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  • 2019Mukwamba-SendallPhD

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Policy interpreted: the effect of local authority administration and officer perception and practice on national home-education policy implementation

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2019
Number of pages395
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Home-education is enshrined in State legislation and statutory guidance, which is administered by local authorities (LA) and implemented by their officers. Home-education engenders concern. Stakeholder critics allude to risks for children ranging from educational or psychological harm to physical neglect or abuse. Accusations, which lack evidenced based research, problematise home-education creating suspicion which impacts on LA administrator and officer implementer. This is observable in their beyond-legal authority practices. This research examines LA administration of State policy ‘strategies’ through Freedom of Information questionnaire responses and documentary evidence (webpages, literature, and officer job descriptions). Interviews examine influences on officer perceptions which impact on their implementation practices. Interviews with home-education advocates provide insight into outcomes of LA administration and officer implementation. The study is sited within Implementation Theory, specifically Street Level Bureaucrats, Lipsky, 1969, 1971, 1980, 2010; Implementation Staircase, Reynolds and Saunders, 1987; and Communities of Practice, Wenger, 1998, 2006, 2010. Conclusions are drawn through the adoption of a thematic analysis approach. There is a marked lack of homogeneity in the implementation of State policy at local level, with policies and practices varying between different local authorities and individual officers. There is discord in the opinions of stakeholder commentators, academics, professionals and EHE advocates regarding specific concerns of, educational suitability, registration, monitoring, visits, and safeguarding. State strategy becomes redefined resulting in hybrid local policies visible in LA administration and officer implementation practices which imply powers or legal authority that they do not have. Such changes constitute a degradation of State strategy. Locally adopted policy stimulates a precedent of practice, whereby intended State strategy becomes redefined during the delegated process of implementation.