The Independent is reporting that more than 1,700 parents are still without a school place for their children just days before the start of the new school year…
…A survey of education authorities in England and Wales by The Independent has revealed that more than 1,000 parents had still not accepted the offer of a school place for the new school year, which starts on Monday in many regions.
Only a handful of authorities managed to come up with figures, with others saying the situation was still fluid and that some parents could have accepted places without informing them.
However, experts believe the figures are likely to be an underestimate of the numbers who have still not found a school place.
The report coincides with claims by home educators that the number of children taught out of school, mostly by their parents, is growing.
The Department for Education does not keep official figures, but the latest indication comes in the answers to a Freedom of Information request by Ed Yourself, a website dedicated to home education, which reveals that local authorities had recorded there were 20,842 children being home-schooled in 2012 in England, an increase of 500 on three years previously.
However, home educators believe this is just the tip of the iceberg and the actual number could be as high as 80,000.
The latest figures for Wales and Scotland both show an increase with Wales increasing from 1,103 to 1,225 between 2012/13 and 2013/14 and Scotland going up from 350 to 500 since 2010. In individual areas of England, the numbers are rising too; Kent recorded a figure of 823 last year with the number of children taught at home in Tonbridge almost tripling in four years to 55. In Gloucestershire, the figure rose from 250 to 400 in the five years up until 2013.
Edwina Theunissen, who runs a helpline for Education Otherwise, which offers support to families educating their children at home, said: “We don’t keep figures but anecdotally it does seem that the numbers are going up.
“There is no doubt that it is a fairly recent phenomenon that quite a few people are coming to it because of difficulties in finding a school. There’s quite a few parents that say that.”
…Mrs Theunissen added: “There are two types of home educators really: those who philosophically support the principle and the refuseniks from the school system.”
She said the latter included many parents whose children had been bullied at school, or who had considered their children too young to go to school…
All the authorities contacted by The Independent said they had offered a place to every child. One authority, which was typical of many, said: “We do not ask for acceptance of places. Parents receive a form and are asked to return this to the school with details of when they will be taking it up during the year.”…
Bit confused by this story/headline – is says nearly 2,000 families are still without a place, but also that every child has been offered a place. Is the point that nearly 2,000 have yet to accept a place? And what do you make of the apparent rise in homeschooling? Does it seem a bit odd that taking children out of school for even a few days can result in a jail sentence but anyone can homeschool their child with no real obligations on how you go about it?
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