William Eichler 18 July 2019

Ombudsman tells councils to ‘be clear’ about home-schooling visits

Councils must be clear with parents of home-schooled children whether home visits are routine or triggered by specific concerns, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has said.

The warning came after complaints that attendance officers from Leicester City Council visited a family based on unsubstantiated claims that a boy’s education was unsuitable.

The Ombudsman investigated the complaint and found that the city council had not confirmed the claims before sending attendance officers to the family’s home.

The council also did not tell the mother the full grounds on which officers were making the visit or allow her the chance to dispute the incorrect information.

Ombudsman Michael King, also discovered that after the information was found to be wrong, the mother was still told she had to enrol her son at a local school or face legal proceedings.

‘Parents have a right to know on what basis a council proposes to visit them when they are educating their children at home,’ said Mr King.

‘It may be a routine visit or one prompted by information which has come to the council, but it is vital that this information is passed on, particularly where a parent may need to provide an explanation.

‘For the council to have continued to pursue the mother after we had repeatedly told it there was no basis for its actions was particularly disappointing.’

A Leicester City Council spokesperson said: ‘We accept the decision of the Ombudsman and have apologised to the complainant.

‘Our initial contact was based on inaccurate information which we should have checked. We have taken steps to ensure this will not happen again.’

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