Sent to the Secretary of State for Education
According to our research there are a staggering 60,000 children being home schooled in England and yet there is at present no official register to monitor their progress, education or welfare.
As we understand it anyone can withdraw their child from school to educate them at home. The school and council would be informed, and the council may make an informal enquiry to check if your child is getting a suitable education, but there are no official checks on the quality of education being provided, and they are only likely to check on this once a year if at all.
With this being the case, anyone deemed giving their child home schooling, does not have to follow a national curriculum, and they do not even have to teach maths and English as a basic guideline.
The children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield, is calling for greater supervision for children being schooled at home as numbers have doubled over the past 5 years. The figures are somewhat vague, but it is estimated at somewhere between 60,000 and 90,000. If 1% are falling through the cracks that’s 600 children but if its 10% that’s 6,000.
In addition to the concerns regarding home schooling and the educational side of it, there is also the issue of potential cases involving abuse or neglect of children, if they are under the radar so to speak, problems would potentially never come to light compared to a teacher that may express concern and start an enquiry.
Ironically if you look at the other side of the coin, such as unauthorised absence for those children that are in school, If you ensure your child attends school on time, in full uniform, does homework, behaves whilst there, revises for exams but takes unauthorised holidays what happens, you get fined. The figures regarding this are not vague. 1,480,048 days were lost this way in 1 year. Term time fines were up by 93% over one year, and penalty notices rose to almost 223,000 in 2017/18. It seems if you take your child away for a day you are fined, and yet if you take your child away for good and they disappear from the radar there is no problem. Holidays in term time are not always chosen based on price. Someone may have the last choice of holiday request dates from their employer due to lack of seniority.
A register is urgently needed and hopefully the authorities will find well rounded children both in education and social skills.
As we understand it the Department of Education is raising the prospect of a compulsory register and we second that. It is strongly hoped that home school parents will support this measure and that local authorities will, as these are similar to measures already introduced in Wales.
Placing a legal duty on parents to register home schooled children with their local authority would help councils to monitor how children are being educated and prevent them from disappearing from the eyesight of services designed to keep them safe.