HES submits evidence to UK inquiry

Our response to the UK Government's Education Committee inquiry into home education in England has now been published. We submitted evidence in November 2000 to support home educating families in England (education is devolved to the home nations in the UK). The committee had invited submissions addressing eight areas, including: The duties of local authorities with regard to home education including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education.Whether a statutory register of home educated children is required.The benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face. Following a delayed reply, we have been advised that the committee has accepted our submission, which can be read here.
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Photo contest open to home educated young people

Home educators have been invited to take part in the 2021 My Place Photography Competition delivered by the Scottish Civic Trust, which this year has the theme 'Climate Change'. The competition is a Scotland-wide built environment contest for young people aged 4-18, and it aims to inspire them to explore their local buildings by taking photographs. All entries will be included in a public exhibition and the winners featured in a promotional leaflet. Entries should be made through the My Place website by a home educating parent or carer on behalf of their child/children by registering here. Once membership is approved, photos can be uploaded to the website. The deadline for entries is August 29. Entrants can find further information and photographic tips on the My Place competition guidance page.
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Updated Covid guidance info for HE families

The Scottish Government has replied to our query about what home educators are permitted to do in the current phase of the Covid restrictions. A spokesperson said the government appreciates "that with the wider reopening of schools this week, there is demand for specific guidance for home educators at as early a stage as possible." She added: "The Scottish Government continue to ask home educating groups to follow the Coronavirus organised activities guidance. This means "effective from 12 March, all children and young people aged up to 18 can participate in organised activities outdoors provided the group does not exceed 15 people, including up to 2 adult facilitators. This therefore enables groups of mixed ages to meet. "Limited travel between local authority areas is also permitted for the specific purpose…
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No response to questions about SQA gradings

There has been no response so far from the cabinet secretary for education and skills, John Swinney MSP, to the joint letter we sent along with Home Education Forum Scotland in October urging him to ensure any new SQA exams and grading arrangements would take into account the needs of home educated candidates. You can read a full update about this on the HEFS website -- here.
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HE children should not miss out on winter payment

A winter support fund for families and children was announced by the Scottish Government on November 30. This included £16m to give low income parents and carers of an estimated 156,000 children (in receipt of free school meals) a one-off £100 payment by Christmas. After making inquiries, home education families in the low income group found they were ineligible to receive this payment. This is despite senior stage home educated children (16-19, in full-time education) in that group being entitled to Educational Maintenance Allowance from local authorities. HES members asked their LAs and MSPs why they were not being included in the payment and they received inconsistent and unsatisfactory replies. The view of HES is that this payment should be given to the families of HE children who meet the…
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Research shows some LAs not following govt guidance

Some of Scotland's local authorities are not following the Scottish Government legal guidance when they process requests from parents to withdraw their children from state school rolls in order to home educate, it has been revealed. The findings came after research was carried out by Scottish Home Education Forum (SHEF) within the home ed community, and these were published in an article in Times Education Supplement Scotland today. You can read the full article here.
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LA’s warm clothes scheme extended to HE families

Home educators are often overlooked when it comes to inclusion in local authority projects, and Dumfries and Galloway were no different - until HES challenged this. Poverty can hit at any time, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the issue, with many families juggling ever-tightening budgets. Dumfries and Galloway are running a Warm Winter Clothing scheme which was aimed initially at school children but has now been opened up to home educated children. Poverty doesn’t just affect school children after all. If your home educated child is in need of warm clothes this winter and lives in Dumfries and Galloway, you can use the link below to place a request. https://supportdg.dumgal.gov.uk/article/21523/Warm-Winter-Clothes-and-Free-School-Uniform-Project
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HES urges fair treatment for external exam candidates

Home Education Scotland and Scottish Home Education Forums have sent a joint letter to Education Secretary John Swinney urging him to take action after home educated and independent entrants for SQA exams suffered unequal treatment compared to school and college candidates during the 2020 pandemic, losing out on being awarded exam grades and suffering financially. The letter is set out below: 27th October 2020 Dear Mr Swinney                                                                                                                      Ref: Call for review of SQA cancelling exams excluding the needs of home educated children and external candidates, including those with additional support needs. We understand that this is a difficult time in creating guidance and practice during the Covid-19 pandemic and we would like to bring to your attention that there has been a disproportionate effect on the home educating community…
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LAs’ data protection policies come under the spotlight

We have published new research in collaboration with The Scottish Home Education Forum examining local authorities’ data protection policies and practices in relation to the withdrawal of children from school for elective home education. Taking Local Authorities to Task was undertaken to expand on one of 16 recommendations in a previous report, Home Truths, which we published jointly in March 2020. That report highlighted intrusive and unnecessary data collection and sharing by councils when parents elect to withdraw their children from state schools in order to home educate.  You can read the latest full report here:  Taking Local Authorities to Task: An investigation and critique of Local Authorities’ data protection policies and practices in relation to the withdrawal of children from school for elective home education in Scotland
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