Landmark proposals for a register of all children not being educated in school, including those being taught at home, have been set out by Education Secretary Damian Hinds .
The Government is consulting on proposals which will, for the first time, provide a clear picture of where children are if they are not in school. Estimates suggest almost 60,000 children are deemed to be educated at home – a figure that is thought to be rising by around a quarter every year.
A register of children not in school will transform a local council’s capacity to identify and intervene where the standard of a child’s education isn’t good enough or, in the rare instances, where they are at risk of harm. It will also help the authorities spot young people who may be receiving a solely religious education, attending an unregistered school or not receiving an education at all.
The Department is also proposing new measures to support parents who choose to educate their children at home, in the form of a legal duty for local authorities to provide assistance like helping to pay for exam costs and more.
The Government is also publishing guidance for local authorities and for parents that clarifies their powers and responsibilities under current law, setting out the action councils can take if they have concerns a child is not receiving a suitable education. This includes school attendance orders – a legal power that already exists, compelling parents to send their child to a registered school.
For parents, the guidance sets out considerations they should make when deciding whether home education is the right choice for them and their child.
The consultation follows a call for evidence carried out last year which collected views from across the sector. The consultation will be open for 12 weeks until Monday 24 June.