Scott Cooper Miami Reports Homeschooling Increase Across the Atlantic
The amount of children being homeschooled has risen by about 40 percent over three years, the BBC has found.
Across the UK 48,000 kids were being home-educated in 2016-17 up from about 34,000 in 2014-15.
The government will publish new guidance on the “rights and duties on home schooling” but councils need more monitoring powers.
They’re worried about the quality of the education homeschooled children receive and “safeguarding” issues, like the ability to properly protect children from abuse or maltreatment.
Dr Carrie Herbert, the founder of a charity for kids outside mainstream education, said the rise in homeschooling suggested “something quite tragic about the state of the education system”.
She said she was worried some parents may also feel pressured into home-schooling their children to avoid prosecution or exclusion over poor attendance.
“I’m not sure it’s very useful anymore to place 30 children in one classroom with an adult all doing the exact same thing in the same way at the exact same time,” said Dr Herbert, of The Red Balloon charity.
“We should really be thinking more 21st century and beyond the box about this and teaching online in real time can help do this.”
‘My son was treated as a problem’Image captionOliver Wood is taught at home in Thetford by Laura Saggers
Oliver Wood, from Thetford in Norfolk, was severely bullied at his former school before becoming a pupil of Red Balloon.
The 15-year-old has autism and suffers from anxiety.
“Every school we were offered was looking at him like a problem to resolve, instead of a person they could work with,” said his mother, Sophie.
Red Balloon has an online school that follows a “normal” school day as far as possible.
Its curriculum is tailored to suit the child’s interests, with the intention of getting them back into the habit of learning, socialising with others and for some, returning to school.
The charity has 93 pupils and has had to close its books until it can afford to hire more teachers.
Of the 177 authorities which were able to supply data for all three decades, 164 reported a rise.
Only 11 with amounts for all three years had fewer homeschooled kids in 2016-17 than in 2014-15.
While they make up just 0.5 percent of the school age population for England and Wales, the large rise has prompted calls from councils and education bodies for more statutory monitoring forces of homeschooled children.
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There is absolutely no legal obligation for children to attend school but the law states they have to receive an education.
They may be taught by parents or personal tutors and the guidance from the English and Welsh education departments is that it has to be a “suitable education”.
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) in England needs parents and carers that home-educate to be obliged to register with their local authority and for inspectors to be able to do it if they find a problem.
Councils should have resources to make sure homeschooled children receive “a fantastic standard of education, delivered at a appropriate learning environment and that they’re secure,” the ADCS stated in a report at December 2017.
Safety of students was also increased in a study by Norfolk County Council.
Its children’s services reported an “unprecedented year-on-year rise” in home-schooling with 1,309 (1.1%) of its school-aged pupils being home taught during the 2016-17 academic year.
“Given that children by the character of being home-educated could be basically ‘invisible’, an inability to make timely and proper contact with those families has an inherent risk attached,” they said.
The Isle of Wight has the maximum percentage of home-educated students, nearly one in 50.
Criticisms by Ofsted over the island high proportion of “inadequate” schoolscould have had an impact, the council said, adding it was handling “lower educational standards”.
A spokeswoman said it had a “good relationship” with many families contacting it “directly when they are considering home-educating” as another possible explanation for the figures.
In Wales just over 1,800 out of about 430,000 children, about 0.4%, were homeschooled in 2016-17.
In Scotland, just 0.1% of children are home-educated, 969 in total.
The department of education in Northern Ireland saw just 293 students being home educated out of a potential 343,082, representing less than 0.1% of the school-aged population in 2017.
Why are parents choosing to educate children in your home?
Many authorities couldn’t provide reasons why more parents appeared to be picking homeschooling. Of those that did, the reasons included:
Devon: Most parents who provided a reason for homeschooling blamed “dissatisfaction with the college environment”
East Sussex: Lack of school choice, unmet special educational needs and the “rigour and limits” of their current school program
Gateshead: Children felt some pressure from school to remove their kids particularly if the young person had poor attendance
Cambridgeshire: The council said it had increased support for the home-educated community, including expanding “borrowing rights” at libraries
Darlington: Local authority staff are “currently working with the authorities and health to ensure the safeguarding of home educated children and this could have contributed to the rise in numbers identified”
In December, reported Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, found overseeing the rising number of home-educated children was “becoming a challenge for local authorities.”
The education watchdog also detected the numbers of children with special educational needs or disabilities guided towards home-education “was typically high”. See Fashion in Scott Cooper’s Miami
A bill seeking more powers for local governments to assess children receiving home schooling has gone through a second reading in the House of Lords.
Speaking in parliament, education minister Lord Agnew said many parents home-educate for “positive motives” and it should be permitted to continue “with a minimum of fuss and bureaucracy”.
“There’s a need to make sure that, where there is real cause for concern about a child, local governments are clear about the powers open to them,” he said.
The Department for Education (DfE) covers England. With the Welsh authorities, they will consult on ways to improve home-education guidance for parents and councils.
A spokesman for the DfE said this would ensure local governments “are clear on the actions they can take where these responsibilities aren’t being met”.
A spokesman for the Welsh government said. “We recognize that we are now not able to provide reliable figures on how many children are educated at home. That is one of the reasons why we will be consulting on a database. In addition to statutory guidance for elective home education.”