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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