Page last updated at 19:57 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Home educators angry at review

Writing at desk
The review will examine the well-being of home educated children

"Home education", where children study at home rather than at school, is to face a review in England.

"There are concerns that some children are not receiving the education they need," said Children's Minister Baroness Delyth Morgan.

The government says there are no plans to remove the right to educate children at home.

But home educators' charity, Education Otherwise, said it was "infuriated" by the proposed investigation.

There is no legal obligation for children to be sent to school - but parents have to provide a suitable education.

'Offensive'

The review will consider how local authorities can ensure the education and well-being of children who are being taught outside school.

"Parents are able, quite rightly, to choose whether they want to educate children at home, and a very small number do. I'm sure, the vast majority do a good job," said Baroness Morgan.

"However, there are concerns that some children are not receiving the education they need. And in some extreme cases, home education could be used as a cover for abuse.

"This review will look at whether the right systems are in place that allow local authorities and other agencies to ensure that any concerns about the safety, welfare or education of home educated children are addressed quickly and effectively," said Baroness Morgan.

Education Otherwise says that it finds this announcement "offensive" - with its "implication... that home educated children are at risk purely because they are home educated".

Annette Taberner, from Education Otherwise's policy group, said: "No other community would be expected to suffer the prejudice and discrimination which our community has to endure."

The review, headed by Graham Badman, former Director of Children's Services at Kent County Council, will consider whether local authorities are able to safeguard home educated children, whether parents have sufficient support to home educate and "consider what evidence there is to support claims that home education could be used as a ‘cover' for child abuse".

Mr Badman said: "Legislation affords every parent the right to choose to educate their child at home but with those rights go responsibilities, not least being to secure a suitable education."

Head teachers have supported the announcement of the review.

Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that heads backed the right of parents to educate their children at home.

"However, there have been concerns about a small number of cases where this option has been exercised to the detriment of the child."

There is no official figure for the number of pupils who are taught at home - but estimates have put the number at around 50,000.

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