The government is seeking views on introducing a compulsory register of children who are being educated at home, and punishing parents who refuse to comply.
It is believed that more than 50,000 children may currently be home-educated, and although no one knows the actual figure the number is believed to be rising.
The Department for Education today launched a call for evidence on home education, following concerns about schools illegally “off-rolling” pupils, children being educated at unregistered schools and confusion over the role of local councils.
The document asks for comments on the advantages and disadvantages of “mandatory registration of children educated at home, with duties on both local authorities and parents in this regard”.
It also asks whether parents who refused to register their children should face penalties.
Home education: penalties for parents who don't register?
It says: "One line of argument is that specific sanctions are unnecessary, and even if registration were to be mandatory, local authorities could simply proceed with the school attendance order process if a child was known about but not registered, if the legislation provided that a failure to register gave a presumption that the education provided was not suitable."
However, the document says the government “has not made any decision on these issues”.
The DfE is also seeking views on how effective local authority monitoring of home-educated children is.
It asks whether there should be a duty on home-educating parents to comply with councils if the authorities were given new powers, and what penalties they could face if they refused to do so.
The call for evidence runs until 2 July.