Children’s Commissioner calls for home education register

Children’s Commissioner calls for home education register

The Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield is calling for a compulsory home education register after raising concerns about the increasing number of children who are being educated at home.

The report, entitled Skipping School: Invisible Children notes that while there are many parents who make a positive philosophical choice to educate their children at home, and do an excellent job, this is not always the case.

Tens of thousands of children in England receiving no school education. Many of them are ‘off-grid’, invisible to local authorities.

The analysis by the Children’s Commissioner’s Office of 11 local areas shows a 48% rise in the number of children withdrawn from schools into home education between 2015/16 and 2017/18. In Hackney it was 94% and in Newham 176%. Between 2016/17 and 2017/18, Hackney’s academies saw an increase in children moving into home education of 238%.

The report accompanied a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary “Skipping School: Britain’s Invisible Kids”, presented by Anne Longfield and aired on Monday (4th Feb)

The Children’s Commissioner is calling for a compulsory home education register, stronger measures to tackle ‘off-rolling’, more support for families who home educate, a greater oversight of home schooled children and decisive action against unregistered schools.

Later this year, the Children’s Commissioner’s Office will also collect data from all councils in England to identify which schools have high numbers of children being withdrawn into home education which may suggest practices of off-rolling.

Anne Longfield said:

“Our investigations have revealed thousands of children are ‘off the grid’ because they are being home schooled. The numbers are rocketing and no-one knows how they are doing academically or even if they’re safe. Many are being off-rolled. It also seems that a relatively small number of schools may be responsible for this sharp rise in children leaving school for ‘home education’ in this way.

Responding to the Children’s Commissioner report on children educated at home, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said:

“Councils fully support the rights of parents to educate their children in the best way that they see fit, and the vast majority of parents who home educate their children do a fantastic job, and work well with their local council to make sure that a good education is being provided.

“But for the minority of children where this is not the case, councils have long-called for the powers and appropriate funding to enter homes or other premises to check a child’s schooling, and make sure they aren’t being taught in unsuitable or dangerous environments.

“Placing a legal duty on parents to register home-schooled children with their local authority would also help councils to monitor how children are being educated and prevent them from disappearing from the oversight of services designed to keep them safe.”