Off-rolling: Home education up 13%, warns watchdog

Schools adjudicator warns that councils have same fears as last year about some parents' ability to educate

Home education

The number of pupils being home-educated has risen by 13 per cent in a year – while some parents are struggling to provide education which meets their child’s need, according to government report published today.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) annual report states that one local authority dealt with nearly one thousand new [home education] registrations within a single academic year – yet 60 per cent of these were reversed within a year.

Chief schools adjudicator Shan Scott said more than 100 local authorities had commented on elective home education ahead of this year’s report, and that they had echoed concerns from her report last year. Then she warned that schools were using coercion, while some had prepared a standard letter for parents to sign to persuade them to home educate.

Warning: Ofsted finds parents are being coerced into home education

Last year: ‘Extreme concern’ over schools rejecting vulnerable pupils

Analysis: Why are we still in the dark on off-rolling?

Quick read: One in five councils concerned about rise in home education

Off-rolling is a form of backdoor exclusion – where parents are given a choice they feel unable to refuse – so that schools can improve their figures, typically GCSE results. 

Ms Scott’s report today revealed that the total number of children local authorities reported as being electively home educated was 60,544 in March last year compared to 52,770 as at March 2018 – a rise of 12.8 per cent.

She said: “One local authority, which had had nearly one thousand new [home education] registrations within the academic year, said that 60 per cent of cases were closed (by which we understand the child to have returned to school or reached the end of compulsory school age) in no more than a year. This high turnover appears to relate to the reasons for choosing elective home education.

“Over 100 local authorities commented on elective home education and echoed the points made in last year’s report where I outlined concerns expressed by many local authorities that some parents may opt to educate their child at home but not actually be able to provide education which fully meets the child’s need.”

In last year’s report, Ms Scott also stated local authorities were concerned about “a tendency towards an increase in moves towards elective home education during the key stage 4 years” while some had said the practice was “not in the best interests of children”.

She also revealed evidence that parents found difficulty in securing a school place once they had realised the implications and requirement of home education.

Reasons parents were giving for elective home education included being “advised by the school to take this step to avoid their child being permanently excluded” and others were “seeking to avoid a potential exclusion of their child and/or prosecution for poor attendance”.


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