Home education: Parents' legal challenge against Portsmouth City Council is not successful

THE legal challenge brought by a group of parents against Portsmouth City Council's 'aggressive' approach to home education has failed.

By Josh Wright
Thursday, 18th November 2021, 1:30 pm

Dismissing the case, a High Court judge said claims the council was inconsistent were 'wrong' and that govenment guidance had been 'misconstrued and overcomplicated'.

Cabinet member for education Suzy Horton said the ruling, which also saw £10,000 in costs awarded in favour of the council, was a 'vindication' of its approach.

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A judicial review on Portsmouth City Council's home education policy has gone the way of the council

'There are always things to learn from a case like this so we will be reviewing our processes in light of this outcome to see if we can make any further improvements,' she said.

'We have always been supportive of families who wish to electively home educate their children and who can demonstrate that suitable education is taking place.

'I hope we can now move forward and work closely and co-operatively with all families in Portsmouth who are choosing to educate their children at home.'

The case was heard by Mr Justice Lane in Bristol last month with his judgement published this week. In it, he dismisses each of the four grounds brought by Portsmouth Home Educators.

Suzy Horton Picture: Andy Hornby

He said neither the fact that home educating parents were required to teach the national curriculum nor mark children's work ‘absolved’ them from proving to the council that 'the requisite education is being received'.

He added that local authorities were not 'necessarily compelled' to accept statements by parents and were entitled to meet home educated children and examine their work.

His ruling followed complaints that the council had been 'unreasonable' in its demands of home educating parents and its issuing of school attendance orders.

The group, which funded the judicial review through a £37,000 crowdfunding campaign, said it was 'shocked and saddened' by the verdict.

‘We are currently seeking advice from our legal team on our next steps, what the verdict will mean for our local community and the wider community and how we can best move forward from this,’ it said in a statement. ‘We are so grateful for all the support and encouragement we have received and continue to receive.’