In December 2021, FOIRs were submitted to the English Department of Education and their counterparts in the devolved nations, asking in each case for details of any contact they had had with one another.
Responses received so far reveal that ongoing conversations on significant issues have indeed been taking place between civil servants in the English DfE and its Welsh counterpart.
An email from the Welsh correspondent dated 19 November made reference to a “joint meeting planned for next year with yourselves DfE rep and EHE officials from the other devolved nations.”
The original FOIRs and responses are available here:
Home Education policy – cooperation with the UK
a Freedom of Information request to Welsh Government – WhatDoTheyKnow
Home Education policy – cooperation with the Welsh Government
a Freedom of Information request to Department for Education – WhatDoTheyKnow
Procedure requires that all personal contact information be redacted before publication, but a summary of the content of the response may be found below – emphasis added in all occurrences.
On 16 Sept 2021, a Senior Policy Adviser on Elective Home Education from the Non-school education, activities, and integration unit in England wrote to a Welsh civil servant saying it was good to have had the opportunity when they met the previous week to “compare our EHE situations across England and Wales.”
On 29 October the Senior Policy Adviser asked his Welsh correspondent a significant question about a definition of ‘suitable education’ and what resistance he had encountered regarding this matter:
“On a different note, I was just looking at our consideration of whether we would move to define ‘suitable education’ in the English guidance. I wondered, given in Wales you’re moving towards defining that term – what, if any, kind of resistance have you encountered in tightening up that term? Did you face any backlash from EHE families, or even councils, or anyone else?”
Wales replied thus on 2 November:
“With regard to defining a ‘suitable education’… from what I can ascertain there wasn’t any significant backlash, more differences of opinion from different stakeholders.
Generally speaking, EHE families weren’t keen on specifics and wanted broader definitions that took into account the diversity of educational philosophies and approaches adopted by home educators, in contrast to local authorities who wanted clear definitions in place – as you’d probably expect.”
On 17 November the Senior Policy Advisor informed his Welsh contact of the publication of the Government’s response to the Education Select Committee’s report, then made the following comments about the judgment from the Portsmouth case, promising a fuller review in a conversation scheduled for the following day:
“We also got the judgment handed down in the judicial review case of Goodred vs Portsmouth City Council, where a home-educating parent challenged her LA’s application of our guidance. The claim was dismissed on all grounds, and it looks like it will have some implications for us in the near-future at least in terms of tightening up the guidance or having a review of it.“
The Welsh response to this, sent on 19 November, commented on the Portsmouth judgment as well as referring to a planned meeting for EHE officials from the other devolved nations:
“The Goodred judgement was obviously a positive outcome from both our perspectives and the initial impression is that it is supportive of some aspects of WG’s draft statutory guidance. In that vein, I was wondering if you are able to share a copy of your submissions on the case?”
Note: The email from England dated 16 October referenced the Association of Elective Home Education Professionals. For those who are not familiar with this group, information about them is available on the HE Byte and EdYourself websites.
To keep up to date with information concerning political discussion about home education in Wales, join our mailing list.
or you can