Education Committee launch home education inquiry
30 September 2020
The Education Committee examines how home-educated children are being supported in their learning and whether more needs to be done to ensure they are all receiving a high-quality education. It will also look at duties of local authorities, and the potential role for inspections in ensuring standards.
The Committee explores the benefits of home education and the possible disadvantages, as well as the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on children educated at home.
Children can be educated at home for a variety of reasons. Figures from March 2019 suggested that more than 60,000 children were being home educated in England, with the number increasing in recent years. It is likely that the number is underreported as parents are not required to register their home-educated children with the local authority. In April 2019 the Government published a consultation on proposed legislation concerning children not in school, which included a proposal for a register of children not attending mainstream schools, maintained by local authorities. The Government has not published its response.
Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said:
“While the coronavirus pandemic brought a new focus on the issue of learning at home, there are thousands of young people who are ordinarily taught outside of a traditional school setting. A parent will always know what is best for their child but we want to make sure that the right support is in place for home learning to ensure every pupil in the country, whatever their background and wherever they are taught, can receive the education they deserve.
The previous Committee in the last Parliament highlighted the problem of off-rolling, where young people are removed from school for the benefit of the school rather than the child, and the dangers of the lack of checks on unregistered provision, where some home-educated children may spend time. This inquiry provides an opportunity to examine whether local authorities and inspections can play a more active role to ensure every child is safe and not missing out on the chance to climb the educational ladder of opportunity. We have to make sure that disadvantaged children are not disadvantaged further still by the system.”
Terms of reference
The Committee is inviting written submissions, addressing any or all of the following points:
- The duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education;
- whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;
- the benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face;
- the quality and accessibility of support (including financial support) available for home educators and their children, including those with special educational needs, disabilities, mental health issues, or caring responsibilities, and those making the transition to further and higher education;
- whether the current regulatory framework is sufficient to ensure that the wellbeing and academic achievement of home educated children is safeguarded, including where they may attend unregistered schools, have been formally excluded from school, or have been subject to ‘off-rolling’;
- the role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education;
- what improvements have been made to support home educators since the 2010-15 Education Committee published their report on ‘Support for Home Education’ in 2012; and
- the impact COVID-19 has had on home educated children, and what additional measures might need to be taken in order to mitigate any negative impacts.
The deadline for submissions is Friday 6 November. For further information see the inquiry page on the Committee website.