Easy Read Explanation

A brief explanation of why it is legal to meet for Home Ed in the current restrictions (2021).

Although it is simple, there are various follow-up questions which I’ll try to answer as well.

“Is it really legal to meet for home ed?”

Yes. The current “roadmap” legislation has an exception for gatherings for the purposes of home education.

“What does it say?”

The exact wording is as follows:

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Exception 2: education and training

(5) Exception 2 is that the gathering is reasonably necessary for the purposes of—

f) the suitable education of a child otherwise than by regular attendance at school arranged by a parent in accordance with section 7 of the Education Act 1996(2) (and for this purpose “suitable education” has the meaning given by section 436A(3) of that Act);

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This is a direct reference to home education, and means that home ed gatherings are legal, provided they are “reasonably necessary”, and form part of a “suitable education” (which is pretty much anything we do anyway).

It probably wouldn’t cover something like a traditional birthday party, but if you’re acting in good faith and doing something for Home Ed you are most probably within the law. Interestingly, some social contact is necessary for the education to be “suitable”.

“So what could the police do if they see us meeting up?”

First, they would ask what you are doing. If you tell them that it is an educational group and comes under the exceptions in the legislation, you should be fine.

Anecdotally from what the police have said, it helps if it looks like a legitimate gathering, not (at a glance) something obviously not allowed or flouting the rules (like a huge house party). It also helps if it’s a smaller number with some attempt at social distancing between adults.

If they still aren’t happy and ask you to disperse, you can then peacefully go home and should have no further problems.

Some police have said that If the public start acting “belligerent” or insisting that they have a right to stay out, refusing to move on etc, then you start to get into the area of resisting or arguing with the police, and they might give you a fine for that.

But they can’t (shouldn’t) fine or arrest you on the spot for the educational gathering itself.

A fine (if it came to that) would be £200 for under 30 people (adults and children total), or £10K for over 30. So for peace of mind, under 30 people is better!

“How is it possible that we were still allowed to meet while schools were closed?”

In the legislation itself, schools have been allowed to open throughout this lockdown. They were closed/reduced attendance because of the guidance, rather than because of legislation. The schools all agreed to it, because it’s easier that way, they had been asked to and they had no reason not to. But it was not actually the law that they had to close.

Summary

TL;DR Home Education gatherings are a legal exception to the current restrictions. If the police ask you what you’re doing, tell them you’re home educators and it’s an exception in the legislation. If the police ask you to go home, it’s better to politely cooperate.

More info

Links to legislation, police guidance, and relevant screenshots on the homepage of this site. Let me know if anything is unclear or any other questions ☺️ homeedsurrey@tutanota.com

https://homeedsurrey.wordpress.com/

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Updated 7 May 2021

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Disclaimer: This site is personal interpretation only, not legal advice, and not a substitute for checking the laws directly. It’s also not a “get out of jail free” card if you break the rules and arrange a purely social activity with no educational purpose. It also can’t guarantee you won’t meet a rogue police officer who oversteps their powers. Please decide for yourself!

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