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Plans for a register for home educated pupils mooted

Government is to consult on plans for a register for all children educated at home

Published on 17th April 2019

A register of all children not being educated in school should be introduced, the education secretary has said.

The government is consulting on proposals which would confirm where the estimated 60,000 children thought to be educated at home are and would enable local authorities to intervene if a child's education was sub-standard or if they were at risk.

Education secretary Damian explained that the term ‘home education’ has taken on a much broader meaning than it used to and is used to refer to all children not in a registered school. This includes children who are receiving a really good education at home, however, it also includes children who are not getting an education at all, or being educated in illegal schools where they are vulnerable to dangerous influences.

"As a government, we have a duty to protect our young people and do our utmost to make sure they are prepared for life in modern Britain. That’s why this register of children not in school is so important – not to crack down on those dedicated parents doing an admirable job of educating their children in their own homes, but to prevent vulnerable young people from vanishing under the radar," Damian Hinds added.

The estimated 60,000 children thought to be home educated is rising by a quarter every year. Under the plans, it will be parents’ responsibility to register their child if they are not being taught in a state-funded or registered independent school.

A register of children not in school will transform a local council’s capacity to identify and intervene where the standard of a child’s education isn’t good enough or, in the rare instances, where they are at risk of harm. It will also help the authorities spot young people who may be receiving a solely religious education, attending an unregistered school or not receiving an education at all.

ADCS president Rachel Dickinson, said the Association welcomed the plans. While parents have the right to educate their children at home, it should be a positive experience for both children and their parents. She added that for too long local authorities have had no way of ensuring that home educated children are receiving a suitable education and are safe.

"Whilst a register in and of itself will not keep children safe, it will help to establish exactly how many children are being educated other than at school and assist with the identification of children who are vulnerable to harm," she said, adding: "This is a positive step in the right direction but it is crucial that any new responsibilities for local authorities are fully funded if these plans are to have the desired impact.”

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: "These proposals offer an important opportunity to make sure that all children not attending school are safe, and receiving an education that prepares them for adult life.

"Ofsted has long had concerns about the increasing numbers of school-age children not attending a registered school, many of whom may not be receiving a high quality education or being kept safe. We are especially concerned about children ‘off-rolled’ from schools, and those in illegal schools. The new register will make it easier to detect and tackle these serious problems," she added.

The government is also consulting on proposals that would require local authorities to provide support such as teaching resources or financial contributions to exam fees - at parents’ request.

Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, said: "The number of children who are not being educated in school has rocketed over recent years. For some families, educating at home will be a positive choice but many more children are falling out of school and their parents struggling on their own.

"It is vitally important that we know that all children are safe and that they are receiving the education they deserve to help them to succeed in life. The introduction of a register for children not in school is very welcome and something I been calling for. I am pleased these proposals also include support for families," she concluded.

 

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