AbstractThis thesis identifies the factors influencing the decision-making of home education professionals as they attempt to establish whether children are receiving a suitable education at home. This task represents the core element of a home education officer’s role yet it is fraught with challenges. The regulatory framework which underpins England’s system of elective home education is problematic. Emanating from archaic legislation, government policy in this area is sparse. Consequently, the practice of officers overseeing home education lacks the regulatory scaffolding evident within school provision. The absence of comprehensive policy has left professionals vulnerable. Customary practice is regularly criticised by home educators and their advocates. Detractors within the home education community regularly reject the validity of the professional role, accusing officers of re-interpreting guidance. Recent interest in home education has led to an increase in academic and advocacy-based research. However, with a focus on parental motives and children’s outcomes, the practice of professionals has been neglected. This research aims to readdress the balance by affirming professionals’ stakeholder status and exploring their perspective of contemporary home education.
This study investigates the interplay between the regulatory and the personal within the professional practice of home education officers. Similar to the parental community, the realm of the professional is typically beyond the reach of outsiders. This then is the intimate insider project of a home education professional. Phenomenologically motivated,
unstructured conversations with 8 home education officers are explored to reveal previously inaccessible practice details. Interpretive analysis of personal accounts indicates the extent to which home education guidance is embedded within practice, activated via an experiential toolkit. Research findings demonstrate professional practice is primarily influenced by education law and whilst procedures vary, professional beliefs are consensual and consistent. The findings of this research provide valuable insights for policy makers and the suggested recommendations could significantly improve the infrastructure and management of elective home education.
|Date of Award||2023|
|Supervisor||Emma Salter (Co-Supervisor) & Helen Jones (Co-Supervisor)|