Previous offences against children.

This would generate a referral to the Assessment Team where the child is living so that the child’s circumstances can be fully explored.

Professionals, such as GP's or Health Visitors and others listed above, who are in contact with a family where a child is educated at home should be mindful of the fact that the child is not being seen on a daily basis and does not have access to a range of trusted adults with whom to share concerns about their welfare. If these professionals have any concerns about the child’s safety or welfare they should ensure that the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Child Protection Procedures are followed.

Professionals can contact EHE on

Last Updated: March 11, 2024