Regulation and Monitoring

The law on education otherwise i.e. outside of school, taken together with the "Elective Home Education: Guidelines For Local Authorities" gives local authorities no responsibility, rights or control over home educators. Local authorities cannot require home educators to register, cannot demand regular inspection of the provision or access to the children and cannot seek to control or approve the education provided by parents at home. The only exceptions to some of the above are certain cases of children with special needs where the local authority is charged with providing support.

While local authorities have very little authority over home educators they do have a responsibility to identify children in their locality who are not receiving an education. Many local authorities find this a frustrating conflict and have often complained about their lack of power over home educators. They have done so in their feedback to the Graham Badman review of home education, in their submissions to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Home Education and in other surveys and inquiries. Many claim that unless they can require all home educators to register, and regularly inspect the provision of every home educator, they are unable to effectively deliver on the identification of children not receiving an adequate education. Local authorities sometimes attempt to circumvent the law and force compulsory registration on to home educators and/or otherwise deprive home educators of their legal rights under the pretext of identifying children missing education, according to the Education Select Committee's Fifth Report to Parliament. On numerous occasions, as with Kent County Council, home educators have had to fight back to avoid local authority interference.

Home educators respond to local authority frustrations on identifying children missing an education by pointing to the fact that the law and guidelines give local authorities the option to intervene only when it has already come to the attention of the local authority that a child is not receiving an adequate education, that it was not the intention of the legislators to give local authorities the power to go on "fishing trips" that would impose on all home educators, that any regime of regular inspection of home educators would be hugely expensive while delivering very little value and that local authorities would achieve far more using their resources to improve schools that are not delivering an adequate education. Further, as local authority funding is related to the number of children in school local authorities have a perverse incentive to force home educated children into schools. That local authorities often act outside the law when dealing with home educators and given that the "large majority" of local authorities (all except 30) provide misleading information on their websites in relation to home education (page 23 of The Education Committee's report to Parliament), home educators remain wary of and opposed to any additional powers being awarded to local authorities who many see as anti-home education.