Page last updated at 09:58 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:58 UK

Home educators made to register

Jamie McDonald
Families should be better supported, the government says

Home educating families in England are going to have to register annually, as the government has accepted the recommendations of a review.

The review also says local authorities should have the right to visit any child taught at home.

The government commissioned a review to find out whether local councils were monitoring home educated children, or offering parents enough support.

It has also been concerned that home education could be a cover for abuse.

The review, conducted by former director of education for Kent, Graham Badman, says that parents who home educate should have to register annually on a scheme administered by local councils.

A parent's right to home educate will not be challenged, ministers have said.

But parents will have to submit a statement of their intended approach to the child's education.

Support

Local authorities currently have no statutory duty to monitor children educated at home.

But they must ensure that all children are receiving a suitable education, either in school or otherwise.


If one thing could come out of this review which would mean it was not a complete waste of public money, it would be that the decision to home educate is treated with respect and as a positive choice

Ann Newstead, Education Otherwise


The government was concerned that current legislation was not allowing them to do this effectively, and it wants local authorities to provide better support to home educating parents.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said: "We will ask local authorities to provide easier access to extra support for those home-educated children who need it - particularly the relatively high proportion of home-educated children who have special educational needs and others who need or want to access services that would otherwise be provided through their school."

He said asking home educators to register would bring England into line with other European countries.

Scotland differs slightly from the rest of the UK in that local authorities are encouraged to inspect home educating families at least once a year.

'Outdated'

But home educators say authorities should stop treating them with suspicion and concentrate on giving them support.

HAVE YOUR SAY
It's a shame that some children do not get to have the interaction of the classroom and other children of their same age
Helen, Leicester

Ann Newstead, spokeswoman for home education group Education Otherwise, said: "If one thing could come out of this review which would mean it was not a complete waste of public money, it would be that the decision to home educate is treated with respect and as a positive choice."

The review has not found any evidence that home education was being used specifically to conceal trafficked children, or forced marriages.

Children's charities had urged the government to tighten up rules regarding home education.

NSPCC head of policy and public affairs, Diana Sutton, said current legislation was "outdated" and a system was needed to deal with cases where local authorities had concerns.

Estimates of how many children are home educated vary from between 20,000 and 80,000 children.



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SEE ALSO
'Give us respect, not suspicion'
10 Jun 09 |  Education
Parents given home teaching money
08 Apr 09 |  Essex
Home educators angry at review
19 Jan 09 |  Education
Home learning numbers uncertain
23 Feb 07 |  Education

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