Estimates suggest almost 60,000 children are deemed to be educated at home – a figure that is thought to be rising by around one quarter every year.
In addition to a register, the Department for Education is consulting on new measures to support parents who choose to educate their children at home, in the form of a legal duty on local authorities to give assistance such as helping to pay for exam costs.
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 and we look forward to seeing these proposals implemented as a matter of urgency. A register will help councils to monitor how children are being educated and prevent them from disappearing from the oversight of services designed to keep them safe.
“Councils fully support the rights of parents to educate their children in the best way 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.
“For the minority of children where this is not the case, councils need to be able to check a child’s schooling, to make sure they are being taught a suitable and appropriate education in a safe environment.
“This is why the Government needs to go further and change the law to give councils the powers and appropriate funding to enter homes or other premises to check a child’s schooling.
“Councils are keen to support families to make sure children get the best possible education – wherever they receive this. However, with children’s services facing a £3.1 billion funding gap by 2025, it is vital that any additional responsibilities for councils are properly funded.”
Meanwhile, in a separate report, Ofsted says it has investigated 521 suspected illegal schools, and inspected 259 since January 2016.
It estimates that as many as 6,000 children are being educated in the unregistered settings it has inspected to date. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of the settings investigated are in London, with the rest spread fairly evenly across the country.