The Children’s Commissioner supports the choice currently available to all families to educate their children at home.
Families choose home education for many different reasons. Home education can enable children to develop their talents and skills to the full, in an environment where they are happy, healthy and safe.
What has the Children’s Commissioner called for?
The Commissioner wants Welsh Government to make sure that all children are getting their human rights. This is because children’s human rights, under the UNCRC, are universal. All children should experience their rights, wherever they’re educated.
Since 2015 the office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales has called for Welsh Government policy on home education to meet three tests:
- First, that all children in Wales can be accounted for and that none are invisible.
- Second, that every child receives a suitable education and their other human rights, including health, care and safety.
- And third, that every child is seen and their views and experiences are listened to. This is essential for the first two tests to be met.
In February 2021 the Commissioner published an extensive review of Welsh Government’s actions on elective home education. This Review found that Welsh Government’s 2019/20 proposals for secondary legislation (regulations and statutory guidance) would not be able to achieve their stated policy aim, which was to meet the Commissioner’s three tests in full.
In May 2023, the Welsh Government published new statutory guidance for local authorities. The Commissioner called for an evaluation plan to be published alongside this guidance so that its effectiveness in meeting the three aims outlined above can be properly assessed.
Why has the Commissioner called for this?
The Commissioner’s calls have been informed by evidence-based reports and reviews that have shown the current laws and previous guidance around home education do not protect the human rights of children.
The Commissioner has also listened to home-educated children and families. There are a wide range of views held by children and young people who are home educated. Some young people have told the Commissioner that they do want the laws to be changed. Other young people do not want there to be any changes in Wales.
Welsh Government response to the Children’s Commissioner’s review
You can read the Government’s response to our 2021review on this PDF document.
Although accepting ‘in principle’ the recommendation for primary legislation, Welsh Government have published new statutory guidance instead.
You can read the Commissioner’s full response to the publication of the statutory guidance on this page.
What extra support does the Commissioner want for home educated children?
Through listening to home-educated children and their families, the Commissioner has asked for more support to be made available to home educated children about matters that are important to them. For example, the Commissioner has requested more support for home-educated young people to take qualifications and more information so they can access support for mental health and wellbeing. Welsh Government have provided funding for additional support, which local authorities have used to offer support with qualifications, learning resources and wellbeing activities. This is welcome and the Commissioner would like to see this collaborative approach to supporting children’s rights continued.
The Commissioner has also called for new statutory guidance to be communicated clearly to home-educated children and their families, to allay concerns and misconceptions, and ensure its main purpose of enabling children to access their rights is understood.