Rise in home-schooling raises fear of children drifting off safety radar

The Times is reporting that home-schooling has soared in the past five years, prompting, it says, fears that vulnerable children are falling off the authorities’ radar or being radicalised. 

The paper reports figures from an investigation it has undertaken which suggest there has been a 45% increase in home education in the last five years, with almost 33,000 children now home-schooled.

However, they also claim experts thinks this could just be the “tip of the iceberg” because parents are not obliged to let local authorities know if they are home schooling their children (and none of the 80 councils that responded to their investigations could say exactly how many children were home-schooled in their area).

The paper notes that both education select committee chair Neil Carmichael and Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw have raised concerns about potential outcomes, in some cases, of home-schooling rights.

The cases of Khyra Ishaq and Dylan Seabridgeare referred to in the report and  Professor Sally Holland, the children’s commissioner for Wales, is quoted:

“Parents may register the fact that they are educating their children at home but they are not required to do so. It is therefore possible for children to slip completely under the radar of universal services . . . I would welcome the introduction of a mandatory register of home-educated children.” 

However, it also notes that critics of registration point out it could be expensive, potentially meaningless and unnecessarily intrusive, pointing out also that home-schooled children who have come to harm were previously known by other authorities to be at risk. 

Graham Stuart, the chairman of the all party home education group, is quoted:

“The education system is based on parents educating their children, not the state. Many parents choose to delegate this to a school but the duty rests with parents. I oppose registration for philosophical reasons, because of the cost of setting up a registration system and because it would move into a system of monitoring. 

“It would inevitably lead to councils deciding whether to allow home education or not. There is no evidence that failings among home-educated are more common than in state education.” 

More at: Rise in home-schooling raises fear of children drifting off safety radar (subscription may be required)


The issue isn’t the vast majority of home-schoolers who clearly do a fabulous job of educating their children, but rather whether the current freedoms around home-schooling are making the situation worse for some vulnerable children.

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Categories: Local authorities, Parenting, Policy and Safeguarding.


  1. JSPrimarydep

    SchoolsImprove look at teacher recruitment/retention,ridiculous accountability,curriculum/ assessment regimes . Govt caused this

  2. firebird2110

    SchoolsImprove Typical attempt to generate panic and deflect from looking at the reasons WHY home education numbers are increasing

  3. Graham Stuart says his objections to registration are philosophical.  But one of his reasons is practical – the alleged cost of setting up a registration system.  The other is ‘monitoring’.
    That’s exactly why registration is needed so parents who home-school their children are overseen in the same way as teachers are.

  4. Vicki

    Janet2 Why? Teachers are “overseen” because schools and teachers are ultimately accountable to the parents (since it is parents that are responsible for their children’s education, not the State). Why should parents be “overseen” in the same way as a State-run and State-funded institution?

  5. mugglefamily

    SchoolsImprove really?! No discussion about why #homeed numbers may have risen, just the same prejudices against parents (again).

  6. TW

    @Vicki Did you read the bit about “vulnerable children are falling off the authorities’ radar or being radicalised”?  The responsibility of parents to educate their children does not extend to them doing anything they like to their children.

  7. Vicki

    @TW Of course I read it but I’ve yet to see any evidence to back it up.
    Versions of this article have been doing the rounds for some time and it just looks like bias and prejudice; as a home educator I’m afraid I’m
    somewhat sick of the sloppy journalism and accusations.
    Why should
    parents be suspected of wrong-doing just because their children are not
    on a school register? Are children under 5 assumed to be at risk or
    “under the radar” because they don’t attend school?

  8. Vicki

    @TW I don’t really understand your point, to be honest. What do you suggest?!  Are you entirely ignorant of the fact that most parents are loving, caring people who only want what is best for their children?? Please let us not fall into the trap of assuming people guilty until proved innocent, or condemning the majority based on the actions of a tiny minority.

    In any case, this is a discussion about whether or not registration of home educated children is necessary. As the article above clearly states, “home-schooled children who have come to harm were previously known by other authorities to be at risk.” Khyra Ishaq was known to the authorities, Dylan Seabridge was known to the authorities. Having their names on a list did not protect them, any more than attendance at school would have done, because social services failed to use the powers they *already have*. Welfare laws already exist, and these apply regardless of where education is taking place.

  9. TW

    @Vicki  Clearly this is not about most people so that is irrelevant.  People who are not “guilty” should have no problem with registering their child as being home schooled.  Most child abuse comes from relatives.  Given all these parents who claim not to have known anything about the radicalisation of their children I don’t know why parents would be assumed to be competent in protecting their offspring.

    Some “home-schooled children who have come to harm were previously known by other authorities to be at risk” but that can only be the ones that were known.  The point the article is making is that “this could just be the “tip of the iceberg”” and it “is therefore possible for children to slip completely under the radar of universal services”.

  10. TW

    @Vicki  And just in case you really don’t understand, much, probably most Safeguarding in schools isn’t about safeguarding children from things in school, it’s about children who are being abused (or radicalised) at home.  The school is the place where abnormal behaviour in children arising from their abuse at home may be noticed or where the child may trust an adult and tell them about what is done to them at home.

  11. Amanda

    Its a shame school doesn’t do a better job of safeguarding kids in school.  My son and many others are bullied in school which is why are children are coming home to a place they trust and showing abnormal behaviour arising from their abuse at school.  Difference is we as parents care about the individual and are then faced with tough choices like considering home schooling because the schools policies are failing our children.  For 3 years I have tried to use the system to keep my child safe at school and during that time I have had other parents tell me how my son is being hurt at school. I have had him come home with injuries and on occasion I have had staff witness incidents.  I shouldn’t have bothered trying to protect him in school, its becoming clear I should have pulled him from the start.    But registering with the home school network does very little.  I cant see how it would prevent anyone from being radicalised or preventing anyone coming to harm any more than in school.  Only Social Services can help there and I would expect GP’s hospitals to be the more likely services to raise their concerns for children in or out of school.  After all teachers are too busy with all the paperwork and meeting government guidelines for the majority to be able or want to listen to the unhappy minority “making up stories”.

  12. Nairb1

    You are absolutely correct. If we are serious about safeguarding children from all sorts of abuse then home schooled children need the same safeguards as those at school. Registration seems to be the only practical way forward. Many people seem to think that parents own their children in the same way as they own a fridge … and your point that parents are not free to’do anything they like to their children’ will always play second fiddle to parental ‘rights.’ They are wrong.

  13. TW

    @Amanda  We live in an imperfect world.  It is true that schools may sometimes make mistakes or otherwise fail to protect children. Bullying can be a terrible occurrence for children.  Nonetheless schools are themselves subject to inspection.  Much of the paperwork you refer to relates to safeguarding issues and the detailed requirements that schools have a duty to implement.  On the other hand, last time I had a parent complaining about their boy being bullied it turned out that other children and their parents were complaining about him bullying other children.  Registration of home schooling at least provides a hope that the child may be able to ask someone for help and protection from terrible parents.  If you think staff are uncaring about students you seem remarkably uninformed.

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