City councils in England report 34% increase in optional home schooling | Education | Local News

City councils in England report 34% increase in optional home schooling | Education

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Councils in England have identified a “rapid increase” in the number of parents choosing to take their children out of school to teach them at home, with a 34% increase in the number of home-schooled pupils compared to the figures of Last year.

The number of families choosing to home school has increased in recent years, but the pandemic appears to have accelerated the trend, with health fears related to Covid being the most common reason given by parents, followed by concerns about their child’s anxiety or mental health issues. .

A survey by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ACDS) estimated that the cumulative number of children and young people receiving elective home schooling (EHE) in 152 local authorities at a given time during the 2020-21 school year was 115,542 – a 34% increase over the 2019-20 totals.

The ADCS said the numbers fluctuated over the year with significant “attrition” as high numbers of children and youth returned to school and were taken out of school in the middle. the uncertainty of the pandemic.

The report warned, however, that many of the EHE notifications received since September 2021 concerned families with multiple levels of vulnerability where optional home schooling “does not appear to be the most appropriate route for affected children.”

This year’s total marks the biggest year-over-year increase since the survey began six years ago and according to ADCS, almost half (49.8%) of the EHE cohort 2020-21 made the switch in the 2020-21 academic year.

In the five years leading up to the pandemic, the EHE population was increasing by about 20% each year. This year, the largest EHE cohort reported in a single local authority was 3,121, the average of the 126 authorities that participated in the survey was 534 and Key Stage 3 – for students aged 11 to 14 years – was selected most often as having the most EHE children.

Gail Tolley, chair of the ADCS School Success Policy Committee, said local authorities have a duty to ensure that homeschooled children are safe and receive a good education, but that they currently did not have the necessary powers to do so.

“We therefore call on the government to establish a mandatory register of all elective homeschooled children with a fully funded obligation from the local authority to visit the child, at least once a year, to assess the relevance education provided. We can only support the education of children and protect the children we know.

The ADCS is awaiting the results of a consultation with the Ministry of Education (DfE) in 2019 which proposed new obligations for local authorities, including a national register of all children and adolescents in EHE and a requirement for local authorities to support parents who educate their child at home. .

A DfE spokesperson said the government remains committed to introducing a registry and added: “We support parents who want to educate their children at home. However, now more than ever, it is absolutely vital that any decision to home education be made with the best interests of the child at the forefront of parents’ concerns.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Principals, echoed calls for an official registry of homeschooled children and said: “The government needs to find out why so many families are choosing home schooling. The concern is that many appear to have chosen homeschooling because they have lost faith in the government’s approach to school safety during the pandemic. “

Anntoinette Bramble, chairperson of the Association of Local Government’s Children and Youth Council, added: “Disruption to school education due to the pandemic has accelerated the already growing number of parents and guardians choosing to educate their children at home. The government should present its plans to introduce a registry for all home educators to ensure that adequate safeguards are in place. “

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