Education other than at school (EOTAS) can be a fantastic option for anyone who cannot access suitable education. Sometimes it’s also the only option left.
There can be many positive outcomes to EOTAS but sometimes it just does not work out and leaves parents stuck and without support. So, after speaking to experts on the matter, here are 5 things you need to know if you are considering EOTAS…
1. There is a difference between EOTAS and Home Education.
EOTAS can be very different from typical mainstream education and only really has to follow a minimum curriculum. It can include:
· Work placements
· Voluntary work
· Hospital schooling
· Home tuition
· Online tuition/schooling
· And other alternatives to mainstream school
The idea is that you will be able to completely tailor an education to the individual and their needs.
The minimum curriculum mentioned includes:
- Vocational Education
- Appropriate Personal and Social Development.
2. How does a Local Authority decide if EOTAS is suitable?
You are probably quite familiar with hearing horror stories (and have probably been in a few yourself) about Local Authorities doing whatever they can to save themselves money. If a child/young person can stay in a mainstream school with minimum provision, then it is just more cost-effective for them.
Usually, it falls on the parents to push for their child to achieve EOTAS.
The LA will only agree on the need for EOTAS when they have concluded that there are no other suitable school placements available. However, every LA should have their own publicly available policy on those who qualify for EOTAS, so that may be worth a look. (Do remember though that POLICY is NOT the same as LAW).
Some of the reasons that are considered to make the current education unsuitable include:
· Constant or several incidents of exclusion from school
· The individual’s medical history/ongoing health problems
· The school cannot currently meet the current needs of the individual
· The facilities that the current school cannot provide
· Consideration of facilities that could be used outside of school
3. Can you get an EHCP?
Quick answer – yes.
Section F of the EHCP should outline the EOTAS Plan. In the same way the EHCP is created for mainstream education, Section F should outline all the provision needed to achieve EOTAS.
Not only that, but with EOTAS can be included all the provisions that mainstream schools may not be able to provide. For example, psychotherapy, art therapy, use of sports/leisure facilities.
However, it should be noted that without an EHCP the LA does not have to provide funding for the provision. (There is some legal debate over this and it can be worth reaching out for guidance if concerned).
4. Something to consider as a parent
Although EOTAS may seem like the best or perhaps the only option, if something goes wrong with the education it may fall back on you.
There is already so much going on in our lives, such as work, relationships, social commitments. The addition of home schooling will only add onto the pressures that come from everyday life.
You can have the best designed, most dynamic, most creative education packaged in the world, but what happens if your child cannot or will not engage? Although this is something out of anyone’s control it can lead to losing an EHCP and the provision that comes with it.
5. What do you do if the EOTAS provision is not working?
It is crucial that the EHCP outlines all the individuals needs and the provision they need in place. This should be reviewed at least once a year to discuss whether or not it is working.
The main issues occur when the correct needs are not identified in the beginning. Often LA’s will recommend a managed transition back into mainstream school which usually is a step backwards. However, with the aid of the right support whilst outline the provision in the beginning, EOTAS can be successful and can be the ideal education.