Two further Written Questions about home education were submitted by Laura Anne Jones on 13 July.
The questions and full text of Miles’ response are below, but the key points he made are:
After restating the purpose of the planned Local Authority database of all children, Miles affirmed that key stakeholders including HE families had been engaged and consulted during the development of the proposals. He cited the national meeting for HEs and LA representatives in 2018, the 2019 consultation on the draft statutory guidance and home education handbook and the 2020 one on Local Authority education databases. He asserted that all responses had been considered by officials, including those that referenced human rights and data protection legislation. (Emphasis added) Feedback from home educators and other stakeholders had helped to inform several amendments to the statutory guidance and home educator’s handbook. Dialogue between officials and HE representative families or groups has continued post-pandemic, in parallel with development of the proposals. Finally, he gave more detail on the proportional allocation of funding.
Laura Anne Jones asked:
- What consultation processes have, or will, be undertaken with regards to the proposed home education legislation?
- What is the approximate cost, per annum, for the introduction of the home education legislation?
Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, answered these jointly on 21 July. He stated:
“The purpose of the database is to assist local authorities in identifying those children/young people of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, not already known by the local authority to be electively home educated or in education otherwise than at school (EOTAS). I also refer you to my previous answer to WQ85669.
In developing the proposals for elective home education, we have used a range of approaches to engage and consult with key stakeholders, including home educating families.
In 2018, we commissioned a national meeting for elective home educators and local authority representatives. This facilitated discussions between home educators from across Wales and local authority officers about the experiences of home educating families, and their views on what type of support they would find helpful. In total, 38 individuals attended the meeting – 16 parents, 21 local authority officers and one representative from Careers Wales. There was one observer from the office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.
In 2019 and 2020, consultations were held on the draft statutory guidance and home education handbook and the database regulations. All responses have been considered by officials, including those responses that referenced human rights and data protection legislation. Feedback, which included views expressed by home educators and other stakeholders, helped inform several subsequent amendments to the statutory guidance and home educator’s handbook.
A summary and analysis of the responses to each of the consultations has been published on our website and they can be found at the links above.
Following a pause due to the pandemic, work on the proposals re-commenced in September 2021. Officials have since maintained an ongoing dialogue with various elective home education family representative groups via virtual meetings and related correspondence. I also met with an elective home education family representative group in May to listen to their views and discuss the proposals in Wales.
This year, we have provided local authorities with £1.7m to enable local authorities to work closely with home educating families to provide a range of practical support. The provision of this funding is unique to Wales.
This is made up of £1.1m to support local authorities to discharge their existing duties and new expectations as outlined in the draft guidance in relation to home education and £600k to provide direct financial support to home educating families. The funding allocation was informed by an external review of local authority home education practices to determine current levels of expenditure on home education and estimated levels of expenditure in the delivery of the new statutory guidance.”
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