Council outline plan of action after number of home-schooled children rockets

Education: Secondary / Mon 9th Aug 2021 at 11:48am

ESSEX County Council has welcomed the Strengthening Home Education report published by the Education Committee (26 July 2021) and has committed to establishing a cross-party group to look at how to address the findings and recommendations.

The report highlighted a number of key findings including:

• There should be a commitment to creating a national register for home-schooled children.

• Greater collection and analysis of data is needed about a whole range of issues, such as the reasons why parents electively home educate, including whether or not racism, bullying and differences of opinion about special educational needs between parents and authorities play a role in that decision.

• More support is needed for families with SEND with independent, neutral advocates to coordinate statutory SEND processes and support families when they are considering home education for their child.

• Councils should assess home education provision once a year ensuring that it is providing a suitable education.

• More long-term data is needed to understand the educational attainment and outcomes achieved by electively home-schooled children.

• Call for a level playing field on exams with home-schooled children having fair access to centres where they can sit accredited public examinations, with the government meeting the entry costs for those exams.

For a number of years, Essex County Council has noted a rise in the number of children and young people that are being home educated across the county, a pattern which is mirrored nationally. At the end of July 2021, 2,629 children in Essex were recorded as electively home-schooled, more than double the number that were home-schooled in 2017.

Councillor Tony Ball, Essex County Council’s Cabinet member for Education Excellence, Skills and Training said: “We very much welcome this comprehensive report and the recommendations provided. The next steps are for us to establish a cross-party group to work through the national recommendations, looking at how we can implement them locally. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that every child in Essex has the opportunity to get the best start in life by equipping them with an education which will enable them to thrive and achieve their goals.”

Last month Essex County Council announced that it had set up an Education Task Force. It will invest £1 million to ensure that every child in Essex leaves school able to read at their age level or better as well as investing £500,000 in mental health and emotional wellbeing support.

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