Leader of the Opposition Andrew R. T. Davies (South Wales Central) tabled two Written Questions on 24 October. Both concerned the provision of funding for the role of elective home education coordinators.
The first (WQ86402) read:
“Will the Minister confirm whether or not Welsh Government funding for the role of elective home education coordinator for councils like Swansea will be renewed after 31st March 2023?”
His second question (WQ86403) read:
“How much does Welsh Government intend to provide for funding of the role of elective home education coordinator for councils across Wales?”
These were answered in brief by Jeremy Miles the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language on 3 November:
“I will write to you as soon as possible with a substantive response and a copy of the letter will be published on the internet.”
The substantive response was supplied on 17 November.
This explained that the Elective Home Education budget is part of the Tackling Disaffection BEL [Budget Expenditure Line] within the Education and Welsh Language MEG [Main Expenditure Group].
The total allocated for EHE is £1.7m, comprising £1.1m to support local authorities to “discharge their existing duties and new expectations as outlined in the draft statutory guidance in relation to home education,” and £600,000 “to provide direct financial support to home educating families.”
The Minister said he expected that this funding would continue in 2023-24 and 2024-25.
Nowhere, however, was any explanation offered as to why the EHE budget should fall within the Tackling Disaffection category.
A search led to a 2002 Annual Report on Social Inclusion in Wales, which supplies a little more background information. Para 5.37 on page 92 reads:
“Following a two-day conference on Tackling Disaffection Together in October 2001, work is underway to develop a future agenda/action plan for pupil disaffection in Wales. This will address areas such as truancy and attendance, behaviour, exclusions and bullying. Further consultation will be held in developing legislation and procedures relating to school exclusions under the new Education Bill. The Bill will also allow for targeting all absences from school – rather than just unauthorised absence.”
Almost twenty years on, it would seem that home educators are still functionally grouped together with various problem areas related to absenteeism or rather, with that holy grail of full school attendance. Until such underlying narratives change and more positive mindsets are developed amongst politicians and local authorities, it is hard to envisage how a relationship of trust and open communication could be established with electively home educating families.
When a family’s choice to home educate is only accorded begrudging acknowledgement and whilst their children are perceived as the next best thing to absent ‘pupils’, one can’t help but feel that there is still a long way to go.
Separately, on 28 October, Gareth Davies (Vale of Clwyd) requested an update about EHE reforms in his constituency, and asked what the Welsh Government was doing to alleviate the concerns of home educators about such proposals.
“Will the Minister provide an update on elective home education reforms in Denbighshire, and outline the steps Welsh Government is taking to address home education providers’ concerns around the delivery of such measures?”
Jeremy Miles responded thus on 8 November:
“It is expected that the new statutory guidance for elective home education (EHE) will be implemented in all 22 Local Authorities in Wales, including Denbighshire, in April 2023.
In developing policy in this area, officials have given full consideration to the views expressed by home educators and other stakeholders. For example, feedback received in the 2019 consultation, has resulted in amendments to the draft statutory guidance.
Prior to implementation, we will be engaging with all our stakeholders, including home educators and representative groups, to communicate the final form of the proposals and address any misconceptions there may be around them.”
We note that whilst the revised date of September for providing details of this guidance to the Senedd appears to have slipped, the proposed implementation date for it remains the same.
To keep up to date with information concerning political discussion about home education in Wales, join our mailing list.
or you can