DfE plans register of home educated children

Spielman says new home education register will help identify and tackle off-rolling and unregistered schools

Martin George

The DfE has announced plans for a register of children not attending a registered school.

Plans for a register of all children not attending school are being put forward by the education secretary.

The proposals, to be set out by Damian Hinds today, aim to provide a clear picture of where children are if they are not in state-funded or registered independent schools.

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said the move would make it easier to to detect and tackle off-rolling.

The DfE said an estimated 60,000 children are thought to be educated at home, with the number rising annually. 

Quick read: Number of home educated children up 27% in a year

Opinion: Most home education criticism is smoke without fire

Long read: The rise of home education 

The DfE hopes the measures will help local authorities identify if a child, who is not attending school, has an education which is not good enough, is solely religious, is at an unregistered school – or is not being taught at all.

Mr Hinds said that while the term "home education" includes children “getting a really good education at home”, it had also come to include those who are not getting an education at all, or who are being educated in illegal schools where they are vulnerable to dangerous influences.

He added: "As a government, we have a duty to protect our young people and do our utmost to make sure they are prepared for life in modern Britain.

"That's why this register of children not in school is so important – not to crack down on those dedicated parents doing an admirable job of educating their children in their own homes, but to prevent vulnerable young people from vanishing under the radar."

Parents will be responsible for registering their child under the plans, the government said.

The plan for a register is likely to meet stiff opposition from many home educators.

Earlier this year, Mike Wood, who runs the Home Education UK website and gives legal advice to parents, told Tes that mandatory monitoring would be “an infringement of human rights”.

He said: “If there is no safeguarding issue in a home, then why are they forcing their way in?

“The state doesn’t have a right to go into a home and check kids are OK just on the off-chance there could be a problem. It would cause further damage to children who have already been damaged by the school.”

The proposed measures will also aim to increase support for home-educating parents, with local authorities required to provide teaching resources or financial contributions to exam fees.

Ms Spielman said: "Ofsted has long had concerns about the increasing numbers of school-age children not attending a registered school, many of whom may not be receiving a high-quality education or being kept safe.

"We are especially concerned about children 'off-rolled' from schools, and those in illegal schools. The new register will make it easier to detect and tackle these serious problems."

Children's commissioner Anne Longfield said the number of children not being educated in schools had "sky-rocketed".

She added: "It is vitally important that we know that all children are safe and that they are receiving the education they deserve to help them to succeed in life.

"The introduction of a register for children not in school is very welcome and something I been calling for. I am pleased these proposals also include support for families."

A public consultation will be open until 24 June.

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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