Children’s Commissioner for England Calls for Compulsory Register of Home School Children

Compulsory Register of Home Schooled Children:

It’s pertinent that it is today one of my children has decided education at school for him is done. At just twelve years of age, he has put up with more than his fair share of poor Send support, functional exclusion, refusal to Needs Assess by Bristol City Council, failure to meet statutory deadlines for EHCPs,  failure to follow Government guidelines by Bristol School Transport, illegal removal from subject lessons at school and being lied to by school staff one time too many. Today was the day he finally put his foot down and begged to be home schooled.

It’s pertinent, because the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has just published a report about the increasing numbers of children being taken out of schools to be educated at home.

In light of her findings, she is now calling for a compulsory home education register to tackle schools off-rolling children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Send) and take ‘decisive’ action against unregistered schools.

During 2019, the Children’s Commissioner’s Office will also be collecting data from all councils in England, to identify which schools have high numbers of children leaving for home education. This would identify potential off-rolling.

When we tried to find out how many parents in Bristol had taken their children out of schools to home educate because the school claimed they could not meet SEN needs, Bristol City Council became elusive on figures.

home education Bristol

The report comes alongside a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary Skipping School: Britain’s Invisible Kids, which will air on Monday 04 February 2019.

It finds that while parents take on home education and do an ‘excellent job’ there are tens of thousands of children in England receiving no schooling at all. They are being called ‘off-grid’ because local authorities are not aware of what’s going on.

Last year, around 60,000 children in England were being home educated, but there is no exact figure because parents do not have to register as doing so. It is estimated some 80,000 children will end up being home educated during the year.

Bristol City Council states on their website: ‘If your child is already at school, you must write to the head teacher to tell them you’re going to educate at home.

‘If your child hasn’t been to school, you don’t have to tell us about your decision but we would appreciate being told. We are responsible for ensuring that your child is getting a suitable education.’

Research by Channel 4’s Dispatches, finds that 22 per cent of the children taken out of school to be home educated in 2017/18 had Send, with 9 out of 10 local authorities saying they are worried pupils are being off-rolled.

Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield said it was important to know that children not at school were ‘safe’ and that they were ‘getting the education they need to succeed in life’. She said there is a ‘clear case’ for the Government to introduce a compulsory register.

Continuing: “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.

“Many parents who make a philosophical decision to home educate provide their children with a high quality education. But there are many other families who have ended up home educating for other reasons, and are struggling to cope. Many of these children are very vulnerable, have Special Educational Needs, or are unable to cope with a ‘one size fits all’ school system. Schools should be for all children, including those with complex needs and those who struggle academically.”

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