Rise in home education prompts fresh calls for a mandatory register

Fears arising from the coronavirus pandemic provoke an approximate 38% rise in children being educated from home.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) survey of 133 local authorities finds that, on school census day, 75,668 children and young people were known to be electively home educated (EHE), a 38% increase from the previous year.

The most common reason cited by parents for home educating their child or children was due to health reasons directly related to Covid-19.

Analysis by the ADCS suggests that 25% of those children and young people that have become EHE since 1 September 2020.

During the whole of the academic year, an estimated cumulative total of 86,335 children and young people were being home educated, representing an increase of 10% from the 2018/19 academic year.

The organisation, which represents directors of children’s services, says this is a cause for concern as without powers to see both the child and their place of learning, we cannot know that these children are safe from harm or exploitation.

The findings have renewed calls for local authorities to maintain a ‘mandatory register’ of those electing to educate their children from home. The ADCS argues, however, that the government “must fully fund these duties, especially when the size of the elective home education cohort is increasing year-on-year.”

Commenting on the findings, Gail Tolley, Chair of the ADCS Educational Achievement Policy Committee, said: “The pandemic and partial closure of schools has clearly had an impact on the number of families electing to home educate their child/ren once schools fully re-opened.

Local authorities have a duty to ensure that these children are safe and receiving a good education, yet with the significant increase in the number of EHE children and young people since September, our capacity to maintain contact with all of them is severely stretched.

“Without a statutory register it is impossible to know of every child or young person who is being electively home educated. Schools play an important role in safeguarding as they provide a direct line of sight to the child. If a child is taken out of school, it is vital we know that they are in a safe environment and that their needs are being met.”

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