Proposed register for children not in school – Education Secretary
A register of all children not attending school is being put forward by the Education Secretary.
The proposals, to be set out by Damian Hinds on Tuesday, will aim to provide a clear picture of where children are if they are not in state-funded or registered independent schools.
The Department for Education said an estimated 60,000 children are thought to be educated at home, with the number rising annually.
Officials hope the measures will help local authorities identify when a child’s education is not good enough, solely religious, or absent, or if a child is attending an unregistered school.
Mr Hinds said: “The term ‘home education’ has now acquired a much broader meaning than it used to. It is now a catch-all phrase, used to refer to all children not in a registered school.
“So whilst this does include those actually getting a really good education at home, it also includes children who are not getting an education at all, or being educated in illegal schools where they are vulnerable to dangerous influences – the truth is, we just don’t know.
“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 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.
A public consultation will be open until June 24.
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda 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 have been calling for. I am pleased these proposals also include support for families.”