The government is considering closing a loophole that allows schools to keep money for pupils they have "off-rolled" to be taught at home.
The move comes amid growing concerns about schools putting pressure on parents to withdraw children from school and home-educate them, as an alternative to them being permanently excluded.
In December, children’s commissioner Anne Longfield called for schools that off-roll pupils to face financial penalties.
Under the current system, schools lose the funding for pupils they have permanently excluded from the date they leave its roll.
However, if the child is instead taken off the roll to be home-educated, the funding does not stop until the next school census is taken.
In a call for evidence launched today, the Department for Education asks whether there should be “a financial consequence” for schools if the child moves into home education.
The document says: “It has been suggested to the government that it might help to discourage schools from pressuring parents to educate children at home if schools faced a financial consequence if a parent withdraws a child from the school roll to educate at home, and is deleted from the admissions register.”
It is among a number of issues around home schooling that the DfE is seeking views on, and the document says it "does not put forward any specific government proposals for change".
Malcolm Trobe, deputy general of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), criticised the idea, saying it would penalise schools in cases where parents have legitimately decided to withdraw their child.
He added: “What we want to do is to ensure there is wholly ethical practice here, and that you get a position by which that sort of behaviour is challenged and tackled for what it is, rather than trying to put a retrospective financial penalty on a school when a school has already committed expenditure.”
He said that off-rolling, which the ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton has described as “repugnant”, should be addressed, but not as a financial issue.
“You should not be using financial pressures in any way to impact on behaviour of a school,” he added.