What is the context?
Two thirds of local authorities have seen a significant rise in elective home education post-lockdown. The UK has one of the lowest thresholds for regulation and monitoring of home educators in Europe. Nearly 30,000 children were home educated between 2016-17, a doubling since 2011. In 2018 it hit 60,000. The 2020 spike highlights the need for more effective local monitoring to ensure children don't go missing within the system.
ASCL position: ASCL believes the recent increase in elective home education requires a rapid response from DfE. This response must include:
- the commissioning of research to identify the reasons behind this increase
- an enhanced home education infrastructure, including a national register of home educators and additional financial resource to support for local monitoring, advice, and regular review.
In addition, in the 2020/21 academic year, DfE should make provision for discrepancies in the census caused by the increase in elective home education. Where children return to school part way through the academic year, schools should be compensated in-year and not have to wait for the 2021 census. This will enable schools to provide core education and additional support where needed.
Why are we saying it?
Many children who are educated at home thrive. However, we are concerned that the rapid increase in the number of home-educated children may be driven by factors other than carefully considered parental choice, including concerns related to the pandemic and, in a small number of cases, off-rolling.
It is crucial that we understand what is driving this increase in numbers, that an appropriate infrastructure is put in place to identify and monitor children being taught at home, and that sufficient funding is provided both to home-educating families and to schools which welcome back previously home-educated children.