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ADCS challenges the effectiveness of School Attendance Orders and appeals for methods to ensure children return to school

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has issued a response to the DfE’s call for evidence on elective home education.

It is currently estimated that over 45,000 children are being home schooled in England and, whilst home schooling has largely been viewed as a positive lifestyle choice to date, there is growing concern about the breakdown in relationships between schools, pupils and their families. Additionally, there is a concern that some parents have been encouraged to home school without fully understanding what they were taking on.

Currently, when all other options have been exhausted, Local Authorities can apply through the courts for a school attendance order (SAO) for the child to return to school if they believe the education on offer at home is unsuitable, in terms of educational progress, attainment, health, safety and welfare.  However, the ADCS suggest this is an unsatisfactory resolution with a lengthy legal process often necessary to secure the SAO resulting in children missing education for many months. Furthermore, they highlight that there is no guarantee of compliance even when the SAO has been awarded. Consequently, they argue for a change in SAO legislation to ensure that SAO’s remain in place whilst the child is of statutory school age.

 The response also argues that the ultimate sanction for the ongoing provision of unsuitable education in the home should be a return to school rather than ever closer monitoring of individual learners in their home and that children’s outcomes must be at the heart of every decision and discussion.

 Read the full response here