The rise in home education, and eight other things we learned today about pupils outside mainstream schools

Tes reports that there has been a huge rise in home education among pupils at risk of exclusion, with increasing numbers choosing this over alternative provision, MPs heard today.

David Whitaker, executive principal of the Barnsley-based Springwell Special Academy and Springwell Alternative Academy, said that the number of children on the home-education register in his local authority had risen from 60 to 300 in the last three years.

Addressing members of the Commons education select committee, he added that the reason given for this choice was often “dissatisfaction with school”.

Asked by MPs whether this was related to the accountability process, he said: “There’s got to be a reason, and there’s got to be a pressure in the system.

Other key points in the committee’s hearing on alternative provision today included:

  1. Vulnerable children are being taught by unqualified teachersRobert Halfon, chair of the education select committee and former minister for schools, said: “I find it extraordinary that children with serious difficulties can be taught by an unqualified teacher. They need the most support. How is that allowed?” 

  2. But headteachers of alternative provision believe that this is a desirable state of affairs“Often, teachers with QTS can’t relate to these pupils,” Ms George said. And Joanne Southby, executive head of the London South East Academies Trust, said: “You can have the best-qualified staff – they may have a string of qualifications – but they’re not able to engage with young people.”

  3. People tend to view permanent exclusion as a punishment.
    Ms Southby said that, when children are excluded because their mainstream schools simply do not want them there: “For those children, pupil-referral units become a form of punishment, because their needs aren’t being met. It’s almost like being in prison: you’ve been sent somewhere to be punished.”

Read more key points The rise in home education, and eight other things we learned today about pupils outside mainstream schools

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