Elective home education survey 2018 comment

Elective home education survey 2018

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) recently surveyed local authorities in England for the third consecutive year to gather a snapshot of the cohort of children and young people that are known to be home schooled. Approximately two thirds of local authorities (106 LAs) responded to the survey using the first school census day of the current academic year, Thursday 4 October 2018, as the baseline for this exercise.

The results of the survey suggest that somewhere in the region of 57,800 children and young people were home schooled in 2018, up from 45,500 in 2017 and 37,500 in 2016. Greater awareness of home education, rising birth rates and improved recording by local authorities may, in part, account for some of the reasons for growth in this cohort. There have been year-on-year increases in the known cohort by an average of 20% each year since 2013. Respondents also reported significant in-year variations with nearly 80,000 children and young people being home schooled at some point across the 2017/18 academic year. The majority of respondents reported that over 80% of their known cohort had previously attended school.

This year we asked respondents, for the first time, for numbers of children being home educated who were also known to children’s social care. It is estimated that nearly a third of the known cohort had some contact with children’s services, of which an average of 11% were known to children’s social care, both historic and/or current, however, there was significant variation in areas across the country.

Commenting on the findings, Debbie Barnes, Chair of the ADCS Educational Achievement Policy Committee, said:

“Education is a fundamental right for all children and young people and we absolutely recognise that parents have the right to educate their children at home. Where they opt to do so we want this to be a positive experience for both children and their parents, one that ultimately equips children to meet their own personal goals and aspirations. We believe this is best achieved when parents and local authorities recognise each other’s rights and responsibilities, and work together. However, if the learning experience provided in the home does not meet children’s needs, when schools are using home schooling as a means to illegally exclude children with special educational or behavioural needs, when parents use home schooling as a means to avoid attendance fines or as a cover to send their children to illegal schools, that’s when we worry.

“We know from our survey that the numbers of children being home educated have increased year on year for the past five years, this is only the children that we know of. There are likely to be many more children being home educated who are hidden from sight. We have no way of assuring ourselves that they are safe and receiving a good standard of education at home. This is not good enough.

“We hope the survey results will inform the ongoing national debate about home schooling as well as the government’s thinking in light of its recent consultations and call for evidence on this topic and its ongoing review of exclusions. How can we support families to make informed decisions, collectively ensure children and young people are not lost from sight, that their rights in terms of socialisation, health, and education are being met and that risks, however small, are minimised, should remain at the forefront of considerations at all times.”


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