Safety and impact of home education to be probed by MPs

Safety and impact of home education to be probed by MPs

The House of Commons’ Education Committee has today launched an inquiry into home education which raises questions as to whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required, and the role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education.

Latest figures show there are around 60,000 children being home-educated (meaning they are not registered at a school) but the committee says the number could be greater as parents are not currently required to register their home-educated children with their local authority.

Committee chairman, Robert Halfon MP said: “While the coronavirus pandemic brought a new focus on the issue of learning at home, there are thousands of young people who are ordinarily taught outside of a traditional school setting.

“A parent will always know what is best for their child but we want to make sure that the right support is in place for home learning to ensure every pupil in the country, whatever their background and wherever they are taught, can receive the education they deserve.

“The previous committee in the last parliament highlighted the problem of off-rolling, where young people are removed from school for the benefit of the school rather than the child, and the dangers of the lack of checks on unregistered provision, where some home-educated children may spend time.

“This inquiry provides an opportunity to examine whether local authorities and inspections can play a more active role to ensure every child is safe and not missing out on the chance to climb the educational ladder of opportunity. We have to make sure that disadvantaged children are not disadvantaged further still by the system.”

The committee is inviting written submissions, addressing any or all of the following points:

•            the duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education; 

•            whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;

•            the benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face

•            the quality and accessibility of support (including financial support) available for home educators and their children, including those with special educational needs, disabilities, mental health issues, or caring responsibilities, and those making the transition to further and higher education 

•            whether the current regulatory framework is sufficient to ensure that the wellbeing and academic achievement of home educated children is safeguarded, including where they may attend unregistered schools, have been formally excluded from school, or have been subject to ‘off-rolling’;

•            the role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education

•            what improvements have been made to support home educators since the 2010-15 Education Committee published their report on ‘Support for Home Education’ in 2012

•            the impact COVID-19 has had on home educated children, and what additional measures might need to be taken in order to mitigate any negative impacts.

The deadline for submissions is Friday November 6. For further information see the inquiry page on the Committee website.