The children’s commissioner warned that 60,000 children, many of whom are vulnerable or have special educational needs, are permanently out of school and therefore effectively “off the grid”. The Independent reports.
Research by Anne Longfield shows the number of children who are known by councils to be home educated was 27 per cent higher in 2018 than in 2017, and has risen by 20 per cent in each of the last five years – doubling since 2013-14.
Separate research from a Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary to be aired on Monday reveals that one in five children withdrawn from school has special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and that 88 per cent of councils are worried about off-rolling, where schools move difficult-to-teach pupils off the school register to boost performance data.
“Many of these children are very vulnerable, have special educational needs, or are unable to cope with a ‘one size fits all’ school system. Schools should be for all children, including those with complex needs and those who struggle academically,” said Ms Longfield.
The report found that some schools were making more than 15 referrals into home education a year. In Hackney, there was a 94 per cent rise in home schooling and in Newham the figure stood at 176 per cent. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, Hackney’s academies saw a 238 per cent increase of children moving into home education.
The findings have prompted calls for local councils to be awarded powers and appropriate funding to enter homes or other premises to ensure children aren’t being taught in unsuitable or dangerous environments.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Placing a legal duty on parents to register home-schooled children with their local authority would also help councils to monitor how children are being educated and prevent them from disappearing from the oversight of services designed to keep them safe.”
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