Councils ‘need extra funds for home-schooling registers’

2 Apr 19

Local authorities would need “appropriate funding” to hold registers for home-schooled children, an umbrella group has said.

Education secretary Damian Hinds opened a consultation today on plans to make all home-educated children in England officially registered by local authorities.

Guidance on proposals suggested local authorities should “set aside the resources necessary” to implement the policy.

But the Local Government Association has said cash-strapped local authorities would need funds from central government for this increased duty.

Hinds noted that home-education now has a “much broader meaning” and is a “catch-all” phrase to refer to children not registered at a school.

“Whilst this does include those actually getting a really good education at home, it also includes those 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.”

Guidance for local authorities on how to register home-schooled children was issued alongside the consultation today.

It stressed that not all home-educated pupils fall into the category of being vulnerable but “evidence from many local authorities is that the proportion who do is increasing”.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “The LGA has long-called for a register of children not in school and we look forward to seeing these proposals implemented as a matter of urgency.

“A register will help councils to monitor how children are being educated and prevent them from disappearing form the oversight of services designed to keep them safe.”

But Bramble pointed to a £3.1bn funding gap in children’s services by 2025. She said. “Government needs to go further and change the law to give councils the powers and appropriate funding to enter homes or other premises to check a child’s schooling.”

The Children’s Commissioner previously found that the number of children known by councils in England to be home-educated has doubled since 2013-14, from 19,500 to 41,800. 

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