The BBC is reporting that there has been a 65% increase in children recorded as home educated in the UK over six years.
Parents gave reasons including their lifestyle, dissatisfaction or disagreements with local schools, special needs, bullying and religion.
Responses to Freedom of Information requests from 190 local authorities showed 36,609 home educated children.
The government says it will continue to “respect the rights of parents to home educate their children”.
There is no legal obligation for parents to send their children to school, although they have to provide a “suitable education” at home.
The figures show an increase of at least 10,399 pupils, up to almost 37,000, in a school population of about 9.5 million pupils.
The home-educated figure may be an under-estimate. When parents withdraw a child from school they are recorded as being home educated, but children who never start school may not be reflected in the statistics.
Among 190 councils with figures for 2014-15, there were 178 with data for the past three years, showing a 26% increase.
For 133 of the local authorities, there was data from 2009-10 to 2014-15, showing that numbers had risen by almost two thirds.
Graham Stuart, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education, says it is possible councils have become better at recording information, and any figures are almost certainly an under-estimate.
“Local authorities have created groups to share best practice, and we’re seeing what I hope is an increasing trend to stop treating home education as a problem to be regulated, and instead see it as an opportunity to be facilitated and supported,” said the Conservative MP and former chairman of the education select committee…
The recording of parents’ motivations is patchy, partly because parents do not have to explain themselves, so there is no comprehensive information.
The same is true of the limited data about the families themselves.
In the very small number of local authorities where there is information on religion, about 31% of home educators belong to a faith group, although that may not be the reason they have chosen an alternative to school. Of those, half are listed as Christian and a third as Muslim…
See also from the BBC: The right to choose to home educate
There is very little hard information on the reasons children are being home educated, but suggestions in the full article include differences in philosophy or lifestyle, dissatisfaction with local schools, cultural or religious reasons, bullying, special needs or medical reasons.
What do you make of the apparent increase in numbers and is it a cause for concern or something to be welcomed?
Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
Are you a trainee teacher, NQT, teacher, headteacher, parent or just someone who cares about education and has something to get off your chest in a Schools Improvement guest post? Follow this link for more details at the bottom of the page.
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin (around 7am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link
We now have a Facebook page - pls click to like!