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Government to open register for home-educated youngsters

18 Apr

Education Secretary Damian Hinds is planning to create a register for home-educated children of compulsory school age.   He said that this was to “identify and intervene” where the standards of home education were either not good enough or non-existent or if they were receiving solely a religious education.

Nearly 60,000 children in England were being home educated at any one time in 2018.  However, the precise figure remains unknown because parents do not currently have to register home-educated children.  New data produced by Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, on 4 February 2019 showed that many pupils who were being home-educated were off-rolled.

She hinted that this was happening in a “small number” of schools and academies.  The 11 councils that were scrutinised showed that there was a 48% rise in the number of children disappearing from schools/academies to be educated at home between 2015/16 and 2017/18.  A few schools and academies “off-rolled” pupils who were disruptive, threatening them with exclusions because they could spoil their institutions’ positions in the test and examination league tables.  More children were moving out of academies than schools to be home-educated, but schools were catching up.

Longfield is now calling for a compulsory register of “off the grid” children, stronger measures to tackle off-rolling, more support for families who home-educate and decisive action against unregistered schools.

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Home Education: A Chestnut

20 Apr

I        The law on home (elective) education

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 places the responsibility of children’s education squarely on their parents’ shoulders. Parents are required to ensure that their children are receiving efficient, full-time education suitable to their ages, abilities and aptitudes, including those with special educational needs, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.  This means that they determine where to arrange for their children to be educated – at school/academy or at home – up to the school-leaving age.

Government guidance on elective (home) education, published in 2007, states a parent may choose home education for one or more of the following reasons.

  • Distance or access to a local school
  • Religious or cultural beliefs
  • Philosophical or ideological views
  • Dissatisfaction with the system
  • Bullying
  • As a short-term intervention for a particular reason
  • A child’s unwillingness or inability to go to school
  • Special educational needs
  • The parent’s/parents’ desire for a closer relationship with the child.

Where parents decide to withdraw their child from school/academy and educate her/him at home, they are required to notify the school/academy. The school/academy must, in turn, notify the local authority (LA).  Parents don’t need to notify the LA unless their child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).  Similarly, parents of a child who has never attended school are not required to inform the LA if they decide to home educate their child.

The rise in suspect practices – leading either to radicalisation and/or depriving children of their right to receive an education to develop all their talents and help them to live full, happy, healthy and productive lives – has alarmed many.   Accordingly, Lord Soley, a former prison officer and current Labour peer, has sponsored a Bill that will introduce greater monitoring for home-schooling (elective education).  Home-schoolers are not happy bunnies – stating that the Bill will be an “unmitigated disaster” and could “cost lives”.

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