The Department for Education (DfE) has rejected councils’ pleas to have greater oversight of home-schooled children, following a consultation over proposals for a register. The LGA is urging the DfE to rethink its proposals and grant councils the powers to ensure children are protected and getting a high-quality education.
There are an estimated 57,873 home-educated children in England, according to the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.
While councils fully support the rights of parents to choose to home educate their child – and recognise that most home-schooling parents are doing an excellent job – there remain concerns for a minority of children who could be at risk of neglect or poor future prospects.
Ofsted estimates at least 6,000 children who are said to be home-schooled are, in fact, attending illegal schools, which can be in dangerous settings or offer unsuitable education.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “The LGA has long called for a register of children not in school, as this will help councils make sure children are getting a good education and prevent them from disappearing from the oversight of services designed to keep them safe.
“But this risks failing to protect children unless it goes further… councils [need] the powers and appropriate funding to enter homes or other premises to speak to children and check their schooling.”