Support for home educating families in Wales announced

Support for home educating families in Wales announced

Welsh education secretary Kirsty Williams has announced plans for a comprehensive package of support for home educators and assistance for local authorities to identify school aged children not in formal education.

Support will include help with exam registrations, the same health offers made to children in school, access to Wales’ digital learning platform Hwb, exploring opportunities for home-educating families to learn Welsh and support from Careers Wales.

Kirsty Williams has also announced that she intends to consult on using existing legislation to require local authorities to establish a database to assist them in identifying children not on a school register, not in education otherwise than at school and not receiving a suitable education.

At the same time the cabinet secretary will consult on statutory guidance setting out the arrangements for the operation of the database and how it will be managed.

The consultation will consider which partners will be able to contribute to providing the most complete database, such as local health boards, and whether independent schools should be required to tell local authorities about the pupils who attend those schools.

The above powers could not be used to compel a parent to register that their child is being home-educated. However, the powers would enable the local authority to compile a reasonably complete database of children not on any local authority education or independent school register.

The statutory guidance will outline the arrangements local authorities will be expected to put in place to identify home-educated children, and to assess the suitability of education.

In order to be able to make an assessment the education is suitable, it would not be unreasonable for the local authority to see the child. This will be for the local authority to decide and will be influenced by a number of factors including the context and circumstances surrounding each individual child.

The statutory guidance will provide clear advice to local authorities on this matter.

The Education Secretary will announce further details to the National Assembly for Wales in a statement this afternoon (31 January 2018).

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